Going Through the Motions
What are you to do if you operate on the fringes of evidence based treatments for autism? You feel you are at the cutting edge but the medical establishment do not support your theories and treatment protocols? Well, you could go in for double blind placebo controlled studies and publish in peer reviewed journals. After all, one of the biggest complaints from proponents of biomedical interventions is that these sort of studies have not been carried out properly for the vaccines they blame for their alleged autism epidemic.
And you do not have to believe their claims about vaccines in order to sympathize with objections to the routine prescribing of powerful psychiatric drugs to autistics of all ages. Even if you question the evidence, nobody was ever harmed by dropping dairy or gluten products from their diet. But where is the evidence for Ritalin, SSRIs, Risperidone etc? We know they can have severe side-effects and are not licenced for the treatment of autism. APANA or Autistic People Against Neuroleptic Abuse has long campaigned against the misuse of such drugs as a substitute for offering proper support to autistics.
So it is surprising that mega doses of vitamins, chelating agents, anti fungal treatments etc. are embraced so enthusiastically by those who would rightly condemn the drug companies if they introduced new treatments on the basis of anecdotal evidence, individual case studies and small scale trials. And then they are surprised when their evidence is rejected. Action Against Autism(AAA) should have been chastened by their recent experience at the Cross Party Group on Autistic Spectrum Disorder
"Mr Welsh (Chairmen of AAA) noted that 50% of people with autism have inflammatory bowel disorder and questioned why this has not been brought forward.
Dr McClure stated that there are concerns over the presentations children make and that more evidence is needed. The SIGN group has followed a process and procured the evidence it has. It may be that studies mentioned by Mr Welsh do not meet the quality of evidence that the group is working with. He added that he would be happy if Mr Welsh investigated this.
Mr Welsh stated that at a recent conference scientists from the USA and France were asked if autism was treatable to which they replied ‘yes’. Mr Welsh asked for Dr McClure’s opinion.Dr McClure replied that no-one in the SIGN group would inhibit research which would find answers to help children. Part of the process is about safety on the basis of evidence. He stated that in his work he, personally, prescribes to the principle of ‘do no harm’. Dr McClure remarked that the problem with the studies to which Mr Welsh refers is that they do not meet the quality of evidence threshold. That is not to say that he is not interested in these inquiries but he would like there to be more research carried out properly."
But never mind that your research does not meet the quality of evidence threshold. Never mind about peer review. Why not go for parliamentary review instead? Murdo FraserMSP, one of two parliamentary advisors to Action for Autism has proposed the following motion.
S2M-3487 Murdo Fraser: Autism-Specific Medical Treatment Centre—That the Parliament congratulates the charity, Action Against Autism, for bringing to Scotland, at the Royal College of Physicians, six of the world’s leading medical doctors practising in the field of autism, who articulated to delegates from over ten countries that autism can be treated by the introduction of safe and proven interventions for the often painful and distressing underlying medical conditions which courageous children with autism are experiencing, and believes that the Scottish Executive should give consideration to the establishment of an Autism-Specific Medical Treatment Centre in Scotland to address the needs of the 3,400 primary school children and others who have been identified as suffering from this devastating condition. R
Who are these "leading medical doctors practising in the field of autism?"
Another MSP has proposed a similar motion asking the Scottish Parliament to "recognize the expertise" and endorse "credible evidence" that has no credibility amongst mainstream scientists and doctors.
S2M-3422# Carolyn Leckie: Treating Autism—That the Parliament congratulates Action Against Autism for organising the pioneering conference, "Autism is Treatable", which took place on 15 October 2005; recognises the expertise demonstrated by the international scientists and medical professionals who led most sessions, especially since their work has been developed within a climate of hostility, and believes that the credible evidence of varying levels of recovery from the characteristics of autism in medically-treated US children should not be dismissed and that further efforts to explore the bio-medical model of autism in Scotland deserve the support of the Scottish Executive and the medical establishment.
Autism does not have to be a devastating condition. There is plenty that would help.
- Early identification and diagnosis
- Support and training for parents in how to raise their autistic child
- Safe and supportive school environments free from the bullies who tried to wreck my son's life
- An end to the isolation of adults who do not fit the current service models of learning disability and mental illness
- A benefits system that recognized autism
- Support for housing and employment
- Care for the autistic elderly