According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 88 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The statistics for children being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), allergies and asthma are equally staggering.
Though it is unclear if the steady increase in diagnosis of these disorders — being referred to as the 5 A’s — is due to a true increase in prevalence of these disorders or rather, an increase in awareness of them coupled with better efforts in diagnosing them, many in the medical community believe their incidence has reached epidemic proportions.
For families who live with a loved one who has been diagnosed with one or more of these disorders, the challenges are many. Yet new treatments and approaches are constantly being developed, many of which have produced extremely positive results.
In an effort to continue to raise awareness about the 5 A’s, WAKE UP! (which stands for Water, Air, Kids, Earth-Unite & Protect) — a local nonprofit organization — has teamed up with The Dayton Autism Society and Miami Valley Hospital South, to bring Dr. Philip DeMio, MD of Cleveland to the Dayton area on Aug. 3 to talk about solutions for the 5 A’s. Dr. DeMio is a nationally recognized figure in the fight against autism. After his son was diagnosed with autism, Dr. DeMio decided to devote his entire practice to the treatment of autism.
We sat down for a Q&A session with him:
Q: Your devotion to the treatment of autism stems from a very personal connection.
A: Yes – my son has autism. The first doctor we took him to treated him like an animal, and I’d known this doctor for decades and thought he would treat my son with some compassion. My wife and I went from one doctor to the next in search of the best care for our son, just as parents might do if their child had cancer. The whole experience made me aware of the poor care my son (and others with autism) was getting and is what led to my founding the American Medical Autism Board, which is the first organization to board certify physicians for autism treatments.
Q: You say that autism is a medical, not mental, problem and is therefore treatable?
A: Absolutely. We’re told that [autism is mental] in medical school, told that by society, but it just isn’t true. The various behavior issues that autistic children exhibit that society deems unacceptable, are often manifestations of an underlying medical problem. A child who is biting herself, banging her head against the wall and not talking normally likely has an underlying medical issue that needs to be addressed but so often isn’t. For example, gastrointestinal issues are extremely common with ASD — vomiting, diarrhea, acid reflux — as are allergies, rashes, and sleep issues. If you treat the underlying medical problem, the behavior usually improves.
Q: What do you think is the biggest misconception about autism spectrum disorder?
A: Parents are often told that there is nothing that they can do to improve ASD and that’s not true. Many kids will have significant improvement of some of their socially unacceptable behaviors with biomedical treatments.
Q: Explain how you test for autism and related disorders
A: We analyze the blood, urine and stool. We look closely at what goes into the body, what comes out and how the body processes it.
Q: What types of treatments do you use in your practice?
A: We give our families all of the options for treatment available and what they can realistically expect from treatment. As for what types of treatments we offer, there are several.
Just as a diabetic receives guidance on nutrition to manage their health, we do the same for our patients. We also use B12 shots and various immune treatments that can be administered orally, via IV or shots. We of course individualize treatments based on the specific needs of each patient.
The bottom line is that, at the end of the day, these kids just want to feel good, be happy, and be mobile without pain and restriction. Our goal is to help that happen.
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