Autism Treatments OP-ED
When I first started learning about the so-called “biomedical” treatments available for autism, I was shocked and disgusted to learn of the practice of intravenous chelation as an "autism treatment." For the uninformed, this so-called "therapy" involves strapping a child -- often as young as three or four years old -- down for two hours or more while you pump a powerful irritant into his or her veins. By all accounts, the substance in question burns, in a manner akin to acid.
Even without the extensive and horrifying list of side effects and dangers associated with this "therapy," this is an awful thing to do to an innocent child. Worse, there's no credible evidence whatsoever that it actually helps the victims of this practice. It is supported only by junk science and parental testimonials. While I can sympathize with the situations of many of these parents, and understand their desire to create a better future for their children, there are limits to what this can excuse.
At the time, I honestly thought that this was as low as desperate parents and the fraudulent establishments set up to pander to them could sink. I was, unfortunately, naive.
Then came the rise of OSR#1. An industrial chelator designed to precipitate heavy metals out of mine runoff and never properly safety-tested on humans, OSR was repackaged as an "antioxidant dietary supplement" by the anti-vaccine activist Boyd Haley and marketed to the parents of autistic children. The list of adverse events gleaned from parent testimonials in favor of feeding this poison to children is horrifying, yet one of the distributors remains on the board of my county's autism society.
Once again, I thought that this "establishment" could sink no lower. Once again, I was quickly proven wrong.
In early 2009, I first heard of Mark and David Geier's favored "treatment" for autism – chemical castration via repeated doses of Lupron, a drug sometimes used to treat prostate cancer by shutting down the body's natural production of sex hormones. Perhaps more infamously, the drug is has also been used to chemically castrate sex offenders.
Their "treatment" has, in the years since, spawned a national network of clinics -- clinics dedicated to "treating" autism by chemically castrating autistic children. Once again, there is no credible evidence that this does anything to make the victims less autistic.
Yet again, I was shocked and horrified. Yet again, I thought that I'd seen the worst of it. Yet again, I was quickly proven wrong.
Shortly after a clinic dedicated to the Geier castration protocol opened up near my house, I discovered that local parents were having pig whipworm eggs illegally shipped from Thailand so that they could deliberately infest their autistic children with porcine intestinal parasites in the name of "helminthic therapy."
At the time, I couldn't imagine anything worse. Then came the rise of the fecal transplant as an autism "treatment."
I am not going to detail the process, beyond stating that it's exactly what it sounds like. I will remark that it takes something truly special to have another kid's rancid poo pumped into your child’s stomach.
All of these, however, pale next to the latest form of abuse that the "autism recovery" movement has come up with: the bleach enema.
No, I'm not joking. I sincerely wish I was.
This is part of a complex "protocol" which makes no medical sense at all, developed and promoted by a woman who proudly declares that she has no clinical or medical credentials. From her home base at a hyperbaric oxygen clinic in Mexico, Kerri Rivera travels the country, teaching parents about the alleged glories of the centerpiece of her "treatment" -- an industrial bleaching agent which has been rebranded as a so-called "Miracle Mineral Solution."
Within her protocol, children are made to drink this bleach, take baths in it, and, perhaps most disgustingly, take it via enema.
I remember watching in horror as Ms. Rivera presented to a crowded room full of desperate parents. Her preaching about the glories of bleach enemas and her announcement that her sole credential for promoting this was the fact that she's a parent were met with thunderous applause. That the media is only now beginning to take notice of the phenomenon is inexcusable.
That was almost three years ago, now.
This is not treatment – it is child abuse, plain and simple. There is no excuse imaginable which could justify this horrific insanity, just as nothing could possibly justify promoting or pandering to the environment of desperation, fear, and stigma which makes it possible. Enough is enough. These practices and those who support them must be condemned as strongly and unambiguously as possible.
It is long past time for us to take a stand. We, as a society, and as human beings, must come together and deliver a simple message, one which never should have needed to be said: Bleach should not go there.