I churned this essay out tonight in order to make good on a promise to Leelo's Iron Gate teacher (I missed one of the required night classes to go to the talk described below). It's a fast crappy write, but should meet the school requirements, and I am never one to miss out on an opportunity to recycle something I've written--however nonsensical and choppy.
Aimee Lanski: Impossib1e Cure and the Promise of Homoeopathy
Aimee Lanski is a practicing homeopath. She is also the parent of a child who was formerly labeled autistic. Ms. Lanski asserts that her son recovered via homoeopathy.
I saw Ms. Lanski speak on April 19th at Parents Helping Parents in San Jose. I went (and dragged my friend Ep with me) because my son Leelo is autistic, and, like most parents of autistic children, I am drawn to stories of recovered children. I want to have a recovered child. We all do. But, until scientists find definitive causes of or cures for autism, all we parents can do is gawk at these golden children and consider whether their journey is one we can undertake ourselves.
Parents of recovered children usually champion one of two pathways: applied behavioral analysis (intensive one-on-one incremental learning) and speech therapies, or biomedical/dietary regimens (dietary supplements, chelation to remove heavy metals from the body, gluten and casein free diets). While some children have recovered using only applied behavioral analysis (ABA therapy) and speech therapies, it is uncommon to hear of a child recovering via biomedical means without doing ABA as well.
We have tried both pathways with Leelo. After two years of therapies, he has made fantastic progress--but he is still autistic. I felt it was time to investigate other avenues, and thought that homoeopathy sounded the most promising and least invasive.
Ms. Lanski struck me as thoughtful and intelligent. She was quick to remark that her own "conversion" to homoeopathy was as surprising to her as it would be to anyone who knew of her former life as a computer scientist. She gave a succinct though thorough overview of homoeopathy itself before launching into the story of her son's recovery.
It turns out that, of course, her son had also used language and speech therapies. In her opinion, this only partially explains her son's cure:
Behavioral and language therapies are very helpful in helping autistic children learn to communicate with and navigate within their world. While these therapies may provide only limited help without homeopathic treatment, with homeopathic treatment, a child will benefit much more greatly from them and truly begin to blossom. If you pursue homeopathic treatment, you should continue such programs until they are no longer necessary.
She also cited vaccine damage and food sensitivities (dairy, mostly) as triggers, though was quite adamant that not one of the counteracting therapies or practices was as important as the homeopathic treatments her son received.
It was at this point that I had to admit to some doubt. I do think homoeopathy deserves respect for its whole-body approach, for avowing that a practitioner must take time to interview patients thoroughly to understand all the health-affecting factors in their lives before deciding on a cure. I also suspect that there is some validity in the basic homeopathic approach of dilutions, in that a little bit of what ills you can actually cure you. However, when it came down to an explanation of what sort of homeopathic "remedies" (mixtures of the dilutions) were involved, things got a bit hazy and mystical. It could be that the explanation was too complicated to go into within the time allotted.
It turned out that it didn't matter anyhow. The crowd of fifty or so parents overtook the questions-and-answers session and transformed it into a vaccines damage group discussion. Which is not why Ms. Lanski was there. She was clearly unnerved.
Will we try homeopathy? I'm not sure. I think it might have some validity. I suspect that, at the very least, the thorough intake interview might point out some holes in Leelo's overall treatment program. I appreciate that homeopaths advocate a healthy, holistic approach to the treatment of autism and to well-being in general. But I just don't know if I have the energy or patience to wait out the years and years of gentleness and gradualness for a cure that might be happening because of the other therapies anyhow.
More information: Ms. Lanski's site