Here’s a short addition to the topic of Pseudomedical Pseudoprofessional Organizations (PPOs).† New pseudo-board-certification schemes pop up like mushrooms after a spring rain, but just last week there was an announcement of one with a difference:

The American Medical Autism Board

AMAB offers the first of its kind board/diplomate certification program for medical doctors specializing in biomedical treatment of autism and related disorders. These disorders are known collectively as the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Thus, medical doctors who become certified by the American Medical Autism Board show that they specialize in biomedical treatment of ASD, and will have met the Board’s high levels of criteria for training and experience, and will have passed its rigorous certification examination.


The intent of the certification process is to provide assurance to the public that a certified autism medical specialist has met the Board’s approved credential requirements in the realms of education and experience, and that he/she has passed the Board’s certification examination.

The process includes an examination that is designed to assess the knowledge and skills that are requisite to the provision of high quality patient care in the specialty of biomedical treatment of the autism spectrum disorders.

Wow. These guys could teach a thing or two to MadMen: keep’em guessing and, like a Bushitsu sensei, turn strident criticism to your favor. Other sCAM peddlers persist in suggesting that infusions of Na2EDTA and DMSA are “natural.” Pejorative uses of the term “biomedical” are common, but not here. The home page of the AMAB site might even fool you into imagining that it is legitimate, if you weren’t already aware of autism’s irresistible attraction to quackery, and if you weren’t familiar with some of the subtler dialects of woospeak. It isn’t until you read the last sentence of the “note” at the bottom of the page that you finally spot the rat that you’ve been smelling all along:

The applicants [sic] background should include one which is integrated and which draws from multiple paradigms.

It all comes into focus when you examine the Board of Directors, and then jump to the site of the US Autism & Asperger Association (USAAA), where the “Overview Course” leading to “board certification” will be held. There you find the telltale pitches for DAN, chelation, hyperbaric oxygen, “craniosacral therapy,” “toxicology,” and more. The Board’s Board and the speaker roster for the 2008 USAAA conference include the Geiers and Dan Rossignol, among others.

What a shame: the USAAA Staff, Board of Directors, and Advisory Board rosters are filled with physicians and other professionals who, for the most part, lack real credentials in biomedical research related to autism. What do they have to recommend them? Overwhelmingly, they are parents of children with autism. I find it hard to muster the contempt that I usually feel for people whose pseudoscientific eruptions contribute to horrible outcomes. Instead I feel an almost futile sense of sorrow.


The State Regulation Series:

  1. Pitfalls in Regulating Physicians. Part 1
  2. Pitfalls in Regulating Physicians. Part 2: The Games Scoundrels Play
  3. The Pseudomedical Pseudoprofessional Organization (PPO*)
  4. A New Twist for Autism: A Bogus “Biomedical” Board
  5. How State Medical Boards Shoot Themselves (and You) in the Foot
  6. “Integrative Medicine Experts”: Another Barrier to Effective Discipline
  7. Bogus Diagnostic Tests 

Posted by Kimball Atwood