This is an edited-for-privacy version of an article I posted on an autism parenting board this morning, in response to a parent asking for advice about DAN! doctors.
One of the loveliest features of this group is the opportunity for parents who are new to the world of disability and autism is to hear from parents with many years of experience -- so those new parents can avoid some of the mistakes we veterans unwittingly made.
DAN! (or MAPS, or "biomedical" approaches to autism, doesn't really matter) is pseudoscience. That means it is poppycock but sounds "sciencey," so that parents who are given few answers for how to help their autistic child by the mainstream medical establishment, and who are often desperate to "fix" their autistic child because of negative media messages about autism, will grasp at such seemingly authoritative straws. Hence the need for such practitioners to mention Ivy League credentials, etc., repeatedly.
Note that DAN! doctors don't usually take insurance. So, erm, what are the families who can't afford such treatment supposed to do? Don't you think that if DAN! ideas were truly effective they would be embraced by the mainstream medical establishment and the government so that children of all income backgrounds could benefit, not just those whose families have sufficient income (or houses to mortgage)?
|Love my dude. |
[Image: Woman with medium-length red hair and sunglasses
sharing an embrace with a boy with short brown hair
Both with beige skin.]
Here are some guidelines for identifying DAN!/MAPS and other autism pseudoscience:
...all autism approaches should mirror the physicians’ credo “First, do no harm.” But how do you determine when benefits outweigh potential damage? The pseudoscience so often promoted as “autism treatments” has a handful of consistent identifying characteristics. Ask yourself:
- Does this practitioner or vendor promise miracles that no one else seems to achieve?
- Is the person promising the outcome also asking me for money?
- Do I find any scientific research supporting their claims, or are there only individual (often emotional) testimonials of effects?
- Does the practitioner or vendor promise a blanket “cure” for unrelated disorders, such as grouping together allergies and autism; or autism and ADHD; or autism, diabetes, cancer, and allergies?
- Does the practitioner or vendor have strong credentials as an expert in the therapies they’re promising, or in the field of autism?
Thinking critically is one of the most important actions we can take for those we love, and for ourselves.
- What Now? Ten Tips for Families with a New Autism Diagnosis:
- And something I wrote in HuffPo about accepting and understanding autistic kids: