Friday, March 09, 2007

Alternative Autism Treatments: An Alternative To Treatment?

The Dore Program likes to run advertisements scaring parents that the "government" is warning about life-threatening consequences of medication (though their latest advertisements are a lot more diffuse - if your children have "tummy upsets" before school, and don't enjoy doing homework, you need to rush to Dore for help - there's not even a mention of any medical condition anymore).

EoR wonders, therefore, if the Dore Program, Mr Sichel and their ilk will rush to notify consumers that the "government" is advising parents:

CHILDREN with autism spectrum disorders need to spend a minimum of 20 hours a week in an evidence-based program to make major gains, according to new Australian government advice.

Furthermore, will they run scare stories about:

Approaches that could be harmful were being heavily promoted, and families were also choosing unproven alternative therapies, the guidelines warned. A literature review conducted for the government found minimal evidence for the effectiveness of exclusion diets and considerable evidence demonstrating that withholding MMR vaccine or treating with secretin or other drugs had no effect. Behavioural intervention produced positive outcomes for children with autism but parents should be wary of "cure" claims by some service providers.

The Federal Department of Health and Ageing provide a booklet on Early Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Guidelines for Best Practice. There is, strangely, no mention of Dore or the Stichel Protocol, and A Review of the Research to Identify the Most Effective Models of Practice in Early Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, which states:

Claims of ‘Cure’ and ‘Recovery’
Although autism is a life long pervasive developmental disorder, treatment programs exist that claim to provide a cure for autism. Howlin (1998) identified a number of such programs including Holding Therapy, the Options or ‘Sonrise’ program, Auditory Integration Therapy, and Facilitated Communication (FC). Despite being the subjects of a range of published testimonials, internet articles, anecdotal accounts and research studies, none of these therapies and the associated claims have been shown to be supported by adequate research (Howlin, 1998). It is clear that there is insufficient empirically sound research evaluating outcomes of programs for children with autism, despite the range of treatments available to parents and the claims made by the exponents of some of these programs.
The cost to families
Currently there is a plethora of interventions for autism available, especially for young children with autism, some of which may be associated with unsubstantiated claims of cure and recovery. Interventions are often available at very high cost in terms of money and time. In addition parents often feel tremendous pressure to provide intensive intervention as early as possible in their child’s life which may then be associated with guilt if they believe they have not provided enough of the ‘right’ early intervention treatment. Families report high levels of confusion, problems with misinformation and desperation arising from this situation.

Again, there is no mention of Dore or Sichel, which you would think is strange if you believe their advertising that they have "cured" autism, as well as so many other conditions.

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