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How to Choose a DAN! (Defeat Autism Now) Doctor

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Updated February 19, 2008

If you have a child with autism, chances are you've heard that your child can be treated "biomedically" with special diets (such as the GFCF diet), supplements, and other alternative techniques. While this approach is not supported by established medical organizations, it has become more popular.

If you are interested in trying such an approach, you may decide you want to consult a doctor trained in biomedical treatments for autism. Right now, only The Autism Research Institute trains medical doctors in its biomedical "Defeat Autism Now" (DAN!) protocol -- and their training lasts just one day. As a result, parents can easily wind up with a DAN doctor with few credentials or little experience.

The Autism Research Institute recognizes this problem, and offers some suggestions for interviewing and researching a DAN practitioner before making your first appointment. Here's are some of the most important questions to ask:

  • What led you to become a clinician using a DAN approach?
  • Are your patients required to use special diets such as GF/CF, SCD, low-oxalate, etc.? Why?
  • When was your last DAN conference? Have you also attended the physician’s training? How do you stay current with emerging DAN treatments?
  • Approximately how many individuals with autism have you treated? What age range?
  • In the event we have a biomedical-related emergency, how will I contact you?
  • Do you share an e-mail address, cell phone, etc. with your patients?
  • Can you collaborate with other specialists we will be dealing with (gastrointestinal, etc)? Are you willing to collaborate on treatment and testing with my child’s pediatrician if he/she is receptive?
  • Will you provide a clear plan for supplements and where to purchase them?
  • What are the primary medical specialties in which you were originally trained (i.e. pediatrics, family medicine)? What is now the primary focus of your practice? If you are not an MD or DO, in what field(s) are you licensed?
  • Do you sell proprietary nutritional supplements or have a sales agreement with supplement suppliers? Do you sell supplements at cost?
  • Do you bill for laboratory tests done by commercial laboratories? How do you break down the fees?
In addition to asking these very specific questions, it's also important to do a little research regarding your potential doctor's background. How to Choose a Pediatrician from the About.com Guide to Pediatrics offers additional guidelines, and the UCompare Database allows parents to look up individual doctors to learn more about their backgrounds.
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