Dr. Bernard Rimland's Survey
Article reprinted from Pure Facts March 2001, Vol. 25, No. 2



One non-profit that has done an impressive job of conducting research is the Autism Research Institute (ARI). This may be of interest to Pure Facts readers since many professionals believe that ADD and ADHD are on the mild end of what is being called Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Many alternatives have been used to treat children with learning and behavior problems. There have been countless research dollars devoted to the study of drugs, but little consideration of other options.

The research that should be conducted by government scientists and universities in this country is not being done. Then non-drug alternatives such as the Feingold Program are criticized for lack of research.

Since 1967 the ARI has collected data from more than 18,500 parents of autistic children. They asked parents to rate three categories of interventions they had used for their children. These are: drugs, nutrients/supplements, and diet. Forty-three drugs were included, from Adderall to Zoloft. (Many of the drugs given to autistic children are not generally used for ADD/ADHD, but those frequently-prescribed stimulants are included in this list.) Eight supplements and eight diets were rated. Some of the drugs yielded positive effects, but for most of them a sizable number of children had a negative response. However, the number of negative responses to supplements was very small, and to diet was extremely small. The diet with the biggest success rate was the Candida diet (52%), followed by the Feingold Diet (50%). While 45% of the children improved with the removal of dairy, it was surprising the results were not higher. Similarly, 41% improved with the removal of wheat, but the remaining 59% did not. (Diets totally gluten-free were not addressed in this survey.)

Drugs, supplements, and diet are the three most commonly used treatments for childhood behavior problems, but only one of these, drugs, enjoys the favor of most of the governmental agencies and the medical community. The value of the drugs is promoted by them, but little is ever said about the number of children who have had either no benefit or who have a negative response. Surely, the work of the ARI in collecting statistics could be replicated by one of the well-funded government agencies or university departments.

To obtain a copy of the ARI survey, send a long, business-size (#10) self-addressed, stamped envelope to: ARI, 4182 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116. Ask for a copy of the bar charts comparing the various treatment options.

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