A Response to All the Quackery & BS in One Blog Entry

This post started because I realized I’d go to jail for cleansing colons. I saw one too many articles today about cleansing colons. My first thought was to go cleanse some people’s colons for publicizing this quack crap, but I’d probably end up in jail.

So I’m going to write instead. And it’s probably going to piss some people off. But, you know what? I’m sick of people messing with their kids’ bodies on the basis of instinct and what sounds good. Facts are not evil, people! When you have some facts, you should use them.

Sadly, the people doing the actual colon cleansing on innocent children get away with it, without jail.

So here’s my response, just in case anyone is curious about any of this.

First, your kid doesn’t need his colon cleansed.

Seriously. He doesn’t. No, he doesn’t. Yes, he has shit in his colon. You do too. But keep the shit in the colon and don’t replace your brains with shit. It’s supposed to be there! But you can read about the science of this here. Don’t have shit for brains. Keep it where it belongs.

Your kid doesn’t need a GF/CF Diet

Okay, if your kid really has celiac disease, certainly keep him on a GF diet (no need to do CF, however). For those not in the know, GF is “gluten free.” Gluten is found in pretty much all wheat and grains. Here’s a news flash: grains and wheats are good for you (unless you truly do have an allergy, and most of us don’t, autistic or not). It’s one of the key things that makes bread, well, bread.

CF is “casein free”. Casein is in milk and milk products. If your kid has a milk allergy (not noticed through behavior, but rather by things like a life threatening anaphylaxis reaction, hives, swelling in the lips and throat, etc), certainly don’t give the kid milk! But, again, milk is generally good for almost all autistic people.

Your kid almost certainly isn’t both gluten and casein allergic! If you have that rare kid, certainly, feed them whatever is left that doesn’t contain these things. But get a second opinion when deciding to alter your kid’s diet and restrict him to only a handful of things. The medical profession actually can diagnose this type of thing, so let them!

Now, lots of people say that removing G or C from a diet made their kids behave/communicate/toilet better (actually, it’s almost always both G and C). Science says bullshit in general.

You Don’t Need to be Perfect

Related to diets and such, one common quackery theme is that even one particle of contamination (where contamination is something natural in food, like gluten) will cause your kid to regress. The theory is basically that this seed of evil will germinate inside your kid and destroy him, without another cleansing/chelation/etc treatment.

So, if the treatment doesn’t help, guess what the problem is…if you guess YOU, you guessed right! You probably missed some infinitesimal seed of gluten. You didn’t do it good enough. The diet is fine. It’s you that’s a failure.

Again, that’s bullshit. One microgram of wheat will not hurt your kid.

But putting your kid on an extremely restrictive diet (how many food items can you name without milk or wheat or grain) is not good. It’s a lot harder to make a balanced diet when you cut out whole food groups – especially if your kid is a picky eater. Heck, plenty of autistics practically live on pizza. I’ve tried GF/CF pizza. Never again.

Shots don’t Give Mercury Poisoning

I’m not going to bother to support my argument, not because I can’t, but because thousands of other people have done so online, who have a lot better medical knowledge than you or I do.

Vaccinations are safe.  Period.  You are rejecting science if you don’t believe this.

Vaccinations also keep your kid well.  Despite the garbage to the contrary, it is good for your kid to be well.

Mercury Poisoning is Nothing Like Autism

Despite a published list a few years ago by some quacks that compares “symptoms of mercury poisoning” to “symptoms of autism,” the symptoms are not even close to the same. Mercury poisoning affects the skin and, particularly, the eyes in addition to the brain. If your doctor can’t tell the difference, you need a different doctor.

You Don’t Need to Ingest Metal

No, gold dust, gold pellets, and gold salts are not helpful. If you want gold, stick to jewelry that you like the look of. After all, it’s not even that great of an investment. But I’ll guarantee it’s a better investment as a coin or jewelry than ending up down the toilet.

Nor do You Need to Chelate Metal!

When the quacks aren’t trying to get people to take metal, they chelate them. Again, mercury isn’t autism, but plenty of quacks convince people it is. In the process, they suggest things like chelation – a process that is designed to remove metals from the body. One particularly scary treatment is EDTA chelation. Like most autism-related quackery things, it’s also a sold as quackery to cancer patients – so the American Cancer Society says some things about it, including:

Available scientific evidence does not support claims that chelation therapy is a safe treatment for any type of cancer. Chelation therapy may produce toxic effects, including kidney damage, irregular heart beat, and swelling of the veins. It may also cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and temporary lowering of blood pressure. Since the therapy removes minerals from the body, there is a risk of developing low calcium levels (hypocalcemia) and bone damage. Chelation therapy may also impair the immune system and decrease the body’s ability to produce insulin. People may also feel pain at the site of the EDTA injection. Chelation therapy may be dangerous in people with kidney disease, liver disease, or bleeding disorders. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use this method.

Chelation therapy is often given along with large doses of vitamins and other minerals, which may actually contribute to the processes that produce dangerous free radicals in the body. Loss of zinc can also lead to mutations in cells. For this reason, chelation therapy may actually increase the risk of cancer.

In other words, this is not something to do to your kid, except in one circumstance: if you have solid proof your child has heavy metal poisoning. Note, again, that would never be confused with autism by anyone in the slightest bit competent. It has enough side-effects, I’d make sure to get a second opinion from another mainstream doctor, and then I would make sure that the facility where it is done can respond to the life-threatening emergencies (such as heart failure) that may occur.

But, again, it doesn’t do shit for autism.

Enema – More Shit Problems

Again, related to colon cleansing, this generally shouldn’t be a routine procedure for people! It can help with constipation and it can help with getting rid of shit for a colonoscopy. Other than that, it doesn’t particularly help autistic people.

Even worse is when standard enema are replaced with – essentially – bleach. Do you really think exposing sensitive organs (the colon) to bleach is a good idea? It’s not. Even when it’s called something like Miracle Mineral Supplement (nor is MMS good ingested orally – go figure, drinking bleach is bad for you). Did I mention MMS supposedly treats cancer?

Protip: anything that treats both cancer and autism does neither; this goes double for anything that adds HIV to the mix of things it supposedly treats.

Ah, the Fascination with Shit

There’s a huge fascination with shit among quackery. There’s a lot of parents that have trouble toilet training their autistic children, so I can understand the focus on shit. But, at the same time, not being able to communicate to a person to teach toilet training does not mean that the person has a health condition in their gut. Nor does periodic bouts of diarrhea or constipation indicate general health issues – we all deal with this. But if it is frequent, definitely talk to a mainstream doctor about the condition. But you’re not dealing with autism, you’re dealing with something else.

There’s also difficulty autistics have processing sensory information and sometimes making motor movements, both of which are required for successful toilet training. Someone that is helping will know this and consider this, and not just radical diet changes without evidence of problems (other than stool).

Finally, stress messes up people’s guts. And plenty of autistic people have stressful lives, due to sensory issues, social expectations, and, sadly, some of the things people do to try to cure them. I don’t know much about toilet training, but I know that stressing out the kid doesn’t help. Go figure – stress doesn’t help with any kind of learning. Or health.

Oh, There’s More

Yes, there are other quackeries. I’m not going to get into some of the other ones now, as these were the ones that annoyed me today. Maybe you’ll see a second post later.

So What Can You Do?

In general, what you do for other kids. Feed them good food (not restricted diets only because the kid is autistic). Focus on things other than shit all the time (seriously!). Stay away from things that claim to cure cancer. Don’t think that there is some sort of secret knowledge that science and Big Pharma is hiding from you – there’s plenty of problems in our health care system and with corporate pharmaceuticals, but spreading autism isn’t one of them – and plenty of Big Pharma developed drugs are good and helpful, even life saving.

Realize there is no cure for autism. So instead of curing and overcoming, focus on ways you can raise your kid to be at the fullest of his autistic potential. Listen to him when he complains (with words or otherwise) of environmental stimulus (like sounds, tastes, etc). Try not to add to a stressful life!

Find your kid’s strengths and gifts. What does he do best? Did you know that research has shown that there are some brain functions that autistic people do really well, not just ones they do badly? Discover what is unique and wonderful about your child. Autism or not, he’s your child!

Megadoses of Amino Acids!

There’s a new study, reported in the LA Times (and elsewhere), that a rare form of autism that is accompanied with epilepsy is treatable with drug store supplements.  Or something to that effect.

I admit, I haven’t read the study.  I don’t need to – I know the effect it will have.  We’re going to see protein-diets, with protein-moms arguing online about what kind of protein cured their kids.  Great.

Sure, if this study found something that helps people with their lives, helps with epilepsy, in some cases, that’s a great finding.  I will note that the study is missing one key element: people – it tested mice, which while similar to some people (oh, sorry, I was thinking rats, not mice), aren’t exactly people.  So they have a way to go.  That’s assuming it’s not another bogus study about an autism cure, like the precursor to the last 10 or so fads in autism “treatment”.

Personally I have little tolerance for this type of thing.  Oh, no, not little tolerance for helping people with epilepsy, but rather how this will be clung to by some as their hope, while they give kids who don’t have these genetic sequences a bunch of dietary supplements (or, worse, completely screw with the kid’s diet unnecessarily).  I’m assuming the study found something real – only time will tell there (and a bunch of autistics who know science way better than me will rip it apart in a few days if it’s bogus anyhow).  I also note that the researchers say this isn’t a general cure for autism (and probably say they aren’t even sure it’s a cure for whatever type of autism they are curing).  But it will be treated that way by many – mark my words.

We don’t need quack cures.  We need to have a say in our lives.  We need a place in society – whether we get cured or not.  We should be able to have some control, some ability to live our own dreams.  That’s where I’d like to see the attention.  Not a bunch of people who will be sure that their kids have that genetic sequence and will be cured by a bunch of who-knows-what purchased at the local health food store.