A mom from a local, general parenting egroup sent out an email about her new naturopath, and mentioned that "he treats autistic children, too." This doctor just happens to be Leo's former DAN! doctor, Dr. Prattle. Here was my response:
Dr. Prattle is an advocate of the scientifically unsubstantiated "biomedical" approach to treating autism, which involves dietary modification as well as enormous quantities of supplements, creams, injections, and sometimes chelation to remove heavy metals. It is an incredibly intensive and expensive endeavor.
He also makes recommendations for his autistic patients' sensitivities to be treated through a technique called Bioset, of which his wife is a practitioner, and to whom he refers patients -- a ethically questionable practice, but not one that families in shock from an autism diagnosis are likely to question.
The only proven methods for helping kids with autism gain skills are individualized 1:1 therapies, like Applied Behavioral Analysis, Floortime, or RDI. These are also intensive and expensive. Families with newly diagnosed autistic children might want to reserve their energies for methods proven to help their children, and explore biomedical interventions only if they have the extra resources.
Now, I personally know at least two families who swear that Dr. Prattle has made a difference for their children. I know many others who swear by the dietary modifications, such as the GFCF (wheat-free, dairy-free) diet. [Note: Dr. Prattle's testing revealed one of these children to be truly sensitive to wheat and dairy. The same testing showed no such sensitivities for Leo, but Dr. Prattle recommended that we pursue full-fledged biomed/dietary approaches anyhow "because some sensitivities just don't show up on tests."]
I also know that my son's ABA team, who have been working with severely autistic children for ten and even 20+ years, swear that they have never seen any any benefits from Biomedical interventions. [Note: This opinion was given to us six years ago, when we were starting Leo's home ABA program. His team knew that Biomed is mostly time-consuming rather than harmful, and trusted that we'd find our own way eventually.]
If you or anyone you know is reeling from a child's autism diagnosis, the best thing to do is start making connections in your new (and totally ass-kicking) special needs parenting community. Join local special needs parenting boards (e.g., http://groups.yahoo.com/group/peninsulaparentssnk/), join local parenting support groups (like our own SEPTAR, www.septar.org), and read the blogs of people in the autism community, especially those of parents who've been there before you and have made peace with -- and love -- the child they have, rather than the child they thought they would have.
- My open letter to families who think their child might have autism:
Please feel free to contact me, or have your friends contact me, if you have any other questions. I mean that sincerely.