***Our new report ‘A Spectrum of Harmful Interventions’ is available HERE! ***
Autistic people are offered harmful treatments – Westminster inquiry finds
Complex regulation and a lack of accountability and awareness means autistic people are being offered bogus, harmful and potentially life-threatening interventions as treatments for autism, an inquiry by the Westminster Commission on Autism has found.
The findings will be published in Parliament on Wednesday 28 March 2018 and include a consultation of autistic people, parent-advocates and professionals. The consultation found that 89% of respondents think that current laws or regulations for autism treatments are not fit for purpose. The Commission also found that some autistic people and their advocates have been offered bogus interventions including exorcism, stem-cell transplants, ear candles and even products containing bleach. Respondents did not know how to report harmful interventions.
Despite a number of regulatory bodies having responsibility for ensuring autism interventions are safe and effective, the Commission found physical, psychological, behavioural, dietary, social and chemical interventions being offered as autism therapies.
The Autism Commission is calling for the Government to consider bringing forward new legislation to make it illegal to offer to treat, prescribe or promote anything as an intervention (social or biological) for autism unless by a certified professional.
Barry Sheerman MP, who founded the inquiry, said: “For too long autistic people have been the targets of fraudsters offering a huge range of potentially lethal interventions for autism which at the very best are a waste of money. This report is a landmark moment when a coalition of voices has come together to say ‘enough is enough’ we need change.”
The Westminster Commission on Autism has made the following recommendations to end harmful interventions being promoted for autism:
The UK Government should urgently convene all agencies with regulatory responsibility. Identify current gaps in regulation and reconsider the agencies’ remits to ensure all harmful interventions are accounted for. The Commission recommends extending the remit of the MHRA to cover all healthcare products (not just medicines).
The UK Government should give consideration to the merits and drawbacks of new legislation to make it illegal to offer to treat, prescribe or promote anything as an intervention (social or biological) for autism unless by a certified professional.
The Autism Commission also calls for social media platform to update their guidance to ensure that users who promote harmful interventions have their posts removed.
The Commission is calling on the autism community to be report any intervention which concerns them.
Craig Kennady, Autistic Commission Member and parent-advocate said “Autistic people and their advocates need help to ensure vulnerable people do not fall into the trap of being offered or using fake treatments or medications. There is a need for more awareness of this issue for both service users and professionals”
Emma Dalmayne, Autistic Campaigner said “I have been campaigning against dangerous ‘cures’ and treatments for the past 4 years here in the UK. This report is so important and I hope is the first step towards legislation to make touting abusive treatments and cures illegal and an arrestable offence.”