Historically, science has scorned single-subject trials, but parents’ at-home experiments with their kids may drive autism research forward.

John Rodakis expected Thanksgiving of 2012 to feature turkey and football, just like it had in past years. Instead, it brought his two children a strep infection and a prescription for the antibiotic amoxicillin. He and his wife dutifully dosed the children with the cotton-candy-pink liquid twice each day. By the end of the holiday weekend, the children’s fevers and all other signs of the infection had disappeared. As Rodakis continued giving them the 10-day course of antibiotics, he found that it had an unexpected effect on his 4-year-old son, who had been diagnosed with autism earlier that year.

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