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Autism Book Offers Holistic Strategies

Often, parents of autistic children are told that the disorder is genetically hard-wired, destined to remain fixed forever. A new book offers parents hope for a different outcome.

The Autism Revolution, by Harvard Medical School researcher and clinician Martha Herbert, aims to approach autism methodically, with strategies to help parents better meet their children’s needs and make their lives as full as possible.

Herbert shares real-life success stories of children and adults on the autism spectrum who, as she describes them, “didn’t follow the textbooks.” They followed recommendations to optimize nutrition, strengthen immunity and reduce stress and environmental toxins. They “got better – some dramatically so,” writes Herbert.

The book is based on the idea that environment and genetics, the body and the brain, all play powerful roles in how autism is expressed. Viewed this way, autism becomes a collection of problems that can be solved or, at least, managed.

It is unclear, however, what makes this book “revolutionary.” Her holistic approach isn’t unheard of in medicine and Herbert herself acknowledges that her strategies aren’t a cure; there’s no guarantee that any of her recommendations will work and what helps one person won’t necessarily help another. The book is designed to be “an organizing framework,” she writes, one in which “small adjustments can sometimes trigger big changes.”

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