Mighty Big Fleas
That saying often comes to mind when I look at blogs and comments by parents who have gotten involved with a biomedical program of some sort. I don't mean the hardcore fanatics who build paranoid conspiracy-theory websites that reflect a total disconnect from reality. Rather, I'm talking about well-intentioned, mostly rational parents who claim that they're just trying different options to help their child, that a particular diet or therapy has been good for their child, and that everyone ought to respect their right as parents to make decisions in their child's best interests.
Well, okay, I don't have a problem with parents who want to try reasonable alternative diets for children who have food intolerances, as long as the children are getting proper care from competent doctors and are not being abused or malnourished. Unfortunately, that often is not the case when we're talking about "biomed" in general. There has been some discussion recently on the autism blogs about the responsibility of bloggers for the consequences of their words; and in my view, that applies with equal force to careless advice, careless stereotypes, and careless endorsements.
This is what I have to say to parents who assert that they are "curing" or "recovering" their child (or similar language) through biomed: You need to understand that when you write something like that, you're not just recommending the nice nutritionist who sold you some vitamins and advised you not to let Johnny stuff himself full of junk food. By making such a broad statement, you are condoning and perpetuating and, by association, making yourself morally culpable for the worst abuses of biomed.
So far, that includes the quack treatment of chelation, which can be fatal. Although some autistic children have been fortunate enough to survive intravenous chelation, they have been put through much unnecessary pain and suffering with no medically proven benefits. The long list of bogus cures has expanded to include injections of gold salts, a rheumatoid arthritis remedy that is known to be highly toxic. Biomed quackery knows no bounds and no shame: there is even a "protocol" for using chemical castration drugs on autistic children.
As horrifying, abusive, and life-threatening as these fraudulent therapies are, it can fairly be argued that the worst crime of the biomed hucksters has been their routine use of hateful and dehumanizing language to describe autistic people. By referring to autism as a plague, an epidemic, an abyss, etc., they have deliberately created a very profitable (for them) culture of despair in which some parents desperately try every sham therapy that comes down the pike, believing that the risk to the child is justified because it's better to be dead than autistic. And it is only a short step, as we have tragically seen, from biomed's cynical marketing of despair and hopelessness to a bleak social environment so bereft of decency and tolerance that some consider it morally justifiable to murder an autistic child.
Them's some mighty big fleas.