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Caring for AutismPractical Advice from a Parent and Physician$
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Michael Ellis

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190259358

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190259358.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 03 August 2021

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies

Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies

(p.132) (p.133) 7 Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies
Caring for Autism

Michael Ellis

Oxford University Press

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the collective term used for treatments or therapies that have not typically been part of Western medicine. The “complementary” part of this term means that the treatment may be used along with more conventional medicine, while the “alternative” component of the term implies that it may be used in place of traditional medi­cine. Most people in the United States choose not to forgo Western medicine and instead combine CAM and conventional medicine, preferring the term “integrative medicine” over “complementary and alternative medicine.” CAM purports to focus on the whole person, including the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components of health. A wide variety of treatments can fit under the umbrella of CAM treatments for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In this chapter, we will discuss many of these treatments and the evidence base for them. According to studies, 50% to 75% of children with ASD are treated with CAM therapies. Even higher percentages of children with more severe ASD or intellectual disability are treated with CAM. Parents are also more likely to use CAM treatments if the child has seizures, gastrointestinal symptoms, or a behavioral disorder. Parents believe that these therapies are more accessible and less invasive. Most parents are more comfortable when they hear that a treatment falls under the CAM category because they believe it is more “natural” or safer (1, 2). CAM therapies have varying degrees of efficacy and safety data. These different CAM therapies fall under the larger categories of nutrition/dietary interventions, immunomodulation, biochemical and metabolic therapies, detoxification, manipulative and body-based practices, music therapy, sensory integration therapy, hippotherapy (horseback riding), dolphin swim therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and so forth. It is beyond the scope of this book to discuss each therapy in extensive detail, but I will give an introduction to each type of CAM treatment and then discuss the more important and controversial treatments (2).

Keywords:   artificial food colors, chemical chelation, detoxification, gluten-free/casein-free diet, immunomodulation, melatonin, occupational therapy, seizure disorders

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