By Anna Werner
There are thousands of children in the Bay Area
diagnosed with autism, and parents are desperate
for help. Families are looking at all kinds of
treatments. A CBS 5 investigation uncovers an
autism treatment that's promised as a cure.
It's being pitched at seminars across the country,
several of which we attended with an undercover
camera. At a seminar in Orange County, we heard
"We are talking about fixing the brain,
fixing the brain forever," the program's
inventor, Claudie Gordon-Pomares told parents.
She said she can repair the brain through sensory
stimulation called "Monitored Multi-cortical
Activities for Additional Pathways and Synapses,"
"Of course it works, because it's been proven"
Gordon-Pomares said. "Doesn't matter the
age, doesn't matter how long parents have tried
Who is Gordon-Pomares? Her Canadian center, the
Brain Repair Institute, has been featured on local
news. Her website shows amazing before and after
results, and parents who like it.
Gordon-Pomares says it's a miracle cure for the
brain she's spreading all across North America.
Reaching parents including Chris and Holly Wetz,
whose 5-year-old son Matthew was diagnosed with
a type of autism.
"Trying to decide what to do, what would
be the best thing to do, was really overwhelming,"
Holly Wetz said. The family had already tried
many treatments. "We took him off wheat,
we took him off milk," she said, which failed
Although it cost $5,000 for just six months,
the Wetz's decided to give MAPS a try.
"When you're a parent with an autistic child
and you've tried everything, you know, you're
like, 'Wow! We're going to miss our opportunity,
we better do it,'" Chris Wetz said.
But one year later, Wetz said "You know
we weren't getting anything. We kept getting promises."
So CBS 5 Investigates went to ask Gordon-Pomares,
who insisted the treatment works.
"I believe the brain can fix itself,"
she told CBS 5.
And why does she say that? "Any brain dysfunction,
any mental disorder is fundamentally a serotonin
and a dopamine issue," Gordon-Pomares said.
"So it can be a child with Down's Syndrome
who has a low level of serotonin. It's not really
a specific diagnosis- more the dysfunction going
to the function."
"That is what is sometimes termed as psychobabble,"
said Dr. Bryna Siegel, director of the Autism
Clinic at UCSF. Siegel is a world renowned expert
on autism who reviewed the MAPS program for CBS
"She's using concepts that on the surface
sound like she knows what is going on," Siegel
Siegel was also shown undercover video of the
seminar recorded by CBS 5 Investigates.
"I think I would feel absolutely comfortable
saying that there is no way that this is a cure
for any case of autism," Siegel said.
CBS 5 asked Gordon-Pomares why top experts have
said her program is not good.
Gordon-Pomares replied, "Well there are
quite a few who say it's good. Experts Gordon-Pomares
said, like pioneering brain researcher and UC
Berkeley professor Mark Rosenzweig. He said, 'there's
no problem, I will put my name behind MAPS and
demonstrate it, the validity of it, to the world'."
So CBS 5 Investigates went to ask Rosenzwig about
the MAPS program.
"Now when you say MAPS, what is MAPS?"
When we asked if he had validated Gordon-Pomares'
work as she claims, his reply was "In order
to do that I would have to know about it and look
into it carefully and I haven't done that, so
I do not put my name behind her work."
"Are they taking advantage of the parents
& families with autistic children?" CBS
5 asked Dr. Siegel.
"Absolutely, it's totally exploiting a very
very vulnerable population," Siegel said.
Gordon-Pomares responded to Siegel's statement
by saying "No, I don't believe a parent who's
fighting the world to save their child is vulnerable."
So is Gordon-Pomares really doing anybody any
harm? In Dr. Siegel's professional opinion, yes.
"She's taking people's money and she's misrepresenting
science," Siegel said, "especially when
parents are told to take their kids out of school,
or in the case of the Wetz's, to stop other therapies."
"That's the very definition of unethical
conduct. Because you are withdrawing something
that is of benefit and replacing it with something
that has no theoretical or empirical basis."
Gordon-Pomares responded: "I believe that
they have to trust parents more. Parents are very
"We did the research and everything,"
Chris Wetz said. "But you know, we got duped."
Gordon-Pomares claims to be a neuroscientist
with two degrees from a university in France.
But that university says it has no record of anyone
graduating by that name.