The Child Neurology Division, Department of Pediatrics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi provides evidence based practices to parents of children with autism, so that they are empowered to take informed decisions. The following focuses on the Complementary Alternative Medicine for management of Autism.
Complementary Alternative Medicine is defined as a broad domain of healing resources that encompasses all health systems, modalities, and practices and their accompanying theories and beliefs, other than those intrinsic to the politically dominant health systems of a particular society or culture in a given historical period.
Families of children with autism may turn to therapies that are not based in the realm of conventional medical practice.
Currently, there are no CAM practices, which have strong evidence to be recommended for children with autism.
Oral supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 FA) has become popular for children with developmental differences including autism and ADHD.
A recent double-blind, placebo-controlled trial revealed no statistically significant differences on Aberrant Behavior Checklist subscale scores between small groups of children with ASDs who were given omega- 3 fatty acids and those who were given placebo.
It is important for patients and families to understand that there are significant differences in the quality of the various types of omega- 3 fatty acids available over-the-counter. In addition, researchers have yet to determine the optimal dose of omega-3 fatty acids or the optimal ratio of the two essential components of these supplements (eicosapentanoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexanoic acid, or DHA) in the treatment of those with autism. In light of this, further study is needed before experts can make reliable recommendations.
Many parents of children with ASD report that behavior improves when their children eat a diet free of the proteins gluten and casein. Gluten is found primarily in wheat, barley and rye; casein, in dairy products. In 2010, a randomized clinical trial on the use of casein- and gluten- free diets found insufficient evidence of clear benefit. However, this was a relatively small study (with just over 50 children), and it is possible that subgroups of children may benefit. The authors called for more studies to be conducted, and these are now underway.
Certainly, dietary changes can be worth investigating and trying, especially if there are other family members that have had difficulties tolerating gluten and/or casein in foods. And as mentioned, some, but not all, parents report improvements in behavior. If parents do decide to place their child on a casein- and gluten-free diet, it is important to take extra steps to ensure they do so in a safe and reliable manner.
|Intervention||Conclusion (Cochrane evidence)|
|B6 and Mg||- No evidence for recommendation|
|Gluten- and casein-free diets|
- Autism might be explained by excessive opioid activity linked to these peptides.- Current evidence for efficacy of these diets is poor
|Acupuncture||- Current evidence does not support the use of acupuncture for treatment of ASD|
|Omega-3 fatty acids Supplementation||- No high quality evidence that omega-3 fatty acids supplementation is effective for improving core and associated symptoms of ASD|
|Auditory integration training and other sound therapies|
- No evidence that auditory integration therapy or other sound therapies are effective as treatments
|Music Therapy||- Quality of the evidence was moderate for social interaction outside of the therapy context, initiating behavior, social adaptation, and the quality of the parent-child relationship|
|Hyperbaric oxygen therapy||- Safe and may be a potentially effective treatment, further studies are warranted|
Stem cell therapy in autism is a promising option, but it is only in the research stage. At this juncture, stem cell therapy cannot be recommended. Further research is warranted.