We haven’t written about our fish oil/Omega-3s experiment in a while. (To catch up on the backstory, view all of the posts tagged Omega-3.) This is mostly because we keep waiting for some revelatory event to help us determine one way or the other whether it has made an obvious difference in J-Man’s progress, particularly with respect to his apraxia and speech development. I’ve read studies that suggest it provides noticeable improvements to other autism-related issues as well, so obviously we’ve been paying attention to that as well.
I noticed that today brings us very close to the six month-aversary of starting fish oil with J-Man. To be honest, I can’t tell an appreciable difference between what I would expect his improvement would have been without it and what it has been with it. Obviously this is hardly a scientific experiment, so take it for what it’s worth, but it’s pretty clearly not been a miracle solution or anything.
Am I disappointed about this? A little. Speech feels like our biggest hill to climb and the one area around which so much of our emotional energy goes. His growth has been slow and steady, but he’s still coming out 18 months or more behind on speech evaluations. Relative to his age, his behind-ness hasn’t changed much since we started the fish oil.
Do we plan to stop using it? No. I’m fairly convinced that fish oil has benefits to our bodies in many areas. I take it myself and think it’s an important part of the supplements and vitamins I take. It isn’t doing him any harm, and perhaps it’s giving him some positive benefits that we can’t readily see.
The one thing I’ll let the jury stay out on is his memory abilities. It’s clear his memory is very good, even if it’s hard to access sometimes. Whether this is from some combination of his natural abilities, fish oil, or something completely different may remain a mystery.
I’m a person who likes hard data and evidence. My undergraduate degree is in engineering, so this kind of thinking is ingrained in me. I am often not very impressed by the myriad studies out there about this or that helping autistic children. There’s a lot of shaky science out there, but that’s beyond the scope of our fish oil experiment.
Take this as anecdotal evidence only. Some of the fish oil/Omega-3 studies out there are rather compelling. I wouldn’t be surprised if some children benefit significantly and others don’t. That’s kind of how autism works. Get 12 autistic kids in a room, and they’ll all be different.
So this is probably the last post on this topic unless something radically changes. I would be interested to hear from other parents who’ve tried an Omega-3 regimen and how that’s worked for you.
And as always, before giving your child anything new, consult with your pediatrician and other qualified professionals. And always, always research these things fully before trying them. Some treatments are pure snake oil and others are outright dangerous. Some are untested and some are promising but not understood very well. Others have withstood rigorous testing and review and have much going for them. Save for some of the educational and behavioral therapies like ABA, which has been around forever relative to most other autism therapies, most are only recently coming out. So much of it is uncharted water, and I admit that scares me.
Our life with our shining autistic star takes us on adventures into the bleeding edges of medical science. So it’s important to proceed with care and willingness to learn as much as possible so you can make the best health decisions for your child. It’s not easy, but easy is definitely something that’s not part of our job description. Though nothing incredible is ever easy.