A couple of weeks ago, I was horrified to learn of a new “biomed” treatment that has been apparently gaining popularity in autism circles. Actually, it’s not just autism circles in which this treatment is being promoted. Before the “autism biomed” movement discovered it, this particular variety of “miracle cure” has been touted as a treatment for cancer, AIDS, hepatitis A,B and C, malaria, herpes, TB, and who knows what else. I’m referring to something called MMS, which stands for “miracle mineral solution.” As I pointed out when I discovered its promotion for various maladies and then later when I discovered its promotion at the yearly antivaccine quackfest known as Autism One, MMS is a form of bleach. It’s industrial strength bleach, actually, 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water. Before use, MMS is frequently diluted in acidic juices, such as orange juice, resulting in the formation of chlorine dioxide (ClO2), which is, as the FDA characterized it in its warning about MMS, “a potent bleach used for stripping textiles and industrial water treatment.”

You might be thinking now: Orac, that’s a really nutty idea! Why on earth would anyone think that bleach would be a cure for anything other than stains? Well, as far as I can figure out, besides being told by God that MMS is a cure-all, a man named Jim Humble based his decision to bleach people’s diseases away on the use of ClO2 as an antimicrobial in water supplies. Of course, as I’ve pointed out before in detail, just because something kills bacteria in water or in a dish does not make it a good antibiotic. It’s the same reason that colloidal silver is quackery. Colloidal silver is actually a pretty good topical antibiotic, but taking it internally it’s impossible to achieve plasma levels adequate to have antimicrobial effects without undue toxicity. The same principle is in effect here. ClO2 works very well as a water disinfectant, but trying to achieve plasma levels equivalent to those required to disinfect water is a straight line to toxicity, and failing to do so leaves all toxicity and no potential benefit.

More importantly, the hidden assumption behind Humble’s selling of MMS as a miracle cure is that the diseases he’s targeting are all due to microbes. Even if MMS were an effective antimicrobial and antibiotic (leaving aside the claims about how it can be useful for pretty much all bacteria, viruses, and parasites), this rationale is utter nonense when it comes to cancer and autism. While a few cancers have their origins in infectious diseases (H. pylori leading to stomach cancer or human papilloma virus leading to cervical cancer, for example), by the time the cancer has developed it’s too late. Getting rid of the microbe won’t reverse the cancer.

What really seemed to hit a nerve, though, was a presentation by Kerri Rivera see for yourself at the Autism One quackfest, in which she advocated MMS as an autism treatment. When I first wrote about it, the video wasn’t posted yet, but now it is (see part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4) so that you can see for yourself that the talk is no different than what could be expected based on her handouts and her previous talks. That alone was bad enough, but she also advocated giving MMS to autistic children in the form of enemas, in essence claiming that bleach enemas can cure autism. Even worse (if that were possible), Rivera advocates “fever therapy” and views fevers after bleach enemas to be a good thing, a sign that the treatment is “working,” much as Jim Humble gives MMS to treat adults in increasing doses until they start to feel ill. Indeed, Rivera even exults about how much she loves “fever therapy” and how it “wakes up the immune system.” In addition to the bleach enemas, she recommends a “72-2” protocol that involves making children drink dilute bleach every two hours for 72 hours.

In fact, posts by myself and others (such as Emily Willingham) about forcing autistic children to undergo bleach enemas in a vain attempt to “bleach the autism away,” as I put it hit such a nerve that there is now a Change.org petition signed by over 1,500 people entitled No bleach enemas to “cure” autism in children!

Well, I guess there’s nothing that quacks won’t defend, because various advocates and quackery apologists are coming out of the woodwork to defend Rivera and her MMS protocol. For instance, Jim Humble himself has placed a counter-petition on Change.org that reads:

Stop telling people that MMS is bleach because it is not

Because there are some mothers that don’t realize that Emily is wrong and they may never help their child to attain normalcy.

So, there! You evil skeptics! You’re preventing parents from “recovering” their children from autism using bleach enemas! Stop it with your damned skepticism and insistence on science-based medicine! We believe MMS cures autism, and that’s enough!

The petition also has only 31 signatures at this reading.

In any case, when looking for someone to defend the indefensible when it comes to autism quackery, there’s only one place to go; so I went there. Yes, I’m referring to the antivaccine propaganda blog Age of Autism, where the ever-reliable Julie Obradovic wrote a piece about the Autism One quackfest entitled Autism One: Is there a doctor in the house? Ms. Obradovic is unhappy, too. She’s unhappy about the blogosphere’s take on Kerri Rivera and her bleach enemas:

Sometime that night I saw a nasty article already on the Internet about Autism One. To start the conference, there was one slamming it and The Chicago Sun Times. Now to end it, there was one slamming it and the parents who attend.

A blogger, who hadn’t attended the conference, but instead was regurgitating another blogger (who hadn’t attended the conference either), wrote an entire article about the inability to “bleach” the Autism out of a child. She was referring to MMS, a treatment being used for gut problems in some children that hadn’t even been presented yet. It was on schedule for the next morning.

It struck me as really odd that something most people at the conference didn’t even know much about had already been completely scrutinized by people who seem loathe the mere idea of medically treating a child with Autism (with anything but pharmaceuticals, apparently). It seemed obsessive and premature, to say the least, and it was eerily reminiscent of what happened with other interventions in the past.

What other interventions are those? OSR, an industrial chelator that Boyd Haley tried to sell as a supplement to be used to treat autistic children, at least until the FDA finally stopped it? Chelation therapy itself, which can kill?

From what I can tell, Ms. Obradovic is referring to a post by Kristina Chew, which cited my earlier post about Ms. Rivera’s MMS talk. Whichever posts Ms. Obradovic is referencing, one thing is clear. There are certain treatments that one doesn’t have to experience for oneself and talks that one doesn’t have to attend oneself to realize that they are fetid, stinking piles of horse droppings. It wasn’t hard to glean what Kerri Rivera was going to say from her previous talks, her blurb about her Autism One talk, and her handouts. It was even easier to come to the educated opinion that what Ms. Rivera does to autistic children is pure quackery and quite likely child abuse. No wonder she practices in Mexico, the land where quacks who would be shut down in the U.S. go avoid pesky things like laws and regulations regarding medicine and the standard of care.

Note also Ms. Obradovic’s framing of the issue. To her, it’s not a matter of bloggers like myself being outraged because quacks like Kerri Rivera exist and subject autistic children to bleach enemas until they have diarrhea, calling that diarrhea “good” as long as it’s “detox diarrhea.” It’s not a matter of us being puzzled and alarmed at how parents could buy into this quackery. Our criticisms, to her, are not a matter of our wanting to protect children who make up an especially vulnerable population, autistic children. Oh, no. To Ms. Obradovic, supporters of science-based medicine attack quacks like Ms. Rivera because we “loathe the mere idea of treating a child with Autism” with anything other than pharmaceuticals. This is, of course, utter nonsense, but I have no doubt that Ms. Obradovic really believes it.

So, in answer, I will assure her that I personally do not “loathe the mere idea of treating a child with Autism” with anything other than pharmaceuticals.” In fact, I don’t care whether a treatment for autism—or anything else for that matter—is pharmaceutical or otherwise. I only care that the treatment be based on sound science and supported by well-designed clinical trials. What I do loathe is the idea of treating a child with autism with a therapy that has not one whit of scientific evidence to support its plausibility, is potentially dangerous, and, at the very minimum, subjects autistic children to what is likely torture for many of them (enemas, even leaving aside the question of bleach) with no prior evidence that they are likely to benefit from the treatment. In brief, I loathe the idea of subjecting children, be they autistic or neurotypical, to such rank quackery. Come up with a plausible non-pharmaceutical treatment for autism with some real science—not crank rationales—behind it, and I’ll be interested and possibly even support doing clinical trials if the preclinical evidence is compelling enough. In other words, I go where the evidence leads me, and it sure doesn’t lead me to MMS.

Apparently not Ms. Obradovic, who proceeds to tone troll:

But mostly, the article irritated me for its tone. The author’s message was clear: parents who try these treatments are gullible, dangerous, and/or don’t love their children, and the people who pass them off are snake oil salesmen.

Some of these are straw men; others are not. The biggest straw man of all is that we claim that parents who try these treatments are gullible and/or don’t love their children. The parents might be gullible, or they might just be insufficently scientifically sophisticated to recognize quackery. No one that I know of claims that these parents don’t love their children. On the other hand, we do say that the people who pass such treatments off are snake oil salesmen, because they are, although it’s an insult to snake oil to compare MMS to it. And that’s OK. We’re coming to a conclusion we consider reasonable based on the evidence. It doesn’t matter whether someone like Jim Humble or Kerri Rivera actually believe in their snake oil. It’s still snake oil. I’m sorry if Ms. Obradovic is offended to read that, but it’s the truth.

Moreover, the actual purveyor of this snake oil, Ms. Rivera herself, is pretty pathetic when it comes to defending MMS. This can be best seen in her response to an open letter by Autismum criticizing her use of MMS to treat autistic children. Autismum’s open letter is a blistering attack on MMS quackery that concludes:

Your “treatment” is abuse. It lacks plausibility. It lacks humanity. You advocate dosing autistic children with your over priced poison to treat the fantasy symptoms of candida such as, “laughter for no reason.” I love it when by 46lb, four year old Welsh boy laughs even if I can’t tell what’s tickling him. I won’t do a thing to prevent that.

So how did Ms. Rivera respond? With a non-response, actually:

You have your science all wrong. The websites that you site are incorrect. I wish you and your son all the best. Wonderful hearing your opinion. Everyone has one be it informed or misinformed.
Kerri

This is nothing more than argument by assertion. Ms. Rivera seems to think that simply asserting that her critics “have their science all wrong” is enough. She doesn’t explain how we allegedly have our science wrong. She doesn’t provide anything resembling decent scientific or clinical evidence to support her position and show that we are wrong. She doesn’t even make a minimal attempt at a science- or evidence-based counterargument.

I’ll close by noting that there might be some reason for hope. Even if the quackfest known as Autism One has no filters when it comes to allowing dangerous quackery to be presented, apparently Ms. Rivera’s—shall we say?—novel treatment strategy using bleach enemas brought out some actual skepticism, at least about MMS, in the comments after Ms. Obradovic’s defense of quackery. Some examples follow.

First, someone named Fielding J. Hurst, who in an earlier comment declared himself a believer in “biomed” treatments:

Chlorine Dioxide is the important part of this discussion. Your copy/paste is on Sodium Chlorite. Chlorine Dioxide has been shown to cause impaired thyroid and kidney function, as well as cause neurological impairment.

Also, there is a big difference in killing external pathogens and ingesting it. Bleach kills the pathogens by poisoning them, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to ingest it.

WHAT ABOUT ALL OF THAT GOOD BACTERIA IN THE GUT PROMOTED BY OTHER BIO-MED TREATMENTS THAT WORK? CAN SOMEONE NAME ME A BLEACH RESISTANT GOOD BACTERIA? I spent a decade healing my daughter’s gut issues that I can easily see undone quickly with this stuff.

If we can’t agree that it’s not a MIRACLE, can we at least agree that IT’S NOT A FRICKIN’ MINERAL. SOLUTION, yes. At least a little truth in the name.

My favorite tidbit from the Archbishop Humble … IT’S NOT REAL DIARRHEA! Thank goodness. Fake Pseudo Diarrhea is very good for you. It’s a sign of a miracle in progress.

OK, there’s no actual evidence that the “other” biomed treatments “work” any better than MMS, but at least most of them aren’t bleach. Oh, wait. They are things like hyperbaric oxygen, chelation therapy, bizarre diets, supplements, and other things equally potentially harmful. Never mind. At least Mr. Hurst realizes that MMS is quackery—unlike all that other quackery. That’s a start. Perhaps that skepticism will blossom and spread to a lot of the other autism “biomed” quackery out there.

Then there’s someone by the ‘nym tiredmom:

I believe that autism is a fully-recoverable gut disorder, that the children are suffering and deserve treatment. That being said I think that there is A LOT of snake oil in the biomed world of autism. Autism is awful and parents are desperate and will try anything. I have also observed that we don’t demand a lot from whoever comes out with a new product. We don’t demand that they prove anything to us because they are one of the few who are telling us that they believe in our kids and are trying to help. I have had parents admit to me that certain doctors or supplement people asked them to endorse their products or program and gave them free supplies. I think we have to become a lot more skeptical. I don’t believe we can always trust other parents’ opinions. While there are many biomed treatments that help and even recover children many children get better in the early years without any intervention but if the parent is trying a certain biomed protocol at the time or even therapy they will credit that.

I was amazed that there was actually a comment recognizing that some autistic children improve on their own and that many parents trying biomedical woo mistakenly attribute such improvement to the quackery du jour they’re using. Unfortunately, the vast majority of comments were more supportive, at least tolerating Ms. Rivera’s quackery, like this comment by RisperDON’T:

Whatever happened to the Mercury apologists, “The dose makes the poison?” Gone?

Naysayers trashed and got OSR removed from the market for it’s origin as a waste water treatment before revision for human use by one of the nation’s leading University chemists.

Fluoride was suggested as a pesticide early on.

And many FDA approved (and off label use) drugs today have known toxicity including death (e.g. chemo) and those who refuse it are considered the quacks.

This is, of course, a typical fallacy used by defenders of quackery: Because real science-based medicine has side effects and complications, criticizing pseudoscientific treatments for their potential side effects is unfair. I am impressed, however, that Ms. Obradovic managed to restrain herself from pointing out how some chemotherapies still used (nitrogen mustards like cyclophosphamide and melphalan) had their origins as chemical warfare agents. Be that as it may, the difference is, of course, that these real medical treatments have scientific evidence and clinical trials showing that they work, how they work, and that the benefits outweigh the risks. MMS has nothing of the sort.

In the end, regardless of what other “biomedical” treatments are beloved at Autism One, I keep holding out hope that the organizers of Autism One would be able to realize that there are some things that are so beyond the pale that they don’t belong even at Autism One. I agree with Sullivan and Emily on this count that the organizers of Autism One should renounce such quackery, in particular Kerri Rivera. Unfortunately, I also realize that this will never happen because, apparently, offering “hope” to parents of children with autism requires never “judging” and remaining “open-minded.” Unfortunately, we all know what happens when you are too open-minded. Your brains fall out.

Comments

  1. #1 Heliantus
    June 27, 2012

    Addendum:

    Some chemicals, like antibiotics, do indeed selectively target some types of bacteria, but that’s because their mode of action is to bind to a specific protein of the bacteria. By example, penicilline-like antibiotics bind to the enzymes in charge of building the bacterium cell wall, and tetracyclines binds to ribosomes.

    As far as I know, bleach is not selective. It’s working by oxidizing anything in sight. Including your esophagus and intestines if your ingest it.

  2. #2 lilady
    June 27, 2012

    Thanks for the laughs Diane…you made my day. I found some additional *scientific* theories you have at the whale.to website:

    http://www.whale.to/v/thompson.html

    How’s your MMS sales franchise doing…now that your *cure* has been shown to be industrial bleach.

  3. #3 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    June 27, 2012

    More lunacy from Dianne Jacobs Thompson:

    http://www.truthquest2.com/myStory.htm

    A true woo salad.

  4. #4 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    June 27, 2012

    And look: Dianne Jacobs Thompson supports baby murderers and defends that scumbag who shook his baby to death, Alan Yurko. She deserves MMS:

    http://legaljustice4john.com/

  5. #5 Dianne Jacobs Thompson
    Sunnyside, WA
    June 27, 2012

    SURE–vaccines don’t cause autism. Sure–just ask any Big Pharma rep or pharma-financed study. But they did cause autism in monkeys put on an infant vaccine schedule–every one of them had some level of autism symptoms. http://vran.org/in-the-news/infant-monkeys-given-standard-doses-of-vaccines-develop-autism-symptoms/ but of course that has no connection to human autism. If you believe that, I’ve got a real estate deal for you…sucker.

  6. #6 Gray Falcon
    June 27, 2012

    Your strategy reminds me of someone trying to deal with a burning building by pointing out that volcanoes are hotter. An interesting comparison, but utterly meaningless to the issue at hand.

  7. #7 Chris
    There is this weird glowy thing in the sky...
    June 27, 2012

    Oh, goody, a person who thinks it is okay to shake babies using the old tired and worn out Pharma Shill Gambit.

    Exactly how can you tell is a monkey has autism?

  8. #8 AdamG
    June 27, 2012

    from your link:

    “The full implications of this primate study await publication of the research in a scientific journal,”

    That was 4 years ago. Where’s the publication? Where’s the data? You can’t even read your own citation for detail…nowhere does it say that “every one of them had some level of autism symptoms.”

  9. #9 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    June 27, 2012

    Dianne,

    You post an article on the monkey study from a quack anti-vaccine site. Would you take the time to read an opposing view? Are you willing/able to learn something?

    http://thinkingautismguide.blogspot.ca/2012/05/whacking-monkeys-in-name-of-science.html

  10. #10 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    June 27, 2012

    And Dianne, please read this as well, which was written by a good friend of our host here, Orac:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/monkey-business-in-autism-research/

    In a nutshell, that study was bogus. AND it’s over four years old. AND it tortured poor little monkeys. At least they didn’t administer MMS enemas to the monkeys.

  11. #11 Dianne Jacobs Thompson
    Sunnyside, WA
    June 27, 2012

    I guess I’d better finish my story, since only the beginning is there. Haven’t got to the part where the naturopath cured my stomach cancer, ovarian cysts, low thyroid, chronic bronchitis, arthritis and heart condition in 5 weeks, and that was just the beginning.

    Alan Yurko, whose premature, sickly baby died after receiving multiple vaccines, yeah–people all over the world supported him. Shaken baby–they know now the symptoms used to diagnose shaken baby aren’t caused by shaking. That’s why they had to change the name to “abusive head trauma” because the symptoms can be caused by severe head impact, but also by numerous medical conditions, including vaccines which are documented causes of brain swelling (inconsolable crying is a symptom) and hemorrhagic conditions like thrombocytopenia–those are your SBS diagnostic symptoms. Also, animal studies proved that vaccines cause elevated blood histamine levels, a hemorrhagic condition, and depleted vitamin c levels (it is required to neutralize blood histamines) which creates accelerated infantile scurvy–a hemorrhagic condition which also causes bone disease, many other symptoms and sudden death.

    I’m a teacher and independent investigative researcher/writer. I started researching health issues after getting cured of life-threatening conditions by a naturopath in 1979 and the focus went to vaccine sequelae in 1986 after my only child was nearly killed by her first and only vaccine.
    On SBS, no neck and cervical spinal injuries like those found in whiplash injury means no shaking, and they’ve never been found in these cases. The symptoms are caused by other means.
    Bleeding in the brain: http://legaljustice4john.com/thrombocytopenia.htm
    http://legaljustice4john.com/subduralhematoma.htm
    http://legaljustice4john.com/subduralhematomaBarlows.htm

    My story–vaccine injury: http://truthquest2.com/vaccination2.htm

    If you want to know something about my work, read the article pubished by NEXUS magazine, distributed in many countries, in several languages: Seawater – A Safe Blood Plasma Substitute?
    http://www.nexusmagazine.com/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=31&Itemid=71&limitstart=20 It was chosen out of that issue to be published online, and can be found on several other websites. I do my homework instead of blowing off with ignorant, uneducated “personal opinions”.

  12. #13 Chris
    June 27, 2012

    From a liar:

    Alan Yurko, whose premature, sickly baby died after receiving multiple vaccines, yeah–people all over the world supported him.

    So all those broken bones were from vaccines?

  13. #14 AdamG
    June 27, 2012

    the naturopath cured my stomach cancer, ovarian cysts, low thyroid, chronic bronchitis, arthritis and heart condition in 5 weeks, and that was just the beginning.

    Oh wow, we’ve got a live one here.
    I just read her ‘vaccine injury’ story…hoo boy. One for the ages.

  14. #15 Narad
    June 27, 2012

    and as for ‘curing’ wild cats, there is a strong argument for letting these creatures die as they are not part of the natural ecosystem

    Neither are you, I daresay.

  15. #16 Lawrence
    June 27, 2012

    What a horrid woman…..

  16. #17 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    June 27, 2012

    “Dr. Dick”….giggity.

    Seriously, what an appropriate name for a quack. Kind of like Gary “Null”.

  17. #18 Marry Me, Mindy
    June 27, 2012

    So all those broken bones were from vaccines?

    No, those broken bones were from Yurko hitting the child, something he admits to doing (got that? He does not deny that he hit the child).

    But oh, he would never resort to _shaking_ the baby. Oh no.

    (As I have explained before, it’s really dumb, because as a parent, I actually have a far more understanding for shaken baby issues – the response is not really that extreme, and I can understand the mental state that leads to it; that’s why in parenting classes, we don’t vilify the feelings that lead to the problem, but teach the proper way to deal with them. Shaken baby happens because of lack of education. Hitting a 2 month old happens because the person is a monster. Sorry, but “I didn’t shake him, I only hit him” is NOT excusable, even if it is true (which I don’t believe for a second about this creep))

  18. #19 JGC
    June 27, 2012

    Diane, how did you miss (bold for emphasis) “The abstracts presented at IMFAR…” in the link you provided? You are aware that conference abstracts do not represent peer-reviewed publications, I trust?

    When the researchers publish the results of their completed studies in peer-reviewed journals, we’ll talk.

  19. #20 JGC
    June 27, 2012

    Actually after reading your defense of John Yurko it’s clear that any further discussion would be futile: you can’t fix crazy.

  20. #21 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    June 27, 2012

    “I’m a teacher and independent investigative researcher/writer”

    I stopped reading right there. The bullshit got too deep to wade through, and I’m not wearing hip waders.

  21. #22 novalox
    June 27, 2012

    @dianne jacobs thompson

    So, due to your support of a child murderer,. pretty much we can conclude that you are full of it.

    At least your comments are good for the utter lulz, from all of the ignorance that that you spew.

  22. #23 Heliantus
    June 27, 2012

    @ Dianne

    *study shows autism symptoms in monkey *

    Is it the study where one of the two control monkeys (i.e. the non-vaccinated ones) had abnormal brain development, his brain shrinking instead of growing, and the “searchers’ labeled it as “normal”?

    * study shows vaccines deplete vitamine C *

    Ah, you mean the study where rats had an apparent lowered concentration of vitamin C following vaccination, but got it back to normal the next day?
    In a world and time where most baby formula are enriched in vitamins?

    * symptoms of injuries which could also have been caused by vaccines*

    You mean like the bruises on the baby’s arms which really looked like adult fingers squeezed it far too strongly?

    You are the one here enabling child harm. Go away.

  23. #24 Militant Agnostic
    June 27, 2012

    Does anyone know if there has been an Alan Yurko type case in the UK recently? I have seen headlines hinting at something like this on the cover a particularly vile British magazine called Namaste (should be called Nasty) in Community Natural Foods in Calgary. There was something referring to child supposedly killed by the MMR vaccine and now in the most recent issue something about the child’s innocent father being in prison or prosecuted. I went to their website, (namastepublishing.co.uk) but although I found a heap of crazy (a lot of anti-EU, anti-vax etc), I could not find anything about it before I reached my limit of batshittery. Have any of the Brits here heard anything about this?

  24. #25 Temporarily de-lurked
    June 29, 2012

    @Militant Agnostic

    Er… Hopefully another British person can help out more, as I’m inattentive to magazines like that, and so can’t comment appropriately. The last high-profile child abuse case we’ve had – that I know of – was initially referred to as ‘Baby P’. I do not know of any claim of vaccine injury on the part of the ‘responsible’ adults who were prosecuted, but do believe that such a claim would have led to substantial media coverage, because they had such fun with MMR before, and more recent pieces like the one highlighted at http://jdc325.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/sue-reid-on-mmr-in-the-daily-mail suggest they’re not done yet.

    The companies behind the Daily Mail and Metro (on the one hand) and the Express and Daily Star (on the other) seem to have been the worst for exaggerating perceived risks of vaccination while AJW was doing his thing originally, and dredging-up any source of doubt since. Neither of those companies appears to have a direct control over Namaste (as far as I can tell), but it is trying to appeal to a similar market.

  25. #26 Kath
    wales, UK
    July 3, 2012

    Some interesting debate going on and questions being raised here – particularly between Calli, ScienceMom and Lillady.
    My own feeling is that Calli was not in any way *defending* or giving a ‘free pass’ to parents who abuse their children in this way and I can’t see how her comments were interpreted in this way.
    As repugnant as their behaviour is, I believe most of these parents do love their children and sincerely believe that they are helping them. It is possible to love your child and still harm them grievously – the ability to love your child in itself says little about your worth as a parent.
    I find myself agreeing with Calli – I don’t think it’s helpful or correct to think of AoA-type parents as evil, cold, unfeeling monsters.
    (and as a pedantic side point, the issue was raised some years ago by Rhys Morgan not Rhys Martin!)

  26. #27 Kath
    wales, UK
    July 3, 2012

    Ok, have spent some time over at Autismum’s blog – starting to have a little more sympathy for the positions of Sciencemom and LilLady. There’s some truly dangerous, repugnant people out there and I’m seriously hope Child Protective services are alerted to them.

  27. #28 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    July 3, 2012

    Thanks Kath. I didn’t think Callie was giving a free pass to biomeddler parents; I simply disagree that these parents truly love the child in front of them as opposed to being in love with the idea of the child they don’t have but ‘want back’. But yes, it’s pretty scary isn’t it? And I’m afraid that you may have only read a fraction of what these parents do to their children and sadly, are enabled and even encouraged by DAN! doctors and other ‘healthcare providers’.

  28. #29 Kath
    UK
    July 3, 2012

    ScienceMom- terrifying. I’d read about this sort of thing, but to be confronted by actual, real life parents who seem to view their children as being possessed of some horrendous evil that needs purging; parents who are prepared to put their children at serious risk of psychological and physical harm to satisfy their healer fantasies and fit in with their ignorant, narrow view of the world…
    Even though I had some knowledge of these practices, what’s made the issue seem a lot more real is reading testimony from people who openly and proudly admit to administering their children with bleach solution & enemas; I was just horrified. I’d naively assumed that parents who do this are mostly vulnerable and desperate people who genuinely have no idea of the harm they are doing to their children.
    I think you make an excellent point, and I would absolutely agree that these parents do not “truly love the child in front of them as opposed to being in love with the idea of the child they don’t have but ‘want back’”

  29. #30 Calli Arcale
    July 3, 2012

    Thanks, Kath. Yeah, that’s exactly what I was getting it. Also, parents aren’t the only ones who love someone without really knowing them, or loves who they wish the other person was. I’ve known a few abused spouses, and that sort of thing comes up. “I love you but you have to give up all of your friends, your family, and everything you’ve ever cared about or I won’t believe you love me.” It can get extremely twisted. That seems to be something society is comfortable admitting can happen; we seem to have a harder time accepting that it can also happen between a parent and a child, I think because we tend to glorify the parent/child relationship to dangerous extremes. Too many severely underprepared parents who are expecting love to work miracles and make it all fluffy toys and rainbows and not hard work. (Too many underprepared spouses not realizing that you have to work at a marriage too.)

  30. #31 Calli Arcale
    July 3, 2012

    I just had a thought….

    We glorify parenthood to dangerous extremes, and on places such as mothering-dot-com this is writ large. Parenthood, and especially motherhood, means you will be able to solve all problems in your child’s life. If you cannot, you have failed as a parent. (And even in the mainstream, observe how often parents of behaviorally disturbed children are blamed for having screwed up as parents; parents are often presumed to have near godlike powers where their children are concerned.) Therefore, if you are unable to resolve your child’s problem, in order to keep your “good parent” card, you not only need to have the problem not be your fault, you also need to be working hard to fix it. Of course, we all know that for some conditions (e.g. autism), this is essentially hopeless; the child will likely improve with age, but will always have that chronic condition. But they cannot accept that, because it means they’ve failed as parents, so they try ever more exotic attempts.

    And here’s what I just thought: perhaps these attempts escalate not merely out of desperation but because the magnitude of the heroism* required to overcome it. That is, if the therapy that fixes it is really really hard, then that just validates their difficulty in solving the problem earlier. It’s not their fault they didn’t fix the problem for the child earlier. It was a highly vexing problem that only extreme measures would resolve, but of course they were such good parents that they were willing to go that extra mile…..

    Just a thought, anyway. My English degree tells me this is an excellent formula for a classical tragedy, with the parent as the tragic hero**.

    *In the archaic sense of “heroic medicine”, not actual heroism necessarily. Heroic medicine used to be very popular; the quality of an intervention was often judged largely by how extreme it was.

    **Here, “hero” in the literary sense: protagonist. Heroes aren’t always nice or noble, and tragic heroes are even less likely to, since the classical structure dictates that their downfall be their own fault. (The Greeks were very big on punishing hubris.)

  31. #32 Chris
    In the midst of paperwork...
    July 3, 2012

    Kath, Science Mom, Calli Arcale, lilady and others above, I believe we can all agree that Autism Mum and her family are awesome.

    I am watching the garden transformation, which is being done to accommodate Pwdin and not to punish him. This is amazing. The only thing I can relate to that is similar is making sure the new couch did not have removable cushions that could be thrown around the room. Okay, I did have the one child who ate his older brother’s art supplies, which is why the big brother’s easel and paints were on the porch to keep little brother away (and it was big brother who had, and still has the semi-autistic developmental delays!).

    I would never force any of those boys to consume MMS, nor force anything up their bums unless it was medically necessary (younger boy recently had a gastro bug that required a suppository to deal with the nausea so he could keep down fluids, but he is a normal college student so he could do that himself — his job involves teaching small children to swim so he does pick up some odd bugs).

  32. #33 lilady
    July 3, 2012

    @ Kath: Calli Arcale is one of my favorite posters here. Our posts back and forth led to a lively debate and exchange of opinions about what *motivates* these parents and what constitutes child abuse.

    Meanwhile back at the Ho-Po Todd Drezner’s blog about MMS has attracted a number of the RI Regulars…who have posted there to bring this abusive *treatment/cure* for autism to the attention of a wider audience…which is a good thing.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/todd-drezner/autism-cure_b_1588498.html

    Autismum, Science Mom and other science bloggers have exposed the dark underbelly of some of the abusive practices of the so-called *bio-medical treating parents*.

  33. #34 Calli Arcale
    July 3, 2012

    Absolutely and well said, Chris.

  34. #35 lilady
    July 3, 2012

    (Why do we have to have these in-depth discussions at 11 PM EDT? I’ve just finished preparing some goodies for tomorrow’s July 4th celebration).

    Talk amongst yourselves…I’m going to shower now…be back shortly to join the RI ladies. 🙂

  35. #36 Chris
    In a grateful place...
    July 3, 2012

    Thanks, Calli Arcale.

    It is when I hear the complaints of the parents of autistic children that I find those transgressions were not with my older disabled child, but with my younger boy. My oldest son’s terrible two’s lasted two weeks, and he was very compliant. He colored in the lines, ate his dinner, and was easily potty trained.

    It was the younger boy whose terrible two’s lasted from eighteen months until he was seven years old. He ate art supplies, including biting the nibs off of markers (he had the most interesting diaper changes). He refused to become potty trained until he was almost five years old. He did have a language delay, but freaked out the neurologist at age three by putting together a puzzle too quickly.

    Reading that, one would think he was some high functioning Asperger’s. But no. He is annoyingly normal. With some speech/language therapy he was scoring normally before kindergarten. He was always a social butterfly, who was able to engage even the most shy child. He did marching band, has had girlfriends, was a high school honor student, and has lived on his own for a couple of years. He did not become one of the 50% who got accepted to the college of engineering (it is very competitive), but has redirected himself to becoming a teacher. Because that is what he has been doing for five years, including working with the special populations that include autism.

    While his older brother still struggles. In short the child who drove me crazy when he was young is doing fine, the other one who was quiet and compliant is who I worry about.

    This is why I view some of the stories of the misdeeds of autistic children a bit differently.

  36. #37 Chris
    Not on the American East Coast...
    July 3, 2012

    I’m sorry lilady, it may be when we find ourselves alone and undisturbed at our laptops this time in our various time zones. I recently put away dinner leftovers. But now I must go the the laptop that refuses the wifi to finish a very long letter about our oldest son’s recent surgery for my family.

  37. #38 lilady
    July 4, 2012

    @ Chris: Just kidding…I know you are posting from the West Coast.

    I visit and post on Autismum’s blog frequently; she is a super mom to Pwdin and a gutsy blogger, as well. (Could we ever forget how she took on that awful creature “Patriot Nurse”?)

    Best wishes to you and your family.

  38. #39 Chemmomo
    Contemplating a hero vs a protagonist
    July 4, 2012

    Calli Arcale

    Parenthood, and especially motherhood, means you will be able to solve all problems in your child’s life. If you cannot, you have failed as a parent.

    I thought the point of parenthood was to help the offspring achieve the best of their own abilities (including giving them the tools to solve their own problems). Whatever those abilities may be.

    Am I off base here?

  39. #40 Chris
    Not doing what I am supposed to do...
    July 4, 2012

    Actually I thought parenthood was making sure the kid was alive at bedtime.

    Did I set the bar too low?

    Because there were some close moments, like the seizures or the blue foot prints up the white carpeted stairs.

  40. #41 Chris
    Still being silly (but with a serious message)...
    July 4, 2012

    Oh, I forgot… making sure the main symptom of the genetic heart condition did not occur:

    Sudden Cardiac Death

  41. #42 Chemmomo
    Where kids sit in carseats or boosters and wear helmets
    July 4, 2012

    Chris @ 1:28 am 4 Jul in other time zones

    parenthood was making sure the kid was alive at bedtime

    Yeah, both were. But part of my point was I try to help themmake the decisions that will keep them alive until then.

    Disclaimer: one kid fell off his bike so many times today, we need to find the right wrench to reposition the back brake on the bike before he flips over the handlebars, because he only has two speeds: full or stop. Then again, same kid chews out the neighbors kid when they take helmets off.

    @ 1:29 am Happy to hear some good news!

  42. #43 Chemmomo
    Happy 4th of July
    July 4, 2012

    and apologies for lack of preview and s/v agreement

  43. #44 Chris
    I should be in bed...
    July 4, 2012

    Thanks. I am still writing about the surgery experience plus the aftermath. It is apparently not a simple thing to remove a thumb size chunk of interior heart muscle. That causes the body to go “Oooh, you hurt me! I will beat faster and cause more issues!”, and then hopefully calm down where nine years of inactivity then can be addressed.

    The probability of child waking up in the morning has increased.

    Sometimes parents who had a child with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy only found out about the condition after trying to wake up a dead child in the morning. I spent almost nine years wondering if that would happen to us. While that probability still exists, it is much lower now. Kind of like getting a vaccine.

  44. #45 Chemmomo
    Ears still on
    July 4, 2012

    Chris,
    you inspire me to try to be a better parent.

  45. #46 Chris
    July 4, 2012

    [blush] Thank you.

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