Trine Tsouderos and Patricia Callahan honored by the Association of Health Care Journalists for autism series

23 Mar

The Chicago Tribune has run a series of articles lately on alternative medicine and autism. The stories include OSR#1: Industrial chemical or autism treatment? (about a chelation chemical invented for mining operations, now labeled as a supplement and sold for “oxidative stress relief”), the self explanatory titled Autism treatment: Science hijacked to support alternative therapies, Autism’s risky experiments Some doctors claim they can successfully treat children, but the alternative therapies lack scientific proof and Autism treatment: Success stories more persuasive to some than hard data One dad, a doctor, says he was “fooled”

This is part of a series that won the Chicago Tribune one of two awards. Writers Patricia Callahan and Trine Tsuderos were honored.

“This powerful series combines first rate medical writing and rigorous investigative reporting to expose doctors who perform what the authors rightly call “uncontrolled experiments on vulnerable children” with autism,” commented the judges. “Writing with the authority that comes from total command of the material, Tsouderos and Callahan bring new clarity to a notoriously murky subject-autism treatments. They document a horrifying brand of bad science perpetrated by bad doctors on desperate families, but they do it without a hint of hyperbole or sensationalism. Their straightforward, professional tone lets the facts tell the story. The result is an important-and devastating-piece.”

With a tip of the hat to Autism News Beat for his story, Tribune investigation takes first place

addendum:

here is the text of the announcement about the Tribune team:

Chicago Tribune reporters examine Lupron – a testosterone inhibitor used to treat precocious puberty and to chemically castrate sex offenders – and its reputed ability to be a “miracle medicine” for a disease with few mainstream medical answers: autism. In looking into Lupron, the Tribune found a world of alternative treatments for autism with fervent supporters who made big claims they said were backed by science. But when reporters evaluated the treatments, painstakingly analyzing each claim, each paper, each therapy through a lengthy dialogue with scores of medical experts, parents and doctors, they found the therapies were risky and unproven and the science backing them was junk. The Tribune provided readers and parents with hard evidence and some difficult truths, concluding that thousands of children with autism are being subjected to mass uncontrolled experimentation every day.

Judges comments: This powerful series combines first rate medical writing and rigorous investigative reporting to expose doctors who perform what the authors rightly call “uncontrolled experiments on vulnerable children” with autism. Writing with the authority that comes from total command of the material, Tsouderos and Callahan bring new clarity to a notoriously murky subject-autism treatments. They document a horrifying brand of bad science perpetrated by bad doctors on desperate families, but they do it without a hint of hyperbole or sensationalism. Their straightforward, professional tone lets the facts tell the story. The result is an important-and devastating-piece.

For their piece Dubious Medicine

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3 Responses to “Trine Tsouderos and Patricia Callahan honored by the Association of Health Care Journalists for autism series”

  1. Phil Schwarz March 23, 2010 at 04:28 #

    Excellent work on the part of Trine and her colleagues.
    Very good that she has brought these forms of quackery under wider scrutiny.

    But I hope that she and her colleagues get permission to go one step further: to document how the fundraising and “awareness” campaigns of the biggest, *mainstream* autism organizations have fed the quacks by amplifying fear, urgency, doom and dread among parents and families new to a diagnosis. They get told that time is running out, that they must do *something*, *anything* — and become perfect marks for the charlatans.

    Until we turn that around — until we insist that our autism organizations change the way they fundraise and market themselves to the general public — we’re going to be stuck in a game of perpetual whack-a-mole with the quacks. They’ll still be getting a steady flow of “good excretion” from the wallets of parents easily misled by “scientific sounding” claims and the emotional allure of false certainty.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Autism Blog – Trine Tsouderos and Patricia Callahan honored by the … | My Autism Site | All About Autism - March 23, 2010

    [...] Read more here: Autism Blog – Trine Tsouderos and Patricia Callahan honored by the … [...]

  2. Vaccines - Page 7 - DIYMA.com - December 14, 2010

    [...] two authors have been honored by their peer group…you can make whatever you like out of that. Autism Blog – Trine Tsouderos and Patricia Callahan honored by the Association of Health Care Journa… Risky alternative therapies for autism have little basis in science – Chicago Tribune [...]

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