November 25, 2009
Dear Ms. Callahan, Trine Tsouderos and Mr Kern,
I have been a pediatric registered nurse for 32 years and was astounded and dismayed to read your recent article in the Chicago Tribune: Alternative Therapies Amount to Uncontrolled Experimentation on Children, Investigation Finds. link http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-autism-main7-2009dec07,0,5807576.story
I can't help but wonder if during your research for this article on autism, you might have also come across the startling statistics showing the escalation in recent years of many other childhood disorders including Asthma, (which has more than doubled since 1980), ADHD Childhood Cancer (is now the leading cause of death by disease in children), Diabetes, Allergies etc? If you had, you might have realized that parents and health professionals are dealing with unprecedented and alarming statistics when it comes to children's health issues. However, of even greater concern, is the limited number of safe and effective treatments available for these conditions. In the midst of this urgency, for you to insinuate that parents and physicians seeking real solutions to address these growing problems are irresponsible and putting children at undue risk, is unfair. From a journalism perspective I believe it's pure sensationalism. Sitting idly by as more and more of our children get diagnosed with these conditions, and not doing all we can to find help for them, that is the real definition of “irresponsible.”
I’m aware that as a reporter you do not possess the scientific background to understand the fact that many of the therapies you speak of with a disparaging tone as being untested and unsafe (supplements, chelation therapy for excess levels of heavy metals, intravenous vitamins etc, ) are not only approved, but have been used safely and effectively for for decades.
I think it is a shame that writers unfamiliar with the complexities of autism accuse parents of being naive and professionals (who choose to try and help these children), irresponsible. This type of inaccurate reporting only serves to create fear and spread misperceptions . If you wish to report or comment with a degree of accuracy on the mostly natural and nutritionally oriented procedures that are helping so many children with autism, I suggest you actually read the studies provided to you by Ms. Arranga and others. Another idea is to attend (and listen to) the credible researchers, clinicians and parents at a Defeat Autism Now! Conference. I've heard from several people who you interviewed for this article, that you not only did not listen to them, but you seemed to have made up your mind on the biomedical approach to treating autism before you asked the questions.
Having coordinated the Defeat Autism Now! Conferences for 10 years, I can attest to the fact that parents attending these events are bright, observant and discerning (not easily misled by charlatan-like physicians out to make a quick buck) as you insinuate in your article. Additionally, the physicians and other health practitioners that I had the pleasure of working worth during my tenure with DAN! were some of the brightest individuals I have ever encountered in the field of medicine. Together these parents, clinicians and researchers are developing effective and safe strategies to help deal with the underlying conditions that cause the symptoms associated with autism.
Until mainstream medicine offers real answers for the growing health problems affecting our children, I applaud and support the maverick parents and professionals that make up the “autism recovery movement”. I also join them in celebrating the fact that many children are improving as a result of their efforts.
Maureen H. McDonnell, RN
Co founder Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet children's health expos (www.SOKHOP.com)