Intellectual Ability as a Predictor of CAM Usage in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Dietary treatments (e.g., gluten-free and/or casein-free diets, yeast-free diets) are one of the most popular forms of complementary and alternative medical (CAM) treatments used among children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). At present, professionals are increasingly interested in understanding the reasons why families choose to use CAM treatments for a child on the autism spectrum. This study examined whether the intellectual ability (IQ) of children with ASD influenced parental choice to begin and maintain a dietary modification treatment. The data used in this study ·were taken from an ongoing longitudinal study at the University of Washington. Fifty-six children with ASD (44 males and 12 females) participated in this study and were separated into 2 groups (diet versus non-diet) based on the reported use of dietary treatments. The age of onset, age of termination, and overall duration were calculated for each child in the diet group. Results showed that children in the diet group had significantly lower composite IQ scores than children in the non-diet group. These between-group differences were the result of significant differences in verbal ability. Indeed, children who started a dietary treatment demonstrated significantly lower verbal IQ scores than children who did not start a similar treatment. The relationship between composite IQ and duration of treatment was also examined to determine whether IQ influenced how long parents were willing to maintain a CAM treatment. No significant relationship was found, however, between these variables. Overall, the findings from this study suggest that intellectual ability is one factor that influenced parental choice of CAM among children with ASD. It is likely that additional factors contribute to the maintenance of a CAM treatment.
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