The Defeat Autism Now! (DAN!) protocol was a project established by the Autism Research Institute, a quack organization, to promote a series of unproven and dangerous treatments for autism based largely on the scientifically discredited idea that autism is some form of “vaccine injury” or “toxicity” and/or food intolerance, and that dangerous detox therapies can help “cure” people with autism. There is a decent exposé of the project here. The project was formally closed down in 2011, but the DAN! practitioner network was continued by Dan Rossignol, who is apparently into more or less every type of autism quackery there is, and his Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs (MAPS); by 2015, the organization’s online clinician directory listed 49 members in the United States, of which 33 were medical or osteopathic physicians. Interestingly, most of the latter (67%) have been subject to government actions for a variety reasons, but at least seven of them for reasons related to practices that are central to the DAN! approach, primarily administering, causing harm and even killing children with chelation therapy:
- Richard E. Layton, MD
- Seshagiri Rao, MD, for nontherapeutic prescribing, failure to secure informed consent, and fraudulent billing related to mismanagement of five children with autism or autism spectrum disorder
- Alan Schwartz, MD, who lost his medical license due to incompetence, gross and repeated negligence, unprofessional conduct, and violating a previous probationary order
- Stephen L. Smith, MD, charged with using unreliable diagnostic tests and failing to provide or refer patients for appropriate treatment
- Anjum Usman, MD
As a group, these are not practitioners you’d want anywhere near your children, but the focus of this entry is the last one on that list.
Anjum I. Usman, a self-proclaimed “autism specialist”, operates the True Health Medical Center in Naperville, Illinois, and is “board certified in family practice and in integrative and holistic medicine”. She also owns of the Pure Compounding Pharmacy, and has been the target of at least two complaints. The first complaint was for offering care that “demonstrated extreme departure from rational judgment” – settled with a consent agreement under which Usman (without admitting or denying fault) was fined $10,000 and placed on indefinite probation for a minimum of one year. The second complaint was accompanied by a civil suit, and the details of that suit might give you an impression of the kind of pseudoscience-based quackery you might encounter if you use her services, perhaps in particular her commitment to the scientifically unsupportable, deranged and dangerous quackery that is chelation therapy as a treatment for autism. Now, if you take chelation therapy and add a lot of useless vitamin supplements and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, at least you’ll have a reasonably effective recipe for making lots of cash off of the troubles of patients and caregivers, and Usman seems to have been pretty successful for a while. As a result of the complaint, she was also put under supervision, but given that the supervisor (Robert Charles Dumont) is
a witch doctor an acupuncturist and member of the faculty of the Integrative Medicine Department of Northwestern University School of Medicine, one might be excused for entertaining some serious doubt about the quality of that supervision. Usman was also involved in Roy Kerry’ treatment of Tariq Nadama, being the one to diagnose the boy with high aluminum levels and referring him to Kerry.
Usman is a regular presenter at Autism One (https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Autism_One), the annual gathering of vendors, providers and quasi-researchers to push various grifts and quackery on desperate parents, appearing for instance with a talk on biomed quackery in 2015. She also participated in the relatively high-profile antivaccine autism summit in Dallas in 2016, and even serves on the board of Generation Rescue.