Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cures in Perspective

I was at a parent meeting today and one of the people there had recently moved to Canada from China. She was new to everything in the North American autism scene and, when the term "biomedical" came up someone had to explain what it meant.

She dismissed it, saying that in China there were an unlimited number of treatments and cures available but she had never availed herself of them because she didn't want to put her son though all of that when there was a good chance that they would not work.

The sorts of treatments she was referring to were, of course, traditional Chinese medicines but I realized that these were essentially the same as the detoxifying foot baths, complex diets and drugs that we call "biomedical autism treatments." Both are folk medicines, directed at people with little knowledge of science and supported by anecdotal reports from satisfied patients.

For some time now it has seemed to me that there was something futile in the battle to convince the biomed crowd with evidence and logic. Looking at the movement in this light -- as a folk medicine movement -- the futility of this attempt appears even more apparent.


Maddy said...

My brother's in China and has a lot of recommendations which as you say, make perfect sense to me [not the acupuncture eek!] but the mind calming / getting in touch with yourself / healthy eating has a lot going for it.
and Happy Thanksgiving

Marla Fauchier Baltes said...

We tried lots of alternative stuff early on and most never worked for our daughter. I agree that much of it is folk medicine. If I had a dollar for every time someone wanted us to try some ol' folk medicine we would be rich! I tire of smiling and changing the conversation.