Beyond the B.A.S.I.C.S. Blog

Book Review: The Autism Book by Dr. Sears

July 3, 2011

I debated whether or not to write this post. I am a Behaviorist and believe that ABA is the best form of intervention for children with Autism. I think it is effective and is one of the only strategies that consistently improves the outcomes for children on the Spectrum. To be honest, I have been weary of DAN! Diet claims. Of my many clients that I have worked with throughout the years, most have been on a GFCF diet. However, I have only noticed a major change in one child. But, for that child the change was dramatic. If he had one taste of gluten or casein his behavior would change to the point that therapy was difficult. My views are shifting after reading “The Autism Book” by Dr. Sears.

Dr. Sears is an author that I trust very much in my personal life. I believe in his research. His suggestion to remove dairy from the diets of children with excema has treated my daughters itchy skin rash (unless she accidently cheats).  I have also used his book “The Vaccine Book” to make decisions regarding my daughter’s vaccine schedule. So, when I saw that he had a book out about Autism, I was very intrigued.

The book is a great resource for basic Autism information. The books lists many (if not all) of the various theories on why Autism exists which I found fascinating. He doesn’t endorse any theory but simply discusses the theories. He has another section where he describes all of the major medications used to treat Autism. This was also very interesting and a useful resource for parents and practitioners. The final section listed the various treatments for Autism. I was very glad to see ABA highlighted as an essential therapy. He also described the various “alternative treatments.” I found this section to be very educational and it made me understand the treatments more fully. I am still not convinced that all of the treatments are beneficial based on the risks and expenses but the book has convinced me that many of these interventions are worth considering.

I recommend this book to anyone that is interested in learning about the different types of treatments for Autism. Dr. Sears is clearly an advocate for the DAN! strategies but at least he does not try to hide that fact. What I found was that it at least educated me as to why people were trying some of these methods even if it didn’t convince me of the validity of all of them.

I am certainly not advocating that all children with Autism go on a GFCF diet or try hyperbolic chambers! I am simply saying that this book convinced me it isn’t right for me to immediately shut down the conversation and roll my eyes when someone brings it up. I plan to attend a DAN! conference so that I can learn even more. I have many questions still. For example, Dr. Sears says children should start ABA and the diets at the same time. He then notes research showing improved behavior and attributes it to the diet. It is unclear to me how these studies controlled for the ABA interventions, which surely were helping the child learn skills. Overall, this was an excellent read and a great way to educate myself about areas outside of my field. I am glad I have it in my library.


Saundra Bishop, BCBA


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