Sunday, 13 January 2013

Woo Stops Being Funny When Parents Feed Their Autistic Kids Bleach

Kerri Rivera, with baby bottle in hand and bleach in another
hand.  This is a situation that should never happen.
Awhile back I wrote about how my wife and I attended our very first Autism conference here in Montreal: Autism in Motion 2012.  Emotions were still raw with me and I found the whole thing rather emotional.  I can be a real gushy dude.

There was some woo-based quackery there too, which I found at best comical and at worse a supreme waste of money:

Not Enough Time to be a Skeptic? (Part I: Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment)

Not Enough Time to be a Skeptic? (Part II: Far Out Sunny Chi Machines).

It was all a little silly and far out but I didn't feel the children were at any life-threatening risk.  Guard your pocket books.

Well, yesterday my wife pointed me to an alternative healing approach that's been making the rounds with parents of autistic children: Miracle Mineral Supplement or MMS for short.  It turns my stomach - it's really sad.
... an aqueous solution of 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water. The product contains essentially the same ingredient as industrial-strength bleach before "activation" with a food-grade acid. The name was first coined by Jim Humble in his 2006 self-published book, The Miracle Mineral Solution of the 21st Century. A more dilute version is marketed as Chlorine Dioxide Solution (CDS).
Sound like bleach to you?  Read on, if you can even bear it.
When citric acid or other food acid is used to "activate" MMS as described in its instructions, the mixture produces an aqueous solution containing chlorine dioxide, a potent oxidizing agent used in the treatment of water and in bleaching. The director of the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre has stated that using the product is "a bit like drinking concentrated bleach" and that users have displayed symptoms consistent with corrosive injuries, such as vomiting, stomach pains, and diarrhea. Sodium chlorite, the main constituent of MMS, is a toxic chemical that can cause acute renal failure if ingested.
Yes, it's bleach.  And people are feeding their autistic children this stuff.  Little kids.

And who should give a major talk at Autism One, but Kerri Rivera.  She advocates the poisoning of autistic children - the very children who will have the least ability to communicate their pain and suffering.  She suggests bleach enemas and putting drops of bleach into baby bottles - ramping the dosage up slightly every day.  She even suggests giving the child the bleach at least 15 minutes before or after their meals.   She recommends that they discount a treatment and try again if the child should eat food.  Heaven forbid the effects of the bleach be lessened by food.

It's all explained in this video I got from a newly favourite blog Science Based Medicine by blogger David Gorski (PhD) in a post called Bleaching Away What Ails You.  His post goes into disgusting, yet necessary, detail about this evil practice.

Video streaming by Ustream

This makes me angry and sick to my stomach.  I do believe this woman needs to be locked up.

And here's the really tragic part.  Back when I went to the Montreal Autism in Motion conference I saw a lot of desperate parents.  People who were yearning for a cure to this mysterious disease and I admitted that there is real pressure as a parent not to wait for the scientists to do their studies.  These people have given up on science - and hence reality.  They have fallen into an alternate universe with its own science.

Don't get me wrong!  I am human and I am a father of an autistic child.  And I saw Lorenzo's Oil and I wept out loud.  We've even cut down on wheat and gluten-based foods in the house and have observed some apparent improvement.

Yes, I get it!  Science may lag behind some miracle cure discovered by parents.  But parents who make their children drink bleach and force them to have bleach enemas have reached such a level of pure reckless deluded desperation  that they have lost their grip on reality.  At this stage, the children are being physically abused and they need to be removed from their parents - who in turn, require counselling and psychological assessment.

No Room For Humour Here - Picking Your Battles

Like the rest of pseudoscience and woo, there exists here an entire parallel culture that has its very own science and scientific vernacular.  They have their own conferences, health centers and professional titles and degrees.  It's really amazing and one could easily get lost in it.

This brings me to the skeptical community.  I'm all for debunking UFOs and Bigfoot.  I'm with you on your criticism of crystals, ghost hunting and palm reading.  But may I suggest picking your battles?

If there is some things we should really be mobilizing against it's this kind of woo.  The dangerous kind where well-meaning parents are poisoning their children while making quacks rich.  I'm not saying this is the only noble cause.  I can think of others: female (and male) circumcision, rejected blood transfusions and anti-vaxers to name a few.  

These causes have real social impact and they can make a real difference for children and the vulnerable.

But it's just a suggestion.

Picking The Right Battles Can Give You More Allies

Put yourself, for a moment, outside the skeptic movement into the mainstream outside-world.  Imagine watching a war brewing over magical crystals, Bigfoot, aliens and ghosts.  At best you would agree with the skeptics but the whole thing would seem a little comical - a little trivial.

Now imagine a skeptic community pointing out the danger of quack treatments such as MMS and the anti-vaccination crowd.  Bridges could be built with other groups - even religious groups - and much could be achieved.  Much mutual understanding and respect could be generated in the process.

I'm not saying we give up trying to educate people about homeopathy and alien abductions.  It's just that people are injecting bleach into the mouths and anuses of their own children and this makes me more angry than I can bear.

So I'll admit I'm new to this information.  Other folks in the community have done a brilliant job covering it:

Actually, I'm not even sure how much is being done in the skeptic community to counteract this insanity - not that it's their job or anything.  I don't mean to sit back and whine while doing nothing myself and expect others to pick up the aegis for me. My apologies, I'm still getting over my own emotional response to hearing about this horrendous practice.


  1. Words can't describe how angry I am right now about this.