It’s easy to poke fun at any treatment which includes the words “hook worms.” I remember when I first heard about hook worms in treating autism, I immediately thought of leeches and dismissed the whole thing. By the way this post is not about hook worms, but about how when your child has autism you are constantly confronted with an endless array of “treatments,” almost all of which come with some kind of “scientific” explanation. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, a great many smart people are trying to find help for our kids, but it is often confusing.
For those who want to know more about hook worms or Helminthic Therapy, here are some links: The Guardian, Autoimmune Therapies, for a counter argument against helminthic therapy (hook worms) and for a number of studies being done through various hospitals in the country go to: http://www.thebostonchannel.com/health/23652453/detail.html, http://www.neurology.wisc.edu/publications/07_pubs/Neuro_5.pdf, http://www.direct-ms.org/pdf/HygienePrinciples/Helminiths%20immune%20reg and www.pubmed.gov.
I am currently reading a book – Obsession: A History by Lennard J. Davis. What’s fascinating is how our perceptions of “illness” continue to change. What began as “demonic possession,” something the Catholic Church cornered the market on by performing exorcisms, the Protestants, attempting to lessen the Catholic church’s power, redefined demonic possession as “nerves” or madness. This new way of thinking caught on. What began as a play for power came to define what became known as “a case of nerves” or the belief that some people were high strung something mainly afflicting the upper classes. Presumably the lower classes, the peasants didn’t have time to be high strung or if they were, they didn’t have the means to do anything about it. In reading about the nature of illness and how it has changed over the centuries, it is striking to note how little we knew then (it seems laughable) yet, there is still so much we still do not know or understand. The remedies applied in the eighteenth century seem bizarre, but in the context of autism, no more bizarre than so many of the remedies I have tried on my own daughter. I expect that in fifty or a hundred years from now we will look back on much of what we think we know or do not know regarding autism and think how barbaric it all was.
For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to: Emma’s Hope Book