I first caught wind of the autism film "Beautiful Son" through the surfing community. Surf filmmaker Don King has an autistic son. Being a filmmaker, Don always has a video camera at hand and has documented his "journey" of discovering that his child has autism. This, along with other footage and interviews, have become a film about autism called "Beautiful Son."
As a way of promoting the film, Don has enlisted Laird Hamilton (probably the greatest surfer to ever live) to perform various stunts to garner media attention for the cause.
It pains me to write this entry for several reasons. First, I don't like to turn against people in the surfing community. I typically find surfers to be amongst the finest people on earth. But second, it pains me to write this simply because one of the families in my tribe, the surfing tribe, has been duped by the mercury militia into believing the whole biomedical treatment nonsense supported by the DAN! doctors.
But I feel that I must do this. So here we go.
The film has not yet premiered, but there is enough supporting evidence via a web site and film preview to draw a few conclusions. Let's start with the preview, which was available - but seems to be no longer available - at www.beautifulson.com.
The preview goes something like this: the family record the birth of their son with their video camera. As he reaches two years old and his cognitive abilities begin to develop, the parents notice that something is wrong. They take the child to various doctors until a neurologist finally determines that the child is somewhere on the autistic spectrum.
The parents, who are devastated and completely unprepared for this, begin looking for answers. Unfortunately, mainstream medicine says "there's no cure" so they begin looking elsewhere when they find the DAN! conference. They attend the DAN! conference and are convinced that mercury and vaccinations caused their child's autism, and begin "the journey" to finding a cure.
The scenario will sound completely familiar to the millions of families with autistic children who have done the exact same thing.
Before I go any further, let's discuss why this occurs.
My best friend's child has autism, and on numerous occasions his wife has said to me "I hate neurologists, neurologists are the enemy." From her perspective this is understandable. Neurologists are the ones who diagnosed her child, so she obviously dislikes them. How could you like someone who tells you something bad? The logical fallacy here is of course the fact that they "told her something bad", but "they did not cause something bad." The human mind loves to confuse these things.
Also, the neurologists told her "there is no cure." This is not what anyone wants to hear. But if someone else tells you there is a cure (which of course there is not) it makes it appear as if the neurologist is (a) withholding information and (b) ignorant of "the cure." The neurologist is right in this situation, there is no cure, but the other side claims there's a cure... so the neurologists look like fools (in the eyes of fools, ironically).
Why would any parent believe mainstream medicine when the Autism Research Institute claims on their home page "Autism is treatable! Recovery is possible!"?
So, almost by default, parents of autistic children fall into the trap of ARI, TACA, and the DAN! conference.
During the preview (that no longer exists) Don filmed himself exploring the vendor area of the DAN! conference. I was not surprised in the least that the majority of vendors were pushing wacky untested cures such as HBOT, Laser saunas, Vitamin mega doses, Gluten free foods, and more. My impression was that the DAN! conference would allow ANY charlatan selling snake oil to be a vendor. But why would a reputable organization allow that sort of thing to happen? Ahhhhh... Now I'm getting it! They're quacks!
Later on in the preview (that no longer exists) they show Don and wife Julianne reading through the literature provided at the DAN! conference including (again no surprise here) propaganda from SafeMinds claiming that mercury in vaccinations has caused their child's autism.
When you're new to autism, and your mind is soaking up what people tell you, especially when those people claim to be experts, you will believe what they tell you.
Later on in the preview (that no longer exists) Don and Julianne are seen administering shots (of who-the-hell-knows-what) at home. They also show another parent administering a white liquid to their own child that obviously tastes like hell, because the poor child dreads the idea of consuming it, and then stims heavily once he's received it. Yuk.
To my eyes, it looks like they're basically torturing these poor, emotionally fragile children in order to "cure them."
Then the torture of the parents begin. In one scene, they're arguing furiously over a dosage issue and you can see the fracture (the same fracture that tears apart 80% of couples with autistic children) beginning to form. They're arguing over how much snake oil is needed to "cure" their kid.
This brings me to my next point; the "journey" of autism.
I hear this term used a lot with autism, and it infuriates me more every time I hear it. Autism is not a journey. Autism is a spectrum of neurological disorders, brought on genetically, for which there is no cure. Period. End of story.
Do you want to wreck somebody's home? Try telling a parent that there is a cure for an incurable disease and then send them on a "journey" to find the cure by visiting quacks and charlatans, all of whom have differing opinions and expensive (unproven, untested, and often dangerous) treatments. And then let the parents argue about these treatments until they ultimately divorce.
Point - Counter Point
I think there are two possible endings to this film. One where they realize that they've been duped by the DAN! doctors and ARI, and the other where they continue down the path of trying to cure their child by raising awareness for ARI, DAN!, SafeMinds, and others.
I haven't seen the entire film, just the preview that doesn't exist anymore, but I'm going to draw the conclusion that they will choose the later, and continue down the path of trying to cure their child by raising awareness for ARI, DAN!, SafeMinds, and others. I say this because I've seen the list of links available on the Beautiful Son website. They are ALL links to the mercury militia.
For fun, I've cross checked the links on Beautiful Son, with the list of Nonrecommended Information Sources on autism-watch.org. It's quite comical. Here's the complete list from Beautiful Son. Entries that also appear on the Nonrecommended Information Sources are followed by triple asterisks ***
- Autism One***
- Autism One Radio (see above)
- Autism Research Institute (see DAN!)
- Autism Society of America***
- Autism Treatment Network
- Cure Autism Now
- CHEC children's health environmental coalition
- Defeat Autism Now (DAN!)***
- F.A.I.R. Autism Media
- Generation Rescue***
- MIND Institute
- Moms Against Mercury***
- National Autism Association***
- National Vaccine Information Center***
- United Methodist Church
- Unlocking Autism
Half of the links from Beautiful Son are to credulous, nonrecommended information sources.
I know that Don and Julianne King are trying to do the right thing by bringing awareness to autism, but unfortunately this film is going to deliver another disastrous blow to those interested in the truth about autism. This film will ultimately turn out to be another propaganda piece for the mercury militia. They will tout it as a great success. But ultimately in the long run, they're only hurting themselves. Because if you support the mercury militia, you're not supporting autism. Every dollar wasted on DAN! could have been put to meaningful use by the geneticists who are honestly trying to find the cause and cure for autism.
Oh, and let's not forget PBS. They're going to broadcast this! Hopefully someone will talk some sense into the people at PBS before they air Beautiful Son next April.