Wednesday, August 04, 2010
I read with great concern your article, "Castration Drug Given to Kids as Autism Therapy." I commend you for reporting that such a treatment is controversial and for acknowledging that the medical establishment does not condone the use of Lupron.
As you indicated, children with autism are often subjected to a wide array of biomedical procedures that are costly, are potentially life threatening, and lack scientific support. Promoters of such treatments promise the moon, use every marketing tactic possible, and rely on heart-wrenching testimonials to cover up the lack of research validating their claims.
There may come a time when certain medications are found to be effective for certain behaviors in certain children. These important lessons will be learned through systematic research ultimately published in peer-reviewed journals.
I strongly recommend that you write your next piece on applied behavior analysis (ABA), the "painstaking" treatment mentioned in your article. I do take issue with your word choice, particularly in an article about a drug that can cause harm in vulnerable children. ABA has been used to successfully eliminate self-injurious behavior and aggression, as well as to teach children to speak, become more independent, and learn to make friendships. Yes, it is an intensive intervention, but autism is not a simple disorder. It is a serious condition that impacts upon all levels of functioning. You should know that there are hundreds and hundreds of research articles published in peer-reviewed journals supporting the use of ABA. No other treatment for autism possesses this level of scientific support.
Despite the caveats, articles such as yours with the media attention it brings may raise concern for a few, but actually may do more to increase revenue for those turning autism treatment into a cottage industry. In this case, sadly, I suspect that Lupron is now on the radar for scores of families desperately trying to help their children.
Again, please consider writing an article on scientifically validated treatment for autism.
David Celiberti, Ph.D., BCBA-D
President, Association for Science in Autism Treatment