The World Wide Autism Web

At the time of this post, there were over 80 million Google pages which answered to a Search request for “Autism”. There were 9 million pages for “Autism Cure”. We can’t cure autism yet; we can treat it, however, quite successfully. Such a point-of-view confers this site a lower listing on that search topic.

However, there were 18 million pages for “Autism Doctor” and TheAutismDoctor.com appeared as the first result. I am very proud of that, because it means that people are reading and starting to trust my opinion about this childhood epidemic. My Google rating comes from my readership, not Search Engine Optimization Services.

Somehow, conventional medicine and pediatricians have dropped the ball on this important condition. Where else is a parent going to find information about their child’s condition, especially when professionals appear so clueless?” I just read about … fill in the topic… on the Internet and I wanted to know what you think,” is one of the most commonly asked questions in my practice at The Child Development Center of America. This article will cover what I consider to be the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to the ‘net and ASD:

The Good:
I get to treat patients from all over the world. Are you kidding me? This is the greatest honor that any doc could ever have. So, that’s a plus.

Getting important information out to the public so efficiently couldn’t be accomplished before the Internet. There’d be no ‘TheAutismDoctor.com’!

The web contains a great deal of important and correct information about ASD. Especially when confronted by pediatricians who continue to exclaim, “He’s a boy (premie, like-his-Dad, only-child, spoiled-by-grandma, etc.)… they talk late,” the www helps parents who remain concerned about their child’s development. The diagnosis of autism is often reached by searching for answers about why your child lacks eye contact, or has lost words, or “doesn’t play like the other kids.”

Also, this is my way of venting my frustration about ASD (have I said ‘epidemic’ too many times?); a modern medical condition which has profound effects upon families, patients, and our educational and healthcare resources – present and future. This method of communication adds to the body of clinical experience by reporting how children change and develop with various interventions. Evaluating those 80 million of pages can best be done by a real doctor, however.

The Bad:
Misinformation is rampant. There are treatment protocols that could harm your child, have not been adequately evaluated, or lack reliable data. There are therapies that could deplete your resources at the expense of treatments that have been proven to help your affected child.

All information appears equal at this i-level. Just ’cause a person learns about architecture doesn’t make them an architect. I have previously admitted that the traditional pediatric community seems to share a large part of the blame by not listening to parents and exhibiting a lack of intellectual curiosity that this problem demands.

Once a parent finds a trusted physician, protocols are best handled at that level of expertise. “Can’t you do treatments every 3 weeks instead of every 2?” seems a silly question for a cancer specialist, right? ASD is a mystery that has only a few really successful interventions. If a patient is going through several therapeutic interventions at the same time, it is really rolling the dice as far as what outcomes you should expect.

All parents want more. Just like for neuro-typical kids, you want more communication, academic achievement, maturity, friends, etc. Amid a myriad of valid, but conflicting information that awaits more thorough research, there are many websites promising miraculous and instantaneous symptom reversal with nearly-scientific explanations and elaborate video testimonials from actual parents. Furthermore, the more that the treatment seems to cost, from thousands-to-tens of thousands per treatment – the more it entices serious consideration by some couples.

OK, doctors have been wrong about some stuff. But we’re not all ignorant about childhood development and physiology.

The Ugly:
I got hacked recently! Even my little blog that is just trying to disseminate the truth. The user doesn’t need to provide an email address or fill in a survey, and no money is exchanged. There are no advertisements. Who would want to disturb this outlet? Anyway, I purchased a virus checker and an infection cleaner and changed all of my passwords to encrypted terms that I’ll never remember… so that I will have to keep hitting “forgot password” and wait for that email that tells me that it’s OK to access my own information. Which, apparently, someone in Russia is able to do! But, I’ve digressed…

On the ‘www’, therapies that are unwarranted because of risk, cost, or efficacy appear equal to more sustainable treatment protocols. If I may offer a bit of old-pediatrician advice: that risk thing… you gotta take it into account, and not just say, “I’ll do anything for my child!” The ability for the dishonest to seek out desperate families is greatly aided by web capabilities.

Some advisers may be well-meaning, or could have helped another child with some other treatment protocol. It’s not invalid, it’s just not YOUR kid.

Conclusion:
The scrutiny with which a parent considers the information that is presented by multiple sources of information, including their (regular) pediatrician, their (conventional) specialist, therapists, the child’s grandparents, teachers, books, publications, conferences, research and the web need to be included in order to arrive at the most helpful experience for your child.

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Brian D. Udell MD
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