Index of Topics on this Website

Diagnoses Treatments Possible Causes Other Issues



The holistic model on this website focuses on determining possible underlying causes and appropriate treatments for those causes, rather than on treating symptoms for

The tool used most frequently by clinicians for diagnostic purposes of developmental delays, including most language, motor, learning and behavioral disabilities and delays is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition, Revised (DSM-IV-R) the "bible" of the American Psychiatric Association. Many are shocked to learn that the diagnostic determination for these disabilities is psychiatric.

The DSM-IV-R lists strict criteria for each disability, along with guidelines for frequency, duration and severity of symptoms. Symptoms must manifest themselves consistently and sometimes in more than one environment. The most common use of the DSM diagnosis at the present time is by health insurance companies to allow or deny coverage for a given treatment.

While each of these disorders has very specific diagnostic criteria, two clinicians may or may not agree upon a diagnosis, because determining the presence or absence of symptoms requires subjective judgment. People with the same diagnosis can have a broad range of cognitive, social, language and attentional deficits.

DDR views Autism and related disorders as a spectrum, from least to most severe.

Some clinicians also include Depression, Bi-polar Disorder and other "Mental" Illness on this continuum. An infinite number of combinations of strengths and weaknesses inherent in all of these diagnoses make their precise placement on a linear chart difficult and easy to debate. That explains why many parents become frustrated searching for the "right" diagnosis.

A diagnosis does not prescribe treatment. Individuals with the same diagnosis display similar symptoms; however, they do not necessarily require the same treatments.

Bottom line: Please consider treating all delays individually based on a person’s unique history, rather than on diagnosis, which, in most cases, simply describes symptoms.



The multi-disciplinary treatment approach usually recommended by traditional physicians, mental health professionals and educators consists of pharmaceutical intervention, special education, counseling, and applied behavior management. These approaches focus on assumed neurological and observed behavioral, language, psychological, and academic deficits, not their possible causes.

The ultimate goal of treatment is to eliminate undesirable behaviors such as hyperactivity, attentional difficulties, anxiety, depression, mood swings, agitation, aggression, self-injurious behavior, insomnia, perseveration and impulsivity, while increasing desirable outcomes such as relatedness, eye contact, self-control, attention span and confidence.

Although the traditional treatments can certainly have palliative affects, they fail to address underlying physiological issues. In addition they are frequently accompanied by undesirable side effects.

DDR supports treating each child as a unique individual with a unique health and developmental history, because the causes of the symptoms in all those with similar diagnoses are not the same. Determining appropriate treatments and their sequence requires knowing the multiple causes of symptoms in each patient.

Listen to and watch a presentaion from DDR co-founder and Executive Director Patricia Lemer on

Choosing and prioritizing therapies for individuals with autism spectrum disorders The password is summit2011. 

DDR supports treatments that do more than mask, alleviate symptoms or help children compensate for their difficulties. You will find information on the following exciting and promising treatment approaches on this website. All have scientific studies behind them showing efficacy for those with developmental delays.

Bottom line: A diagnosis does not prescribe treatment. Individuals with the same diagnosis display similar symptoms; however, they do not necessarily require the same treatments.



Scientists have historically focused on genetics as the primary source of almost all diseases and disabilities. This is particularly true in autism, where millions and millions of dollars have been spent looking for the autism gene.
We now know that in order for a syndrome to be "genetic," a gene, or group of genes must be "turned on." Researchers have identified the genes for a few syndromes in which development is delayed. However, many delays are believed to be "hereditary," which is different from "genetic." Children with developmental delays often inherit their parents’ weak immune systems, which are heredity, not genetic.

At no point in history have there been such dramatic changes in the physical environment. The twentieth century has brought with it genetically altered and preserved foods, polluted air, electro-magnetic fields, treated and tainted water and depleted soil.

If developmental problems, including autism, run in families who live in the same house, eat the same food, and breathe the same chemicals coming out of new cabinets and carpeting, shouldn’t we be looking at what everyone is eating, drinking and breathing? Surely these and other environmental factors play some role. Why do some get sick and others do not?

Bottom line: Genetics loads the gun, and Environmental factors pull the trigger. It takes an environmental insult to "turn on" a gene.



Some children have unique circumstances that may or may not exacerbate their issues. These include:

We have also included sections on Preventing Developmental Delays and Success Stories of those who have triumphed despite dire diagnoses. If your child is adopted, premature, or you are having difficulty with insurance or working with your school system, please read these sections.

All material in this web site is given for information purposes only and is not to be substituted for advice from your health care provider.

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Page last modified: April 25, 2011
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