Magical Mushrooms Stirred for Autism

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The latest quack-of-the-month offering is mushrooms!

I recently read
a treatise of sorts on the “nutritional, health, medicinal properties and possible behavioral effects” of a variety of mushrooms. This claim is being made by a Ph.D. who is also the owner of a mushroom farm. She argues that since mushrooms help to strengthen and stimulate the immune system, it is logical that they would be beneficial in ameliorating autism. Interesting theory. These claims have even been presented at the Autism One Conference, to further garner legitimacy for the wonder treatment. It is further claimed by a physician that White Mushrooms, “help detoxify the body and they may reduce the need for repeated behaviors.”

Who knew that all we have to do is stir fry some mushrooms and voila, our children’s stereotypic behavior will disappear!

Since it’s never a good idea to discount a theory merely because it sounds implausible, I did a search for peer-reviewed journal articles that test mushrooms as a treatment for autism. Although I did find an article discussing the theory, I did not find a single study comparing children being treated with mushrooms with a control group. No surprise, but I had to check!

In short, I’ll let you know when these mushroom purveyors provide some data. Until that time, enjoy your mushrooms in the stir fry.

Autism Conferences: Proceed with Caution

Some parts of the autism world appear to be exhilarated about the latest International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) conference in Toronto, where researchers from all over the world presented their findings at the May meeting. In the past, scientists would get together to lecture on ideas and present preliminary results. Every participant understood, though, that one’s presentation is given before all scientific peers have had a chance to closely scrutinize the findings. The rubber meets the road only after blind reviewers in the field have scrutinized the proposed article.

At the recent IMFAR conference, we apparently now have people with Asperger’s syndrome and parents joining in the “festivities.” Based on the amount of hoopla generated by this conference, it appears as though the fundamental precept regarding how science progresses has been lost on many participants at the conference.

We need to understand that there can be no short cuts when it comes to the scientific method. Circumventing the process of science helps purveyors of quackery and hurts people with autism in the long run. As difficult as may be, we need to be patient and let reputable scientists do their job.

It’s fine to have some fun at an IMFAR conference, but remember, until findings are published in a peer-reviewed journal and clinical trials have been completed, the purported “findings” from an event like the International Meeting for Autism Research, are merely preliminary, at best. Proceed with caution.