2007 marks the 40th anniversary of the Autism Research Institute (ARI), which was founded in 1967 by the late Dr. Bernard Rimland, who passed away in 2006. Bernard Rimland was a pioneer in autism research who brought relief, hope, and even recovery to families of autistic individuals worldwide. He was the first to identify autism as a biological disorder – a problem with the body and not the mind. This was in sharp contrast with the prevailing view at the time, whereby most medical experts saw autism as being caused by “refrigerator mothers” that were cold and uncaring.
His 1964 book, Autism: The Syndrome and Its Implications for a Neural Theory of Behavior, changed the world of autism forever. In 1965, Dr Rimland founded the National Society for Autistic Children (today the Autism Society of America) to promote a highly controversial behavioral modification therapy developed by Ivar Lovass. That therapy, known today as ABA or Applied Behavioral Analysis, has since helped many autistic kids to improve their condition greatly.
Taking a lead from parents of autistic children, Dr Rimland next investigated the use of high dose vitamin B6. The idea that a vitamin could treat a brain disorder was considered preposterous. Today, vitamin B6 has been scientifically proven to benefit autistic children. This led Bernard Rimland to establish the ARI in 1967 as a non-profit organization based in San Diego, USA. The ARI has since grown to become the foremost autism research organization in the world today.
Causes of autism
The Autism Research Institute has identified a long list of biological and environmental factors that either cause or contribute to autism. These include:
- heavy metals toxicity from elements such as mercury and lead
- yeast and bacteria infection
- nutritional deficiency
- intestinal disorders
- sensitivity to gluten and casein (grain and milk protein)
- and so on.
With an understanding of these causes and contributing factors, the Autism Research Institute has it developed a comprehensive range of effective treatments.
Achievements of the ARI
In its 40-year history, the ARI boasts of many firsts. No other organization – not even the multi-million-dollar pharmaceutical giants nor the US Federal Government – can begin to match its achievements.
- In the the 1960s, the ARI was the first to call attention to the great value of behavioral (ABA) training.
- Still in the 1960s, the ARI was the first to call attention to the benefits of high-dose vitamin supplementation, and to the value of gluten-free and casein-free diets.
- During the 70s, 80s and early 90s, the Autism Research Institute conducted and funded research and strongly advocated a range of non-drug approaches to treating autistic children.
- In 1995, the ARI was first to call attention to the “autism epidemic” and to point to excessive vaccines as a possible cause. At that time, some medical experts laughed while others tried to explain that higher incidences of autism were due to more accurate diagnosis rather than to any real increase in autism rates. Today, it has become clear that the Autism Research Institute was right. Recent studies show an 800 percent increase in cases of autism since 1985.
- In 1995, the ARI also initiated the Defeat Autism Now! (DAN!) project to accelerate the dismally slow process of developing safe and effective biomedical treatments targeted at curing children with autism. It funded qualified researchers who could never hope to get funding from the National Institute of Health or other research foundations because their ideas, often implicating the mercury and viruses in vaccines, were considered “politically incorrect”.
Today the ARI maintains the world’s largest databank of autistic individuals with over 37,000 detailed case histories of autistic children from 60 countries. It is a major source of information on the epidemic and its potential causes.
Defeat Autism Now!
One of the most notable recent achievements of the ARI was the Defeat Autism Now! or DAN! project, which Dr. Bernard Rimland started in 1995, together with Sidney Baker, M.D. and Jon Pangborn, Ph.D. The Defeat Autism Now! (DAN!) project was developed to train physicians and other health care professionals to implement the various diagnosis and treatment approaches developed by the Autism Research Institute.
To date, hundreds of DAN! physicians worldwide have been trained. Their efforts have helped many children wih autism to fully recover and appear just like normal children. Others have at least improved to the point where they can study at mainstream schools.
The Autism Research Institute has presented more than 1,000 cases – with before and after video footages – of children diagnosed with autism who have fully recovered. Part of the Defeat Autism Now! project are the Think-Tanks and Conferences, which bring together physicians and scientists from around the world to develop advanced methods of diagnosis and autism treatment. It started with a small gathering of a few scientists, but have grown into huge conferences attended by thousands of health professionals each time. Some of these conferences have standing-room only!
The Autism Research Institute also publishes the Autism Research Review International (ARRI), a quarterly newsletter that provides up-to-date information about developments in the world of autism. The latest autism findings are gleaned from a computer search of the 25,000 scientific and medical articles published every week.
New information emerges daily about autism and its surrounding issues. The Autism Research Institute works diligently to apply the new research findings toward developing methods of helping autistic children and their families now.
The Autism Research Institute provides free and low-cost information to parents, professionals and the media by mail and on the Autism Research Institute website. A publication list of available books, tapes, videos and articles is available at the ARI website and by mail. The Autism Research institute is is supported by donations from concerned people and organizations.