|The evidence for the therapy discussed on this page is anecdotal,|
and hasn't been published in a scientific journal.
Bleach is a cleaning agent with a strong smell that may make autistic people avoid it when possible. It has also been trumpeted as a "cure" for autism.
Parents are urged not to use bleach on their children. Autism is better than death. As autism is lifelong, and parents should instead focus on therapies that will help their individual child grow into a happy, healthy autistic adult.
History of the Hoax
Jim Humble's Miracle Mineral Solution
Former Scientologist Jim Humble first made these claims with his Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS). He claims that autism is caused by parasites called "rope worms" (and that he can heal people by touching them).
Humble has a non-religious church called Genesis 2 which focuses on peddling MMS.
Humble's solution is 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water, similar to a very strong bleach. He recommends diluting it in an acid such as lemon juice, causing chlorine dioxide to form. Emily Willingham of The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism tried MMS on a black napkin, which turned bright red.
Leon Edwards trumpeted his solution of sodium chlorite and hydrochloric acid (which become bleach when combined). He posed as a reverend and a relative of an Autistic child, and claimed that it could "purge" autism, cancer, HIV, malaria, Alzheimer's, and more. Another person, Louis Daniel Smith, is likely to face criminal charges with up to 34 years in prison for peddling the same product.
The anti-vaccination movement, which has a history of promoting dangerous pseudoscience, has trumpeted MMS as an autism cure.
Kerri Rivera explains how this treatment works by giving the child "detox diarrhea" and "fever therapy" (both of which are warning signs of dehydration). She notes that the child stims more after being given bleach. She attributes this to the solution working; others wonder if the child's increase in stimming is due to distress or pain.
Illinois has since given her an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance prohibiting her from making claims about chlorine dioxide or participating in sales or consultations in Illinois.
These chemicals may cause internal scarring or even death (especially in children). Other risks include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dangerously low blood pressure, and other symptoms of severe dehydration.
Some parents, including one Arkansas minister and his wife, have lost custody of their children for exposing them to these treatments.
- Vice: The Parents Who Give Their Children Bleach Enemas to 'Cure' Them of Autism
- Quack defends bleach enemas to ‘cure’ autism: If it’s poison, where is the ‘sea of dead children’? (content warning for ableism against autistic people)
- Thinking Person's Guide to Autism: Dangerous Interventions: MMS and Autism
- Science-Based Medicine: Bleaching away what ails you
- Thinking Person's Guide to Autism - MMS: Yes, It Is Bleach
- BBC: 'Miracle autism cure' seller exposed by BBC investigation
- No More Bleach: Illinois Gives Kerri Rivera Her Walking Papers
- FDA.gov: 'Miracle' Treatment Turns into Potent Bleach