Autism: An overview
Page 4 of 4
By Marian Wilde , GreatSchools Staff
Biomedical and dietary interventions have not been scientifically proven to be effective.
Biomedical treatments may include:
- Vitamins and minerals
- A hormone called secretin
- Chelation - a controversial method used to extract mercury and other toxins from the body
Dietary treatments include:
- Gluten- and casein-free diets
- Yeast-free diets
- Special diets to treat various allergies
J. B. Handley, the founder of Generation Rescue, laments that schools don't address the biological side of autism. "I don't understand the legalities associated with that so I just know it's something they are silent on. It's too bad. I wish they could at least inform parents of this route."
Handley suggests that parents "think of the biomedical approach as an umbrella term for addressing a child's physical symptoms. These kids suffer from gastro-intestinal distress and nutritional deficiencies well in excess of their neurotypical peers, and impaired immune systems and sleep disturbances. There are many different ways to address the many different symptoms."
What about private schools?
According to Ficcaglia, "There are private schools and there are private schools. For example, there's a set of schools referred to as nonpublic schools. These are specialized schools designed for children with disabilities and they're funded by the school district. But if a parent opts out of the system completely by going to a private school they would be losing services. That doesn't mean their child can't be provided with things like speech therapy or occupational therapy after school."
"There are very few kids with autism who can make it at a private school," says Ficcaglia. "Their behavioral needs are generally not what private schools are interested in taking. Private schools serve a select group of kids, generally speaking. Eighty percent of children with autism also have some degree of mental retardation or developmental delay."
Romaniec warns parents that "by choosing private over public you sometimes opt to lose services. You need to be aware of that. I hear from more parents that they don't want to deal with school districts anymore and they just want to move ahead paying everything out of pocket. I have cautioned many that you have 12 years of school ahead of you. Now is the time to fight for services that are appropriate for your child. You have to make long-term decisions, because you're going to be broke if you keep paying. Believe me, behavior therapy can cost you $40,000 a year. There are some private facilities that do nothing but treat autistic children. The majority of those are paid for by the school districts when parents properly negotiate on behalf of their child."
The costs of special education in the public schools
There is a growing concern that special education costs are impacting the ability of public schools to provide adequate regular education, as competition for scarce education dollars increases.
An American Institutes for Research study, issued in 2003, indicates that in 1999-2000 it cost $6,556 to educate a regular education student, but $12,639 to educate a special education student. Educating an autistic child, in particular, costs over $18,000, or 290% more than the regular education child.
- Autism Speaks launched their redesigned site in November 2005, complete with a video series and an expert search function
- The Center for Disease Control's Learn the Signs. Act Early. site offers checklists for developmental milestones for ages 3 months through 5 years, autism fact sheets and interactive tools for parents
- TACA stands for Talk About Curing Autism. This is a site where families with autism help other families with autism
- Autism-Asperger Digest is a print magazine created for family and professionals in the autism community
- DAN! Defeat Autism Now! is a group dedicated to educating others on biomedical treatments for autism
- National Autism Association
- Autism Society of America