That the myth that vaccines cause autism is indeed nothing more than a myth, a phantom, a delusion unsupported by science is no longer in doubt. In fact, it’s been many years now since it was last taken seriously by real scientists and physicians, as opposed to crank scientists and physicians, who are still selling the myth.  Thanks to them, and a dedicated cadre of antivaccine activists, the myth is like Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, or Freddy Krueger at the end of one of their slasher flicks. The slasher or monster appears to be dead, but we know that he isn’t because we know that he’ll eventually return in another movie to kill and terrorize a new batch of unlucky and invariably not so bright teenagers. And he always does, eventually.

Unfortunately, the myth has a price, and autistic children pay it when they are unlucky enough to have parents who have latched on to this particular myth as an explanation for why their child is autistic. One price is blame. Parents who come to believe the myth that vaccines cause autism also express extreme guilt that they “did this” to their children, that it’s their fault that their children are autistic. At the same time, they have people and entities to blame: Paul Offit, big pharma, the FDA, the scientific community, pediatricians. As a result, the second price is paid: Their children are subjected to pure quackery, such as “stem cell” injections (which almost certainly aren’t actually stem cells, given the provenance of the clinics that offer such “therapies”) into their cerebrospinal fluid, and what in essence constitutes unethical human experimentation at the hands of “autism biomed” quacks. Meanwhile these same quacks reap the financial benefits of this belief by offering a cornucopia of treatments to “recover” autistic children that range from the ineffective and usually harmless (such as homeopathy) to the ineffective and downright dangerous (dubious “stem cell” injections by lumbar puncture into a child’s cerebrospinal fluid). These treatments drain the parents’ pocketbook and do nothing other than potential harm to the children. These prices are intertwined, and just last week I saw examples of both prices on full display at various antivaccine blogs. Worse, the concept appears to be metastasizing beyond vaccines. As more and more scientific evidence fails to find even a whiff of a hint of a correlation between vaccines and autism, the One True Cause of Autism, which was once vaccines or mercury in vaccines, has become the Many True Causes of Autism, in which vaccines (it’s always the vaccines) mix with pharmaceuticals, pollution, diet, and chemicals to produce autism in a manner that is a lot harder to falsify than the older, all too scientifically testable hypothesis that vaccines cause autism.

“I gave my son autism”

Perhaps the most shocking of the two examples I saw last week was a post promoted in the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism about a post in another antivaccine crank blog The Thinking Moms’ Revolution (in reality The Not-So-Thinking Moms’ Revolution), entitled How I gave my son autism.

It’s a chilling read, right from the first paragraph, where the blogger, who goes by the ‘nym Mountain Mama, begins by writing about how she was raised Catholic and therefore believes in the concepts of reconciliation and absolution, forgiveness and redemption, introducing her topic thusly:

My spiritual beliefs have evolved and changed over the years, but the idea of forgiveness is still critical to how I walk through life. There are things I have done for which I know God forgives me. However, I’m pretty sure that I will never forgive myself, for my transgressions are embodied in a beautiful seven-year-old who tells me daily that I am “the best Mom in the universe.” I know the truth. And someday, so will he. All of these “unforgivable” actions were done with the best of intentions, but we all know what they say about “good intentions” and “the road to hell.” I am admitting here for all the world to see: I gave my son Autism. I did it. Me. And no one can ever take that away.

See what I mean? See how chilling this is? Mountain Mama is convinced that she and she alone is responsible for her son being autistic. She lives in fear of the day when her son learns of her role in making him autistic, the subtext clearly being that her son will blame her and even come to hate her for having made him the way he is. The other subtext is that Mountain Mama appears to be wondering if God or her son can ever forgive her for the evil that she believes she has done to her son. The expression of guilt at having “caused” one’s child’s autism is something I’ve seen before. Having long perused antivaccine blogs, websites, and discussion forums, I’ve seen innumerable times when parents have blamed themselves for vaccinating their children and vowed never to do it again. What is striking about Mountain Mama’s post is the sheer number of ways that she believes she has caused her son’s autism, beginning with prenatal ultrasounds:

I had at least five while I was pregnant. I was assured that they were completely safe. Heck, you can get them in malls, so I assumed they were pretty benign. Wrong! While I didn’t get ultrasounds in malls, I didn’t research them either. Ultrasounds have, in fact, been implicated in autism among other neurological disorders. While there is no definitive “causal link,” enough has been found to warrant further research and precautionary measures. According to this article, “Research shows populations exposed to ultrasound have a quadrupled perinatal death rate, increased rates of brain damage, nerve cell demylienation, dyslexia, speech delays, epilepsy and learning difficulty.” Sound familiar?

Well, yes, but none of these things are autism. In any case, the article Mountain Mama cites is from a chiropractor webpage that conflates an FDA warning about 4D “vanity” or “keepsake” ultrasounds that can be obtained in clinics in malls and are not done for medical reasons with medical ultrasound. As the FDA warning itself states, unlike medical ultrasounds, which are usually performed in the shortest time reasonable to get the necessary information, these “keepsake ultrasounds” sometimes require an hour to get a video of the fetus. Even though there is no convincing evidence linking prenatal ultrasounds with adverse health outcomes, be they autism, neurological conditions, or premature death. Basically, the FDA warning was an exercise of the precautionary principle based on the principle of “we just don’t know.” Conservatively and wisely, the NIH Consensus Statement on Diagnostic Imaging in Pregnancy states that ultrasound examinations solely to satisfy parental curiosity about the sex of the baby, view the fetus, or for educational purposes “should be discouraged” and that examinations without medical benefits shouldn’t be done, reasonable recommendations for any medical test.

One can argue whether or not the FDA overreacted given the lack of evidence, but it probably did not because it’s a general principle that medical tests should not be done for nonmedical reasons because their use under such situations is all risk and no benefit. From an ethical standpoint, even if the risk is not known or is very, very tiny, one can make an argument that it’s not a good idea to do medical tests when they are definitely not indicated. Certainly, there is not enough evidence to justify self-flagellation by a mother that she caused her child’s autism because she got the recommended prenatal ultrasounds. Indeed, a recent study and review of the literature fail to find evidence of a correlation between prenatal ultrasounds and autism, and the arguments that blame ultrasound examinations for autism boil down to the same sort of arguments used to blame vaccines for autism: The increase in autism diagnoses correlates with the increased use of prenatal ultrasound; i.e., confusing correlation with causation. Moreover, there is a confounder that the people who think ultrasound examinations cause fetal abnormalities always neglect to mention or even consider, and it’s this. Complicated pregnancies usually require more ultrasound examinations, as the obstetrician keeps a much closer eye on them. Complicated pregnancies also have a higher probability of fetal death or neurological abnormalities. If that confounder isn’t carefully controlled for, of course there’s a correlation between the number of ultrasound examinations and adverse outcomes for the child!

The litany of things that Mountain Mama blames for her child’s autism balloons up to nine items, including Lortab/acetaminophen, antibiotics, Pitocin, high fructose corn syrup, C-section, other drugs, and, of course, vaccines, about which she writes:

People, I know what happened to my kid. I KNOW. I watched it. Ginger Taylor has been compiling studies for years that link vaccines to autism. That list has now reached over 60 studies.

Another word – Don’t bother making comments arguing about vaccines. I won’t post them. I am fully aware that there are children with autism who weren’t vaccinated. I am not suggesting that vaccines are SOLELY responsible for EVERY child’s autism. I KNOW, however, that they caused irreparable damage to my son’s immune system which ultimately led to his autism. There. Done.

In other words, don’t bother Mountain Mama with evidence. She don’t need no steeenkin’ evidence, other than that which she cherry picks. I do, however, find it very telling that Mountain Mama would use a list compiled by, of all people, Ginger Taylor as her “evidence.” If there’s a single person who embodies the arrogance of ignorance when it comes to vaccines, is a master of cherry picking studies, and thinks she knows more than real scientists, it’s Ms. Taylor, who is a true believer who attended Jenny McCarthy’s antivaccine “protest” a few years ago and believes that Andrew Wakefield is the victim of a “witch hunt.” Indeed, many of the studies she lists do not show what she thinks they show or have at best a tangential relationship to autism or no relationship to autism at all.

As for the other potential causes, Mountain Mama cites a Medical Hypotheses paper as evidence that there is a link between Augmentin and autism. As is frequently the case with articles in this vanity journal that is not peer-reviewed but is known for publishing all sorts of pseudoscientific nonsense such as HIV/AIDS denialism, antivaccine quackery, and more, the argument boils down to handwaving and speculation about biochemical mechanisms and confusing correlation with causation, along with an uncontrolled “study” allegedly linking Augmentin to autism. This was a “study” so bad that even Medical Hypotheses published a refutation of it that pointed out the nonsensical nature of the claim:

Her non-prospective, non-randomized, uncontrolled “study” of 206 autistic children found that members of her cohort had received 893 courses of amoxicillin/clavulanate and 1587 courses of other antibiotics. Without data on appropriately-matched control children, her data fail the “white shoe test”. Had she found that, of 206 autistic children, 205 wore shoes on a regular basis, and of those, 200 regularly wore a pair of white shoes before age one, would she suspect white shoes cause autism? Suppose further she found 125 students whose white shoes were fastened with Velcro® instead of shoelaces. Would she associate autism with Velcro®? Velcro® would certainly pass Fallon’s “timeline test”: there were very few Velcro® fastened shoes before the 1980s.

I’m so going to remember this analogy. My favorite one is the “CD analogy,” in which I point out that the rise in autism prevalence correlates very nicely with the introduction of CDs in 1985 and how CDs supplanted LPs as the most common medium on which music has been sold. Of course, then we have the difficulty of the last several years, during which MP3 files downloaded from various online services have become the preferred medium for consuming music, but I have a substitute: The “Internet” analogy, in which I point out that the rise in autism diagnoses also correlates very well with the explosion in Internet usage since the early 1990s. The analogies write themselves.

The evidence cited by Mountain Mama for everything else on which she blames her son’s autism is similarly weak. For instance, she also blames her child’s autism on her having to have a C-section to deliver him, citing a single non-peer-reviewed observation on a website as evidence why she feels that way. Now, there is some weak evidence that C-section deliveries might be associated with a higher risk of autism, but it’s pretty weak. Besides, what would Mountain Mama have done otherwise? By her own account, it sounds as though she really needed the emergency C-section.

In the end, the list goes on and on:

I can think of many more things I did wrong that I am sure contributed to my son’s health crisis. I will mention diet, toxic cookware, benzocaine teething gel and toxic building materials but won’t elaborate because at this point, common sense should dictate. I am writing this to try to hit the biggies that people really need to research to make better decisions than I did.

Is there anything Mountain Mama didn’t do to cause her son’s autism? Reading her confessional, it’s hard to think of any. After telling readers not to bother to try to urge her to let go and forgive herself but instead to send it around to everyone they know because:

No child should have to endure what mine has endured. No mother should ever have to experience the kind of torturous guilt I live with every day.

The mistakes I made were, by and large, recommended by healthcare professionals. That is no excuse. My son’s health was MY responsibility. I could choose to follow the recommendations or not. Even a small bit of research would have changed the outcome for my son. There are women, as we speak, who are on the way to the doctor for their second or third ultrasound. There are mothers dosing their babies with acetaminophen before their shots. There are expectant moms being hooked up to Pitocin drips. Some moms are administering unnecessary antibiotics for yet another ear infection and haven’t made the connection that their baby’s immune system is failing. There are also many, many mothers who are hearing the following words for the first time, “Your child has autism.” Help them.

Oddly enough, I agree. No parent should have to live with such guilt. Unfortunately, in Mountain Mama’s case, the guilt is unnecessary, not based on any evidence, and destructive, both to her emotional well-being and to the health of her son. This is the price of the myth that vaccines cause autism. The guilt imposed on parents was bad enough when they believed in only one major cause of autism, vaccines. Now that the list of culprits has expanded in the wake of the discrediting of Andrew Wakefield and the studies suggesting a vaccine-autism link, we see in Mountain Mama an example of guilt due to everything she did before and after her son was born. While it might be a common human reaction to blame oneself when one’s child is not “normal” and has special needs, in the case of Mountain Mama and thousands of mothers like her, the price is a self-blame so intense that it informs everything she does. Unfortunately, it also leads her to the second price paid because of the myth of vaccine causation of autism.

Another medical propaganda film, this time promoting “autism biomed” quackery

Last week, to add to the lovely specter of a new Stanislaw Burzynski movie approaching a mere week from tomorrow, I learned of an antivaccine movie currently in production. I actually learned of it based on an appeal from its producer for money to help her finish it. The “documentary” (in reality an infomercial) Canary Kids: A Film for Our Children, is being touted by the antivaccine quackery propagandists at the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism. There’s even a trailer:

The makers of this film sure aren’t shy about promoting it—or making hyperbolic claims for it, either:

We live in a media age. It is time for a big media solution. It is time for a ground-breaking, paradigm-shifting film, made by an award-winning director, that will raise awareness in a meaningful and powerful way. A film that connects the dots for people. A film that shows how all children in this country are a part of the autism epidemic. A film that can be seen in theaters across the country.

I present to you, Canary Kids: A Film For Our Children. This is a documentary film that is being funded by us, the parents, the scientists, the writers, the advocates, the people who “get it,” who want everyone else to “get it” too. But we need your help.

I’m beginning to think that it’s a general rule among cranks, “brave maverick doctors,” and quacks that, if you can’t convince scientists and physicians based on high quality scientific and clinical trial evidence, then make a movie! Maybe I’ll call that Gorski’s Law. Oh, wait. I’ve called too many other postulates “Gorski’s Law,” such as “Gorski’s Law” as related to the Pharma Shill Gambit. Maybe I should publish a list of them, along with corollaries, kind of like the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. Maybe I could call them “Gorski’s Rules of ‘Alternative’ Health.”

My egomaniacal desire for laws and postulates named after me that can be quoted in skeptical wikis aside (much like Mark Crislip’s desire for world-wide media dominance), this movie looks bad. Real bad. As bad as the latest Stanislaw Burzynski hagiography that’s going to be released direct to DVD in eight days. It’s hard to tell, because obviously the Canary movie isn’t done yet, and the purpose of this announcement is to hit up the faithful for money. Using a survey that found that people who watched Food, Inc. actually changed their behavior with respect to the sorts of food they purchased, the makers of this new antivaccine movie state explicitly what their goals are for this movie. They are, quite simply, to do grave damage to public health by undermining confidence in the vaccine program and to promote the quackiest of quackery to be used to “recover” autistic children:

So imagine the statistics coming out upon the release of Canary Kids:

People who watched Canary Kids were more likely to:

  • refuse vaccination and/or question their pediatricians about the safety and efficacy of vaccines
  • refuse antibiotics for their children’s ear infections or viral sore throats
  • eat organic whole foods
  • try homeopathy before pharmaceutical medications
  • replace toxic cleaning and personal care products with safe, green alternatives
  • write their Congressmen about toxic exposures in their communities

Now, that is the kind of change that can stop a health epidemic in its tracks.

No, that’s the kind of change that can cause a health epidemic by decreasing the number of children protected against vaccine-preventable diseases, thus degrading herd immunity and guaranteeing that the incidence of serious childhood illnesses will increase manyfold. It’s also the sort of change that could guarantee that children will die of diseases they don’t have to die from as parents choose quackery like homeopathy before they choose real medications.

This is the sort of change we don’t need.

Fortunately, I doubt that a movie that will obviously not be as slick as Food, Inc will be as influential. The message is also likely to be so heavy-handed that people will likely tune it out as an advertisement, which is what it will be, more or less, specifically an advertisement for autism biomed quackery. It is, however, interesting to me primarily because apparently the movie is going to codify the sorts of things that antivaccinationists have been saying, in which vaccines apparently cause pretty much every chronic disease known to children because, well, vaccines are evil in their eyes. Certainly no science links vaccines with these problems, but science was never the strong suit of people like the makers of this film.

In fact, this film will create a diagnosis that will boil down to “vaccines cause every chronic health problem children experience.” You think I’m joking. Take a look. The name of the condition, according to the film, is “almost autism.” What constitutes “almost autism”? Almost everything. Basically, the filmmakers are trying to suck all parents into believing that their children are part of the “autism epidemic” (that almost certainly is nothing of the sort), whether their children have autism or not. In service of this “rebranding,” they redefine GI problems, asthma, pretty much any behavioral problem, or any chronic problem as “not autism”; i.e., caused by the same things they believe to be causes of autism, including (of course) above all vaccines. The filmmakers are very blatant about admitting that their movie’s message is all about marketing:

What is going to make someone come out to see Canary Kids? Canary Kids is not just about autism. For too long, people not directly affected by autism have looked the other way, because they can’t relate to autism. They don’t know what it is, they don’t see how it impacts them. They may not come out to see a film about autism, but they will come out to see a film about their kids.

Most people don’t understand that the asthma epidemic is directly related to the autism epidemic or that the obesity epidemic is related to the autism epidemic. They don’t yet see that the same environmental factors (pharmaceuticals, vaccines, toxins, diet, etc.) that cause symptoms of autism in one child are the very same environmental factors that cause symptoms of asthma in another.

I don’t know if this tactic is evidence that these people are true believers or truly cynical. It’s probably both, although I don’t know which predominates. Basically, because their message isn’t resonating very much outside of their little collective of vaccine-autism true believers, they’ve decided that the way to reach out is to try to convince parents whose children have any sort of health issue at all that the evil vaccines done it and that their children have “almost autism.” In this, they seem to be appearing to redefine autism to the point of their definition being no definition at all other than any condition their fevered imaginations come to view as being caused by vaccines, regardless of how they do it.

But who is this group that is making this movie? We learn that it’s a nonprofit organization called Epidemic Answers, which until now I had never heard of before. It was formed by a woman named Beth Lambert, whom I had also never heard of before, which just goes to show that, no matter how much I think I know the players in the antivaccine movement, I never quite do. There’s always someone out there attacking vaccines or forming some organization or another whom I don’t hear about until for some reason he or she pops up on my radar. Then, when that happens, I try to find out who the person is and what she stands for.

In the case of Lambert, it’s easy. She bills herself as a former healthcare consultant to pharmaceutical and device manufacturers and teacher. It’s pretty clear that she has no formal medical training, because if she did she would certainly advertise that on her book (yes, she’s written a book), A Compromised Generation: The Epidemic of Chronic Illness in America’s Children. She wrote it with a dietitian named Vicki Kobliner who runs a company, Holcare Nutrition, that touts “gluten-free, dairy free, low allergen, GFCF, SCD, GAPS, FODMAPS, and other appropriate diets” to treat a whole host of conditions. She’s also into “functional” medicine:

Through established scientific research and laboratory testing, functional medicine recognizes that ADHD is associated with imbalances in the levels of micronutrients (or vitamins and minerals used by the body for basic functions), neurotransmitters (necessary brain chemicals), and excesses of heavy metals in the body, among other dysregulated processes. Through diagnostic laboratory testing, clinicians can evaluate a particular patient’s imbalances and look for what might have contributed to these imbalances. For instance, deficiencies in micronutrients in the body (such as zinc, selenium, magnesium) can be explained by looking at the diet and how effectively or ineffectively the body assimilates these nutrients into the gastrointestinal tract.

Sadly, functional medicine is pure pseudoscience, as Wally Sampson has explained. It postulates “imbalances” in hormones and neurotransmitters, oxidation-reduction, detoxification and biotransformation, immune function, inflammation, and cell structure. It’s all so vague that these “imbalances” could mean almost anything, and when practitioners of “functional medicine” refer to them they usually do. Perhaps the most famous practitioner of “functional medicine” is Mark Hyman, known for creating “Ultrawellness,” the very name of which should tell you pretty much all you need to know about functional medicine. Yes, it’s quackery, full of supplements, dietary manipulations, and “detoxification.” “Imbalances” must be measured through a battery of lab tests and corrected with whatever woo functional medicine practitioners can dream up.

So we know where Lambert and Kobliner are coming from, and it is not from anything resembling a science-based perspective. Not surprisingly, she believes that in addition to lifestyle and diet, vaccines and “toxins” from the environment are the root cause of autism and pretty much every other chronic conditions children can develop, as seen in this interview:

This interview is very telling. In it, Lambert describes having a child with what she calls “almost autism,” who had sensory, skin, allergy, and behavioral issues. The funny thing is, apparently her pediatrician didn’t agree that the child had all these problems, because Lambert complains that every time she took her child to the pediatrician he would tell her that her child was fine and developing on-target. One wonders if Lambert was unhappy that her child was only developing “on-target” and was not developing far ahead of his peers. Whatever the reason, Lambert went doctor shopping and found a “Defeat Autism Now!” (DAN!) doctor. As many readers know, DAN! was a name for a set of “autism biomed” quackery, and DAN! doctors were doctors who practice such quackery. They were listed on the registry of the antivaccine autism biomed group “Autism Research Institute,” but the DAN! classification was dropped after 2011, and the ARI no longer maintains a list of DAN! doctors.

And guess what? The DAN! doctor found stuff wrong with her child—a lot of stuff! (Funny how that works, isn’t it?) Completely unsurprisingly, the problems he found were the same as those that DAN! doctors always seem to find in autistic children. Lambert also apparently used an “integrative” physician and dietician to do “comprehensive gut healing protocols,” whatever that means. She basically assembled a team consisting of the DAN! doctor, a woo-loving dietician, a homotoxicologist, a naturopath, and other practitioners of unscientific “medicine.” In other words, she assembled a team of quacks and entrusted them with the care of herself and her children. I realize I’ve written a lot about naturopathy, which is a cornucopia of just about every form of quackery known to humans, but what is homotoxicology? It turns out that it’s a quack discipline concocted by a homeopath, Hans-Heinrich Reckeweg, who believed that disease was the body’s attempt to dispel “toxins” and that homeopathic remedies can be used to correct this.

So what is this movie about? Let’s take a look:

The Canary Kids Film Project will take 7 children with a diagnosis of autism, ADHD, asthma, chronic Lyme or some other amalgamation of chronic (environmentally-derived) symptoms and provide them with free healing and recovery services for the period of 18 months.

The film will document their recovery journey while simultaneously providing an exposé on the factors that contributed to their conditions in the first place. Most importantly, the film will connect the dots for people so that they understand that we are all a part of the autism epidemic: Asthma, ADHD, allergies, Lyme, OCD, SPD, LDs, diabetes, obesity, Crohn’s, colitis, rare autoimmune conditions . . . we are all affected.

So basically, Lambert will take seven children with “with a diagnosis of autism, ADHD, asthma, chronic Lyme or some other amalgamation of chronic (environmentally-derived) symptoms” and subject them to the the full Monty of autism biomed quackery, including “detoxification” and “supplementation” treatment in order to “heal” them. It is indeed pure propaganda. Propaganda for antivaccine views and autism biomed quackery aside, I can’t help but wonder if, in fact, the motivation to produce this film is more than just a desire to sell the world on the idea that vaccines cause autism and all sorts of other health problems (almost autism). It would appear to me that the motivation is primarily to sell autism quackery to a broader audience by making a movie that will be in essence a series of testimonials. Does anyone believe that all seven of these children won’t improve? Of course they will, because the outcome is preordained and there wouldn’t be a movie if they didn’t all (or at least five or six of them) appear to make considerable progress. What a bargain for the mere price of $250,000, which is what Lambert is asking for! Sadly, I have little doubt she’ll get it and ultimately make this movie. Fortunately, on the surface it looks as though it will be so blatant that most people outside the autism biomed bubble will recognize it for the propaganda that it will be.

The price continues to be paid

The concept that vaccines cause autism has been thoroughly refuted from a scientific standpoint, but it lives on in “autism biomed” communities. Whether as a result of the increasing level of scientific evidence refuting the connection between vaccines and autism or for other reasons, the concept of seemingly everything under the sun (but especially vaccines!) as a cause for autism exacts a steep price, both from the psyches and pocketbooks of parents and from the health and well-being of autistic children, who are subjected to innumerable forms of quackery in the quest to “recover” them, as discussed above. This is the sort of price that drives parents to flit from dubious practitioner to dubious practitioner looking for the “cure” that will work. Two other recent examples of this were featured on—where else?—The Thinking Moms’ Revolution blog. In the first post, Denial Land, a woman going by the ‘nym Lionness expresses regret that she let her son have a hepatitis B vaccine and that she agreed to have a flu shot while pregnant, blaming herself for her son’s autism in much the same way that Mountain Mama did.

Then, in a post entitled The Things We Do For Love, a blogger going under the ‘nym Sunshine describes her quest last week to get her child to a new practitioner. She begins by describing walking into the airport one day last week at 2 PM for a flight to St. Louis but being told that the flight was canceled. I’m guessing that her flight’s cancellation most likely had something to do with the same snowstorm that hit Kansas and Missouri so hard it canceled a conference that I was scheduled to speak at, and almost stranded me in St. Joseph’s, MO. It also gave me a lovely taste of sitting several hours in the very crowded Kansas City International Airport as my flight home Friday was progressively delayed by half-hour increments and only got out about seven hours after it had originally been scheduled. If I had been starting out at home on such a journey, I’d simply have canceled. Not Sunshine. Instead of simply turning around and going home to reschedule her son’s appointment in St. Louis, which would have been the most sensible thing to do in such a weather-induced travel emergency, Sunshine finagled a flight through Detroit, which was delayed, causing her to miss her connection, ended up spending the night in Detroit with a “Thinker” (the name members of the “Thinking Moms’ Revolution” apparently call each other), and finally caught a plane that connected through Atlanta to go to St. Louis. At this point she:

Saw practitioner, drew blood, got new protocol, PAID BILL.

And then flew back home, concluding:

4 flights. 2673 miles. 30 hours start to finish. We were in St. Louis for a grand total of 6 hours.

This is what we do for recovery. For healing. For our beautiful kids. All in the name of love.

Remember, during this whole time she had an autistic boy in tow. One can only imagine the stress on the child. I have no doubt that Sunshine loves her son and thinks she was doing all this in the name of love, but I have to wonder how much of her actions are driven by guilt, the same sort of guilt that drives Mountain Mama. Running through four different airports and staying in the home of a stranger to try to get to St. Louis despite a snowstorm, all to see a new practitioner, who is no doubt no more science-based than any previous practitioners she’s taken her son to, are indeed a lot to go through.

She and her son continue to pay the price for a pseudoscientific belief not based in evidence, as do thousands of parents and autistic children.


Posted by David Gorski

Dr. Gorski's full information can be found here, along with information for patients. David H. Gorski, MD, PhD, FACS is a surgical oncologist at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute specializing in breast cancer surgery, where he also serves as the American College of Surgeons Committee on Cancer Liaison Physician as well as an Associate Professor of Surgery and member of the faculty of the Graduate Program in Cancer Biology at Wayne State University. If you are a potential patient and found this page through a Google search, please check out Dr. Gorski's biographical information, disclaimers regarding his writings, and notice to patients here.