Seriously, I’ve been told so many causes and cures for ASD in the past three months since my son’s diagnosis that I don’t know whether to scream, cry or laugh in people’s faces.
There is no single known cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) but the majority of the medical community seem to accept that it has something to do with abnormalities in brain function or structure. Frustratingly, the lack of knowledge surrounding how autism occurs means there’s no way to prevent it. That means the only option is to treat it once a diagnosis is confirmed.
Sadly, a lack of known cause also leaves the unqualified masses a little too much wiggle room in which to speculate, because that’s a good idea. No harm done, right? It’s just talk.
Except we discover that just after these so-called “causes” of autism are blurted out come the backyard cures.
Here are 8 of my favourites.
“It all starts in the gut”, I was told by a mum who can’t quite admit to herself that her son may be on the autism spectrum. Apparently not having him diagnosed means he’s not autistic. Hey, I get it. I stalled my son’s diagnosis for three years, convincing myself it was anything else. It’s when she told me she’d just sent his poop sample off for analysis that I started trying to wrap up our phone call. I’ve since been told that autism is caused by an imbalance of bacteria in my son’s digestive tract and that it was probably caused by the foods I ate or the environment I was in during gestation.
So, my fault then.
Dairy has been blamed and gluten, which rules out most processed foods. Those who don’t point at diet as the cause certainly claim it is the cure. Paleo Pete did it. Celebrity Chef Pete Evans made the claim that children with ASD can benefit from a Paleo diet, which I had no choice but to dismiss seeing as my son subsists on bread, fish fingers, chicken nuggets and bananas.
It was the prestigious Harvard Mental Health letter released in 2010 that attempted to dispel this theory, stating that, “Researchers have long disagreed about whether gastrointestinal problems may underlie some symptoms of autism spectrum disorders. This has not stopped some researchers and celebrities from promoting theories and special “autism diets” with no scientific support. Yet these unfounded recommendations might appeal to grieving and vulnerable parents who are heartbroken about a child’s sudden developmental regression.”
An “article” claimed that there was a link between autism and circumcision. This would certainly explain why ASD is more than five times more common in boys than it is in girls. That’s something. The Demark study was released early this year and claimed that after closely examining 340,000 boys between 1994 and 2003 researchers found that the “overall risk of developing autism before age 10 was almost 50 percent higher for circumcised boys than uncircumcised boys”.