Age of Autism claim 'hundreds of case reports' of recovered children

16 Dec

A post on the Age of Autism about an interview with the New York Times describes how the interviewee believes that:

….none of our health authorities have any explanation of cause or cure [of autism], we have a whole community of doctors and parents who are actually recovering children. And, without ever treating an autistic child, interviewing a DAN! doctor who treats them, or exploring the several hundred case reports of complete recovery and thousands of stories of improvement…

I was fascinated by this. I have not ever seen one published case report of a child recovered by a DAN! doctor in a respected medial journal. In fact, its a common refrain of mine that these things do not in fact exist at all. And here the author of this post is claiming that there are ‘several hundred case reports of complete recovery’. I thought maybe there’d been an upsurge in PubMed so I went to have a look.

I found one case study that referenced DAN! methods: The recovery of a child with autism spectrum disorder through biomedical interventions. This study (for which no abstract is available) is published in ‘Alternative therapies in health and medicine‘ which claims to be a peer reviewed journal and who’s subject matter includes such medical breakthroughs as Reiki, prayer and reflexology. How this magazine got listed in PubMed I have no idea.

Anyway, suffice it to say that it is totally unsurprising that this study got published in such a publication (Eigenfactor here – compare to New England Journal of Medicine for an idea of how good it is).

So, here’s one very dodgy ‘study’. Where are the other several hundred case reports?

It is also well established that those who use Alt-Med and go on to claim recovery also use mainstream therapies (e.g Jenny McCarthy’s child who was on GFCF, some other stuff….and one-to-one speech therapy). In a 2006 study ‘Internet survey of treatments used by parents of children with autism‘, it was established that:

The mean number of current treatments being used by parents was seven….

I haven’t read the ‘study’ in the Altie journal but the experience with Jenny McCarthy’s child, and plenty of others I have read online indicates that this is true for most parents who claim to be recovering their kids biomedically. As such, you have to give weight to the treatments that are established to have some benefit already. And lets also look at the results of the recent Helt study which reported that a non vaccine related, non-biomed set of kids had somewhere between 3 and 25% recovery. This indicates that sometimes, kids just recover. For reasons we are not really aware of yet.

So I am left puzzled as to why the Age of Autism claim there are several hundreds of case reports. I am puzzled as to how they know it was the biomed intervention which precipitated the alleged recovery and I am puzzled as to how they link _any_ sort of treatment to recovery. All in all, it seems like a set of claims that are not reality based are being made. But maybe I’m wrong – if so, please – anyone from AoA – provide a link to the peer reviewed journal published several hundred of case reports that you claim exist.

14 Responses to “Age of Autism claim 'hundreds of case reports' of recovered children”

  1. apgaylard December 16, 2008 at 13:27 #

    How this magazine got listed in PubMed I have no idea

    A thought that often comes to my mind. A good recent example that I have come across is Holistic Nurse Practitioner (I was looking at a very poor acupuncture study, but the journal seems to cover much of the same ground that your example does).

    In a similar vein I was stunned that the Australian Journal of Holistic Nursing is also listed.

    A classic example is the homeopaths in-house comic Homeopathy. Still, its inclusion does mean that I’m an indexed author!

    It makes me even more suspicious when I find ‘journals’ cited which don’t get listed in PubMed: European Journal of Oriental Medicine is a recent example.

  2. farmwifetwo December 16, 2008 at 13:44 #

    Now, my son had nightmares/terrors (daily), diahhrea and nasty rashes (daily), leaned instead of sitting straight, fell without putting his hands out…etc. He was stoned… for lack of a better word.. on dairy. And I’ve given you the link to our hospitals that have started such research that there’s a chance that happens in children. And I’ve told you… did NADA for the severe, non-verbal one without the stomach upsets. Anyways. It all vanished 48hrs afterwards, and had a 24hr nightmare when we gave him a little butter 7 days later.

    So… IMO… yes, foods can make children miserable and NO it is not a cure. The child has also had HOURS and HOURS of speech therapy and homeschooling to catch him up.

    Last spring we were over at the library and a woman says to me “My friend has cured her kids on the diet, they are 5”. I looked at her and said “Would you say my eldest is cured?” Her “Why? There’s nothing wrong with him”. BINGO… (she had been talking about the little one) they look just fine on the surface and once they get into school… parents have lost that dx and wonder why the kid isn’t doing well and how to get them help b/c without the dx… the school won’t do anything.

    I just got back a Language assessment yesterday, follow-up to the Sept psychometric test that says “If English was only grammar and spelling the kid would get an A, b/c it also includes reading comprehension (F), it averages out to a C.” Nothing we nor the teacher hadn’t figured out, but nice to have it in writing.

    They walk and talk “normally” but the LD’s don’t disappear.

    Trust me…. It’s taken me until Gr 4 to explain that to the school and FINALLY I have reports and supports to prove it.


  3. Ringside Seat December 16, 2008 at 14:05 #

    Notwithstanding that we know Leo Kanner reported children, upon growing up, losing many of their autistic issues – and I believe this was some time before DAN was devised as a marketing franchise for quacks – it’s worth remembering that the quacks are among Age of Autism’s advertising and information resources, so there is an obvious conflict of interest in that website publishing such claims.

  4. alyric December 16, 2008 at 14:56 #


    I’m writing a review of Mother Warriors at the moment. I got a copy from the library and to be frank it’s the only way to get through a very badly written book that suffers from a serious lack of editing. I’m into the case studies section now and so far all the kids are on behavioural programs as well as biomed. Lisa Ackerman made the comment that fixing the physical enabled the behavioural program to do its thing and coming from the founder of TACA that’s some endorsement. It’s also straight common sense. If your child has those problems then they need to be fixed. Now for the biomed crowd, there are two issues. They concentrate on the gastro issues, but not every child has them, though you must expect that some will. The second issue is inventing problems like fungal infections, yeast infections and toxic metals. Those to me come across as 100% scam. The fungals and yeast infection promoters assume that they never exist in the healthy body – very wrong assumption. The toxic metals depend on provoked tests or a non specific indirect test like porphryns.

    As far as recovered kids go, well what’s doing the recovery is also secondary to what you classify as ‘recovered’. Some don’t claim ‘recovery’ and of those that do there’s something residual like speech problems usually. And these stories lack coherence so reliability is also an issue. Also the claim of recovery is made at far too young an age. Wait til these kids hit middle school and then see as farmwife points out clearly.

  5. David N. Andrews M. Ed. (Distinction) December 16, 2008 at 16:06 #

    “A classic example is the homeopaths in-house comic Homeopathy. Still, its inclusion does mean that I’m an indexed author!”

    I’m going to have to write an article for that ‘journal’ on the topic of ‘psychological factors in cases of homeopath suicides by underdose’.

    Think they’d accept it?


  6. Vogon Poet December 17, 2008 at 06:40 #

    If I hear the word “recovered” one more time, I might puke.
    Being Autistic, is not like being lost luggage.

    The poor reading comprehension is nothing to worry about, it’s just a different way we process information.
    To comprehend complex texts, I often draw little charts and tables to organize and visualize the information.
    I don’t know if it occured to you, that the whole negative language, associated with “curing” Autism gives the kid a feeling of inadequacy, and if you accepted his differences in thinking, he could develop more confidence in learning things his own way.

  7. farmwifetwo December 17, 2008 at 19:36 #

    My kid doesn’t even know he’s different and he’s 9. We’ve never told him. What’s the point at this age. Actually I was discussing his younger brother’s autism (used the word) with my Mother one day and he says “I don’t have autism”. My reply “No, you’re just perfect”. He has no clue that the extra supports make him different than the rest of his classmates… for him… it’s just the way it is. One day, we’ll explain things… but not today.

    Social is still delayed but not enough to worry about and behavioural is doing very well too. We have a token program now in his class which is helping a lot in teaching him how to take part appropriately in the classroom.

    We have a meeting after Xmas to deal with reading comp and IEP. It’s more oral than words. He has short term memory issues – this fall’s psychometric test – so I think we need to teach him to use the materials. Open book style.

    I have 3 weeks to think about it and try different things and see what suggestions the SLP has.

    I’m just happy to have the issue documented it in a report form. Now, we can sort out how to help him get around it.

    He’s having a amazing year. Best part of the report card was the comment at the bottom “The Child seems content this year in the classroom”. Perfect.


  8. passionlessDrone December 17, 2008 at 19:52 #

    Hi Vogon Poet –

    Great name!

    – pD

  9. Kev December 17, 2008 at 20:00 #

    What pD said. Made me laugh even before I’d read anything you said 🙂

  10. Vogon Poet December 18, 2008 at 17:46 #

    I’m thinking of calling myself Grunthos the Flatulent in protest of the GFCF diet hysteria.

  11. David N. Andrews M. Ed. (Distinction) December 18, 2008 at 19:46 #

    “I’m thinking of calling myself Grunthos the Flatulent in protest of the GFCF diet hysteria.”


    We are probably the only two here who really know where our towels are!

    Oh Frettled Gruntbuggly….

  12. pharma shill November 24, 2009 at 23:39 #

    it’s so obvious this site is so fake!



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    […] over a year ago I wrote down some thoughts on recovery while grocery shopping. Kev at Left Brain/Right Brain blogged recently about some claims on Age of Autism about “‘‘hundreds of case […]

  2. Autism Blog - » Blog Archive » Age of Autism’s reporter of the year 2008 - January 3, 2009

    […] A lot of David’s post is factless twaddle and made me quite angry to read. He (like everyone else on his side of the autism divide) states there are thousands of recovered autistic kids? Where? Where are the case studies? Certainly not in PubMed. […]

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