Respectful Insolence

One of the most persistent myths is one that’s been particularly and doggedly resistant to evidence, science, clinical trials, epidemiology, and reason. It’s also a myth that I’ve been writing about since a couple of months after the beginning of this blog. Specifically, I’m referring to the now scientifically discredited myth that the mercury-containing thimerosal preservative that used to be in quite a few childhood vaccines causes autism. The myth began in the late 1990s and was later fed by the publication of David Kirby’s book Evidence of Harm, which was basically a paean to various brave maverick doctors who promoted the claim that mercury in vaccines cause autism. Among the “scientists” promoted by David Kirby were the father-son team of Mark and David Geier. Mark Geier is a physician who also has a PhD and represents himself as a medical geneticist; his son David has no medical degree, leading to my wondering from the very beginning how it was that he got away with helping his father evaluate and treat autistic children, in essence practicing medicine without a license. (Stay tuned to find out more.)

The Geiers are most infamous for their “Lupron protocol,” which I first wrote about back in 2006 in one of the earliest posts on this blog after I moved from Blogger to ScienceBlogs. In my ever inimitable fashion, I entitled it Why not just castrate them? The reason is the nature of their “treatment” for autism. If you want the details, read my original post (which, hard as it is for me to believe, is over five years old now), including its relatively recent updates in which the mainstream media notices and in which the Geiers franchised their quackery. The short version is that, somehow some way, Mark Geier got the idea in his head that testosterone contributes to autism. That in and of itself isn’t woo, given that scientists have from time to time hypothesized that very thing. What made the Geiers’ conclusions quackery is their explanation. Basically, Geier claimed that testosterone binds mercury from vaccines, making it harder to get rid of the mercury using chelation therapy. Never mind that the only paper showing testosterone binding to mercury did it in benzene (hint: your blood is not benzene) under extreme conditions. What was worse, however, was the Geiers’ “solution” to this problem, which was to add to the autism quackery known as chelation therapy another potentially harmful form of quackery, namely chemical castration using Lupron, a drug that shuts down the production of sex hormones, including testosterone. It’s a drug that’s used to treat metastatic prostate cancer, a treatment that replaced the old treatment for metastatic prostate cancer, namely surgical castration. (Not coincidentally, it’s also used to chemically castrate sex offenders.) Even worse still, the Geiers somehow got away with a highly unethical clinical trial in which they packed the Institutional Review Board overseeing it with their cronies.

For over five years, I’ve been wondering just how in the world the Geiers got away with such unethical pseudoscience and how they got away with it for so long. I couldn’t figure it out. Not only did they ply their quackery on autistic children, but David Geier appeared to be functioning as a “diagnostician,” somehow fooling the State of Maryland’s Autism Commission into appointing him as a member, even though he completely lacked expertise to be practicing medicine and does not have a medical or clinical degree of any kind. (I really, really would like to know how that happened.) Meanwhile, the Geiers appeared to be playing fast and loose with insurance companies by making lots of diagnoses of “precocious puberty,” a very uncommon diagnosis. Truly, I wondered what was wrong with the State of Maryland…until yesterday afternoon. For it was yesterday afternoon when online acquaintances, not to mention some of you, my readers, started sending me the news that Mark Geier has had his medical license suspended by the State of Maryland, as outlined in this 48-page court order. Kathleen Seidel, as usual, is already on the case as well.

Yes, the Maryland State Board of Physicians has finally acted. All I can say is: It’s about time the State of Maryland pulled the wings off of this quack. Let’s take a look at some of the relevant sections of the order. First, here’s the money section, namely the summary statement, which I cite nearly in its entirety:

The Respondent misdiagnosed autistic children with precocious puberty and other genetic abnormalities and treated them with potent hormonal therapy (“Lupron Therapy” or “Lupron Protocol”), and in some instances, chelation therapy, both of which have a substantial riskof both short-term and long-term adverse side effects. The Respondent’s treatment exposed the children to needless risk of harm.

The Respondent, in addition to being a physician, is certified as a genetic counselor. His assessment and treatment of autistic children, as described herein, however, far exceeds his qualifications and expertise. The extensive and extensive batteries of laboratory studies the Respondent initially orders, many of which he orders to be repeated on a monthly basis, are outside the standard quality of care for a work-up for an autistic patient or to determine the underlying cause of autism. The Respondent failed to conduct adequate physical examinations of any of the patients and in several instances, began his Lupron Protocol based merely on a telephone consultation with the child’s parent and the results of selected laboratory tests he ordered. The Respondent’s omission of a comprehensive physical examination constitutes a danger because his treatment is based on a diagnosis that requires documentation of sexual development beyond that expected for the age of the child. Moreover, his treatment may constitute more of a risk to a child with an underlyingl medical condition.

The Respondent failed to provide adequate informed consent to the parents of the autistic children he treated. In one (1) instance, he misrepresented that his treatment protocol had been approved by a federally approved IRB.

[…]

The Respondent endangers autistic children and exploits their parents by administering to the children a treatment protocol that has a known substantial risk of serious harm and which is neither consistent with evidence-based medicine nor generally accepted in the relevant scientific community.

In the order, Mark Geiers’ numerous other offenses are listed, including his corrupt, crony-packed IRB overseeing his clinical trial, insurance fraud (billing insurance companies for services never rendered), failing to obtain informed consent, misdiagnosing children with “precocious puberty” in most egregious ways (such as diagnosing children who did not meet the age criteria for precocious puberty) and writing medical necessity letters based on this mistaken diagnosis, and misrepresenting himself as a geneticist. Basically, regarding this latter charge, Mark Geier claimed to be a geneticist, which is a “physician who evaluates a patient for genetic conditions, which may include performing a physical examination and ordering tests,” even though he is not a medical geneticist; rather, he is a genetic counselor, which is “an individual with a master’s degree who helps to educate the patient and provides an assessment of the risk of the condition recur in the family.” I know genetic counselors. I work with genetic counselors. They don’t diagnose genetic conditions; rather, they counsel patients after either a genetic diagnosis has been rendered or the patient has developed a condition (such as breast cancer at a young age) that might indicated a genetic predisposition to a disease. It turns out that Geier also misrepresented himself as a board-certified epidemiologist when he is not.

Particularly disturbing is the panoply of quackery to which Mark Geier submitted children in his care. Several case studies are described of children who were treated by Mark Geier. They include a battery of over 40 tests, spironolactone for misdiagnosed hyperaldosteronism, chelation therapy for “heavy metal toxicity,” Lupron, and methyl B12 drops for unclear and undocumented indications. One patient, patient F, a female, was given Femara, an aromatase inhibitor, which is used to treat estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. It’s used mainly in post-menopausal women to shut down hormone production in the peripheral tissues. (It doesn’t work in premenopausal women because their ovaries make lots of estrogen, far more than the small amount made in peripheral tissues.) The presumed rationale, I have to guess, would be the same as in younger woman with breast cancer, where sometimes it is necessary to shut down ovarian hormone production and then to top it off by shutting down peripheral hormone production. My guess is that Geier somehow thought he needed to shut down not just ovarian sex hormone production in this girl but peripheral production as well. Why, I have no idea, but its profoundly idiotic and potentially harmful, particularly when combined with chelation therapy. Meanwhile, in other patients, Mark Geier proposed adding another anti-androgen drug, Androcur.

The abuse of autistic children was staggering. As a result, the Board made a finding of law:

Based on the foregoing facts, the Board concludes that the public health, safety or welfare imperatively require emergency action in this case, pursuant to Md. State Gov’t Code Ann. § 10-226 (c) (2) (i) (2009 Repl. Vol.).

That’s right, not just action but emergency action. I guess the State of Maryland has a different definition of “emergency,” given that the Geiers have been at this for at least six years, but I’ll take what I can get. At least when finally roused from its torpor, the Maryland State Board of Physicians recognized the Geiers for the threat to autistic children that they are and, as a result, ordered that Mark Geier’s license to practice medicine in the State of Maryland be summarily suspended. As a result, Mark Geier was required to surrender the following to the Board:

  • his original Maryland License D24250
  • his current renewal certificate
  • his Maryland Controlled Dangerous Substance Registration
  • all controlled dangerous substances in the Respondent’s possession and/or practice;
  • all Medical Assistance prescription forms
  • all prescription forms and pads in the Respondent’s possession and/or practice
  • any and all prescription pads on which his name and DEA number are imprinted

Excellent.

I only have a couple of remaining questions. First, what will be the response of the anti-vaccine movement. One thing I’ve noticed over the last couple of years, since the mainstream media first noticed his Lupron protocol is that the anti-vaccine movement seems to have distanced itself from the Geiers. They’re almost never mentioned anymore on Age of Autism these days, even though they used to be regular features there a couple of years ago. They’re not the headliners at the yearly Autism One quackfest anymore; they are, however, still listed as speakers for this year’s quackfest. One has to wonder whether they’ll be quietly disinvited now that Geier has had his medical license yanked, or whether Lisa Sykes will remove the Geiers’ epilogue from her book. Probably not, I’d guess. Most likely the Autism One organizers will see the loss of Mark Geier’s medical license as evidence of his cred as a “brave maverick doctor,” much as Wakefield’s cred remains high in the anti-vaccine movement. After all, just yesterday Teresa Conrick at AoA wrote a post blaming her child’s symptoms on “bizarre estrogen dominance.” One wonders how long it will be until she, too discovers Lupron, which suppresses estrogen as well as testosterone and Femara. After all, Conrick’s nonsense, which cherry picks disparate science and ties it all together incorrectly in only the way a newbie without understanding of biology can, isn’t at its heart any more ridiculous than the Geiers’ nonsense.

Be that as it may, I’m now left wondering how long it will be before the conspiracy theories come out. The most obvious one hasn’t hit the blogosphere yet, at least not as I write this. How long do you think it’ll be before an anti-vaccine loon claims that stripping Mark Geier of his medical license (just like another brave maverick doctor, Andrew Wakefield!) was a plot by the miltiary-industrial-pharma-CDC complex to distract attention from the case of Poul Thorsen. You know it’s coming sooner or later.

Finally, what of the metastatic deposits of Geier père et fils quackery in other states? After all, besides Maryland, the Geiers have spread their quackery to Kentucky, Missouri, Florida, Illinois, and Indiana. Will these states now act to shut down the Geier quack clinics there, known as ASD Centers, LLC? I know I’ve complained about how long it took the State of Maryland to do the right thing. Even so, I’m glad that the Board there finally acted. It’s time for the medical boards in these other states to do likewise. Mark and David Geier are a menace to autistic children.

Comments

  1. #1 Nicolas
    May 4, 2011

    Besides being stripped from his medical license could there be civil/criminal penalties for all of their quackery?

    Honestly these guys have already made a fortune out of their “treatments” and they still have other states to go to, if they aren’t made an example of we will be seeing something similar sooner or later.

    If this isn’t bad enough, I don’t know what is

  2. #2 David N. Brown
    May 4, 2011

    @1:
    I proposed exactly that course of action when I wrote about this in August 2009. (See http://evilpossum.weebly.com/cures.html “Even Worse”.) There is at least one case, of Sylvia Joanna Vasquez, of inappropriate administration of Lupron being prosecuted as child abuse. She got a TEN-YEAR sentence.

    Also, an extended passage from that piece I believe will be of interest:
    It can be said, at the start, that any positive association of autism with excessive testosterone would have to be considered surprising at best and improbable at worst. As a a matter of “common sense”, a surplus of a growth hormone would be expected (rightly or wrongly!) to accelerate physical development, and lead to greater size and strength compared to same-age peers. No such pattern is evident in autistic children. If anything, they tend to have the opposite problem: Autistic children are routinely reported as small compared to same-age or even younger children, and also having poor muscle tone. Thus, by outward appearances, autistics have no more need for hormone suppressants than anorexics do for diet pills! This does not mean that a diagnosis of elevated testosterone is out of the question. It does mean that the Geiers’ claim was counterintuitive at the start, and that a large body of evidence should have been necessary to get it taken seriously.

  3. #3 sharon
    May 4, 2011

    I agree Nicolas, there should be more accountability here. Child abuse is against the law right?

  4. #4 Narad
    May 4, 2011

    Oddly enough, AoA is now on about “bizarre estrogen dominance.”

  5. #5 Rebecca Fisher
    May 4, 2011

    Happy Birthday Mr Geier Snr.

  6. #6 MikeMa
    May 4, 2011

    Great news. If Grier(s) are still licensed in other states, is there a protocol to share this order with those states? Surely child abuse is no less an issue over a state line.

  7. #7 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    May 4, 2011

    Sharon: “Child abuse is against the law right?”

    Well… in theory, it is. In practice, it depends entirely upon who’s doing the abusing.

  8. #8 MartinM
    May 4, 2011

    First that bastard Wakefield and now Geier? Fuck, yes. About time.

  9. #9 triskelethecat
    May 4, 2011

    @MikeMa: I can’t say how it works in all states. I do know in here in NJ, generally, if you get disciplined by a medical board in another state, your license here is suspended until the other state has returned your license. I don’t know (and Kathleen Seidel, being the awesome researcher she is, may know) if Dr Geier has a license in the other states.

    Again, at least here in NJ, the actions of the medical board are posted online so after the next board meeting I can see if he’s listed there. (He does have a NJ license, as of 2009)

  10. #10 complex 41
    May 4, 2011

    Great news. If Grier(s) are still licensed in other states, is there a protocol to share this order with those states? Surely child abuse is no less an issue over a state line.

  11. #11 Roland
    May 4, 2011

    “Geier” is the German for “vulture”. Coincidence?

  12. #12 Todd W.
    May 4, 2011

    When I saw this news on Twitter yesterday afternoon, I shared the “about damn time” sentiment and determined to write up my own thoughts about it (linked in my name). I mean, I understand that it takes time to investigate and gather evidence and all, but the first complaint was made in 2006! 5 freakin’ years to come to the conclusion that the guy is a danger?

    What concerns me, though, is that Dr. Geier still holds licenses in 10 other states. I sincerely hope that those other state medical boards take a close look at him and at the Maryland suspension.

  13. #13 Kristen
    May 4, 2011

    I am so glad! Ever since I first read about the Geier’s “treatment” it gives me shivers to even think about it. When I first read Orac’s (Why not just castrate them?) article it made me cry thinking about children being tortured this way.

    This is good news. I hope the other states are quick about taking care of this as well.

  14. #14 daedalus2u
    May 4, 2011
  15. #15 Pablo
    May 4, 2011

    Never mind that the only paper showing testosterone binding to mercury did it in benzene

    There isn’t much that won’t bind to mercury in benzene. If you can get that mercury salt to dissolve in benzene in the first place, it means that the counter ion is held pretty weakly, such that the Hg cations are going to be screaming for something to bind to. Benzene is very weakly nucleophilic, and will suffice in a pinch, but if you put anything with any nucleophilicity at all (which means almost anything with a lone pair of electrons) the Hg cations are going to find it and hold on tight.

    Absolutely testosterone would work in that way. But so would ethanol. Or water. Or cysteines in your proteins (those sulfurs are going to grab the mercury like crazy)

    Anyone who would base physiological treatment on binding studies carried out in benzene is pretty clueless.

    Orac talks a lot about SBM and plausible expectations based on science. What the Geiers are proposing is clearly silly based on the science of chemistry.

  16. #16 Denice Walter
    May 4, 2011

    I’m certainly glad to hear that this quackery is being put out of business: hopefully more states will follow suit!

    However, I wonder what possesses parents to seek out such desperate measures? And to accept outlandish diagnoses like “precocious puberty”? Putting this together with Conrick’s post( which I read yesterday) leads me to speculate that perhaps we’re dealing with parental problems addressing sexuality in lower functioning people. These are *non-instutional* settings where parents are the primary care-takers and must deal with day-to-day issues ( including toiletting and cleanliness) 24 hours a day. Jay Neugeberger writes about this in people with SMI, including his brother. It’s most likely a trying situation for parents that opens them up to the manipulations of quacks who promise pristine chemical resolutions to a problem that nobody talks about.

    Although I regard AoA as a trans-Atlantic scandal-loving den of gossips intent on inflicting damages on whomever disagrees with them, you have to admit that they must have difficult lives that have affected them. No one is *born* that way. For example LKH, from Stanford, with a career in marketting then becomes a stay-at-home mom with children on the spectrum- and a crusader. I’m sure that there are a lot of “issues” flying about in that household that aren’t directly resultant from autism. And when kids have serious developmental or psychiatric problems, parental dreams die on the vine. But then, what would I know, as I have no children.

    AoA serves as alternative group therapy for the distressed parents and grandparents who have a place to air their grievances and share “problem-solving” techniques. People in distress often want to *do* something to avoid the sense of helplessness that accompanies catastrophe: when I look over their page, I see ads for spurious treatments- supplements, hyper-barics, et al. – none of which work for the problems inherent in autism *and* the issues their families face on a daily basis . Quacks can sniff out desperation. I also see a great deal of anger aimed at the “Establishment” which I guess is an easier target than railing at Probability, Genetics, or Fate or some other amorphous concept.

  17. #17 cervantes
    May 4, 2011

    Based on the facts presented here, this certainly does seem to constitute criminal behavior. I wonder if the Maryland AG will be roused to action?

  18. #18 augustine
    May 4, 2011

    Walters

    Quacks can sniff out desperation.

    “Science” Based Medicine ideologists can sniff out non-compliance with spiteful intolerance.

  19. #19 Todd W.
    May 4, 2011

    Re: Teresa Conrick

    Bear in mind that Ms. Conrick also holds the idea that a child’s eye color changing from blue to anything else is not the natural occurrence of melanin production in the iris, but rather…mercury toxicity!

    I fully expect her to support the Geiers, given her erroneous beliefs.

  20. #20 ArtK
    May 4, 2011

    “Science” Based Medicine ideologists can sniff out non-compliance with spiteful intolerance.

    What a bloody hyporcite you are, Augie. Based on previous posts, you should be cheering the actions of the Maryland board. We have a doctor injecting toxins into children for no known benefit, and now being punished for that.

    What is different, to you, between what the Greiers are doing and what any doctor who vaccinates is doing? Do you approve of the Griers actions? If so, why?

    Or, is this just a knee-jerk “whatever SBM does is wrong” response from you?

  21. #21 GregH
    May 4, 2011

    augustine: That’s funny!

  22. #22 ChrisKid
    May 4, 2011

    Surely, Augustine, you’re not defending the Geier practice. Do you have a comment on the actual topic? What do you think of the Geier practice, or of the suspension?

  23. #23 Matthew Cline
    May 4, 2011

    insurance fraud (billing insurance companies for services never rendered)… misrepresenting himself as a geneticist. … It turns out that Geier also misrepresented himself as a board-certified epidemiologist when he is not.

    Well.

  24. #24 Dangerous Bacon
    May 4, 2011

    According to the physician ratings site HealthGrades, “Dr. Mark Robin Geier MD practices fertility & reproductive endocrinology and medical genetics in Owings Mills, Maryland.”.

    He’s a fertility and genetics specialist?

  25. #25 Doctor Mead
    May 4, 2011

    @16: It’s not so much that the parents believe the diagnosis of “precocious puberty” as it is the doctor telling them, “This therapy will cure his autism but the insurance will only pay for it as a treatment for precocious puberty. So your child DOES have several signs of this, right?” *wink-wink, nudge-nudge*

    I’ve had a patient try to get me to do something similar. Her insurance would not pay for suboxone for addiction management and asked me to write it for her for chronic pain…which she did not have. I told her , “Honey, that’s fraud.”

  26. #26 Paul Browne
    May 4, 2011

    This is excellent news, though I fear far,far too late for many of the Geiers’ victims (innocent children and their desperate parents).

    Given how long it’s taken to strip Mark Geier of his medical licence I doubt that there will be any rush to prosecute, for one thing that would raise the thorny question of why the State of Maryland took so long to intervene to protect its citizens. Perhaps this ruling will prompt a parent who was duped by the Geiers to launch a civil suit…one can but hope!

  27. #27 Denice Walter
    May 4, 2011

    @ Docotr Mead : and I assume that “cure his autism” might translate as having something to do with “improved impulse control” & “improved communication”.

  28. #28 Dangerous Bacon
    May 4, 2011

    According to the physician ratings site HealthGrades, “Dr. Mark Robin Geier MD practices fertility & reproductive endocrinology and medical genetics in Owings Mills, Maryland.”.

    He’s a fertility and genetics specialist?

  29. #29 Lawrence
    May 4, 2011

    I can’t believe that loon lives in Maryland – even being in the same state (different parts) is still too close.

  30. #30 Raincitygirl
    May 4, 2011

    reply to Denice Walter:

    I suspect you’re right. AoA parents would probably benefit from counselling to deal with the stress of being full-time caregivers for low-functioning kids on the spectrum. And that’s not me being catty. I’m a huge believer in counselling and talk therapy, have benefited enormously from them (along with psychopharmacology, which has also provided great benefits to me. But most AoA parents probably aren’t clinically depressed and in need of meds, they probably just need a non-judgmental person to unload on). The odds of private insurance paying for longterm counselling for caregivers is probably nil, so they’re stuck with AoA.

  31. #31 Roadstergal
    May 4, 2011

    Wow. If I’m ever tempted to think that alt-med lunacy is just silliness and entertainment, something like this can snap me back to reality. Kids being tortured due to the end result of the same lack of critical thinking and science knowledge that gives us the ‘softer’ lunacies of homeopathy, reiki, etc. While anti-vaccinationism is a step beyond that, the ‘side effects’ of anti-vaccinationism take a little time and are distanced from the actions (or inactions, as it were) themselves; this is very direct and just plain…. cruel.

  32. #32 Chris
    May 4, 2011

    Denice Walter:

    For example LKH, from Stanford, with a career in marketting then becomes a stay-at-home mom with children on the spectrum- and a crusader. I’m sure that there are a lot of “issues” flying about in that household that aren’t directly resultant from autism. And when kids have serious developmental or psychiatric problems, parental dreams die on the vine. But then, what would I know, as I have no children.

    I had a career as an aerospace engineer, and then I had a baby who had medical issues from his second day of life. Some other medical issues have emerged over the years, and more recently some psychiatric issues as a young adult.

    I can understand what the AoA crowd feels, but I cannot understand the delusional need for blame and their warped ideas about science and evidence.

    I also know several other professional women who have given up careers as engineers, lawyers and doctors to care for their disabled children. One engineer I knew did go back to our former employer, but had to quit because of continuing issues of her severely physically/mentally disabled daughter. So not all of us have drunk the AoA kool-ade, and focus our energies elsewhere (several are the big PTA volunteers).

    My oldest son’s issues did make me a better parent for my younger children.

  33. #33 herr doktor bimler
    May 4, 2011

    the idea that a child’s eye color changing from blue to anything else is not the natural occurrence of melanin production in the iris, but rather…mercury toxicity!

    My cats’ eyes were blue then they were kittens but now are yellow. This explains it. No wonder they have poor social skills and impulse control.

  34. #34 daedalus2u
    May 4, 2011

    Actually mercury is very good at inhibiting the enzyme that makes melanin. That is why mercury is used in all the skin-lightening cosmetics that are the major cause of mercury poisoning in regions where their sale occurs.

  35. #35 lilady
    May 4, 2011

    @ Chris: Yes, parents of disabled children have to make major life changes that impact on their careers, family dynamics and finances.

    Thirty-four years ago when my multiply disabled, profoundly mentally retarded, spastic quadriplegic son was born, we considered ourselves fortunate that we had medical insurance. We needed to keep that insurance, so the question of career movement for my husband was moot. My son would have been un-insurable if my husband made any career moves. In 2010, thanks to the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act…disparaged by Tea Baggers as “Obamacare”, parents of disabled kids will have the ability to insure their children…in spite of pre-existing medical conditions.

    Even with our great private medical insurance..co-payments, deductibles and other services not covered such as physical therapy (2X weekly), cost us on average 15-20 K (US $) yearly.

    Regarding any criminal action against the Geiers…I suspect that the Medicaid Fraud Bureau and private insurer’s fraud bureau…might be interested in Dr. Geier…my money would be on Medicaid. The Medicaid Fraud Bureau not only investigates, they recover money and assess fines. In the instances of the most egregious forms of Medicaid Fraud, they will pursue criminal indictments against the crooked doctors. Gee, I’d like to think that all the DAN docs and “practitioners” are having a very bad day, today.

    Orac linked to Kathleen Seidel at Neurodiversity Weblog. She does a bang up job of analyzing/disecting Geier’s Lupron Protocol and she links us to “battery of tests” ordered by the Geiers. Not only were blood tests inappropriately ordered, a screening test (GnRH) that should have been ordered wasn’t. And of course, other tests such as x-rays for bone growth and MRIs to rule out tumors were never order to confirm a diagnosis of “Precocious Puberty”. The Geiers were vampires, bleeding out these youngsters for their bogus “Protocol”. Kathleen Seidel also provides us with the cost of Geiers’ blood screening panel and it exceeds $ 10,000 per child.

    Seems like a no-brainer to me for the Medicaid Fraud Bureau.

  36. #36 Sharon Astyk
    May 4, 2011

    Glad to hear this is finally getting attention. As for the question about why parents do it – I know exactly why. I’m sure in some cases it is because of anxieties about the sexuality of low functioning children, but most often it is probably because uncontrolled violent tantrums in autistic kids frustrated by lack of language and a world that is disorienting to them become very hard to handle around the time the kids reach adolescence. I see this with my 11 year old, who is a very gentle, easy going autistic kid with few behavioral problems. At the same time, when he does tantrum (often for extremely good reasons, like he’s in pain and can’t tell us what’s going on), he can be scary – and my husband and I are both large, strong people in good health who are comfortable dealing with that. Then imagine the child has a single mother who weighs 110lbs, and her out of control 12 year old is violently kicking and hurting people, or an older couple raising a late life kid (and I know just these people in my son’s class) and imagine how terrified they are. Then consider their fear about the child’s sexual behavior in public – the world is not kind to disabled adults who are sexually inappropriate.

    This in no way justifies this – I’m not suggesting the parents should do so. But the lack of support for older children in the system is a major problem, and families get desperate. Without significantly more social supports for older autistic children, parents in desperation will continue to buy any lie that says that they can help with the behaviors.

    Sharon

  37. #37 Marita
    May 4, 2011

    @ herr doktor, that’s hilarious.

  38. #38 Ross Coe
    May 4, 2011

    If only vaccines themselves would get this type of scrutiny. They don’t. They are protected by patent, proprietary ownersip, and now with blanket protection from lawsuit. Safety measures have become moot. Let the grand experiment begin. Lets see how they self-regulate themselves now without consequences of any kind.

  39. #39 Broken Link
    May 4, 2011

    Already on Facebook, his supporters are coming out of the woodwork:

    “Dr. Mark Geier and David Geier both have our full support! They are heroes in the autism community”

  40. #40 Sauceress
    May 4, 2011

    Just saw this posted by an “M Grier” over at AoA

    I’m hearing a rumor that one of the people working to save our children from these ravages of hormones has been stopped from doing his work. Check out the link:
    http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/GeierOrder.pdf
    Posted by: M Grier | May 03, 2011 at 11:36 PM

    Hearing a rumor? Yeah right! Methinks someone forgot to create an alias.

    I’d say a rather large new shipment of socks are due to arrive as well.

  41. #41 Jane
    May 4, 2011

    My child’s doctor recommended that I take her to the Pfeiffer Treatment Center – http://www.hriptc.org/index.php – when I expressed concern that she may have ADHD, like her father, and was interested in support/services/information that may be helpful as she is nearing school age.

    I visited the website and was unimpressed. Are you familiar with the Pfeiffer Treatment Center (appears marketed to families with children who have autism or ADD/ADHD, among other things) or have you written about it? This blog post on the Geiers made me think of it immediately.

  42. #42 Cannabis for Autism
    May 4, 2011

    Approved! What’s your view on cannabis therapy for autism please?

    You have been awarded the Cannabis for Autism hyperlexia seal of approval!

    x

  43. #43 Chris
    May 4, 2011

    What’s your view on cannabis therapy for autism please?

    It is up to you to provide the evidence it is useful for children, and it should not be a Facebook page.

  44. #44 Denice Walter
    May 4, 2011

    I suspect that parents like Chris, lilady, & Sharon became caretakers with higher level skills in coping and in seeking out assistance. If you remember that sometimes the “disabled” don’t realise it (anosognosia) and that the lowly skilled aren’t always aware of their deficits (Dunning-Kruger),other parents may have poor judgment unbeknownst to themselves. They may reject a standard diagnosis ( and treatment plan) and replace it with a one that seems more acceptable and “controllable” ( similar to HIV/AIDS denialists). Enter the woo-meister who tells them what they want to hear: no uncertainty, no years of struggle ahead, but a *cure*: plain and simple.

    A small group of like-minded parents can feed off each other’s unrealistic ideas and perpetuate them. On course, the parade is rained on by the likes of us- the messengers who need be shot- casting doubt both on their chosen course of action and their mentors. Perhaps they feel stigmatised and need to cast aspersion on us in exchange. Basically it’s a dead end street because *real* help for kids on the spectrum and their parents lies in another direction. I’d like to see the folks at AoA get help- although I imagine they’d be calling for my head.

  45. #45 Mary Luce
    May 4, 2011

    @Jane I took my autistic preschooler to Pfeiffer. They put him on an expensive and useless vitamin therapy protocol. Because I had read that some autistic children respond to vitamin B6 therapy, I tried it for a few months. My son was undergoing over 20 hours a week of aba at the same time. He progressed while on the vitamins and aba. I took him off the vitamins, and he kept progressing. They tried to badger me into putting him on the gluten free casein free diet, but I refused since my son tested negative for celiac’s at his gastroenterologist’s. I went back to a scheduled return visit to pfeiffer, and the doctor came in wearing a cross as big as the one Jesus was crucified on. He told me that my son had autistic enterocolitis. Luckily he knew someone in Texas, a Dr. Wakefield at Thoughtful House who could help my son. Needless to say I walked out and never looked back. Now my son is doing very well with 30 hours a week of aba with some OT thrown in for good measure, and has become verbal and interactive. Out with the woo, in with the science.

  46. #46 truthspeaker
    May 4, 2011

    “Geier” is the German for “vulture”. Coincidence?

    Posted by: Roland | May 4, 2011 8:25 AM

    Yes, but still funny. Well done, sir.

  47. #47 Bob
    May 4, 2011

    If you’re curious, I posted my map of the Geiers’ organizations and affiliated people & organizations providing funding and other support. The data was sourced from their own websites, public filings with the SEC and state AG offices (ie. business entity searches), and public copies of IRS Form 990 (financial reporting for non-profit organizations.) No tinfoil was abused by a milliner in the making of this diagram; it’s all verifiable public data.

    OT: What is/was Mercola Managed Capital, LLC. Yes, that Mercola… ;)

  48. #48 lilady
    May 4, 2011

    @ Jane: I am not impressed with the treatment center that your doctor referred you to. You need to look at the bottom of their website at “Research Home” where the director of the center is involved in research and read some of the articles that are there, including an article authored by Andrew Wakefield. Other research at that site push alternative and complementary junk science including totally bogus blood testing and nutritional supplements. I suggest you contact your school district as your child will be evaluated for characteristics of ADHD and is entitled to services as part of the Federally Mandated Early Intervention Program.

    @ Denice Walter: In my particular case we knew from birth that my son had major problems (seizures, tachypnea that wasn’t transient and a huge ASD diagnosed during heart catheterization and no suck). Two months in the NICU and intermittent gavage every three hours around the clock along with gavage digitalis…once he came home.

    I met so many wonderful people through him and many parents with older disabled children who really were instrumental in passing PL 94-142 (Education of All Handicapped Children Act) enacted in 1975 by Congress. We were, and are still, supportive of each other and continue to advocate to increase funding and services for disabled kids and adults.

    It’s been an extraordinary and satisfying experience.

  49. #49 Julian Frost
    May 5, 2011

    Ross Coe @ 37:

    If only vaccines themselves would get this type of scrutiny. They don’t.

    Umm, yes they do. Detailed testing in combination with other vaccines is done before a new vaccine is added to the schedule. As a request, could one of the regulars give a link to some studies?

  50. #50 lilady
    May 5, 2011

    @ Julian Frost: Excellent site for protocols of testing vaccines before licensing:

    CDC/Resdev/Vaccine Testing and the Approval Process

    At the bottom of the page link to “Related Topics and Sources” for very detailed articles about the processes.

  51. #51 Luna_the_cat
    May 5, 2011

    All I can say re. this indictment of the Geiers:

    ABOUT. EFFING. TIME.!

    Seriously. WTF took them so long? I’d hate to see how long it took the state to respond to something they don’t consider an “emergency”!

  52. #52 Autism Mom
    May 5, 2011

    It’s about time!!!!!! And the perfect time to say Thank You Orac and friends. Although I have not always agreed with your views, you have driven me to seek the truth (mostly because you are such sticklers on citing references) I have learned a great deal. This has actually helped my daughter who is autistic and has hypogammaglobulonemia. Arguing with many of you over the years has helped us move in the right direction with regards to finding treatment- which is through mainstream doctors of course! The fact that the DAN doctor we *did* see years ago emailed me, asking *ME* how to test for primary immunodeficiencies (after sucking a few grand from us) proved to me that DAN was NOT the way to go.

    I shudder to think of where my daughter would be today, without the IVIG infusions, or improperly infusing via DAN protocol. This is a fact that frightens me, DAN doctors are administering IVIG without performing the required labs to determine the necessity of this drug! It frightens me, because IVIG can be deadly for people with certain forms of primary immunodeficiency.

    I am sick of autism being a brand that these charlatans market.

  53. #53 MartinM
    May 5, 2011

    What’s your view on cannabis therapy for autism please?

    As an autistic adult, I am intrigued by your proposal, and wish to request a free sample.

  54. #54 Scottynuke
    May 5, 2011

    +1 internets to MartinM :-)

  55. #55 Phoenix Woman
    May 5, 2011

    AoA parents would probably benefit from counselling to deal with the stress of being full-time caregivers for low-functioning kids on the spectrum. And that’s not me being catty. I’m a huge believer in counselling and talk therapy, have benefited enormously from them (along with psychopharmacology, which has also provided great benefits to me. But most AoA parents probably aren’t clinically depressed and in need of meds, they probably just need a non-judgmental person to unload on). The odds of private insurance paying for longterm counselling for caregivers is probably nil, so they’re stuck with AoA.

    Exactly. If therapy were covered by private insurance it would make snake-oil peddlers like the Geiers less seductive. But as most Americans get ever poorer due to the assaults on the middle and working classes by CEOs happily offshoring what once were good-paying jobs so they can exploit Chinese, Thai and Indonesian workers and pollute their countries (real wages peaked in 1972 and have been dropping ever since; this was masked for decades by the rise of two-income families, but nowadays even two incomes won’t keep a family in the middle class), real medicine is going to be further out of reach for most people unless it’s dispensed via the emergency room. (Health care reform was supposed to have fixed this, but since lobbying groups made sure there was no public option or anything that might interfere with health industry company profits, if anything it may have made the problem worse; about the only real benefit is that states are now free to set up their own single-payer plans, which many are doing.)

  56. #56 Chris
    May 5, 2011

    Ross Coe:

    If only vaccines themselves would get this type of scrutiny. They don’t.

    What a joke!

    Mr. Coe have you ever figured out why Roald Dahl’s daughter could not say measles was no big deal? I keep asking you this question, and you never answer. Why?

  57. #57 novalox
    May 5, 2011

    @Chris

    Because he/she it is a hit and run troll, with nary of shred of evidence in the comment?

    At least finally they got the Geiers on this, although I think this may be of little comfort for their victims.

  58. #58 Chris
    May 5, 2011

    Well, he did return once to AutismNewsBeat when I answered one of his Necromancer comments, but that was before he mentioned that what happened to Olivia Dahl sounded like autism.

  59. #59 Jane
    May 5, 2011

    @Mary
    @lilady

    Thank you for the personal experience and opinions. I appreciate it.

  60. #60 Matthew Cline
    May 5, 2011

    “ravages of hormones”???

  61. #61 dedicated lurker
    May 5, 2011

    Mr Coe is another version of Th, where words are defined in ways different than the definition typically used. Here “autism” means “death.”

    At least when John Crowe Ransom used “brown study” to mean “death” he was just being metaphorical.

  62. #62 Jud
    May 5, 2011

    Matthew Cline writes:

    “ravages of hormones”???

    Ever been married, Matthew?

    [/me ducks and runs, whilst shouting, “Yes, I’m also familiar with the symptoms of ‘testosterone poisoning’ of the figurative kind!” – i.e., general male ridiculousness]

  63. #63 stripey_cat
    May 5, 2011

    Bear in mind that Ms. Conrick also holds the idea that a child’s eye color changing from blue to anything else is not the natural occurrence of melanin production in the iris, but rather…mercury toxicity!

    Clearly, it’s the result of her natural Aryanism being overcome by toxins. Degeneracy is the result of these newfangled urban corruptions. /facsism buzzword bingo>

  64. #64 DLC
    May 5, 2011

    Good for a first start.
    Now if we can just shut down those so-called clinics of theirs.

  65. #65 Anonymous
    May 5, 2011

    One big reason that woo is so appealing is the science-based therapies don’t have great science to back them up. The Agency for Healthcare Research Quality (AHRQ) recently published a review of therapies for children with autism. Some of the conclusions:

    “Early intensive behavioral and developmental intervention may improve core areas of deficit for individuals with ASDs; however,few randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of sufficient quality have been conducted, no studies directly compare effects of different treatment approaches, and little evidence of practical effectiveness or feasibility exists.”

    “Although all of the studies of social skills interventions reported some positive results, most have not included objective observations of the extent to which improvements in social skills generalize and are maintained within everyday peer interactions.Strength of evidence is insufficient to assess effects of social skills training on core autism outcomes for older children or play- and interaction-based approaches for younger children.”

    “…all studies of sensry integration and music therapy were of poor quality, and two fair-quality studies of auditory integration showed no improvement associated with treatment.”

    “In sum, while some therapies hold promise and warrant further study, substantial needs exist for continuing improvements in methodologic rigor in the field and for larger, potentially multisite studies of existing interventions.”

    This isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of the mainstream treatments. Not that I’m defending the Geiers–they should be in jail. But is it any wonder desperate parents are turning to quacks?

  66. #66 David N. Brown
    May 5, 2011

    @60:
    Perhaps Lupron prevents acne…

  67. #67 Anonymous
    May 5, 2011

    I made a comment linking to an AHRQ study on autism therapies and it was held for moderation. If Augie can get his posts on here, why can’t I? *sniff*

  68. #68 Chris
    May 6, 2011

    Anonymous, there are random quirks in the automatic moderation system that will hold a comment, even though there two or less URL links. The plexiglass box with blinking lights will approve them, but he does go off line to recharge every so often. Sometimes for hours at a time, especially between midnight and early morning American east coast time.

  69. #69 Anonymous
    May 6, 2011

    Chris, thanks for the info.

  70. #70 Beamup
    May 6, 2011

    @ Anonymous:

    The real tragedy, I think, is the way the fraudulent vaccine/autism link has diverted so many resources away from legitimate research into causes and treatments. How much better would the scientific treatments if all the money wasted on quackery had been spent on real research instead?

  71. #71 Todd W.
    May 6, 2011

    @Beamup

    Not only the wasted resources, but the chilling effect the whole ball of nonsense has had on the research. Who wants to study autism if they’re likely going to get a boatload o’ crap hurled at them?

  72. #72 Anonymous
    May 6, 2011

    @Beaumup, @Todd, I agree with you. But I get frustrated when people castigate parents for not using science-based treatments when both science and treatments aren’t all that great. It’s just not a good environment out there at all for parents trying to do the right thing by their kids.

  73. #73 Todd W.
    May 6, 2011

    @Anonymous

    I agree, that it is very hard and must be very frustrating not having answers or options that one likes. That’s why education and support networks are vitally important. Lacking these, it is very easy for parents to fall into the clutches of echo chamber communities that reinforce each other’s fears, driving them even further away from science and reality.

  74. #74 Beamup
    May 6, 2011

    I agree as well. Parents desperate to help their children need information and education, not browbeating. My anger is purely reserved for those who victimize said parents with lies and fraud. Those taken in by the likes of DAN! and the Geiers are victims who deserve sympathy.

  75. #75 Autism Parent
    May 10, 2011

    There is long standing research that autistic children are short in both Melatonin and Seretonin in the brain. Melatonin is available over-the-counter and is the chemical the brain produces in REM sleep that can enhance the production of Seretonin. Also B Vitamins have been proven to improve the function of autistic children. Dr. Geier had both of these in his protocol, which could have contributed to any improvement parents saw, NOT from the Lupron. There has been noted nationally an increase in early puberty which many believe is attributed to growth hormones in both milk and meat, NOT autism.

    Now that Dr. Geier and his son have been exposed for the money sucking frauds that they are, some good reporter/investigator needs to equally expose their Texas counter-part Vale Krenik. Who by the way was born “Vale Alaric Ojeda”. His mother, Patricia Crozier Krenik of Elma, WA was married seven times, abandoned him when he was seven, had 11 children with a variety of men and was involved with L. Ron Hubbard the founder of the Church of Scientology. Mr. Krenik’s family includes a brother in Seattle with multiple convictions for domestic violence, another brother serving time in California for multiple counts of child rape, and a half-sister who has two children fathered by one of her step-fathers. His father, Refugio (Ralph) Ojeda was an alcholic schizophernic who sexually abused his step-daughters and didn’t mind bragging about it. Mr. Krenik claims he received an “ivy league” education from Reed College of Portland, OR. Anyone ever heard of THAT ivy league college? He also claims to have founded and owned his own IT company, “Xenium” of Portland, OR, when in fact this is a temp agency in business for 30 years! A public records search of his home address show a lot of suspicious police activity with complaints from neighbors of child neglect and more. Mr. Krenik is just as sick a fraud as the Geiers, and he has been treated by more than one psychiatrist!

  76. #76 Vicki
    May 10, 2011

    Krenik’s unfortunate family background says nothing about whether he is or isn’t a quack or a fraud. All that about Scientology and incest may make a good story, but it isn’t even about Krenik. And even if it was, people from “good” family backgrounds can be frauds, and people with abusive relatives can be honest.

    A good friend of mine had a parent who was a paranoid schizophrenic. My friend is not mentally ill. There is some genetic influence, but it’s not as simple as “if your parent has this disease, you will too.” Furthermore, “has been treated by more than one psychiatrist” is evidence of little or nothing, except perhaps a willingness to actually deal with medical issues. People send children to psychiatrists if the kids have trouble making friends: that isn’t a mental illness. My parents sent me to a psychiatrist when I told them I was in love with another girl. Someone I know sees a psychiatrist because he can help her deal with her depression, and her GP referred her rather than just pulling out a prescription pad.

    As a side note, Reed is a very good college. No, it’s not technically in the Ivy League. The Ivy League is a Division 1A collegiate sports league, not something that a school is put in because of academic quality.

  77. #77 Prometheus
    May 10, 2011

    “Autism Parent” asks:

    “Mr. Krenik claims he received an “ivy league” education from Reed College of Portland, OR. Anyone ever heard of THAT ivy league college?”

    One of my graduate students attended Reed College and, based on her performance, I’d have to say that it does a good job. Whether it is “Ivy League” or not is rather moot, given the utter tripe that’s come out of some “Ivy League” grads.

    On the Reed College website, I note that they do have ivy growing on the walls of some of the buildings, so perhaps they are applying to join the “Ivy League”?

    Prometheus

  78. #78 Ash
    May 22, 2011

    Could you post links to all parts of this story? I had to do some digging to find part 1. Thanks!

  79. #79 Vale Krenik
    July 13, 2011

    Betty Krenik, aka Autism Parent, is violating at least one Court order by doing her posting. I could go on but I won’t waste my breath. Suffice it to say that the Courts awarded me custody over 12 years ago. Due to the defamatory nature of the post I’ll have to ask the blog to remove it.

    Thanks Vicki and Prometheus (whoever you two are). You are correct, Reed is not Ivy League, but it is one of the top liberal arts schools.

    LOL for the record, I’m Catholic, not a Scientologist. My birth certificate says Vale Alaric Krenik. Yes, I was on my own as a child and worked my way through high school and private college. No, I’m not involved with the Lupron issues.

    When Congress asked me to look at the vaccine issue, I was not even an advocate of the Mercury issue. I became one after I personally pulled the data from the CDC database. I’m concerned; the results were alarming. It needs further study. The data is just sitting there and we could resolve this issue in a month if we had proper access.

    I’m also a licensed attorney. I practice in Texas and Federal Court.

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