[AUTHOR'S NOTE] This article was written before I saw Robert Krakow's response on behalf of EBCALA to Robert Lowes of Medscape (HERE) to which I presume no answer has been forthcoming. I also posted similar comments in BMJ Rapid Responses (HERE ) and Seth Mnookin's blog (HERE). Mnookin responded by closing the blog and removing the link from his homepage, and embarrassed silence has so far reigned on BMJ as well.
By John Stone
In an initial response to the EBCALA study documenting autistic spectrum disorders in 83 vaccine injury award cases leading vaccine programme advocate, Paul Offit, has admitted that vaccines give rise to autistic spectrum conditions. Robert Lowes of Medscape News reported:
“Dr. Offit said the study authors reach erroneous conclusions due to an erroneous definition of autism. A child with measles encephalopathy, he said, may have severe cognitive deficits that fall into the autism spectrum, but such symptoms themselves do not necessarily translate into a diagnosis of autism.”
It really looks as if the person who is confused here is Prof Offit, who does not seem to understand that autism is in most cases a non-specific diagnosis based on behavioural symptoms. Not only has he made a distinction without a difference he has also used the term “autistic spectrum” in relation to vaccine damage cases. It does not however look as if Offit is the only person who is confused. Lowes went on to record:
“A spokesperson for HRSA mounted the same defense — shared symptoms do not make 2 different conditions identical — in an email to Medscape Medical News. The spokesperson affirmed that while the US Court of Federal Claims has granted awards for encephalopathy, it has never granted awards for autism per se.”
It is likely that spokesperson used the same statement given to journalists Sharyl Attkisson and David Kirby in 2008 and 2009 (HERE):
"The government has never compensated, nor has it ever been ordered to compensate, any case based on a determination that autism was actually caused by vaccines. We have compensated cases in which children exhibited an encephalopathy, or general brain disease. Encephalopathy may be accompanied by a medical progression of an array of symptoms including autistic behavior, autism, or seizures."
If this is the case it is rather hard to see what we are arguing about. With all the semantic ingenuity in the world children on the autistic spectrum are surely autistic and so are children who have autistic behaviour.
John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.