Health Care and Autism
I read the followign article this morning:
The article addresses some very important issues that affect individuals with autism as well as their families. Three particular points stand out:
Move Junk Food Subsidies to Nutritious Alternatives
Require Oversight by Alternative Practitioners
Catalyze Massive New Field Trials of Alternative Therapies
The first issue regarding junk food is certainly a reflection on a greater awareness and the increasingly solid evidence that what we eat can affect all aspects of development from physiological to cognitive. In many cases, poor diet has been identified as a contributing factor to maladaptive behaviors and inhibited cognitive functioning in children with autism.
The second and third points on alternative therapies leaves much to debate. Our current medical model is often quite backwards in its approach, or rather reproach of treatment. Rather than begin by NOT eating junk food or being sedentary, our medical model focuses primarily on treatment rather than prevention. This is not a revolutionary statement, of course. The question is how to include preventative care and alternative therapies within a very rigid and often dogmatic system.
One of the key factors is a standardization of alternative therapies. New therapeutic interventions or treatments MUST undergo the same scrutiny and subjection to scientific analysis as conventional medical or therapeutic procedures. Collecting data and demonstrating treatments as replicable establishes their safety and validity. Many purported therapies for autism (chelation, massive vitamin schedules, etc.) have not been subjected to rigorous testing simply because they were deemed “alternative.”
If something works, it works regardless of belief or disbelief. It works because there is a cause and effect relationship between the treatment/therapy and the outcome. There will most likely not be a 100% success rate, just as there is no perfect record for established interventions from drug detox to chemotherapy to acupuncture. For children with autism and their families, the key is performing due diligence in deciding which interventions and/or lifestyle habits to incorporate. Commitment to healthful nutrition and physical activity can often eliminate the need for medical intervention in the near and distant future.