Autism One: As quacky as it ever was

Once again, the yearly autism quackfest known as Autism One is fast approaching. In fact, it will begin in Chicago tomorrow: five days of “autism biomed” quackery and antivaccine pseudoscience. Ever since the Great Schism in the autism antivaccine quackery community, which severed Generation Rescue from Autism One and ended Jenny McCarthy’s run of being the keynote speaker every year, it just hasn’t been the same. Well, not quite. It turns out that a lot of the speakers are still the same, Generation Rescue or not, Jenny McCarthy or not. Just take a look at the speaker list, and you’ll see a lot of familiar names.

Heck, there are some real blasts from the past this year. Believe it or not, those hoary old mercury militia warriors, the father-son team of quacks who treat autism by chemically castrating children and then subjecting them to chelation therapy, Mark and David Geier, are there. It looks as though they’ll be talking about Latest Evidence Associating Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines with Autism Spectrum & Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders, which will probably just be a rehash of the same pseudoscience that they’ve been peddling since before I ever started blogging mixed together with Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s latest “findings.” I guess the Geier’s quackery will always have an appeal in the deeper, darker parts of the autism biomed movement.

Not surprisingly, there’s another constant of Autism One and pretty much any antivaccine or autism quackfest you can think of on the schedule as well. This one should be so obvious that you should be able to guess it if you have even the merest passing acquaintance with the antivaccine movement. Yep, I’m referring to Andrew Wakefield himself, the discredited physician and researcher who lost his license to practice in the UK in the wake of the retraction of his most (in)famous paper, a case series in The Lancet that linked the MMR vaccine to “autistic enterocolitis,” a man whose legacy now consists largely of scientific fraud and measles outbreaks.

And what is Wakefield going to talk about? This:

This presentation describes how patterns of environmental exposure influence outcome. It deals with some of the enduring arguments put forward by those who reject the vaccine-autism connection and sets the scene for why CDC scientists would examine age of exposure to MMR and autism risk in their ultimately fraudulent DeStefano et al. study of 2004.

Yes, we’re talking the CDC whistleblower manufactroversy. It’s a story that Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker have been trying to use to attack the CDC since last summer. Most recently, they wrote a letter of complaint to the CDC that was so hilariously off-base and full of misinformation that I’m sure the CDC gave it exactly all the attention it deserved.

Then there’s Anju Usman. We’ve encountered her before being sued for a truly depressing and horrifying repertoire of autism biomed quackery. Her topic? Autism biomed quackery, of course:

Dr. Anju Usman is director of True Health Medical Center in Naperville, Illinois. She specializes in biomedical interventions for children with ADD, autism, and related disorders. She has been involved in research regarding copper/zinc imbalances, biofilm related infections, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. She serves on the boards for ASI, TACA, and Generation Rescue. She is board certified in family practice and in integrative and holistic medicine.

In other words, she “integrates” quackery with medicine. I will give her credit for a modicum of creativity in the choice of quackery to appropriate. Sure, there’s the usual “detoxification” nonsense, but she also includes “biofilm,” which is one of the latest buzzwords among this crowd.

But that’s not all! One of the keynotes features not just one, not just two, not just three, but four—count ’em!—four quacks giving a talk about vaccines:

Educated parents are deconstructing vaccine orthodoxy and finding that the science doesn’t just come up short. In many cases, it doesn’t come up at all. It’s time for a new paradigm on an old practice that increasing numbers of parents and clinicians are questioning — do vaccines cause more harm than good? Let’s take a deep dive into the facts, clinical practice, the science, and the options for parents.

  • A framework for children’s health: A pediatrician’s view on infectious disease, germ theory, and immunity. [Larry Palevsky, MD, FAAP]
  • Maternal agency and medical paternalism in pregnancy: An examination of the fetal impacts of vaccination, ultrasound, and the microbiome through the lenses of functional medicine and holism. [Kelly Brogan, MD]
  • What’s in a vaccine? A dispassionate assessment of vaccine constituents, including adjuvants, antigens, and adventitious agents. [Sayer Ji]
  • Parental rights and wrongs: The Fearless Parent tackles mythology, social stigma, and the brass tacks of vaccine mandates, exemptions, and health freedom. [Louise Kuo Habakus, MA]

You know. antivaccinationists always claim they’re not antivaccine. So do a lot of autism biomed advocates. If that’s the case, then why is there always so much attention paid to the supposed “evils” of vaccines? It’s because it’s always about the vaccines. It’s always been about the vaccines. It always will be about the vaccines. In any case, I’ve applied some Insolence, be it Respectful or not-so-Respectful, to each and every one of these quacks before. In particular, I’ve mocked Sayer Ji on more occasions than I can remember, but most recently when he he denied the genetic basis of inherited cancers. I’ve caught Kelly Brogan teaming up with Sayer Ji to egregiously misinterpret a study. I’ve also taken note of Larry Palevsky, yet another in a line of antivaccine pediatricians. Dr. Palevsky happened to capture my attention when he appeared in an antivaccine propaganda flick, The Greater Good. Then, of course, there’s Louise Kuo Habakus, whose antivaccine activism and lies I’ve discussed a few times.

Depressingly, in addition to all these antivaccine quacks, there’s one particularly despicable, one particularly nasty quack. I’m referring, of course, to Kerri Rivera, the woman who advocates subjecting autistic children to ingesting bleach and taking bleach enemas to treat autism. I once asked whether the autism biomed movement will ever renounce the use of bleach to treat autism. The answer, we now see, is clearly no. It looks like it’s bleach enema karaoke again this year, at least if Rivera’s talk is any indication:

This presentation will give a brief explanation of the protocol that has helped 163 children (as of January 2015) lose a diagnosis of autism. It will feature before-and-after stories and pictures of children whose families have successfully used the protocol as well as children who have lost their diagnosis and what they did to get there. There will also be a discussion of the protocol’s use for other areas of the spectrum and beyond.

Kerri Rivera is a biomedical consultant for CD Autism (International) Curando El Autismo (Latin America), and Venciendo el Autismo (Venezuela). Since the addition of chlorine dioxide to her biomedical protocol, she has seen 163 children lose their diagnosis of autism in the past 4 years. Since 2007, Kerri has lectured internationally on biomedical protocols for autism and CD for autism. She graduated as a Certified Homeopath in June 2013. She is the author of “Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism.”

You know, since Rivera is now a homeopath, maybe she could dilute the bleach (a.k.a. Miracle Mineral Solution or MMS) to 30C. It would still be quackery, but at least it would be much less potentially harmful. Interestingly, Rivera has finally attracted the attention of the local media in Chicago. Just yesterday there was a story on NBC 5 in Chicago, Chicago Woman Offers Controversial “Miracle Treatment”:

From her home base in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, Chicago native Kerri Rivera counsels parents of children with autism on a “miracle treatment” that she says can rid their children of the curse of the dreaded disease.

Critics say her treatments, which involve the chemical chlorine dioxide, are tantamount to poisoning children, but Rivera refers to those critics as “haters” and “trolls.” She insists the protocol has removed more than 170 children from the autism spectrum.

“If, in fact, chlorine dioxide were this toxic poisonous bleach, there would be a sea of dead children,” Rivera told NBC5 Investigates. “How can this be bad if people are healing and nobody’s dying?”

Medical professionals say the treatment hardly heals, but rather makes sick children even sicker, with no demonstrable benefits.

Of course it does, because it’s a friggin’ bleach! Not only that, but there’s no biological plausibility that such a treatment would work or clinical evidence to show that it does, just Rivera’s “case series” of children on whom she’s plied her quackery. Yes, I’m getting a bit worked up here. Contemplating child torture has that effect on me. I gladly claim the title of “hater” when it comes to a woman like Rivera. I need something to calm me down and mellow me out slightly, so that I don’t go too far.

Ah, fortunately Autism One provides just the ticket: Jere Rivera-Dugenio, PhD, a “quantum medicine researcher” from the International Quantum University for Integrative Medicine in Honolulu who specializes in advanced quantum medicine and morphogenetic field physics. His topic? What else? Quantum Medicine as an Effective Method to Balancing the Immune System for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum. Enjoy:

The presenter reveals an advanced quantum medicine model that balances the immune system of individuals on the autism spectrum. Based upon patents and experiments of Nikola Tesla, this proprietary scalar-wave, morphogenetic re-patterning process can improve individuals with acute, standard, and chronic health conditions that are caused by microbiology, pesticides, toxic chemicals, electrosmog, geopathic stress, mercury, heavy metal, and other environmental factors.

Yes, any quackery that invokes Nikola Tesla and quantum physics is still quackery, but at least it tends to be entertaining quackery, unlike shooting bleach up children’s colons.