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Posted by Jim O'Donnell on July 25, 2000 at 23:08:37:

In Reply to: Autism Diet - Dallas' Story posted by . on July 23, 2000 at 16:47:10:

I guess I am writing to Parents who are new to autism and perhaps have just begun testing or have just received a diagnosis.

I am a parent and I have been through several miracle cures fads in the past few years. I don't mean to pick on any single person or any particular therapy, but it seems to me that our kids (like any other sick kids) will experience a certain degree of remission. It also seems reasonable that as testing, awareness and public funding for autism increase, the diagnoses are bound to increase as are treatment claims. I know children who have in recent years tested profoundly autistic/PDD only to emerge months or years later as bright, very functional, highly social and intelligent kids without any sustained effective therapy other than intense educational/behavioral approaches.

Given that an increasing number of children with a temporary condition are misdiagnosed and some others will simply have their autism go into remission, it is natural that the parents of these children will have adopted 1 or more of the currently popular treatment methods at the time the child begins to emerge. Most parents faced with a diagnosis of autism could be described as "desperate" or "needy" for some solution. Please consider that such a parent is almost certain to ascribe any improvement to whatever therapy or environmental change was in effect at the time the child emerged, even if the emergence was bound to happen anyway.

I would advise any parent to read these boards and every other possible source of information they can find to understand their child. But also please understand that these boards are not conducive to "tried it. it didn't work" type posts. The incentive to suggest, research, promote or market a cure for autism is nearly enormous. The costs of promoting a failure are apparently minimal. My own research suggests that no quick fix exists for ALL children. In fact dietary or pharmaceutical "treatments" to date have been ineffective on the majority of autistic patients in all large scale studies.

Parents are predisposed to make claims like "He has made a complete recovery through the GFCF Diet alone." But how does the parent know the child would not have improved otherwise? Doctors and Therapists stand to gain a great deal promoting fad therapies (the same as fad weight-loss programs) and will lose nothing should the approach be discredited. If you are a new parent to this discussion, please be aware that many alternative treatments will be presented to you. Please research each of them as thoroughly as possible. Please also understand that where our children are concerned we tend to lose our objectivity and our appropriate level of skepticism.

Whatever you try, keep a precise journal. Share this with your Doctors/Teachers/Therapists. Also keep in mind that intensive individualized training, coupled with speech and occupational therapy are the only proven almost universally effective routes (so far) to improvement in Autism spectrum disorders. It's not quick or cheap or painless. But you should be prepared to understand and implement a long term treatment strategy involving these techniques. For many of us it is the best hope for a meaningful and rewarding relationship with our children.

Best Wishes,

Jim O'Donnell

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