A Critical Look at Defeat Autism Now! and the “DAN! Protocol”

Defeat Autism Now! (DAN!), which was closed down in 2011, was a project of the Autism Research Institute (ARI), a nonprofit organization founded in 1967 by Bernard Rimland, Ph.D. (1928-2006). Rimland, who was a research psychologist, helped to dispel the long-held view that autism was caused by faulty mothering [1]. But later in his career, he incorrectly concluded that autism was caused by vaccines and could be effectively treated with detoxification and dietary supplements.

The DAN! project, which was launched in 2005, grew out of discussions between Rimland, Jon Pangborn, Ph.D., and Sidney MacDonald Baker, M.D., all of whom had become interested in nonstandard approaches to treating autistic children [2]. Rimland and Pangborn both had family members who were autistic. Pangborn is a chemical engineer who, from 1988 through 1995, served as president of a laboratory that provides hair and urine tests that are used to diagnose nonexistent heavy metal toxicity [2,3]. He is also a consultant to Kirkman Laboratories, which markets “over 100 products dedicated to nutritional supplementation in autism.” [4] Baker is a pediatrician who had been prescribing dietary supplements for many of his patients. Rimland had met him in 1978 when Baker had attended a talk by Rimland and said afterward that nothing had he tried in his pediatric practice had worked as quickly as megavitamin therapy [5]. Rimland also reported that “Baker and Pangborn had worked together on the biochemistry of autism since the early 1980s.” [6]

In 1995, ARI sponsored a 3-day meeting that was attended by about 30 professionals who discussed what they were doing and what they believed had worked for them. These determinations were not derived from well-designed studies but were based on clinical impressions, observations reported by parents to the treating physicians, and responses to questionnaires that ARI had collected. The meeting generated a consensus document—co-authored by Baker and Pangborn—that was published in 1996 as Biomedical Assessment Options for Children with Autism and Related Problems, but was often referred to as the DAN! Clinical Manual” or DAN! Protocol.” In 2005, after undergoing five revisions, the report was extensively rewritten, revised once more, and published by ARI as a large book called Autism: Effective Biomedical Treatments. The original version of the book covered 41 pages. The 2005 version, which I own, has about 330 pages and measures 8.25 x 10.75 inches [7]. I estimate that it contains about 220,000 words.

 

Source: A Critical Look at Defeat Autism Now! and the “DAN! Protocol”

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