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Father obsessed with treating his children’s illnesses with homeopathy loses custody

An Ontario father lost custody of his two sons, aged nine and ten, for repeatedly trying to cure their autism and various illnesses with homeopathy. The boys have “severe and profound” autism spectrum disorder. They are not toilet-trained, do not speak, and are unable to dress or feed themselves. According to the court decision granting sole custody to the boys’ mother:

“Not only were these treatments not effective, but they had negative effects.”

During a  hearing in October, the children’s mother wanted a court order demanding her ex-husband stop administering homeopathic treatments to their sons. She argued he was “looking for a ‘cure’ for autism rather than trying to find a method of managing autism.”

Homeopathy, a practice developed in Germany in the early 19th century, is an alternative therapy during which treatments that cause the same symptoms as the original illness are administered as a remedy.

Testifying before the Ontario Court of Justice, the mother explained the ill-effects of her ex-husband’s “remedies,” explaining that a homeopathic remedy which was supposed to lessen one boy’s spasms made him “very aggressive.”

“He would not stop hitting everyone and it took about two weeks for the [behavior] to stop and for him to return to his normal state.”

On another occasion, the father wouldn’t administer antibiotics for an infected cut on the nine-year-old’s finger. He kept the child from his mother while attempting to treat the infection with homeopathic remedies, which only made the infection worse.

This case does not involve a potentially life-threatening illness, but as family lawyer Andrew Feldstein expressed to the National Post, it quickly could.

“Kids get strep throat all the time, and you need antibiotics to deal with strep throat and if a parent is having problems with the other parent administering the antibiotics, that becomes a very serious issue.”

The issue of medical care was only one of several issues involved in the custody hearing, during which both parents battled for sole custody.

Justice Roselyn Zisman was critical of the father refusing to see his children over the summer, his threats to institutionalize the boys unless his $500-a-month child-support payments were lowered, and his callous text messages to his ex-wife.

Zisman wrote:

“The father’s decision not to see the children is the most glaring example of his inability to put the children’s needs before his own need to control and punish the mother.”

Featured image via Flickr

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