We need laws to stop snake-oil salesmen preying on vulnerable
Desperate people seek desperate measures. It has always been thus and when it comes to trying to help their children, parents are willing to go to extreme lengths.
The news that gardaí were interviewing a number of people who gave their autistic children a controversial bleach treatment believing it could 'cure' them was utterly shocking.
Surely to God, everyone knows that bleach is not to be ingested. Apparently, a man called Jim Humble has been persuading people around the world that a bleach solution is in fact the answer to many problems.
Humble, a former Scientologist and self-styled archbishop of the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, has been selling a bleach solution known as Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS).
Humble claims that MMS acts as a miracle cure for a number of medical conditions, including asthma, Aids, malaria, Ebola and autism.
It was a few years ago at AutismOne, a parent convention in the US, that he really began to push the effectiveness of MMS in 'curing' autism.
Along with his two sidekicks, Kerri Rivera and Janet Henshaw-Hedlund, they set up a workshop in Mexico where they 'treated' autistic children by having them ingest the solution every two hours over the course of 72 hours.
Rivera admits that the side effects include, at minimum, diarrhoea and fever.
In fact, she says that the diarrhoea is a good thing if it's "detox diarrhoea" and that the fever means the immune system is being stimulated, thus making it a positive side effect too.
Humble says that to overcome the nausea barrier you need to up the dosage. It's barbaric and yet parents around the world - and in Ireland now too - are listening to this lunatic and putting their children through these horrors.
Traditionally known as snake-oil salesmen, these people need to be stopped from preying on vulnerable people and selling them, not just false hope, but potentially lethal 'remedies' for their ailments and 'cures' for their innocent children.
There is currently no legislation in place in Ireland to ban parents treating their children with MMS. The product makers have been able to circumvent current legislation by describing MMS as a water purifier.
Fiona O'Leary, from the Irish Neurodiversity Movement, who has two children on the autism spectrum, believes it is unlikely that parents will face criminal prosecution as a result of the Garda investigation, but says some sanction needs to be put in place to prevent vulnerable children being forced to take bleach, either orally or as an enema.
"We really need laws to ban such dangerous and unlicensed treatments. People are playing Russian roulette with their kids who are being used as guinea pigs for experimentation and there's no legislation to stop this."
I know several families who have autistic children. I have watched them struggle to give their children the best life possible and to help them in any way they can.
The autism community is a vulnerable one for many reasons, but none are more vulnerable than the autistic children.
In the past, parents of autistic children have been persuaded to experiment with other horrendous 'treatments' including chelation therapy and chemical castration.
It's very distressing to think that innocent children are being put through these futile 'cures' that are not only dangerous but potentially fatal. As for the charlatans peddling these despicable 'treatments', they should be hunted down, charged and locked up.