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The new report advises doctors to watch for nutritional deficiencies in patients with autism. It recommends a nutritionist get involved if a patient is on a special diet or only eats certain foods.
The report drew praise from Rebecca Estepp of Poway, Calif., who believes a special diet is helping her autistic son. She said the paper gives pediatricians credible recommendations they've needed.
"I'm filled with hope after reading this report," said Estepp of the support group Talk About Curing Autism. "I wish this report would have come out 10 years ago when my son was diagnosed."
Lee Grossman, president of the Autism Society, a funder, said many doctors have written off autistic children's digestive problems as untreatable.
"I think we still have a lot to learn about the gut and how it contributes to behavioral symptoms," Grossman said. "We have a lot to learn about how to treat this."
Buie said his clinic has various techniques for treating children with problem behavior. They schedule early morning appointments so children aren't delayed in the waiting room or blow bubbles during a blood draw as a distraction. As a last resort, they use anesthesia.
"If a child is going to be asleep because of a dental evaluation or an MRI study, we will do our endoscopy, our blood work, spinal tap, haircuts or teeth cleaning at the same time," Buie said. "Our nurses do beautiful haircuts."
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