Managing Editor's Note: Thank you to an AofA reader who sent us this report from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health endorsement of/invitation to Brian Deer. Katie Wright tried her best (see HERE) to convince the school to allow the "other side" to participate -- to no avail. "MotherofPossibility" did a fine job though, see below.
I attended the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health April 19th, 2011 Brian Deer Lecture "An Elaborate Fraud: Vaccines and Autism" in Sommer Hall, Baltimore, Maryland.
The lecture was what I expected, Brian Deer describing his spin on Andrew Wakefield as an elaborate hoax to connect vaccines to Autism so that Andy could win a "jackpot of money". He showed pictures of Andrew Wakefield and described Wakefield as a charlatan with poker cards at the bottom of his power point presentation. Brian Deer was very proud of his investigative reporting in cracking the code that no one in the medical establishment could ever conceive. Today's fawning crowd at JHU enjoyed his arrogance and cheered and laughed as he made inappropriate comments about Andrew Wakefield's research. No issues were really discussed today at the lecture.
I was pleased that Brian Deer took comments and questions and I was able to say the following before I was interrupted. (And actually I was concerned for the Hopkins sponsor who was jumping up and down waving his arms for me to stop speaking. I did not want to see him have a heart attack.)
"Brian, your work points out that there is a lot of work to be done. I don’t know if you had a chance to catch PBS’s renowned and respected journalist Robert MacNeil who aired a report yesterday titled: Autism Now: Robert MacNeil Shares Grandson Nick's Story. In this story MacNeil talks about his grandson’s developmental regression following vaccination and his grandson’s underlying health problems that include seizures, loss of eye contact & social connection, lack of speech, and gastrointestinal problems. He describes his grandson’s illness as systemic. Dr. Timothy Buie, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital found issues in the lower GI tract he called lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia -- inflammation and damage in his small intestine. One percent of our population is now diagnosed with Autism. Dr. Buie, from Mass General, estimates that perhaps 50% of those with Autism suffer systemic intestinal inflammation issues.
I hope there will be more reflective journalism coverage of this type which will lead to more scientific research to find the causes and a cure for this life altering condition. I deeply admire all of the families, especially the parents, whose lives are affected by having a child with autism. They deserve our support and understanding.
I am not here to argue the efficacy of vaccines. But there has been a cost in the adverse reactions experienced resulting in a rising number of incidence of chronic lifelong diseases.
Many doctors here in the United States agree that there are intestinal disorders associated with Autism, and the IOM, IACC -- including the CDC, HHS, NIH and HRSA -- will all be studying whether there is a connection between vaccines and autism. Americans want the studies to be done."
(This is where Brian Deer stopped me and said he would be willing to talk to me at the reception, which I could not stay for because I had to get home to my son with Autism. I asked to continue and I did continue with one more paragraph.)
"I stand for the well being of all children everywhere. I challenge our medical outlook to create a world where it all works…. One where we are protected from infectious diseases and do no harm to our bodies to cause chronic health issues. One that can identify which children may suffer from adverse events and reactions to environmental concerns including vaccines."
After I spoke, Brian Deer went on to talk about the PBS story. Then he took a few more questions. One person asked what were they going to do about all these parents who believe this information even though it has been proven to be discredited. Brian Deer said that was for this public health audience to work out. He also pointed out the poor parents who suffer because they believe they caused their child's autism by giving them a vaccine.
I have always felt a duty to speak about "what is so" regarding what happened to my child. If I blame anyone, I blame the medical establishment for not figuring out which children might be at risk and react to vaccines and test them ahead like we do for PKU. It is not a question of whether I was wrong in believing that vaccines caused his autism. That is not a question in my mind because my child reacted immediately and regressed into autism before my own eyes. No one had to explain to me what happened, and I did not ask Andrew Wakefield his opinion on what happened. However, it did feel like a dream when it happened because it was so surreal to watch. Most doctors did not want to discuss it at all. My pediatrician apologized to me and sent us home. The specialist who did his colon scope said that I should go home and pray.
I was compelled to speak up today, however, I have little hope that I inspired any of those who were in attendance to discuss the issues. The room was rather squirmy while I spoke, no doubt uncomfortable that I had somehow gotten into the room as one of "those" people. The lecture was all about discussing things around the issues, but not talking directly to what is happening to our children. That, to me is the elaborate hoax, not Andrew Wakefield publishing a report that says we need to research this further. I am committed, like Gandhi, to speak of a transformed world, and like his statement that Britain would leave India, I say we can have a world where all our health concerns are handled so let's get on with research and treatments and supports that will have it all handled. Not, who is right and wrong, but a third option where it all works. We are too intelligent not to head down that path for humanity.