By Dan Olmsted
It’s been a rough year for people concerned about the relentless onslaught of autism in America’s children. First, the U.S. vaccine court ruled against three brave families who were fighting to establish a link to their children's disorders, dismissing the parents as dupes and their lawyers and scientists as worse. Then a slew of negative and know-nothing articles tried to make anyone concerned about the issue look not just dumb but downright dangerous.
Meanwhile, the number of afflicted children kept rising like the waters after a levee break – and the federal government’s response was suitably Katrina-worthy. The storm surge has now reached 1 in 100 children, more or less, and in some states and some populations, far more than that.
But amid the doom and gloom, there were bright spots -- none brighter, ironically, than New Jersey, the place with an autism rate so high the CDC “disappeared” the entire state in its latest calculation; not coincidentally, it’s also the home of rivers of toxic waste, an armada of pharmaceutical companies, and a torrent of legislated vaccine mandates taken to extremes never before witnessed in America.
But New Jersey is home, too, to Louise Kuo Habakus, who did something quite amazing this year – rallying vaccine advocates and concerned citizens in numbers that made the difference in the New Jersey governor’s race, defeating Jon Corzine and carrying Chris Christie, the first candidate to go on record for vaccine choice, to victory.
For this, as well as for her tireless, smart and effective educational efforts and advocacy, we’re pleased to name Louise Kuo Habakus our Person of the Year.
In doing so, we’re also acknowledging and, hopefully, encouraging some shifting currents. We’ve pleaded with complacent – and in some cases complicit -- bureaucrats and their media apologists long enough. It’s time to confront their bosses and fire them when we have to, time to tap into the innate decency and common sense of the American people – who, when they've had enough, have a long and distinguished history of throwing da bums out.
One nominator, Catherine Glastal of Fanwood, NJ – “mom to one son with ADHD/auditory processing disorder/learning disabilities and another son with PDD-NOS” – put it this way in her nomination letter:
“Louise’s website is www.lifehealthchoices.com
, a site which sums up her philosophies and life's work. I refer to her site often for its simple and direct answers. I had been on the edge of the whole vaccine debate, but her writings pointed me in the right direction.
Here in NJ and across the United States, Louise advocates for vaccine choice in such a way that people really listen. She has a way about her that is not confrontational and yet she gets her point across very CLEARLY. She rallied people to vote for Christie as Governor because he was the only candidate who met with the autism and vaccine choice groups and made campaign promises on those topics. She will ensure that he keeps those promises.
I first remember hearing Louise's name about 2 years ago. Corzine was campaigning with Obama and happened to be going to Bon Jovi's house for a fundraiser. Louise quickly got on the Internet and phone and rallied people to come to her house with signs and their kids with autism/vaccine injury. No confrontations. Just a very poignant and telling shot of a lawn full of children, parents and signage as the limousines drove by.
Louise gets the job done. I really can't explain it. She knows her stuff and she can debate you point by point without you even knowing what hit you.
And finally, this year I found out that Louise went to the same high school that I did. She graduated from the American School in Japan in '81. JB Handley was class of '86. I was class of '85. It makes me wonder who else is out there who went to ASIJ and has kids on the spectrum! What was in the water?! (half joke, whole earnest)
Again, I just can't say enough about Louise.”
We at Age of Autism couldn’t agree more. A new Age of Activism has begun in the autism community that will come to fruition over the next few years, and in 2009 Lousie Kuo Habakus helped show us all the way forward.
is Editor of Age of Autism