Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD), and Attention Deficit Disorder Treatment
The DAN Protocol (Defeat Autism Now!)
Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), and Asperger’s Syndrome are different but related neurobiological disorders often now called Autistic Spectrum Disorders. A minority of children with attention deficit disorder (ADD)—formerly known as hyperactive or hyperactivity disorder—also have some autistic traits.
Autism: A neurological disorder in which there is a reduced ability to recognize, interpret and communicate interpersonal social skills. Often, but not always, persons with autistic spectrum disorder also have difficulty with verbal communication and a high degree of sensitivity to environmental factors and events such as food, loud noises and moving objects. Autism, in fact, is a multi-system illness since there are often also dysfunction and imbalances in the immune system, gastro-intestinal systems nutritional metabolism, and other aspects of the body.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD): PDD is a term that is usually used to describe children who have some features of autism but for whom social skills and communication problems tend to be less severe.
Asperger’s Syndrome: Asperger's describes a special group of children who share some autistic features such as difficulty with social behavior, but who may be highly skilled in certain areas of knowledge and behavior. It is also often written as Asperger Syndrome or Aspergers Syndrome.
Autistic Spectrum Disorder: Used to describe a broad range of conditions with partly over-lapping features. That is, Autism, PDD and Asperger’s Syndrome. While some persons with autistic spectrum disorder have mental retardation, many are quite bright, some even unusually brilliant.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD): A very different condition, which in most cases has little if any overlap with autism. However, some children with attention deficit disorder do have social clumsiness that overlaps with the autistic spectrum. Some doctors who treat autism and attention deficit disorder feel that complementary alternative treatments that they use for autistic spectrum disorders might also help some children who have attention deficit disorder. (Formerly called hyperactive or hyperactivity.)
- Autism Treatments and the DAN Protocol
- The number of children diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorders has increased dramatically during the last decade according to detailed reports on autism and Asperger’s Syndrome that have been done in New Jersey, California, Illinois, and other states. While part of this increase is the result of more aggressive diagnosis, it seems highly likely that a great part of the increase in autism is real. Autism spectrum disorders, once rare, have now become an epidemic. In 1995, Dr. Bernard Rimland, director of San Diego’s Autism Research Institute, brought together 30 leading researchers and practitioners to develop a protocol to guide parents and physicians toward more effective autism therapies and autism treatments. They gave it the name DAN—Defeat Autism Now. Since then, hundreds of physicians and thousands of patients have received autism treatments as the protocols themselves have evolved. Frequent Improvement has been reported—some modest, some dramatic.
Each year many of the most prominent complementary alternative autism doctors meet to review the results of their treatments with the DAN protocol for autistic spectrum disorders. They revise their protocols and recommendations as their experience grows.
We use the DAN Protocol as a main part of our approach to Autism, PDD, Asperger’s Syndrome, and selected persons with Attention Deficit Disorder. Each year, at least one of the clinicians on our staff participates in the annual DAN Protocol conference, sharing our experience with those across the country, and working hard to keep our program up to date.
Our office has been involved with DAN since 1997. Both Wendy King, RN, APN, Ph.D., and Dr. Podell have been trained and certified as DAN Protocol practitioners. Dr. King directs our autism spectrum research and treatment programs.
It has not been possible to do controlled studies on the DAN autism treatments, as desirable as this would be—there is, as you might guess, much too little research money being directed at our task. Without double blind controlled studies, it is possible that the improvements we and other DAN practitioners have seen might have occurred anyway due to natural maturation or just by chance. This is possible, although we believe, unlikely.
However, since the DAN autism treatments, by and large, are relatively safe, and since standard treatments for autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and PDD are not even close to satisfactory, many parents and physicians such as ourselves feel that it’s reasonable to add the DAN Protocol approach to their current therapies.
Each child is different. There’s no single cookie cutter approach. However, DAN Protocol interventions do follow broad principles of complementary alternative medicine. This has also been called the “functional medicine” approach. We attempt to measure and evaluate key aspects of the body’s function that relate to our neurochemistry, immune system, hormones and metabolism. Thus, DAN Protocol practitioners assess the balance and adequacy of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids digestive function, liver detoxification, immune system, and a broad range of bodily functions.
Food sensitivities may also be important. A dramatic insight lies in the fact that milk protein and wheat gluten both contain morphine like molecules within the protein structure. Normally, these are destroyed by digestion. However, most autistic children may be unable to do this. As a result, high levels of opiate molecules are found in their blood and urine.
Eliminating milk and wheat gluten is a difficult chore. However, many parents feel that the possibility of helping justifies the effort. When we recommend dietary changes we provide instructional literature, nutritional assessment to be sure there’s enough calcium, magnesium and other nutrients, and offer a range of support services through knowledgeable consultants.
Our interest in the DAN Protocol and autistic spectrum disorders such as Asperger's Syndrome and Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD) derives from a broader interest in holistic approaches to natural healing, and the belief that healing occurs best if we can remove obstacles that affect our body’s systems. We view our role as to add value to your current therapies. Most emphatically, we do not wish to compete with or exclude your current medical consultants. Our goal is to collaborate with you and with your pediatrician, neurologist and other specialists, so that our contribution best supports what they are doing.
For more information about the DAN Protocol contact autism treatments, visit the the Autism Research Institute's website or contact the Center for the Study of Autism, P.O. Box 4538, Salem, OR 97302, U.S.A.