In a private group on Telegram, parents whose children are living with a range of disabilities including autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Down Syndrome cheer each other on and provide support when discussing daily struggles.
But the channel’s main function isn’t actually support: It’s to promote the use of veterinary ivermectin as a treatment—and in some cases a cure—for these disabilities.
Hundreds of parents have turned to this conspiracy network, and are
recommending a drug to each other that experts have repeatedly said is designed only for large animals and is so concentrated that it can be toxic when ingested by humans. In the channel, parents even share stories about their children experiencing horrific side effects from the drug, including brain fog, severe headaches, nausea, muscle pain, and seizures—and are routinely dismissed by those running the channel, who claim it’s a normal part of the ‘healing’ process.
A review of the chat’s eight-month history reveals parents complaining that their children suffer from a wide variety of side effects after taking the ivermectin paste, including: vomiting, change in complexion, seizures, lethargy, hyperactivity, agitation, and headaches.
“Major brain fog today after splitting headache yesterday,” one user wrote last month. Another wrote: “I have been applying Ivermectin liquid to my granddaughter’s feet, belly button, and swabbing her ears for six weeks now. She complains of sporadic blurry vision and sometimes headaches.”
“Bleeding or mucous or vomiting or diarrhea or acne or pealing or aches/pains or hot flashes & sweating are all good signs of clearing out your body,” another member wrote. “This is healing, keep going.”
The Telegram channel was established in July 2022 as an offshoot of the much larger pro-ivermectin group “Dirt Road Discussions,” which was set up in October 2021 by Danny Lemoi, who took veterinary ivermectin for almost a decade to, he said, treat Lyme disease. When ivermectin became hugely popular among anti-vaxxers as a treatment for COVID-19, Lemoi leveraged his experience with the drug. (There is no evidence to back up the claims that ivermectin formulated for humans or for animals is an effective treatment for COVID-19.) Lemoi died suddenly earlier this month at the age of 50 with what the admins of his channel described as a heart that had “nearly doubled in size.”
Though Learning to Fly is exclusively focused on the use of ivermectin for children, Lemoi shared an ivermectin routine for kids in the Dirt Road Discussions group before he died as well, and many members of the group speak openly about giving their children veterinary ivermectin.
The Learning to Fly channel, however, takes usage for children even further.
“It is for mom and dads with kids on the spectrum,” the founder of the channel wrote in a message describing the group last year. “My daughter is
30 yrs old with Asperger’s syndrome and my son is 28 yrs old with autism. We are all 3 on ivermectin and started mid February.”
In a pinned “Where to start” post, the channel admins give new members a guide about what to expect and how to begin giving their kids ivermectin by first applying a liquid form of ivermectin to the bottom of children’s feet.
“Just get a dab on your finger and run it along the arch of their feet,” the instructions state. A week later, parents are told to start administering ivermectin paste internally.
The channel also provides advice on how to explain the ivermectin usage to children:
“Best way to explain it is [the kids] have a cluster of parasites that are in a part of the brain that causes outbursts. When the parasites in that part of the brain get attacked [by ivermectin] the parasites panic and release their toxins as well as get active. Their death dance,” the channel guidelines state. “This will affect the kiddos and their behaviors.”
And when children experience side effects, the channel admins claim that it’s all because the ivermectin is driving out parasites. They call this “herxing,” which is a real term used to describe an adverse response that occurs in people who take antibiotics as a treatment for Lyme disease and a number of other illnesses.
“Herxing can be a big issue with our kids,” the channel admins wrote in a pinned message. “They have so much overloading them already, herxing adds more. Remember things will get worse before they get better. They will have days [when] it looks like their behaviors are getting worse but it is only temporary. This is the herxing.”
“My daughter started having blurry vision on the ivermectin,” a member of the larger Dirt Road Discussions channel wrote. “She started with severe headaches alternating with stomach pain. Now her vision is very blurry. Any advice? She’s in the first grade. I don’t want her to miss out on all the learning that is so crucial at this age.”
In response, another parent wrote: “Press on through…It’s working.”
Members of the Learning to Fly channel believe that almost everything can be cured by taking ivermectin.
“Some say Down’s syndrome and such can’t be healed, I don’t believe it,” the channel founder wrote in a post earlier this year. Her daughter is also an active member of the group, and when another member asked about the efficacy of ivermectin, the daughter wrote that “everything from inherited multiple generation blood sugar disorders or autoimmune conditions to Cohen and Autism have been cured or made notable progress so far.”
Other parents have asked about a variety of diseases. “My youngest is 5 and was diagnosed with alopecia in January. It started right around Christmas time. Does anyone have any knowledge of ivermectin being beneficial for that?,” a user wrote last week.
In response, the channel founder wrote: “I haven’t heard anyone in here with it but I did find it on the list of things cured.”