Wouldn't it be great if someone invented a free, instant cure for autism? And wouldn't it be cool if humans could sprout wings and fly to the moon? Of course, we're all out there looking for the tools to help our children live with and manage their autistic symptoms -- but so far the free, instant cure is pretty darned elusive. But hat simple truth hasn't stopped plenty of people from getting out there and selling the ultimate product to unsuspecting parents who will do just about anything if they believe it is likely to help their child.
I was reminded of just how intense the pressure on parents can be when I received a call today from a fellow who wanted me to promote his product -- a set of "unique" teaching tools which, according to his website (which offers "anti-autism training"), can't fail: "When suggested coaching procedures are followed, outstanding results are unconditionally guaranteed."
Uh huh. Unconditionally guaranteed. If you buy that one, I have this bridge in New York to sell you...
No, he told me, he hadn't worked with experts to develop his materials. And no, he hadn't tested it. But this was the ONLY free product for children with autism on the web. And no, he didn't want to hear about the many, many, other high quality videos and therapeutic tools available to parents at either no charge or a very modest charge. Nor did he want to explain the basis on which he made his claims.
Oh -- and by the way -- he's also figured out the cause of autism: video games and the Internet. Or perhaps (another possibility he's come up with) -- it's electromagnetism. Or too much daycare.
This particular product really is free, and while it's probably pretty close to useless, it isn't likely to hurt anyone. But as most parents already know, there are plenty of products available that are intended, not to teach, but to be injected, swallowed, or added to your child's food -- with no more guarantee of safety or effectiveness than an online testimonial.
Have you been the victim of autism-related fraud? Share your story!
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