Alternative Therapy: If it sounds too good to be true…. guess what?

Several weeks ago I attended a library lecture at which a gentleman was discussing his therapeutic company.  The individual was describing how his intervention can “miraculously improve” learning disabilities, ADHD, and Autism.  I found myself thinking, “Wow, this guys is good.”  And what I mean is that he was good at being a salesman.  Parents all too often are looking for a quick cure- an instant fix for whatever condition their children have.  We as clinicians all too often get mad at these parents for trying alternative therapies instead of what we know to be scientifically sound interventions.  However, who can seriously blame these parents?  They want the best for their children.  These parents desperately want their children to behave and appear like a neurotypical child.  They want quick fixes and lasting change. 

A relatively recent book, Snake Oil Science ,by R. Barker Bausell, explains the fallacy behind many alternative interventions.  In the book he explains how patients and physicians are often sold into the benefits of alternative therapies with no real rhyme or reason as to the proposed mechanisms for improvement.  Bausell’s main arguments against alternative interventions are two-fold: 

1) there is no explanation behind the reason for change and

2) the research behind the therapies is often quite lousy

This is a great read for any clinician who provides recommendations for parents or patients in general. 

Dr. Teri Hull wrote a blog article a few weeks ago describing the limitations of Developmental Vision Therapy as an intervention.  This is a touchy subject for many people, as there are numerous practitioners and patients who have either prescribed or benefited from vision therapy or some other alternative intervention.  I would admit that there are certain people who benefit from such interventions.  However, what we know from sound scientific research is that these studies do not benefit a sample at the population level.

I am curious as to everyone’s thoughts on alternative interventions.

What do you as parents think? 

Therapists who are reading this blog, what are your opinions? 

Do you ever refer parents to such alternative therapies? 

What have your results been?

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