Autism is a broad-ranged developmental disorder that is perceptible by the inability to socialize, speak and recognize things and people. It has been estimated that 7 to 13 individuals in every 10,000 people suffer from autism. Currently, it has been determined that autism occurs at higher frequency than Down’s syndrome, cystic fibrosis and other pediatric cancers. The precise etiology of autism still remains to be uncovered, yet there is a growing list of anecdotal reports that demonstrate that genetic factors may largely influence that pathogenesis of this developmental disorder.
In addition, the environment of the patient during his early formative years has also been identified to play a role in the onset on autism (Femia and Hasselmo, 2002). A number of educational and psychopharmacologic approaches have been developed to aid in the treatment of autism. Interestingly, there are also pseudoscientific models that attempt to explain the etiology of autism, as well as to provide hints on the design of effective treatments for this developmental disorder. However, there is also a huge response regarding these pseudoscientific technologies, claiming that these tools have been overstated and the results of these procedures have been amplified.
Current popular theories that explain the etiology of autism concentrate on the issues of maternal rejection, bacterial infections by Candida albicans and immunizations during pediatric treatments. Scientific investigations have elucidated that these popular theories are actually of little significance in terms of the causative effect on the pathology of autism, yet society has continuously recognized these theories are still imposing. Several existing treatments for autism are categorically identified as pseudoscientific, and may be easily differentiated from scientific treatments (Finn et al., 2005; Zimmerman, 2005). There have been several large-scale claims that pseudoscientific treatment for autism is highly efficient, yet there are no documented scientific reports that clearly suggest that these procedures are robust and reliable.
Most of the pseudoscientific results that have been disseminated through society are not well-founded on scientific and medical evidence, and are often anecdotal reports (Yoder and McDuffie, 2006). The field of biomedical research promotes that confirmatory results should be first presented and analyzed by independent research bodies, often involving a significant number of treated cases, before such treatment may be considered as effective, successful, reliable and repeatable (Bryson et al., 2003). Hence, the growth of pseudoscientific treatment of autism mainly relies on information dissemination through mass media such as the internet, magazines, booklets and flyers, which have never been peer-reviewed by the scientific professionals.
It is also of interest to know that pseudoscientific reports are often strongly linked to individuals and/or organizations that carry a direct and major financial connection in the therapeutic technology. There is a current need for a rigorous method in reviewing all these anecdotal claims of successful treatment of autism through pseudoscientific means (Dollaghan, 2004). Such endeavor may provide more information on whether these juvenile types of treatments are absolutely effective for the treatment of autism, or whether these are mere misguiding points that should be controlled and even prevented from further confusing the public with regards to the proper care and maintenance of patients suffering from this developmental delay.
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Femia LA and Hasselmo ME (2002): Is autism partly a consolidation disorder? Behav. Cogn. Neurosci. Rev. 1(4):251-63.
Finn P, Bothe AK and Bramlett RE (2005): Science and pseudoscience in communication disorders: criteria and applications. Am. J. Speech Lang. Pathol. 14(3):172-86.
Dollaghan CA (2004): Evidence-based practice in communication disorders: what do we know, and when do we know it? J. Commun. Disord. 37(5):391-400.
Yoder P and McDuffie A (2006): Teaching young children with autism to talk. Semin. Speech Lang. 27(3):161-72.
Zimmerman M (2005): Pseudopatient or pseudoscience: a reviewer’s perspective. J. Nerv. Ment. Dis. 193(11):740-2.