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What is MMS and why has it been in the news?

If you’ve been on social media recently you may have noticed stories appearing about people feeding their children bleach in a misguided attempt to “cure” their autism. Specifically the articles refer to a protocol called MMS.

MMS is an acronym for Miracle Mineral Solution. First promoted by ex-scientologist Jim Humble in his book ‘The miracle mineral solution of the 21st century’ (2006, self-published). Jim humble claimed that MMS could “cure” everything from cancer to AIDS, but specific to this article, he claimed it could “cure” autism. None of these claims have ever been tested in a clinical setting.

MMS contains a chemical called chlorine dioxide, an industrial bleach used in water treatment and the textiles industry. The high doses administered by MMS quacks can cause nausea, vomiting, shedding of the mucous membranes of the intestines (which many quacks have claimed are rope worms- they aren’t, that’s your childs intestinal lining), and low-blood pressure through dehydration to the point that it can become life threatening.

Some of the logic behind MMS is the delusional belief that autism is caused by parasites and/or fungus, and that the MMS kills these foreign invaders thereby freeing the child from the grips of autism. The reality is that these people are force feeding bleach to their children, with many using forced enemas to get the MMS into the child. That’s not treatment, that is sexual assault.

MMS is dangerous for more reasons than the toxicity of the active ingredient. Parents and carers are forcing this upon their children, teaching them that just because they have a neurological difference/disability, their bodily autonomy does not matter. They teach these children that it’s okay for an adult to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable or scared.

The battles against MMS has raged for a number of years now, with notable activists such as Emma Dalmayne and Fiona O’Leary making great strides in the UK and Ireland. The battle is far from over, despite great advances such as the removal of quack Kerri Rivera’s book from amazon, there are still many people on social media promoting this dangerous protocol to a large audience.

Many autistic people have stood up to the MMS abusers, but this fight needs more, we also need our allies to listen to us, and help as dispel the myths and stigma that make autism seem so terrifying to these parents and carers. Share articles and join groups led by autistic people. Keep this topic in the limelight, that is how change is made, people need to be outraged.

Professional language surrounding autism

I have spent a lot of time reading about the link between autism and addiction (some may call it a special interest typical of someone on the spectrum), and one thing I’ve noticed is that the language used by professionals, especially scientists, is particularly problematic when it comes to autism. The language used often describes us as broken and malfunctioning, while many autistic people, including some autistic academics that i have spoken to, would argue that autism is simply a different way of being rather than some kind of illness (I will leave the discussion of autism as a disability for another time).

Professional discussions of autism tend to describe how parts of the brain ‘malfunction’ in autism, leading to ‘maladapted’ behaviours. This language seems to be used largely by neurotypical experts, and leads to issues for autism acceptance. The language used by professionals is important, it frames how the world views us as autistic individuals. When professionals describe autistic people as broken or malfunctioning, the world hears a story of incomplete individuals, suffering from a terrible blight.

An example of how this plays out is the harmful quack therapies that many autistic people are subjected to, such as ABA and MMS. These therapies rely on people’s fear of autism to sell their dangerous and frankly abusive treatment models. Clinical descriptions of ‘misfiring’ neurons tell parents that something is wrong with their child, something that needs to be fixed. Of course autism isn’t something to be fixed, it is not cancer, no treatment, no matter how aggressive, will ‘cure’ the autistic person being treated. Thus there is no justification for such treatments. However, the language currently used by professionals appears to justify such treatments to some parents and carers.

Professionals working on the subject of autism (and neurodivergence in general) need to be more careful about the language they use, i have no doubt that for the most part, they intend no harm, but in the language they use they indirectly inflict harm on autistic people all around the world. In my opinion, this highlights the need for a two-way conversation between autistic people and researchers in the field of autism.

It’s time for professionals to think more carefully about how they describe the subjects of their research. Likewise, autistic people, especially those in academia, need to stand up and be heard when it comes to how the world describes our neurotype. Words are powerful, it is up to us as members of society to use them responsibly.

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