Intended for healthcare professionals

Clinical Review

Diagnosis of autism

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.327.7413.488 (Published 28 August 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:488

Autism is a physical disease

Dr. Timimi,

First of all I wish you were right about the "Autism Lobby" being
powerful. In 2003, in the US alone, the pharmaceutical companies spent
more than $400 Million on lobbying congress and they had a ratio of 1.2
paid lobbyer per congressman. Parents of autistic kid cannot afford that
kind of lobbying because: a) they are busy recovering their kids with
expansive treatments that are not covered by medical insurance, b) they
are busy reading scientific articles about autism since most doctors dont
read them and c) an autistic kid take more of your time at home to
confort, heal and direct. Basically, most parents like me are exhausted,
and lack sleep.

I strongly disagree with you about early diagnosis and treatment. It
can make a difference between an autistic kid that will recover and have a
full life and one that will never recover and spent his whole life in an
institution.

From my experience as a parent of an autistic kid, I wish that I knew
that my kid was autistic at 13 months instead of 18 months. After the MMR
and 4 other vaccinations, my son regressed. He stoped talking, had a hard
time sleeping at night, stopped smiling and going to the door when I was
entering home. He just stayed in a corner and played with the same toy.
That difference of six month would have made me 1) stop the regular
vaccinations at 18 months which made him worse, 2) started reading and
understanding autism early, 3) started the gluten-free casein-free diet
early enough to make him sleep through the night and be ready to learn
during the day and most importanly 4) started the ABA (Applied Behavior
Threapy) at 13 months instead of 20 months. The difference in the recovery
is huge. He would have been recovered by 3 years old if I had started
therapy by 13 months. Now, it will take until five or six years before he
will be fully recovered.

My kid (20 months at that time)started ABA therapy at the same time
than a four-year old kid. After just two months, my kid started already
taking again as compared to the four-year old kid. Go to any respectable
ABA therapy center and ask around. It takes much longer to rehab kids who
start late than kids who start early. You can teach a kid how to learn,
ask , interact much easily if the kid is young enough.

Early diagnosis and intervention (Diet and ABA, no drugs) is up to
now the only thing that can make a difference in the life of an autistic
kid.

Competing interests:
Parent of an autistic kid

Competing interests: No competing interests

31 October 2004
Saadedine Tebbal
Lab Manager
Texas, 77477