Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hot Treatments For Autism

Via Liz Ditz EoR is informed about: Hyperbaric therapy for autism.

It's all the usual suspects: "giving new hope to Autistic children", "Parents say they're noticing a huge improvement in their kids" and "While overseas studies have shown the therapy can have a positive effect on Autism, no such research is being done here as Australian doctors are divided on whether the treatment actually works".

In other words, it's yet another unproven therapy being pushed to desperate parents. It's also very telling that googling "hyperbaric therapy for autism" comes up with pages and pages of people selling the therapy or promoting it in one form or another, but very little research (research, of course, is not required to sell something, it is only required to prove it).

In one study, Daniel A Rossignol, MD states (EoR's emphasis):

Our recent retrospective case series demonstrated that HBOT may improve symptoms in autistic children. We recently completed a prospective pilot trial using HBOT in 18 children which demonstrated significant clinical improvements in autistic children on several standardized scales. Most of the scales were parent-rated, although some were rated by teachers. However, parents were not blinded to the fact that their children received HBOT and evaluation of the children was through parent-rated scales, either of which could lead to bias. There was no placebo or control group. Therefore, the improvements found in this prospective study could have been due merely to chance or the natural development of the children. To determine if HBOT improves symptoms in autistic children, a double-blind placebo controlled study is needed.

The Association for Science in Autism Treatment advises:

There have been no studies with strong experimental designs on hyperbaric oxygen therapy for individuals with ASD. The equipment may pose a fire risk, and the intervention may have significant side effects such as damaging the middle or inner ear and raising blood sugar levels.

Dad of Cameron provides a lot more information about the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy hypothesis (which is all it is at this stage).

Unless you happen to be one of the few parents with an autistic child who also has wounds, burns, carbon monoxide poisoning or the bends, sticking your child in a hyperbaric chamber is probably just an expensive way to pass time.

Meanwhile, A Current Affair recently promoed a segment on a "new miracle cure" for troublesome children. EoR missed the show last night, but a quick check of the program's website ("Lachlan's miracle" [sic]) shows it was just some free national advertising for the Dore program. So, it wasn't "new", a "miracle" or a "cure". Prometheus explains why parents fall for these things, even if there's no proof or they've been disproven.

Incidentally, EoR wonders why any child suffers autism since there are so many "cures" out there and they all work (EoR knows, he's read the testimonials). Or is it so that, when one miracle cure fails, the parents have always got another miracle cure to turn to in order to spend more money, before the next miracle cure (repeat ad infinitum)...

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