The past few days I have seen a lot of links on Facebook and Twitter regarding a lawsuit that was filed against a well known autism doctor, Dr. Anju Usman. As my husband can attest, the comments and the “likes” on Facebook pages referencing these articles have really bothered me. What do people “like” about this recent article? Do they like that this doctor is being sued? I didn’t want to respond out of anger or emotion. I wanted to read the current article as well as previous articles before I shared my response. Let me be clear. I am not bothered by those individuals who shared the link to this article. I think it is important that we share information with one another. What bothers me are the negative responses about a doctor that the people making the comments don’t know.
The article that appeared in The Chicago Tribune was, in my opinion, very poorly written. The reporter presented a very one-sided argument and did not appear to have done much research on the situation. It appears that the reporter took one man’s opinion and turned it into a “smear article”. After I read the article, it was clear to me that Dr. Usman had been dragged into a really nasty custody dispute. This article accuses her of being overly agressive in her treatments and promising a “cure” for autism. This article makes her out to be a monster that preys on families that have a child with autism in order to make more money.
Well, I’m here to tell you that is not true! You see, I know Dr. Usman as she has been Skylar’s D.A.N. physician for the past 8 years. Dr. Usman is a phenomenal doctor. I have no doubt that she genuinely cares for Skylar and our entire family. She has laughed with us, cried with us, and shared MANY successes with us!
Let me give a little history on how we found Dr. Usman. After we moved to Ohio in 2002 we started seeing a D.A.N physician in Cleveland. After a phone consultation and 2 face to face meetings it was clear to us that he was not a good fit for our family. I never once believed that he cared about Skylar. I remember leaving his office saying “What did we just pay for?” The following spring I traveled to Northern Virginia for the annual D.A.N. conference. It was at this conference that I first heard Dr. Usman speak. Her oldest daughter had recently died from a severe peanut allergy and the passion in which she spoke of her patients was amazing. I called my husband on a break and told him that I had found a new D.A.N. physician for Skylar. After returning home I did quite a bit of research on Dr. Usman. I was part of several autism message boards and when I asked about her I received a ton of responses ALL which were glowing recommendations. Not one person had anything negative to say. I also read anything I could get my hands on in regards to a biomedical approach to treating autism. We had already implemented the Gluten/Casein Free Diet and she had shown tremendous improvement. Skylar was also already in an early intervention preschool & weekly physical/occupational/& speech therapies.
Our first visit with Dr. Usman was great. She immediately sat on the floor with Skylar and interacted with her. What I loved was that she spoke “to Skylar”, not just “about Skylar”. We left her office with a treatment plan of various supplements and lab work that we would have done at home, but we also left with hope. Dr. Usman made no promises of a cure. She made no guarantees that any of the supplements would help, but we were willing to try different supplements and treatments if they weren’t harmful.
We have tried lots of different supplements over the past 8 years. Some of the supplements Skylar currently takes she has been on for a long time, others are more recent additions. If we don’t see any improvement in labs or specific behaviors Dr. Usman is the first to say that there is not a need for her to continue with that supplement. Dr. Usman also talks to us about what she thinks could possibly help Skylar and WE make the decision as to whether or not we think Skylar should try it. Dr. Usman has NEVER pressured us to try any treatment. She has always been extremely cautious and I have no doubt that she has Skylar’s best interest at heart.
So now that you know my thoughts on Dr. Usman, I’d like to share my thoughts on some of the comments that people have made against her. I was amazed at the number of people who commented about certain treatments that clearly had not researched the treatments and just wanted to spew negative thoughts in order to “fuel the fire”. Below are a couple of the comments that people made (in italics) and my response.
I have two beautiful chldren (girls) who have Autism. One of the things that bothers me more than anything is parents not accepting their child.
Really? I made my feelings pretty clear in this post about the fact that I accept my child for who and what she is, but I won’t ever stop trying to help her be the best Skylar she can be. The lady above went on to say that parents who do biomedical treatments don’t love and accept their kids. She “accepts” her daughters who have autism yet she still continues to send them to school, take them to therapy, and have them treated and medicated by a traditional pediatrician. If she truly “accepted” her children as they are, why would any of this be necessary? It seems to me that what she doesn’t accept is that there are parents who want to go above and beyond traditional methods to help their child. When I read her full comments (and believe me there were lots of them) I didn’t see acceptance; I saw nothing but judgement!
I can’t believe that parents are subjecting their children to horrible and harmful procedures such as hyperbaric treatments. To put your child into a pressurized tube in order to give them more oxygen is just pure torture!
Now that I have stopped hysterically laughing I can address this. This is one of those comments that just prove that people speak without thinking.
I’m amazed at how people can make blanket statements without ever doing any research into what they are talking about. This is clearly the case with the comment above. You can google “autism” and “hyperbaric chamber” and come up with countless stories from families who have utilized this treatment. There are also many medical journals that have reported positive results in children with autism. We started researching Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) years ago.
In fact, Dr. Usman was not the only doctor to mention HBOT treatment for Skylar. One of Skylar’s neurologists in Ohio asked us one day:
“Has Skylar’s specialist ever mentioned HBOT? I think she would be a REALLY great candidate for that!”
Dayton Children’s Hospital was conducting a study at the time for children with Cerebral Palsy and although Skylar was not a candidate for the study, the neurologist encouraged us to look into it. So, clearly we did not seek one opinion on the matter. We did a “test dive” at Dr. Usman’s office a couple of years ago and Skylar did really well, but we knew that it was not something we could afford at the time. After YEARS of researching, discussing, and praying about this form of treatment, we proceeded with purchasing a chamber this summer. We did not purchase our chamber from Dr. Usman’s office so anyone who claims that she profited from our purchase is totally mistaken.
Also, HBOT therapy is not painful AT ALL. Both Chris and I have been in the chamber with her. For those of you who don’t know Skylar, she is totally verbal. She also tends to over exaggerate if she is in pain or feeling bad. She has never once complained about being in the chamber. In fact, she comes to us with her cup of water, snack, and the iPad and says “I’m ready to get into the chamber!” This is clearly not torturing her. She has completed 50 hours of treatment and the changes we have seen in her are remarkable! Her language skills have really improved. In the past month she has communicated with us like she has never done before. I will share these 4 conversations in a post this next week. They are nothing short of amazing. The most recent conversation/amazing thought process that happened occured during our trip to Albuquerque last week and it was a conversation that Skylar had with one of her former school teachers. She was amazed by the thoughts that Skylar shared and she reported that she had never had a conversation like that with Skylar before.
We have SEEN tremendous improvements in Skylar’s language, behaviors, and overall health and well-being since we’ve been taking her to see Dr. Usman. Coincidence? Nope! Don’t believe in that!
What I don’t understand is why people have such a hard time accepting those of us who choose to utilize biomedical treatments for our children. Our family and friends have always been very accepting and non-judgemental. I know it is because they have SEEN the improvements in Skylar. I don’t judge parents who choose only to utilize traditional treatments, so why must they judge me?
This is something that we CHOOSE to do! Nothing has been forced upon us. It is truly unfortunate that because of one complaint by a father who claims that his son has been harmed, we are at risk of losing wonderful doctors who want to help children with autism.
One thing I have learned since starting this blog is that the autism community is really divided! There are those who are anti-vaccine & those who are not. There are those who love Autism Speaks & those that don’t. There are those who support each other & those who bad mouth others who are speaking out, trying to make a difference. There are those who want to help their child in any way they can & those who keep shouting “accept my child the way they are because they aren’t broken!” Don’t we have enough difficulties as it is in our world already? Do we really need to be bashing one another?
I think not!
EDITED TO ADD:
*I was nominated for one of Babble’s Top Autism Spectrum Blogs. I’m totally honored by this. If you read my blog and you have found it helpful I would appreciate your vote. I am currently in the 20′s. You can click here and search for I Am JuJu, then click on the “I Like This” icon. I believe you can only vote for one blog per computer/device. Thank you so much for your support! I love sharing our journey with others and I truly hope that it brings hope and understanding regarding Autism.*
No one questions a parent who treats their child for cancer. Why do people question and judge a parent who treat a child for autism? Autism is not a state of being- it is a disease. Diseases are meant to be treated.
I do question people who state, “I’m glad my child has autism.” What? That is ridiculous.
As a nurse, as a cancer survivor, and as a parent, I question people who do not do what is necessary to help their children become healthier and happier (within their means). I understand the financial and time constraints of illness and so I don’t judge people who can’t afford treatment.
But I have personally seen improvements in Skylar because of the treatments of Dr. Usman. Was I a skeptic at first? Yes- as a nurse who had really only been exposed to traditional methods of medicine.
Now after 16 years as a nurse and a 7 year cancer survivor, I truly believe you seek out any treatment for disease that makes a life better, more productive, less painful, etc.
I read the article and several comments. Nauseating and ignorant- plain and simple. And if you’ve never met her, you have no right to assert your opinion on those who have and question the positive outcomes of some of her clients.
And as far as traditional medicine- how is the working out as autism continues to rise? We are doing a great job, right? So please don’t fault a physician for trying to find alternatives to an awful disease OR parents who are desperate for a cure or a better life for their child.
Just like someone commented on facebook..people too often like to jump on band wagons. If this article had been praising this awesome doctor, then they would be singing her praises in the comments they post. Parents are lazy. They don’t take time to educate themselves. I am told time and time again by teachers and administrators how happy they are that I am Garrison’s mom. How shocked they are to find a mom so pro-active in his life. Someone who has studied my sons disease and someone who has studied the laws of each state we live in. They constantly tell me that 99% of the parents they come across is a parent who has no clue what they can/cannot do in regards to education and the legal system.
Invest in your kids people. Take some time and do the research and be pro-active in their lives.
Julie knows that I do not have a DAN doctor for Garrison. We have never felt the desire to go down that road. However, I support her 100% in her decision and agree 100% this is the right thing to do for our sweet Skylar. However, she has also never once told me that I was a bad mom for not choosing that route for my son. We are 2 moms who fight in different ways with neither way being the right or wrong way, just the best fit for our child.
People, develop your own opinions. How does one do that? By getting off of the couch and learning about your child. Take the time to benefit from the plethora of information out there. Otherwise, you are to blame for the unfortunate consequences that you and your child will face by being so uneducated about this disease.
Well said!!! Some people choose to remain ignorant; that is really sad. You keep doing what you are doing for her and bringing about an awareness.
It is about time someone got punished for the abuse of Autistic children. Next time can we punish someone who is actually damaging Autistic children? Can we please prosecute Dr Joseph Beiderman for every child who has died as a result of his negligence.
Just to be clear, Dr. Usman should be punished for offering alternatives to parents to try to improve the quality of life for their kids?
And Dr. Beiderman isn’t the only physician prescribing medications to children. But to say he has caused their death?
I have been reading both sides of these arguments and the anger needs to be directed towards autism itself and finding a cure. Not at people who are passionate about improving the life of those with the disease.
And the last time I checked as a nurse, the parents have to consent to these treatments. No one is holding a gun to their head.
Having a daughter with DS (not autism) and “treating” her with supplements, I’ve heard this statement time and again (just substitute DS for autism).
What I am doing is accepting my daughter, not DS and the damage it does to her.
For many of the parents I’ve come across who make such a statement….they are feeling guilty, plus finding a way out of doing nothing outside the box.
Would I accept cancer, diabetes, vitamin deficiency in my child? No I would treat it, and that’s what I’m doing. IMO, any parent not “treating” autism, etc. should be ashamed.
Thanks for this post Juju. Dr. Usman is my son’s Dr. too and you put many of my own thoughts into written word. I am just sick about this mess and genuinely worried about Dr. U and all her patients, including us.
No matter what smear campaign is done, we who have children recovering or recovered from autism, (mine), know the truth. She will always and forever be regarded as a one of the most well-known docs in the autism recovery field. Yes, thousands have been recovered. Google autism recovery to find them, there are many. Dr. Usman has taught many other doctors about the health problems found in autism. She has been a huge contributor and will go down in history as a blessing to the autism community. And that’s fact!!!!!!! Shame on anyone who would put a damper on autism recovery!!!
Dr. Usman is our daughter’s DAN doctor as well. The irony is that I’m not all that into biomed…my husband is the bigger proponent in our case. We’ve done a whole lot of different protocols with Audrey and IMO have not seen any big “wow’s” with any of them. BUT I love Dr. Usman and she has never once tried to push anything on us that we were not 100% comfortable with. She knows my stance and takes my conservative-ness into account. The father in the custody battle must have never opened his mouth!
I read the news article and the bitterness just was overflowing in it. I’ve heard only good things about Dr. Usman and had planned on taking our daughter there until we lost part of our income this year but as soon as we can we will take her there.
Dr. Usman is wonderful! I hope that you will be able to see her soon. Blessings to you!
we saw her and i thought she was wonderful.
Dr Usman is an amazing person and doctor!!! i really hope those who just wrote bad things against her they will understand the damage that they ‘re doing to those parents who had great benefit for their kids
I think Michael Phelps sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber… to think that this is “awful” is kind of silly.
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I agree with Juju. I would like to share an important title of a book: Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism, by Kerri Rivera. There is a website, as well, http://www.cdautism.org. On the website is posted that 140 children have healed of autism. Everyone should buy the book, go to youtube.com for the video of the latest AutismOne 2014 Conference, or internet search (duckduckgo.com is a good search engine) Kerri Rivera’s name. The master mineral solution or Chlorine Dioxide is the key to healing from autism. I wish everyone good health. Namaste!)
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Thank you for your beautifully written post. Dr. Usman is our children’s doctor as well. We are Blessed to have such a brilliant, strong, effective medical professional who has always had our children and our families’ best interest at hand. Because of Dr. Usman our children all HEALED and THRIVING!!! Warmly, Wendy
Dr Anju is truly an angel. I have seen the benefits! (I worked w/ her.) The brain/gut connection is very real. Her passion comes from the loss of her own child. (That alone is her driving force.) I believe in her work! I also believe in her. I’ts really terrible to hear about this lawsuit. I know she’ll persevere through this trial. Love & prayers to all the families who have put their trust in her & keep the light of hope shining! If you knew her you would just love her instantly. ❤ … I would fight for her!!