Two mothers infiltrate online groups where members claim that children with autism can be cured by ingesting toxic chemicals.
Melissa Eaton of Salisbury, North Carolina and Amanda Seigler of Lake Worth, Florida, who each have a child with autism, came across several groups – mainly Facebook – and claimed that chlorine dioxide, an industrial bleaching agent, could treat the disorder.
To participate in the groups, Eaton and Seigler have created fake profiles posing as the parents of autistic children looking for answers or treatments.
Then they took screenshots of the posts where parents suggest their children feed the chemicals, NBC News reported.
Next, Eaton (39) and Seigler (38) notified the local child protection authorities about abuse. So far, they have reported having reported at least 100 cases in the last three years.
Melissa Eaton, 39, from Salisbury, North Carolina, and Amanda Seigler, 38, from Lake Worth, Florida, have been infiltrating online groups for three years. The groups suggest that feeding children with chlorine dioxide, a bleaching agent of industrial strength, can "cure" autism
The "cure" was made public by former Chicago real estate agent Kerri Rivera (picture), who claims to have reversed autism symptoms in more than 500 children
Eaton and Seigler told NBC News that some of the discoveries they found in these groups were terrible.
A Kansas mother wrote chlorine dioxide in the Facebook group after feeding her child: "My son is constantly making a wheeze."
Another mother from Canada wrote that her toddler refuses to drink the brew. He will not open his mouth. He shouts. Spits. Tilt over, "she wrote.
Eaton and Seigler said the groups are like a cult.
"It really bothers you, but children are abused," Eaton told NBC News. & # 39; you see it. You have the choice to do something or to let go. And I'm not the guy who sees it and just forgets it. & # 39;
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder in which sufferers have difficulty communicating with behavior.
It includes various illnesses – including autism, Asperger's syndrome and childhood disintegration – and symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Children are usually diagnosed at the age of two if they show signs of diminished eye contact, do not respond to their name, and perform repetitive movements.
According to the Centers for the Control and Prevention of Diseases, about every 59th child suffers from ASD.
Scientists do not know what causes ASD, but believe that it is a combination of genes and environmental factors.
Eaton (pictured) and Seigler, each with autistic children, take screenshots of the posts and notify local child protection authorities about child abuse
Poison Information Centers have warned that the chemical can irritate the eyes and skin and even lead to fluid accumulation in the lungs. In the picture: Seigler
Parents in several of these groups infiltrated by Eaton and Seigler believe that autism is caused by a variety of things, including viruses, bacteria, vaccines, parasites, and even gluten.
The treatments they propose are, to say the least, bizarre and include turpentine and a child's own urine.
However, chlorine dioxide, a chemical compound used to bleach pulp and disinfect municipal drinking water, may be the most popular.
Parents administer it orally or via enemas.
The idea of promoting chlorine dioxide as a remedy was first made popular by Jim Humble, a former Scientologist.
However, it was made popular by former Chicago real estate broker Kerri Rivera, who wrote about it in their 2013 book, Healing the Symptoms, Known as Autism.
Rivera, who has no medical degree, said she treated her own autistic son with chlorine dioxide and promoted it on social media.
According to NBC News, it is said to have cured more than 500 children of autism.
Rivera's book was suspended by Amazon, her email account was deleted by Yahoo and some of her YouTube videos were deleted
In a statement to the sales office she wrote: "This is a medical problem. I have a degree in homeopathy and work with medical and doctoral students. & # 39;
Inhaling chlorine dioxide, however, may irritate the eyes, skin and nose, according to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.
Exposure in higher amounts may cause fluid retention in the lungs, dyspnoea and jaundice or yellowing of the skin.
In one case, after receiving these enemas repeatedly, a six-year-old boy was reported to have his colon removed and a colostomy bag placed, according to The Daily Mirror.
Over the past five years, more than 16,000 cases have been reported in the US, according to data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
About 2,500 were intended for children under the age of 12, although it has not been established how many, if any, were autistic.
NBC News reported that 50 of these cases were classified as life-threatening and eight resulted in death.
In March, Amazon banned Rivera's book and YouTube has removed some of her videos. Yahoo has deleted her email account and Facebook has also closed some of her pages
Rivera told NBC News in an e-mail that Amazon's ban on her book was affecting the public's perception of her message, and that the tech giant was responding to hysteria caused by the media.
However, Rivera has since created new Facebook pages, which DailyMail.com displays before publishing. She did not respond to a request for comment.
Eaton and Seigler say they still watch them on various social media platforms and look for new pages and groups.
"Your profile needs to go and you need to lock your IP address," Eaton told NBC News.