In The Politics of Autism, I discuss autism quackery. There have been lots of bogus "cures" over the years: chelation, camel milk, "magic dirt," and products containing bleach. They do not work and some are dangerous. Over the past three years, COVID has boosted quackery.
David Gilbert at Vice:
In a private group on Telegram, parents whose children are living with a range of disabilities including autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Down Syndrome cheer each other on and provide support when discussing daily struggles.
But the channel’s main function isn’t actually support: It’s to promote the use of veterinary ivermectin as a treatment—and in some cases a cure—for these disabilities.
Hundreds of parents have turned to this conspiracy network, and are recommending a drug to each other that experts have repeatedly said is designed only for large animals and is so concentrated that it can be toxic when ingested by humans. In the channel, parents even share stories about their children experiencing horrific side effects from the drug, including brain fog, severe headaches, nausea, muscle pain, and seizures—and are routinely dismissed by those running the channel, who claim it’s a normal part of the ‘healing’ process.
The Telegram channel was established in July 2022 as an offshoot of the much larger pro-ivermectin group “Dirt Road Discussions,” which was set up in October 2021 by Danny Lemoi, who took veterinary ivermectin for almost a decade to, he said, treat Lyme disease. When ivermectin became hugely popular among anti-vaxxers as a treatment for COVID-19, Lemoi leveraged his experience with the drug. (There is no evidence to back up the claims that ivermectin formulated for humans or for animals is an effective treatment for COVID-19.) Lemoi died suddenly earlier this month at the age of 50 with what the admins of his channel described as a heart that had “nearly doubled in size.”