Parents commonly integrate complementary and alternative medical (CAM) treatments for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with conventional care. The aims of this article are to (1) describe the most commonly used treatments, (2) assess their efficacy and safety, and (3) organize the information in practical format for practitioners. We organized treatment modalities into four categories: recommended, monitored, tolerated, and therapies that should be avoided. These four categories are based on a two by two table weighing a therapy׳s effectiveness and safety. To meet the threshold for “recommended,” its effectiveness needed to be supported by two or more randomized, controlled trials. In addition to promoting an overall healthy lifestyle via nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, social support, and avoiding neurotoxins (healthy habits in a healthy habitat), the most promising therapies recommend are applied behavior analysis, parent-implemented training, melatonin supplements to improve sleep, supplements to correct deficiencies, and music therapy. Medications and restrictive diets may be helpful for some children, but use should be monitored given the risk of side effects. Most complementary therapies are safe, so they can be tolerated, but additional research is needed before they should be recommended. Given their risks, costs, and limited evidence of efficacy, chelation, secretin, and hyperbaric oxygen should be avoided.
Klein, Kemper (2016). Integrative Approaches to Caring for Children with Autism. Current problems in pediatric and adolescent health care, 2016 Jun;46(6):195-201. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26776326