As the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) continues to skyrocket in both civilian and military families, so do the number of treatment options. Through the media and the Internet, parents of children with an ASD learn about many different types of procedures to treat autism and related disorders. Wanting to do everything possible for their sons and daughters, they will often try a number of different therapies and treatments.
After their son, Cameron, was diagnosed with autism at age three and a half, Army Master Sergeant Larry Carter and his wife, Christal, made it their mission to learn all they could about the best treatments for a child with autism. In the past four years, they have tried a number of different therapies with varying degrees of success.
"We talked to other parents, read books, researched on the Internet, took courses, attended conferences, and watched autism specials on TV," Christal told us during a recent interview. "It was quite a hodgepodge. There is no one resource for information about autism."
The Carters have worked with many different physicians, therapists, and consultants and have tried a variety of treatments-speech and occupational therapy, hippotherapy (using equine movement to address neurological functioning and sensory processing), aquatic therapy, chelation (using drugs to remove heavy metals from the body), and biomedical therapies such as a gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet and vitamin B12 injections-all in an effort to reduce Cameron's problem behaviors that included spitting, biting, kicking, scratching, and hair-pulling.
"We were doing so many things at one time; it's hard to know which did what," commented Christal. "You're scared to eliminate anything because you don't want to see regression." When they needed help with Cameron's toilet training, they turned to a program that utilized applied behavior analysis (ABA), a methodology that relies on research-based …