Not too long ago I read a story about a doctor that was giving alternative medicine treatments to autistic children by putting them in a hyperbaric chamber and increasing the pressure and oxygen into their bodies. Parents and the doctor all claimed that the treatment worked, and significant improvement was seen in all areas of autistic behavior. Naturally, I was skeptical. I thought it was another one of those "Autism Cash Cows", meaning a method of milking money from desperate families that have autistic children.
But today my opinion has changed. BMC Pediatrics is reporting this study, which was a registered, clinical, double-blind trial of hyperbaric chamber treatments over 4 weeks, 10 sessions (each an hour long, plus pressurization and depressurization time) a week. They showed significant improvements for those with autistic children, with the highest improvements of those over the age of 5. It blew me away, because it actually worked, and was proven to work.
Now, the real problem is no one knows why it works, or what it does to help autistic children be more social. That still needs to be determined. Also, many doctors are still cautioning parents to wait for more studies to support these findings. I would also agree. Not only because of the potential dangers of placing your child in a high pressured environment (nausea, seizures, sinus problems, etc.), but also because of the cost of the treatments. Each treatment runs on average between $140 to $150 a session. Also, the overall lasting effects was not addressed by the report. Do the children live now and forever with the knowledge that they need to be in a hyperbaric chamber for at least 2 hours a day? That's a concern.
And finally, the reason I would wait for now is the cost of a hyperbaric chamber for your home. The going rate of a "portable" chamber is between $12,000 and $16,000, and it is not covered by insurance. But, perhaps, if this treatment ends up becoming the norm, insurance companies will take the cost of a one-time purchase of a chamber over other potential costs. Time will tell.