My daughter was diagnosed with autism, and has just turned 6 years old.  We have heard about hyperbaric oxygen therapy and were wondering if there is a certain age that this helps or is she getting too old? Can it still help her?

Jaren, Mom to Olivia (6) Autism

Dear Olivia,

With most interventions in autism it is usually stressed that the younger children improve the most with treatment. However, the most recent published study on the use of hyperbarics in autism (Rossignol, D. et al “Hyperbaric treatment for children with autism: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial” BMC Pediatrics 2009,9:21 ) found that children over age 5 years actually had more improvements then the younger children. In this study they used children from two to seven years old and treated some with 1.3 atmospheres pressure and a control group with ‘sham’ treatment at 1.03 atmospheres. There were statistically significant improvements for children of all ages in the treatment group compared to the control group. Interestingly though, in a post-hoc analysis of the data children over age 5 years had more robust improvements compared to the younger group. The older children had better improvements in irritability, social withdrawal, stereotypy, sociability, and sensory/cognitive awareness. Based on this study and our clinical experience there is good reason to recommend hyperbaric therapy for all children with autism and that no child is ‘too old’ for it - in fact the older child may benefit even more.

Best of luck,

Kyle Van Dyke, M.D.