Sep 24, 2007

The Cult of Autism

Autism has been a hot topic in my life as of late. My best friend's daughter was diagnosed with autism, and she's now about 4 years old.

Being a parent is tough enough. I have twin boys, 1.5 years old, and they're like Tasmanian Devil #1 and Tasmanian Devil #2. It's quite chaotic around here. I love them dearly, and I can't imagine how unbelievably painful it must be for a parent to find out that their child has autism. I suspect that nearly all parents are unprepared for something like that. Every time I hear about a child with autism, the parent's story always seems the same:
- Around the age of two, my kid was diagnosed with autism.
- Our neurologist told us there was nothing we could do.
- We began to look around on the web for a cure and we found the Autism Research Institute and the Defeat Autism Now (DAN!) conference.
- We attended a DAN! conference.
- We've been convinced by the DAN! conference that mercury in vaccines causes autism.
- We're now trying various biomedical therapies based on the recommendations of the DAN! conference.
- I hate my neurologist

If I were to venture a guess, this probably tells the story of the vast majority of autistic parents.

So where's the problem? The parents are trying to do the best for their child, what's wrong with that? Well, nothing. The problem lies with the Autism Research Institute (ARI) and the DAN! conference. The problem started with Dr. Bernard Rimland, founder of ARI, and the story goes a little something like this...

In the 1950s, as a freshly graduated psychologist, Dr. Rimland determined, correctly, that autism is a neurological disorder. Until that time, autism was believed to be the product of pad parenting. This was his shining moment, but for the remainder of his career, Dr. Rimland personified the character of a bad scientist.

Indeed, Dr. Rimland correctly theorized that autism is a neurological disorder. However, his major failing was in determining the cause of autism. His belief, based on anecdotal evidence, was that autism was caused by environmental factors, specifically mercury and thiomersal (also spelled thimerosal). Even as late as April 6, 2000, while testifying to Congress he said “parents say their children were normal until getting the MMR – another triple vaccine.”

Exhaustive studies epidemiological studies have been completed in the area of the mercury, thiomersal, vaccines, and autism and all have shown conclusively, that there is no link between autism and vaccines.

Here are a few links to those studies:
- FDA's Ongoing Response to the Issue of Vaccines and Autism
- autismwatch.org - Thimerosal Is Not Responsible for Autism
- autismwatch.org - Thimerosal and Autism: Reviewing the Evidence (2007)
- autismwatch.org - Thimerosal: Updated Statement. National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). Canada Communicable Disease Report

Dr. Rimland based his beliefs purely on anecdotal evidence. Not only that, but he also chose to disregard the data from valid, FDA approved, double blinded clinical studies which proved conclusively that there is zero causal relationship between mercury/thiomersal and autism. His own hubris, personal incredulity, stubbornness, or ignorance kept him from admitting that he was wrong.

Let’s examine the basis of his belief in mercury poisoning for a second. His claim is that signs of autism occurred right after the child was admitted a triple vaccine – such as MMR or DPT shot.

Well, signs of autism do occur at around the same time as children receive these shots. However, autism is a genetic disorder. You are born with it. But, it is also a cognitive disorder, and guess what... infants haven’t developed their cognition yet. Therefore the symptoms don’t really begin to manifest until the child’s cognition develops, around 1-1/2 to 2 years old. This coincidentally is about the same time as the triple vaccines are administered. But the timing is just a coincidence. And remember, correlation doesn’t mean causation.

Also, have Dr. Rimland’s methods of collecting data been clearly published? There is a huge opportunity for error and bias in data collecting. Consider the following - During the collection of data, how were the questions asked? “Did the symptoms occur about the same time as the shots?” This obviously leads to insinuation on the part of the researcher and could bait the parents into believing in a causation. Even two separate questions such as “When were the shots given?” and “When did the symptoms begin?” could be misleading.

Misleading data collection could easily bias the parent's recollection in several ways, including but not limited to false memory syndrome

A more valid way to collect the data might have been to ask the parents when the symptoms began, and the independently verify with the child’s physician as to when the vaccinations occurred. This would likely show that there was a range of time when the symptoms were onset, and would likely show that symptoms occurred before the vaccinations. I’m speculating here, but seriously, where are his data collection methods? I’ll bet they show a ton of bias. The bottom line is that Dr. Rimland did not stick to accepted clinical research methodology to determine his findings.

In Robert L. Park’s excellent article The Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science, bogus science warning number one reads “The discoverer pitches the claim directly to the media.” It continues “The integrity of science rests on the willingness of scientists to expose new ideas and findings to the scrutiny of other scientists. Thus, scientists expect their colleagues to reveal new findings to them initially. An attempt to bypass peer review by taking a new result directly to the media, and thence to the public, suggests that the work is unlikely to stand up to close examination by other scientists.”

Does this sound familiar in the context of Dr. Rimland’s research? All of his pleadings and publications have been directly to the media, or published via his own organizations.

How many times have the ARI and DAN! people been on Oprah? I'm not even going to discuss the Jenny McCarthy on Oprah train wreck here today.

But, Dr. Rimland’s views have been derided by his colleagues. At the time of this writing, Dr. Rimland’s wikipedia entry (published 12:51, 3 September 2007) approximately one third of the entire entry is devoted to criticism of his conflicts with the consensus of medical opinion. (and no, that does not make him a forward thinking visionary that no one else is smart enough to understand). His criticism section is longer than his bio section!

Here’s a quote from Dr. Rimland’s site.
“The effects of mercury on autistic children has come to light only in the past 18 months, after it was realized that the amount of mercury preservative in many vaccines (although not the MMR vaccine) is grossly in excess of the permissible standards.”


Is it really? I’ve heard people say that the mercury/thiomersal levels are three times the legal limit. Is that true? Is the government letting the big pharmacy companies slide by turning the other cheek?

ARE YOU JOKING!

Here’s an interesting bit of information you might enjoy... MMR vaccines never actually contained mercury or thiomersal, ever. And, for reasons due to public misunderstanding, mercury and thiomersal were removed from other vaccines in 2001. And no... there were not stockpiles of the supposedly tainted drugs sitting on shelves for years after the change went into effect. That’s just ridiculous. The last mercury containing vaccines were produced in 2001, with expiration dates no later than 2003. Most doctors do not stockpile vaccines. They use them frequently and replace their dwindling supplies. Can you imagine any physician purchasing a stockpile of vaccines? Why would they do that? Improvements in scientific medicine are constantly taking place. So why would any physician risk keeping a vaccine on hand in large quantities when that vaccine could be replaced for a better one, or worse, removed from the market? I doesn't add up does it.

Let’s go back to “The Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science” one more time. This time, we’re going to look at number 4. “Evidence for a discovery is anecdotal.” This time I will simply just quote directly, because it’s been firmly established at this point that Dr. Rimland’s evidence is in fact anecdotal.

“If modern science has learned anything in the past century, it is to distrust anecdotal evidence. Because anecdotes have a very strong emotional impact, they serve to keep superstitious beliefs alive in an age of science. The most important discovery of modern medicine is not vaccines or antibiotics, it is the randomized double-blind test, by means of which we know what works and what doesn't. Contrary to the saying, "data" is not the plural of "anecdote."


Now let’s look at another root of Dr. Rimland’s problem. He’s the parent of an autistic child. This in itself immediately disqualifies him from being a trustable expert on the subject of autism. Like any other parent of an autistic child, he’s more likely to make decisions purely on emotion or conjecture rather than rational, critical, or reasonable thinking. Clinical research must be carried out by unbiased individuals.

How about Dr. Rimland’s Autism Research Institute (ARI). Turns out, they’re not even a research institute! They’re a marketing organization developed to further spread his credulous claims.

Evidence Based Medicine

Let’s take a break from our criticism of Dr. Rimland and his DAN! Doctors, and the Autism Research Institute. Let’s talk about medicine.
Medicine is developed using the scientific method. When a new modality of treatment is theorized it is subjected to a battery of testing before it is allowed to be tested on humans. This testing is called Pre Clinical Trials.
Anyone who is interested in performing a clinical trial must submit a request to the FDA. All exploratory, first-in-human trials are conducted in accordance with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) 2006 Guidance on Exploratory Investigational New Drug (IND) Studies, and they are documented carefully according to a Clinical Trial Protocol.

Clinical trials start small and in the first phase typically only have 25 or so people. If the treatment shows efficacy they proceed onto larger studies, called phase 2, phase 3, and finally phase 4.

How Clinical Trials Work

The key to the success of clinical trials is to remove any bias. Therefore, studies are “blinded.” This works as follows:
Blinding is a basic tool to prevent conscious and unconscious bias in research. For example, in open taste tests comparing different product brands, consumers usually choose their regular brand. However, in blind taste tests, where the brand identities are concealed, consumers may favor a different brand. (think about the Pepsi Challenge)
Single blind describes experiments wherein information that could introduce bias or otherwise skew the result is withheld from the participants. Unlike in a double blind experiment, the experimenter will be in full possession of the facts.
In a double-blind experiment, neither the individuals nor the researchers know who belongs to the control group and the experimental group. Only after all the data are recorded (and in some cases, analyzed) do the researchers learn which individuals are which.
For a complete primer on blind test methodology, I highly recommend that you read:
Wikipedia Double Blind
Wikipedia Clinical Trials

Why Pseudoscience Does Not Do Clinical Studies

In the United States, supplements and therapies are not specifically required to undergo biomedical testing. Knowing this, why would an alternative medicine practitioner undergo biomedical or clinical testing? It’s a lose/lose situation for them. Basically, clinical testing is expensive and time consuming, and the probable outcome to the testing is that all of the money they spent on clinical testing will prove that their therapy lacks efficacy.

A perfect example of this is homeopathy. It has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that it cannot work, and yet, the marketing of this and other alternative medicine continues even in the face of negative evidence.
Something that you might want to keep in mind... if it was proven to work, it wouldn’t be alternative medicine. It would be mainstream.

But There’s So Much Information Out There...

I want to take a second to express my extreme disappointment with the TACA organization. As a parent/peer support group, I should expect that an organization would perform the task of sifting through the mountains of information and disinformation regarding autism and provide a clear picture of the landscape of treatment options available, and provide links to the latest research. Unfortunately, they do not do this.

Here are a couple of examples.

This page is completely unfounded for several reasons. First, there is no link now, nor has there ever been a link between the mercury in vaccinations and autism. Zip. Zero. Nada. None. This has been thoroughly disproven by multiple independent sources.
Here's one from autism watch.
Here's another from autism watch
Here's one from the Canadian government
FDA's Ongoing Response to the Issue of Vaccines and Autism
Association for Science in Autism
New York Times
Institute of Medicine of the National Academies
Another one from Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

Another claim from the TACA page:

“Many doctors still have mercury/ thimerosal vaccines sitting in the refrigerators!”


I highly doubt that. Thiomersal as a preservative was removed from childhood vaccines by 2001 and the last lots of thiomersal preservative-containing vaccines expired in January 2003.

TACA also state:

“mercury / thiomersal containing vaccines (especially flu) are still being made!!”


It doesn’t state that it's only certain flu vaccines, and none of them are legal for use on children under the age of 6. If this is the case, how come TACA is still using scare tactics about vaccines? And also, if the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in agreement that mercury/thiomersal has no effect on autism, why are they even publishing this information? Why isn’t TACA publishing the truth?

Further down in the article, (number 2), they recommend against vaccinating newborns. Did you know that immunizations account for the single largest jump in the average human life expectancy, jumping from between 20 and 35 years at the turn of the 20th century to 78 years at the end of the century. Why would anyone in their right mind recommend against it, especially in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? It’s egregiously irresponsible if you ask me.

And Now For the Stupidest Thing Ever

We’re talking about Chelation Therapy. Chelation Therapy is so completely unfounded scientifically, and so completely ridiculous, it makes my head spin. But, even worse... it’s totally unsafe! As a matter of fact, you can actually kill your kid by doing it!

So let’s talk about Chelation Therapy. In order for a therapy to work, there must be a plausible mechanism defining why it should work. Chelation therapy lacks that mechanism.

Why are people chelating? To remove heavy metals and toxins from the body. Sounds like a great idea right? Apparently, it works for lead poisoning. But, autistic kids don't have lead poisoning. Autistic kids have autism. But now you’re saying, “but what about mercury poisoning?” Well, first, chelation works for lead poisoning, not mercury poisoning. Second, your kid doesn’t have mercury poisoning.

As a matter of fact, If your kid is under the age of 6, your kid never received vaccines containing mercury, because they were born after the drugs were outlawed. And even if they had gotten vaccinated with mercury containing vaccines, they were trace levels (.001%). At that minuscule level, your child’s body would have processed out any mercury contained in the vaccine. How much mercury is .001%? That’s one-millionth of the little vile. And, it was years ago, there would not be, and could not be any remaining in your child's system.

My kids like to stick their fingers in the tracks of the sliding glass door then stick their fingers in their mouth. I try to discourage it, but kids are kids. Each time they do, the receive millions of times the amount of metal contained in a vile of vaccine. It's probably not the healthiest thing for them, but their body processes it out just fine. Autistic kids are no different, no matter what medical double-talk gobbledygook the DAN! doctors try to tell you.

So let’s recap... You chelate to remove metal that your child didn’t actually receive (imaginary metal) and that is proven not to cause autism anyways. So why chelate? Because Dr. Rimland and his quack band of DAN! Doctors say so!

This might surprise you, but chelation is so bad, that www.quackwatch.org, the internet’s leading medical watchdog organization has devoted an entire website just to chelation, www.chelationwatch.org

Their opening line reads:

“Chelation therapy is a series of intravenous infusions containing EDTA and various other substances. It is falsely claimed to be effective against cardiovascular disease, autism, and many other diseases and conditions. Because chelation has valid use in some cases of heavy metal poisoning, many practitioners falsely diagnose lead, mercury, or other heavy metal toxicity to trick patients into undergoing chelation. This Web site explains why doctors who advocate the general use of chelation therapy should be avoided.”


Another independent chelation debunking resource is www.asatonline.org

I consider ASAT a leading resource when seeking the truth about autism therapies. I also recommend www.autism-watch.org They are another subsidiary wing of quackwatch.org.

Medical Watchdog Groups

I remember a friend saying “This doctor quackery guy is stirring up a lot of shit in the autism community, everyone is really pissed at him.” Good. Actually Great! Stand up and take note. Watchdog groups are advocates for you. They are there to watch your back, and to sift through the volumes of information and misinformation and give you the straight answer.

A while back, I was having a conversation with a friend (who is the mother of an autistic child). I pointed out to her that a watchdog organization was making claims against the efficacy of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). I should note, she was doing HBOT at the time with her child.

Here are the HBOT debunking links.
- healthwatcher.net
- Orac - Respectful Insolence

A few days later she responded “I spoke with the President of TACA and she is telling me that the "quackery" guy has an autistic son that none of the treatments worked on so he is bashing the treatments.”

Hmmm… that’s funny, in my email to her, I didn’t reference the name of the watchdog groups, so how could the president of TACA know that he or she had an autistic son? This is a perfect example of either deliberate misinformation from or total ignorance of anti-mercury autism groups.

Turns out that it’s not “a” quackery guy, but literally hundreds of independent watchdog organizations across the world that are independently saying the same thing.
And wait a second... is she saying that having an autistic son reduces the validity of the source because of the emotional attachment? I think for once, we are in total agreement. I’m sure you can smell what’s coming next... Oh yeah! Rimland has an autistic son!

I think you’re getting my drift.

Here’s a general rule; when a watchdog group talks... listen.
- www.quackwatch.org
- www.autism-watch.org
- www.chelationwatch.org
- www.quackcast.com
- www.ncahf.org
- www.sram.org
- http://autismdiva.blogspot.com
- http://scienceblogs.com/insolence
- http://www.srmhp.org/online-articles.html
- http://www.srmhp.org/0401/media-watch.html

Being a good skeptic, I like to be fair. So I will do so here. To my knowledge there are two watchdog blogs that are run by the parents of autistic children. They are:
- http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk
http://bartholomewcubbins.blogspot.com

If I strictly adhere to my own policy of not referencing sources created by biased opinions - especially those who are parents of autistic children - then I should not reference these blogs elsewhere in this blog. Thus far, I have not. But, you've now been fairly warned of that caveat, so I will tell you this... I think left brain right brain is terrific. Spot on. Right on the money. My favorite link is the one exposing dozens of DAN! doctors as the frauds that they are.

I could tell you to take it with a grain of salt, but instead I'll do this; be skeptical about it yourself. Read it, then apply your own critical thinking and free inquiry skills to the information presented. After all, as a skeptical educator, I'm not telling you what to think. I'm teaching you how to think.

Think about it.

Let’s Return to TACA

At the bottom of the main page on tacanow.org, under “Check out our friends” there is a list of 6 links to associated autism sites. I cross referenced this list with the list of Nonrecommended Information Sources available on www.autism-watch.org, and guess what… 5 of them are on there. Here are the nonrecommended Information Sources for autism:

Friends of TACA
- Autism Research Institute
- Autism One
- Generation Rescue
- National Autism Association
- Safe Minds

The complete list:
- A-CHAMP
- Autism Recovery Network
- Austism Society of America
- Autism Treatment Trust (formrly Action Against Autism)
- AutismOne
- Defeat Autism Now (DAN)
- Forum on Alternative and Innovative Therapies (Lewis Mehl-Madrona, MD, PhD)
- Generation Rescue
- Genetic Centers of America (Mark R. Geier, MD, PhD)
- Institute for Chronic Illnesses
- Moms Against Mercury
- National Autism Association
- National Autistic Society (United Kingdom)
- National Vaccine Information Center
- Neuro Immuno Therapeutics Foundation (Hugh Fudenberg, MD)
- NoMercury
- Safe Minds
- The Autism Autoimmunity Project (TAAP)
- Whole Child Network

I could literally spend days and days debunking the misinformation on TACAs web site. But I just can’t spend that much time in this post. I will point out one more instance from this page on tacanow.org

This entire page is a propaganda page. After telling a number of lies about mercury, thiomersal, and chelation, they use a leading question to make you agree with their position. Here it is...

“Q: OK, I'm convinced my child is mercury toxic. What do I do now?”


TACA gets you to agree by convincing you that you’ve already agreed. Then, they ask you to challenge the (correct, I might ad) diagnoses of your pediatrician regarding mercury poisoning.

“Q: My doctor says that my child is not mercury toxic because his blood and urine mercury levels are "within normal limits." What do you think?”


Then they try to disqualify your doctor’s knowledge with this ridiculous and assumptive argument stating that your doctor doesn’t actually know anything.

“Most MDs are more familiar with lead poisoning than mercury poisoning.”


How the hell can they assume that? You might have the best and brightest pediatrician on the planet, and he or she just might be an expert in many things, including lead poisoning, mercury poisoning, oh and probably the fact that biomedical treatments for autism are complete and total quackery.

The Genetic Connection


Another complaint I have about TACA is the very premise. “Talk about a cure.” What is there to talk about? A bunch of unqualified parents getting together to “talk about a cure” is the equivalent of me trying to discover the origins of the universe from my living room... without a telescope.

What TACA is really talking about are unproven, untested, dangerous therapies that have no realistic basis for efficacy. And when they’re not talking about that, the conversation turns into a “big pharma conspiracy.” Don’t believe me? How about the Autism Omnibus trial. It’s classic “big pharma did it conspiracy” brought on by the misbeliefs spread by Dr. Rimland’s DAN! Doctors, ARI, and TACA. And mark my words, they’re going to lose, and lose big.

Do you really want to talk about a cure? A better choice is to listen. I’ve been listening.

The most prestigious peer-reviewed scientific publication is Nature. They do a podcast on Neuroscience, and on that podcast they discuss the discovery of three separate symptom specific genes, each of which has a corresponding relationship to each of autism’s three major symptom sets; social difficulties, communication, and nonsocial behaviors.

This should be quite fascinating to anyone interested in autism, for several reasons:
- Correctly identifying the cause of the disorder is very exciting. This provides us with the knowledge that autism is both congenital and genetic.
- This also disproves the mercury/thiomersal controversy.
- This also rules out the possibility of efficacy for treatments such as HBOT, Chelation, Glutathione, the Gluten Free diet, Vitamin mega doses, and so on.
- It also calls to attention that the cause of autism has been identified by molecular biologists, and that the published results are widely available.
- It also shows that even though those results are widely available, DAN! Doctors, ARI, and TACA choose to either reject them or ignore them so that they may continue to spread their lies about mercury, and continue raking in your valuable dollars.
- It also shows that in the long run, “Talking about a cure for autism” is pointless for the layperson. We should be “listening for a cure for autism”

To hear the complete podcast, go to The Neuroscience Podcast from Nature, 12 October 2006 in iTunes. Or click here.

And Now For the Part You Don’t Want to Hear

There is no cure for autism. Nor is there any biomedical intervention that will alter or lessen the symptoms. The genes of the child are the way they are, and no amount of pure pressurized oxygen is going to change that.

So what can you do? Leave biomedical therapies behind. Focus on cognitive therapies. The only thing you can really do is to spend time with your child, play, communicate, and ensure that he or she receives as much cognitive therapy as they can. Basically, as much Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and ABA as you can.

Beyond that, save your time and money for vacations and family outings so that travel and new experiences can richen all of your lives.

But There is Good News

The disease is self limiting. Meaning, that the symptoms will lessen over time. There’s an old saying “If you take medicine for a cold it will be gone in a week, if you leave it alone it will be gone in seven days.” Most diseases are self limiting. Sometimes they’re progressive, like cancer. But fortunately, autism regresses as your child grows, and as their intellect and cognition grow, they learn to cope with and minimize the symptoms.

Some day, there’s a likelihood that genetic testing to identify and possibly correct autism will be available to pregnant mothers, but at this time, there is not. Will they ever be able to change your kid? I’m sorry to say, but the honest truth is almost certainly no.

A perfect analogy is this; Do you think you could cure Down Syndrome with chelation therapy, HBOT, vitamin megadoses, or any other biomedical therapy?

The answer is obviously no. But it is completely analogous, because both disorders are genetic and congenital.

Work to reduce the symptoms. Work on speech and ABA.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy - HBOT

I just want to cover the pretzel logic surrounding HBOT briefly before moving on. First, let's talk about the mechanism for efficacy. Because for a treatment to work, it must have a reason it should work. Does HBOT have one? No. There is no basis for which increasing the oxygen levels in the body could have any effect on the development of the hypothalamus, or any other part of the brain for that matter.

OK, let’s talk for a moment about anecdotal evidence surrounding this autism treatment. My main point of reference in this discussion is a mother who has subjected her son to 350-500 dives, and claims a reduction in symptoms, and also claims regression when they stop the sessions for a few days.

First, let me address the reduction in symptoms. To subject your kid to more than 350 dives would take at least a year, possibly years right? For arguments sake, let’s say that administering 350 to 500 dives takes between 1-2 years to complete. During that time, will the autistic kid show improvements? Yes. With or without this therapy, your child, or any child will grow and learn, and the symptoms of autism will decrease during that time. The logical fallacy here is called Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc, or “After that, therefore because of that.” Basically, because there were improvements during the course of the treatment, the parent wrongly assumes that they were due to the treatment rather than the natural self-limiting course of the disease.

OK, but the kid regresses when you stop the treatment for a few days. Of course they do! Autistic kids thrive on repetition. If you take ANYTHING away from the daily habits of an autistic child you will see an increase of symptoms. If the lady with the HBOT dive tank had just devoted the same amount of time to swimming lessons, the kid would have had a lot more fun, learned how to swim, and would have likely had more opportunities to interact with other children than they would sitting in “oxygen jail.” And guess what, the day she stops the swimming lessons, the kid freaks out and regresses.

Maybe instead of oxygen jail, she should consider piano or violin lessons. Autistic children often find comfort between the mathematical, rhythmic, and repetitive nature of music, and often are quite good at it.

So, just for thoroughness, I will include the watchdog debunking of HBOT with regards to autism.
- Health Watcher
- Orac

Failure of the Mainstream Media

Let’s take a moment and view this video of the doctor who “believes” in HBOT.

First, understand that newscasters are typically not very skeptical. News agencies are in a free market, for profit. They make money by pulling in viewers for advertising. So they must play both sides, and they love bleeding heart stories that tug at the heart strings. Heart strings sell.

So, in the first two sentences of the introduction to this video, you hear the following:
- He “believes” – medicine is not based on belief. It is based on evidence.
- “And though some still question his medical beliefs” – Gee I wonder why?
- “The doctor is taking a miracle cure to the public” – Practicing physicians don’t just “find miracle cures.” They claim to and make tons of money. These people are call quacks.
- “A woman blinded by a stroke regained vision” – OK, two things here. Post stroke symptoms such as vision loss and fine motor coordination heal themselves through a process in the brain called plasticity. Again, the symptoms are self limiting. And second, anytime someone claims to “cure the blind” you should throw up a red flag and protest. This is one of the most obvious signs of quackery.
- Also, do you notice that this doctor is appealing directly to the media (quack sign #1), the evidence is anecdotal (quack sign 4), the discoverer is working in isolation (#6)
- “you’ll do anything for your child, and that’s what it comes down to”
- “took a guy off the liver transplant list” – I guess there are no other factors that could have been involved... yeah right. How many diseases does this guy cure? All of them? I wish someone sold a pill for his magical cure. Take it before bed and wake up cured of obesity, cancer, tooth decay, gas, body odor, colds, flu, heart disease and more!
- “there are some neurobiologists and neurologists who don’t believe there is enough science to support it, that’s why he wrote a book to the public, because he believes...” – hey, that’s #1 on our sign of a quack list again! Skipping the peer review.
- Just remember, the plural of anecdote is “anecdotes”, not “data”. Anecdotes lead us to conclusions that we wish to be true, not to conclusion that are true.
- Need I go on?

Watch Out For Weasel Words

May, might, could, should, believe. If someone makes a claim that a treatment “may” help, they’re not making a claim at all.

Clinical Trials Part 2

If you are interested in untested therapy for your child, I recommend clinical trials. Historically, clinical trials for autism have had an extremely high dropout rate. This is because when the parents realize that there is only a 50% chance that their child will receive actual treatment (remember, 50% receive placebo) they tend to leave the study. This obviously is very short sighted on their part, because clinic studies are for the greater good of humanity, because the aim to provide answers and treatments for the next generation.

Also, clinical trials are regulated and closely monitored. Which means that they are much safer than an alternative therapy offered up by a quack physician. And, often times the treatments are free, and you can even be compensated for attending. An example would have been if you joined a clinical study for HBOT, you would have probably been compensated for your time and effort rather than having to pay an HBOT quack thousands. And, at the end of the study, you would have helped to determine the efficacy of the treatment. So clinical trials are a win/win. If you’re interested in clinical trials, you can look on this web page and see where they are recruiting so that you may join.

By the way, Autism Research Institue is not a clinical trial organization.

Gluten Free Turds

The gluten free diet is another mindless concoction of the DAN! network. Here’s a little background.

It was hypothesized in 1991 that there was a link between urinary peptide levels and autistic behaviors. This hypothesis was not proven in clinical studies. Here’s a quote from asatonline.org


“One well-designed but small study on the gluten-free casein-free diet found no improvement in cognitive, language, or motor skills with the diet; however, there may have been a reduction in autistic behaviors such as repetitive statements (Knivsberg, Reichelt, Hoien, & Nodland, 2002). A second well-designed but small study found no evidence of benefit (Elder et al., 2006).
Additional study of the theoretical basis and efficacy of the GfCf diet is warranted (Millward, Ferriter, Calver, & Connell-Jones, 2004). There is a risk that removing gluten and casein from an individial’s diet will lead to inadequate nutrition, therefore, dietary counseling is important for families who place their children on the diet (Hyman & Levy, 2003).”


Would I deny my child the pleasure of ice cream for the duration of their childhood because some quack physician groups said so? No.

So Let’s Unweave The Rainbow One Last Time

- There is conclusive evidence to prove that autism is genetic and congenital
- There is conclusive evidence to prove mercury or thiomersal does not cause autism.
- Rimland was a quack, who ignored evidence to support his biased and untested opinions.
- Autism Research Institute is not a research institute. They do not perform FDA approved clinical trials. They are a marketing organization to support Rimland’s solidly disproven opinions.
- DAN! Doctors are to be avoided at all costs.
- Chelation shows no efficacy and is extremely dangerous.
- HBOT shows no efficacy, and it basically a waste of time.
- Mega vitamin doses are also bunk
- SafeMinds are not autism advocates, the are a big pharma conspiracy group who deny the proven evidence that shows there is no mercury/autism connection. Why they exist 6 years after mercury was removed from vaccines seems completely incredulous.
- TACA are either denying the evidence or too ignorant to properly evaluate the evidence about mercury/thiomersal.
- Multiple independent medical watchdog (anti quack) groups independently call ARI/TACA/DAN! quack organizations.
- Clinical trials are available to anyone who wishes to safely participate in the testing of new, alternative, and untested therapies.
- Anyone who supports ARI and TACA are not supporting autism. They are perpetuating and advancing the lie. And any dollars spent on or donated to these people are dollars taken away from legitimate clinicians and scientists (molecular biologists) working to find a cure.
- I highly recommend carefully reading the following sources:
- www.asatonline.org
- www.autism-watch.org
- http://autismdiva.blogspot.com
- www.chelationwatch.org

The Cult of Autism

What do you call an organization that preys on people in need, brainwashes them into believing their lies, categorically denies evidence to support their position, then starts taking your money? I’d call it a cult. ARI/TACA is literally the cult of autism.

Let’s look at how it starts. Parents of young autistic children are stunned to discover their child has autism. They go looking for help. Unfortunately, clinicians and neurologist don’t give them the information they want to hear. So where do they turn? They turn to the two organizations that promise that your child is treatable with miracle treatments, even though mainstream medicine disagrees with them. Then the brainwashing begins. The organizations tell the parents to not trust their physicians. They tell them lies about the cause and cure of autism. They deny the evidence to the contrary. They try to discredit their critics by telling ridiculous lies like “oh, that Dr. Quackery guy has an autistic child and bashes us because the treatment didn’t work on his kid”, when the truth is that there are multiple independent critics, none of which have autistic children. And now that they’ve got you on the hook, they send you to their “preferred vendors” where the parents of autistic children literally give up billions of dollars every year.

But they’ve got you. You feel bound to a duty as a parent to do everything for your child, and they know that. They exploit your weakness. They exploit you. But ultimately they exploit your autistic child and autistic children everywhere by denying them real treatments, and denying real researchers the valuable dollars the need.

So Here’s My Gift To You

Take your life back. Get away from these people. Do your Speech, OT, and ABA. Take back your evenings, and weekends and start doing what you really want to do. Spend time with your family. Play on the floor. Eat ice cream. Enjoy your children. Spend your money on vacations. Visit your friends. Be a family again.

My gift to you is taking your life back...

...from the cult of autism.