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Hope and False Hope

Posted Nov 25 2010 2:20am

Hope. It’s a wonderful thing, and something that parents of children with autism deserve to have in their lives. Fortunately, science shows that there is very good reason for hope. It shows that children with autism continue to learn and develop throughout their lives.

But false hope is another matter. As we saw in my guest blog Truth and Consequences – The Anti-Vaccination Movement Exacts a Price from last year, “biomedical support groups” for autism, so prevalent and so active on the internet, provide a sense of hope and community for parents of children with ASD. But, that hope is not real. The case of “Mary” and her son “Saul” illustrates this – Mary joined a multitude of groups, and tried dozens of “treatments” only to be left poorer. And her child, at age 8, had not “recovered”, but still exhibited many of the challenging behaviors which he had at age 2.

Mary is a bit unusual because she has persisted with “biomedical autism treatments” for 6 years. The typical cycle of membership on such “biomedical support groups” is much shorter. A new parent joins, and attempts to follow the protocol or the advice of the other parents, but if this approach does not help their child, the parent simply abandons the group, usually without comment. However, there are always newly diagnosed children, so one sees a continuous influx of new parent members, asking the “newby” questions. Typically, there is a core of self-proclaimed “go-to” people in the group who have devoted themselves to advising these parents.

The purpose of this blog post is to introduce you to one such “go-to” person, a woman called Dana, a resident of California, and the owner of a website

Here’s how Dana describes herself

Hello, my name is Dana and I am 41 years old. I am an attorney, I am married, and I have four children. I homeschool all four of my children, and I do legal work part time from home.
When my second child was diagnosed with autism at age 3, I began searching the internet to learn more about him and who he is, and I was surprised to discover that I also qualified as AS, which I will use here to refer to Autistic Syndrome although I am aware it is used for other uses as well. My third child would probably qualify as PDD, but I have not pursued an official diagnosis for him. My first and fourth child are NT.

Notice that Dana makes it clear that she has no medical background, and she is always careful never to present herself as a medical professional. Nevertheless, she has a lot of credibility on the “autism biomedical support groups”. The reason for this credibility is that she is supposed to have “recovered” her second child, or rather both her second and third children. Here is how she describes her second child in 2001 when he was 5 or 6
My son’s pedneuro told me that he was very low functioning, never developed at all, classic genetic Kanner’s autism, that my best hope for him would be assisted living in a group home some day. Now my son no longer qualifies as autistic, he will be productive and independent some day, and all of it is because of information I read in books and on the internet. Keep going, you are doing the right thing, as you now know!

Wow! a child who no longer qualifies as autistic! That was pretty impressive in 2001, and it made Dana into an authority on biomedical treatments. However, the story has changed quite a bit over the years 2003, age 7-1/2

My son was not as old as yours when I started biomedical, altho he was older than most kids I read about. He was age 4 when I started, now is age 7-1/2. When I started biomedical, he basically did not tolerate anything.

He is nearly recovered, his last issue is language delay, all his other issues are gone. Chelation was the intervention that provided the final measure of recovery. I did a few other things along the way, but with chelation he can eat all foods now with no problems, he never has a yeast issue any more, stims only very occasionally and voluntarily stops almost immediately. He is now working on catching up with his language delay.

2006, age 10

My son has a Kanner dx, autistic from birth. In reality, he was injured from my dental amalgams plus HepB vax at birth. I chelated him with ALA, and he is almost biomedically recovered now [chelation being one part of that recovery]. Still developmentally delayed, but catching up.

2008, age 12

Well, when he was 3, the pedneuro told me he would never talk or even acknowledge my existence. Today he is 12 and just completed a first grade program. He talks, he reads, he does simple math, he loves giving me hugs, he calls us “mommy” and “daddy” and says “I love you” and lots of other things. He plays well with his siblings, defends them when we gang up on them to tickle them, is concerned when they get hurt, and he is the only child I have who will do his chores without prompting or complaining.

Because he is so far behind and is already 12, I don’t know if he will be age appropriate. But so far I am pleased with his progress. He has gone from “classic Kanner’s autism, severe, low functioning”, to not qualifying as autistic, but definitely developmentally delayed.

2010, age 14

My son has a dx of “classic Kanner’s autism, severe, low functioning”. The pedneuro who dx him, told me he would never talk or even acknowledge my existence. He said his first word at age 6, after I added digestive enzymes.

The things he needed the most for speech, were enzymes, ALA chelation, anti-virals, B vitamins especially B1 and B12, and anti-fungals. There were several other supps that were also helpful.

Today he is 14 and not yet age-appropriate, but sometimes I do need to tell him to be quiet because he is talking too much.

To me it’s clear that her second son is not actually “recovered” from ASD.

Dana is an amazingly prolific poster. When using the handle “danaatty”, between 2001-2003, she made a total of 9882 posts to just four yahoo groups, abmd, Autism-Mercury, EnzymesandAutism and GFCFKids. In 2003, she adopted the handle “danasview”, and since has made a mind-blowing 48,187 posts to just three groups, with the largest number, 23,705 posts to GFCFKids. That’s an average of 17 posts per day, every day, for 9 years!

Dana blames vaccines for her childrens’ ASD, even though she recognizes that she herself is also on the spectrum. And like most parents who blame autism on vaccines, she has an obsession with eliminating both viruses (presumably the residual measles virus from vaccination) and mercury (from thimerosal containing vaccines). There is absolutely no clinical evidence for any of her recommended protocols. Everything is based on her reputation as a parent who has “recovered” her children.

When viewed in isolation, a single piece of her advice may seem reasonable. However, a small sampling of her posts taken together shows a different story. Here are some symptoms that Dana has blamed on viruses or on viruses leaving the body:

plantar warts
molloscum contagium
yeast, which causes constipation
goopy green eye discharge
major red rash
dry patches of skin
bad case of the “chewies”
visual stims
pushing finger joints and cracking knuckles
low white blood cell count
loud talking
mouth sores
language difficulty
high fever
sore throat
runny nose
aching bones
fine bumps on chest

In Dana’s view, some symptoms of mercury poisoning are:

dilated pupils
neck pain
ear infections
tingling down arms/legs
urinary incontinence
can’t sleep very well
heart palpitations or weird feelings around heart
fungus on feet
pain in jaw
ears popping
pressure in ears
pain in intestines/bowels when exercising
food intolerances
lazy eye

Conventional “autism biomedical” wisdom is that “yeast infections” are common in autism. And that “yeast infections” can result from either anti-viral “protocols” or chelation. According to Dana, some of the symptoms of “yeast” are:

symptoms of Tourette
dark circles under eyes
squinting eyes
needing to chew things
eating plastic and rubber
persistent nail biting
redness/bumps around the mouth
sinus infection
hitting oneself
hitting one’s ears
head banging
making pig noises and snorting a lot
standing on the head
hands always in mouth
severe dandruff
biting a parent
yellow bowel movements
yellow finger nails
pee accidents
crying uncontrollably for 20 minutes or more
cystic acne
constant high pitched vocal stims
non-stop talking
low grade fever
loose sounding cough
ringing in the ears
licking things
hyper and giggling
laughing hysterically
flying into a rage
sleep problems
problems falling asleep
sleep walking
teeth grinding
stinking armpits in a five year old
spinning around in circles
balance issues
chapped lips
extra bad handwriting
visual stims
sexual behavior
red ring around the anus
anger and aggression,
head banging
sound sensitivity [holding the hands over the ears]
climbing on furniture and jumping off
vestibular sensory issues
multiple personalities

It strains credulity that such a diversity of symptoms could possibly be attributed with such precision to only three causes. In fact, there are very few things Dana will NOT attribute to these three causes. For example:

Q: What can cause low white blood cell + low red blood cell count? A hematologist has performed blood tests and ruled out antibodies (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc) and now wants to proceed with a bone marrow biopsy. He appears to think he has ruled out everything else and is now looking for Leukemia or Lymphoma.
Could mercury/metal exposure cause these symptoms? Anything else?

A: It is very possibly a mercury toxicity issue. May also be related to a latent virus issue.

Dana on viruses:

He had a wart that did not go away with high dose vitamin C [which eliminated a lot of cold/flu viruses in his brain], so I tried lysine, which caused more gains.

I watched a cold virus migrate into my son’s brain once. And after starting
anti-virals, I watched the viruses come out one by one.

The above four supplements (Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, and lysine) eliminated my son’s viruses, they no longer lie dormant.

Dana on food intolerance:

At my house, controlling yeast and bacteria was required to stop raging. Also, most of the SCD-legal foods my son did not tolerate. He tolerated nothing orange or green, and he did not tolerate fats until mito cocktail. That would have caused major problems for him.

Dana on short stature:

One of my kids had this problem. He needed carnitine and thyroid support.

Dana shows her knowledge of chemistry:

Arginine and lysine are “opposites”, sort of like zinc and copper. If
you suspect a herpes virus issue, definitely do NOT give arginine, it will increase the virus.

Dana on yeast:

The yeast is in his head/brain, not in his GI tract. This happened with my son for a few years. Just because you don’t see signs of yeast in the bm/GI tract, does not mean yeast is not present in other areas of the body.

With her prolific posts and her continuous flow of “biomedical autism treatment” advice for parents, Dana has established herself as a guru. She is one of the key people personally responsible for encouraging parents to subject their children to unproven and potentially dangerous experimentation. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, consumers in the USA spent $20.3 billion on dietary supplements in 2004. Someone is getting rich on her advice.

Addendum In researching this story, I encountered something astonishing. Remember “Mary” and her son “Saul”? Saul is very clearly NOT recovered despite all the experimentation performed on him. The ultimate irony was to see “Saul” featured on Dana’s website, touted as an example of a chelation recovery!

  1. Tweets that mention Autism Blog - Hope and False Hope « Left Brain/Right Brain --
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