Autism is a significant source of controversy. Terrible people are using this as an opportunity to scare people, take their money, and put their children in danger.
There are so many tales about how autism is caused–and how to treat it–that it can be stressful for parents just trying to make the right choices for their children.
We have an easy guide to help you distinguish the good resources on autism, from the scare-mongers and snake oil salesmen.
On Autism: Whom to Avoid
Don’t let these names fool you. These are the bad guys. They all lie to us about autism.
AutismOne (AKA Focus For Health)
AutismOne is notorious for vilifying vaccines, framing autism as a tragedy, and proposing horrific treatments for autism.
They adore Andrew Wakefield, who concocted a disgraceful “study” concluding that the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine causes autism (it does not).
They adore Jenny McCarthy, who was successful at scaring many mothers into avoid giving the MMR vaccine to their children. Measles is back on the rise.
AutismOne conferences feature speakers such as Stephanie Seneff (who claims that aluminum and glyphosate cause autism–they do not), and Kerri Rivera (who wants you to force your kids to swallow bleach–Miracle Mineral Solution–to “cure” autism; see MMS section below).
AutismOne and Focus for Health have significant financial ties to other anti-vaccination powerhouses such as Generation Rescue and NVIC.
- The Causes and Cures of Autism, at Autism One by Kevin M. Folta
- Autism One: The yearly antivaccine autism “biomed” quackfest begins by Orac (Dr. David Gorski)
- Autism One: As quacky as it ever was by Orac (Dr. David Gorski)
- Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) and autism at Autism One: Kerri Rivera’s apologists strike back by Orac (Dr. David Gorski)
- The money behind the vaccine skeptics from CNNMoney
- A Snapshot of the Deep Pockets of the Anti-Vaccine Movement by Todd W. and John Santos
- Here’s the Money Behind the Anti-Vaccine Movement by Erik Sherman
- Autism One Conference: Skeptics will be Prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law by Elyse MoFo Anders
Age of Autism
Another group that claims that vaccines cause autism, and that autism is about the worst thing that can happen.
They breathlessly attempt to scare parents into fearing modern medicine and the CDC, while downplaying the dangers of measles.
Worse, they insist you try their special supplements to treat autism.
Then they ask for your donation.
- Age of Autism and Gardasil: What’s that again about not being “anti-vaccine”? by Orac (Dr. David Gorski)
- The reverse pharma shill gambit applied to Age of Autism? by Orac (Dr. David Gorski)
- The FDA Takes Action Against Quack Autism “Cure” Peddlers by “Science Mom”
Generation Rescue makes the claim ”Autism is preventable and reversible.” There is no evidence for this assertion.
This group recommends an Autism Action Plan that includes a number of pointless responses to autism, including avoiding gluten, taking anti-fungal medicines, and avoiding “toxins”.
They hype Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy as a treatment for autism–this is a money grab with no scientific support for it. They hype essential oils as a treatment for autism. They hype chelation as a treatment for autism. They give a platform on their blog and Facebook page for Jenny McCarthy, supplement hucksters, and other crackpots.
Like Focus on Health above, Generation Rescue is one hub on the network of the Dwoskin Family Foundation antivax network. Generation Rescue lies about vaccine safety, and recommends the unsupportable and dangerous “alternative vaccine schedule” concocted by Dr. Bob Sears.
- J.B. Handley: No Study Shows “Vaccines Didn’t Cause My Son’s Autism” from PBS
- The money behind the vaccine skeptics from CNNMoney
- The Problem with Dr Bob’s Alternative Vaccine Schedule by Paul A. Offit, MD and Charlotte A. Moser on American Academy of Pediatrics
- Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: Don’t Be Misled from FDA Consumer Updates
Only recently, Autism Speaks reversed its stated position on vaccines. For two years prior, they claimed that there was a connection between vaccines and autism. In fact, the organization had been actively funding research with the sole intent to prove vaccines as a cause of autism (which it never could).
Autism Speaks has become fairly well-known among the general public. They really know how to get the word out about their organization. I’ve had our waitress at Joe’s Crab Shack give a pitch for Autism Speaks donations during our dinner.
Should you donate? Actual autism advocates dislike this organization; they say “Autism Speaks does not speak for me”.
They argue that Autism Speaks paints autism as a terrifying crisis–that a person with autism is barely better off than dead. That Autism Speaks is not trying to advocate for better support and opportunities of autistic people, but rather to rid the world of a population of people.
Autism Speaks’ choices for what they fund is questionable, and they don’t include anyone with autism on their board.
- Autism Speaks Alters Position On Vaccines at Disability Scoop
- “Autism Speaks”- but Should Everyone Listen? by Emily Shire at the Daily Beast
- Don’t Support Autism Speaks at Illusion of Competence
- Why Autism Speaks Doesn’t Speak For Me by Emily Willingham at Forbes
- ASAN-AAC Statement on Autism Speaks’ DC “Policy Summit” from Autistic Self-Advocacy Network
Talk About Curing Autism
Short and sweet: an anti-vaccination front. Jenny McCarthy was their spokesperson until 2008. They included Dr. Bob Sears among their speakers at their conference, with a plan to instruct attendees about how to decrease their next baby’s risk.
Dr. Nancy Hara will be speaking on:
…how germ overgrowth, GI inflammation, constipation and GERD can trigger aggressive behavior. Dr. O’Hara will discuss the diagnosis and treatment of yeast, bacteria, parasites and Lyme disease. Interventions to be covered include nutrition, nutrients, helminth therapy, HBOT and other immunotherapies.
Another will promote “Methylation Testing and Treatment”. Oh, there’s more. Alternative medicine fraud after fraud. Cash grab after cash grab.
- National TACA Autism Conference Sessions and Speakers
- Autism Cures Promised by DNA Testers Belied by Regulators from Bloomberg
Any Proponent of CD and MMS
The use of chlorine dioxide (CD) and Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) to treat autism is child abuse.
The marketing for MMS states that autism is caused by microorganisms that need to be killed. The instructions for MMS tell parents to mix it with citric acid. This results in a dangerous bleaching agent–the water-soluble gas chlorine dioxide. Then parents ask their kids to gulp it down. Or worse, it is to be introduced into the young body via enema. This causes severe damage to a child’s digestive tract.
MMS huckster Louis Daniel Smith was recently convicted of numerous federal crimes in relation to his business selling the stuff.
Another big voice for MMS was Kerri Rivera, who has now moved onto another woo treatment based on a completely different made-up autism cause. The State of Illinois made her stop making claims about the efficacy of–and peddling–chlorine dioxide.
Since then, many Facebook pages and websites that promoted MMS have been deleted or gone silent, but there are still a few groups around. We hope to get more shut down.
- Genesis II Church of Health & Healing (Official) Facebook Page
- MMS-Miracle-Mineral-Supplement Facebook Page
- Healing The Symptoms Known As Autism Facebook Page
- CD Autism Facebook Group
- MMS & CDS by Jim Humble & Andreas Kalcker Facebook Group
- MMS England reaching out to the rest of the World. Facebook Group
- CD/CDS MOMS WHAT IS MY KID EATING TODAY?????? Facebook Group
- The Curious Case of Autism and MMS by Todd Drezner on Huffington Post
- “Miracle Mineral Solution” promoter convicted of selling bleach as a miracle cure by Trumas Lewis on Consumer Affairs
- Bleaching away what ails you by David Gorksi, M.D. on Science-Based Medicine
- Illinois Gives Kerri Rivera Her Walking Papers from No More Bleach
- Toxicity of Chlorine Disinfectants by Mommy, PhD
- Miracle cures come and go, but quacks are forever by Alison Bernstein at A Science Enthusiast
- Chlorine Dioxide: A Horrific Treatment for Autism from Depleted Cranium
Moms Across America
For a breath of bad air of another kind, Moms Across America founder Zen Honeycutt claims that autism is caused by genetically modified organisms (GMO) and the herbicide Glyphosate. Zen fears GMOs so much she’s grasping at the latest headline-grabber: autism anxiety. Zen’s waving around an article by Stephanie Seneff, a computer scientist at MIT who doesn’t know how to science.
Unfortunately, a few people are believing these ladies rather than arching a dubious eyebrow.
- Glyphosate – The New Bogeyman by Steven Novella on Science-Based Medicine
- Will my child be born autistic if I eat GMOs? A scientist’s view by Layla Katiraee at Genetic Literacy Project
Billy thinks chiropractic treatment cures autism after vaccines cause it.
A rabid anti-vaxxer, Sherri shamelessly foists any vaccine and autism myth she finds onto her Facebook page.
Thinking Mom’s Revolution
They say, “Autism is a tragedy that is showing up in households across America and around the world.” Their banner ads pimp alt med treatments that do nothing to help autistic people: IonCleanse, “gut health” elixirs, and iHerb supplements.
Autism Research Institute, and Defeat Autism Now (DAN)
ARI and its brainchild DAN promote alternative treatments for autism that have been discredited by autism researchers. One of the worst is chelation, a potentially dangerous treatment that rests on the false premise that heavy metals in the body cause autism.
- Father Sues Doctors Over ‘Fraudulent’ Autism Therapy from ABC News
- The autism “biomed” movement: Uncontrolled and unethical experimentation on autistic children by David Gorski, M.D. on Science-Based Medicine
Some of the more vocal celebrities on the topic of vaccines use autism like a terrifying bogeyman.
- Jim Carrey
- Jenny McCarthy
- Jenna Elfman
- Alicia Silverstone
- Charlie Sheen
- Rob Schneider
- Kirstie Alley
- Selma Blair
- Juliette Lewis
- Esai Morales
- Holly Robinson Peete
- Kristin Cavallari
- Mayim Bialik
- Billy Corgan
- Tisha Campbell-Martin
- Toni Braxton
- Robert Rodriguez
- Robert Kennedy Jr.
- Donald Trump
- Erin Brockovich
- Bill Maher
- Here’s a Fairly Comprehensive List of Anti-Vaccination Celebrities
- Hollywoods Biggest Anti-Vaccine Proponents
On Autism: Whom to Trust
You can count on these people to give you the facts.
Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism
This group is a true source of advocacy for people with autism. They have a book full of evidence-based information from 54 contributors. They bust autism myths left and right.
Autism Self-Advocacy Network
“The Autistic Self Advocacy Network seeks to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism. ASAN believes that the goal of autism advocacy should be a world in which Autistic people enjoy the same access, rights, and opportunities as all other citizens.”
“I’m a writer, artist, public speaker, and Autistic advocate. I blog about Autism, disability, social justice, and living a neuroatypical life.”
ANCA: Autistic Network for Community Achievement
“ANCA focuses on ‘how’ the autistic mind processes information, or what ANCA terms ‘The Autistic Paradigm – from the inside out’–a mental/cognitive processing map that is unique and distinct to all autistic people–children, teens and adults.”
Life as a Feral Autistic
“I have decided to name my vlog Life As a Feral Autistic (LAFA) because I was homeschooled since 1st grade, never received any kind of autism therapy and was not diagnosed until I was 24 years old.
“I am naturally Autistic like a Mustang is naturally a horse.”
Debunking ASD & ADHD Myths and Misinformation
“Detecting and exposing BS treatments and products marketed to parents with ADHD & ASD children. Promoting science, evidence, compassion and understanding.”
Left Brain Right Brain
“Providing autism news, science and opinion since 2003.”
Natural Variation – Autism Blog
“This is an anti-quackery and pro-neurodiversity blog. Most posts here have to do with the author’s view that autism is not a new man-made phenomenon, but instead a natural part of our species that has always been with us, and should continue to be. Reasonable corrections and rebuttals are welcome and encouraged.”
Autism Women’s Network
“Our goal is to dispel stereotypes and misinformation which perpetuate unnecessary fears surrounding an autism diagnosis. We seek to share information which works to build acceptance and understanding of disability.”
Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance
“A community for parents of Autistic children who choose to love and accept their Autistic children. A place to learn from the writing of Autistic adults. A place where parents can discuss supporting and accommodating Autistic children.”
Note from a commenter: Information provided at PACLA might be overwhelming for new parents.
- Autism Watch
- “Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure” by Paul A. Offit
- “An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales” by Oliver Sacks
The following friends helped me to collect and organize this guide.
Alison Bernstein of
Mommy, PhD at
Stewart Thorpe of
Pro-Vaccine Shills for Big Pharma, the Illumanati, Reptilians, and the NWO at
Katherine Elizabeth Hall of
Life as A Feral Autistic at
This truly is a work in progress. I’ll be enhancing and updating this guide as new information is available. – Dawn