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Letter to the Editor sent to the Journal News 

Regarding their Series on Autism

November 17, 2003

Information for Parents and Health Care Professionals on Autism

Your series of articles on Autism that appeared in the Sunday 11-16 edition were informative and helpful to parents and health care practitioners, but failed to cover some important issues relating to this dreaded condition.  The incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorders has clearly increased dramatically over the past few years and this increase is not just due to better awareness or better diagnostics methods: the increase is real and serious and may relate to environmental factors and what we are doing to our children.

An organization that has sponsored clinical research on helping children with autism since 1967 is the Autism Research Institute, founded by PhD Psychologist Bernard Rimland, whose son is autistic. Since 1995, this Institute has sponsored a project known as “Defeat Autism Now” or DAN, whose philosophy about autism differs from that of most mainstream physicians.  The DAN philosophy is that “Autism and related problems are the symptoms of dysfunction of the neural, immune and/or digestive systems which occurs in individuals genetically sensitive to such factors as sub-optimal nutrition, food intolerances, microbial overgrowth and toxins. Appropriate treatment entails identifying and alleviating the problems causing the symptoms in that individual, rather than merely attempting to suppress the symptoms through the use of psychoactive drugs.”

For a better understanding of this approach, I recommend the following website for articles, fascinating videotapes that can be viewed online, information about past and future DAN conferences that are attended by parents and health care practitioners, PowerPoint presentations from DAN conferences, listings of health care practitioners using the DAN approach and much more: www.autism.com/ari/dan/contents.html.  One of the most important topics covered is the very controversial role of vaccines (and especially mercury containing vaccines) in the development of autism.

Many DAN participants are physicians whose children have been diagnosed with autism and who have been able to help their children immensely using the DAN philosophy, recommended diagnostic tests and treatment modalities, after conventional treatments methods have failed.  The DAN approach is used in conjunction with the educational methods discussed in your articles, resulting in much more help for the autistic child.

I urge anyone (parent or health care professional) interested in helping the autistic child to visit the website previously mentioned and begin to learn how to DEFEAT AUTISM NOW!

Michael B Schachter, MD, CNS, FACAM
Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine
Suffern, NY