Neurodiversity News Interview with Melissa Eaton

Interview: Melissa Eaton

A woman with brown hair in a yellow shirt. Photo from Melissa Eaton
This time, I’ve interviewed neurodiversity ally, Melissa Eaton, who has an autistic son and is known for fighting the infamous bleach cult.
Neurodiversity News: Tell me about yourself and what you do.
Melissa Eaton: I’m a mom to a 10-year-old autistic and full-time caregiver for my 58-year-old aunt who has Down’s syndrome and complex health needs. Prior to the pandemic, I worked in Loss Prevention doing criminal background and alarm monitoring for 19 years. I’ve been involved with autism pseudoscience activism since 2014, devoting a lot of my time to stopping quackery and misinformation. I work in conjunction with autistic activists around the world.
NN: What drew you to the neurodiversity movement?
ME: During the process of my son’s diagnosis, I was exposed to a lot of misinformation, quackery and bad advice in autism parent groups. I had joined these groups hoping to find understanding to behaviors and things my son found difficulty with. What I discovered was parents are clueless as me handing out advice, “biomedical treatments,” and a constant venting of frustration at how hard life was for them.  It didn’t feel right with me, so I began looking for autistics as a source to get lived experience and expertise.  I found the best guidance and resources within the neurodiversity movement and eventually understood things about my son that were unclear to me. I was drawn to the fact that with understanding, support, and accommodation, he was going to thrive. I just had to listen and learn. Through that guidance, my son and I owe a debt of gratitude to all those who helped me get to that point.
So much time is spent during the diagnostic process with professionals, and then you’re sent home without education and directed to awful charities like Autism Speaks, who are clueless about autistic needs. I was sent out the door with a brochure for ABA and lists of charities. You leave and want to immediately do something after you’ve processed the news. That unmet support and education needs allows parents to fall into quackery, abusive therapies, and mistreatment of their neurodiverse children. The Neurodiversity Movement is the key aspect in the prevention of autism pseudoscience and the only accurate help to parents struggling to understand a diagnosis.
NN: Could you tell me about your history exposing the bleach cult?
ME: In the autistic spaces I joined, attempting to learn more, I met Emma Dalmayne. She was campaigning and exposing the horrors of MMS and I was just learning and shocked by it all. She needed assistance reporting a case in the US, and I helped. Then there was another, and then another, and my frustration grew at the horrific way children were being abused. I was naive at first that it was just a few cases and we’d get this stopped quickly. That hasn’t been the case. I began to see the long battle Emma had been fighting. From there, I began devoting a huge amount of my time to join her, along with Amanda Seigler and other advocates worldwide. We’ve had a lot of success, but we still are not where we need to be on this issue. We got some much-needed US press coverage in 2019 and the archived warning reissued by the FDA. Recently because of COVID-19, authorities finally took action against some of the peddlers, the largest being the Genesis II cult who were the group that started MMS. They are currently facing criminal charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to violate the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and criminal contempt. In civil court, an injunction has stopped them from selling more and will hopefully soon be moving towards a recall of MMS back to 2010. It’s extremely frustrating that it was ignored by authorities for a decade when it was Autistic children being harmed.
NN: Who are your greatest inspirations?
ME: That list would be very long. Anyone who notices a human rights or social issue and fights for it, I’d say. I’m just generally inspired by anyone who takes the initiative to make needed changes in our world for the better.
NN: What do you hope to achieve in the future? 
ME:
-Prosecution of Kerri Rivera in Germany for her abuse to thousands of Autistics. She has taken payment for “treatment” advice while unlawfully and falsely claiming to be a doctor for years.
-The pandemic response to quackery has been awesome. Within months, the FDA identified over 700 fraudulent products related to COVID-19.  I hope to be successful at keeping that action geared towards autism pseudoscience when the pandemic is over.  They have proven they can act when it’s a priority to them. It just never was. In a recent press release, they stated, “The FDA is well-equipped to rapidly identify and thwart medical product scams to protect consumers.”  I will be focusing on ensuring that they see autism pseudoscience as a priority and holding them accountable to that.
-I also want to focus more on other things that help accomplish the bigger picture for protection. We are looking at legislation that widely protects all vulnerable populations who are targets to pseudoscience. I also want us to get protections for children and adults whose guardians proxy consent them to loads of unregulated, unfounded and dangerous “treatments.” Within the autism biomed community, the list of harmful things being done to “treat” autism is rampant. Children deserve to not be subjected to this, and the right to protection.

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