Does the old fashion medicine man or witch doctor still exist? Remember the stories of the charlatan selling snake oil by the side of the road? Have you been told about someone who can ‘cure’ your child with Autism? Have you been contacted by someone claiming they can reverse the progression of your child’s disorder? Have you found a website that promises new and exciting treatments that will “fix” your child’s condition?
As a parent of a child on the Autism spectrum, all of these assertions may sound enticing and something you desperately want to believe in. It is bad enough when we are personally affected with an illness or a disability of our own but when it affects our most prized possession, our child, we are apt to do just about anything to eliminate the disorder and the challenges it brings.
Accepting a diagnosis of autism for your child is a difficult pill to swallow and finding a cure, or at least the best treatment option, becomes a parent’s immediate focus and mission. Just as the degrees of disability on the Autism spectrum are so wide and varied so are the numbers of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) treatments available.
The vast abundance of therapies and remedies offered out there can be overwhelming and confusing to any parent. In addition to the long list of traditional treatments that exist, there are innumerable alternative treatments that are being promoted everywhere you look.
Many of these alternative treatments are not covered by insurance and spending out-of-pocket money for something that doesn’t work or could even exacerbate your child’s condition is not going to help anyone. There may be some non-established treatments out there that could help your child but rushing into them without doing your homework first is not the best way to approach what might be a health or financial risk. So what is a parent to do?
Here are some suggestions to keep in mind as you consider alternative treatments for your child:
Buyer beware! – Ask questions and get informed. Do as much research as possible in order to become a sensible consumer and make the most knowledgeable decision possible. Time may be of the essence but rushing into an alternative treatment may turn out to be a waste of your time in the long run – so making efficient and effective use of your time should be a priority. When dealing with any health related issue, it is always important to determine the potential risks and weigh them thoughtfully against the promised benefits.
Evaluate the resources you find. – Look to see who is responsible for the information and what qualifications the person or organization has. If it is an Internet site, determine who sponsors the site and assess for credibility. Universities, medical schools, government or public agencies and peer-reviewed journals tend to have the most objective sites. Be wary of sites that simply present an opinion. Before you accept it as fact look for some convincing evidence to back it up.
Look for quality references. – If you are reviewing a website, search for links or other references to credible scientific organizations, books and papers. If the site mentions other professionals, take the time to find ways to contact them or connect with their own websites to get a feel for the authority or standing they have as a professional within the autism community.
Ask for a testimonial. - If a provider is not willing to put you in touch with someone who can give you a testament to the effectiveness of the services they received from them I urge you to think twice before you commit. If they do present you with a person to contact, make sure they are not frauds being enticed to give false positive reports. Asking many detailed questions that only a recipient of the treatments would know is a good way to ferret out imposters.
Request evidence. – If claims of a cure or miracles are being made, take notice. Usually the more spectacular or flamboyant a declaration is, the less likely they are to be accurate. If there is a scientific explanation provided as to how the treatment works, does it make sense? Because this is difficult for most nonprofessionals to discern, ask for concrete evidence in the form of a publication or a study.
Find a doctor you can trust. – Being comfortable with your child’s pediatrician is most important. Finding a doctor that is open to discussing all treatment possibilities and is not threatened by your desire to get a second opinion is a good indicator that he or she has your child’s best interest at heart. If you want to verify a physician’s ability to practice, their professional standing or conduct, be proactive and look them up by going to the licensing board for physicians in your state. The website DocFinder makes looking up any physician easy.
Remember, you always want to approach any large outlay of cash for medical intervention just as you would any other major financial investment. Using caution and good sense is the best thing one can do when investing in your own or your child’s health and future.