The title of the story, "Doctors sued over ‘dangerous’ autism treatment", tells you what you are supposed to think. It tells you that some "dubious" doctors are being sued for their unethical and experimental treatments of autism. The story is gripping from the get go - a father, James Coman, is suing two doctors and a testing company, alleging that they harmed his son with "dangerous and unnecessary experimental treatments."
But as I read the story, I realized that some of the plot just didn't make sense. If these treatments were so horrendous and caused such harm to his son, why did he agree to them in the first place? Did the father initially agree to these treatments only to change his mind later?
I soon found part of the answer included in the last paragraph of the story -
The treatments Coman's son received are also the subject of a bitter divorce and custody battle between Coman and his wife. She has been a proponent of the therapies for the boy, according to divorce court records.Oh.
Now the story is starting to make a little sense. Divorces, even the run of the mill ones, can get a little dicey and here we have one that is being described as "bitter". Anyone see War of the Roses?
But even considering the divorce, things still don't quite add up. If you read the story, you would see that this isn't the first time that this family's struggles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune. The father's side of the story and his beef with the doctors has been covered twice before. And, according to these stories, this isn't the father's first action against these doctors either. He claims to have filed complaints with the state medical boards sometime last year. I guess that didn't work out for him so now he is suing instead.
Why is the Chicago Tribune giving so much coverage to this "bitter divorce" and the father's complaints against the doctors? If these treatments were so horrible and these doctors as terrible as the suit makes them out to be, wouldn't other parents be lining up to complain?
In his lawsuit against the doctors, Mr Coman alleges that his son "suffered bodily injury" and "has sustained injury to his health, strength, activity, and cognitive functioning, all of which injuries have caused, and continue to cause, A.J. mental, physical, and nervous pain and suffering." And yet, in the earlier articles, he describes his son as "a playful, funny and outgoing 7-year-old".
He also say that his son "would have progressed developmentally without any medical treatments."
Oh. He's one of those.
I don't know if Mr Coman was only talking about "bio"-medical treatments or he is talking about other "medical" treatments such as ABA, but I do know one thing for certain. It is impossible to know where his son would be at today without treatment. To be in line with what his court filings have said, Mr Coman must believe that his son would be further along than he is if he had not been treated. And yet, he describes him as "playful, funny, and outgoing". Does that sounds like the average 7 year old with autism to you?
Then there is the matter of when these treatments started. In his complaint, Mr Coman says that they started almost six years ago, in April 2004, when his son was two years old. Has he been fighting his wife about this for six years now? Or, as I suspect, have his concerns only surfaced after he and his wife started getting a divorce? If Mr Coman though these treatments were hurting his son, why didn't he act sooner?
I think the real story here is much simpler than the Chicago Tribune is making it out to be. I think the title of the story should have been something like "Divorce gets messy; father sues doctors" - that would have been closer to what appears to be going on. Having a child with autism can stress even strongest marriages, it is no wonder than it could cause one to end badly.