Finding out your child has autism is a devastating blow for many parents. The developmental disorder has no cure, and while different therapies work for different people, there's no one-size-fits-all. For so many families, a diagnosis is the answer they've been waiting for, and a chance for them to move forward and try to find the therapy and treatment that is most beneficial for their child or children. But for others, an autism diagnosis sends them down a path of no return, where they'll try anything to "cure" their children of the incurable neurological disorder.
Unfortunately, the internet is full of dangerous people who peddle equally dangerous treatments for autism, preying on the vulnerabilities and fears of families. One of these potentially deadly "cures", Miracle Mineral Solution, has been around for decades and is promoted by anti-science quacks as a cure for everything from AIDS to cancer. It's gained traction again in recent years, after being marketed as a cure for autism.
Now a mother in Kansas is under fire, after a report by NBC News detailed how she's been forcing her two adult sons, both of whom are autistic, to drink the solution. According to the FDA, Medical Mineral Solution is nothing more than chlorine dioxide, or industrial bleach, and drinking it can have detrimental and deadly consequences.
Laurel Austin is the mother of two adults sons. Joshua is 28, and Jeremy is 27. Both are on the spectrum, although Joshua is considered high-functioning. Jeremy is non-verbal and prone to bouts of anger and self-harm. In an effort to "cure" her sons, Austin has been forcing them to drink bleach every day for over a year. She then posts videos of the treatments on YouTube.
Austin came to the idea of poisoning her sons after finding Kerri Rivera, a former real estate agent who claims that chlorine dioxide can cure autism, and says her "treatment" has cured over 500 people (there is absolutely no evidence of this). Rivera has a book, a line of supplements, and even a clinic in Mexico touting her ridiculous and dangerous practice.
It should go without saying, but drinking bleach is incredibly dangerous. It damages the digestive system and red blood cells, and can lead to kidney failure. Since 2014, there have 2,123 cases of chlorine dioxide poisoning that have led to serious side effects. Eight people have died.
Despite this indisputable science, authorities in Kansas have done nothing to stop Austin from forcing her autistic sons to drink the solution. Law enforcement says there isn't enough evidence to prove it's dangerous, and social services says it's not serious enough to warrant action on their part.
Facebook and YouTube have both banned content that peddles drinking bleach as a cure for autism, but the information is still out there in the dark corners of the web. And until authorities come down hard on parents who poison their kids in the hopes of curing their incurable disorders, this will continue. We just hope no more people die before that happens. It really says something about the parent who would rather have a dead child than an autistic one.