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Dr. Jon Poling: I Cannot Fathom Turning My Back on a Child Nor Science To Avoid Inconvenient Questions"

AJC This morning, The Atlanta Journal Constitution is running an editorial by Dr. Jon Poling, father of Hannah Poling.  To see the editorial at AJC click HERE. It doesn't seem that AJC has set up room for comments.

For the million plus American families touched by autism, like mine, there is real urgency to find scientific answers to help loved ones and prevent future victims. Unfortunately, some doctors still fail to even accept the increasing autism rate as real, rather than their own better diagnosis.

The collateral damage of “better diagnosis,” the idea that we are simply better at detecting autism, is the abandonment of families coping with autism by the medical establishment, government and private insurance companies.

Beyond the high emotional toll autism takes on a family, many have been financially ruined. Public school systems are drowning in the red ink of educating increasing numbers of special-needs students.

Fortunately, the ‘better diagnosis’ myth has been soundly debunked. In the 2009 issue of Epidemiology, two authors analyzed 1990 through 2006 California Department of Developmental Services and U.S. Census data documenting an astronomical 700 to 800 percent rise in the disorder.

These scientists concluded that only a smaller percentage of this staggering rise can be explained by means other than a true increase.

Because purely genetic diseases do not rise precipitously, the corollary to a true autism increase is clear — genes only load the gun and it is the environment that pulls the trigger. Autism is best redefined as an environmental disease with genetic susceptibilities.

We should be investing our research dollars into discovering environmental factors that we can change, not more poorly targeted genetic studies that offer no hope of early intervention. Pesticides, mercury, aluminum, several drugs, dietary factors, infectious agents and yes — vaccines — are all in the research agenda.

An inspiring new text, “Autism-Current Theories and Evidence,” has successfully navigated the minefield of autism science without touching the “third rail,” as Dr. Sanjay Gupta aptly describes the vaccine-autism debate.

Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, who has studied autism for decades, prophetically writes, “The clinical heterogeneity of this disorder, together with the inherent dynamic changes during children’s growth and development, confound static, linear models and simplistic, unilateral approaches.”

Zimmerman’s book is dense with cutting-edge science on cell biology, metabolism, oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, auto-immunity and brain pathology. That’s right — autism isn’t simply a genetic program for brain development gone awry. Dr. Martha Herbert, of Harvard Medical School, writes the final chapter defining autism in the larger framework of a multiple organ system disease with potentially reversible impairments.

As an affected parent, I am left with a sense of hope that these professionals will produce results to stem the tide of new autism cases and ameliorate symptoms of those currently suffering.

On the other hand, Dr. Paul Offit, the vaccine inventor whose Rotateq royalty interests recently sold for a reported $182 million, has written a novel of perceived good and evil called “Autism’s False Prophets.”

The tome is largely a dramatic account of why Offit, who self-admittedly is not an autism expert, feels vaccines should be exonerated in the autism epidemic. In the story, Offit takes no prisoners, smearing characters in the vaccine-autism controversy as effortlessly as a rich cream cheese.

“False Prophets” has curiously garnered support from several senior physicians in respected medical journals.

After Offit’s drama is complete, these cheerleaders fail to realize they have traveled the road labeled “Dead End — No Through Traffic.” In his epilogue, Offit credits autism parents who have likewise gone down the dead end path to autism acceptance, without search for cause or cure.

As both parent and doctor, I cannot fathom turning my back on a child nor science, in order to avoid inconvenient questions about vaccine safety or any other reasonable environmental factor.

President Obama has recognized that “we’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate” and plans to appoint an “autism czar” to coordinate his policy efforts. Science is moving forward to connect the three dots of environment, genes and plasticity of a developing child’s brain circuitry. In the end, logic and reason will prevail over politics and profits.

• Dr. Jon Poling, an Athens neurologist, is an assistant professor at the Medical College of Georgia. His daughter, Hannah Poling, has been a successful petitioner in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

Comments

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John Fryer Chemist

Andrew W Zimmerman Autism Current Theories and Evidence

Is it of use? Well its price tag is expensive, very expensive and for just two mentions of vaccines we get dozens for genes.

Chapter one starts well (well badly I MEAN): Strong gene etiology – caused by your genes. This sets the tone of the book. RUBBISH, RUBBISH, RUBBISH.

It is ten years behind the times and doesn’t seriously look at environmental insults to the one day baby. ORGANOMERCURY for example, a known brain destroyer.

Chapter one continues: Autism spectrum disorders are highly heritable. Sorry I’ll make that 20 years out of date.

It does mention the environment but I think they leave it at that almost. You can almost feel the choking as they write this down!

I liked the bit about the heads of ASD folk are large. No mention of blown up heads after vaccines though! I WONDER WHY?

I did see a good review from Baron Cohen on this book too. Good in that it warned me off this book.

HEY PRESTO he (Baron Cohen) writes at length in the book.

Talk about praising yourself up!

Looked at other comments here before me on this blog.

I DID LIKE:

Dr. Zimmerman wrote a book? No thanks. I took my son to see him last week. Dr. Zimmerman believes that getting the flu during pregnancy causes autism. But, I didn't have the flu while pregnant. He also ruled out vaccines completely. Seemed to get angry when I brought it up. The only treatment he offers is prozac. If he's on "our" side we're in trouble. I can honestly say he was one of the least helpful doctors I've ever been to.

It would be churlish to say this book is the worst book ever on autism. It would be more accurate to say its virually USELESS.

Let’s just say if you rely on this book for the cause and cure of ASD. GOODNESS HELP YOU!

Try to find something positive John.

OK Try the section on GLUTAMATE – haven’t read it but it must get as close to the truth as you will see in this book and perhaps this book is even 30 years behind the times.

Otherwise its excellent for the fire, for a door stop, or for bamboozling idiots that its the bees knees on 2009 knowledge of autism.


Fred Previc

I totally concur with Dr. Poling's call for a redirection of autism funding priorities. Personally, I believe that direct genetic factors cause only a very small fraction of today's autism cases and that a variety of mostly prenatal influences leading to elevated dopamine in the brain are behind the elevated incidence of autism. I, too, am dismayed that the myopia for genetic causes has led far too many leading autism researchers to deny the existence of the obvious rise in true autism incidence. Details of my theory are contained in:
Previc, F.H. (2007) "Prenatal influences on brain dopamine and their relevance to the rising incidence of autism" Medical hypotheses 68(1):46-60.

chrissie

Clay - what you and your ND friends cannot seem to get through your thick skulls is that our children are incapacitated - by age 3. There was no way my family could miss or misinterpret what was happening to my previously perfect baby. The fact that your diagnosis did not come until you reached adulthood makes me think that you were probably a lot better off than my son at age 3. Jack couldn't talk at all. Zero. Completely unable to get across even a simple request. His frustration was epic. His pain was out of control. He couldn't sleep more than a few hours at a time, couldn't go anywhere noisy or crowded, and worst of all, he couldn't tell us where it hurt.

Why is it that in all the posts I have read from your crowd, you all ignore the fact that our children are severely affected by medical issues as well as behavioral? Were you in pain as a child and no one addressed it? Are you angry at your own parents by any chance? Why does it bother you people so much that we want our children to be able to communicate and live a relatively pain-free life? Most of all - how is it any of your business? Go get vaccinated to your heart's content. Vaccinate your children if you so please - I won't say anything. I, on the other hand, having discovered that my child is medically unable to process not only the toxic ingredients but the actual viruses themselves, will pass.
Now, show us what a genius you are and post another comment here that conveniently ignores all the facts thus far. We all need a good laugh. Autism tends to suck all the fun out of life.

CT teacher

Dr. Poling's editorial seems a little tentative about the vaccine issue, especially since his daughter's case was settled by the vaccine court. I guess he has to moderate his language and opinions so that he can still navigate the medical world.

Twyla

Dr. Poling's article ends: "In the end, logic and reason will prevail over politics and profits." It will be thanks to people such as Dr. Poling that this will occur! And thanks to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for publishing this article! Surely there are enough people not under pharma-Big-Brother's thumb so that autism causes cannot continue to be ignored/denied!

David Taylor

DIARY AT DAILYKOS?

Could someone diary about Dr. Poling's article over at dailykos.com? I would love to see the Orac crowd there gag as they digest this insightful work that really is at the leading edge of thinking and work on this topic--and so full of hope.

I would do it but I am in between accounts now, having been banned numerous times by the site Nazis.

I also hope David Kirby blogs on this too by talking more in-depth about some of the people Poling mentions.

Big D

Thank you Hannah Poling - and thank you Mr. and Mrs. Poling for your fortitude,bravery, and never ending passion for doing what is right. Just when I feel like giving up - you help me restore the fire to keep going. Your family is truly an inspiration. God Bless!

Garbo

Clay -- Thimerosal wasn't removed from vaccines, just reduced. And then they added and expanded the recommendation for an annual flu shot, which still contains full dose mercury. So it's kind of hard to calculate if the "reduction" in thimerosal exposure is medically meaningful, considering the very small doses at which effects are caused. Plus add in the aluminum adjuvants at ever-increasing doses, and those vaccines that combine thimerosal and aluminum in direct contravention of the MSDS for thimerosal, and you still have a messy toxic stew.

Teresa  Conrick

Clay-

It is interesting that you chose to bring up my post, thimerosal, JB, and then ignore Angela's post that eloquently explained your incorrectness regarding DSM-IV and Asperger's diagnoses-

"The California numbers do not include Asperger's, nor do the Dept. of Ed. stats that show the number of children with autism increasing every year. As of the 2006-2007 school year 1 in 67 children have autism, and it rose again last year. The only children included in the Dept. of Ed. stats are children who meet the eligibility criteria of Autism. Those numbers do not include children with PDD-NOS unless their ASD is severe enough to be called autism by special education eligibility."

My post was to point out that it is not necessary to use mean comments or tactics here. It is not a frequent behavior with any of the autistic individuals that I know. Being diagnosed just 10 years ago is interesting and I wish you nothing but good luck.

Kelli Ann Davis -- READ THIS BEFORE PS

For the record, I was just speaking with a contact in Congress today who said, "One of the most powerful pieces of science I've seen on this subject yet is the recent MIND institute study showing the increase in numbers is REAL".....

This, from a guy who has the power to "do something" (and is) about the inept CDC who doesn't know what the hell is going on!

Bottom Line: I could care less what the “Clays” of this world think – they aren’t the ones with the power to change anything. I’d rather spend my time yapping with the “powers that be” in an effort to make progress :-)

Kelli Ann Davis -- PS To Jon

Oh, forgot to relay that this contact and his Congressman think Jon Poling is *the bomb* (told me so last summer) and it's the primary reason they are *involved* in this issue in the first place!

JON -- YOU ROCK ;-)

John Stone

I don't have any part in the moderation of this site but I do have some experience over the moderation of other sites, and I doubt whether it is a straightforward issue of censorship. For instance, if you don't intervene a site can quickly become over-run but hostile voices which make it inpossible for site regulars to articulate at all - it can become the simple weight of traffic irrespective of merit. In fact we have one well-known site in the UK which specialises in disruptive tactics on other sites. I don't think this is an issue here because this site has been carefully moderated from the beginning. But if it wasn't it would quickly be overwhelmed by hectoring bullies, who have no interest in real debate.

K Fuller Yuba city

Clay,
I would wager that many of our children don't present with "Classic Kanner Autism"
When people argue that it is better diagnosing that is increasing the numbers they are wrong. It does not matter what you want to call it. The numbers of injured children are rising. Why do people insist on thinking that it is the parents who gave our kids the DX Autism??

Moderating 101

I should point out - it's certainly not only people with autism who can be combative and defensive when writing comments. I've seen some pretty nasty remarks about us from "friendlies" when we moderate them too.

And not everyone with autism fits that description by a long shot. I don't want to tar everyone with the same brush.

Clay is allowed to come in and speak his mind, What we tend to delete across the board, Clay, so you know, are comments that flat out deny the epidemic. Sometimes we allow back and forth between commenters, even when it gets heated, sometimes not. We aren't preschool - but we will maintain our reputation as a site for people who are interesed in the news and views surrounding the topic that autism is an epidemic and is treatable.

Moderating is charming work, I assure you. Thank God I don't moderate HuffPo!

Have a good weekend everyone.

Kim

Clay

@Teresa, who said:

"None of them have the anger and sarcasm that I see in posts like yours."

Anger and sarcasm, where?

"The way you present here, attacking and mean,"

If you're referring to the note at the bottom, I'll admit I was a little peeved at having a post censored out of existence yesterday. If you people won't debate, it's because you know you'll lose. I believe that censorship is kinda un-American, y'know?

"shows that some who claim to be autistic may actually have a different DSM disorder, like Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is not,as you put it,"other Dx's on the spectrum"."

Diagnosis over the internet is an old ploy. If we're smart enough to speak for ourselves, defend ourselves, then we must not be autistic, right?

Wrong. I was Dxd as Asperger's nearly 10 years ago. And I just retired after working for 45 years.

Um, if the prevalence of autism really is going up, wouldn't that mean that the "thimerosal conection" is a lot of hooey? Handley et al used to say that the rate would be coming down. That expected time has passed.


Managing Editor

Forget it, I don't have the heart to be that snarky.

I did not approve his comment, by the way. We have several moderators.

Kim

Angela Warner

Wow! Man! It never ceases to amaze me how nasty people can be sometimes. Clay, I think you have some real issues. Kim typically will post comments such as yours because the content speaks for you, and as I said, you've got some real issues.

The California numbers do not include Asperger's, nor do the Dept. of Ed. stats that show the number of children with autism increasing every year. As of the 2006-2007 school year 1 in 67 children have autism, and it rose again last year. The only children included in the Dept. of Ed. stats are children who meet the eligibility criteria of Autism. Those numbers do not include children with PDD-NOS unless their ASD is severe enough to be called autism by special education eligibility.

Sorry, but your theory that the addition of Asperger's to the DSM-IV in 1994 being responsible for the huge increase we've seen in autism is complete hogwash, and de-bunked.

Now please, be nice. Thank you.

Teresa Conrick

Clay,

I have a daughter with severe autism and I work with students who are high functioning or have Aspergers. None of them have the anger and sarcasm that I see in posts like yours. The way you present here, attacking and mean, shows that some who claim to be autistic may actually have a different DSM disorder, like Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is not,as you put it,"other Dx's on the spectrum".

ObjectiveAutismDad

Clay, the California numbers (which most consider the gold standard) don't include Asperger's in their counts of autistic children (because they're different DSM-IV codings).

Clay

"Fortunately, the ‘better diagnosis’ myth has been soundly debunked. In the 2009 issue of Epidemiology, two authors analyzed 1990 through 2006 California Department of Developmental Services and U.S. Census data documenting an astronomical 700 to 800 percent rise in the disorder."

It hasn't been debunked, there was never any bunk in it. Classic Kanner autistics only make up 25 to 30 percent of the autistic population. The rest of us have Asperger's, PDD-NOS, or other Dx's on the spectrum. It was only in 1994 that Asperger's was added to DSM-IV, so there's your 750% increase right there.

(Gonna delete this one too, Kim? That would prove to me you're intellectually bankrupt.)

WE SHALL OVERCOME

Thanks, Dr. Poling. Our gratitude for your efforts as an advocate cannot be measured.

Thanks to nhokkanen for the link. I encourage everyone here to follow this link and read the last chapter on the book, the one written by Martha Herbert and mentioned by Dr. Poling in his article. This chapter should be sent to every single pediatrician in the US, who are always too quick to rule autism as purely genetic and, accordingly, do not listen to any claims by parents that go against their view. Since pediatricians won't listen to parents, they should at least take lessons on autism from neurologists. Autism is certainly not their expertise.

Most doctors are at least curious about diseases and medical conditions in general. Why is it that pediatricians are willfully ignorant about autism?? Mention the autism word and you will see them cringe. Put it together with "vaccine" and they get enraged.

Lisa

Well of course I have to send this to our friends at the Austin American Statesman. Once again, Dr. Poling nailed it.
A big Texas thank you!

Not a Dr. Zimmerman fan

Dr. Zimmerman wrote a book? No thanks. I took my son to see him last week. Dr. Zimmerman believes that getting the flu during pregnancy causes autism. But, I didn't have the flu while pregnant. He also ruled out vaccines completely. Seemed to get angry when I brought it up. The only treatment he offers is prozac. If he's on "our" side we're in trouble. I can honestly say he was one of the least helpful doctors I've ever been to.

Live and let live

From Media Scholar -

"Hyperplexing over Dr. Poling's words is interesting.

At some point the dear doctor will have to come to terms that he doesn't make any sense."

Ah, it is but the achievement of piety towards which we all strive. We do have different ways to get to it however. Why deny the man the pleasure?

Media Scholar

Hyperplexing over Dr. Poling's words is interesting.

At some point the dear doctor will have to come to terms that he doesn't make any sense.

To combat and win allies within his ranks he must firstly overcome the obvious affection he has for ritualistic germ injections.

The measure of truth within the heart is always the willingness to become the temporal fool.

The beatings inflicted on our children by Offit will continue until the pollwogs amongst us harden into shellbacks.

You must regard human life above the continuation of the false sense of piety acheieved with conformity to a glorified cult ritual.

Snap out of it already.

nhokkanen

A page-by-page preview of the book "Autism - Current Theories and Evidence" by Andrew W. Zimmerman is found here -- 470 pages of it:

http://tinyurl.com/b9ketv

Let's pray that health care professionals view its $139 price tag as a worthwhile investment toward improving the quality of priceless human life.

Jeanne

Wow. I'm sending this to everyone I know.

Dr. Poling, thank you.

K Fuller Yuba city

A copy of this will be taken to our son's Dr. and Neurologist as well.

If only the publisher of the mentioned book(which is pricey)would send copies to Doctors for free, just like the dismissive missive by "he who shall not be named" was sent by his publisher.
Dr Poling calm, collected information may just reach the right people.

Jack's Dad

This is the best summation of the autism debate I've ever read. Thanks Dr. Poling and thanks AoA for directing us to the AJC editorial. I'm going to e-mail it to my hometown do-nothing researcher, Dr. Minshew.

Craig Willoughby

Yes, I cannot say it enough; I love this man! He is a saint, he is the model of what a TRUE doctor and scientist should be, andhe is the very definition of a Warrior Dad.

MinorityView

I went and looked around, but there doesn't seem to be a place to comment at the AJC.

anonymous

I believe the paper got Dr. Zimmerman's name wrong. It is "Andrew" not "John."


Robin Nemeth

Jon writes ‘An inspiring new text, “Autism-Current Theories and Evidence,” has successfully navigated the minefield of autism science without touching the “third rail,” as Dr. Sanjay Gupta aptly describes the vaccine-autism debate.’

Since when is science about avoiding what some might find controversial or offensive?

The cover of my husband’s recent Science News happily declares that ‘Science Comes Back’.

I remain skeptical.

Robin Nemeth

Katie Wright

Thank you Jon, Teri and the whole Polings family! In sharing Hannah's story you have validated what so many families have endured. The price for protection against disease should not be autism. The AAP and doctors like Offit seem willing to sacrifice our children rather than take a hard look at our vaccines, their unsafe adjuvants and our unsafe schedule. They are far more concerned with protecting their interests than with autism or even listening to our families.

How long can Zimmerman, Herbert, Polings, the MIND Institute, all of DAN!, NAA, GR, TACA and millions of parents be wrong so that fossils like Offit can be right? Unlike Offit's ASD parent friends, we are not giving up, going away and we are never going to stop asking questions.

Stagmom

Jon, how about it? Autism Czar? Do you think you'll have time after we canonize you? Kidding aside, thank you for lending your voice to our children. You and Terry both. That doctors continue to not only deny our kids medical histories, but actively publish and advocate to squelch treatments and scientific review is disheartening. The fear of losing the vaccine program must be overwhelming to Dr. Offit, whose professional life is predicated on it. But he's only a brick wall. We can lift each other up and over (lay off the donuts everyone!) And then we can simply allow time and knowledge and the work of true scientists like Dr. Zimmerman to turn the wall that is Paul Offit et al into mere ruins - artifacts of an ingnorant era in the Age of Autism. They'll be a repugnant footnote.

Kim

KIM

Jack

How about Dr. Poling for Autism Czar?

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