Purveyors of False Hope

An advertisement on
Science Daily Internet Site offers “Life Changing Brain Based Therapy: Receive 2 Free Visits! DISCOVER AN EXCITING NEW DRUG FREE TREATMENT FOR AUTISM AND AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS (ASPERGER’S/PDD-NOS)!” Wow, that sounds pretty terrific, so I decided to look into it. Science Daily is a commercial web site run by Dan and Michelle Hogan. Dan is a free lance science writer who has worked for NIH, the Jackson Labs and other well known as well as lesser known organizations doing science writing to popularize genetics and other medical research, and Michelle was a fifth grade science teacher. There appears to be little screening of the veracity of ads on their website, and it is not obvious how the reader is to distinguish between science news originating in legitimate professional publications, other news reports from newpapers and television or the internet, and commercial advertisements on the Science Daily website. The website is a hodge-podge of blocks of text, graphic images, video clips, some of which are reports from scientific journals, others are ads for questionable products or services. So which is this ad for AN EXCITING NEW...TREATMENT?

The ad goes on to say the person offering the service in the Minneapolis-St.Paul area is “… a
board eligible chiropractic neurologist.” He says, “I have advanced training in blood chemistry analysis and functional endocrinology. I am the clinic director…. I consult with hundreds of doctors around the country [The ad doesn’t say what kind of doctors, perhaps osteopaths and chiropractors?] and am the author of (an) alternative medicine bestseller…. It's time to stop believing the myths you've been told about autism, that it is a genetic disorder and nothing can be done for your child.” [As an aside, I’m not aware of anyone who says “nothing can be done for your child.”] Note that he does not say he is a board certified Chiropractic Neurologist of which there are six in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Area. Board eligible describes a person who is eligible to take the specialty board examination by virtue of having graduated from an approved school, completed a specific type and length of training, and practiced for a specified amount of time, but who has not passed the specialty examination. His ad includes the photo below, just in case you don’t get the point.

The person advertising “Life changing brain based therapy” that is “an exciting new drug free treatment for autism and autism spectrum disorders,” has completed a Bachelor’s of Science degree at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, MN and Doctor of Chiropractic from The Carrick Institute of Neurology in Florida. Northwestern Health Sciences University offers degrees in acupuncture, chiropractic
and massage therapy, and does not appear to be an accredited university in Minnesota. To qualify as a board eligible chiropractic neurologist, the candidate must have completed a bachelor’s degree in chiropractic plus 200 hours of courses on-line, podcast and some face-to-face courses to which the student usually needs travels to attend. Carrick Institute offers brief courses all over the US, Australia and other countries, which seems like a nice way to have a vacation.

The Carrick Institute is a business operated by Frederick Carrick that specializes in distance training of chiropractors specializing in neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, from migraine to vertigo, ADHD, autism, dyslexia, Tourette syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, chronic pain, spinal cord injuries, neuromuscular disorders, ”Functional Disconnection Syndrome,” immune gastrointestinal disorders, anxiety, and mood disorders, as well as many other conditions. The program offers supplementary certification in developmental disabilities, neurochemistry and nutrition. Frederick Robert Carrick, is a graduate of Parker College of Chiropractic in Irving, Texas and he claims to have earned a PhD from Walden University, Minneapolis, MN 1996 in
Education: Brain-Based Learning. Walden University now offers a PhD in psychology but not education. I’m not a
ware of any other university that offers such a doctorate from a college of education.

I wouldn’t want to single out the chiropractic neurologist who advertised in
Science Daily, because there are now other very similar outfits called Brain Balance also operated by graduates of the Carrick Institute, one in Minnetonka and the other in Woodbury Minnesota. They say, “Functional Disconnection—an imbalance in the connections and function between and within the hemispheres (sides) of your child’s brain—this condition is responsible for a host of behavioral, academic, and social difficulties.” They claim their chiropractic neurology treatments correct such “disconnections,” though there is no evidence from any controlled studies that such any such treatment is effective.

There seems to be no end of hocus-pocus in the field of autism services. Desperate parents will spend their hard-earned cash on nearly anything that offers hope, even though there is no evidence the offered service has any lasting effect on their child’s functioning whatsoever. It is very disappointing that numerous internet sites, not just
Science Daily, will post nearly any advertisement, no matter how disreputable, as long as it brings in revenue. The reader who would like to catch up on various questionable remedies might find it useful to take a look at Quack Watch.