Contact us
Phone: (601) 408-7203
(601) 544-8935
Email: dan@yourfamilyclinic.com

Holistic Approach to Treat Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

By Daniel T. Moore, Ph.D.
Copyrighted 2005, revised 2006, 2014

There are not too many things in life more devastating than having a normal looking baby notmeet normal developmental milestones and finding out that they have an incurable disordercalled autism. Before 1980 only one in 2,500 children was diagnosed with autism disorder.Today the figure is closer to one in every 250 children born. The reason for this increase appearsto escape the mainstream medical community. Whatever the reason, the effects are devastating tothe individual with the diagnosis and to the entire family.

To date, there is no known cure for Autism. However, there exists many treatments that canimprove functioning. The purpose of this article is to explain an holistic approach to treatAutism, Aspergers Disorder and other Pervasive Developmental Disorders. Almost all thetechniques presented in this paper are based on clinical experience and scientific research.Almost all of these techniques do not have the “gold standard” of a double blind placebocontrolled research study to support claims of effectiveness. Treatment for autism is relativelynew and are not backed by many funding sources. We present this information for yourenlightenment so that you can choose the techniques that you feel will best help your loved oneor the clients you serve. Resources for further information regarding particular treatments will begiven as part of this article. Hopefully, some day, most of these techniques will have double blindplacebo controlled research studies to verify their effectiveness.

What are Autism?

Autism, Aspergers Disorder, Retts Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorders NotOtherwise Specified (NOS) comprise a group of mental illnesses called Pervasive DevelopmentalDisorders. Of the four disorders Autism and Aspergers Disorder are the most common. In simpleterms, children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders do not meet the normal developmentalmilestones at the same time as other children. Certain social skills (e.g., two way play) are oftennever developed. Children with Autism do not learn to speak when their same age peers do.Speech development is the main difference between Autism and Aspergers Disorder. Childrenwith Aspergers Disorder appear to develop normally in the area of speech. Children with thediagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorders often have other symptoms besidesdevelopmental delays. These disorders can manifest in very severe terms that involve constantrocking, self harm through head banging, profound mental retardation, almost non-existent socialskills and displaying an inability to learn to speak. These disorders can also appear to be verybenign in forms that appear to be normal except in the area of social skills. Many would perceivethese high functioning individuals as being odd. What is common in all children diagnosed withPervasive Developmental Disorders is a lack of two way or parallel play. Concepts of sharingand allowing others to dominate the play for an extended period of time appear to be unknown tothese children, even those who have the mildest forms of Autism or Aspergers disorder. Othersymptoms common to children with these disorders include:

poor social skills

inability to form meaningful relationships

areas of poor academic achievement

gastro-intestinal problems (including encopresis)

food allergies, sensitivities and/or intolerances

behavioral problem

repetitive behaviors

rocking behaviors

inappropriate attachments to objects

delays of speech

unresponsiveness to verbal clues (may appear deaf yet has normal hearing)

developmental vision problems

sensitivity to loud noises or sounds at certain frequencies

refuses to learn in the way a teacher wants, has their own way of learning information

odd behaviors

behavioral outbursts, tantrums, or rages

excessive sensitivity to pain or lack of sensitivity to pain

lack of fear to situations that would normally produce fear in children of similar age

A child with a Pervasive Developmental Disorder may only have a few of the above symptoms.Others may seem to have every one of them. It is also common for children with PervasiveDevelopmental Disorders to have other mental health conditions as well. Common disorders thatco-exist with Pervasive Developmental Disorders include Attention Deficit HyperactivityDisorder, Mood Disorders and Motor Tic Disorders. Having an additional disorder may maketreatment even more complicated.

Regardless of the co-existing disorders, every child diagnosed with a Pervasive DevelopmentalDisorder is unique and should be considered as such. If you have a child with autistic symptoms,some of the following techniques may not apply to your child. For example, not all autisticchildren have developmental vision problems. Many of them do. Not all have gastro-intestinalproblems, yet many of them do. And not all of them will be sensitive to wheat and dairyproducts. You will need to decide which techniques are important for your child’s particularneeds. Thus parents should use only the information presented in this article that they feel willmeet the individual uniqueness of their child.

For the sake of simplicity, the term autism will be used loosely in this article. In Europe,Pervasive Developmental Disorders are usually termed as autistic spectrum disorder to point outthat there is a broad range of symptoms to these disorders. There is also a broad range of severityin children diagnosed with these disorders. In this paper, we will use the term autism to signifyall disorders in the group of disorders called Pervasive Developmental Disorders.

What causes autism and why the increase in diagnoses?

It is amazing that we have a modern day epidemic and no one can agree upon the cause of theepidemic. One in 250 children is a large number of victims not to know the cause or etiology.There is little doubt that autism involves abnormal brain development. What is not known iswhat causes the brain to grow abnormally. Some scientist firmly believe the cause is related tothe immunization vaccines. There are two main theories about how vaccines can cause the brainto grow abnormally. One view is that the mercury used as a preservative for the vaccine leads toabnormal brain development causing autism. The other theory suggests that the cause is due to alive virus within the vaccine getting into the brain causing the abnormal growth.

Those who believe it is related to mercury poisoning feel that children with autism may have agenetic predisposition to process the mercury in the body differently than the children who arenot affected with the vaccine. These are children who develop normally and then after thevaccine begin to produce the first signs of autism. Thus it is the mercury that stimulates the brainto grow abnormally. Many of the symptoms of mercury poisoning are very similar to thesymptoms of autism.

Vaccines may not be the only source of mercury toxicity. Every ten years the government collectsblood and urine samples randomly from the general population to study the effects ofenvironmental toxins. In the year 2000, the study discovered that a large number of women ofchild bearing age have enough mercury in their body (possibly from cosmetics) to be harmful totheir unborn fetus. Could this be the source of mercury poisoning in addition to the vaccines?

The other theory blaming the vaccine relates to the fact that live viruses are used in thepreparation of the vaccines. The theory suggests that some of these viruses are able to get into thebrain of some of the children receiving the vaccine. It may be a genetic factor causing the virus toget through the brain’s natural barriers. Another factor could be some random factor that causessome vaccines to be more dangerous than others dosages of the same vaccine. What ever thefactors involved it is the live virus that stimulates the brain to grow abnormally according to thistheory.

Some people may speculate that the rise in the diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorders isdue to are ability to better diagnose these disorders. They speculate that we have always hadchildren with these disorders but have not recognized them as abnormal. The problem with thistheory is that there is just too much of a dramatic increase since the 1960's to account for suchhigh numbers. While we may be better at diagnosing children with Pervasive DevelopmentalDisorders, this fact does not account for the tremendous amount of increase in children beingaffected with Autism and Aspergers Disorder. We feel that we have a true epidemic and thenumber of children diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder is likely to continue toincrease over time.

Autism is not the only medical problem that is on the rise with children. Allergies is also on therise. Some feel that our continual exposure to environmental toxins may account for the increasein these disorders. We feel that we should examine our increase use of plastics, batteries,cosmetics, and other products that may contribute to environmental toxins that we are constantlyexposed to. Is it possible that exposure to environmental toxins could account for the increase inchild health problems such as allergies, asthma and Pervasive Developmental problems? Or isthe cause due to mercury used in the vaccines or is it the live virus used to make the vaccines?Could it be a combination of these factors? Could it be another factor? Much more research isneeded to determine the specific cause for this modern day epidemic. However, we feel that themost probable cause relates to toxic substances found in our environment and/or vaccines thatcause the brain to grow abnormally.

Just as there is no known cause of Pervasive Developmental Disorders, there is no known cure.Not even medications can cure a child with Autism or Aspergers Syndrome. The abnormal braingrowth defies modern interventions. However, there are many things that can be done to increasegeneral functioning of a child with autism. Some of these techniques or a combination of thesetechniques may be able to get these children very close to behaving normally. This includebehaving socially normal. We feel that the key to success lies ultimately in neuro-development.The more that abnormal neuro pathways are worked with to be made normal, the more skills achild will have. The more cognitive skills a child with Pervasive Developmental Disorders havethe more the child will appear normal. The following is a brief presentation on some of thetreatments available for children with autism. Almost all of these treatments have an impact onneuro-development.

Nutrition

The importance of eating the right food can not be overstated. Brain development requires theright chemicals and nutrients to help dendrites branch out to connect with other nerve cells.Research has demonstrated that some of the nuero-pathways of the frontal cortex are underdeveloped in children with autism. Good nutrition is the foundation to help dendrite developmentand can help in the construction of new neuro-pathways when remediation work is underway.

Good nutrition will help almost anyone to feel and function better. We all could do well witheating a variety of foods and taking supplemental vitamins. This is especially true for autisticchildren. While some children with autism will eat anything put before them, many are pickyeaters. Many have a very limited amount of food that they are willing to eat. However, some willeat just about anything that is placed before them. Good nutrition is important for any child,especially for the child with autism disorder. Mothers can often compensate by addingmultivitamins to their children’s diets. Children who do not swallow pills or refuses chewablemultivitamins can obtain vitamins through concentrated sprays.

In general, the recommendations for autistic children are to increase their consumption of omega3 fatty acids (e.g., cod liver oil, walnuts), vitamin D and natural (cis) forms of vitamin A.Additional supplements include Choline (use under supervision), DMG (Glconic from DaVinciLabs), Magnesium plus calcium, Vitamin B complex plus niacinamide and niacin andpantothenic acid, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C. When considering the addition of vitaminsupplements, use wisdom. Educate yourself about supplementation. Be careful not to oversupplement a child. Try to understand how the supplement is supposed to work and know thecorrect amount of supplementation to get the desired response. More information aboutsupplementation and how it can be applied to Pervasive Developmental Disorders can beobtained in the book “Prescription for Nutritional Healing”. Several Internet sites also have greatrecommendations and nutritional plans. We recommend www.parentsofallergicchildren.org.Nutritional plans are helpful because many children with autsim and Aspergers syndrom oftenhave sensitivities to certain foods which impair functioning.

Nutrition can also be useful to help detoxify children from toxic chemicals. Foods that arebelieved to help with the detoxification process are raw potatoes, asparagus, carrots, garlic, beets,dandelion greens, parsley and watermelon. It is recommended for everyone to drink lots of waterto help flush out toxic materials from the body. Steamy baths and saunas are also helpful inhelping the body to release toxins. The study of nutrition is also helpful in knowing how to dealwith foods that may irritate or aggravate the immune system.

Some autistic children may have sensitivity to certain foods. Common irritants are foods thatcontain lactose or gluten. Many children with autism are lactose and gluten intolerant. If youhave an autistic child that has intestinal problems, chances are that gluten and/or casein arecontributing to these problems. Homeopathic specialists have a method to determine if your childis allergic to certain foods. Their findings can be backed up by two types of medical allergytesting. We recommend the provocation/neutralization method of allergy testing and theElisa/ACT LRA Tests. For more information about the Elisa/ACT LRA tests please visit thefollowing website: www.parentsofallergicchildren.org/elisa_act_test.htm

Toxicity assessment

Again, the most probable cause of autism is a combination of toxic substances that were in thechild’s body during crucial neuro-developmental periods of that person’s life. Some children maystill have these toxic substances within their body. The body naturally attempts to rid itself oftoxic chemicals over time. Some believe that some toxic chemicals are difficult to excrete andneed assistance. It is believed that once these toxic chemicals (e.g., heavy metals) are out of thebody, over all functioning may improve. Getting rid of all the toxic chemicals will not cure thechild. The resulting neurological damage needs to be addressed. Additional efforts are needed totreat the child as explained in other sections of this article. These efforts have a higher chance ofsucceeding if the body is currently free of toxic substance. The first step in this process is todetect harmful substances within the body.

One way to test for the presence of heavy metals within the body is through hair analysis. Thebody releases heavy metals very slowly so the likelihood of finding any in the urine or blood isvery minute. However, the hair collects body excretions over time. If a body has heavy metaltoxicity, evidence of this should be found in the hair. Thus hair analysis is viewed as a validmeasure for long term toxicity while blood and urine samples are not.

Hair analysis has been criticized by some as being to unreliable. A study reported sending thesame hair to several labs and received different results from each lab. If someone is inclined to dohair analysis, we highly recommend the Great Smokey Mountain Laboratory in Tennessee. Theyare regarded as the best laboratory to do hair analysis. To have a hair analysis performed, contacta willing doctor. You can also order a testing kit from the Laboratory by visiting their web site athttp://www.gsdl.com. Hair analysis can also be used as an outcome measure to determine theeffectiveness of detoxification methods. In addition, some children seem to collect toxicsubstances easier than other children. It may be wise to obtain a hair analysis on a yearly basis.

Once it has been determined that heavy metals or other toxic substances remain in the child’sbody, the next step is to rid the body of these chemicals. One method of doing this is throughchelation. Chelation is a process of administering certain substances that attempt to rid the bodyof toxic elements and compounds that are often stored in the body. There are several ways to dochelation. The internal method (the child ingesting the chelation substances) is known to causeside effects (e.g., gut bugs) that can at first lead to improvement and then lead to a deteriorationin functioning. For more information about this method and the possible side effects, pleasefollow this link: http://www.healing-arts.org/children/holmes.htm. A possible safer approach isadministering the chelation chemicals through the skin. This is called Transdermal Chelation.Only a few doctors do this technique but it is alleged to excrete the toxic metals without as manyside effects of the other approach to chelation. As explained in the section under nutrition, thereare natural methods to help the body detoxify from harmful chemicals. Medical chelation is oftenviewed as a more effective method. For more information on Transdermal Chelation, pleasefollow this link: http://www.drbuttar.com/about/about.asp. Dr. Amy Yasko is a pioneer in thedevelopment of a holistic program to help children and adults detoxify and strengthen their bodyusing nutritional supplements. More information can be found at http://www.holisticheal.com.

Cognitive Development

Some children with Autism Spectrum Disorder symptoms do well in school, while many do not.This is usually because some of them have developed very well cognitively and others have not.

No brain is perfectly developed. Even normal children have areas of their brain development thatcan be improved. Improving cognitively in childhood always translates into a higher quality oflife in adulthood.

Most people feel that intelligence is a static phenomena and does not change over the life span.We disagree with this and encourage activities that are designed to increase intellectualfunctioning. Research has demonstrated that within a year of the correct intervention, IQ can beraised up to 24 points, if IQ is originally below 100. It can be raised on the average of 9 points ifit is already above 100. A 24 point gain in IQ can get some retarded children within normal limitsof intelligence. Again, any advancement in intelligence has a positive impact for the rest of thechild’s life.

Currently there is a revolution within the cognitive development field. Many professionals arebecoming involved in the neuro-developmental model. Basically the model states that with theright kind of intervention, neuro-pathways can be developed in order to strengthen cognitivefunctioning. There are several good models to choose from and some with a history of over 40years. Some of the better models include The Structure of Intellect (SOI), Mel Levine’s: AllKinds of Minds Institute, Pace Tutoring, and DORE. A listing of these and otherneuro-developmental models with links to their Internet sites can be found at:www.yourfamilyclinic.com/ld/ldmodels.html.

Getting benefit from one of these providers requires certain commitments in both cost and time.To benefit from neuro-developmental programs one must spend ample time through out the weekon training exercises. The recommended time requirement is usually between 20 minutes to anhour per day, six days a week. The total cost is usually $3,000 per child. PACE tutoring has themost intensive training requiring an hour a day, six days a week. The benefit they offer is that theprogram is finished in three months or 90 days. They report an average gain of four years inreading and attention skills within that 90 day time period.

Other models may take longer in the number of days but usually require less time per day. Theend results from each program should be relatively similar. They all approach neuro-developmentslightly different so you have a broad choice of which will be most effective for yourcircumstance. The first step is to contact a provider of one of these neuro-developmental models.The practitioner will examine your child and let you know if they may be able to help or not.Your Family Clinic has a service to guide families in choosing the right developmental programand to assist them in any home schooling or home development they may choose to do. For moreinformation about this service, just follow thislink:http://www.yourfamilyclinic.com/ld/coach.html

Social Development

Lack of social skills is the essential component of all children with pervasive developmentdisorders. The part of the brain devoted to the acquisition of social skills and understandingsocial cues are under developed in children with Autism and Aspergers Syndrom. Traditionaltechniques (e.g., behavior modification) have attempted to address the lack of eye contact andsocial problems common with children with Autism. Most of these techniques are viewed as verylimited, having problems with generalization, and ineffective in solving the real problems relatedto social development.

There is a social development program that we believe is effective in resolving the socialproblems of these children. The technique that we highly recommend is called RelationshipDevelopment Intervention. This is the most comprehensive system to teach social skills. It nowhas scientific evidence to its effectiveness. While the evidence does not meet the gold standard, itdoes offer significant encouragement. According to the initial research 50 percent of theparticipants in RDI were able to achieve social skills to the point that they no longer met thecriteria for Autism. The authors were clear to point out that these children were by no meanscured of their disorder, but their social skills were so developed that they no longer met the DSMcriteria as having Autism.

If the reader could only implement one suggestion from this article, RDI would be the one toimplement. RDI is a pure neuro-developmental model and is the most likely to have permanenteffects. There are no known side effects. In addition, in neuro-development, when goals areachieved, it is often the case that other problems clear up as well. In our opinion, it is thetechnique that will produced the most amount of effective treatment in the least amount of timeand cost.

The techniques are relatively simple. Everyday the coach or parent or teacher spends one on onetime to teach social interaction. All the procedures are explained in a book. The book maps outsocial development into 26 stages. The coach or parent knows which level of development thechild is at and what techniques need to be taught next. Improvement in social development canbe easily measured by the checklist the book offers. More information can be obtained at the RDIInternet website at http://www.rdiconnect.com. This website offers parent training seminars andsupport networks.

Auditory Training

Autistic children are often sensitive to information they receive through their senses. Many areoverly sensitive to light, smells, tastes and textures. Some are very sensitive to the sounds theyhear. Auditory Processing is another component that should be examined when working withAutistic children. Some Autistic children become upset when they are around certain noises. Onetheory for this is because they are sensitive to a certain range of frequencies of sound. Thissensitivity causes them to become irritated whenever they hear sound within this frequencyrange. A technique called auditory integration is a procedure to attempt to address this problem.First the child is introduced to a wide range frequency of sound. Then a band of frequency isidentified that the child is sensitive to. The child is introduced to music and other sounds that donot include the frequency area. Then with repeated exposure, the frequency is slowly introduceda little at a time. The brain is allowed to get accustomed to the offending frequency. Moreinformation on this procedure can be found at www.auditoryintegration.net/AIT_home.html

Many parents notice improvements in behaviors and cognitive abilities following this treatment.Some report that the treatment lasted a long time. Others found that when their child had arelapse in gastro-intestinal problems as a result of chelation, that their sensitivity to soundreturned. More research is needed to identify which Autistic children benefit from this procedureand which do not.

Some children may be sensitive to the sound of their own chewing. These children often do notchew their food because of this sensitivity. These children may have an overly sensitivetrigeminal nerve. One treatment approach is to gently massage the trigeminal nerve until it is lesssensitive. The procedure is described at Handle Institute’s web site:http://www.handle.org/activity/facetap.html.

Another related concern is auditory processing problems. Some Autistic Spectrum Disorder canpass a simple hearing test yet have problem processing the information that they hear. Anauditory specialist can help detect auditory processing problems. Several companies havedesigned programs to help develop auditory skills. These include Fastforword and Tomitis. Arelatively inexpensive program designed for the home user is Earobics. You can explore theirwebsite at www.earobics.com

Near Point Vision Therapy

Just as some children have trouble processing auditory information, many children with autismdo not process visual information correctly. Developmental vision is concerned with how wellthe eyes and muscles controlling the eyes are working together. In addition it is concerned withthe process in which the information from the eyes are interpreted in the brain. Developmentalvision is all about helping children see things clearly and accurately so they can learn to read andinteract with their environment better.

One of the most common problems with some autistic children is convergence. Often thesechildren will have one eye that focuses where it is supposed to and the other eye is aimed somewhere else. Developmental vision therapy works with the eyes through exercises designed tostrengthen eye muscles and improve their coordination.

Only developmental optometrist do the examinations necessary to detect and correctdevelopmental vision problems. Most optometrists are not developmental optometrists. Mostoptometrists check for 20/20 vision and a person with developmental vision problems may haveperfect 20/20 vision, but still not have the visual abilities to learn to read fluently. The College ofOptometrists in Vision Development (at www.covd.org/index.html) has much information ondevelopmental optometry. To find a doctor in your area go to www.covd.org/membersearch.php.

To learn more about autism and developmental vision problems, we invite you to visitwww.visionhelp.com/autism.htm.

Attention Development

Many children with Autism have problems with attention. Attention is the ability to holdconcentration over a period of time. Some children with Attention Deficit Disorder haveselective attention. If the activity is stimulating (e.g., video game) they can maintainconcentration for hours at a time, if the activity is not very stimulating (e.g., home work), theirability to concentrate is short. If a child is unable to sit through a television program, the childeither has developmental vision problems or has almost no attention skills. Attention skills canbe developed through specific exercises. It can also be obtained through medication. Ifmedication is the chosen route, then one must realize that once the medication has worn off, theattention abilities are gone until the next dosage.

There are numerous exercises to increase attention. Some children with severe autisticcharacteristic will have to start with the easiest exercise which is to scratch their back. Gentlyscratching the child’s back with a back scratcher is often a good place to begin working onattention skills. The activity is usually soothing. It may take a while for some to be able to remainat this activity for an extended time. You should work up to 20 minute period. Twenty minutes ofattention is usually the goal because many activities at school require 20 minutes of sustainedattention.

The next level of attention building is being able to visually follow objects with the head heldstill. Often the parent has to hold the child’s head as they move a pencil or puppet in front of theirface from side to side requiring that the child focus on the object at all times. Completeinstructions to this exercise and similar exercises can be found at the end of a shareware article athttp://www.yourfamilyclinic.com/shareware/addbehavior.html.

Another method to increase attention skills is through computer assisted programs. We feel that agame for the X box and Sony Play Station II for building attention skills is Dance DanceRevolution. It promotes a sense of timing and rhythm that has been linked to the development ofconcentration and attention skills. The similar game is available over the Intranet atwww.flashflashrevolution.com. Interactive Metronome is a professional system developed tobuild attention skill. More information can be found at www.interactivemetronome.com. Thereare other companies that develop software that builds attention skills. Some of our favoritecompanies are Brain Train at www.braintrain.com and Locutur atwww.learningfundamentals.com. A company that develops software to teach academic skills isLaureate Learning and can be found at www.llsys.com/parents/index.html. Attention skillexercises are usually fun and satisfying. They are satisfying because parents can seeimprovements within a relatively short period of time. We recommend doing attention exercisesdaily. After 30 days at 20 minutes a day, you should see significant gains in attention skills. Ifyou do not, it is usually because you started off on a more advanced level than your child isprepared for. Some will need to start with back scratching and massages. Others can start atvisual tracking exercises. Another cause for lack of success is that other senses (e.g., vision,hearing, touch) are not developed and are interfering with the child’s ability to concentrate. If youhave started at the right level, you should get positive results. These results should encourageyour child to try other exercises to build up cognitive and relationship skills.

Medications.

For children with severe attention problems, we recommend a combination of medication andattention exercises. Medications used for attention skills are the psychostimulants (e.g., Ritalin,Adderal), Welbutrin, and Strattera. You will need to see a medical professional to obtainmedication. For a complete list of the medications used for psychological problems, pleasefollow this link: www.yourfamilyclinic.com/medical/medicationlist.html.

Some children with Autism Spectrum Disorder will not require medication. Currently there areno medications that are approved by the Federal Drug Administration to treat PDD. However,medications are widely used to treat these children. Medications are often used to addressparticular symptoms that often are seen in children with PDD and to treat coexisting conditionssuch as Tourettes Syndrom, tic disorders, ADHD, psychotic behavior, epilepsy and other separatedisorders. Thus a child with Autism may be on a number of different medications.

Be careful with medications. Most of the undesirable side effects will usually improve within oneor two weeks. If they do not, inform your doctor. Some medications help cognitive functioning.Other medications may interfere with cognitive functioning and may even interfere withneuro-developmental activities. Work with your doctor to find the best medication orcombination of medications to address your child’s symptoms yet help your child to function atan optimal level.

Currently the most popular medications for children with PDD appear to be the antipsychoticmedications (e.g., Haldol, Risperdol, Olanzapine) and the anti-depressant medications (Buspar,Zoloft, Prozac). For a list of medications used to treat psychological disorders, feel free to lookone of our listings at www.yourfamilyclinic.medication.medicationlist.html. To see informationregarding research on children with PDD and specific medications, we recommend a visit tohttp://www.patientcenters.com/autism/news/med_reference.html.

For children with severe attention problems, we recommend a combination of medication andattention exercises. Medications used for attention skills are the psychostimulants (e.g., Ritalin,Adderal), Welbutrin, and Strattera. You will need to see a medical professional to obtainmedication. For a complete list of the medications used for psychological problems, pleasefollow this link: www.yourfamilyclinic.com/medical/medicationlist.html.

Some people feel that medication should be used first to treat children with PDD. However, wefeel that medication should be used as a last resort or when other methods of treatment havefailed. We feel that once a child is on medication, then the goal of treatment should beneuro-development and good nutritional practices in an effort to have the child no longer requiremediation. There are some children with Autism that medication can not be avoided given ourcurrent treatment technology. In addition, people with few resources in time and money mayneed to rely on medication as a primary form of treatment for children with PDD.

EEG biofeedback

Another way to improve cognitive skills and overall functioning is through EEG biofeedback.EEG biofeedback measures the brain waves of the child and displays them in ways that the childcan understand (e.g., through a simple video game). The child is asked to change the brainwaves. As the child becomes proficient at changing and controlling their brain waves, they getimprovement in cognitive functioning. Adjusting brain waves is a very safe procedure and almostanyone can benefit from doing the procedure. The procedure is relatively costly since it usuallyinvolves about 40 to 80 sessions of therapy.

There are two common approaches to this procedure. One is more expensive than the other. Themost expensive method involves obtaining a “brain map” which involves gathering brain waveinformation from 16 to 19 sites on the head. The information is compared with reference groupsand abnormal brain wave activities are listed. Recommendations for biofeedback in an effort toget the brain waves more normal is thus recommended.

The less expensive procedure forgoes the “brain map” technique and the clients symptoms guidethe placement of electrodes for biofeedback or a standard placement is used. It is still debatableas to which procedure is better. However, most people who use EEG biofeedback with childrenwith Autism and ADHD report significant results. Parents can now do EEG biofeedback in theirhome through a system that works with the child's video game system. For just over $600.00,EEG biofeedback is now possible within your own home. For more information, please visitwww.smartbraingames.com. It has been our experience that EEG biofeedback is an excellentway to improve functioning. It will not cure the client of Autistic symptoms but it usually willimprove functioning significantly. It is been our experience that EEG biofeedback is an excellentway to improve functioning. It will not cure the client of Autistic symptoms but it usually willimprove functioning significantly.

Conclusion

To the parent with an autistic child, the effects of the disorder can be devastating. We have seenparents do just about anything to help their children. Of all the techniques presented above, ourfavorites and the ones we feel most important are social development (e.g., RDI) andneuro-development. While there is no cure for autism, efforts should focus on increasing skills.Many of the negative outcomes associated with autism can be circumvented with the propertreatment.

Parents should not rely on schools to do the neuro-development that is necessary to makesignificant gains. Most schools do not have the knowledge or training to do nuero-development.Remember, there are no short cuts. Medication will not develop cognitive skills. Medication canbe helpful in reducing some of the symptoms. Neuro-developmental techniques require dailyinterventions. However, a parent should see positive results within 30 days if the correctneuro-developmental technique has been chosen.

We have had some parents report positive results from the newer type of chelation therapy. EEGbiofeedback can also improve general functioning. The nutritional and medical methods are oftenimportant considerations in treating children with autism. Some children may not be able toavoid medication because of severity of their symptoms. Parents should not rely solely onmedication in the treatment of their child. While there is no cure for autism, we have developedmany useful and effective treatments. With the proper help, it is not unrealistic to expect childrenwith autism to be relatively normal and achieving normal developmental and social milestoneswith their peers.

We feel that every parent of a child with Autism should have the following books:

The Fabric of Autism: Weaving The Threads Into A Cogent Theory by Judith Bluestone, Handle Institute (May, 2004), ISBN: 0972023518

Healing the Symptoms Known As Autism 2nd Edition by Kerri Rivera, Kimberly McDaniel, et al., (January 8, 2014) ISBN=0989289044.

Relationship Development Intervention with Children, Adolescents and Adults: Social and Emotional Development Activities for Asperger Syndrome, Autism, PDD, and NLD by Steven E. Gutstein, Rachelle K. Sheely, Jessica Kingsley Publishers; 1st edition (January15, 2002) ISBN: 1843107171

Autism in the School-Aged Child: Expanding Behavioral Strategies and Promoting Success byCarol Schmidt, RN, BSN and Beth Heybyrne, MA, Autism Family Press, 2004, ISBN 0-9674969-3-4