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Autism Research and Treatment
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 870391, 21 pages
Review Article

A Review of Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders

1Department of Psychiatry, The Ohio State University, 1670 Upham Drive, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
2Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0984, USA
3Nisonger Center, The Ohio State University, 1670 Upham Drive, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
4Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, OH 43081, USA

Received 7 December 2011; Revised 8 August 2012; Accepted 7 September 2012

Academic Editor: Jaswinder K. Ghuman

Copyright © 2012 Nicholas Lofthouse et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Given the severe and chronic problems associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and the limitations of available treatments, there exists a large public health need for additional interventions. As more parents are inquiring about complementary and alternative treatments (CATs), both parents and practitioners require up-to-date information about them and whether and how to integrate them into treatment. After presenting data on CAT usage patterns for ASD, we review 13 ingestible (i.e., orally administered) and 6 noningestible (i.e., externally administered) CATs for ASD. For each CAT we briefly describe its definition; rationale for use; current research support, limitations, and future directions; safety issues; and whether we currently recommend, not recommend, or find it acceptable for the treatment of ASD. We conclude this paper with recommendations for future research and ten clinical recommendations for practitioners.