The text below is a translation (omitting some minor parts) of what I posted on my Bulgarian blog on Jan. 11 as a reaction to the dangerous export of autism quackery to Bulgaria.
The problem of children with autism is that they look quite like the others. When there is inborn malformation, chromosomal disease, sensory disability or another quite obvious problem, parents and society eventually accept the fact that this child is different and will remain so. But the inpredictable time course of autism, its still mysterious nature and the normal appearence of autistics mislead parents to hope that they will somehow be able to bring their child to norm. In fact, today the diagnosis of autism is handed around like candy, often by people who are not competent to diagnose but know well how to "cure" the incurable condition of autism (you ask how? - by relieving parents of their too abundant money). Many of the alleged autistic children actually have only speech delay and eventually catch up spontaneously. But pronounced autism is another thing. In the framework of an unaccepting society, it is perceived by parents not as a part of their child's personality but as an enemy to be faught. And then the quacks wishing to separate them from their money lure them easily and catch them on a hook without even a bait.
The last "achievement" of this sort belongs to Tokuda Hospital in (the city of) Sofia... They organized a conference on autism on Jan. 8-9. A special guest who presented a lecture on this conference was Dr. Arthur Krigsman, (advertised as) "a world-renowned gastroenterologist" from the USA...
A minute's Google check shows that he is indeed world-renowned. Have you a page in Wikipedia? Has your child's doctor or the hospital's director such a page? No? Eh well, Dr. Krigsman has one. You can read in it that he is known for his controversial and widely-criticized research in which he attempted to prove that the MMR vaccine caused autism. I love this little English word "controversial". It is used e.g. for Jeremiah Wright - the US president's favourite minister known for his statement that the USA deserved the Sept. 11 attacks. When a doctor is called "controversial" by a restrained source like Wikipedia, you can be sure that he is a top quack already fired from everywhere and awaiting only the prosecutor's subpoena, if not having received it already. I guess the coming of such a high guest to Bulgaria must be a reaction to some call "Quacks of the world, unite!".
From the conference at Tokuda Hospital Dr. Krigsman went to the At a cup of coffee TV show aired on the Nova TV Channel, so that the entire Bulgarian nation could enjoy his blessings. I owe thanks to my mother in-law who heroically watched the program and then retold it to me (I could not see it personally). To sum up, Dr. Krigsman explained for an hour how the neurological disability known as autism is due either to the digestive system or to the immune system or to heavy metal poisoning, how vaccines are to blame, how autistic children must be subjected to colonoscopy and biopsy (an invasive and not quite safe procedure) and how his method provides a cure for autism, described in all medical textbooks as incurable. And at the end of this hour, the gentleman said, "We are not curing autism, we are curing gastrointestinal diseases!" Ha-ha-ha. Western quacks always include such a disclaimer in order to avoid the heavy grip of law. Dr. Krigsman was unaware that in our part of the world, rule of law is a bit sickly and everybody can lie as he wishes without any disclaimers at all.
Unfortunately, (TV show host) Gala - this pride of Bulgarian journalism, really succeeded in advertising the US quack doctor. You can see the discussion in BG-Mamma (the major Web forum of Bulgarian mothers). I could endure only a brief glance on the first page. It looks to me like a chorus from the circles of Hell where gullibility is reinforced by positive feedback as it is handed from one desperate soul to another. But those who are really in the circles of Hell are the children (and adults) with autism. Not because of the autism itself but because of our attitude.
What do I mean? Imagine that you have a disability - let's say, you are blind or your legs are paralyzed. Imagine that society does not wish to accommodate to your disability, refuses to give you Braille books or a wheelchair and instead wants you to start seeing or walking. It suggests to you that if you fail to achieve this, you have no value, you are not a complete human, it is not clear whether you are human at all. Now imagine that your family members, on whom you have to rely because of your disability and your tender age, are not interested in your real needs but instead wonder how to cure you. They put you on a diet without bread, dairy products and everything you like, and they swear that, thanks to this diet, you already distinguish light from darkness or have slightly moved your left toe. (I am referring to the notorious gluten-free casein-free diet that not only does not lessen autism traits a bit except for the placebo effect, but deprives children of calcium and so makes their bones thinner.) Moreover, your relations bring you to some quack to poison you allegedly to detoxicate you from heavy metals, endangering your life. They also bring you to another quack to puncture your intestines, again endangering your life. They subject you to all sorts of experiments that are not even included in a legal experimental medicine study. They repent for the vaccines that have allegedly contributed to your condition, and swear not to vaccinate your little sister - which you take as a message that they'd prefer her to die of measles than be like you.
Unfortunately, right now I have no time to write a serious text about autism, which seems to be necessary. For those who can read English, I recommend the sincere tale of Dr. James Laidler how he himself got involved in quackery because of his desperation after his two children were diagnosed with autism, and then the blog of "Prometheus" - a molecular biologist and father of an autistic child. Meanwhile, to all who care for children or adults with autism, I wish high spirit, health, physical and emotional strength - and act cleverly!
(In an update, I added that Gala's guest was not only Dr. Krigsman but also his pal Dr. Anju Usman, who has direct responsibility for the death of 5-yr-old Abubakar Nadama by referring him to Dr. Kerry to be "treated" with the poison EDTA that killed him.)