Regular readers may remember an earlier post of mine about Action For Autism in India (AFA) called Put Children First. I praised their positive attitude to autism and their fantastic achievements on a limited budget. I compared this with the mercury militia in the USA, particularly JB Handley of Generation Rescue who believes all autism is caused by mercury poisoning and spent more on advertizing campaigns than the entire cost of establishing the National Autism Centre in Delhi.
Then I read about an Indian mother on an internet list who was doing Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy on her son because he might be at risk of developing autism. The son is 10 months old! So I wrote to AFA to warn them that quackery had reached their shores.
[Edit: I have deleted excerpts from an email that I quoted in error. I stand by my opinion that anyone promoting HBOT or chelation as a treatment for autism is promoting quackery. Action for Autism (India) have no wish to be drawn into this controversy. They are concentrating instead on the work that is summarized in Merry Barua’s contribution to the AWARES Conference.]
The shame of it is that the message parents are getting from the affluent west is that money buys a cure. So they pay for expensive “therapies” like HBOT and chelation while AFA struggles to find the money for its education programme, which is much cheaper and, more to the point, actually works.
The good news is that the first national autism centre in India has been established by AFA. It will be inaugurated by Mrs Sonia Gandhi on September 8. But it is still not paid for. You can help by giving money, or visit their wishlist. They also need books about autism so if we all donate one from our shelves that will help to build up their library. And if you are not in a position to give anything I am sure that Merry would welcome messages of encouragement and support.
Action For Autism (AFA)
Sector 5 Jasola Vihar, Behind Sai Niketan New Delhi 110025
Tel: 91 11 65347422, 91 11 32964730
AFA’s Vision is a society that views the interdependence of people of every ability as valuable and enriching and seeks to provide equal opportunities to all