Showing posts with label autism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label autism. Show all posts

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Response to A Reader About Parents Who Kill Their Autistic Children

(source)
A long time ago, in September, I wrote about the latest in what seemed to be a rash of mothers killing their autistic kids. I started out by mentioning some of the prior cases and then weighed in rather harshly against mother Marilyn Edge who murdered her son and killed herself.
In this latest case, the mother, Marilyn Edge, believed that vaccines caused her son Jaelen's autism and tried to sue to government.  She lost because her case was based on woo. She then decided to kill her kids and herself, because - you know- that's what's best for everyone.
As I mentioned in my latest post about mothers who kill their kids because they think that's what's best for them, it really strikes me more as them not being able to cope and believing that nobody else should get the chance to try to help their kids. So they take their own lives and the lives of their children on the hypothetical assumption that their kids can never be happy at all, ever in this world.

I'd feel sorry about them if they killed themselves and stopped there. But murdering your kids crosses the line. What bothered me then and bothers me now, is all those who make excuses for the murderous parents - taking care of autistic children is too hard.

Well, I got this comment from Bob on the September post. My commenting system wasn't working and it never came through. So here it is.
You sound smug; I can't help but wonder if you'd still be such a "happy father" if you were beaten and abused every day and knocked unconscious and ultimately hospitalized. All without a whole heck of a lot of support from your spouse.
Of course I wouldn't be a happy father if I were hospitalized by my kid and had a crappy spouse. I think that's a pretty easy question.

Would this give me an excuse to murder my kid? Of course not.

Is this your situation? If so, I feel sorry for you. If I were in your shoes I would be very unhappy. I would try to get help with my own non-violent communication skills and work out ways to attempt to diffuse the situation. I would also try to get help for my (obviously quite grown up) child to see if their anger could be properly regulated and other modes of expression could be worked in.

The closest we came to this was when our child was pre-verbal and was unable to express his anger. This became so frustrating for him that he would kick and hit us. Luckily he was only a toddler and he began to speak a year or so ago and this has diffused the situation greatly. I realize this is not the case with many autistic children and some adults.

If all else fails, I would attempt to get the child put into a home or even try to give him up to the state. Perhaps even child protective services. Also, to me this case you bring up seems to be in a different category than these other cases, where the child was smaller and the mother didn't seem to be doing it in self-defence but rather as a kind of mercy killing (because apparently being autistic could be worse than death).

But in the end, this is your child. You don't kill them and then excuse yourself because they are autistic. These are human beings and they deserve to live.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Mother Kills Her Autistic Son... Again...

So, after this and this, it's gone and happened ... again. Yet another mother has killed her kid and herself, presumably because death is preferable than her having to care for an autistic child.  Or perhaps it's preferable, in today's society, to be a dead autistic child than a living one?

LINK: Mother-son deaths at west-side apartment ruled murder, suicide

Image from a 1960s experiment where they tried to violently yell and slap the autism out of children. (source)
In any event, all it took was a single small indication in the story that the child was autistic and people leaped to the defense of mother April Veraghen, who apparently was of the mind that if she wasn't up to task for parenting the child then nobody else bloody was going to get a chance.

you know what though you didn't her and what she was going through and yes it was wrong for her to kill her son but in her eyes she know he would be better off dead then alive with his family because you don't know how his family could be towards him. and she was only doing what she thought would be better for him.
Posts like this make me wonder whether autistic people are seen as people. Who is this woman to determine by fiat that she can murder her son because, perhaps, she doesn't think he'll do well with family? I'm sorry, but killing your son because you think it would be better for him is just not acceptable. And is death preferable to being autistic?

Severe autism is a RELENTLESS disorder that never ever takes a break. It's easy for you to stand in judgement, consider yourself lucky that you have never been so beaten down by a disorder that has NO sympathy and NO consistent treatment. It is attitudes like yours that are part of the problem.

Look, I know it's not easy. But killing your kid is never an option, even if things are really hard. If you cannot take care of your child then you will need to give them up to relatives, hospice, the state.

More sympathy for mom. And I'm not sure how I would feel if I were her son and she showed up in Heaven. I'd likely ask her why she killed me. I wonder if religious belief factored into this at any point? Did she believe God would forgive her, "fix" her son and they would "live" happily ever after in the after?

All I know that this is very sad ... I don't know April or what silent suffering she was dealing with .... I'm not justifying what happened , but it sounds to me she needed help and never got it .... I will pray to God that he forgives April so her son will have his mom beside him in heaven .....
And then there is a plea to not condemn mom because there are family and friends trying to cope. I can sympathize with this to a degree, but what about friends and family trying to cope with the death of this child?

While we are all busy condemning this mother, we need to realize that the son was not the only one with issues. Her world, in her mind was spinning out of control. It's easy to mention all the alternatives, but did anyone offer them to her? Instead of name calling every one of us should reach out to someone else today and try to make a difference in just one other person's life - you just might be saving it. Let's also remember that there are family and friends trying to cope. If you now them, reach out.
I admire the sentiment and much of the message I agree with wholeheartedly. But this does not excuse the mother's conduct in any way.

Notice how they put themselves into the shoes of the mother and really identify with her. Her mind was spinning out of control. She was dealing with silent suffering. She was beaten down. She was only doing what she thought better for him.

What a martyr to have suffered and died caring for an autistic child. I'm happy that we had a couple of reasonable responses.

What about the child? What do you think he was feeling? Do you not think he knew something was strange that day when mamma told him to take all that medicine?

To everyone trying to give this "mother/monster," ANY sympathy, be ashamed. There is no justification for this crime! I am starting to lose track of the number of murders of disabled people by their caregivers, this is Not a failure of the system, or a lack of resources! This woman is a child murderer, unworthy any sympathy or compassion.

THANK YOU. As a father of an autistic child and a husband of an autistic woman, I'm happy someone else sees the victims as people who deserve to live and who's lives have just as much value as neurotypical people.

Commenter Michelle Skigen wins the prize for quoting a response from an autistic person to this inexcusable inexcusable defense of murder.

There was a post, by an amazing lady, in another thread about this, and I HAD to share her thoughts, because they are totally spot-on to the situation --- Emily writes: See, here's the thing. A lot of us are autistic. We've grown up watching parents and caregivers who murder their autistic and/or otherwise disabled children, adult children, or people they care for kill us *and get away with a slap on the wrist if anything* and listening to people attempt to justify or explain away or sympathize with these murderers. There, I said it. MURDERERS.
It keeps going. I really suggest you visit the page and read the whole thing to get a better understanding that killing off an autistic person is murder -- no matter how hard it is for you personally to deal with them.

Monday, 6 January 2014

5 Ways Parents Abuse Their Autistic Children

Okay, first-off, I need to get one thing off my chest here.

As a blogger, I really cannot stand the formulaic list post that tell you N Ways or N Most or N Best, etc. It brings back horrible memories of those terrible countdown television programmes back when I used to watch it outside the safe confines of Netflix or Crackle.

Okay, so here's an article in Forbes that my wife pointed out to me. Given my utter revulsion at the alternative Autism treatment racket, I cannot help but pass it on. Read the woo and feel sorry for the children.

The 5 Scariest Autism 'Treatments'

This is a really good article that sums these dangerous and abusive treatments up really well. Author, Emily Willingham also provides links to her own scientific demonstrations of just how harmful or insane they are.

I'd quote more from the post but it seems like I'm unable to actually select any text on the page. No matter, I actually manually transcribed this part since so few horrendous treatments still rise up to be surprising to me and this one was one nasty surprise.
2. Chemical castration. Burning off the lining of an autistic child's intestines might seem pretty horrific, but it can pale in comparison to the tragedy that is chemical castration to "treat" autism. I have previously broken down the background of this concept, introduced to the world of autism treatment by the now notorious father-son team of the Geiers. These two, in a 20-year-long run of damage, might now be reaching the end of their particular race. The father has had his medical license stripped in several states. That didn't stop the Geiers père et fils from recently filing a patent for the chemical castration protocol.
How utterly nonsensical and ghastly. Have we fallen back into some kind of eugenic nightmare?

And it hits me at a personal level. Both my son and wife are autistic.

Anyway, go check it out and prepare yourself for the next time you run into someone who's convinced feeding bleach to children or injecting their own feces into their kid's butt is a good idea.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Disgusting Autism Research From The 1960s

(source)
You may already know that I am the happy father of a four year old autistic boy- who is simply amazing!

Granted, I started out really scared and a little sad when we first got the diagnosis. Then I would find myself getting down about some of his behaviours at first as well -- like at the poo poo park.

But in the past six months or so, he's changed and I've changed. He's talking now and tells me he's my best friend and that I'm his best friend. He's right! I will cherish this for as long as I can, because I don't know where we'll be at when he's in his teens.

I've come to totally accept him and his stimming. My concern about it was my problem and not his in any way. It's who he is and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Now a couple of days ago, my wife sent me this photo essay about a study done in 1964 where researchers physically and verbally abused little kids. Because they're mentally crippled. How did these people sleep at night?

Screams, Slaps & LoveA surprising, shocking treatment helps far-gone mental cripples

Okay, where the hell do I start with this? It's thoroughly disturbing and depressing - not at all because the children are autistic but because of the horrendous treatment of the children!

By helping they mean yelling and beating them until they must do something - anything - to defend themselves. Children who cannot defend themselves.
They have taken on three boys and a girl with a special form of schizophrenia called autism — utterly withdrawn children whose minds are sealed against all human contact and whose uncontrolled madness had turned their homes into hells (p. 96). And, by alternating methods of shocking roughness with persistent and loving attention, the researchers have broken through the first barriers. 
Roughness and persistent and loving attention -- like cycles of abuse.

Researcher slapping this kid in the face. (source)
The process involved yelling, slapping and electrocution to get them to stop their stimming habits -- for the sake of their parents and everyone around them.
At one point Pamela had been making progress, learning to read a little, speak a few words sensibly. But then she came to a blank wall, drifting off during lessons into her wild expressions and gesticulations. Scoldings and stern shakings did nothing. Like many autistic children, Pamela simply did not have enough anxiety to be frightened.
What the hell? They apparently need to be scared out of their minds to learn. So after being shaken and scolded, they decide to electrocute her.
To give her something to be anxious about, she was taken to the shock room, where the floor is laced with metallic strips. Two electrodes were put on her bare back, and her shoes removed.
After being scolded, shaken and electrocuted, she attempts to hug the researcher with instinctive cunning. Perhaps get a little mercy out of him. The researcher denies her and insists she continue with her lessons. I wonder if he ever considered why she didn't want to do the lessons, that she would be punished if she failed or perhaps she may not believe she is capable.

Then, just like an abusive parent, the researchers would come in and offer affection and cuddling as if there was nothing wrong with the previous abuse.
Even more than punishment, patience and tenderness are lavished on the children by the staff. Every hour of lesson time has a 10-minute break for affectionate play. The key to the program is a painstaking system of rewarding the children —first with food and later with approval — whenever they do something correctly. These four were picked because they are avid eaters to whom food is very important. In the first months they got no regular meals. Spoonfuls of food were doled out only for right answers.
Go read it. You need to read it to believe it.

Original caption: 'Like a fragile Buddha, Chuck sits endlessly contemplating nothing while mutely rocking
back and forth.'
Or he could be stimming to try to deal with the fact he's being tortured. (source)

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Mother Who Tries To Kill Her Daughter Starts Fundraiser For Legal Defence Fund

Quinn, a ~18 month old autistic boy, obsessively
stacking cans. (source)
So a couple of days ago I posted my perspective, as the father of an autistic child, about mothers who try to kill their autistic children and get sympathy from people.

It seems as if the most heinous and unforgivable crime towards neurotypical children becomes an object of sympathy and pity for the mother if the child is autistic.

Well now blogger Kelli Stapleton, who tried to kill herself and her autistic daughter by asphyxiation in her van, has set up a fundraiser online to collect money for her legal defence fund.

Kelli Stapleton supporters help legal defense in alleged poisoning of autistic daughter, herself

The Friends of Kelli Stapleton need $25,000. They've made $2,600 so far. It seems that people are not lining up with their credit cards.
Our friend Kelli Stapleton is currently being held in jail without bond, awaiting further action regarding a tragic incident with her autistic daughter. We believe in Kelli. We believe in her right to a fair and just trial with proper legal counsel and experts in these extreme circumstances. 
I wonder why she's being held without bond? It could be because this tragic incident with her autistic daughter was actually her trying to kill her own child. I'm pretty sure is a no-no no matter how fed up you are with her behaviour.  We're not living in Biblical times anymore here.

I'll admit that I'm Canadian and so do not understand how lawyer fees work in America (or here really). But doesn't one get a lawyer with or without $25,000?

Anyway, the updates page on the fundraiser has this to say about the role autism had.
Autism plays a role in this situation but this issue goes beyond autism, it includes any parent who is being abused by their child. Feeling hopeless and responsible for a child who is harming you is overwhelming. Kelli needs help to ensure she is able to give that message. Legal fees and attorney's are expensive and we realize the cost will most likely quadruple but we wanted to set a goal that is realistic and attainable in a short time. 
The fact is, Kelli could not care for her daughter and her attempt to kill her is a clear sign that her daughter would be safer outside her house in alternate care.

I agree, Kelli needs to be psychologically assessed and provided treatment - as with any other mother who tries to murder her daughter, autistic or not. Then, like any other mother in this situation, regardless of the behaviour of her 14 year old daughter, Kelli needs to go before a judge and answer for her behaviour. Perhaps she can plead insanity or temporary insanity.  Again, autism is not the problem here.

If your child hits and abuses you and you cannot cope with this, you need to seek help or even give the child you. Killing the child is never an option.

Comments to the story are encouraging.


Yes, Paula, I agree completely.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Another mother tries to kill her autistic children, and succeeds.

Autism-stacking-cans 2nd edit" src="//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d1/Autism-stacking-cans_2nd_edit.jpg
Subject: Quinn, an ~18 month old autistic child, 
obsessively stacking cans (source).
Some of you may know that I am the happy father of a wonderful autistic four year old. So occasionally, I read a story about Autism that probably has very little to do with atheism that still ticks me off just enough to write about it here.

So first we have Satpal Kaur-Singh who made her autistic son drink bleach and die in the UK back in 2010. She gave him a lethal drink and then she tried to kill herself. All of this was because social workers advised her they would be taking her son away as they didn't see her as in a fit enough state to care for him.

Chicago area Dorothy Spourdalakis and Jolanta Agata Skrodzka were involved in the killing of Dorothy's 14-year old autistic son, Alex. They apparently grew frustrated with the lack of resources available to help care for the boy. Department of Children and Family Services offered her help, but apparently she declined.

The fraudster doctor Andrew Wakefield even made Youtube video to appeal for aid for the child.  Alex had severe gastrointestinal problems that would send him into violent rages.

There has been some speculation that MMS (bleach drinking), an alternative and unproven woo-based autism cure, might have contributed to this problem - but this is just speculation and rumour. I wouldn't be surprised though if she were in cahoots with the anti-vaccination and alternative treatment crowd.

Now just this month, Kelli Stapleton, a blogger who wrote the depressing sounding Status Woe, decided to end her life and the life of her autistic daughter, Issy. She sat herself and her daughter in her mini van and burned coals inside with the windows rolled up.

They both ended up in the hospital in bad shape after the father found them. He had received a messed up call from her.

It seems as if Kelli's concern was they would not have enough money to continue therapy for her daughter (private insurance). So rather than deal with her own disappointment that her daughter may have to take a break from therapy - instead of just loving her and treating her the best she could on her own! - she tried to kill her. Thanks, mom.

And now it's happened again.

Mother 'killed autistic son, 13, and daughter, 10, and left them in a hotel before trying to kill herself by crashing propane-filled car'

Okay, there is a real problem here. What's with the sudden rash of mothers killing their autistic children?

In this latest case, the mother, Marilyn Edge, believed that vaccines caused her son Jaelen's autism and tried to sue to government.  She lost because her case was based on woo. She then decided to kill her kids and herself, because - you know- that's what's best for everyone.

This is of course insane. But what get's me is the comments on the news coverage of this event. At the blog Justice For All, blogger Alyssa points to several news releases. All but one do not mention that the son is autistic.

Anyone who peruses the comments will notice a marked difference here. On the articles that do not mention Jaelen's autism all the comments condemned the mother with no excuses. They were actually rather ruthless with the mother and the more compassionate ones simply could not fathom why she would kill her own children. However, on the article that mentioned her son's autism, many people started making excuses for the mothers actions. Who could blame her, right? Her son was autistic - there's an excuse for filicide. They wouldn't condone such a thing but...
Autism can be deadly and often is. Autism is not the need for awareness. a picnic in the park, an illness we must accept. I am dead right when I tell you that autism is the worst man made disease in the history of medicine. Maurine Meleck SC grandmother to 1 in 31(vaccine injured)
Yes, deadly when mom decides to kill you. What does this have to do with autism awareness, exactly? How about don't kill your kids awareness.  Or blame vaccines - a scientifically unproven link. Yes, they are the guilty ones here.
Unless you walk in the shoes of a parent with a child with Autism, you will never know the desperation and depression these parents feel. She clearly tried to take her own life and took her kids' lives because she reached a dead end. Tragic!
You do not kill your kids when you reach a dead end. This is not an excuse but it seems to be echoed on the article where it is stated the son has autism.
Terrible story. Autism is so taxing on married couples, it must be awful when you are single and financially hurting. What lengths people will go to is astounding.
Poor mom. No, wait, poor kids! What are you talking about?!?
Where was the father to help her out. Especially with a disabled child...... Oh wait ....
Who cares where dad was. She killed her kids. But she had to take care of an autistic child, so I guess that explains that.
Autism is caused by Aspartame.
Why is it all of a sudden about Autism when it's mentioned but none of this nonsense came up in the other articles? Really?
Maybe she lacked the resources to help her children - care can cost in the hundreds of thousand even millions for an autistic child over their lifetime. I'm not condoning what she did but simply trying tonunderstand what lead to her desperate actions. I'm sure that they will paint it as her ridding herself of the burden of these kids which may or not be true. My heart goes out to the kids.
And...
As the sister of a person with severe mental disability, I know it is all too common for caretakers of the handicapped, and particularly severely autistic children, to "snap" like this. Being a parent to someone who is severely autistic can be a miserable, thankless job...these kids are iincapable of any interaction -no smiles, no words, no sign of any affection or even recognition. This is in NO WAY an excuse, I don't condone her actions, but I do wish there was support available to parents of these children who feel and essentially are trapped for life. All adoption and foster care officials will tell you that there are no homes waiting for these children, and if entered in the system they will likely end up in truly miserable conditions. Knowing this problem exists, I wish there were better options available, ways to relieve some of the daily, never-ending pressures of being the caregiver to someone so demanding and helpless. It's a terrible tragedy that occurs too often.
Yes, I realize that this is no walk in the park. Autistic children often have special needs that can be a challenge to find resources to meet. But for whom is this a thankless job, exactly? Who lost their cope? Was she doing the kids any favours by killing them or just for herself? Although these children are incapable of interaction and smiles and words, does this give us the excuse to kill them - apparently because it disappoints and upsets us?

Thankfully, there were many good comments from autistic adults who weren't going to take this insanity.
I am an Autistic adult and none of you realize every time someone say "walk in the mother's shoes" or "lack of services caused this" you are verbally stabbing one of us in the heart! Stop, just stop!!!!!
Editor's Update 2013-09-19 7:44am ET: I believe I just caught and replaced all phrases "children with autism" and replaced them with "autistic children". The difference can be subtle to many and I leave it as an exercise to my readers to consider this. Thanks so much to my wife, Kelly, for pointing this out!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Jenny McCarthy Is Working For Big Tobacco Now

Jenny McCarthy blowing smoke from an e-cigarette that
contains tobacco and anti-freeze.
My four year old son has high functioning autism. So I've heard both sides of the whole Jenny McCarthy MMR vaccines-cause-autism fiasco.

We got our son vaccinated because there is no credible scientific proof that vaccines do cause autism. In fact, the original study that prompted all this was retracted three years ago.

We wanted our child to be vaccinated against diseases that could seriously harm him or even kill him.

Well, now Jenny McCarthy is saying: tobacco good and vaccine bad. Have we just landed back into the 1950s?

Sullivan (Matt Carey) over at Left Brain Right Brain has this excellent commentary:

Jenny McCarthy, shilling for big tobacco

In addition to pure nicotine, the e-cigs contain propylene glycol, which is what Jenny and her anti-vaxer ilk claim to be a cause for concern in vaccines. I understand that newborns aren't going to be smoking e-cigs but it's more than a little ironic. And then there's second hand smoke.
“Propylene Glycol“. That’s a form of antifreeze. A form that has been approved by the FDA for some food uses. Ms. McCarthy and her team falsely claimed that vaccines contain “antifreeze”. It’s scary in vaccines but OK in an e-cigarette. Is propylene glycol scary? No. But there is heavy irony in her promoting a product using an antifreeze after using this term (falsely) as a scare tactic about vaccines.
Go read it and prepare to be infuriated.

Editor's Note 2013-08-12: Here's another excellent article at the Globe and Mail: Why there’s nothing sexy about Jenny McCarthy’s e-cigarette commercial


Editor's Note 2013-08-12: I realized that I added "second hand smoke" which may actually not be nearly as bad as regular cigarettes. The science still hasn't been done on this yet so nobody really knows.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

A Plea To Autism Theorists: Test Your Theories! But Should It Be Them Doing The Testing?

Bottle of Household Bleaching Solution.
Some of you may remember reading my posts about the epidemic of outright quackery in the autism community. Eventually, I just got fed up with the extreme level of woo when it comes to untested treatments of autism out there: In Need of Woo-Less Help For Parents of Autistic Children.

Here is my rant.
Then there is the insane den of woo that is Autism One.  It decks itself out as being a legitimate scientific convention and forum for parents to have access to the latest in therapies.  But it turns out to be a forum for self-serving entrepreneurs to peddle unscientific, abusive and dangerous so-called treatments for Autism. Downright dangerous woo. 
But what's my point here?  My point is, it would be nice to have an organization out there to help support parents of children with Autism who are skeptical and rational.  Those of us who are not prone to jump onto the woo and religious bandwagons and for whom these crutches that people often reach for in times of utter desperation are no better than smoke and mirrors. 
Fellow skeptics, humanists and atheists, lend me your ear.  Does such a group exist?
Well, there is a similar sentiment in a recent article by Andrew Whitehouse, professor Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia.

Dear autism theorists, please stump up or shut up

For anyone else out there who doesn't know, stump up means to unwillingly pay for something. Essentially, it means pay your dues.

Like what I've been saying, much of the woo seems to be sincerely believed by its providers. There is an extreme desperation by loving parents and sympathetic people to find proper treatments for autistic children. Often, the mainstream medical community - the faces of which are doctors who are often improperly educated concerning autism - have unwittingly stood in their way.

My wife had to fight for two years with health professional after health professional until she was able to find a trained psychologist who could even diagnose our son's condition. And then there are the endless lines for government provided therapies that force us to seek out private providers.  It's no wonder parents of autistic children often give up hope in science based medicine as they watch their children's development flag and fall behind their peers, as they stand hopelessly while the window of optimal treatment opportunity closes before them with each passing day. It's not medical science itself, it's the implementation - the machine - that is at fault.

Whitehouse points out this problem. The problem of woo.
Taking autism as an example, there exists theories that vaccines, wi-fi, electronic media, and milk, cause the disorder. We also have people claiming that diet changes, bowel bleaching, and homeopathy can ‘cure’ the condition. 
All of these theories are scientifically unproven.
Like me, Whitehouse has serious problems watching families be worn down with untested treatment after treatment. Some waste thousands into unproven pseudo-science.
It is troubling to see families believe theory after theory, and try treatment after treatment, in the hope that these may help their child. It’s distressing to see hopes dashed time and again, but only after significant amounts of money has been expended. The needless drain on the energy, time and emotional capital of families breaks just about every code that we, as health practitioners and researchers, stand for when we seek to help those in need.
Whitehouse then offers a challenge - test your scientific theories.
But what people must do is test their theories. It is no longer acceptable to begin and end with the proposal of a theory. If you have a theory, then scientifically test it.
I agree completely with the sentiment! Believe me, these theories need to be either scientifically demonstrated or clearly shown to have no benefit whatsoever. And our family has even taken up this approach by limiting our intake of gluten - both parents and child.

But I understand that my little experiment is not a scientific study.
Here’s my challenge to those who have a theory: scientifically test your theories, or stop promoting them.
Again, I agree with the principle. But I would be very careful to qualify this appropriately. I would wager that the majority of people promoting alternative autism treatments actually do believe they are being scientific! Like the person who believes in scientific evidence of his daily God-affirming experiences, many of these people are also likely to be feeding off their own subjective confirmation biases and do not possess a firm enough grasp on the nuts and bolts of proper scientific method to truly do meaningful scientific research.

Remember, not eating wheat is one thing - that kind of scientific (or rather anecdotal) experimentation is rather harmless. It's when the stakes are even more high - when the experiment could be seen as abusive to any ethics committee, that we run into a serious problem.

Like when parents poison their children with bleach, or when they inject their children's anuses with their own fecal matter, or when they stop vaccinating them and compromise heard immunity.

Scientists should be doing the real science. But I'm also all for parents experimenting with alternate remedies. My only concern is with the stakes so high, with emotions of desperation so strong, who will serve as their objective ethics committee?  Who will be there to make sure they don't go too far?


Children standing in front of Kasese Humanist Primary School.
I've started a fundraiser to help build classrooms on newly purchased land for the Kasese Humanist Primary School.

Please consider donating!

Build a Humanist School in Uganda!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Turkish Sociologist Who Declared Link Between Atheism And Autism Apologizes (Sort of)

So around a week ago, I posted about Turkish sociologist Fehmi Kaya, head of the Health and Education Associations for Autistic Children who made the crackpot declaration that all autistic children are atheists and that atheism is actually a form of autism. Ironically, I was too busy today bringing my atheist son (un-indoctrinated) to an interview at a special school for autistic children to comment on the latest developments in this sad story, but here it is now.

Turkish Sociologist Fehmi Kaya Apologises For Suggesting Link Between Atheism And Autism

Right, so I think The Huffington Post left out the word NON from the front of Apologises in their headline, because if any apology exists there than it must be an absolutely perfect specimen of the genus non-apologetica. I'm sure the apology botanist readers will agree with me once forage through the article and present to you what's not merely rehash of previous reports.

Wikepedia has this to say about non-apologies:
A non-apology apology is a statement that has the form of an apology but does not express the expected contrition. It is common in both politics and public relations. It most commonly entails the speaker saying that he or she is sorry not for a behavior, statement or misdeed, but rather is sorry only because a person who has been aggrieved is requesting the apology, expressing a grievance, or is threatening some form of retribution or retaliation. 
An example of a non-apology apology would be saying "I'm sorry that you feel that way" to someone who has been offended by a statement. This apology does not admit that there was anything wrong with the remarks made, and additionally, it may be taken as insinuating that the person taking offense was excessively thin-skinned or irrational in taking offense at the remarks in the first place.
Now, observe exhibit #1:
The comments have caused a media storm in the country, with Turkish autism charities condemning the statement.
“This is a statement that could upset around 3.5 to 4 million people." 
Adem Kuyumcu, A Life Without Disabilities Association chairperson, told bianet: "We can't sue the association chair for his remarks, but we fear that the unscientific therapy practice could spread across the country," he said.
This demonstrates that his remarks are unfortunate in that they caused a veritable shit-storm of controversy across the country and drew some very negative international attention towards Turkey as well. This media shit-storm is key characteristic #1 in the formation of any good non-apology.

Observe exhibit #2:
Kaya, whose organisation is based in the southern Turkish city of Adana, said in a statement, intended for broadcast on Turkish television, that his remarks had been taken out of context, but apologised to families he had offended.
Notice how he isn't admitting he was wrong in any way or that he was doing anything wrong or misguided. He is only apologizes to families he had offended. This is classic non-apology makeup. I'm sorry what I said offended anyone. Now perhaps his words were taken out of context and we was misrepresented. But I see no alteration in his original course. The Huffington Post re-iterates his plans to  treat autism with a little good-ol' churchin'.
He explained plans for his organisation to hold sessions to help autistic children embrace religion, set to begin in June, according to Hürriyet.
The articles gives a couple of good follow-up comments from president of Atheist UK psychologist Mark Embleton and Carlos Diaz, president of the Atheist Alliance International. It ends to a link to a 2011 University of Boston study suggesting a higher propensity towards atheism amongst high functioning autistics. This is an intriguing study, but I have yet to hear of any other collaborating studies.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Turkish Sociologist: All Autistic Children Are Atheists And Atheism Is A Form Of Autism

Fehmi Kaya
Okay, so everyone knows I'm an atheist.  The blog title gives that one away. But some of you may not know I have a son with autism. So, this next story fires so many triggers on an emotional level with me that I'm really not sure where to begin.

All autistic children are atheists and atheism is a form of autism, says association head

This gem comes from the Hürriyet Daily News in Turkey.

It seems that sociologist Fehmi Kaya, who's the head of the Adana’s Health and Education Associations for Autistic Children is convinced that autistic children are “atheists due to a lack of a section for faith in their brains.”  He went even further and diagnosed atheism as a form of autism.

This, naturally, caused a great deal of outrage among autism associations around Turkey. Now, I find it outrageous because there appears to be no credible scientific study to back it up.  And if it is true that people with autism are statistically more likely to be atheists, then what's the problem?  In this sense they likely see the world more clearly than many neurotypical people who's brains seem to fall prey to superstitious mumbo jumbo.

But I suspect many people in Turkey (and pretty much everywhere outside of Sweden) find it downright threatening.  Because being identified as an atheist there is unlikely to help anyone who already has the sufficiently burdensome challenges of being on the spectrum or caring for someone who is autistic.  It's more than likely going to compound any problems you would already have navigating the healthcare system trying to find plausible treatments.
“The message I wished to give was not about autism and atheism, but to highlight that these children cannot communicate, cannot form empathy, live in their own worlds and are isolated. I meant that we should take them out of their isolation with proper therapy methods,” he said.
So these autistic kids (aka atheists), cannot form empathy and live in their own worlds.  Apparently a belief in god - faith - is an essential component for this. Teach them to believe in god and their empathy points will go through the roof.  Sure, we've all seen that play out over and over again ever since the Old Testament genocides.

But if there is anything that makes us human is the humane in all of us. The ability of empathizing with others forms the very bedrock of many ethical theories out there.  It makes me wonder a little what Kaya thinks about atheists.

He goes on to say that faith is a normal development in neurotypical children, while children on the spectrum are not aware of why people believe and so, like people with a hearing disability. And apparently what we need is proper therapy methods.

Kaya's solution to this problem? Brainwash the children until they share the same delusions as normal children.
Kaya also said they would turn autistic children into believers through sessions that would be offered for free at therapy centers in the future.  
The sessions, which have been confirmed by the Culture Houses of Adana’s Yüreğir Municipality, are set to start in June and will be able to serve over 30 children. The same houses will also offer further therapy sessions for children with disabilities. 
The story ends with Kaya asserting “every child understands when you tell him or her to fear God, but an autistic child will not.” So, naturally, one must brainwash the child and force this fear into them.  Because everyone knows that anyone who doesn't believe in a god and fear him is abnormal.

This is nothing new of course.  I cannot count the number of times I've heard people say that the cure to all our woes is belief in Jesus Christ.  He's essentially suggesting putting autistic children into churches. Here it's likely to be a belief in the prophet Muhammed.
“Once he starts to develop normally, belief will come in time. "
So... angry... so... angry...

The autism community is known here in North America for being soaked with woo.  It can range from the mildly amusing - hyperbaric oxygen treatment - to the downright criminally harmful: anti-vaxers and people who force their kids to drink bleach or injecting their butts with fecal matter.  But, truly, this takes the cake.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

In Need of Woo-Less Help For Parents of Autistic Children

(source)
I don't usually complain about my personal life on this blog, but today was rough, really rough.

Both my wife and I likely picked up a bad cold from our son, who has apparently completely gotten over the one that's been dogging him over the past week.

His cold has been responsible for much lost sleep for us and him both but today he was fine and we're entering into the worst of our own infections.  It's a den of plague and suffering at the household this weekend.

To make things a little worse, my son is on the Autism Spectrum.  We love him dearly, but it can be a real challenge to our nerves dealing with him sometimes.  Just imagine the usual battle of wills and arguments that three year olds present on steroids. And he's full of near-hyperactive energy and bored while we're having a hard time keeping our eyes open. Today was a test of will.  For a brief moment I thought of the support groups out there an how parents who believe in a god cope.  Is it easier for them?

A simple search for autism and prayer brings up Autism Sunday which we just missed by a couple of weeks.
Autism Sunday, also known as the International Day of Prayer for Autism and Asperger syndrome, is observed annually on the second Sunday of February.
This seems like a fairly innocuous event.  Although the prayer achieves nothing whatsoever, it's nice to know people are at least meditating on the problem and focusing in on it.  One can only hope that some people take the next step and do something substantial rather than believing a simple prayer is enough.

But then things start taking a turn for the worse with this article at Pat Robertson's 700 Club, MIRACLE Indonesian Boy Healed of Autism.
"I thanked God because He was starting to heal William," Hilda says crying. "I was so joyful. He began to understand when we would call him. And when we would ask him his colors, he answered correctly." 
William quickly progressed to the point where he was able to attend a regular school with children his age. God had healed him of autism!
I'm happy to hear this boy is doing better now, but what does this do for others with this problem? If only God could be a more effective cure for all those other children with Autism.  I guess he works in mysterious ways.  At the end of the day, it's woo.

Then there's the Child of Destiny website.
JACK AND REBECCA SYTSEMA are both ordained Christian ministers who have been involved in international prayer ministry since 1993. They have also been involved with many autism groups over the past several years.
On their page Autism Strategic Prayer Network, they call upon people to pray daily to get God to help scientists out in finding cures and treatment strategies.
Because we believe so strongly in the power of prayer, we at Children of Destiny are now working to compile a list of people who feel called to pray for what is going on in the autism world. This network of people, who will be known as the Autism Strategic Prayer Network (ASPN), would be receiving periodic, as well as emergency, emails asking for prayer for important issues, events, and occurrences related to autism. 
Our goal in forming the ASPN is to identify and network intercessors who feel particularly called to pray at this level, and to make a significant impact in the world of autism through the power of prayer. The three main prayer objectives we focus on are:

1. That any and all causes of autism be exposed and recognized by those in authority so that the epidemic of autism is stopped;
 
2. That God would give strategy for how to best help those with autism medically, educationally, and spiritually; 
3. Those who are affected by autism would have all the necessary medical, educational, and spiritual resources available to them.
I know, I know.  What kind of lousy messed up God would even bring Autism into this world and why would he need such insistant prodding?  But I am not tempted to point out what a dick head he is.  Instead, I can only see that, as Christian ministers, this is what they have to lean on for comfort and support.  This is their support network when things get tough.  Of course it doesn't help and does nothing concretely for their goal, but it's not about that.  It's about community and shared suffering and challenges.  It's a shame it has got to have so much woo.

Then there is the insane den of woo that is Autism One.  It decks itself out as being a legitimate scientific convention and forum for parents to have access to the latest in therapies.  But it turns out to be a forum for self-serving entrepreneurs to peddle unscientific, abusive and dangerous so-called treatments for Autism. Downright dangerous woo.

But what's my point here?  My point is, it would be nice to have an organization out there to help support parents of children with Autism who are skeptical and rational.  Those of us who are not prone to jump onto the woo and religious bandwagons and for whom these crutches that people often reach for in times of utter desperation are no better than smoke and mirrors.

Fellow skeptics, humanists and atheists, lend me your ear.  Does such a group exist?

Friday, 18 January 2013

Fecal Transplants: Woo Stops Being Funny When Parents Abuse Their Autistic Kids

Fecal bacteria picture.
Fecal bacteria at 10,000× magnification (source: Wikipedia)
I'll warn you that this post is disturbing, sad and anger-inducing.  It's also rather disgusting, so you've been warned.

Awhile ago my wife Kelly showed me a disturbing new trend in alternative treatments for Autism.  It's called MMS, otherwise known as feeding your kids bleach.  Well, the story gets even more repugnant.

While researching MMS, she came upon another utterly repulsive and dangerous form of abuse that's being encouraged by some pretty sick individuals posing as experts.


Her post covers not only the previously discussed MMS therapy but the absolutely horrendous, beyond words, absolutely abusive practice of fecal transplants.

Yes.  You read right.  And it's just as disgusting as it sounds.



This is on helpless children - forced of course.

I'm not saying this is not a valid and effective treatment in some circumstances practiced by medical professionals.  It's very effective in eliminating C. difficile.  But there is no evidence yet this has any effect on Autism and there is a big difference between getting this treatment in a hospital environment and mom chasing after her kid with a cake icing cone!  People!  Wait until there is some evidence it does some good before you start playing with your feces!

This is an example of pseudoscience that is really hurting people who are already suffering: both the autistic child and their family.  As the father of an autistic child, this makes me sick to my stomach.

I usually try to keep Friday posts light, but this needs to be exposed for what it is - pure abuse by parents who obviously have crossed the threshold and are now in need of psychological help.

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.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Gluten

Back in August, while writing about the occasional near-charlatanism and general wooery found at the fringes of Montreal's first Autism convention, (which was otherwise fantastic), I made a sort of confession:
We are also moving toward a more gluten free diet.  It's something I heard works but there is no scientific evidence.   We are not considering a move towards elimination of casein.  Of course, there is no real scientific motivation for choosing one, both or neither.
We did this partially for ourselves - as an experiment - but mostly for our three-year old son who is on the spectrum.

The response I got from the Atheist and skeptical community was surprisingly understanding - not as angry as I was afraid of it being.

Well, it's been around three months now that I've been mostly gluten-free and we've stopped feeding our son products that contain wheat.  He's still eating kamut-based bread but no enriched flour or other wheat products.

It's surprisingly easy in Canada to do this - there is plenty out there that we can use and I'm confident my family is not missing out on nutrition.  However, my wife and I sometimes still break the rules and my son still gets fed regular pasta at daycare.

I'll have to say that I've noticed a difference, both when off the gluten and when I backslide back into it.         Wheat seems to put me into a daze for some reason - perhaps it's the caloric spike?  I'm pretty sure there may be something here but there is nothing scientific to back it up and it all could be placebo and other things.

There are also days - like yesterday - where we find our son zoning out, stimming, humming, eye rolling and head smashing much more than usual.  Basically going nuts more than usual.  So we ask ourselves, is there anything different about today?  With his routine or diet? And sure enough, we gave him regular Cheerios that morning and the morning before to get rid of them.  He ate them with great gusto where he hadn't been eating them before.

I realize this is merely anecdotal evidence.  There is nothing scientific here.  But we can't help but notice this.  And trust me, if even the mere illusion of a calmer environment is attainable from a simple change of diet then we will try it - as do many other parents of autistic children.  We want to do what works because things can become exhausting very quickly otherwise.

But the skeptic in me still feels a little dirty here.  Have I sold out to woo?  Are vibrating crystals next?

I would like to think that my redeeming grace here is that I know there is no scientific proof currently backing any of this up.  I have a little hope and it seems to do something for us - even if it's a placebo of some kind.  But I do not know that it's really effective and therefore I do not have faith in anything per se.

The last thing I would want to do is foist this diet upon anyone else.  And I realize that there is no scientific basis for it.  But in the end - it seems to be doing something positive for the family.

Perhaps my son's gut doesn't need to work as hard to digest non-wheat products - he was tested for celiac disease but came out false, but maybe he has some kind of intolerance that agitates him and this behaviour is how it manifests.  Or perhaps it's a shared project between my wife and me that gives us some sense of control over the situation and the calming effect of this changes our moods and is picked up by our son and, in turn, calms him?  Who knows?

All anyone knows is the science has not yet found that gluten or wheat-free diets improve the lives of autistic children and their parents.  And until it shows otherwise, what I'm doing is merely an experiment with no scientific basis.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Apraxia

Kaufman speech cards are used to treat Apraxia.
This post is only peripherally about Atheism.  It's a post about my personal life and how my wife and I are attempting to properly identify and treat our son's developmental delays.

But, in the end, it's often day-to-day life experiences that really remind people why they believe or do not believe in a god.

Much has changed since the last post about my son and his Autism/ASD.

Maybe it's because he's getting bigger and it's a littler harder to handle, but he seems to be having sensory overloads a little more often these days.  Maybe it's all the doctor appointments - he's tired!  An overload usually means him flailing about the room thrashing his head around and generally being completely hyperactive.  Wrapping him in a weighted blanket often seems to help.  It's hard to explain in words, but you would know what I mean if you saw it.

We took him to an Occupational Therapist and she told us he is intellectually and functionally on par with what they understand an average three-year-old to be.  That's a relief, but we always knew that.  She confirmed his speech was delayed as well - something we also knew.

He now seems to be talking much more but he's very difficult to understand.  It's not senseless babble, but rather syllables seem to collapse into each other and sounds drop out at the front and end of words.  It's like he knows what he wants to say but things get jumbled up on the way down from his brain to his mouth.  So we brought him to a Speech Therapist and it looks a lot like he may have Apraxia - but he's still too young for a formal diagnosis.

My parents have said that I was a late-speaker.  Unfortunately, they are also convinced there is nothing at all wrong with my son and that the ASD is a kind of medical fad.  This makes it very hard for us to rely on their information.  Furthermore, it was over 35 years ago!

My wife made an elegant post about this.  In it she thought about God like I did when I came to grips with him getting diagnosed as being on the ASD.

The other overwhelming thing to me is to think, gee, he's both ASD AND apraxic. Like, holy hell, there is no God! Seriously, who would do that to someone? Especially a kid! Argh, I just need a few moments of "why him? Why me? Poor him! Poor me!" and then I'll have to let it go or it will depress me. There are many days I believe he is more resilient and determined than I am.
Here's the rest of the post, which contains a description of Apraxia: Geez, Apraxia AND ASD?

Saturday, 22 September 2012

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

Pictured above is a hyperbaric chamber.  The woman below
is lying with her pelvis inside a FAR Infrared Dome and her
feet are relaxing on the Sun Acon Chi Machine.  It all looks
very futuristic to me - if your idea of futuristc is also 
the gadgets seen on Space 1999.  Both pictures are from
pamphlets found in my swag bag from a conference on 
Autism a few weeks ago
A few weeks ago I attended my first Autism conference here in Montreal - which also happened to be the conference's first year.  In my first post covering the conference I go over some of my (overall positive) impressions of the conference.  I then get into describing some of the rather costly woo that was more or less preying on vulnerable parents there.

In that first post I wrote about hyperbaric medicine.  I also left the two very futuristic devices pictured on the bottom half of the post's leading photo for a future post.  I believe I wrote that I'd get to it next week.  Well, that's what you get for making promises you cannot ever hope to keep.


The FAR Infrared Dome

I'm unsure if this is the official website for this device or not but it was all I could find on Google.  For now I'll concentrate on the pamphlet.

It starts out appropriately enough with "DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD?"  Once that's got your attention the first statement is the rather impressive sounding:

Health Canada has given issuance 
to a Class 2 medical device 
that may now help your child deal with...
ADHD/ADD/Autism
Anxiety
Cerebral Palsy
Learning Disabilities
Down Syndrome

Let's start by defining some parameters.  The intended audience are parents with special needs children who are in some fashion developmentally delayed.

And what's the stated benefit of the treatment?  It's not to cure the conditions but to help the child deal with the conditions.

Also note the upfront statement of their credentials.  This dome is apparently a Class 2 medical device.

So what is a Class 2 Medical Device in Canada?  I found it challenging to find a really clear answer to this question.  In the end this site was the best I could do.  It explains how class 2 devices are inspected for quality of construction, safety and effectiveness.  Now I'm not really sure what they mean by effectiveness.  You'd think doctors everywhere would be pointing us parents of autistic kids to these machines if they really worked.

So  how would I go about getting this certification and how much would it cost?  I found the application form on a Government of Canada website.
The fee for the review of a licence application or a request for the reinstatement of a licence is $357. The payment must be included with the licence application.
Oh, that's expensive, eh? And I can see all the Medical Device classifications the company got in Canada here.

I suppose it could qualify for class 2 in that it effectively subjects the human to infrared waves without harming them and the machines are put together in a reasonably sturdy fashion.  But I suspect that this classification doesn't guarantee the machine will actually successfully treat or cure anything.

At any rate, here's a page that seems to claim FAR infrared basically treats everything.   Here's an extract under the rubric Dentistry:
Dr. John Tate, DDS, says, “I have used the FIR dome with over fifty high risk surgical cases without complication or dry sockets on 92% of the patients. The dome is placed over the patient in my office a half hour before surgery and then a half hour after surgery to promote an immune response. The patient then takes the dome home and applies the technology at home for two hours a day for the next three days. They get what we call complete healing. The macrophages produce collagen necessary to stimulate the fibroblasts, and the tissue of the fibroblasts then will stimulate the osteoblast, which is bone. That is where the bone forms - and it starts in the first three days - but it takes about six months for complete healing. The two main cells we need in dentistry and in surgery around the bone area are the macrophages and the neutrophils.” (which are activated by far infrared heat).
“The macrophage is called the “pac man” of the immune system. The macrophage is a cell that engulfs and digests microorganisms. Everything starts with the macrophage - “macro” meaning big and “phage” meaning eater. So we have a big eater here. The tentacle on the macrophage grabs the staphylococci and a bacillus rod, and that macrophage extends a pseudo paw to get the bacteria that is now invading our blood!”
You know, I guess I didn't pay enough attention in biology class.  The whole page sounds a little fishy to me but I just don't have the knowledge to even know where to begin.

But take a look at the very last paragraph:
The data presented herein is offered for reference purposes only and to stimulate further observation. No implication of Infrared to cure or treat any disease is implied nor should it be inferred.
Well then, I guess I'll just disregard the whole page.   At any rate, what I don't find in this page in any mention of Autism or other conditions.

But there are plenty more out there.  Most of them mention the treatment helps purge toxins in the body that either cause Autism or worsen the condition.  I suppose the infrared rays from the dome detoxify the blood which in turn helps autistic children.

From www.get-fitt.com:
Children with Autism are Poor Detoxifiers 
Children with autism often test positive for heavy metals and other chemicals which can disrupt the delicate balance of the intestinal flora. The result is unfriendly bacteria, viruses and fungus can flourish causing such problems as leaky gut and Candida to name but a few. This can result in gluten from wheat or Casein from milk entering into the blood stream inducing opiate like effects.Far Infrared treatment eliminates toxins on a cellular level stimulating cellular repair and healing.
To be countered by Wikipedia's article on Chelation therapy as a treatment for Autism:
Based on the speculation that heavy metal poisoning may trigger the symptoms of autism, particularly in small subsets of individuals who cannot excrete toxins effectively, some parents have turned to alternative medicine practitioners who provide detoxification treatments via chelation therapy. However, evidence to support this practice has been anecdotal and not rigorous. Strong epidemiological evidence refutes links between environmental triggers, in particular thimerosal containing vaccines, and the onset of autistic symptoms. No scientific data supports the claim that the mercury in the vaccine preservative thiomersal causes autism or its symptoms, and there is no scientific support for chelation therapy as a treatment for autism.
It's a little hard for me to take this seriously.  But it's such
a serious situation that I can see how people would.
You see.  That's two leaps I must make.  First that the dome actually detoxifies these toxins and second that these toxins are actually the problem to begin with - something the Wikipedia article dismantles!

But I'll have to admit that the boosters of this technology are so prominent and loud on the web that I nearly found it impossible to find very much skeptical or really credible material out there.  Is this an accepted treatment for Autism?  There are whole centers devoted to this treatment with doctors' offices and lab coats.  It all sound so official.  But if this is truly legitimate then why aren't we being directed to these treatments by health professionals?

The woo on this has reached a near deafening din.  Truly, I don't blame anyone for believing this is legitimate medicine.  After all, the pamphlet says it's proven technology - although it doesn't actually say how it is supposed to work at all.

But I did find some skeptical voices out there - floating like specks in an ocean of woo.  Here are a couple of articles from more skeptical sites dealing with these FAR Infrared ray saunas.

http://www.skepticblog.org/2009/02/24/people-grilling-machine/:
There’s so many false claims, voodoo magic and pseudoscience in this that I don’t know where to start, but you, my fellow readers, surely do.
Yep, I feel pretty much the same way. It's like I'm handed a Bible and asked where to start.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=heavy-metal-sweat:
But the most far-reaching assertions for this technology center on detoxification. Claims for the ability of infrared saunas to rid the body of heavy metals and the like populate the Internet like Viagra ads.
And...
I wasn't ready quite yet to go hunting down chlorella. I wanted to see what the allopathic (nonalternative) world had to say about detoxification. I called Roger Clemens, director of an analytical laboratory at the University of Southern California that evaluates environmental toxins in the food supply. Clemens remarked that the most efficient system for detoxification is not an infrared sauna but rather the kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract and immune system. "Except when one of the major organs breaks down, there isn't a medical device or any diet that can accelerate the body's natural process of detoxification," he says.
Thank you Scientific American.  You have finally answered my question.

I was going to cover both the infrared dome and the Sun Acon Chi Machine.  But this post is long enough as it is.   I could say I'll get around to covering the last bit of technological woo next week, but that may be promising more than I have time to deliver.  I simply do not have enough time to be a skeptic - in this sea of never-ending woo.