Saturday, September 22, 2007

Anecdotal Evidence Indicating HBOT Effective In Treating Autism

The autism community at large has benefited from the rise of evidence based approaches generally in treating and educating people with neurological and other disorders. An evidence based approach to evaluating interventions ranks the types of evidence available in support of the efficacy and safety of an intervention in treating a particular disorder. Parents seeking treatment for their autistic children have historically been confronted by a range of non evidence based, sometimes bizarre, and sometimes dangerous, interventions.

The insistence by various professional agencies on evidence based standards has helped sort the wheat from the chaff of autism interventions. Evidence based standards have been used to identify a useful intervention like Applied Behavior Analysis, to date the only autism intervention consistently ranked as an effective autism intervention based on the quantity and quality of the research and evidence in support of its effectiveness. Ineffective interventions such as Facilitated Communication, NAET, and swimming with dolphins, to name but a few, have been rejected.

In an evidence based system the lowest ranked type of evidence is anecdotal evidence, personal accounts of the effects of treatment. Such evidence is not subject to any controls which typify scientific inquiry. The interpretation of the evidence is typically very subjective and not subject to any measurement system to provide any accuracy of results. Anecdotal evidence can also be tainted by placebo effects. Despite all these drawbacks though anecdotal evidence is still evidence, albeit of the lowest order. While it should not, by itself, be taken as conclusive in determining the effectiveness of an intervention it should not simply be discarded either. Anecdotal evidence can suggest areas that should be investigated further by professionals conducting research in accordance with scientific procedure and standards.

In Honolulu the Hyperbaric Medicine Center has been conducting a study on the effects of Hyerbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT) on children with autism. In the procedure, as reported by KHNL 8, children are placed in a chamber pressurized down to about 18 feet of seawater wearing a mask. They receive 100 percent oxygen at which level they are supposed to receive the healing properties of hyperbaric therapy. Alyshia Busby's daughter was a participant in the HBOT study. The family had tried a range of different treatments for their daughter's autism without seeing any results. With HBOT treatment, according to Ms Busby, there was immediate benefit to her daughter who showed more spontaneous language, attention and focus.

Conclusive evidence of HBOT efficacy in treating autism? No, far from it. But it is some evidence and it will be interesting to read the published results of the Hyerbaric Medicine Center's study.

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