Dr. Bernard Rimland is the author of Infantile Autism and founder of The Autism Research Institute. When his oldest son Mark was born in 1956 and began exhibiting developmental delays, almost nobody knew what autism was. The accepted theory back then was that autism was a reaction to bad parenting. With the publication of his book in 1964, he single-handedly shattered the accepted professional theory that so called 'refrigerator' mothers were to blame for their children's autism. Hundreds of parents contacted him after reading his book. Some of them had tried mega-vitamin therapy on their autistic children and had seen positive results. These parents had read articles in the New York Times describing the work of Dr. Abram Hoffer and and Humphry Osmond who were treating their schizophrenic patients with vitamin B-3 (niacin) with tremendous success. Dr. Abram Hoffer, the founding father of orthomolecular medicine, was a pioneer in the use of mega-vitamins to heal mental illness and other diseases.
Dr. Rimland could not ignore this lead and decided to undertake a large scale study of over 200 children, to see the effects of megadose vitamin therapy. The vitamins he used were vitamin B6, niacinamide (vitamin B-3 non-flush), pantothenic acid, and vitamin C, along with a multiple-vitamin tablet especially designed for the study. At the end of the short 4 month study there was no response in 20, slight response in 37, 41 showed some improvement and 86 showed definite improvement. Altogether, 66% were clinically improved. And that is without diet change! On the other hand, drugs given to 1,591 children yielded only 27% improvement. This was the first study. Later, Rimland found that vitamin B-6 and magnesium were especially effective in in the treatment of autism. So two years later he co-founded the first double-blind experiment which showed B-6 to be therapuetic for autistic children.
In the words of Dr. Bernard Rimland: "Two years later two colleagues and I initiated a second experimental study of the use of megavitamin therapy on autistic children, this time concentrating on vitamin B6 and magnesium. My co-investigators were Professors Enoch Callaway of the University of California Medical Center at San Francisco and Pierre Dreyfus of the University of California Medical Center at Davis. The double-blind placebo-controlled crossover experiment utilized 16 autistic children, and again produced statistically significant results. For most children dosage levels of B6 ranged between 300 mg and 500 mg per day. Several hundred mg/day of magnesium and a multiple-B tablet were also given, to guard against B6-induced deficiencies of these other nutrients. (In all probability, the temporary numbness and tingling resulting from B6 megadoses, reported by Schaumburg et al., were the result of induced deficiencies of other nutrients caused by taking B6 alone in enormous amounts—a foolish thing to do.)
In both studies the children showed a remarkably wide range of benefits from the vitamin B6. There was better eye contact, less self-stimulatory behavior, more interest in the world around them, fewer tantrums, more speech, and in general the children became more normal, although they were not completely cured.
People vary enormously in their need for B6. The children who showed improvement under B6 improved because they needed extra B6. Autism is thus in many cases a vitamin B6 dependency syndrome."