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MARION — An expert who advocates treating medical conditions that affect some children with autism will be coming to Southern Illinois in November to share information about the approach.

The workshop, “Getting Started With Biomedical Treatments for Autism,” runs from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Marion Holiday Inn Express. Admission is free and limited to 35 registrants.

Leading the workshop will be Dr. Sonia McGowin, a physician with Defeat Autism Now and a fellow with the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs. She is a chiropractor who specializes in treating children who have autism and other disabilities. She has special training in biomedical issues seen in autism spectrum disorders and practices at a multi-specialty clinic in Jefferson City, Missouri. There, she focuses not only on children with ASD, but those with such diagnoses as ADD, ADHD and Tourette syndrome.

“She is just basically going to come and talk to us and give us a presentation on what biomedicine looks like, how it can help kids with autism, how it can enhance the therapies they’re already involved in and just how biomedicine is changing and helping kids with autism,” said Stephanie Brown, director of the Autism Society of Southern Illinois.

"'Biomed' is a term used to describe the treatment of autism from a medical viewpoint," according to the National Autism Association of Northwest Indiana. "Biomed utilizes standard medical tests to detect such things as: excessive amounts of bad bacteria in the gut, parasites, yeast, viruses, food allergies and heavy metal toxicity. These tests point out immune system dysfunction, metabolism abnormalities and underlying biochemical imbalances which are the cause of these medical problems and lead to autistic symptoms."

Where conventional medicine treats the symptoms of autism, biomedical treatment addresses the root cause, Brown said.

Some children with autism also have gastrointestinal, autoimmune and thyroid and other issues, which have long been presumed to be a part of the disorder, according to Kim Cantwell, a mother of a child with autism.

"What they thought was it was typical," she said of those underlying medical conditions. "What it is, is it is extremely common. When these things are treated, they can improve dramatically.”

There are many different biomedical therapies available to treat a child’s needs, Brown said. Many autism symptoms, STIMs (self-stimulatory behaviors) and other behaviors are treatable and can greatly improve through proper treatment, she said.

“There is no cure for autism,” Brown said. “Even though there is no cure, there is lot of things that can help kids reach their full potential.”

More information is available at, or by emailing workshop coordinator Kimberly Cantwell at

Austin Stonebreaker, a spokesman for the Autism Society of America, said the association does not endorse biomedical treatment — or any other treatment, for that matter — over another.

"We endorse and support the right of families to pursue biomedical treatment options," Stonebreaker said.

"We encourage those families to look at evidence-based, effective research methods. We encourage those families to talk to, use, reach out to our contact center, to get a referral to a trusted doctor, if this is a method that they want to pursue.

"We don't endorse the biomedical options over therapy-based options or any other option for that matter, but we understand that each family is different and we want to be able to support them in whatever they choose to do and guide them towards safe, effective, research-based treatment options."


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Stephanie Esters is a reporter covering Jackson and Union counties.

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