My article on biomedical interventions for autism in Communication has provoked a largely hostile response. Some people disagreed with me. That is fine. I welcome debate. Others thought the NAS was wrong to publish my article at all.
My article was clearly labelled as an opinion piece. I was described as a National Councillor but that does not mean that I speak for the NAS. It means that I was elected by members who broadly support my views. There are also councillors who do not share my views. The NAS has always been about plurality. That is our strength. We are united by our concern for autistic people, not by our adherence to this or that theory of autism, or by our support for one intervention above all others. Plurality also means that when my term is up you get the chance to re-elect me or not. Those members threatening to resign because of my article really ought to stay and vote me out next time next time if they feel so strongly.
I do support medical interventions for clearly identified problems like sleep disorders, ear infections and problems with diet and bowel movements. But they must be targeted at specific symptoms and they ought to be properly tested first.
I do believe that these kinds of problems aggravate the difficulties faced by autistic people and their families and that they are often dismissed by medical practitioners who ought to know better. In my opinion dealing with these symptoms turns a sick autistic person into a healthy autistic person. It does not cure their autism.
I have not read any research that persuades me that there is an epidemic of a new form of regressive autism caused by vaccines and curable by chelation. Chelation is a drastic intervention that has not been tested and approved for therapeutic use with young children. It is used to treat heavy metal poisoning. It is not a treatment for autism.
I do object to people who prey on parents and offer them false hopes at great price. In one sense we were lucky because our son was not diagnosed until he was 12. At three years old he had ear infections, sleep problems, tantrums and no speech. If we had been introduced to the biomedical movement then, we would have bought it all. Now he is 20 and applying for a degree course at college, done without the benefit of any biomedical intervention.
Just because these interventions were not essential for my son does not mean that I condemn them out of hand. It does mean that I want research to provide evidence based treatments for all the problems associated with autism.