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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Puzzling Pieces

I use social media a lot. As a newbie to the Autism community, I find being able to connect with other parents an invaluable resource. Of course with all of the good, there comes the bad as well. I have found myself at times having to deal with people who will discredit you as a parent, belittle your children, and completely deny that Autsim even exists. Then there is the common conundrum, the well meaning random person on the internet (or in real life) who has read or seen something about Autism and goes on to share it with you. Don't get me wrong, we love helpful advice and knowledge that we can actually use, but unless you live or work with an Autistic person there probably isn't much you could offer me in those regards. If we have an internet connection and a tv, we have probably already heard about it. We love support, and welcome it, but the kind we could use more of is a listening ear, a helping hand, and an open heart, but I digress. Recently on my Instagram account, under a photo of one of my precious boys, sat the dark side. Biomed. This led me on an investigative journey that would even put one of Timothy Leary's LSD trips to shame. This is the Autism medicine show, the cure for all that ails you.

My first stop was the blog that was mentioned in the Instagram comment. At first glance the blog seemed benign enough, a mom raising an autistic daughter in the Midwest. Once you got past the pretty pastel layout and fancy fonts, there it was. My first stop on the crazy train to "heal" Autism, the Jenny McCarthy diet and visits with a long distance Biomed "doctor" who makes Skype calls. So, this is isn't that far off the deep end, but it is still a little out there for me. I am not buying this whole gut/brain/Autism connection. Autism is a neurological/developmental disorder. No diet is going to make Autism go away. The worst thing about this was the mom had asked her daughter's "doctor" about adding Shakeology to the little girl's diet and he had approved it. (Wait it gets better.) The mom is also a very high level Shakeology salesperson. I wonder how much of her sales are from parents who are led to falsely believe that this diet and Shakeology will "heal" their children and their Autism. Those are some pretty shady sales tactics. If you do some Googling, you will find she is not the only Shakeology rep preying on the Autism community. Beware the multi-level marketers. They don't have you or your child's best interest at heart. They are only concerned with selling enough of their product to get that luxury vacation or new car. There are pretty noninvasive things and new age hoodoo that I could group in with the "deprive your child of any enjoyable kid food" diet, like essential oils that can treat anything from a cut to ADD/ADHD, and so on. I have nothing against aromatherapy, but with people who are hypersensitive (the fragrances in the oils would probably be overwhelming) and are predisposed to allergies (skin reactions to some of these oils would be a concern), I would be hesitant to use these in an Autism regimine. These are some of the least harmful of what the medicine show has to offer. They are still kooky, but the potential for mental and physical anguish is pretty low. 

After a little discussion on my Facebook page about this, I was made aware that there are some very sinister Autism treatments out there. I was not given any details about what these treatments were, so off to Google I went. Shock would be an understatement of the horrors that popped up in my search results. Here laid the dark underbelly of Autism treatment. The internet is full of dark alleys with shady characters whispering, "Psst. Here, try this. You'll really like it.". Just. Say. No. Like I said before, I am new here and I guess being naive about the "curing" movement, I had no idea people were going to such horrible lengths to try and "heal" an Autistic child. 

For the entry level parental sadist, there is a process called "chelation therapy". This is medical procedure used to treat people who have heavy metal poisoning, like lead or arsenic. For those out there who believe Autism is caused by exposure to certain metals, this is the go-to treatment of choice. It is usually administered by injection or IV (there are also pills available) and in layman's terms, it essentially flushes the metals from the body. This process is very dangerous even under its FDA approved uses, but can be even more dangerous in unnecessary applications. It is also not recommended for children. Improper chelation therapy can result in death due to heart failure because the process also removes calcium that is necessary for your heart to function. This treatment was responsible for the death of a five year old Autistic boy from the UK. There is no reason to subject kids to dangerous and unnecessary medical treatments. 

For you mad scientists, I have the perfect thing for you. It also comes with a side of brainwashing so you no longer have to think for yourself, either. This is probably the scariest one for me because it is the most inexpensive treatment and the supplies are easily accessible on the internet. I am going to spend the most time on this one because I was so dumbfounded by this treatment, I spent a lot of time researching it. What I am about to describe to you is pretty disturbing, you have been warned. 

Here's a little back story first. We all know municipal water is treated with a combination of chemicals, one being a member of the chlorine family. It kills germs and bacteria and makes our water safe to drink. Good, right? Not so fast. The chemical's name is chlorine dioxide and the concentration of it in our drinking water is well below the level that would cause us any harm. There is a former gold prospector, Jim Humble, who took this logic, after allegedly curing some men in South America of malaria in a matter of hours, and decided to market this as a cure all for everything under the sun from the flu to AIDS and even cancer. This man is not a doctor or a chemist and he and his cronies are putting people at serious risk. The name of his product is called MMS (see also: Miracle Mineral Supplement, Miracle Mineral Solution, Master Mineral Solution). The volatile chemistry set consists of Sodium Chlorite and Citric Acid. This combination creates Chlorine Dioxide, which is far from being a harmless substance. This material safety data sheet (MSDS) for chlorine dioxide is pretty comprehensive: It's uses in water treatment and in food processing are explicitly laid out by the FDA. Mr. Humble began promoting this chemical in a book he wrote in 2006, and afterwards began marketing it. His protocol instructs you to drink this noxious substance diluted in a small amount of water numerous times over the course of the day. So to break it down, you ingest an industrial bleaching agent multiple times a day that will put you well over the proven safety limits. Drink up! His rather poor understanding of biology, chemistry, and epidemiology (which is very apparent if you watch any of his YouTube videos) mixed with delusions of grandeur make a very dangerous combination. He hides out in South and Latin American countries to avoid prosecution in other countries where he is wanted for the harm he has caused to citizens on those countries. He has even established his own cult, Genesis II, to further allude to credibility and create a sense of trust. He even goes to third world countries where the locals have a poor understanding of science and doses them up with the caustic concoction. What a humanitarian,right? He's a little bit Jim Jones and and a little bit L. Ron Hubbard. It would go a little something like this, A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away we drank the Kool-Aid and we were healed!  Yeah. That. 

So, what does this have to do with Autism? I am so glad you asked! Enter a former follower of Jenny McCarthy's DAN (Defeat Autism Now) protocol, Kerri Rivera. She has her own Autism "clinic" in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. You won't find OT, PT, or ABA here, but you will find MMS. The protocol for using this to "recover" children from Autism is a little different than Humble's approach and is called the "parasite protocol". It is based on the misguided theory that Autism is the result of parasite activity in the digestive system and must be started close to a full moon because that is when these worms and nematoades are most active. In a nutshell, We must exorcise the demons! Welcome to the Twilight Zone. In addition to forcing this toxic substance down your kid's throat, you must also use it as an enema and bathe them in it. Can you imagine how traumatic that enema must be to any child, especially to one with Autism who is already very sensitive to stimuli or cannot speak to express their pain? If you need a visual, I suggest the enema scene from the movie "Sybil". Here is an example: In one of Kerri's video Q&A's she even advises multiple enemas a day and even tells of one mother who have her child nine enemas in one day because she kept finding "parasites" is the child's fecal matter. This is pretty freaking terrifying, if you ask me. I will venture to say that what these people are seeing is intestinal lining that is being destroyed by this bleaching agent. 

She also recommends drinking "Vortex Ocean Water". After finding a supplier's website and reading the information on this water, I found that it is made for saltwater fish tanks and says specifically that it is not for human consumption. I guess that warning on Chlroine Dioxide didn't stop them from drinking it, so what is a little fish tank water. Yum!  These people are also reaping major financial benefits from this quackery. They profit from book sales, speaking engagements, and personal consultations. This true traveling medicine show rarely ventures into the United States and lays low in Mexico. I am unsure why neither of these people have been charged with anything in the states. Advising parents to give this stuff to their kids (as well as uploading instructional videos to YouTube) seems to warrant some type of punishment. I can only hope that one day all the damage these people have inflicted, directly or indirectly, will catch up with them. From Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland",  "... If you drink too much from a bottle marked "poison", it is almost certain to disagree with you sooner or later." 

How as a parent can you subject your special needs child to this torture? How do you convince yourself this is okay? I lurked on a couple of the message boards and I still do not understand. There are people who will lead you to believe that Autism makes you less than in order to victimize you and your child. There are also parents out there who are obsessed with perfection and normal. There is no excuse to turn your child into a guinea pig and subject them to painful and dehumanizing treatments. They are not legitimate, have no peer reviews or scientific data to prove the claims of their snake oils and trickery. Please be wise and approach any alternative therapy with skepticism and consult with a real physician about it. Do not let these people prey on your vulnerability. Autism is not a disease, it is only a different way of being. Only acceptance and understanding are needed. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

It Was the End of the World As We Knew It...and We Felt Fine...

"...Hey Ho, Mr. Krinkle, Have you heard the brand new sound? Its a cross between Jimi Hendrix, Bocephus, Cher, and James Brown. Its called Heavy Hometown New Wave, Cold Filtered, Low Calorie, Dry..."

In case you are wondering, it wasn't all about Nirvana. If you ask any follower of alternative music in the 90s you will probably be surprised that even though Nirvana was the one that opened the flood gates, it wasn't everyone's favorite (I was partial to Pearl Jam and Sonic Youth) nor were they the most talented band or artist at the time. That's not what it was about. Don't get me wrong, we all loved Kurt, Krist, and Dave and they did some amazing things and they are synonymous with grunge. Almost instantly Nirvana became the incidental poster child of a new movement and inadvertently incited a youth culture phenomenon. In reality they only scratched the surface of what was yet to come. 
Me in 1994

The 90s started off muddled with the runoff and leftovers of the 80s. We were still living with one foot in the decade of excess and stuck in pop culture purgatory. However, there was something bubbling right below the surface, and had been since the late 80s, ready to erupt. The year the bomb dropped and the airwaves exploded there were interludes that we never initially realized would lead to our opus. Up until that point there were so many of us that had been wandering around aimlessly, searching for an identity and yearning for something deeper than the superficial monotony of a cookie cutter society and bubble gum pop. "You just had to be there." is such a cliché, but in relation to the decade, the sentiment couldn't be any truer. The total impact of the experience cannot be expressed through words alone. It was mind blowing. In a matter of months we were weaned off of the drone of the empty, mass marketed mediocrity. We had been liberated. Generation X was born.

From that point on we were flannel clad freaks united under a sound and for a time "Smells Like Teen Spirit" became our anthem. Suddenly we knew who we were supposed to be. We had a voice. That voice was laden with frustration. It was dark, it was bright, it was heavy, it was light. We were not always full of deep seeded angst. It was raw and gritty and filled with symbolism and vivid imagery. It had a soul. It exposed this deep vulnerability and inner strength. There was passion in it that music had lacked for a while. It had feeling. Music was art again. You could easily identify each band by their sound because no one band sounded the same as another. Everyone was unique and artists ranged from folk to shoegazers to funk rock to grunge to experimental, industrial, jam bands and everything in between. From 91-92 until about 97-98 we came of age and had compiled a soundtrack of our youth only to be rivaled by that of the 60s. We even singlehandedly revived the popularity of outdoor music festivals with Woodstock 94 and Lollapolooza. (You're welcome Bonnaroo and Coachella fans.) By the end of our glory days we had etched out a place in history. 

Some of us left our past behind thinking that this school of thought was maybe too juvenile and had this idea that there was someone they were supposed to be by society’s standards and adopted those convictions and some of us clung to it as almost a gospel and testament and as the foundation of a philosophy of how we thought life should be lived.  We hoped that maybe in some small way the things we were would somehow be what society became. We were young and strong and waiting for the world to come along. It was the end of the world as we had known it for so long, but we were all felt fine with the direction it was headed. We aren't living in the past, only reliving it from time to time to appreciate where we came from, where we went, and where it will take us. In the grand scheme of things it is not completely about the clothes we wore, the music we listened to, or the things we did but what it was about was what those things represented and that in our music we left behind a heritage of free thinking, acceptance, and tolerance for future generations. We walked away from that decade with hearts and minds full of inspiration. Maybe I romanticize, but the fact remains that we made a very big impact. There are many iconic players from the era, like Layne Stayley and Andrew Wood, who are no longer with us, and Kurt Cobain’s legacy does live on. Now he and his most recognized hook, the hook that catapulted him into the limelight and the one he later loathed, are immortalized as nothing but a lyric and a sample in a Jay-Z song. Well, whatever, nevermind... 

How did the 90s change you? Are there any moments that are significant to you that I missed? I'd love to hear what you think in the comments!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Having a James Taylor Moment

Its been one of those weeks. There just seems to be a dark cloud over my house lately. Earlier this week our family suffered a terrible loss. My uncle (my Mama's brother) passed away after an extended illness. The wake is today and the funeral service is tomorrow, unfortunately I won't be able to attend either. This is one of the downsides to living 700 miles away from home. I know everyone understands but on a personal level it is killing me that I won't be able to pay my final respects. That side of the family is very small and he was my Aunt and Mama's only brother and my Grandma's only son. Speaking of my Grandma, she is taking this really hard. I know any parent would crumble after the death of one of their children but ever since my Granddaddy died about ten years ago she just hasn't been the same. Heartbroken is the only way I know how to put it. It was like at the very second he passed a lot of her went with him. That kind of love I thought only existed in books and movies. Now for the second time in a decade she has lost love again, this time its a mother's love that has been shaken. It is heartache like you could never imagine. Just the cracking of her voice over the phone as she fought back tears literally broke my heart. I can only be there in spirit over the next couple of days but I hope everyone knows I share in the pain of losing someone so dear to our hearts. We love you, Uncle Danny and may you finally find peace.

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” -Charles Dickens, "A Tale of Two Cities"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Smells Like Teen Spirit, Part 1

We are all constantly on the search for the next latest and greatest thing. Something new and improved or something on the cutting edge. There are so many advances in technology and science that it can be hard to keep up with the constantly growing and changing market. You may think I am going to talk about the latest Apple product or new flatscreen televisions. Nope, not this lady. This isn't even about electronics at all. No, this stroll down memory lane is going to happen on the beauty aisle. Lately, I have found myself longing for products of my youth. The shampoos, the cleansers, the perfumes…The memories.
The beauty aisle can be very intimidating to an unsuspecting victim. Shelves, aisles and counters filled with shiny, colorful packaging that promise to make all of your hopes and dreams come true. I know we want everyone to believe we are effortless beauties and we wake up in the morning with perfect skin, hair and minty fresh breath, truth is there is a lot of work that goes into this illusion. From the basics like soap and shampoo to advanced treatments like glycolic peels and oxygen masks most women devote, on average, around 90 minutes a day to grooming. Is it any wonder there are so many different products to while  away the hours each week (That's about 10 1/2 for those of you who are keeping track.)? Here are some of my greatest hits (and misses) from my first pimple to my dorm room days.
Since hair is the ultimate accessory, we'll start with it. I am a child of the 80s and 90s so my hands on knowledge is limited to those two decades. One of the few products from before those decades that I have had any experience with is Prell Shampoo. After South Carolina was rocked by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, many residents in the lower part of the state were left without power and water. Our small, rural community was without electricity and running water (we got our water from wells that operated on electricity. Double whammy!) for about two weeks. We cooked on a grill and relied on bottled water. Luckily, we had relatives in a nearby town who had municipal water, which had been turned back on by this point. I was taken over to my aunt's home to get a bath one day and she gave me this retro tube of Prell. I'm not sure what decade it was from (my guess would be the 60s or 70s) because Prell at that point was in bottles. It looked like uncongealed lime Jell-o but oh my the smell! I can’t really remember what it did for my hair, I was only ten at the time. This was probably the beginning of my fascination with beauty products. My Brother in Law doesn't call my sister and me "Beauty Product Junkies" for nothing. Next on my list would be Revlon’s Outrageous Shampoos and Conditioners. They hailed in the days of Cindy Crawford’s reign supreme as the face for Revlon. In their sleek black bottles, these were the best products for my long, thick , coarse hair. They had this very perfumey scent but it was fabulous! If I could find these somewhere today, I would snatch them up in a heartbeat! This is probably one of the products I miss the most. I have managed to find, however, the elusive Salon Selectives. From what I understand, the line went on hiatus sometime in the late 90s or early 2000s and was just recently relaunched. Thank goodness they thought of us devout fans of the sweet, apple-scented shampoos and conditioners. The fragrance that garnered a cult following remains the same. I am not sure what they did change unless it is bottle size, they are now in 32 oz. (approximately 1 liter) bottles. I recently disovered these gems on for under $4 each. When my package arrived I had to refrain myself from immediately hopping in the shower to have one of those Herbal Essences moments (minus the Herbal Essences, Blech!). Once I did get into the shower it was just like I remembered. The deliciously clean scent wafted and filled my bathroom and bedroom. My hair smelled and looked great, just like it had back in the day. Wow! I had really missed this stuff! The two hair care lines that I tried to love but couldn't are Pantene (it has been around forever) and Vidal Sassoon (the drugstore line from the 90s). I have allergic reactions to both of these. I love the way they smell and work but are no-gos for me. I guess its a good thing regarding Pantene. I've heard so many negative things about how their products work. If you don't know, the shampoos and conditioners coat your hair with a substance that gradually builds up with each use. Ultimately, after so many coats of this you will no longer get the smooth, shiny results you are use to, just limp, unhealthy hair that will need a good clarifying shampoo and deep conditioner to repair. If you really want to know what it does to me, I'll tell you and it is not for the faint of heart. If you have a weak stomach I suggest you skip ahead to the end of this entry. It literally takes the skin off of my scalp. I can't use it without my scalp literally peeling and developing painful sores. Very gross and unattractive. *Shudder* I would have really loved to have used the Vidal Sassoon products, though. What a shame! 
So what are some of your favorite blasts from the past? I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Who Are You?

My name is Tiffany and I am new to this blogging thing. This entry is off topic for my blog but I just wanted to introduce myself to the blogosphere. I'm not sure where to begin or why I am beginning, but let's do this! I find myself very perplexed with everything today. I am caught up in a tailspin consisting of football, Facebook drama, small children and the day to day challenges of life in general. Sometimes I feel like I am stuck on The Scrambler. Remember that amusement park ride? You are revolving around in your own little compartment meanwhile your own little revolving "you-iverse" is being slung in different directions. I portray this persona online that is not very much like me in real life. Online I am outspoken, opinionated and eloquent. In real life, I am pretty shy and reserved (except among close friends and family) and get tripped up when speaking publicly. The personalities change but the views are the same. I don't hold back a whole lot and have strong opinions. There are not too many gray areas with me and I haven't quite figured out if that is a positive or a negative. Sometimes I feel like the Wicked Witch or the Big Bad Wolf among peers in my social networking circles. Sharing is caring, right? I don't ask that anyone agree with me. If I manage to change your perception on something with facts and valid points, great, but if you change your position on something just to merely fit in to some group or fit some preconceived mold that just shows your lack of conviction and weakness of mind. No regrets. I'm not here to offend, disrespect or put down (well, not intentionally anyway). I do advise, however, that if you are easily offended this may not be the blog for you. Think freely, speak boldly, live wholly.