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Biomedical Therapies

Biomedical Therapies

It is important to remember that Autism Spectrum Disorder is a disorder and not a disease that can be cured.  However, a number of biomedical therapies for the treatment of autism are recommended by various practitioners for improving a child’s well-being and mental performance.

Some of the most recognized biomedical therapies for children with ASD are: (Levy SE, 2005)

Gluten Free/Casein Free (GFCF) Diet

Gluten-Free/Casein-Free (GFCF) Diet refers to a diet in which food containing gluten and casein is removed. Gluten is a protein that exists in wheat, oats, rye, and barley. Casein is a protein that exists in daily food. It is based on speculations that gluten and casein react adversely in children with autism. Research on this hypothesis is ongoing. It has proved beneficial for some children in improving their sleep, habitual behaviors, and bowel regulation. If the GFCF diet is followed, it should first be consulted with a dietitian.


Medications that are associated with the treatment of autism are:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotic
  • Stimulants
  • Risperidone
  • SSRIs
  • Oxytocin
  • Antidepressants
  • MAOIs
  • Tricyclics
  • Catapres and Tenex
  • Medications for anxiety
  • Anti-seizure drugs
  • Neuroleptics
  • Atypical
  • Antifungal
  • Antiviral and antibacterial drugs
  • Other drugs

All medications given to a child with ASD should be under the guidance of a psychiatric medical doctor in conjunction with other professionals involved in the care and therapy of the child.


Treatments that improve metabolic functioning are usually performed with drugs, diet and nutritional supplements in some combination. Although research is still ongoing, symptoms of autism may be reduced strikingly with some treatments. Metabolic irregularities may cause some autism spectrum disorders like:

  • Phenylketonuria
  • Histidinemia
  • Adenylosuccinate lyase deficiency
  • Dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase deficiency
  • 5prime-nucleotidase super activity
  • Phosphoribosylpyrophosphate synthetase deficiency


Secretin treatment may be used for children with autism. It is intended to raise the amount of pancreaticobiliary fluids, which may lead to gastrointestinal changes. After repeating many injections, it may improve the social and behavioral skills of the child. Secretin is intravenously put into the system with the use of endoscopy.


Research has shown that the CIS form of vitamin A is helpful in reconstructing the parts of the brain that controls speech and vision. As children with autism have weaknesses in speech and vision, it may be useful. Vitamin B12 is also another important vitamin that is required for the healthy functioning of the brain. It helps in producing the protective layer around the nerves in the brain. It also helps in the production of neurotransmitters that are critical for communication inside the brain. The required nutrients are absorbed in the body with the help of vitamin B12, which helps in improving the nervous system and reduces the symptoms of autism.

Chelation Therapy

Chelation is commonly used in the treatment of lead poisoning. It is an unconventional and controversial form of treatment of autism. A large amount of mercury or other metal in the body may cause some autism symptoms.  Ethylene Diamine Tetraacetic acid (EDTA) is known to be a chelating agent. When it is introduced into the bloodstream intravenously or orally, it bonds with metals like mercury. It is passed out of the body in stool, along with the mercury. The child may recover if the metals are successfully removed.


Levy SE, H. S. (2005). Novel treatments for Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev., 11(2):131-42.

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Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

Mother Child
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