Cease therapy for the treatment of autism can be harmful to children and must not be advertised as a cure, a watchdog in the United Kingdom warned.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have ordered 150 homeopaths or alternative medicine therapists to stop promoting that they can cure autism through Cease therapy, as these claims have no scientific evidence.
Guy Parker, chief executive of ASA, has told BBC Radio 4 that false and potentially harmful treatments were being advertised by practitioners online. He said ASA has already drawn the line and set out that homeopaths must not make either implied or direct claims on ads and websites that they can cure autism.
“Those failing to get their houses in order will be targeted with further sanctions,” said Parker.
Cease therapy, which stands for Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression, is advertised as a method that can rid children of “toxic imprints” from vaccines and other substances, which homeopaths believe cause autism.
The therapy itself consists of alternative medicine remedies and high amounts of dietary supplements such as vitamin C or zinc. Children are given 200 times more vitamin C as well as four to five times more zinc compared to the standard set by the Department of Health.
However, despite these claims, ASA has emphasized that Cease therapy has no credible backing and that advertising against vaccination could lead to life-ending consequences for children.
In fact, an overdose of vitamin C can result to cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting, while too much zinc can cause weakening of bones and anemia, according to the National Health Service.
It is easy to become a practitioner of Cease therapy. Parker said there are only a few barriers to becoming a Cease therapist and that some courses even last for only five days. Once completed, participants can become qualified to administer Cease therapy “unchecked,” said Parker.
Cease therapy was invented by Tinus Smits, a Dutch doctor who died of cancer in 2010. That same year, gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield was struck off the medical register over his claim that measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine caused autism.
In March, a study revealed that there is no link between autism and the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.
The advertising watchdog has made it clear that autism is not an illness or a disease to be cured. Parker emphasized there is potential harm in the claims that Cease therapy can cure children.
Caroline Povey, director of the National Autistic Society’s Center for Autism, said it is deeply offensive to claim that unproven and harmful therapies can “cure” autism and that it is also particularly “appalling” to target vulnerable families.
Povey said autism is lifelong and that many people feel their autism is a core part of their identity. She said the NAS is pleased that ASA has taken action against the “bogus” claims by people that peddle Cease therapy.
Meanwhile, Nicola Martin, a professor from London South Bank University, has also explained that autism is not a disease.
“Psychologically it’s really harmful to give parents the idea that the way to love and nurture their autistic child is to try and cure their autism,” said Martin.
Colin Dunn | Flickr