Interventions that should not be offered to autistic children and young people

Evidence of ineffectiveness or harm – there is either strong evidence that this treatment option is unlikely to be helpful or there is evidence that the option is likely to be harmful.

There are some interventions that you might have heard of, but should not be offered to you because they don’t have enough evidence or in some cases, they might be harmful. These interventions would not be offered on the NHS:

  • neurofeedback for speech and language problems
  • auditory integration training for speech and language problems
  • secretin (a hormone treatment)
  • chelation (a treatment to remove heavy metal toxins from the blood)
  • hyperbaric oxygen therapy (a high pressure oxygen chamber)
  • omega‑3 fatty acids to manage sleep problems (although omega -3-fatty acids may be taken as a supplement to improve general health)
  • a casein or gluten free diet, unless there is evidence of stomach problems (for example, if you have coeliac disease) or unless the diet is supervised by a paediatrician or dietician

Feeding and eating problems are common among autistic children and young people, so it’s important to monitor your growth and that you’re getting enough nutrients. If you have problems eating, you or your parents or carers should get advice from your professional or GP.

Support outlined on these webpages may not be available in every local area. It’s important that you discuss with your GP or mental health professional the support options available to you. You can also search for services near you on our Youth Wellbeing Directory and find out more about referral processes here.

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