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SafeMinds' Mark Blaxill Autism Hearing Testimony Before Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Mark blaxillTestimony of Mark Blaxill
Board Member, SafeMinds
Before theCommittee on Oversight and Government Reform  US House of Representatives

November 29, 2012

Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee.  I am honored to be here today on behalf of the non-profit organization, SafeMinds, grateful to Chairman Issa for today’s invitation and humbled by the opportunity to represent the community of autism families.

(Slide 1)  In addition to my comments, I have provided a more extensive report from SafeMinds and documents for the record.

(Slide 2) In 1935, a John Hopkins professor named Leo Kanner wrote the world’s first textbook on Child Psychiatry. In 527 pages and 43 chapters, Kanner described every psychiatric condition in children know to medicine at the time.  There was no condition remotely resembling autism.

In 1938, Oliver and Mary Triplett left Mississippi with their five year old son Donald to visit Kanner, by then considered the world’s leading authority on children’s development. When Kanner met Donald he was fascinated. He had never seen a child like him. 

In 1943, Kanner wrote a paper inspired by Donald. “Since 1938,” he wrote, “there have come to our attention a number of children whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far, that each case merits-and, I hope, will eventually receive-a detailed consideration of its fascinating peculiarities.”

The oldest child of the eleven described was born in 1931. Kanner subsequently diagnosed hundreds of children with autism, but never found a case born before 1930. The historical record is clear: before 1930, the rate of autism was effectively zero.

(Slide 3) Today, nearly 70 years after Dr. Kanner’s paper, reported autism rates are 1 in 88 American children born in the year 2000. In some states, the rate is higher than 1 in 50.

(Slide 4) In New Jersey, 1 in 29 boys born in 2000 were diagnosed autistic.

What’s going on? Why are so many American children sick?

Let’s be clear. Autism is a public health crisis of historic proportions. Worse than poliomyelitis. It’s devastating a generation of children and their families. We need to face up to the reality. Autism is a national emergency.

(Slide 5) Here’s a summary of historical autism surveys in America. For a long time, reported U.S. autism rates were low, estimated at about 1 in 10,000. Then around 1990 something new and terrible happened to a generation of children. Autism rates didn’t just rise, they multiplied. This escalation occurred in both “full syndrome autism” and the broader autism spectrum, including Asperger’s syndrome.

Some observers have claimed this rise is not real. That numbers are going up because of “better diagnosing.” While it is true that we now diagnose autism with better tools, that doesn’t mean there is some “hidden horde” of overlooked autism cases. The old surveys didn’t just miss 99% of children with autism. Anyone who reads them will see the obvious: it’s clear the researchers were diligent in finding cases and confident that they found the vast majority of children. It’s horrible but true; reported rates of autism have risen simply because there are more cases of autism.

In the midst of this crisis, the federal agencies responsible for the health of our nation’s children have failed in their duty. CDC’s negligence has led the way. Many believe CDC has actively covered up the evidence surrounding autism’s environmental causes

NIH has received the lion’s share of Congressional funding, money they have wasted on status quo research and gene studies. It’s absurd to focus on genetic research in this crisis, there’s no such thing as a genetic epidemic.

(Slide 6) CDC first started investigating environmental causes in 1999 in Brick NJ. Their survey data showed that autism rates went from zero in 1989, to 1 in 128 four years later. But they used statistical tricks (and the fact that autism surveys miss many three and four years olds) to publish a finding that there was no increase.  

(Slide 7) A CDC analyst also discovered in 1999 that higher levels of infant exposure to a mercury compound in vaccines increased autism risk more than tenfold relative to zero exposure. The analyst wrote about this result to his supervisors: “It just won’t go away,” he said. But he and his colleagues used more statistical tricks and published a finding that made the risk go away.

In the financial world, the result of the pressure to manipulate numbers to provide the answers bosses want has a name - securities fraud. In medicine there are similar pressures: they’re called special interest politics and peer review and what the CDC has given us is the medical equivalent of securities fraud. All to avoid the inconvenient reality of the autism epidemic.

In 2006, Congress gave the NIH a mission to “combat autism.” You authorized $850 million for that mission. Frustrating to most in the autism community, NIH spent most of that money on the great autism gene hunt while blackballing environmental researchers and defying parent concerns. It’s been a colossal waste of money and time. Not a single case of autism has been prevented. Not a single child received improved treatments. American families deserve better. 

In 2011, autism parents asked Congress to fix the bill. We told you that when you spend that much money on the wrong things, you haven’t just wasted taxpayer dollars, you’ve compounded the problem by reinforcing the denial. Unfortunately, Senate leaders didn’t take the time they needed to fix the problems; they simply extended the old bill for three more years and the House went along rather than see nothing move forward.

(Slide 8) In the face of a national emergency, government agencies, especially CDC and NIH, have performed poorly and behaved badly. We need accountable, new leadership on autism at the NIH and the CDC. We need an advisory committee that believes in combating autism, not one newly stocked with appointees who oppose the mission, who want us to surrender to autism and oppose prevention and treatment research. We need a Combating Autism Act that truly combats autism. We need to stop investing in the autism gene hunt and identify what has changed in the environment that could have possibly injured so many children.

We need to conduct independent research into the great unmentionables, mercury and vaccines, connections that we’ve documented in the earliest cases.  (I have provided to the Committee copies of my book, The Age of Autism which provides this history).  These are the only environmental factors identified so far that are plausible causes for the magnitude and timing of this crisis.  

Ultimately, we need to face and answer the question, why are so many American children sick? We will only do that hard work if agency leaders are held accountable to the American people, not powerful interests in the medical industry. So we’re asking you, the members of the Committee for your help.

The autism community owes a debt of gratitude to Congressman Burton for his dedication to these issues.  We hope as he retires from Congress, that other members of this Committee and Congress will continue his good work in seeking the truth about autism.

Don’t make this hearing a one-time episode. Stay on the job in the next Congress. Root out the failures, the waste, the fraud and the abuse.

There’s a crisis and we need your help. 

Thank you for your time.

Attachments:

Slides

SafeMinds Autism Report

SafeMinds Thorsen Report

EBCALA Paper Unanswered Questions

Comments

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Mercury Dad

I have to admit that reading back Mark's speech that the "v" word is absent, yet I don't think anyone would doubt that this was what he was talking about in relation the CDC and the NIH: he is saying that they don't have credibility and the reasons are obvious - the inference is that they have created the epidemic and are covering up. The agencies have to answer and they can't. We may not have the "v" word but we have the "CDC" word, and it is still a shattering condemnation.

John

Curiously, during oral testimony prior to the question and answer period, the only person that even mentioned vaccines was Bob Wright of Autism Speaks (who merely stated that his daughter believed that vaccines led to her son's autism). NO ONE else even used the words vaccines or thimerosal in their oral testimony. From this standpoint, the hearing was an abysmal failure.

The speakers who should have testified were co-opted by an aggressive campaign by another advocacy organization in our community that told the Oversight Committee Staff that their speaker (Mr. Blaxill) would represent all of us. This wrong-headed strategy led to an extremely unbalanced panel where the link between vaccines and autism was not represented, period.

The real heroes of the hearing were the Congressional Representatives themselves (especially Rep. Burton and Posey). The panelists should be deeply ashamed and owe all of us an apology.

To Lisa, You are right ! To some extent the pale skin of the autistic kids DOES hold the key. Oddly this key has been in our hands for many years, but its difficult to find anyone who wants to turn it. (Lets say you are a researcher, and you turn this key in your research, expect to find the door to research grants slam shut in your face) To understand what I mean, read the interview that Teri Small did with Dr. Boyd E. Haley. Dr. Haley explained how the autistic kids are pale because their bodies are not able to produce enough "heme" . The process of making heme is impaired by the mercury in the child's body. Well, you know where the mercury comes from, I guess. Please read the interview. You might have to read it four or five times over, but believe me, its worth it. Oh, yes, and in that same interview, Dr. Haley explains that relatively little research in mercury and its effects is now being done in the U.S. Strange isnt it- Just when we have millions of lives destroyed by autism, we in the U.S. are not interested in mercury research. And this comes when the symptoms of mercury poisoning and autism are quite similar. All I can say is...Stay tuned.

Thank you Mark, for being our eloquent spokesman.
May be one day we will win, but now it is up to every parent to protect their child from vaccine injures and deaths.

Thank goodness some of the legislators took an aggressive stand on the vaccine issue in their questioning, and that Bob Wright mentioned his daughter's position that vaccines caused her son's autism. However, we shouldn't have to rely on others to convey our message.

Regarding "stumping critics" by Mark omitting the "V" word...I don't follow that logic. We needn't concern ourselves with the critics. We should focus on influencing the uninformed and the misinformed. You can't sell Coke without saying "Coke." This is Communications 101.

"Environmental causes" does not evoke "vaccines" for 99% of our audience, including legislators. That's why pharma's PR machine loves that term - even the NY Times embraces it when writing about autism. That should be a red flag.

Given five minutes, most of us can convince a stranger on the street that vaccines cause autism - the evidence is that overwhelming. And that's how those five precious minutes should have been spent.

With the AAP having recently announced that autism is epidemic, less time could have been devoted to making the case that the rise in autism is real. AAP has done that for us.

We need a major strategy check because this approach is not going to win the war.

-a marketing professional who wants the epidemic to end and doesn't believe anything is to be gained by postponing stating problem and evidence to a later meeting. The extreme urgency of the autism/vaccine crisis will not be credible at a later meeting if it wasn't even worth mentioning in the first place.

Mark:

Excellent job! My husband and I watched the hearings on C-Span 3 twice in full and then had our victory round of fast forwarding to our favorite highlights of the NIH & CDC lowlifes. I hope that other parents will do what we are doing today - calling & or writing to all the reps. who participated in this hearing & to C-span who aired the event. Also, I was thrilled that Rep. Cummings acknowledged all of the parents & grandparents in the room. Thank you for your applause and shout-outs during the proceeding. I don't think I would have been able to listen to Dr. Boyle's drivel had I not been so riveted by the reactions of the parents seated behind her- especially Katie Wright, Can anyone tell me if Dr. Boyle turned around to look any of you in the eye? C-Span was unable to cover that request with a camera angle. I am most curious.

Well done. Excellent. Outstanding

What can I do to get our local media involved in this developing Congressional probe? Is there a summary and record of this hearing that I can send to my representatives in the Congress and Senate?

This was Great! For the FIRST time since I've been envolved with the Vaccine Issue, finally and I do mean Finally I got to witness the CDC pinned down to be somewhat accountable.for the harm THEY 'VE ALLOWED to transpire to so many of our kids!
I was impressed with the fact, that the State Reps, took time to somewhat educate themselves concerning the Mercury/Autism issue.
Rep. Posey was my favoriite! He caught Dr. Boyle in 2 blatant lies and she was squirming and it was a GREAT Thing to see.
As a Mom, with a vaccine injured child, I get to witness firsthand everyday what they allowed to be taken away from my Son's life!
I will never stop praying for accountability (CDC, FDA,Pharmas, etc.) and I will continue to advocate and fight for this matter, for as long as I live!!

Thank you so so much, Mark Blaxill, for your excellent presence at this hearing - typically eloquent, so intelligent, making the important points!!

And thank you so much to all who organized and attended this event!

I was not able to see this live, but when I had a chance I turned on C-Span, hoping that they were replaying it, and there was Rep. Bill Posey lighting into the woman from the CDC and the guy from the NIH. Congressman Posey, Congresswoman Carol Maloney, and several others grilled the two govt reps about vaccines and autism, and it was wonderful to see! They would not let them spout their canned BS but would stop them to say, "That's not what I asked you!" I didn't know there were mainstream politicians who saw these issues clearly - how obvious it is that autism has increased, and that we're going way overboard on vaccines. Then the congressman from Utah asked if they could explain why Utah has a higher rate of autism - 1 in 40-something - and the CDC lady tried to say that in Utah there's better diagnosis, and he was asking, "Really? You think we do things that much better in Utah? Do you actually have any evidence of that? Is there nothing that would explain an actual difference?" And one thing I loved is that when the CDC lady spoke Katie Wright was behind her with her face registering all the emotions I felt - skepticism, disdain, annoyance, and more.

THANK YOU Mark!!!!! Well done!!!!

THANK YOU so much for what you did today, and everything else you have done for families affected by autism. I have so much respect for you and what you do for the public. Seriously.... thank you.

Mark did not need to say the V word because he discussed in detail blackballing those who approached a forbidden subject, and how money was wasted - as autism becomes worse. It was the perfect speech. As always.

I have been doing the victory dance since aound 5:00 est... Now... What's next? Can congress take action? Who needs to take action and question the CDC and NIH? Where will this victory lead for families of vaccine injured children diagnosed with autism?

Just watched it - - in person delivery even better than as written. Very well done, you did not need to say the "V" word; omitting it did more to silence/stump the critics--

Thank you, Mark. Your presence and key points are always well done and very appreciated these MANY years.

Hoping to see more of these Hearings!

I'm thankful for you Mark...a pioneer shedding light for the "decision-makers." I pray your message is heard and that an awakening is forthcoming. Cheers to a job well done!

Thank you so much for what you did today and have done in the past. We are so very grateful to you. You were OUTSTANDING, as always.

Thank you Mark!

Please post the attachments mentioned: the Slides in particular, and also the SafeMinds Autism Report, SafeMinds Thorsen Report, EBCALA Paper Unanswered Questions.

Great speech for pharma who wants to blame autism on "environmental causes." Not so good for vaccines causing autism. I didn't hear the word "vaccines" once in your actual speech. Just a vague reference to mercury exposure - no mention of the source of the mercury. Why the purposeful avoidance of the word "vaccines" when it's such a hot parenting topic?

Honestly, Bob Wright was stronger on the vaccine/autism link.

Whose side are you on?

Great presentation, thank you! I am doing similar work to rid US of mercury amalgam dental poisoning, which passes through the placenta and breastfeeding, adding to the starting body burden of mercury in infants. It may be helpful to call attention to mercury as especially toxic to children and people of certain gene types, who do not clear mercury well, you probably do that already given all the research in that area. For those who want more information on this, please see my website below and my facebook page, www.facebook.com/hiddenriver.

By working on all levels, combining local/global strategies, paradigm shifts, social media, systems approaches, and linking up to end the common causes of chronic diseases we can build a powerful, unstoppable movement.

Thank you so much for telling it like it is! My grandson has autism and we definitely hope more can be done!

Your like a machine, Mark. You never fail on any occasion to state the facts as only the greatest of statemen of the past have done.

Dennis Kucinch of Cleveland - was there only to push his on agenda of get rid of dirty old coal -- and we can do that with carbon taxes. What was that - two studies about distances from coal fire plants.

Must be a lot of coal fire plants in Utah.
or maybe very educated parents that has bought into the proganda of the vaccine schedule.

Great Mark nothing is ever goping to happen here inthe UK unless it happens over with you lot..keep going were here for sure..

Angus

Outstanding!Thank you Mark.

I am an elementary school teacher in Virginia. I work as a long-term sub in my district. Today, after much deliberation, I turned down a long-term sub assignment that was to begin in January. It was going to be in a classroom where special needs children were being mainstreamed. I have worked with many special needs children in my six years on the job, and many of them I have grown to love. But this time I simply couldn't do it. I am EXHAUSTED by all the children in our schools today who suffer from ADHD, memory and processing disorders, Asperger's, and autism -- all of which I firmly believe are directly connected to the out-of-control vaccine program in this country. I am currently in a small kindergarten class. Half the kids in the class -- yes, I said, HALF -- are presenting with some type of developmental and/or neurological disorder. The class is disproportionately (70 percent) male. ALL of the children in the class with disorders are male. The class I turned down had to boys with Asperger's, one of whom has made no progress in reading for two years. What I have found most curious about the Asperger's/Autism disorder is how many of these children are WHITE AS GHOSTS, even when their parents are Hispanic. Also, they never seem to tan, even at the end of the school year when it's hot and we are spending a lot of time outdoors. I know this topic has been written about extensively at Age of Autism. I think it definitely is worthy of more research. It may hold the key to the whole thing. Best wishes....

Thank you for being a powerful asset to this cause.

Mark, well done, sincere thanks for your incredible efforts.

A slight caveat: Unfortunately your quote "It’s devastating a generation of children and their families" understates the INCREASING iatrogenic catastrophe (as I'm sure you know, but pardon me for this friendly edit).

Presently, it's "rolling generations" - at an accelerating rate destroying our families.

The only way to get to these insensitive politicians and overseers at the CDC and NIH to show any interest in this man made tragedy, is if their children and or grandchildren are struck autistic as was the case with Congressman Burton!!!!!


Terrific presentation Mark Blaxill. You hit all the key points! Thank you for all you’re hard work and dedication to trying to get to the cause of this tragedy.

A brilliant presentation Mark Blaxill....Will THEY listen??

Mark - thanks for being there to represent so many of us and for putting it to the world so directly and clearly!

Mark -- Thank you for rocking their worlds and not backing down. LOVE that you got in the stuff about better diagnosis being a bogus explanation!

Yea Mark! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

WOW
WOW
WOW

Mark, you are the BEST! Very powerful presentation that I am sure made a few in the room wiggle in the skin.

especially from the powerful APPLAUSE!
Thanks to all for showing up!

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