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How Extreme Diets Damage Autistic People

Reid Knight Content note: This article contains discussion of disordered eating. Photo from www.quotecatalog.com | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Fork and knife paired in the center of a white ceramic plate on a pink background.] For many parents of a newly-diagnosed autistic child, a quick internet search for ‘autism’ tells them that changing their child’s diet is a smart first step towards “improving” autistic behaviors or other co-occuring conditions. Despite the popularity of “autism diets,” research shows insufficient proof that they do anything positive at all. Nevertheless, strictly regimenting the diet of autistic children continues to be a common parental practice. I was one of those autistic children who got put on a special diet, by parents who thought they were doing what was best for me. Though parents like mine may believe such a controlled diet is for the benefit of their child, my own experience on an…

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Hey Parents of Autistic Kids: Here Are Five Big, Avoidable Mistakes

Shannon Des Roches Rosa www.squidalicious.com Resting after a long hike. Photo © Shannon Des Roches Rosa [image: White teen boy with short brown hair, seen from behind, sitting on a hilltop bench overlooking an ocean.] If you’re the parent of an autistic kid, you probably get advice thrown at your head from every angle, all day long. You may even be all done with advice. And I hear you, because I am you. But I also have had the great good fortune to be connected with some of the most insightful autistic and autism professionals and thinkers on this planet, who have transformed my parenting approach completely, and to the benefit of my teen son Leo, as well as myself. 

 As I have become increasingly devoted to “learn from my mistakes, so you don’t repeat my mistakes,” here are five bonks I made during the early years of parenting…

NeuroTribes: A Reminder And Reflection of Our Humanity

M. Kelter theinvisiblestrings.com As an autistic, the impression I was left with after reading Steve Silberman’s book NeuroTribes was one of enormous relief. The book not only avoids the usual pitfalls of fear-mongering and stigmatizing language that surround the topic of autism, but actually explains the origins of those pitfalls — as it pieces together a comprehensive history of both the autism spectrum itself, and the various ways ‘autism’ has been defined over the decades. [Image: The cover of the book NeuroTribes, by Steve Silberman.] Knowing this reaction to NeuroTribes had a lot to do with my own diagnosis, I became curious as to how non-autistics feel about Silberman’s book. The result was conversations with two people who have different connections to autism: Michael McWatters, the father of an autistic son, and Deborah Budding, PhD, a clinical neuropsychologist. Michael McWatters M. Kelter: First off, just a general question: what did…

It’s An Autism Thing … I’ll Help You Understand It

Emma Dalmayne autisticatedalmayne.com When I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome two years ago I felt relieved, jubilant, and sad all at the same time. Relieved, because I now knew myself, I could understand so much more about myself. There were a lot of ‘ahh!’ moments to look back on! Jubilant, because I know knew I wasn’t unreasonable or a complete misfit; I was part of a neurodiverse community that helped me be proud of my autistic identity. Sad, for all the missed opportunities I had had, all the misunderstandings and meltdowns that are — in short — terrifying when you do not understand why you are going through them. Most of all I wanted to help other parents, as I am a mother to neurodiverse children, including two with complex needs, and felt I could offer help to others. I started a Facebook group with a large volume of autistics…

Why It Hurts Your Child to Be an Autism Cure Chaser

Susan Walton This week in a local parent forum, a member spoke up about MMS, a “treatment” that TPGA has examined (with horror) in the past. (See TPGA science editor Emily Willingham’s Dangerous Interventions: MMS and Autism.) A TPGA Editor was present during the MMS forum discussion and suggested we are reprint the conversation, with permission from that forum’s Moderator. Maybe there should be a 12 step program for autism parents who have fallen for misguided and misdirected “hope.” —- I am the father of a 5.5 year old ASD kid. He was diagnosed with autism three years ago. For the last three years, we tried many “treatments” including Andy Cutler protocol [chelation], multi-vitamins, Methyl-B12 shots, GFCFSF diets and various therapies. At one point in time, we were giving around 35 supplements and medicines per day. We saw some improvements for each of the above therapies. But they were MINOR.…

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Alternative Autism Science: Don’t Believe the Hype!

Shannon Des Roches Rosa www.squidalicious.com My son has had a challenging few months. We have been scrambling, hard, to figure out the best ways to support him, help him feel comfortable and settled. Medical treatments have helped, as has a forensic approach to figuring out stressors in his environment, as has looking back through his daily record for patterns in sleep, illness, exercise, and routine. But when he’s still unhappy or dysregulated despite all our best efforts plus the efforts of his extended team of doctors, educators, and therapists, I feel like I’d do anything to help him. An autism parent at such a loss is in a potentially dangerous spot. Their autistic child more so. Because if mainstream medicine and legitimate therapies and approaches can’t provide answers, that’s when parents tend to look elsewhere. That’s when they risk exposing their child to therapies that can cause physical harm (e.g.,…

Fox News Asks, Can Autism Be Prevented?

Emily Willingham www.emilywillinghamphd.com www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham It’s happened again at Fox News. After taking down a story last year that was packed with misinformation about genetically modified foods — headlined “What you need to know“ — Fox has now offered up another similarly underevidenced article, this time headlined “Can autism be prevented?” Short answer: No, not usually. In spite of that, the article goes longer and turns to one ‘Rober’ (sic) Melillo, who practices something called “chiropractic neurology.” The unbylined article says about autism: “The statistic rates used to be one in 150 — so how did we get these new numbers?  Dr. Rober Melillo, co-founder of the Brain Balance Achievement Centers, spoke with Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor for FoxNews.com, about the science behind autism, as well the facts and myths surrounding the condition.” Melillo, in fact, does neither. Instead, he exhibits a rather basic grasp of genetics, blames…

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MMS: Yes, It Is Bleach

Emily Willingham www.emilywillinghamphd.com www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham When we wrote previously about the use of MMS, a bleach compound, administered orally or as enemas on the promise that it would “cure” autistic people, we received many, many comments in support (or defense) of using MMS. Many people exhorted us to ‘do our research,’ to not ‘jump to conclusions.’ One of the most recent comments went as follows: “Your ‘argument’ falls down immediately. It is not bleach — the chemical structure is completely different. This is where unbiased researchers like me stop reading — you can’t even get the chemistry part correct so why bother. If you can’t be bothered to research your subject then please don’t write about it, it really is that simple.” Weary of this kind of assertion and the ad hominems that always seem to accompany the defensiveness, I offered to this particular commenter the following suggestion: “Why don’t you…

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No Evidence Supporting Chelation As Autism Treatment

Emily Willingham www.emilywillinghamphd.com www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham Image source: pixabay.com Chelation is a “treatment” for autism promoted by the likes of Jenny McCarthy’s Generation Rescue group and others in which a chemical that binds metals is (usually) injected or infused into an autistic child with the intent of removing said metals from the blood. Now a review of the scientific studies on chelation and autism has concluded that not only is chelation ineffective, it can be dangerous. Indeed, chelation appears to be a case study of the dangers in using children as guinea pigs for random autism-causation hypotheses with no basis. According to Tonya Davis, Ph.D., lead author of the paper, quoted in a news story about the publication: “Chelation therapy represents the ‘cart before the horse’ scenario where the hypothesis supporting the use of chelation was not validated prior to using it as a form of treatment. Evidence does not support the hypothesis…