CEASE and desist subjecting autistic children to homeopathy

Periodically, I like to make fun of homeopathy and homeopaths. I realize that to some that might seem like the proverbial shooting of fish in a barrel, but it is amusing and educational. However, it’s not always amusing. For instance, I am not amused when I see The One Quackery To Rule Them All (my favored term for homeopathy these days) being used either in areas where a lack of treatment can result in great harm (and, given that homeopathy is nothing more than water shaken up a bit with a magic spell, that’s what homeopathy is, a lack of treatment) or when I see homeopaths promising what they can’t deliver. If there’s anything that deserves–nay, begs for!–a heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful Insolence, it’s homeopathy and homeopaths.

And that’s just what something known as CEASE Therapy is going to get. I first found out about CEASE Therapy from a news article sent to me by a reader. This article describes an upcoming event in May listed on the Irish Society of Homeopaths website called Treating Autism And The CEASE Method. Here’s what the news story says:

On May 12th in the Clayton Hotel, Galway, Kelly Johnson will hold a training day on Treating Autism and the Cease method. Cease stands for Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression. The event is of interest for a number of reasons. First because autism has received wide exposure following Tony Humphrey’s article in the Examiner on February 3rd and the public outcry that ensued; second, because the Cease method contains some very controversial views on the causes and treatment of autism; and third because the attitudes of many homeopaths to vaccination is often quite hostile.

And:

The Cease method was developed by homeopath Dr Tinus Smits who died in 2010. Smits said “autism is an accumulation of different causes and about 70 per cent is due to vaccines, 25 per cent to toxic medication and other toxic substances and 5 per cent to some diseases”. This view is not shared by modern science and is reminiscent of the Andrew Wakefield debacle in which autism was associated with the MMR vaccine – a claim now thoroughly refuted.

Well, yes, that’s certainly true, but being scientifically refuted has never, to my knowledge, ever stopped a homeopath from, as Richard Dawkins once put it, paddling bravely up the river of pseudoscience. Of course, homeopathy doesn’t even really qualify as pseudoscience given that there’s nothing scientific about it and that in reality it shows far more similarity to sympathetic magic than anything else. In other words, there isn’t even enough of patina of science slathered over the quackery to qualify as pseudoscience. It’s magical thinking, pure and simple, in which homeopaths believe that diluting a remedy makes it stronger, but only if it is shaken vigorously (succussed) between each serial dilution step. Even more magically, they believe that it is possible for a compound that has been diluted many orders of magnitude more than Avagadro’s number, such that it’s exceedingly unlikely that even a single molecule of active substance remains, to have a therapeutic effect. They justify this by claiming that water has “memory” and retains some sort of “imprint” of the substance that it’s been in contact with. Never mind that there’s no evidence that water has “memory” beyond an extraordinarily brief period of time. Homeopaths are impervious to reason.

Apparently Tinus Smits was no different. I’ll give him credit, though. If you’re a homeopath and believe that autism is caused by vaccines, toxic medicine, other toxic substances and “some diseases,” what would you treat autistic children with? If you know the Law of Similars, you know the answer. The Law of Similars states that the way to treat a symptom is to use a diluted substance that causes the symptoms. So, if you’re a homeopath, it’s rather obvious. If you believe, against all science, against all reason, against all medicine that vaccines, “toxic medicine” and other “toxic substances” cause autism, then there’s only one thing to do, isn’t there. Yes, that’s right:

The treatment of autistic children and even adults has matured through 300 cases over the last three years and is called CEASE Therapy, which stands for Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression. Step by step all causative factors (vaccines, regular medication, environmental toxic exposures, effects of illness, etc.) are detoxified with the homeopathically prepared, that is diluted and potentized substances that caused the autism. Currently we use the 30C, 200C, 1M and 10M potencies to clear out the energetic field of the patient from the imprint of toxic substances or diseases.

OK, let’s take a look at this. First off, a 30C dilution means 30 serial 100-fold dilutions, or a 1060-fold dilution. A 200C dilution means 200 serial 100-fold dilutions, or a 10400-fold dilution. 1M means 1,000C, or a 102000-fold dilution. Well, you get the idea, and I’m sure most of you can do the math.

So what? I’m sure some of you not familiar with homeopathy are saying. To which I reply: you do realize, don’t you, that Avagadro’s number is approximately 6 x 1023? That means if you dilute a one molar solution of something by approximately 12C (1024), then the odds are only approximately (and I am approximating for simplicity’s sake; so let’s not get pedantic here–you know how pedantry annoys me) 50-50 that a liter of solution wil have a single molecule of active substance in it. Take the dilution up to 30C, 100C, and beyond, and the odds are vanishingly small that a single molecule remains. How small? Well, for a comparison that I frequently use when I’m giving talks that include a section on homeopathy, there are only estimated to be between 1078 and 1082 atoms in the observable universe.

Perusing the CEASE Therapy website is to peruse a cornucopia of quackery, both homeopathic and not homeopathic. For instance, we have this video describing how Smits came to the realization that vaccines cause autism:

If you believe Smits, there isn’t a chronic disease or problem that vaccines don’t cause. Autism? Of course! Asthma, bronchitis, ADHD, epilepsy, and others. In light of yesterday’s post, I particularly like the part where Smits is asked about how he knew this, and his response is that he “sees it in his practice.”

The hilarious thing about Smits is that he seems to be combining homeopathy with “energy healing” quackery. In fact, in Smits’ view, those evil vaccines are so nefarious that they pass their malign influence down through the generations through their dark energy:

During pregnancy and the first two years of life the brain is extremely vulnerable and should be protected as much as possible. Medication during and after pregnancy, especially vaccinations are very toxic to the young child’s brain. Even illness, medication and vaccination in the energetic field of the father and mother before pregnancy can be transmitted to the child by energetic transfer. In the book “Autism, beyond despair” you will find several examples of this.

And here’s an example of how Smits’ treatment works:

He has been vaccinated according to schedule from three months on. Apart from the DTPP/HIB and MMR he also received the Meningococ-C vaccination. I decide to detoxify both the MMR and the DTPP/HIB and to give three series of a month each of every shot. The MMR series lead to violent reactions and seemed to aggravate his autism, but after each DTPP/HIB series he clearly improves. Contact has increased, he looks you in the face, makes jokes and engages in question and answer games. Language comprehension improves and he displays a more extrovert attitude.

I prescribe three additional short series of the MMR as well as three of the DTPP/HIB. I don’t see him again until a year later. The series have had much effect. He talks a lot more and contact has greatly increased. Things no longer obsess him. He has found his place in the family. Serious behavioral disorders no longer exist. Before detoxification he would often spend hours in a corner of the room turning the wheel of a toy car. At times, he still flutters when very excited. His developmental retardation has not been fully restored, neither his motor skills or his cognitive abilities are up to par. His speech is somewhat staccato. Playing with other children than his sister still proves to be problematic at times. Now, after a meal he is satisfied, whereas before he continued eating.

In other words, this child shows no real signs that anything Smits threw at him is working, and everything described here could easily be consistent with the natural course of autism. Remember, autism is associated with developmental delay, not developmental stasis. Even the parents only rate the “healing process” as a 6 or 7 out of 10, and the child at the end of the anecdote later in the is clearly not “recovered.”

One thing I don’t understand, probably because it makes no sense, is how this homeopathic “detoxification” occurs. That’s just the reductionist “Western” scientist in me speaking, I guess. So while Smits (well, these days Smits’ followers because apparently Smits died in 2010) is using vaccine components, medications, and various toxins all diluted to nonexistence to cure autism, he apparently also thinks that “orthomolecular medicine” needs to be used as well. Orthomolecular medicine, for those who don’t remember, is the quackery popularized by Linus Pauling that involves megadoses of vitamin C and other vitamins and nutrients This strikes me as profoundly odd. After all, homeopathy is nothing if not about, well, diluting the alleged remedy away to nonexistence. Orthomolecular quackery is about the exact opposite: Megadoses of vitamins, in particular, megadoses of vitamin C:

When I witnessed that autism often improved by detoxifying the vaccines, the thought soon came to my mind that vitamin C could not only be useful in preventing autism in vaccinations, but that it could possibly play an important part in curing it as well. When I first prescribed the fat soluble vitamin C for a 4 year old autistic child, both speech and comprehension improved dramatically. His mother was deeply impressed by the significant improvement. Since then, ascorbyl palmitate plays an essential part in my treatment protocol for autistic children. It fully meets it’s expectations.

So let’s see. On the one hand, Smits’ disciples carrying on his work are diluting remedies to nonexistence at the same time they’re following the pretexts of a form of quackery that advocates using doses of things like Vitamin C that are far, far beyond what we need.

Makes perfect sense to me.