The road parents must navigate is made more perilous by medical professionals willing to prescribe all sorts of treatments, from hyperbaric oxygen chambers and chelation therapy (which removes heavy metals with chemicals) to shelves full of dietary supplements and other alternative remedies they say can treat, even cure, autism. At best these treatments remain unapproved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; at worst they are downright dangerous.
To compound the problem, a host of celebrities act as unpaid marketing reps for these unproven treatments, touting a pervasive (but incorrect) belief that autism is caused by childhood vaccines. This misinformation campaign has led, in the last few years, to a decline in the number of children receiving lifesaving inoculations. And Texas has become a center for alternative autism treatment and the anti-vaccine crusade.