Melissa Eaton and Amanda Seigler never expected to become internet spies. The two women, both moms to at least one child on the autism spectrum, began to notice a troubling trend. Parents of autistic kids were seeking more than just support in online forums - they were looking for a cure. Eaton and Seigler were confused at first; doctors claimed ASD had no cure yet parents were desperate to prove them wrong. Maybe they were well-meaning, but these parents were giving their children dangerous at-home treatments (including enemas with bleach). These two moms became increasingly concerned about the welfare of the children in question. So began their mission to stop parents who try to inflict these harmful “cures” on their kids.
Desperate Parents Will Try Anything
Doctors do not yet understand the cause or cure for autism, although the incidence of autism is on the rise. About 1-in-60 babies born today have some form of an autism spectrum disorder. Many of these children see developmental progress with appropriate therapies and the support of a team of caregivers! Despite the cause for hope, some parents descend into despair. They fear for their child’s future and want them to “just be normal”. Some parents swear that drinking turpentine eliminated their child’s autism symptoms. Others swear by a dose of the child’s own urine. While they may have good intentions, Seigler and Eaton believe these parents cross the line into abuse.
What Is Chlorine Dioxide Or MMS?
Thirteen years ago, former Scientologist Jim Humble self-published a book called The Miracle Mineral Solution of the 21st Century. Humble claimed this “MMS” could cure AIDS, malaria, colds, cancer, acne, and more! However, the FDA warns that this “MMS” is actually chlorine dioxide, a chemical used for industrial bleaching. Yes, you read that correctly. Parents of autistic kids are administering a form of industrial bleach to “cure” their child’s autism. As mentioned earlier, some caregivers are mixing chlorine dioxide into a drink and forcing their child to swallow it. Others bypass the drink and go straight for a bleach enema. Proponents like Terry Rivera claim the concoction is perfectly safe: “If it’s deadly, we would see dead people.”
Chlorine Dioxide Poisoning Can Kill
In the last five years, over 2,500 children under the age of 12 have been treated for chlorine dioxide poisoning. The American Association Of Poison Control Centers released some alarming data on the use of MMS/chlorine dioxide. Since 2014, doctors have treated over 2,100 cases of severe chlorine dioxide poisoning. These cases are considered to have “serious” side effects, while fifty of these patients had life-threatening side effects. Eight people died.
Two Moms Fight Back
Because they believe this form of “treatment” is actually child abuse, Eaton and Seigler are on a mission to put an end to the use of chlorine dioxide. Like many parents of autistic kids, the two sought out online communities for support and comradery. Unfortunately, these social media groups (mostly Facebook) have become a hotbed for harmful “cures”. As the danger and violence in the posts ramped up, Eaton and Seigler realized no one was stepping in as a voice of reason. Someone needed to protect the defenseless kids!
“It really weighs on you, but kids are being abused. You see it. You have the choice of doing something about it or letting it go. And I’m not the kind of person who can see something like that and just forget about it.” - Melissa Eaton
Since 2016, Eaton and Seigler have reported approximately 100 parents to Child Protective Services in several states. Using fake Facebook profiles, Eaton and Seigler have successfully infiltrated several of these “autism cure” groups. Their screenshots and detective work are intended to help these autistic children through intervention. Most states don’t allow those who file a report to get additional information on the case. The moms don’t know if the agencies ever act on their reports, but they continue their brand of vigilante justice all the same. In addition to child welfare organizations, they also report these incidents to law enforcement and the FDA, who bans chlorine dioxide for internal use.
They may not have planned to become internet spies, but Eaton and Seigler are now fully committed to their cause. Their ultimate goal? To shut down pro-"cure” groups and save kids from harm. Autism is simply a different way of being, says Seigler. Parents should never be so deadset on “curing” something that isn’t wrong in the first place. Eaton, a single mom, says she logs on to sleuth about three nights a week even though “it shouldn’t be on the public to handle this.”
Are Eaton and Seigler helping the kids in question? Or are they encouraging a dangerous part of “call-out culture”, what most Facebook group administrators call “going real life”? Tell me your thoughts on Twitter @BabyGaga!