No Hope For Autism Cure? Researchers Shift Focus From Miracle Treatments

Many parents have been waiting for a cure for autism. However, after years of efforts to find a way to tackle the condition, the scientific community decided to take a new path and focus on other areas. 

There is no cure for autism. That is the general idea from various studies that examined a number of potential treatments. 

Parents have also come up with alternative approaches to treat their kids. Some people tried herbs, changed the children’s diets and some gave potentially harmful bleach drinks or enemas. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates one in 59 children currently lives with autism in the U.S. Some parents of these kids may have been using such “miracle treatments” even without scientific support. 

Autism affects social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. It significantly affects the quality of life of people. But researchers seem moving to a path away from its cure. 

Some experts even asked whether autism really needs a cure. In 2016, Autism Speaks, an advocacy and research group established for people living with the condition, removed the word “cure” from its mission statement, NBC News reported.

“In the beginning, [researchers] were looking more for the magic bullet, the magic pill. We were looking for the autism gene, and we thought that would ultimately lead to some kind of cure of autism,” Thomas Frazier, a psychologist and chief science officer at Autism Speaks, said. “Then we recognized that we were way off base.”

Lizzie Acevedo is the mother of fraternal twin sons who were diagnosed with autism. She gave her 15-year-old kids a gluten-free and casein-free diet, organic chicken nuggets and vitamin injections in their early childhood. 

However, Acevedo stopped giving them the treatments since she did not notice any positive effects after months of their intake. A decade later, she continued her search for a treatment and found a growing number of alternative approaches to cure autism.

But Acevedo learned an important lesson that she shares with scientists. She said she realized there is no quick remedy for autism. 

“There’s no cure for autism and anybody who tries to sell you a cure is lying,” Acevedo said.

Why Researchers Left Autism Cure Studies

Len Abbeduto, an autism researcher and director of the University of California, Davis, MIND Institute in Sacramento, explained that “trying to come up with a cure is probably not the right approach” today. Researchers recently found that autism could be linked to genes that run in families or environmental factors, like pesticides or other harmful chemicals.

But it is too early to give up on finding a way to give children with the condition a better life. Studies also showed that early intervention could improve their skills. 

Researchers said early diagnosis of autism could help prevent developmental issues in children’s young brains. Some therapies promise to improve their intellectual disabilities and communication or social skills.

“The reason why we are focusing so much on early diagnosis is that it is our hope that by intervening early, we can capitalize on still tremendous brain plasticity that is present in the first, second, third year of life,” Katarzyna Chawarska, a professor of child psychiatry and head of Yale University’s Autism Center of Excellence, said.

Child Autism The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 59 children has autism spectrum disorder in the U.S. Pixabay