All parents want their children to lead a healthy and happy life. But parents of children having autism spectrum disorder should be extra cautious to prevent their kids falling prey to expensive, unsafe and non-evidence-based autism treatments.
As a thumbrule, parents should always ask whether there’s any proven scientific rationale behind the treatment being offered. As a parent of a child with autism, think critically about all the associated benefits and risk. You must ask your child’s healthcare practitioner whether the treatment is safe and backed by scientific research and whether the research paper has been published in a peer-reviewed or reputed medical journal.
It’s important to remember that any person can publish a study on internet or start a journal as a propaganda mechanism for useless and dangerous interventions. There have been several cases of healthcare fraud in many countries including India. Children with autism and their parents are often the target of these non-evidence-based autism treatments. Providers of such treatment prey on the fear and desperation of the parents and deceive them in innumerable ways.
Evidence-based treatments are thoroughly tested in several laboratories under government observation. The tests are usually progressive and carried out in several phases. The design of a scientific study is largely guided by its purpose and focus.
Evidence-based studies use well-matched comparison groups and sample sizes for their tests. Gender distribution, average age, diagnosis and the level of functioning, are usually the factors ignored in non-evidence-based autism treatments. The random assessment of participants in the comparison/treatment groups is also ignored.