Dear Concerned Blogger,
Thank you for caring about autistic children enough to write about Miracle Mineral Supplement. I appreciate your understanding that autistic kids are human beings, and that putting bleach up real people's butts or down their throats is not a good way to treat them.
But all of this attention given to a dangerous therapy scares me, mostly because of how the Internet works. A year and a half ago, The New York Times ran a piece about DecorMyEyes.com, a company that succeeded by deliberately giving their customers such an awful time that they complained. A lot:
Today, when reading the dozens of comments about DecorMyEyes, it is hard to decide which one conveys the most outrage. It is easy, though, to choose the most outrageous. It was written by Mr. Russo/Bolds/Borker himself.
“Hello, My name is Stanley with DecorMyEyes.com,” the post began. “I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement.”
It’s all part of a sales strategy, he said. Online chatter about DecorMyEyes, even furious online chatter, pushed the site higher in Google search results, which led to greater sales. He closed with a sardonic expression of gratitude: “I never had the amount of traffic I have now since my 1st complaint. I am in heaven.”
Every time we mention MMS, we increase its profile on the Web. We have turned a single presentation at AutismOne into a Cause. I recognize even by doing this post, I am slightly increasing the chance that that gospel of bleach enemas will get to some parent desperate enough to try it out.
And this is not really the scariest thing about AutismOne. Yes, kids can die from quack therapies, but most parents who go there are using diets and supplements. And the damage done by those is real and happening to thousands of kids, not a couple. Ariane Zurcher recently published a heart-breaking post about apologizing to her autistic daughter from the trauma caused by putting her on an extremely restrictive diet:
On the first day of the diet I cleared the house of all the foods Emma loved, but could no longer eat, according to the new diet. Except I forgot to remove her favorite bread.
That morning she saw the bread and attacked it with the vigor of a rabid dog. I whisked it away and hurried down to the basement with it, where I threw it into one of the large garbage bins, while Emma screamed and clawed at the door in an attempt to follow me. I had it in my mind that it would all be worth it if the diet worked. Which, to me, meant that she would suddenly begin to speak in beautifully articulated sentences, would be able to concentrate, would be able to comprehend what she read and would eat a wider range of nutritious foods. Only the diet didn’t “work.” Just as the GF/CF diet we’d put her on six years before, didn’t work.
It's the attitude that autistic kids are broken that puts them at risk, not the specifics of the misguided cure.