They claim to “cure” autism with antibiotics or food supplements: many “merchants of hope” surf on the distress of families, sometimes to the detriment of children’s health, denounces an activist, whose alert in the face of these practices led to the opening of an investigation.
In “The Black Book of Autism” (Le Cherche Midi, to be published on Thursday, September 24), Olivia Cattan, mother of an autistic teenager and president of the SOS Autism Association, compiles an inventory of “therapies of all kinds , whose costly sessions make families precarious by giving them false hopes. “
Echoing the facts denounced by Ms. Cattan, the Paris prosecutor’s office has just opened an investigation, after being seized this summer by the Medicines Agency (ANSM) of the case of doctors prescribing autistic children with antibiotics or substances supposed to eliminate heavy metals from their body.
The ANSM “formally advises against” such prescriptions, which “have not shown any proof of their effectiveness and expose these children to risks, in particular during prolonged use”.
Justice is also interested in the way in which these drug protocols have been tested on autistic children outside of any legal framework. “Our children are not guinea pigs!” Protested Ms. Cattan.
Estelle Ast is one of those parents who believed in this therapy for a while. In 2012, after having discovered this “lead” in a television report, this Toulouse mother contacted a doctor from the “Chronimed” network, promoter of this type of therapy.
He prescribed for his son Allan, then aged seven, a 20-day course of antibiotics, to be repeated for months, with a 15-day break between each course.
The doctor then explained to him that he had developed this treatment with Prof. Luc Montagnier, Nobel Prize winner and co-discoverer of the AIDS virus, whose positions are controversial today. “What parent wouldn’t trust a Nobel Prize in medicine?” Argues Allan’s mother.
– “Nutri-detoxicologist” –
Assessment of the experience: significant intestinal disorders for the child, and behavioral disorders increased tenfold, due to an unusually long exposure to antibiotics.
“When I agreed to give Allan this treatment, I was convinced they had the authorization. I never imagined that it was a wild trial on kids!” Exclaims the forty-something .
Although scalded, she says she turned, two years later, to an association which then referred her to a “nutri-detoxicologist” – in fact a converted real estate agent. This one will prescribe to her son, during months, an impressive daily cocktail of food supplements.
“I wanted to believe it. She told me that my son was undoubtedly intoxicated with heavy metals, with vaccines”, says Estelle, who will end up stopping everything after 18 months, denouncing a “brain jam “which cost him dearly and had” zero from zero “effect on his son.
In her book, Olivia Cattan identifies other avenues used to treat autism, from “neurofeedback”, practiced by psychologists – without danger, but with unproven effectiveness – up to the theory of “indigos” children, which lends supernatural powers to autistic children. A vision of which Miviludes, the government body which fights against sectarian aberrations, has pointed out the potential abuses.
Public authorities have for too long been indifferent to these practices, accuses Olivia Cattan.
This is defended by Claire Compagnon, the interministerial delegate for the national strategy for autism, who emphasizes having relayed the ANSM alert in June.
Faced with the “desperation” of many families who “seek relevant solutions”, “our first commitment is to put science at the heart of public policy”, assures AFP Ms. Compagnon, who wants to “structure French research” around of these questions, in the hope of developing avenues validated by science.
“I’m not against research”, emphasizes Olivia Cattan, “of course, if my son could have medicine to improve his sleep, that would be great. But I don’t want to + treat + his autism, that we take away its particularity “.