Well now it appears that there’s a miracle treatment on the horizon for autistic people. But it involves consuming a shitload of broccoli.
I’m not kidding about this. It’s all true. It wouldn’t be nearly as funny if it wasn’t true. If you don’t believe me, check out the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences when it arrives in your mail. Apparently researchers fed some autistic people big doses of sulforaphane, which is found in broccoli. And a lot of these autistic guinea pigs showed dramatic improvement in their communication and social skills. I’m not sure how the researchers measured that. Maybe it was a Pygmalion sort of thing. Maybe the subjects started off all autistic and shit and after they consumed a whole bunch of broccoli over time they could recite “the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain” and they had perfect table manners. Or maybe it was more of an instant Popeye sort of thing except with broccoli instead of spinach.
But my question is why is it that when scientists discover that a certain food has magical healing properties, it’s never a very interesting food? Why don’t they ever find magical healing properties in something like lasagna? I have nothing against broccoli. I eat a fair amount of it. And the subjects didn’t get their sulforaphane from eating tons of broccoli. They took a broccoli extract. But that’s my point. If it was lasagna, they wouldn’t have taken a lasagna extract. They would have eaten lasagna straight out.
The researchers found that once the subjects stopped consuming sulforaphane they reverted back to their old autistic ways. So now autistic people face that classic dilemma every genre of cripple faces sooner or later when some trendy cure or treatment pops up. How many flaming hoops are you willing to leap through in the name of becoming less crippled? Some cripples would eat bricks and wrestle polar bears all day if it might someday up the road make it easier for them to wiggle their toes. Some cripples wouldn’t cross the street if doing so would transform them into a track star. So how many autistic people will make the commitment to consume tons of broccoli and broccoli extract forever? That’s a big commitment.
And you know how these miracle drugs are. There’s always a huge side effect that emerges eventually. In 10 or 20 years we’ll find out that eating too much broccoli makes your scrotum fall off or something. And then a whole new breed of ambulance chasers will arise. Not too long ago I saw a big sign on the side of a city bus that said: Injured? Call 999-9999! Then I saw a big sign on the side of another city bus that said: Injured? Call 222-2222! Then I saw a big billboard that said: Injured? Call 444-4444! It seems there’s a bloody lawyer turf war going on. So maybe in 10 or 20 years on the side of a city bus we’ll see: Scrotum Fell Off? Call 666-6666!