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Is the Hygiene Therapy Hypothesis for Autism Treatments Psuedoscience?

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Is the hygiene hypothesis for Autism treatments pseudoscience? It really is hard to say, but many people may see this as gross if not dangerous. A new study recently conducted suggests using whip worms and hot baths to calm down various autistic symptoms. Scientists claim that having the participants ingest the worm eggs is not harmful in any way.

The researchers had adult autistic participants ingest whip worm eggs for 12 weeks and claim that it made the patients more adaptable, and showed fewer repetitive actions. The annual meeting at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology will have these new studies presented.

Scientists think that by ingesting the worms it will help the immune system regulate better in those with Autism in order to reduce inflammation levels. Researchers claim it helps to lessen discomfort when it comes down to deviating from personal expectations and to reduce temper tantrums.

As for hot bath therapy, scientists think that it can trick the body's immune system into thinking it has a fever, thus resulting in producing protective anti-inflammatory reactions within the body. The whole study is generally based off of triggering an immune response in participants in order to help regulate, if not trick, the autistic individual’s body into serf-regulating that can cause certain behaviors to lessen. The scientists claim the worms are not a health threat to people and do not gestate in the gut. Adults who ingested the worms seemed better able to handle change and had less compulsive actions.

The hot bath study investigated 15 children who sat in a 102 degree hot tub on alternating days instead of the usual 93 degree hot tub temperature. Researchers claim they noticed that during the hot soak days the children were more socially adaptive. These results also follow previous studies on one third of autistic people when they were running a fever and had improvement in symptomology.

So, is the hygiene therapy hypothesis for autism treatments pseudoscience or is it a way for researchers to observe how the autistic brain and immune system react to inflammation? Many people may see the worm study as irresponsible, if not crazy. Or the hot bath study as unconventional with a lack of scientific data. It is known that science does have it's weird and disgusting moments.

In alternative therapy, hot water treatments seem to help a lot with a variety of disorders. As for the worms, that is another story. Scientists do want to conduct further worm studies, hopefully on children and lower functioning autistics. Although, will this so-called worm study push the rights of such individuals too far?

All I can say is that I will stick to the nice warm baths. Is there other alternative aspects that can be used safely in such studies without using whip worms?

If anyone is looking for support groups for adults with autism, be sure to look up the 'Support Group for Adults with Aspergers/High Functioning Autism' at the St. Cloud library every Thursday night at 7pm.

By Tina Elliott

Sources:

PsychCentral

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