Definition and Causes
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a range of developmental or biomedical disorders that affect many parts of the brain.
Symptoms begin in childhood and include a variety of social, communication, and behavioral impairments or differences.
1 in 88 children in the US, five times more boys (1 in 54) than girls (1 in 252).
Scientists little understand how or why autism occurs. Possible causes have become the subject of heated debate among medical practitioners
and patient advocacy groups. Vaccines, heavy metal poisoning, wheat and dairy diet, and oxygen insufficiency have all been eliminated from
serious consideration. Strong genetic ties have been firmly established. Most research today focuses on identifying specific genes,
environmental triggers, infections, brain development, and problems before, during, and after childbirth.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Approval Status
Read the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) 5 Dec 2009 position paper,
The Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder with HBOT. [PDF]
Treatment with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and especially so-called mild HBOT (inflatable bags) are widely used off-label to treat
autism at independent clinics and at home. Proponents hypothesize that HBOT enhances or restores neurologic function by oxygenating
the brain or flushing toxins from cells, blood, tissues, and organs. The clinical evidence in the peer-reviewed medical literature
does not support this physiologic rationale or the use of HBOT to treat autism spectrum disorder. The
mentions autism specifically in its
about the potential dangers of using HBOT to treat off-label conditions.
People living with autism, beware. Perhaps no patient community today is so beset by healthcare fraud and quackery. Hyperbaric
oxygen therapy has gotten caught up in a powerful movement away from evidence-based practice and toward alternative therapists
promising miracle cures. Their claims are as wild as their HBOT is mild. What thin evidence we have on HBOT for autism (see
Rossignol, et al, 2012)
is fraught with contradictions and undercut by investigator bias. Thankfully, patients and families can turn to a growing network
of trustworthy autism educators and caregivers. The first signs of ASD typically emerge before age 3. Early diagnosis is the key to
success with evidence-based autism therapy, including applied behavior analysis (ABA) and other proven methodologies.
HyperbaricLink recommends the following websites for anyone seeking authoritative information, patient advocacy, and
community support for autism.
A nonprofit corporation that funds cutting-edge research into autism causes and treatments, the Autism Science Foundation
adheres to rigorous scientific standards and values.
A not-for-profit organization committed to improving the education, treatment, and care of people with autism, the ASAT works
for higher standards of accountability.
With a mission to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, the NIMH also provides an excellent
Parent's Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder.
- Asperger syndrome
- Asperger's disorder
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- Autistic disorder (classic autism)
- Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD)
- Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD)
- Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)
- Rett syndrome
- Rett's syndrome
Thinking Person's Guide to Autism,
edited by Shannon Des Roches Rosa, Jennifer Byde Myers, Liz Ditz, Emily Willingham, and Carol Greenburg (Deadwood City Publishing, 2011).