Alternative treatments or therapies for autism spectrum disorder has been a popular topic for academic conferences like the 2015 Hayward Alternative Treatment Symposium. According to Autism Speaks, 30 to 95 percent of children with autism receive alternative treatments or therapies for their condition.

But are alternative treatments to autism effective? Here are what experts and research bodies have to say.



Gluten and casein-free diets are popular alternative treatments for children with autism. The logic of this alternative treatment is that casein and gluten contain inflammatory properties. By removing these from a child’s diet, the child will experience a better state of health and behavior.

Unfortunately, studies show that diets have a modest impact on a child with autism. A study made by Johnson and co-authors found no significant difference between groups of children who followed the diet and who didn’t.  Moreover, the researchers found that it is hard to administer this type of diet for children.



Supplements are another popular alternative treatment for autism. Supplements of omega fatty acids could improve behavior and brain development. One study even suggested that omega fatty acid-rich supplements can enhance the social skills of a child with autism.

If there are supporters, then there are critics. A study showed through a placebo-controlled trial that omega fatty acids did not play a significant role in improving the behavior of a child with autism.

Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana is rumored to have a number of benefits for the human body. Some believe it can cure different ailments and diseases. So, the fact that some parents are looking at medical marijuana as an alternative treatment for children with autism is not surprising.

Dr. Shafali Jeste, a psychology professor in UCLA, warns about excessive experimentation. She warns that a child may experience more negative effects than positive ones, which usually come from anecdotes. She recommends further analysis of the actions we take for our child’s health.