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Alternative Treatments for Autism

Since the diagnosis of Autism has been on the rise for the past several decades, it has taken particular interest to those scientific research community. A large chunk of time is spent attempting to identify causes of Autism and potential treatments and cures. As such, many alternative treatments to symptoms of Autism have been discussed and trialed, though none are evidence-based or proven, like Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

Some alternative treatment options for autism spectrum disorder may be considered “low risk”, while others may carry a much higher risk to the child’s health. It would be highly recommended to seek a recommendation from your child’s primary care physician before attempting to utilize anything other than a scientifically-proven treatment.  

Food Supplements & Special Dietary Changes/Restrictions

  • Elimination diets – frequently used in children with Autism, specialty diets such as gluten and/or casein-free diets are used to fight back against enhanced immune response in predisposed children or cause an autoimmunity. Further, it is thought that “opiod excess theory” triggers metabolites in the stomach and causes issues with systematic circulation. Children with ASD often experience GI issues and elimination diets are popular for treating increased permeability and bacterial overgrowth in the gut. The removal of foods and beverages containing casein, or the chemical found in cow’s milk that causes allergies, is often an elimination diet that is popular among those families who have a child with ASD.
  • Camel milk- contains less cholesterol and dairy than traditional cow’s milk and is inclusive of other vitamins and enzymes such as PGRP, peptidoglycan recognition protein, which has been proven to reduce food allergies and regulating the immune system.
  • Omega3 supplementation is sometimes used with or in place of fish oil for brain development and function

Medicine & Vitamin Supplements

  • Western, Eastern & Holistic Pharmacology
    • risperidone or aripiprazole are two medications identified and sometimes prescribed to treat aggression and irritability in children with autism
    • melatonin is a natural chemical made by the body that has shown to help those with insomnia or kids with Autism who frequently report troubles sleeping. It can be purchased over the counter.
    • fish oil is an over-the-counter vitamin supplement that has been reportedly used to address hyperactivity
    • vitamin B12 is said to have calming effects on behavioral issues
    • probiotics for those children who experience Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms or distress
    • Vitamins A, C, B6, zinc, and folic acid are some of the more popular vitamins to give children with Autism. This is because many children with Autism have poor appetites or have a very strict repertoire of foods they’ll accept, and thus the vitamins serve as fill-ins for those they may lack
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- works on balancing the yin/yang, or opposing

energies, and qi, or life force, that are present in all individuals, not just those diagnosed with ASD. TCM includes acupuncture and a process called moxibustion, where herbs are burned above the skin and then applied to acupuncture points. Other components of TCM include Chinese herbal medicine, tui na, or Chinese massage therapy, and dietary changes. Dietary changes include the elimination of fish, eggs, meat, ginger, garlic, and onion, which are believed to hold a higher internal temperature and therefore affect a child’s overall mood and cognitive functions.

Therapies & Physical Activities

  • Massage therapy to reduce a child’s anxiety and stress levels and get oxygen and blood cells moving through the body with greater efficiency
  • Accupuncture- a type of Chinese Medicine in which certain areas of the body, called “trigger points” are gently probed by an extremely thin needle to address everything from pain to headaches, stress, or appetite
  • Yoga – has become an increasingly popular practice to supplement behavior therapy. Yoga helps children with Autism address their core symptoms of ASD, such as language and memory difficulties, poor self-regulation and weaker core and muscle strength
  • Reiki- another mindfulness therapy involving the inclusion of Chakras where energies are redirected and changed within one’s mind and body
  • Biofeedback is used with children who have Autism as they’re taught to control functions that used to be involuntary within their bodies.

Significantly more risky alternatives to the treatment of Autism

  • Chelation – attempt to eliminate toxic metals from the blood, presumed to be caused by vaccines with trace levels of heavy metals as additives
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen chamber- thought to help eliminate presumed inflammation in the body by increasing the child’s blood oxygen level
  • Miracle/Master Miracle Solution (MMS) involves bleach intended to “detoxify” the body
  • Antifungal ointments and creams for presumed Candida overgrowth
  • Antibiotics for a presumed underlying illness

The choice of your child’s Autism treatment should be made between your family and your child’s trusted behavioral and/or medicinal team. A risk/benefit analysis should be done on any treatment that does not have supported research- in other words, any treatment method mentioned here except for ABA therapy. Parents want their child with Autism to experience everything life has to offer and be able to have the abilities and skills that fill their lives with happiness. It is simply imperative that risks are taken into consideration before any alternative treatment method is started instead of or alongside ABA therapy.