Is science coming back into fashion?

The Summer 2011 issue of the
Autism Spectrum News was just delivered to my doorstep with the leading story, titled, Use Science and the Scientific Method When Considering Treatment. In fact, the most of the issue is devoted to this goal, which is a refreshing change from what comes across my desk and through my e-mail on a daily basis. For every one article I read on science-based treatment, there are over a dozen articles on treatments that have no evidence whatsoever regarding their efficacy. I applaud those researchers who keep reminding parents about science-based treatment - a thankless job. Desperate parents generally do not want to hear that their latest “treatment find” doesn’t deserve to be found. In addition, even when parents do believe in science, it is very difficult to differentiate between science-based treatments and quackery, particularly when a considerable number of researchers with Ph.D.s behind their names support treatments that are half-baked, or completely experimental. The Complete Guide to Autism Treatments devotes almost 100 pages to this very topic in an attempt to inoculate parents against quackery; however, parents need to spend the time reading to protect themselves and their children by becoming educated about how science does and does not work. The irony is that parents of newly diagnosed children are generally frantic to find treatment, often exhausted from not sleeping through the night, and frequently depressed because they worry about their child’s future. Reading a book on science may not necessarily be high on their list of priorities. To that end, particularly for new parents, I’d like to share simply one of the many RED FLAGS when it comes to treatments:

Do NOT believe personal testimonials without serious scientific backup!