Sunday, March 1, 2009

Autism Quackery

Through the Looking Glass: My Involvement with Autism Quackery, James R. Laidler, MD.

Bumped into this nice article I may print for a couple of parents. Excerpt:

The final step in my awakening came during a Disneyland vacation. My younger son was still on a gluten- and casein-free diet, which we both swore had been a significant factor in his improvement. We had lugged at least 40 pounds of special food on the plane with us. In an unwatched moment, he snatched a waffle and ate it. We watched with horror and awaited the dramatic deterioration of his condition that the “experts” told us would inevitably occur. The results were astounding—absolutely nothing happened. I began to suspect that I had been very foolish.

In the following months, we stopped every treatment except speech and occupational therapy for both boys. They did not deteriorate and, in fact, continued to improve at the same rate as before—or faster. Our bank balance improved, and the circles under our eyes started to fade. And quite frankly, I began to get mad at myself for being so gullible and for misleading other parents of autistic children.

Looking back on my experiences with "alternate" autism therapies, they seem almost unreal, like Alice's adventures in Wonderland. Utter nonsense treated like scientific data, people nodding in sage agreement with blatant contradictions, and theories made out of thin air and unrelated facts—and all of it happening happening right here and now, not in some book. Real people are being deceived and hurt, and there won't be a happy ending unless enough of us get together and write one.

My personal journey through the looking glass has ended. I stepped into “alternative” medicine up to my neck and waded out again, poorer but wiser. I now realize that the thing the “alternative” practitioners are really selling is hope—usually false hope—and hope is a very seductive thing to those who have lost it. It is really not surprising that people will buy it even when their better judgment tells them not to do so.

1 comment:

  1. I recently went to a talk he gave to one of our local skeptic's groups. He is hilariously funny, and a complete delight.

    His talk was on the myth of sugar making kids go hyper, with some bits on artificial sweeteners.

    Somewhere on my hard drive I have a letter he wrote when he was in the midst of the DAN! stuff. It was sent to me by the moderator of a disability listserv I was on after I pointed out the Autism-Watch website. Apparently, this woman could not understand that someone could change their mind about something after getting enough evidence.

    Sigh. This was the same loopy list moderator who kept posting the National Vaccine MIS-Information Coalition website for vaccine information. Even though I told her over and over and over again that it was not a reliabel site (they cherry pick what they put on, and never change the information if new data shows they are wrong).

    While it helps to have a place to get information on a disability (especially a not very well known on like oral motor dyspraxia with functional dysarthria and some dysphasia), lots of people spread stupid information on them.

    And the people who spread the stupid information do not like being corrected (like the one who tried to get me booted from the listserv because I pointed out that the MMR never contained thimerosal).

    oops, sorry for the rant