Autism and Alternative Treatments
Dr. Donald Oswald, a renowned scholar in autism spectrum disorders, reviewed The Horse Boy, a film about a family who takes extensive measures to identify an alternative treatment for their son's autism. Oswald reviews the literature on complementary/alternative treatments for autism, including the use of animals in treatment (e.g., horses, dolphins, dogs), and he explores the issues parents confront as they search for miracles: "Faced with parents' desperate inclination to try any new intervention that is promulgated on TV or the Internet, clinicians are frequently called upon to take some stance."
As a clinician, have you had to take a stand in favor of or against a controversial treatment suggested by one of your clients? How did you approach the situation with your client?
Autism in particular has received significant media attention over the last decade. One of the issues raised and recently debunked has been the idea that vaccinations cause autism. How much of an impact do the media have on important decisions parents will make for their children? How might parents best balance contradictions from what they hear in the media and what health professionals say? What role do you, as a psychologist, have to play in this?
By Donald Oswald
PsycCRITIQUES, 2011 Vol 56(6)