Many parents report success with megavitamin therapy. Some studies have shown that vitamin B6 improves eye contact and speech and lessens tantrum behavior. Vitamin B6 causes fewer side effects than other medications and is considered safe when used in appropriate doses. However, not many health practitioners advocate its use in the treatment of autism, citing that the studies showing its benefit were flawed.
This compound, available in many health food stores, is legally classified as a food, not a vitamin or drug. Some researchers claim that it improves speech in children with autism. Those who respond to this treatment will usually do so within a week. Again, many doctors do not feel that the studies are adequate to promote this treatment.
One researcher found that vigorous exercise (20 minutes or longer, three or four days a week) seems to decrease hyperactivity, aggression, self-injury and other autistic symptoms.
While there is no cure, with appropriate treatment the negative behaviors of autism may improve. Earlier generations placed autistic children in institutions; today, even severely disabled children can be helped in a less restrictive environment to develop to their highest potential. Many can eventually become more responsive to others as they learn to understand the world around them, and some can lead nearly normal lives.
People with autism have a normal life expectancy. Some people with autism can handle a job; they do best with structured jobs that involve a degree of repetition.
Until the cause of autism is discovered, prevention is not possible.
Carol A. Turkington, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,