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Talk About Child Abuse

September 19th, 2013 · 8 Comments · Facepalm, Junk science

Listen to the parents! That’s what discredited and cult-like autism advocacy groups tell us. What they really mean is “pay no attention to the science – just listen to our unconfirmed anecdotes!”

Groups such as Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) and Jenny McCarthy’s Generation Rescue are notorious for excluding or ejecting skeptics and neutral observers from their events, one part revival meeting, one part trade fair, wrapped in the respectability of science. In their world, a scientific conference is not about challenging speakers with conflicting data, or pointing out biases. It’s about providing a “safe and nurturing atmosphere” where parents feel comfortable to speak their minds. In such a setting, there are no bad ideas, save one: asking important questions.

So it was no surprise when TACA rejected my registration for its upcoming conference in Madison, Wisconsin. I registered online a few weeks ago, and paid my $35 with a credit card. The last time I registered for a TACA conference was February, 2010. My registration was denied then as well.

Here’s the email TACA sent me yesterday:

From: webmaster <webmaster@tacanow.org>
Subject: TACA Order # 9273
Date: September 18, 2013 4:04:50 PM CDT

Ken,

The purpose of our Wisconsin Real Help Now Conference on Friday and Saturday, September 27th & 28th is to bring together members in the autism community in order to educate and support families and facilitate dialogue on important issues related to autism. As such we want to nurture an environment that is conflict free and allows open communication.

We regret that we will not be able to accept your registration to this event. We are refunding your registration fee today.

Talk About Curing Autism

When TACA barred me in 2010, it followed up the email with an over-night letter that I had to sign for. This is what the email said then:

Dear Mr. Reibel,

The purpose of our Wisconsin Real Help Now Conference on Saturday, February 27, 2010 is to bring together members in the autism community in order to educate and support families and facilitate dialogue on important issues related to autism. As such we want to nurture an environment that is conflict free and allows open communication.

Your attendance at a previous national autism conference was disruptive to the mission and purpose of that conference. We want to ensure the focus of the conference is on education and support and that the environment is safe and supportive for conference attendees.

We have given you a full refund of the purchase price. You will not be admitted to this conference.

TACA Foundation

The “previous national autism conference” was the AutismOne conference in May, 2008. I had asked for, and received a press pass to that event.  My “disruptive” behavior was to stay silent for two days, then ask a question during a Q&A on day three. The organizers’ disruptive behavior included calling hotel security to frog march me to the parking lot.

TACA organizers boast that their conference “brings together highly regarded experts in autism.” On such expert is Bob Sears, MD, FAAP, the pediatrician best known for fabricating and promoting his own untested vaccine schedule. It calls for twice the number of office visits in a child’s first year of life than the schedule that is recommended by real scientists. Pediatricians are not amused.

TACA says parents will leave the conference “with a positive action plan for their child with autism.” Sears  advises parents to avoid vaccinating their autistic children until they are “recovered” from the disorder.  So presumably TACA’s positive action plan includes positive test results for some nasty viruses.

Another TACA luminary and perennial AutismOne favorite is Anju Usman of Naperville, Illinois. You may know her as the physician who diagnosed aluminum poisoning in a five-year-old autistic boy in 2005, then referred him to another “alternative” practitioner. That doctor, Roy Kerry, killed the boy, in front of the mother. He was trying to chelate lead from the boy’s body, which stopped the child’s heart. A few months later, the Autism Research Institute awarded Kerry with membership into DAN! , which stands for Defeat Autism Now. DAN! practitioners used to earn their cred by completing a grueling eight-hour seminar. Now it takes three days.

There’s something unsettling and cult-like about an organization that treats autistic children like lab rats, then boasts that its conferences are nurturing and safe, where parents are free to speak their minds. But only when everybody is of one mind.

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8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Paula C. Durbin-Westby // Sep 19, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    You are in good company, even though you can’t join their party! Thanks for posting their reject letter.

  • 2 Chris Hickie // Sep 19, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    I heard Sears say at an online webinar hosted by TACA called “VACCINE DECISIONS FOR FAMILIES WITH AUTISM” on 2/22/13 (he plugs it on his FB page) that if a family had one child with autism, they should not further vaccinate any of their other/future children. He said it with absolute certainty and absolutely no data of any certainty to back him up. Just plain unforgiveable.

  • 3 Anonymous // Sep 20, 2013 at 10:23 am

    It calls for twice the number of office visits in a child’s first year of life than the schedule that is recommended by real scientists

    Twice the number of billable visits.

    Because he is not contracted with any insurance companies he is able to focus his attention 100% on just being a doctor without having to worry about the business side of running an insurance-based office. His patients take care of billing their own insurance themselves and find that once they learn the process it is very easy.

    It’s very easy to bill…but he won’t do it.

    Doctors who contract with insurance companies accept a negotiated discount rate. Insurance companies don’t pay the higher rate when the parents submit a claim. They pay an out of network rate (if one is allowed out of network at all).

    It may be easy for parents to bill their own insurance. Getting paid for all the visits and for 100% of the cost is a different thing.

  • 4 Matt Carey // Sep 20, 2013 at 10:31 am

    I heard Sears say at an online webinar hosted by TACA called “VACCINE DECISIONS FOR FAMILIES WITH AUTISM” on 2/22/13 (he plugs it on his FB page) that if a family had one child with autism, they should not further vaccinate any of their other/future children. He said it with absolute certainty and absolutely no data of any certainty to back him up. Just plain unforgiveable.

    This is ironic given the ongoing discussions about how medically fragile many in the autistic population are.

    My autistic kid needs the protection of vaccines. If said child could not be vaccinated, it would mean that there would be an even greater need to vaccinate all others in the family.

    People like “Dr. Bob” mean that my kid (being in special ed and all) is more likely to be surrounded by unvaccinated or undervaccinated kids, or kids whose families undervaccinate. That presents a danger.

  • 5 lilady // Sep 20, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Dr. Bob Sears was interviewed on a local radio program about his “alternative schedule” and there is an article up about that radio show. I’ve just posted two comments.

    Scroll down to see my comments:

    http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/sep/18/shot-delays-alternative-vaccine-schedules-mean-few/

    “Shot Delays: Alternative Vaccine Schedules Mean Fewer San Diego Students Are Fully Immunized”

  • 6 Ren // Sep 20, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Children with neurodevelopmental disorders are at higher risk of complications and death from influenza. They represented a disproportionate amount of deaths from influenza in the flu seasons for which there are data. To delay or deny vaccination to those children is incredibly irresponsible, in my humble opinion of course.

  • 7 John Best // Sep 23, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Ken, I heard that these wackos were selling something called NDF PLUS as a chelator and claiming it was a new product, even though many of us knew in 2002 that NDF was useless junk that doesn’t chelate anything. I didn’t bother verifying this but maybe someone should do that and have these psychopaths arrested for fraud.

  • 8 autblog // Sep 23, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    And now I have to tell you about the lambs.

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