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244 posts categorized "Dan Olmsted"

Case 1 Revisited -- 10 Years Later

August 2005

Editor's Note: It's hard to believe it's been 10 years this week since I identified Donald T., autism's Case 1. I remember my shock when I matched his first name and last initial as given in the original 1943 paper by Leo Kanner, popped it into a White Pages directory for the town Kanner said he lived in, and found someone matching all the right details. What was the first person with autism doing with a street address and a published phone number, I wondered. Since then Mark Blaxill and I have visited Donald Triplett (I didn't name him until we wrote our book in 2005) in Forest, Miss., and learned about his amazing recovery after being treated with gold salts. Now, 10 years on, it's worth remembering how much those early cases have to teach us

 

The Age of Autism Week In a Number: 1938

1938
1938



Editor's Note: Mark Blaxill and I appreciate the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders -- Journal of Autism and Developmental Disordersthe leading peer-reviewed autism medical journal -- running our commentary in the issue published this week.

Leo Kanner's Mention of 1938 in His Report on Autism Refers to His First Patient.

Here is the abstract: "Leo Kanner begins his landmark 1943 case series on autistic children by stating the condition was first brought to his attention in 1938. Recent letters to JADD have described this reference as 'mysterious' and speculated it refers to papers published that year by Despert or Asperger. In fact, as Kanner goes on to state, 1938 is when he examined the first child in his case series. An exchange of letters with Despert and later writing by Kanner also point to the originality of his observations."

--

The matter at hand is both seemingly arcane and ultimately overarching -- what did Leo Kanner mean when he said he became aware of autism in 1938? (He first named and wrote about it in 1943.)  Commenters in the Journal have speculated it was a reference to earlier papers by other psychiatrists, which would mean autism was not a new entity, just one that Kanner codified by describing more precisely through a case series. Based on a decade of research with primary documents and personal interviews, we argued -- and, I think, we demonstrated -- that 1938 was a reference to the year the first patient was seen at his clinic at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. That patient, Case 1 Donald T., was the first of 11 who displayed the same novel  syndrome "markedly and uniquely different from anything reported so far," as Kanner wrote in that landmark 1943 report. As Ginger Taylor (who first called our attention to the recent discussion in the Journal) aptly wrote on Facebook this week: "Olmsted and Blaxill (again) show that Autism had a start date, and it was after Eli Lilly invented and began selling a water soluble form of mercury in fungicide and vaccine preservation." So thanks to Ginger, and to Teresa Conrick, our fellow AOA editor who has made invaluable contributions to this ongoing work of identifying those original cases (we are up to 8 of 11!) and finding patterns that point to causation. You can read all about it in our book The Age of Autism, in our subsequent blog posts here, and now in the prestigious, peer-reviewed Journal. And you can count on more to come. We ended our commentary by writing: "This timing remains the essential clue to the disorder. Something happened to bring a new condition to the attention of child psychiatry." That component can be seen from the beginning -- 1938 -- and it can be seen today, in the damage mercury-laced vaccines, and other vaccine toxins, continue to do to children in the United States and around the world. We feel privileged to have wandered onto this amazingly fruitful pathway, and we intend to keep going until its full implications are recognized and the truth about the condition first observed in 1938 is fully and finally addressed. As Einstein said, "It's not that I'm smarter than anyone else, it's just that I stick with problems longer." Ditto.

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: RIP Religious Exemptions

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

 (Note -- This article originally ran a year ago under the headline "Pray For the Religious Exemption." Now California is just days away from possibly denying it to the state's families.) A couple of recent court cases have me convinced that the religious exemption from childhood immunizations is in big trouble.

The first case is one I somehow missed when it was decided last month. It’s a bit convoluted, but the gist is that three New York parents said their unvaccinated children were denied their rights by being kept out of school because another child had a vaccine-preventable disease. The judge said no.

To tell you the truth, I am not terribly concerned about that. Most parents I know who forego vaccines say that a better solution to disease control is informal quarantine – keep your kid home when they’re sick, or if you don’t want them to catch a disease they’re not vaccinated against.

But the scary part – especially in a state with no philosophical exemption and a nasty habit of trying to make parents prove the sincerity of their religious convictions -- was this comment in the federal judge’s ruling. “The Supreme Court,” he wrote, has “strongly suggested that religious objectors are not constitutionally exempt from vaccinations.”

I couldn’t find a link to the judge’s ruling, but according to the Times, he was pointing to Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which in 1905 (!) found that if Mr. Jacobson wanted to skip being vaccinated during a smallpox epidemic, he had to pay a $5 fine. More broadly, “Jacobson” has been cited as proof that the state’s police powers trump personal choice when it comes to a battle over vaccine mandates.

I don’t see it. He objected, he said, because both he and one of his children had bad reactions to earlier vaccinations. And all he had to do was pay five measly bucks, which even accounting for inflation is not much. How that undercuts religion as a basis for declining vaccination – especially absent a raging, deadly epidemic – is beyond me.

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: RIP Religious Exemptions" »

Dr. Jeff Bradstreet: In Memoriam

Jeff BradstreetLike you, we read of Dr. Jeff Bradstreet's death and were struck silent.  A stalwart leader in treating autism, really helping families, his loss is huge in our community. Dan Olmsted interviewed Dr. Bradstreet 10 years ago for his The Age of Autism series with UPI.  Here is the interview; the study he was calling for has finally been done and the results are awaited, a testament to his foresight and persistence. Our condolences to the Bradstreet family and the autism community who relied on his compassion and care. 

WASHINGTON, June 28 (UPI) -- Where are the unvaccinated homeschooled children with autism? Nowhere to be found, says a doctor who treats autistic children and is knowledgeable about the homeschooled world.

"It's largely nonexistent," Dr. Jeff Bradstreet told UPI's Age of Autism. "It's an extremely rare event.

Bradstreet treats autistic children at his medical practice in Palm Bay, Fla. He has a son whose autism he attributes to a vaccine reaction at 15 months. His daughter has been homeschooled, he describes himself as a "Christian family physician," and he knows many of the leaders in the homeschool movement.

"There was this whole subculture of folks who went into homeschooling so they would never have to vaccinate their kids," he said. "There's this whole cadre who were never vaccinated for religious reasons."

In that subset, he said, "unless they were massively exposed to mercury through lots of amalgams (mercury dental fillings in the mother) and/or big-time fish eating, I've not had a single case."

Bradstreet said his views do not constitute a persuasive argument that low vaccination rates are associated with low rates of autism, but it is worth studying.

"That's not yet science," he said. "It doesn't rise to the level of a powerful observation. It's a place to say, OK, well that's interesting, what does that tell us?"

About 2 million children are being homeschooled in the United States. The number of those unvaccinated is unclear, but judging by the school opt-out rates in some parts of the country where there is more concern about vaccinations, it could be 3 percent or more. For example, in Oregon's Lane County roughly 2,000 students out of a total of 51,000 have exemptions, about 4 percent.

Continue reading "Dr. Jeff Bradstreet: In Memoriam" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Knock-Knock-Knocking on Racism’s Door

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

My Facebook friends are over the moon about an event Thursday night at the Scientology Community Center in Los Angeles that featured some of our best friends appearing with Nation of Islam’s Tony Muhammad. “Inspiring to see this community coming together to fight for our right to choose what goes into our bodies,” wrote one Facebooker.

 As Californians For Vaccine Choice Posted: "FULL HOUSE! They try to split us up but they bring us closer together instead! People of all ages, nations, races all together to fight for our kids! You don't mess with the Nation of Islam, Robert Kennedy Jr. Or Brian Hooker! 'You allow the same media who tells you that your baby got autism from natural causes, tell you about the Nation of Islam.There is wickedness in high places, the pharmaceuticals!' Tony Muhammad, speaking so much truth." 
 
The event was billed as an “Emergency Town Hall Meeting” that seems to have been prompted when Kennedy literally “showed up at my door,” according to NOI leader Minister Louis Farrakhan, to enlist him in the cause. The Scientology venue appears to have been obtained by the Nation of Islam, which now recommends its followers study Dianetics.

Sorry, but to my mind this is not a kumbaya moment. The Nation of Islam is a racist, bigoted, homophobic, woman-degrading hate group. I mean, isn’t it? It is. For Muhammad to compare the coverage of autism and the Nation of Islam is sickening, and it ought to sit poorly with us. It's also choice to talk about "people of all ages, nations,  races  all together to fight for our kids" and getting "closer together" when NOI doesn't really want white people around -- they want a separate state. ("Rather than preaching a message of unification, NOI calls for segregation and separatism," according to the Web site the blaze.com. "On the group’s web site, the denomination is clear that it wishes for African Americans to live separately from whites.")

Sometimes it's not the media that's your problem, it's the truth. 

 According to the Extremist Files of the Southern Poverty Law Center, “Since its founding in 1930, the Nation of Islam (NOI) has grown into one of the wealthiest and best-known organizations in black America, offering numerous programs and events designed to uplift African Americans. Nonetheless, its bizarre theology of innate black superiority over whites — a belief system vehemently and consistently rejected by mainstream Muslims — and the deeply racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay rhetoric of its leaders, including top minister Louis Farrakhan, have earned the NOI a prominent position in the ranks of organized hate.”

 Let’s pick one Farakkhan gem: "T]he Jews don't like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler. Well, that's a good name. Hitler was a very great man.” Taken out of context, I'm sure. Oh, "And don't you forget, when it's God who puts you in the ovens, it's forever!")

 He hates Catholics, too. “It is no secret that Farrakhan is anti-Catholic, as well as anti-Jewish,” according to the church’s bigotry watchdog, which noted, “Cardinal Bevilacqua refused to meet with him in Philadelphia. Farrakhan had sought a meeting with the Archbishop of Philadelphia, as well as with local Jewish leaders, and was turned down—for reasons evident to everyone but Farrakhan.”

 To continue with the SPLC, “While Jews remain the primary target of Farrakhan's vitriol, he is also well known for bashing gay men and lesbians, Catholics and, of course, the white devils, whom he calls ‘potential humans ... [who] haven't evolved yet.’ All of this has helped make him attractive to certain white supremacist groups who agree that the races must be separated. In its turn, NOI has come to view white supremacists as people who at least understand NOI's program and could therefore become allies.” 

 I know many in the autism activism community believe there is no problem with this association, that you use what you have to get what you need. Sorry to disagree with that, Friends, but I do. Desperate times call for desperate measures, yes, but not deals with the (small d) devils of racism, bigotry and homophobia. 

 This brings us to our reducto ad absurdum: Would we go to an Aryan Nation event if they agreed with us? Is "Racists For Vaccine Choice!" a placard we are prepared to get behind? 

Not the best week to ask that question.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

 

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Deviants United -- and Fighting Back!

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Medical authorities, as you may have noticed, don’t like to be challenged. The fact that they have been so wrong, so often, so long and so recently does not in the least change their view of the matter. They are angry you would even bring it up! They may have advertised the throat-soothing properties of filter cigarettes, bled patients dry (probably killing the father of our country) and pushed stupid stuff from Viagra to thalidomide to the first deadly rotavirus vaccine because their phrat brothers told them to. But no matter. This time, and forever after, they are exactly, completely, unchallengeably, unconflictedly right.

 As Mark Blaxill and I pointed out in our book The Age of Autism, this long history of bad medicine is blithely subsumed -- submerged and suppressed might be better words -- under the medical “march of progress” – as in, OK, getting syphilis patients to drink mercuric chloride may have been misguided, but it was the best practice at the time (even if it did cause the worst form of the disease, general paralysis of the insane, but let’s not dwell on that), and after a few hundred years of that they accidentally came across penicillin, which did cure it, so why are we even bringing this up? And Freud was wrong about hysteria, which got psychiatry off to a catastrophic start (hysteria was actually caused by mercury poisoning), but now the "experts" really do understand the human psyche, so get off their case already! Take two Seroquel and don’t call us in the morning.

 I’m bringing this up because realizing how badly and self-righteously medicine has behaved ought to make parents far more cautious than most of them are (although the numbers are growing) about the proven, study-after-study-vouched-for-safety ofWeekly wrap 6 12 the current vaccination schedule. This is not just "presentism" -- judging history by the impossibly high standard of what we have learned since then. The medical establishment really messed up with impunity for most of its long history and a lot of people suffered and died for it. Until at least germ theory came along, people would have been much better off with homeopathy, whether it worked or not, because at least it did no harm.

This month my mind is on a very topical example of medical arrogance and iatrogenic harm, the idea that homosexuals were sick, needed to be treated, condemned or just locked away in jail (or, in Iran, killed, and in Russia, bullied and beaten). June is gay pride month, timed to the Stonewall riots that triggered the gay rights movement. And this month may be the most historic and decisive ever, as the Supreme Court rules on gay marriage rights.

 We’ve come a long way, baby. Just this week the New York Times – where medical “experts” still reign on all things vaccination – looked back at its own often-sordid history of treating homosexuality as an evil disease. The headline from 1964 (when I turned 12): “Homosexuals Proud of Deviancy, Medical Academy Study Finds.” It would be a medical academy, wouldn't it? And it would be The Times, wouldn't it!

 As David W. Dunlop wrote this week: “There it was, to shock anyone whose eye fell on the front page of The Times: news that homosexuals had ‘gone beyond the plane of defensiveness and now argue that their deviancy is ‘a desirable, noble, preferable way of life.’ ” According to the original article, medicine was not going to let the homosexuals get away with having a decent life:

 “The report is the first recognized study of homosexuality by a recognized organization representing all branches of medicine, a spokesman for the committee said” – the Committee on Public Health of the New York Academy of Medicine. Homosexuality, the story went on, “is an ‘illness’ that can be treated ‘in some cases’ but is more easily dealt with by early preventative measures, the report concludes.” Maybe a vaccine? 

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Deviants United -- and Fighting Back!" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Somewhere Between Yikes! and Yawn

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

There’s an odd emotion I suspect many AOA readers share with me, a mix of  “Holy Cow” and “Tell us something we don't know” when new information clusters around the hypothesis that autism is an environmental disorder and, sorry to say it, vaccines are the main trigger.

Such was the case this week when Coy Barefoot, an autism dad, radio host and all-around great ally in Charlottesville, Virginia, sent an e-mail titled, “In case you hadn’t seen this.” It was a link to a June 1 Science Daily report from the University of Virginia Health System. It begins:

“In a stunning discovery that overturns decades of textbook teaching, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have determined that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist. That such vessels could have escaped detection when the lymphatic system has been so thoroughly mapped throughout the body is surprising on its own, but the true significance of the discovery lies in the effects it could have on the study and treatment of neurological diseases ranging from autism to Alzheimer's disease to multiple sclerosis.”

Autism. Haven’t parents and some professionals been saying for years that autism is an autoimmune and neurological disorder? How is this new study not strong support for the idea that goosing the immune system into dysregulation with vaccines is bad for the developing brain?

This comes on top of evidence we’ve known for years about the role the brain’s own immune cells may play in autism; in The Age of Autism, Mark Blaxill and I characterized the cause of autism as “a rash on the brain” from overstimulation of its immune cells due to, for example, the mercury in thimerosal-containing vaccines.

Mark agreed this new piece is of strong interest, but it certainly didn’t “overturn decades” of orthodoxy for us. Coy said it is “something of a smoking gun, don’t you think? A missing link between damage to the immune system and brain injury.”

I do think that. And I was reminded of a comment by Dr. Brian Jepson I came across this week to the effect that calling autism a developmental disorder is like calling a hammer blow to the skull a  headache.  There are specific processes going on that result in the injury known as autism (and other issues) in vulnerable children, and those processes are pretty clear by now to all but the all genes/no real increase crowd (read: mainstream medicine and media).

So, like wow, that’s interesting. But like, yeah, we already had the basic idea a lot clearer than the experts.

--

Also this week, the feds fessed up to the full extent of the failure of the flu shot to protect people. “Scientists blue after flu vaccine only 19 percent effective,” USA Today headlined. (Note the focus on the poor scientists, not the poor people who got a worthless flu shot.) So that was another Wow! -- this thing really was worthless. On the other hand, yeah, we knew this year’s was particularly worthless, a subspecies of the overall worthlessness of the whole flu shot enterprise.

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Somewhere Between Yikes! and Yawn" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Signs of the Times

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

I’m making my annual return trip to Illinois, which tends to be not too hot and not too cold right around Memorial Day. This year I’ve noticed how many people seem to have a story to tell about sick kids.

I was talking to a nurse in Decatur, and when someone mentioned I write about autism, she volunteered that she has a 15-year-old son with autism. He was fine until 18 months, and then everything just stopped. I asked if she had any idea why that happened, and she said she didn’t.

She has four younger children, all boys, who seem fine, she said. If you do the math, the one with autism was born when mercury was still being phased out of "most" vaccines. The others, let’s hope, escaped.

A few days earlier, in Champaign, I was talking to someone who has a friend who is pregnant. The expectant mother suffers from depression and is debating whether  to get off her meds until the baby is born. (I vote yes, if humanly possible). This mom also has ADHD. The question was posed, did I think a parent with ADHD and depression is more likely to have a child with autism. No, I said, I don't think parents have anything to do with their children having autism. However, the child may inherit vulnerabilities, like auto-immunity, and parents ought to make sure those vulnerabilities aren't triggered by, oh, say, mercury containing flu shots in pregnancy.

I passed along a copy of our book, Vaccines 2.0.

A friend in Chicago has a daughter with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. And another has a FullSizeRender (11)son who is teetering into trouble with the law because of issues that sound like they verge on, or topple over into, the autism spectrum. 

This adds up to too many kids and young adults with too many problems, problems that didn’t used to be like this, and that too many people either don't notice, or pretend not to. I had lunch at Terzo Piano, the very cool restaurant at the Art Institute, on Friday, and took a selfie with the skyline in the background. You can see the Prudential Building, which when I was a kid (a half-century ago) was the tallest, widest, most skyscraperesque building around.

Now it’s dwarfed by taller ones. Still, if the newer buildings on the Chicago skyline were sized to reflect the rise in autism since the Prudential Building was built in 1955, those other skyscrapers would be 20 or 30 times taller. They would be a visual sign for the damage that still remains too hidden, and that makes too many people feel this is all happening to them but maybe not to anybody -- in fact, everybody -- but them.

Maybe that would get people’s attention.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: George Steps-All-Over-Us, Too!

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted Clinton stepanoulos

Close followers of the autism debate know that George Stephanapoulos is regarded by "our side" like Dr. Nancy Snyderman and Anderson Cooper -- especially nasty avatars of the "no vaccine link" school. So it's hard not to have a bit, or more than a bit, of schadenfraude when he gets tripped up, as happened after his especially nasty interview with Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash. Turns out George had donated $50,000 -- wait, make that $75,000 -- to the Clinton Foundation that he never thought to disclose.

As others have pointed out, the original sin in all this was probably hiring him in the first place. Was there no other person in the United States able to become the flagship anchor of a major news network than someone who had been a close adviser (with James Carville, the man who later came up with the stepped-all-over-us line to describe George's treatment of the Clintons in his autobiography) in both the Clinton campaign and presidency?

The answer was clearly no -- there was not no other person, so to speak. Hiring George as a commentator -- as Carville has been -- would be fine, but someone with so prominent a role, so recently, in politics really should have been disqualified. Now some may cite Diane Sawyer, who helped Richard Nixon in his exile, or Tim Russert, who worked for Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. But those were earlier and much lesser roles. And frankly, both of them were much better journalists than George.

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: George Steps-All-Over-Us, Too!" »

Weekly Wrap: Married With Children?

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Inexactitude is the best friend (forever) of lousy ideas. This week, The Wall Street Journal ran an article about a young woman who was diagnosed with autism at 21. The article said: “Autism spectrum disorder has always been difficult to diagnose.”

 No, it has always not. One more time, let’s recall that when Leo Kanner first described it, in 11 children, in 1943, he called autism “markedly and uniquely different from anything reported so far.” The idea that “the experts” have gotten so much savvier about spotting it is part of the “better diagnosing” canard that has kept alive the idea that autism hasn’t really exploded in the past quarter century. Of course, it really has.

 That’s not to say that someone at the margins of the diagnostic criteria won’t be overlooked. This woman appears to fit the diagnosis formerly known as Asperger’s, and is possibly a savant. She was discussing the life cycle of insects with her parents at age 2 – no language delay, a criteria of full-blown autism, there!

But what really got my attention was the comment in the article that “people with autism generally have difficulties relating to others, but many are happily married with children.”

Really? Many adults with autism are happily married with children? That would be wonderful, but I’m skeptical under any reasonable definition of the word – a large number, a good proportion, of those with autism are happily married with children, the Journal is telling us.

First of all, there are not many adults with autism under any definition of the word! If there were, we would not be hearing about the disaster in the making of children born during the “autism boom” starting in 1988 now aging into the adult world and workplace. The moment when the school bus stops coming would not be the financial and social crisis it is if there were many adults with autism. We’d have the hang of this.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Married With Children?" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Epidemic? THIS Epidemic

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Hey check it out, fellow innumerants, those who are naive enough to believe that the autism rate has actually gone up, a lot, and it is not just an artifact, as they say, of better diagnosing, better awareness, better do what Paul Offit says, etcetera.

This new study looks at the change between 1990 or so and 2010 in cerebral palsy, hearing loss, intellectual disability (including autism) and vision impairment. As you can see, nothing went up much but autism, which went way, way up -- 9.3 percent a year for a total 269 percent increase. (That's Buffett-level compounding!) Let's see, if something goes up 100 percent, that means it doubles. Two hundred percent, it triples. Two hundred and sixty nine percent, it more than triples and a half -- and that's just since 1996. The CDC can never bring itself to look back into ancient history, say 1980.

Even so, the increase is from 4.2 per 1,000 children to 15.5 per 1,000. Now let's see, that would be about 1.6 per 100, or 1 in 62.5 kids. Which is even worse than the 1 in 68 the CDC keeps talking about.

As my colleague Mark Blaxill, who really does understand math and chart-like things, put it: "This plots autism rates against some other disabilities. Uses 8 year olds and the year on the axis is birth year plus 8. So the time series starts in 1988 for ASD. It’s a pretty dramatic picture." 

Diagnostic substitution is notably absent. Doctors still know what hearing loss is, and they diagnose it. Ditto for all the others. 

I always like to quote the late, great Bernie Rimland, who said, "The autism epidemic is real, and excessive vaccinations are the cause." Here we see the truth of the first part of that sentence. Of course, the last part remains verboten in polite company. But it's no wonder that folks like Offit have ventured into territory you'd think they'd have no interest in -- claiming the autism increase isn't real.

Because if it is real -- which it is -- the implications are hard to ignore. Even for innumerants like us.

Trends in the Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Hearing Loss, Intellectual Disability, and Vision Impairment, Metropolitan Atlanta, 1991–2010



Age of Autism Rates Chart

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

Weekly Wrap: “This Dude Is Straight-Up Nuts”

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

ABC is airing interviews Friday and Monday with Taya Kyle, widow of American Sniper Chris Kyle. Taya, who has a new book out, is an impressive person – poised, smart, passionate -- and I got the sense early on that she is going to be a formidable public presence for a long time.

This gives me a moment to bring up a question that’s been in my mind all along -- whether her husband’s killer, Eddie Ray Routh, might have taken the anti-malaria drug mefloquine (brand name Lariam).

“This dude is straight-up nuts. He's right behind me. Watch my six,” Chris Kyle texted to Chad Littlefield as they drove to the shooting range with Routh (who soon killed them both). That’s the kind of thing you hear about soldiers who take Lariam, a CDC-recommended drug that has caused psychosis, depression, paranoia suicide and homicidal violence. Not a great thing to be handing out to people with guns.

My research on Lariam convinced me the CDC was too close to pharma, too willing to overlook side effects in its zeal to prevent disease, and too able to hide the truth. That got me onto vaccines and autism, which has been my focus ever since.

But mefloquine continues to cause harm (its effects can be permanent, the CDC finally acknowledged), and it’s worth keeping on our radar.

Routh didn’t see combat in Iraq, which kind of weakens the claim that his experience caused him to develop PTSD. What apparently really got to him were his experiences in Haiti, where he was deployed as a Marine after the 2010 earthquake. According to ABC, an uncle testified that Routh "didn't seem to find much joy in his life after he came back" from the humanitarian mission in Haiti. Others said he was never the same, and increasingly suicidal.

This reminded me of a couple of other things. You may remember in February President Obama signed a law to improve suicide-prevention services in the military. It’s called the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act for American Veterans. "Today we honor a young man who isn't here but should be here," Obama said. "He suffered physical injuries that healed, and he suffered invisible wounds that stayed with him."

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: “This Dude Is Straight-Up Nuts”" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Exceptionally Unbelievably Transparent

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

"Transparent" seems to be the word of the week, if not the millennium, and when you hear it you just know it's insincere. After saying that the Clinton Foundation is "among the most transparent" foundations, Chelsea Clinton said this week that in the wake of questions about possible conflicts of interest, "We'll be even more transparent."

In the wake of the drone strikes that tragically killed two hostages, President Obama  voiced deep regret but "praised what he claimed was his administration’s exceptionally transparent response to the tragedy," according to the Guardian:

"He said he had decided to make the existence of the operation public because Weinstein and Lo Porto’s families 'deserve to know the truth' and 'the United States is a democracy, committed to openness, in good times and in bad.'"

The New York Times, however, called for more, well, transparency: "For years, the Obama administration has kept its drone strikes shrouded in great secrecy, knowing that what have been described as precision attacks on terrorist targets have also killed innocent civilians." (I can't help but mention that I wrote in last week's column: "While we're sending drones over Pakistan and building ill will -- Pakistan officials are talking about charging former CIA agents with murder -- the country just signed a $46 billion infrastructure improvement pact with China. We are not winning the future by fighting everyone else in the world.")

Oh, and the Toronto Star changed the headline on its Gardasil article from "A wonder drug's dark side" to "Families seek more transparency on HPV vaccine" -- before deleting it from their Web site altogether. Not very transparent on the part of the Star.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the CDC used the word or its variations 25 times in a recent report, noting that because the American Academy of Pediatrics saw the need for "transparent evidence-based approach for its policies and endorsement, AAP established a Steering Committee on Quality Improvement and Management (SCOQIM) in 2001."

Let me tell you something. SCOQIM and ACIP and the BH&CCF and the HPV vaccine makers and the drone program are not about transparency at all. They are about opacity; they are all about what they can do without us knowing about it. Whenever I think of transparency I remember what Bill Clinton said to journalists at the start of the Monica Lewinsky Scandal: 

"You and the American people have a right to get answers. We are working very hard to comply and get all the requests for information up here, and we will give you as many answers as we can, as soon as we can, at the appropriate time, consistent with our obligation to also cooperate with the investigations. 

"And that's not a dodge, that's really why I've – I've talked with our people. I want to do that. I'd like for you to have more rather than less, sooner rather than later. So we'll work through it as quickly as we can and get all those questions out there to you." 

Uh, no. That was a dodge. (Lest you think I'm picking on Democrats, please note that Gov. Chris Christie has something called a Transparency Center, which his aides apparently overlooked when they slowed traffic into Manhattan out of transparent spite.) The people who run government and big business are dodgy by profession, by job description. I just wish they would quit claiming they weren't. In fact, if any one of them took sodium pentathol before their next press availability and were asked a tough question, their answer would be, "That's for us to know and you to find out."

In fact, a maddening lack of transparency is at the heart of the vaccine safety debacle. Transparency about vaccine court settlements, about autism-vaccine research, about drug company trials would have ended this tragedy before it really got going. Instead, behind closed doors the people who were supposedly looking out for the consumer and taxpayer conspired to hide the truth -- at Simpsonwood, in IOM deliberations, in VSD data that was "lost" and sold off to keep it private, in fudged numbers from the studies that Bill Thompson is now telling the truth about. I am sure I can find you quotes from every one of those groups about how transparent they try to be.

It is galling to hear the powers that be talk about how dedicated they are to getting the truth out there and letting the chips fall where they may. Sorry, I don't believe it. As an English major, I've been turning Obama's comment on 60 Minutes about vaccines (in response to the measly measles outbreak) over in my mind for the past few weeks: "There is every reason to get vaccinated -- there aren't reasons to not." There aren't reasons not to?  This is the way people talk when they are not being transparent. There are reasons not to, the telling of which would require a transparency up with which the powers that be are not about to put. It gets all tangled, syntactically and otherwise, when you don't just tell the truth. To quote a famous parody of Time magazine, "Backwards ran sentences until reeled the mind. Where it will end, knows God!"

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

 

Weekly Wrap: Why the Climate Change Debate Is Not Like the Vaccine Debate

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

The things you have to think about when you get involved in the vaccine safety issue! Lately I’ve been wondering about the state of the global warming debate, prompted by vaccine injury deniers who say ideas like ours are so goofy they are similar to denying that global warming is real.

This week, I was forwarded a release from Voices For Vaccines titled Avoiding False Balance: Vaccines in the Media. It makes the usual Offit-style points about settled science and study after study showing no link between vaccines and autism, etcetera after etcetera, and included this particularly unpleasant complaint:

“Giving scientifically invalid ideas equal weight to established and verifiable scientific facts by including them in the piece without addressing the fact they are false (e.g., allowing an interviewee to say her child’s autism was caused by vaccines without including a correction—by the reporter—that scientific consensus shows this parent's statement is unwarranted based on the evidence).”

So if someone like, say, respected neurologist Jon Poling said that vaccines caused his daughter Hannah to regress into autism in front of his own eyes, as affirmed by the U.S. government, and compensated by $20 million in our taxpayer dollars, it would be the reporter’s duty to say something like, “Correction: Poling’s statement is false, based on the evidence. Hannah did not regress into autism before his own lying eyes and the government was wrong to compensate them for vaccine injury that led to autism.”

What really caught my eye was the claim that the vaccine safety “debate” is just like the climate safety “debate” – i.e., that it doesn’t exist outside of air quotes. To wit:

“For several years, journalists covering the climate change issue saw it as a controversy requiring equal air time for both the climate change scientists and the handful of scientists—most of them funded by oil companies—who felt the climate was not warming. This approach prolonged—and continues to prolong—a period of doubt about climate change. The result of the media’s approach to this issue is that while more than 98% of climate scientists are in agreement that our planet is warming, people in the United States are split on the issue. The result is that we’ve been hindered in addressing pressing issues related to combating climate change and are seeing the very real effects the lag in action caused by this manufactured uncertainty is having.

“Vaccines are a remarkably similar case, in that the scientific consensus on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines is perhaps even more overwhelming.”

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Why the Climate Change Debate Is Not Like the Vaccine Debate" »

Tonight! Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted Present Vaccines 2.0 at TACA Pennsylvania Meeting

TACA action

Date/Time:     April 3, 7:00 – 7:15 PM Parent Support and Networking

7:15 PM  Introduction and Meeting Presentation.|
Location:     Saint Alban’s Episcopal Church

3625 Chapel Road
Newtown Square, PA 19073

Coordinators:     Contact Honey Rinicella and Pattie Moor


Vaccines – Ask the Experts

Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted will be spending the evening educating parents and professionals on Vaccines 2.0 all aspects of this controversial topic. The CDC’s bloated vaccine schedule has doubled since 1988, after the federal government gave pharmaceutical companies immunity from lawsuits. Autism and other childhood disorders like asthma, ADHD, juvenile diabetes and digestive ailments have skyrocketed. And parents are understandably nervous, desperate for objective guidance that takes those concerns seriously.

Vaccines 2.0 looks at the lengthy roster of today’s recommended injections, the documented risks that accompany them, and helps parents choose a schedule based on unbiased, uncensored, unconflicted science. Whether you’re wondering how to space out vaccines, which ones are really necessary, considering not vaccinating at all, or just looking for information, this event will give you the tools you need to make wise choices.

Dan Olmsted is co-author of “Age of Autism” and Editor of the blog of the same name. He was an original staff member of USA Today and Senior Editor for USA Weekend magazine and United Press International. He is a member of the National Press Club.

Continue reading "Tonight! Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted Present Vaccines 2.0 at TACA Pennsylvania Meeting" »

Weekly Wrap: Wasting the Wait for Enterovirus 68

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Spring has sprung, at least theoretically, in daffodil-deprived Washington. Warmer weather will soon favor a resurgence of enterovirus 68, the virus that first appeared in severe and paralytic forms in 2013 as a small cluster in California, popped up unpredictably around the country last year in larger numbers and now – well, now what?

Just this week, the CDC put out a plain English Q&A about the virus.  The CDC notes that last year, 1,153 people in 49 states were confirmed to have the virus, and 14 of them died. Most were children. Weirdly, the CDC doesn't mention the frightening and seemingly permanent cases of paralysis almost certainly associated with EV-D68, and regarding the deaths, it mumbles: "State and local officials have the authority to determine and release information about the cause of these deaths."

It would be nice to see the CDC a little more animated on this one, because given the obvious parallels with poliovirus, I think we could be on the brink of big trouble. Both polio and EV-D68 are enteroviruses, meaning they get into the body through the GI tract, although they can manifest as respiratory illness; both appear in warmer weather; both can cause paralysis and death. A big part of the problem is mainstream medical types may once again be blind to what they are really dealing with.

Polio epidemics, as Mark Blaxill and I have proposed, were triggered not just by the virus but also by a necessary co-factor -- exposure to certain pesticides in people, most often non-immune children, who happened to have an active poliovirus infection at the time. The pesticides – lead arsenate starting in the early 1890s, DDT after World War II – opened a pathway to the nervous system that let the otherwise benign virus attack cells that control motion.

The idea that pesticides are implicated in polio has been around for a long time – since the first outbreaks over a century ago, in fact – but roundly sneered at by mainstream scientists, if they noticed at all while hunkered over microscopes in their virology labs. The pesticides-alone theory was easy to dismiss because it was incomplete. The virus, we argued, was a necessary cofactor with the toxin, and when the vaccine came along and took down the virus, the epidemics ended. But the truth -- the ability of toxins to potentiate microbes -- did not.

As the CDC points out, EV-D68 is one of more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses from which the vaccine provides no protection. And since lead arsenate and DDT are no longer used in the United States, we can only guess what toxin, still presumably a pesticide and who knows what else, is potentiating EV-D68. We suspect the collapse of bee colonies and the rise of neurological illnesses point to successor chemicals that are even more toxic in ever-smaller doses.

It would be useful to find out, and quickly. Unfortunately, the idea of a toxic cofactor in the spread of EV-D68 is not on the radar of any current research, as far as I can tell. That’s despite clues in the early EV-D68 cases – the parents of one child run vineyards and a winery in northern California, and the mother told us her daughter had fresh raspberries the morning she got sick (the doctors seemed uninterested); another child is from Moorpark, a Los Angeles exurb built on former (often toxic) farmland that has an apricot named after it.

By now, 1000-plus ED-68 cases on, the clues to the origin have been buried in the breadth of the outbreak, just as they were with polio (and autism); early polio clusters occurred in the San Joaquin and Napa valleys in California (fruit, vegetables, grapes), and in locations where lead arsenate was pioneered – most astonishingly, in 1893 in Boston, which is when and where lead arsenate was invented to battle the coddling moth that was attacking apple orchards. Its use soon spread, and so did epidemics.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Wasting the Wait for Enterovirus 68" »

Control All Delete, Part 3: How a Critical Review of a Book on How Great Vaccination Is Got Pulled By a Publication That Brags How "Independent" It Is

Eula BissControl All Delete, Part 2: How Crying ‘Conspiracy Theory’ Suppresses the Vaccine Safety Debate

Control All Delete, Part 1: The Un-American Suppression of the Vaccine Safety Debate

By Dan Olmsted

Few books published last year won the raves that welcomed On Immunity – An Inoculation by Eula Biss. Its spare 163 pages of text offered a “beautiful shot of insight,” The Los Angeles Times wrote -- a shot that includes our collective duty to vaccinate. “We owe each other our bodies,” Biss concludes.

To which I say, I don’t think so. But it’s a free country and people can agree or disagree, right?

Most agreed with Biss, lauding her “elegant, intelligent and very beautiful book, which occupies a space between research and reflection, investigating our attitudes toward immunity and inoculation through a personal and cultural lens,” according to the Times. Along the way Biss, “a vigorous advocate for inoculation … reveals the rhetoric of the anti-vaccination movement for the sophistry it is.” Parody Cover

Entertainment Weekly gave it an A and put it at Number 2 on its best nonfiction books of the year; it was in the New York Times Top 10; and Mark Zuckerberg recently picked it for his Facebook book club, thereby fighting “fears of vaccination” and showing his “talent for surfing the zeitgeist by selecting On Immunity,” according to Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

I’ve read it, and lovely as it may be, it is, in my view, to which, as I’ve already said, I’m entitled, dead wrong. It takes its place in the pantheon of work by people who haven’t gone deeply enough into the subject to master it – Biss thinks adolescents get a chickenpox booster, which they don’t, and that seizures after vaccination only happen to kids who would have had them anyway -- but presumes to lecture the rest of us on the roots of our scientific illiteracy and susceptibility to primal but unfounded fears of vaccination and autism. Heck, we don't even understand metaphors right. Here is my favorite bit:

“When I learned of the resulting conference on immuno-semiotics, I was excited by the possibility that it was devoted to the discussion of metaphor, a semiotic device,” Biss writes. I must say I have never heard the parent of an autistic child excited about an upcoming conference on immuno-semiotics (immune deficiencies, yes). I think it’s the kind of book that people think they like because it makes them feel smart, sort of A Brief History of Time for the vaccine debate.

One of the few equivocal responses to the book was a review by Jennifer Margulis that ran last October in the Washington Independent Review of Books (remember the word “independent,” which will soon go belly up). Headlined “This heartfelt ode to inoculations dismisses concerns about vaccines,” it begins:

“On Immunity is an extended nonfiction essay — an impressionistic, metaphor-laden, first-person account of author Eula Biss' fears for her infant son's safety and the questions and concerns she has as she educates herself about vaccines. This slim book combines real-life vignettes with literary criticism, information about the history of vaccines in the United States, informal interviews with scientists, and chats Biss has had with friends and relatives.” 

Margulis, a widely published author who wrote The Business of Baby, also notes, correctly: “Biss is not interested in stories of vaccine injury, which she dismisses as exaggerated. Nor is she interested in the devastating fact that one in every 42 boys in America today has autism, or that we are seeing a rise in many other diseases among American children, including Type-1 diabetes and other autoimmune disorders. …

“Yet, ironically, Biss' own son may have been vaccine injured. She explains that he suffers from debilitating allergies that sometimes leave him unable to breathe.

“’My son has unusually severe allergies, which he developed at an unusually young age,’ Biss writes. ‘His pediatrician calls him her 'outlier' because he is a statistical anomaly. By the time he turned three, his allergies had led to swelling in his nasal cavity, and this swelling had led to painful sinus infections, which we had cured with antibiotics several times, but which inevitably returned.’”

Continue reading "Control All Delete, Part 3: How a Critical Review of a Book on How Great Vaccination Is Got Pulled By a Publication That Brags How "Independent" It Is" »

Control All Delete, Part 2: How Crying ‘Conspiracy Theory’ Suppresses the Vaccine Safety Debate

Midweek mashupRead Part 1 HERE.

By Dan Olmsted

A few weeks ago in the midst of measles mania – say, whatever happened to that? -- I was on a Canadian TV show with a crusty but kind of likeable host who wanted to hear how people like me defend the “debunked” claim that vaccines cause autism.

He began: “I’m sure you’re taking a lot of criticism these days but you boldly stay the course?”

Me: “Vaccines are very strongly implicated in the rise of autism since the 1980s, yes.”

Now that is a pretty carefully calibrated statement, based on my own reporting and ten years of research and two books with my colleague Mark Blaxill, and I’m more than happy to stand by it, amplify it, show evidence for it and, in the language of science, provide citations.

The host immediately started talking about how “there is correlation but there is not causation.”

Fine, that’s a good debate to have! There is plenty of evidence that does in fact point to causation. But when I said that, he interrupted by saying that “no scientific study that demonstrates vaccines cause autism” – except the “debunked” Wakefield early report from 1998. So I mentioned William Thompson at the CDC and said Thompson acknowledged a study he was part of hid a link between vaccines and autism.

So, to my mind there’s another concrete piece of evidence. We are having a real debate!

Well, not exactly.

My host: “Well I think people can probably look up more detail on that than you and I can get into and may find that he’s being misquoted in that regard.

“And that’s the problem that I have. It’s conspiracy theory stuff and it’s easy to throw out names and things in a six-minute interview but we’re panicking people into not doing the very thing that has eradicated diseases."

How is directly and accurately citing a sitting CDC  senior scientist “conspiracy theory stuff”? Boy, was I ever glad I had in my hand a few loose papers that included the actual statement from William Thompson!

Me: “William Thompson being a case in point, he says, ‘I regret that my co-authors and I omitted statistically significant information. The omitted data suggested African-American males who received the MMR vaccine before the age of 36 months were at increased risk for autism.’  He said it, I don’t know if you [speaking to my host] want to believe it, but I’m quoting from his statement through his lawyer.”

My host: “Well I’m encouraging people to read further into it.”

“I am too,” I said.

I explained how the root of the problem was not some evil worldwide plot but the fact that Congress gave liability protection to drug makers and doctors in 1986. The result: Big business and big government got in bed and cut the consumer out of the equation and we’ve been paying the price.

“It’s really a public policy debate as much as a public health debate,” I said. Again: It’s a debate that reasonable people can have based on a careful review of the evidence.

But my host came back around – again -- to the conspiracy idea – that if we have a problem with the vaccine schedule as I claimed, it could only be because doctors and public health officials and drug manufacturers concocted a massive conspiracy that defies belief.  “What would be the value to any of those people to try and sell the idea that vaccines are safe when they are not?” he asked.

I responded: “I can’t speak for them.”

My host: “No, but I mean if you’re accusing people of this vast conspiracy you have to believe there’s some agenda behind it.”

Me: “I’m not using the word conspiracy, I’m just saying what the outcome is. I think it was unintended. But at this point I think there may be an unwillingness on the part of people who have sort of bet the farm, bet the business, bet their professional reputations on there being no link, they may not be the best people to get an objective answer here, that’s my feeling.” William Thompson sort of points to that, I’d say.

Perhaps having exhausted that avenue, my host changed the subject. “Do you have children?” he asked.

“No.” Pause. “I have a dog.” The crusty guy chuckled, which may be why I kind of liked him.

All this is preamble to what I now wish to briefly note. A regular and astute commenter on AOA, Twyla, forwarded me a note she got last week from The Daily Kos, the progressive site with quite a large readership. I guess her intended comment triggered some algorithm or alert intern. She got this in red type:

 A message has been issued from site admin at Tue Feb 03 2015 10:25:09 GMT-0800 (PST):

The vaccine-autism link has been debunked by many careful studies, and here at Daily Kos we consider it conspiracy theory. 

CT postings are not permitted here. Postings that advocate this theory can get you banned at Daily Kos.

[box to check] I acknowledge receipt of this message: (Posting is not allowed until the message is acknowledged.)

Daily Kos

--

Continue reading "Control All Delete, Part 2: How Crying ‘Conspiracy Theory’ Suppresses the Vaccine Safety Debate" »

Control All Delete, Part 1: The Un-American Suppression of the Vaccine Safety Debate

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Last month, the Toronto Star ran a perfectly reasonable article titled “A Wonder Drug’s Dark Side,” about adverse events following the HPV vaccine Gardasil. It wasn’t long before the paper and its editor, Michael Cooke, were set on by the raving pack of hyenas that attacks anyone who dares suggest that vaccines are not pure as the driven snow.

One critic, Julia Belluz, writes for an online publication called Vox, which I first encountered this year when they did a Q&A with me headlined, not very nicely, “Understanding the fear of vaccines: an activist explains why he buys a debunked idea.” They are reflexive, relentless and nasty vaccine zealots – that’s what zealotry is.

The Star’s Cooke didn’t much like Vox’s predictable and unjustified criticism. He sent Ms. Belluz this: "Stop gargling our bathwater and take the energy to run yourself your own, fresh tub." He told another critic via Twitter: “Try not to be an idiot.”

To which I say – you tell her, bro! Editors need a certain Ben Bradlee-style “bite me” attitude toward unjustified critics, rather than cowering in the corner once attacks start. Unfortunately, Cooke’s moxie was short-lived. Under a barrage of criticism, on February 20 the publisher – his boss -- announced that “the Gardasil story package of Feb. 5 will be removed from our website.”

In explaining the article’s removal, the publisher wrote: “The weight of the photographs, video, headlines and anecdotes led many readers to conclude the Star believed its investigation had uncovered a direct connection between a large variety of ailments and the vaccine.”

Well yeah, it kind of did lead readers to conclude that – and the conclusion was more than justified, as readers of our own coverage of the vaccine will know. But “we have concluded that in this case our story treatment led to confusion between anecdotes and evidence,” the publisher said, and so it was pulled. (The Wall Street Journal got it right in a blog post headlined: “A Win for Merck? Paper Removes Investigation of Gardasil Side Effects.”)

This is just the latest example of a disturbing and, frankly, un-American (in the case of the Toronto Star, un-North American) trend: self-censorship and craven caving to criticism. Salon pulling Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s piece on the CDC’s cover-up of thimerosal's damage in vaccines was among the first and foremost.  

It’s not just pulling published journalism that is suppressing urgently needed debate. Google is reported to be talking about ranking its search results not just by relevance and popularity but by deciding which sites are most “accurate.” So if you humans don't cause global warming or do cause autism, you can expect to show up lower and later because, as we all know already and need not discuss any further, you are not accurate!

Continue reading "Control All Delete, Part 1: The Un-American Suppression of the Vaccine Safety Debate" »

“Who Can Say?” -- Journalist Who Alleged Wakefield Committed Fraud Backs Off Key Claim

Deer crossedBy Dan Olmsted

Brian Deer, the British journalist who claimed researcher Andrew Wakefield committed fraud by linking the MMR vaccine to autism, now admits one of his key allegations against Wakefield may be flat-out wrong. Yet he insists it's no big deal -- that it does nothing to undercut his claim that Wakefield is "an elaborate fraud."

“Not one of the children were reported on truthfully. Wakefield lied again and again,” journalist Brian Deer said in his post on Saturday, referring to Wakefield 12-child case series published in the Lancet in 1998.  But in the same post, Deer acknowledged that, contrary to his previous reporting, he is now unsure whether Wakefield falsely changed the timing of the MMR shot to put it before the autism symptoms began in a key case.

“Who can say?” Deer wrote Saturday.

The allegation that Wakefield reversed the timing of the shot -- clear evidence of fraud, if true -- was  featured in detail as the shocking opening to Deer’s 2012 series in the British Medical Journal titled “How the Case Against the MMR Was Fixed.”

Child 11’s autism symptoms developed "two months earlier than reported in the Lancet, and a month before the boy had MMR," Deer reported, “too soon” to be the cause. That “must have been a disappointment” to Wakefield, who proceeded to switch the sequence to suit his bias, Deer wrote. The father angrily “spotted the anomaly” after Deer identified and interviewed him, but  “needn’t have worried” that Wakefield would get away with it: “My investigation of the MMR issue exposed the frauds behind Wakefield’s research.”

But on Saturday, after I showed that Deer is the one who got the sequence wrong – that the shot indisputably did come first, followed by the development of regressive autism -- Deer wrote: “Who can say, years later?” In fact, I can say: The father, whom I also identified and interviewed, wrote Wakefield as early as 1997, and contemporaneous medical records establish, that the child got the MMR at 15 months, became sick for several months, developed autism symptoms by 18 months, and was given a formal autism diagnosis at age 3. The father has always said he believes the shot caused all those consequences -- none of which Deer managed to reflect in his own investigation despite interviewing and e-mailing with Father 11 over an extended period of time.

The fact that a core element of his claim of research fraud is now a matter of uncertainty to Deer, the only man who made it, is a remarkable development under any circumstance, but considering the impact the claim has had on the autism debate in subsequent years, it is extraordinary. The claim has been used by officials around the world to say concerns about autism and vaccines have been "debunked" because they originated from a fraudulent research report. A typical example: Senator Dianne Feinstein of California wrote a constituent last week: “I understand that many parents are also concerned that vaccines may cause autism. This claim was published in 1998, in an article in the Lancet, a British medical journal. The researcher who authored the article was later found to have deliberately falsified data to produce a fraudulent link ..."

Equally striking is how little its accuracy seems to matter to Deer, convinced as he is that Wakefield's status as a charlatan is beyond dispute, even if such a central "fact" no longer supports it.

Deer, a veteran newspaper correspondent who, as he frequently points out, has won numerous prestigious journalism awards including the British equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize for his Wakefield investigation, on Saturday offered no convincing reason for how he could have gotten something so central to his fraud claim against Wakefield so wrong. Instead he portrayed the father’s account as a “competing” explanation to the one Deer had independently settled on, based on a couple of unrelated court documents that led him to falsely infer that the autism symptoms preceded the shot in Child 11. Standard journalistic practice would be to check that assumption against the other, far more dispositive evidence that refuted it, and with the child’s father, who subsequently told me: "Mr. Deer’s article makes me appear irrational for continuing to believe that the MMR caused difficulties which predated its administration."

Instead, on Saturday Deer sneered at the messenger – me – as he staged a full-scale retreat from the facts, using Father 11's acknowledged but irrelevant antipathy toward Wakefield as cover. He called me “an undistinguished former journalist” who now runs a website “largely funded by anti-vaccine profiteers,” claiming that I had been “dumped some years ago from his post as a copy editor for a news agency owned by the Rev Sun Myung Moon - himself convicted of fraud … Olmsted has since sought a livelihood from his website, misleading vulnerable parents of children with autism. …  He sought to profit with his website by lying to parents whom he disgustingly purports to champion” and followed “British research cheat” Wakefield “into the toilet.”

Whatever. On Saturday Deer also tried to elevate a secondary issue – how long after the shot the autism symptoms occurred in Child 11 – into a replacement for his now-discredited claim that the entire sequence was reversed, an incomparably more serious and black-and-white issue. 

Ultimately, Deer suggested, the truth is unknowable.

“The father says one thing, the medical records another,” as Deer put it on Saturday. In fact, the father says one thing, and the medical records back him. (That does not mean the vaccine caused the autism, of course, but it does mean the father believed it did, and that Wakefield got the sequence right.) Only Deer’s idiosyncratic and journalistically unjustified misuse of a couple of stray medical records, unchecked by the reality described by everyone else, says another.

Continue reading "“Who Can Say?” -- Journalist Who Alleged Wakefield Committed Fraud Backs Off Key Claim" »

Weekly Wrap: No, Senator Feinstein, Wakefield is Not a Fraud

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted Diane Feinstein

The idea that Andy Wakefield is a fraud is the quick-and-dirty way to dismiss anyone with vaccine safety concerns. I was reminded of that on a couple of fronts this week. An Age of Autism reader who wrote Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California to support vaccine choice just received this reply:

“I understand that many parents are also concerned that vaccines may cause autism. This claim was published in 1998, in an article in the Lancet, a British medical journal. The researcher who authored the article was later found to have deliberately falsified data to produce a fraudulent link ..."

The source of the "fraud" claim, the British Medical Journal, decided to remind everyone of that 2012 report this week. In a "Dear Colleagues" letter, BMJ Clinical Director for North America Carolyn Wong Simpkins wrote that in the current measles outbreak, "we are seeing the sad consequences of parents opting out of these [vaccine] benefits. But do you remember the origins of the rumors attempting to connect the MMR vaccine with autism? It began with a research paper—later retracted—from investigators at a London medical school, but soon spread fear, guilt, and now the resurgence of a nearly eradicated infectious disease across the globe.

"In 2011, The BMJ published an in-depth, three-part investigation that described the problems with data corruption and bias in the original paper. As we move forward, and encourage parents to vaccinate their children, I think it’s important to revisit this history and remember the detrimental effects that fraudulent data can have on the health of the global population, and the importance of championing transparency, integrity, and scientific literacy."

May I be permitted to interject a minor quibble here? There was no fraud! I first made that case in a 10-part series in 2012, and am recapitulating it here in the hope that someone of Feinstein's stature  might decide to look more closely before they repeat the "fraud" canard yet again.

The BMJ began its 2011 attack on Wakefield's "elaborate fraud" by claiming he altered every single one of 12 children's anonymous case histories to create a phony link between the MMR vaccine and autism. In five cases, it said, signs of autism actually began before the shot was even given.

If true, yep, that's "deliberately falsified data ... a fraudulent link" -- in a word, good old-fashioned fraud. But let's meet the claim at its strongest point and see if it holds together. That is the story of Child 11 in the case series. In the BMJ, author Brian Deer claimed Child 11's symptoms couldn't possibly have been caused by the MMR shot because they appeared “too soon” -- a full two months before the shot. Deer said the father himself spotted the "anomaly" and was deeply upset about Wakefield's deception. Wow. Gotcha! An "elaborate fraud" indeed.

 But none of that is true. 

--

Like Deer, I was able to identify the 12 Lancet families, and I set about contacting them in the months after the BMJ series was published; I eventually spoke to more of them than Deer did both in the U.S. and England, where I spent a week taking trains from Wales to Bath. I met Father 11 -- the only American case -- closest to home, at a Peet’s Coffee shop in an affluent, picture-perfect Southern California enclave.

We sat outside in the mid-60s sunshine he jokingly called “a little frosty.” A wealthy businessman who lives in a gated community nearby, he wore a light jacket emblazoned with “Cal,” for the University of California at Berkeley where he got an engineering degree. He carried a thin file folder and a spiral notebook.

 In this laid-back setting, it was hard to grasp the role he and his family have played in one of the major medical controversies of our time, one that unfolded in a foggy city 6,000 miles to the east.

 This father is Deer’s best witness among the parents of the 12 children described in the Lancet paper – in fact, his only one, the lone parent who is hostile to Wakefield, not just a little frosty, but coldly angry. His anonymous comments to Deer in the BMJ seemed to fully support its January 5, 2011, cover story: “Secrets of the MMR Scare: How the Case Against the MMR Was Fixed.”

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: No, Senator Feinstein, Wakefield is Not a Fraud" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Broken Trust

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Back in May 2005, a friend of mine in Washington came home late from work and was met excitedly by his wife, who told him she had just seen the most amazing episode of Law and Order: SVU.  It was about a malaria drug called “Quinium” that made soldiers suicidal and homicidal; the government and drug company were covering up the truth and getting away with it. People were being irreversibly harmed, even dying.

The Quinium drama, she said, was just like the link between vaccines and autism that they had witnessed first-hand – an immediate reaction and regression, and a coverup of the obvious truth that was continuing even now.

My friend smiled and explained to his wife that the episode was a thinly veiled account of a malaria drug named Lariam, and that the episode was based on my reporting. (His wife knew me, but not as well as he did.) The "reporter" in the SVU episode was a somewhat squirrely character named Sherm Hemphill, clearly an amalgam of me and Mark Benjamin – we had written dozens stories about Lariam’s deadly consequences when we were at UPI. Mark went on to Salon.com where he wrote his own impressions of the SVU episode in an article titled, “Ripped from my headlines! ‘Law and Order: SVU’ pulls details from my reporting for its gripping finale. So why is the ‘reporter’ such an ink-stained wretch?”  (Mark was not as amused as I was that the reporter was portrayed as a tabloid journalist pawing through trash for a scoop. I’ve done worse!)

I recount this story not just to relive my one – and only – moment in the Hollywood sun, but because I was reminded of it this week in quite a remarkable way. A Facebook friend named Hil Down messaged me an article with the note, “vaccines and Lariam, all in one article.”

The piece, which Anne Dachel also picked up in her Media Update, was from the Associated Press and titled, “Anti-vaccine mothers discuss their thinking amid backlash.” The headline was unfortunate, the story better. It portrayed three mothers who  “are among the vaccine skeptics who have been widely ridiculed since more than 100 people fell ill in a measles outbreak traced to Disneyland. Critics question their intelligence, their parenting, even their sanity. Some have been called criminals for foregoing shots for their children that are overwhelmingly shown to be safe and effective.

"'Contrary to the common sentiment, we are not anti-science,' said Michelle Moore, a businesswoman who lives in the affluent Portland suburb of Lake Oswego with her 2½-year-old twin girls. 'I'm not opposed to medicine, and I think vaccines have a place. We think it's a medical choice, and it should be researched carefully.'"

Then came the beauty part: “Moore, an MBA graduate who runs an agriculture-related business, traces her feelings back to the time she took Lariam, a supposedly safe anti-malaria medication. Instead, she said, the drug saddled her with multiple health complications. She questions whether the government knew about the risks at the time. Health officials now acknowledge Lariam can cause severe side effects, some of which can be permanent.

“That experience broke Moore's trust in the medical establishment and launched her on years of research into how vaccines can affect people's health.”

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Broken Trust" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Vaccines Uber Alles!

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

There’s a story – make of it what you will – that Joe Kennedy the elder knew it was time to get out JoeKennedyQuoteof the market when the shoeshine boy started giving him stock tips. By that standard, it might be time for the vaccine injury deniers to get out of the marketplace of ideas, because everybody, and I mean everybody, is convinced they have the expertise and standing to tell the rest of us why vaccines don’t cause autism, shouldn’t be debated, and on and on.

The latest to opine on this topic is Mark Zuckerberg, joining Bill Gates as a gazillionaire bootblack who may know how to make a buck but nothing about the autism epidemic, the science of vaccine injury, the role of liability protection, or other topics that you and I talk about every day. As a putative new media czar whose “news feed” includes plenty of pages that disagree with him (like ours), he ought to keep his mouth shut. Instead, he’s recommending “Immunity: An Inoculation” for his book club. When I first heard that, I decided to let it be, because people should read whatever they want, but then I saw that he is weighing in with his own personal vaccine creed:

“The science is completely clear: vaccinations work and are important for the health of everyone in our community. This book explores the reasons why some people question vaccines, and then logically explains why the doubts are unfounded and vaccines are in fact effective and safe.”

I’ve tried to ignore the book in question, but I will have more to say about it later since it seems to be insinuating itself into pop culture. Meanwhile, I’ll just say that Zuckerberg – whose father, a dentist, had his practice in their home – is way too powerful, and uninformed, to be offering this kind of cheap and easy commentary.

--

From creed to screed: One unfortunate aspect of the Internet – which as regular readers will agree, has been largely positive for spreading the truth about autism – is that legacy print publications, which shrink ever deeper into oblivion on the newsstand, have opened their online portals and attached their prestige to all manner of guest writers, advertorial “sponsored content,” click-throughs, partnerships and so on. (The wack-a-doodle Time online piece about printing the names and addresses of vaccine-exempting families is a case in point. Henry Luce would have had a heart attack on the spot if he weren’t already deceased.)

Anyway, Rolling Stone published a screed online by someone named Jeb Lund, who seems never to have heard of thimerosal or RS Contributing Editor RFK Jr. – or Rolling Stone’s own archive -- when he writes:

“Anti-vaxxer science is science in the same way that saying the word "FUCK" came from "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" or "Fornication Under Consent of King" is etymology. It's science the way "Catherine the Great died having sex with a horse" is history. It's shit that sounds plausible only if you're someone never in danger of double-checking it or stumbling across something like topical expertise. Christ, you could figure out most of this stuff is bullshit just by reading the questions and answers on NTN Bar Trivia at your local Buffalo Wild Wings for more than a few hours.”

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Vaccines Uber Alles!" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: How Measles Makes the Case for the Amish Anomaly

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

It was a decade ago – “a budding spring day” in April 2005 – that I visited Amish country in Pennsylvania just a couple of hours away from Washington for my first Age of Autism column, titled The Amish Anomaly. I posed the question, “Where are the autistic Amish? Here in Lancaster County, heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, there should be well over 100 with some form of the disorder. I have come here to find them, but so far my mission has failed, and the very few I have identified raise some very interesting questions about some widely held views on autism.”

I was a bit naive. My reporting, which found very few autistic Amish and a much lower vaccination rate than the country as a whole, raised the specter of a link between vaccinations and autism, a link that was starting to get some traction as the autism rate inexplicably exploded in America's children. The effort to nullify what I reported was quick and continuing: Opponents like Seth Mnookin portrayed the Amish Anomaly (which has its own Wikipedia page!) as junk on a par with Andy Wakefield's Lancet study:

“The various vaccine manufactroversies that have spread in the wake of Andrew Wakefield’s bogus claims that the measles component of the MMR vaccine might be linked to autism are too numerous to unpack in one brief blog post. One of the most persistent has been the Amish fallacy: Most Amish don’t vaccinate; there’s almost no record of autism in Amish communities; ergo, vaccines cause autism. (This argument has also been used, time and time and time again, to illustrate the efficacy of a proposed vaccinated-versus-unvaccinated study.)

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: How Measles Makes the Case for the Amish Anomaly" »

Gary Null Show: Legal Scholar Mary Holland Responds to Dr. Paul Offit's Vaccine Stance

PRN RadioFrom The Gary Null Radio Program 2/6/15.

First Guest: Prof. Mary Holland

Prof. Mary Holland is a Director of the Graduate Legal Skills Program at New York University School of Law, specializing in international human rights, public law and vaccine safety law and injury compensation. She also has a son who regressed into autism following the MMR vaccine. Yesterday she was a guest on Democracy Now along with Dr. Paul Offit, the guru celebrity of the pro-vaccine industry.  Since Offit was the last to be interviewed during yesterday’s program, we have invited her on to respond to Offit’s comments.  Mary has degrees  in Russian studies from Harvard, and graduate degrees in international relations and a JD from Columbia University, where she has also taught international law at its Law School. Mary is the co-author of “Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed, Biased Science and Coercive Government Threaten Our Human Rights, Our Health and Our Children.”  The website is VaccineEpidemic.com

Second Guest: Dr. Sherri Tenpenny

Continue reading "Gary Null Show: Legal Scholar Mary Holland Responds to Dr. Paul Offit's Vaccine Stance" »

Presenting ‘Both Sides’ Of Vaccine Debate Gets Tricky During KCBS Interview With ‘Age Of Autism’ Author

Vaccines 2.0KCBS Morning Anchor Stan Bunger offers this commentary on an interview Thursday morning with a vaccine skeptic:

Click here for the link to the audio, no embed code available, sorry.

After weeks of listening to people revile the parents who don’t get their kids vaccinated, I thought it would be a good idea to ask the people who question the childhood vaccination program why they think the way they do.

So we put one of them on the air for an interview. Dan Olmsted edits the website “Age of Autism” and believes vaccines are a significant part of what he calls the “autism epidemic.”

It may have come as a shock to those who assume these folks foam at the mouth, but Olmsted speaks in a calm voice and doesn’t rant or rave. He DOES, however, toss off lines that, well, aren’t quite true.

Continue reading "Presenting ‘Both Sides’ Of Vaccine Debate Gets Tricky During KCBS Interview With ‘Age Of Autism’ Author" »

Vox Interviews Olmsted on Vax

VoxEditor's note: On Monday I got a polite e-mail. "My name is German Lopez. I'm a reporter with Vox.com. I'm putting together a story on the vaccine choice and education movement. I was hoping to talk to you about the movement, some of the thinking behind it, and what it seeks to accomplish."

We did the interview and it was published Wednesday. What could possibly go wrong? (Heh-heh -- perhaps the headline below will give you a clue.) German (pronounced Herman), is a Vox "writing fellow" whose bio says he "writes about stuff -- usually criminal justice, the war on drugs, health, and LGBT issues." Goodness, that's a much broader range of stuff than I've mastered in 40 years as a journalist (I mistakenly say 30 in the interview; time flies when you're having fun!). This is all the more impressive as German's bio notes that he graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2012. I commend the article to you. It is a time capsule worth preserving. -- Dan Olmsted

Understanding the fear of vaccines: An activist explains why he buys a debunked idea

Dan Olmsted is the editor of the website Age of Autism and author of multiple books that purport a link between vaccines and autism — a link that researchers have debunked again and again. In 2006, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) cited Olmsted's research in introducing legislation to direct the federal government to further study concerns about vaccines.

Olmsted has written in particular detail about his concerns over thimerosal, a mercury compound that used to be — but is no longer included — in routinely recommended childhood vaccines, with the exception of the flu shot. He argues parents should be wary of vaccines because of a supposed risk of autism, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary.

I spoke to Olmsted on Monday about his work, why he thinks vaccines cause autism, and how he views the current Disneyland measles outbreak. Something to notice in our conversation is that the fear of vaccines isn't evidence-free: Olmsted cited a slew of specific studies to support his stance. The problem is the evidence doesn't hold up. After the interview, I tracked down some of Olmsted's citations and found the underlying studies and examples to be disputed at best and outright false at worst. Those footnotes are detailed below this transcript.

German Lopez: What would you say is the goal of your work?

Dan Olmsted: My work is an effort to bring a journalistic perspective to this issue. I've been doing this for almost 10 years now, focused on the question of what's causing the autism epidemic and if it's real.

I came to the conclusion pretty early on that vaccines are a significant part of it. I have been looking into that ever since. I've been bringing attention to that and trying to counter the mainstream wisdom that all of this is debunked, disproved, anecdotal, and there's nothing to it.

Read the full article at Vox.com


Weekly Wrap: Spreading Measles – and Autism

Measles Map


AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

If the CDC wants to stop the spread of measles, they need to stop spreading autism. It's nowhere near an acceptable tradeoff. 

Repeat after us: Vaccines recommended by the CDC are causing the epidemic of autism and related disorders in America’s children. That is far worse than any conceivable risk from measles or any other vaccine preventable disease any American child could conceivably catch in modern day America.

That is the argument Mark Blaxill and I lay out in our new book, Vaccines 2.0, about the bloated and runaway vaccine schedule, and that is what makes the media and mainstream medicine's obsession with the measles cases out of Disneyland downright goofy. Yes it's also true as we’ve reported here, that the vaccine isn't terribly effective, that vaccinated people are spreading it, that many of the cases may not even be measles, that measles as it exists in a first world country in the 21st century is not a fatal illness (see chart), that catching measles might be an immunologically useful event in a person’s life that it is dangerous to interrupt.

There are good or at least interesting arguments for all these things. But -- and here is the heart of the matter -- whether any of them are true, measles is not worth fighting when it is glued to a public health strategy that leads directly to the epidemic of chronic and developmental diseases now besetting us.

Of course, to use the shorthand by which journalists introduce controversy, others disagree. They say a link between vaccines and autism has been disproven when it has only grown. They say it has been discredited when it has only been confirmed. They say it has been debunked when it has only been suppressed.

But this is where we have to take our stand, on first principles. It's basic logic (I believe it's called modus ponens, and I learned it in junior high). If the current vaccine schedule is responsible for the rise of autism and related disorders, then the conquest of such diseases as measles would need to be evaluated in that disturbing context, and not just on its own merits as standalone public health developments.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Spreading Measles – and Autism" »

Age of Autism Midweek Mashup: Minneapolis, Minnesota, Measles, Minnie, and More

Midweek mashupBy Dan Olmsted

The book fair this past weekend in Minneapolis was something new and different -- several Skyhorse authors, most with Age of Autism connections, putting on a joint daylong presentation and discussion. (See photo.) It was great for all of us authors, and I think for the audience as well, who had a chance to interact with so many of us in one place. It could be a template for future events that bring together what we like to call hard-line professionals -- research-oriented, fact-based advocates who are not going to mince words about what's really happening to the health of a generation (and more) of children who constitute this country's future.

In my brief talk, I noted that this event -- dedicated to answering questions and providing MN book tourinformation to families concerned about the vaccine schedule -- very much reflects the current level of concern in the country. As I was packing to head to Minneapolis on Friday, I had CNBC on in the background when Kaiser-Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson was interviewed. Since K-P is my own HMO, I turned it up and listened. The vaccine question soon came up in the context of the measles cases emanating from Disneyland.

"Well you know," Tyson said, "we've seen in the country a decline in parents bringing their children in for immunization. We make that a big push at Kaiser -- studies show it helps and it's the right preventive step and we have outreach programs to parents.

"I think the measles and what is happening there is another sign of what can happen very quickly when something reaches epidemic proportions."

To me that's the standard pabulum you expect from an outfit like KP. But the next question and answer were interesting.

Question: "The parents who are worried about their children potentially getting autism from that? What do you tell them?"

Answer: "Well, those are legitimate concerns," he said, emphasizing the last two words. I nearly dropped my toothbrush. "I don't want to excuse away responsible parents asking very responsible questions. In some cases we don't have the answers in the health care community. I think we have the latest evidence to show that the connection is very slim it at all, but I think the questions are very important and we need to figure out how to engage in the right conversations so people are making informed decisions."

Continue reading "Age of Autism Midweek Mashup: Minneapolis, Minnesota, Measles, Minnie, and More" »

Meet The Authors: Vaccines 2.0 The Careful Parent's Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family

Vaccines 2.0Come hear Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted discuss their new book, and the tough vaccine choices parents face today.
 
Buy Tickets Now to hear Mark and Dan at the Vaccine Author Symposium in Minneapolis in January 24th at The University of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Cowles Auditorium.10 Authors on Vaccines, Science, Politics & Media.  $25 includes the full day event and one signed book. Plus savings on book packages.

Science for Sale / Dr. David Lewis

Vaccine Injuries / Louis Conte

Plague / Kent Heckenlively & Dr. Judy Mikoitz

Vaccines 2.0 / Mark Blaxill & Dan Olmsted

The Vaccine Court / Wayne Rohde

The Autism War / Louis Conte

Vaccine Injuries/ Louis Conte

The Big Autism Cover-Up / Anne Dachel

Vaccine Epidemic / Mary Holland & Kim Mack Rosenberg

Author Presentations, Meet & Greets, Signings, Panel Discussions and more!

VACCINES 2.0 The Careful Parent’s Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family

Vaccines 2.0Join us in congratulating Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill on their latest collaboration. Visit your local bookstore, the Skyhorse site or Amazon to purchase your copy today.

Skyhorse Publishing paperback, also available as an ebook
Release Date: January 13th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-62914-731-4
Price: $19.95

An essential guide for safely vaccinating your children.

The CDC’s bloated vaccine schedule has doubled since 1988, after the federal government gave pharmaceutical companies immunity from lawsuits. Autism and other childhood disorders like asthma, ADHD, juvenile diabetes, and digestive ailments have skyrocketed. And parents are understandably nervous, desperate for objective guidance that takes those concerns seriously.

Vaccines 2.0 looks at the lengthy roster of today’s recommended injections and the documented risks that accompany them and helps you choose a schedule based on unbiased, uncensored, unconflicted science. From whether to get a flu shot during pregnancy—and how to avoid dangerous mercury if you do—to the Hep B shot within hours of birth, to the controversial Gardasil vaccine for preteens, Vaccines 2.0 gives you the tools to decide for yourself. The three sections cover: Why should you care? What should you know? What can you do? The exclusive Risk-Reward Assessment assigns a numerical score to each of the fourteen recommended vaccines. This book also helps you learn to spot, report, and treat side effects; talk to your doctor and find a sympathetic one if you can’t; and compare alternative schedules if you decide to delay or skip shots. When it comes to your child, it’s your choice. Vaccines 2.0 will give you the information you need to choose wisely.

About the Authors

Mark Blaxill is the father of a daughter diagnosed with autism, cofounder of the Canary Party and Health Choice, and editor at large for Age of Autism. He has authored several scientific publications on autism. He received his AB from Princeton and an MBA from Harvard. He coauthored the book The Age of Autism.

Dan Olmsted is coauthor of Age of Autism and editor of the blog of the same name. He was an original staff member of USA Today and senior editor for USA Weekend magazine and United Press International. He is a member of the National Press Club and lives in Falls Church, Virginia.

Weekly Wrap: Starting Over All Over Again

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

On Thursday my odometer decided to remind me that we really do start fresh with the New Year -- my trip calculator came up all 1's. More amazingly, Comment Number 111,111 popped up on January 1 from Jenny Allen. It's a good one, and I'm giving her the last word this holiday weekend. I hope everyone is rested and ready for the new year, new challenges and new onslaughts on the Death Star (aka the medical-industrial complex that triggered and is perpetuating the age of autism). 

"A Happy New Year and grateful thanks to all AoA editors, contributors and Odometer 1111commenters. A great deal was achieved in 2014, along with some very significant revelations, and future generations will 'judge' our political/medical/ corporate establishments, who may choose to completely ignore or deny the vaccine related autism holocaust, along with all the related co-morbidities, or they can collectively 'bite the bullet' and work together to protect future generations, and provide proper medical care and therapies to those suffering children and (now) adults, who live their lives in constant pain and discomfort, often from painful bowel disorders.

"What's urgently required is a complete 'root and branch' audit of vaccines, in particular those administered as part of child vaccination schedules. Are all these vaccines really necessary? In the UK, mumps was included in the MMR vaccine as a 'buy 2 -get one free' offer from the manufacturers in 1988. From the initial Urabe mumps vaccine damage scandal, still not fully admitted within the UK Government, to a now adult fully vaccinated population contracting the disease when they attend colleges and universities, mumps vaccine has caused far more damage than the disease ever did.

"Mumps is benign in children, but is far more serious in adults and can cause sterility. Measles and whooping cough are nastiest in children under 1 year old. In the 'bad old days' mothers like myself who contracted all those childhood diseases as children, passed on our immunities via the placenta and breast feeding, ensuring a healthy baby. Vaccine immunity is at best transient and less efficiently passed on to babies born and unborn.

"Now, whooping cough vaccine is no longer effective and measles epidemics are happening, apparently in mostly vaccinated populations (although this is strenuously denied). Blaming Wakefield for the alleged 'unvaccinated' is beginning to sound like a stuck vinyl record, 16 years after THAT paper. If AW was to blame those epidemics would have happened years ago. People are NOT stupid, and politicians and medico apologists, who are now pinning the blame on 'thinking moms' are forgetting, it's not just 'moms' who are capable of 'thinking' for themselves.

"Politicians who ignore the concerns of the people, do so at their peril in a voting democracy. An annual review is an excellent 'morale raiser'. As a 'small campaigner' for several health and social related issues, I make a point of standing back and reviewing progress every few months. This tells me what, if anything, has been achieved as a result of my efforts. Politicians and health spokespersons are very good at reassuring words and promises, but REAL actions and committing to changes and improvements are quite another matter. Our REAL enemies are political complacency and the 'status quo'."

Thanks, Jenny! On to the new year.

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Goodbye to a Great Friend

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted Dr. Eisenstein

I suppose there is some symmetry in the death of Mayer Eisenstein this week in the midst of both the Jewish and Christian holidays. Mayer to me was a bit of a Jewish Kris Kringle, larger than life, shaking with laughter, doing mitzvahs (good works) and bearing gifts in the form of wise insights into the ways we care f9r (and inadvertently harm) our children.

That's about as cheerful as I can get about Mayer's passing so soon after the shock of hearing it, for in truth I was expecting many more years of his wisdom and support. Especially the latter -- Mayer was one of Age of Autism's best friends and most resolutely positive allies.

I first met him in 2005. After I had written about the Amish anomaly for UPI -- lower vaccination rates, lower autism rates -- a reader in Tennessee told me about a Chicago doctor with thousand of unvaccinated children, and virtually no autism or asthma (the latter medically documented by the absence of ER visits and hospitalizations for asthma among his patients).

I got in touch with him and was soon in Chicago being regaled by this garrulous bear of a man who loved Disney (me too) and conservative politics (me not so much), could barely pause to catch his breath, and in addition to his M.D. had gone on to get an MPH and a JD, mostly, as far as I could tell, to give himself something intellectually interesting to do. He had a big happy sprawling Jewish family and, I believe, a new legion of supporters after he got involved in the autism world and Autism One.

He also came in for his share of nullification nonsense, and to the extent that giving him wider attention was a factor, I feel bad about it. (He couldn't have cared less, which was typical of him.) Rather than look at the maximally healthy children his practice turned out with minimally invasive medicine, the mainstream went after anything they could find to avoid dealing with the significance of his work.

Now that work is his legacy, and I for one am determined to remind people of it and push it forward. But for now I confess to feeling pretty crappy. As they often do with people who are gone, my memories of Mayer come down to a single image -- in this case a sunlit one, sitting outside on a perfect late spring day at a cafe across from a sky blue Lake Michigan, eating pasta and happy that such a great guy was on my side.

I'm going to hang onto that as long as I can.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

12 Days of Skyhorse Publishing: Day 11 Vaccines 2.0 The Careful Parent's Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family


12 days of Skyhorse
We owe a debt of gratitude to Tony Lyons, Publisher at Skyhorse Publishing in New York. His committment to books about autism is..... well - why don't we let him tell you himself.  (Thank you to The Thinking Moms' Revolution for the video.)




We will feature one Skyhorse book each day for the next 12 days. Consider it a literary Advent Calendar or a Menorah with twelve lights... or more.

Vaccines 2.0Vaccines 2.0: The Careful Parent's Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family

The CDC’s bloated vaccine schedule has doubled since 1988, after the federal government gave pharmaceutical companies immunity from lawsuits. Autism and other childhood disorders like asthma, ADHD, juvenile diabetes and digestive ailments have skyrocketed. And parents are understandably nervous, desperate for objective guidance that takes those concerns seriously.


Vaccines 2.0 looks at the lengthy roster of today’s recommended injections, the documented risks that accompany them, and helps parents choose a schedule based on unbiased, uncensored, unconflicted science. From whether to get a flu shot during pregnancy--and how to avoid dangerous mercury if you do--to the Hep B shot within hours of birth, to the controversial Gardasil vaccine for preteens, Vaccines 2.0/i> provides the tools to decide for yourself.

The three sections cover: Why should you care? What should you know? What can you do? The exclusive Risk-Reward Assessment assigns a numerical score to each of the 14 recommended vaccines. Also included is information on learning to spot, report and treat side effects; talking to your doctor and finding a sympathetic one if you can't, and comparing alternative schedules if you decide to delay or skip shots. When it comes to your child, it's your choice. Vaccines 2.0 will give you the information you need to choose wisely.

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Rolling Stone’s Agony and the Power of Facts

  AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

The rolling destruction of Rolling Stone’s campus rape investigative report – centered on a woman named Jackie whose story of a gang rape at the University of Virginia just didn’t hold up – is both horrifying and fascinating to watch. Especially if you’re in the journalism world and know how easy it is to really, really mess things up.

I had a friend at the newspaper in Rochester, N.Y., many years ago whose father had been in World War II and, a propos of incoming artillery rounds, he offered his son this life lesson: “It’s the one you don’t hear that gets you.” I think this means that if you hear an incoming shell, it is going to land somewhere nearby, but if it is coming straight down on your head the aerodynamics are such that you won’t hear it. Or maybe it just means that you don’t hear it land, because it landed on you!

Either way, my friend was using this to make the journalistic point that you can try mightily to RS Danavoid serious mistakes and then one lands right on you that you never saw coming. I think a lot of journalists would agree that often it is not the big investigative piece that causes the worst problems, but the piddly little review in the same issue that said the local restaurant used beef that was “obviously less than prime.” If the chef has the receipts for the Grade A steak, you are in big trouble. (Which is why it is always better in a situation like that to go for opinion – “The steak, which was advertised as prime, nonetheless tasted like shoe leather.” That’s protected speech.)

Rolling Stone (I'm a lifelong fan, see my framed 1978 Dylan cover at right) definitely got hit by one they never saw coming, and it was not on a piddly little story at all. Sensitive to handling a rape allegation and not further traumatizing the victim, putting their confidence in a writer with a good track record, and – perhaps – subject to a confirmation bias that frat boys at southern universities are capable of all manner of evil, they simply didn’t see the peril. By not talking to the alleged rapists, and not even to her friends, the whole thing came down to reliance on one version of events.

It would have been so easy to avoid, in retrospect. All you needed was the article editor or the copy editor to ask, did we talk to her friends? (let alone the alleged attackers), followed by a memo to the boss: Questions on Rape Story -- Needs to Hold.

Rolling Stone’s agony reminds me of our duty here at AOA to respect facts and fairness. We are in fact advocacy journalists – we come from a point of view, based on our own research, reporting, and experience – but within that framework we try to be journalistically scrupulous. That’s not to say we’re perfect – and with a blog format, multiple contributors, a mission we champion, and constant battering from people on all sides who can’t bear the fact that we’re right – we have to be extra vigilant. But we do insist on facts. We come up against stories all the time where we need to assess the strength of the evidence and report what we find. Although our critics like to think we just wing it, they would probably be surprised at how much checking and care goes into what we do. Two examples come to mind.

One of the reports I’m proudest of was about the treatment of Alex Spourdalakis. Most of you know that story, and its tragic end. But it began as an e-mail on a Friday night – March 7, 2013 -- from Lisa Goes, one of our contributing editors, describing this god-awful situation and providing photos to go with it. Because of its significance – and, frankly, because I hate getting scooped – we wanted to publish it right away, which we did.  Lisa’s e-mail was titled:

“SUBMISSION: Urgent need hoping you find this worth running”

To which I responded: “Wow, very disturbing and powerful. Kim I'd suggest we post this as soon as we have all the pieces together from Lisa, whether on the weekend or not. … an urgent outrage. I'm sure this happens all the time but it is rare to see it so vividly documented in real time.”

And Kim: “OK, having read this and grateful not to have had breakfast first, I’ve prepped the post”

And me: “One of the very best pieces we ever ran or ever will”

There were lots of e-mails in between – does the mom know we are doing this, what does the hospital say, and so on – that were all nailed down. Still, if anything significant about this story had been flat-out wrong, it would have been Rolling Stone-level bad news for us. But it held up, because Lisa was there, she had the evidence, and even while outraged she stuck to the facts. You can see the differences here with Rolling Stone's story. Still, when you hit that publish button, you say a little prayer to the journalism gods to protect you one more time.

Another case in point was the news that Poul Thorsen, late of the CDC, was being investigated for fraud and theft of agency funds. This one was almost too good to be true – which ought to make an editor extra-cautious. To tell you the truth, I had never registered the name Poul Thorsen when this came up, but Mark Blaxill certainly had.

On March 5, 2010, I got an e-mail from a colleague in Denmark with the unpromising title VS:SV. The text said: “Please see the attached file. Kind regards.” Thank God I opened it. It was a letter from Aarhus University in Denmark outlining Thorsen's alleged misdeeds. I forwarded it to Mark Blaxill, who fired back a note, "This is amazing. I’m writing a short piece right now.” A little later he e-mailed, “Can we verify this somehow? I’ve been looking on the Aarhus web-site and can’t find anything.”

Me: “in this situation you can say that it could not be independently verified but ... it appeared to be a statement on aarhaus university's letterhead.”

Mark: “Seems like Jorgen Jorgensen [author of the letter] does exist and is in the role claimed in the letter”

Me: “yes, and here's what appears to be a danish mainstream paper discussing the issue last month without naming thorsen. we're definitely protected legally here ...”

And so we posted the story a short time later. Over on the skeptic blogs, there was discussion for days about whether the letter was a fake, oblivious to the kind of crosschecking we had already done and lacking the skills, or perhaps the motivation, to do it themselves.

Still, the story was almost literally unbelievable. After we published it, David Kirby – who has a solid journalism background – e-mailed, “Are we sure the document is authentic?”

To which Mark responded: “Dan received the document from a contact in Denmark who alerted him to the story. [She also posted it on her small blog.] I've checked and confirmed that Jorgen Jorgensen does exist and is in the role claimed in the letter. I haven't seen anything on the Aarhus web-site about this. We do have confirmation (see attached) that this has been covered in the Danish press. The early report from the Copenhagen Post doesn't mention Thorsen by name, but based on what I had seen as of yesterday, I predicted it was Thorsen. So seeing this letter naming Thorsen is consistent with everything we know."

I added: “i have a high degree of confidence in its authenticity, given the mainstream reporting in denmark in the past few weeks that matches what the memo said.”

Notice the phrase, “A high degree of confidence.” That is what we were working with at the time. Today, of course, we are certain it is authentic, but in real time you have to constantly assess the possibility that something is amiss versus the possibility of missing the story altogether. In that circumstance, having a high degree of confidence was sufficient for publication. If you had to be certain, you’d get scooped every time. Which makes this such an interesting business.

So this is the kind of thing that goes into our news coverage and analysis here at our humble web site. I would like to think that this kind of collaborative and cautious editing would have saved Rolling Stone, although, as my friend’s said, it’s the one you don’t hear that gets you.

There’s another reason to care about facts and Rolling Stone – it published Bobby Kennedy’s Deadly Immunity, which required some corrections. I said at the time that these were the kind of things that a good fact-checking operation could and should have caught. Bobby’s basic thesis was incontrovertible, but the relatively picayune fact errors were enough to allow some to divert attention from that. Rolling Stone, to its eternal credit, refused to retract the piece after Salon did so. But the Kennedy saga and the Rape on Campus story suggest they might have a systemic problem with rigorous fact-checking and asking the kind of fail-safe (one of my editors called it “bomb-proofing”) questions that can keep the shell from landing smack on top of you.

So, hey, Rolling Stone, deconstruct how you screwed up, get yourself a couple of cranky and skeptical copy editors, the old-fashioned kind who go out back to smoke and probably drink at lunch. And rock on! We need you,  bro.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

Midweek Mashup: Our Mission

MashupBy Dan Olmsted

A monumental catastrophe is unfolding in doctor's offices and public health clinics across this country every day, and it is called the Childhood Immunization Schedule. It is responsible for the autism epidemic, and much else that is unhealthy for our children, our country, and our world. A greatly reduced and more selective and safety-focused vaccine schedule could put the brakes on that epidemic -- today, family by family and child by child, while we also work for reform and recognition of vaccine injury on political, legal, and journalism fronts.

Our mission at Age of Autism is to end the Age of Autism -- meaning, the autism epidemic -- not to end vaccination as a medical practice. I've never said otherwise, and if people find this a disqualifying point of view, I'm truly sorry to lose their confidence but I have to be straightforward and consistent. Other groups and some of our valued writers and readers do have that mission, and we respect and interact with them all the time, publish their posts, and put their perspectives in our book (Vaccines 2.0, out next month, co-written with Mark Blaxill). There is room for different but allied approaches and tactics to attacking this catastrophe, and it is much better to collaborate and affirm each other than to splinter our small activist coalition over issues where we have far -- far! -- more in common that anything mainstream public health is asserting.

Let's remember first principles, as put forward by the late great Bernie Rimland, who I feel privileged to call a personal hero: "The autism epidemic is real, and excessive vaccinations are the cause. ... There are many consistent lines of evidence implicating vaccines, and no even marginally plausible alternative hypotheses."

Note that phrase: Excessive vaccinations. 

To argue that the excessive, bloated vaccine schedule caused the post-1988 autism epidemic, as I do, you are basically stipulating that the much less aggressive vaccine schedule pre-1988 was not causing it, as problematic as it may still have been in the particulars. Hence, promoting a lesser, later, lighter vaccine schedule -- and the right to choose it, without resistance -- is one reasonable way to try to end the epidemic, among many other necessary steps. One reason the Amish have little to no autism is not because they never ever vaccinate -- although many do not -- but because they are light years from the metronomic well-baby shot schedule that is causing mayhem for the rest of us (most don't have health insurance, for one thing). How many home-birthed, midwife-attended Amish babies do you really think get the hep B shot within hours of coming into the world? Precious few, I'd say.

Mercury in vaccines has caused autism since the 1930s, as I think we have shown conclusively (thank you, Teresa Conrick!), and bad vaccines like the DPT have done damage as well, but the epidemic rate of autism today, now, this minute, is directly due to the post-1986 vaccine act feeding frenzy by the pharmaceutical companies and complicit captured regulators and pediatric practices. It needs to be stopped.

At least, that is my opinion, based on my own research, experience, and professional training. This may seem like stating the obvious to all of us -- that the current schedule is causing the current epidemic, but it is still a minority and beleaguered point of view that we fight every day to demonstrate.

I respectfully disagree with what is often part and parcel of the no-vaccines-ever argument -- that the polio and smallpox vaccines didn't really end those epidemics. I base this again on research of my own and with my colleague Mark Blaxill on these topics -- particularly polio (although the epidemic was man-made -- another story). So because I think these statements are simply incorrect, and that it is a historical fact that these vaccines did end serious diseases, I don't see these as winning arguments to make to concerned parents. To my mind it is therefore hard to convince new parents that there simply is no case for any vaccination, ever, and never will be, end of story, thanks for listening, go and sin no more. Those who want to make the case that smallpox and polio vaccines were worthless need to hold themselves to a higher standard of rigor than just the received wisdom that polio was "reclassified" out of existence or that the determined and well-documented vaccine onslaught on smallpox really had nothing to do with wiping it out. This does not make me pro- (or anti-) vaccine, just someone trying to assess facts objectively.

So on the polio vaccine, as I mentioned in my last column, I would say, yes, it worked. But also that you as a new parent should think about whether your child really needs it in this day and age, and if you are looking to cut back, consider putting your red pencil through that one, at least for now. This is why we have to stick to our journalistic guns -- if we are convinced that the polio vaccine did work, we can't simply say otherwise or keep quiet . But we can still help parents reassess the need for mass polio vaccination in the United States in 2014.

This is where I have put my efforts for more than a decade -- discovering and demonstrating that the bloated and largely untested vaccine program we have today, including ingredients like thimerosal and blunders like combined live virus vaccines at age 1, is the driving force behind the autism epidemic and its many, many attendant health problems. So, it logically follows, at least to me, that anything that dials back on the cumulative hit and the worst and most demonstrably dangerous and useless offenders in the current schedule, and empowers parental concern and choice, including the choice not to vaccinate at all -- as our book does -- furthers our mission.

A widespread revolt against current vaccination policy, including an unchallenged right not to vaccinate at all, and the development of a safer and saner vaccine schedule, is simply a more attainable and sustainable goal (it's already happening!) than a revolt against vaccination as a public health tool under any circumstances, ever, buttressed by claims that vaccines have never, ever worked. Again, there is room for people pushing on all these fronts, and we welcome and work with them as allies.

A final point: Neither in our upcoming book nor anywhere else are we "recommending" vaccines. Parents don't need us to "recommend." They need a context for looking at safer vaccine choices -- including no vaccines -- that only they can make. 

I look forward to continuing the conversation and can't wait for our book to be part of it!

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

Best of AofA: Tics and Toxins Just Before Mystery Illnesses Hit Leroy NY, School Built New Playing Fields

Leroy welcomeNote: Throughout the month we are reprising some of our series. Below is the 3rd part of Dan Olmsted's Tics and Toxins series from 2012, which followed an outbreak of illness among high school aged females in LeRoy, NY.

By Dan Olmsted

LEROY, N.Y., January 30 -- New playing fields, including one for girls' softball, were completed the year before the outbreak of tics and other ailments began afflicting girls at Leroy Junior/Senior High School.

Aerial photographs compiled by the Genesee County assessments office clearly show the construction in progress in 2009, here:

Leroy 2009 AgeofAutism

The 2010 photo shows the completed fields, here:

  Leroy 2010

The smaller field to the immediate left of the school is the girls' softball field, according to a former student at the school. All but one of the students affected so far are girls. There are unconfirmed reports that one boy was also stricken.

School officials said earlier this month that two reports they commissioned of indoor air quality and mold had ruled out any environmental cause. New York Health Department officials concurred and a spokesman told me last week, "The school is safe." Most of the girls were diagnosed at a Buffalo neurological clinic with "conversion disorder," in which psychological stress or trauma is supposedly converted into physical symptoms that clusters of people can display at the same time.

But parents and the girls themselves have rejected that diagnosis, and other theories have been advanced; school officials now say they are ordering another round of tests. I reported last week that the first testing did not include any outside areas of the school grounds, except for reviewing school pesticide logs. Because those logs were in order, environmental factors outside the school building were ruled out. State health officials also say no infectious agent was involved.

But in any investigation of a new illness, the question of what's new in the environment -- from medicines a person is taking, to places they have been, to changes in where and how they live -- needs to be ruled out first.

Building ballfields within the past two years certainly qualifies as new. That could hypothetically create new risks, either from stirring up toxins such as pesticides on the site, or importing materials such as fill or sod that was previously contaminated. New attention has been given to a railroad derailment several miles away in 1970 that spilled both cyanide and TCE, a highly toxic manufacturing agent. Environmental activist Erin Brockovich has suggested that the school site was contaminated by runoff from that incident, or that dirt from that area was used to construct the school in the early 2000s.

Continue reading "Best of AofA: Tics and Toxins Just Before Mystery Illnesses Hit Leroy NY, School Built New Playing Fields" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: The Bullies Within

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Among the too-small group actively working to end the damage caused by the current vaccine schedule, some spend their time trying to make that group smaller still. If you believe, say, that the main task is to get mercury out of the flu shot; or that promoting a more selective schedule could significantly reduce morbidity and mortality; or that preserving choice is the heart of the matter – well, you risk being run out of Autism Town if that doesn't happen to be their agenda du jour.

It’s their way or the highway, preferably underneath a Mack truck -- a Mack truck that backs over you (and your little dog, too) several times.  

I know people who have been slapped down hard by our own side because they said they might consider even one vaccine for their child out of the 16 now recommended by the CDC. One? Heresy! Or because they said that thimerosal in the flu shot is an outrage, but they are not taking a position on vaccines in general – or, God forbid, that they even support them. Smite them with thy staves, ye righteous ones! 

Different approaches and priorities can lead to disagreements within activist communities, and that’s fine. There’s room for that within the broad coalition that believes autism is a man-made, vaccine-driven epidemic, and may the best tactics and strategies prevail. But these people descend like Hitchcock’s screeching birds at the least sign of ideological impurity. This week AOA got an e-mail from someone who likes to call themselves “Censored” because we don’t publish every nasty thing they say – I call that Editing. In fact, I got so tired of them (see why below) that now I won’t print anything they write, which is my prerogative because I'm the Editor and that’s what I do – I Edit. Let them create their own blog and ban me!

Last week when I announced our successful matching fundraising campaign and thanked the community, Censored snickered: “If your community support is as strong as you claim, you'd have no need to censor dissenting views within the community. You'd have the confidence to post them. But it's doubtful AoA can withstand or even survive criticism. So you eliminate it.” And then comes the threat: “That won’t be possible on Amazon.”

Censored Comment

Say what? Well, Mark Blaxill and I have a book coming out next month called Vaccines 2.0 (it went to press Friday – yay!) that is subtitled, “A Careful Parent’s Guide To Making Safe Vaccine Choices For Your Family.” We labored on this for over a year, and we developed our own Reward-Risk Rating for each vaccine; parents can refer to it as they make their own choices – note well, their own choices. And their choice might be not vaccinating at all, an option to which we give considerable and respectful attention. The book opens and closes, in fact, with a father who decided not to vaccinate his daughter.

No matter. Censored is already foaming at the mouth to start trashing our book on Amazon without our hateful censorship – sight unseen, of course. “I hope your safety claims and recommendations are well supported,” they wrote. “It's hard to imagine how any infant vaccine can be justified based on a risk vs. benefit analysis.” So we are on notice that a book that by any reasonable standard is exceptionally hard on vaccines will be under attack from our own side for its ideological impurity. Oh, great.

And, oh, the injustice – we chose not to publish this comment on AOA! I mean, does cluttering up a comment thread with obscure threats regarding a book not yet published that is deeply embedded in the autism activism community further any useful mission? Uh, no. Intent is everything, and over time people reveal what they are really all about. A few months back they sent an e-mail saying we at AOA “promote an agenda that will not end the [autism] epidemic ASAP - but will prolong it. … Hope you can wash off the blood on your hands.”

Perhaps you see why I'd had enough. Blood on our hands? Yikes, that’s what the other side says. Those who choose to harass and insult others within our small, striving community just because they  disagree can go elsewhere and post to their merry little hearts’ content – and they can expect me to call them out for what they are: Bullies.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

AofA Series Tics and Toxins: Leroy School Site has History of Health, Water, Building Woes

Sick-buildingNote: We are running some of our series throughout the month. Here is the second post (Jan 2012) in the Tics and Toxins series by Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill.

By Dan Olmsted

The school where 12 girls developed tics attributed to "conversion disorder" has a history of water and structural problems, and an outbreak of rashes and sores occurred among students playing sports on land where the school is now sitting, according to a student who went there.

 "When we first started we couldn't go to gym class because the floor kept sinking and cracking," said the student, who attended the new LeRoy Junior/Senior High School in 2005, its first year of operation. She was one of several people who described the site as a "swamp." 

One year, students had to start a week late because of flooding inside the building, she said.

Before the current school -- which goes from eighth to twelfth grades -- was built, the site was used for student playing fields; the school itself was at another location. The new building sits directly atop those playing fields.

In the 1970s, students using those fields suffered from open sores that would not heal and rashes, said the former student, whose mother also went there and recalled the incident. The soil was tested, the cause was found, the students were treated and recovered. She did not know what the tests had shown.

This student expressed surprise that two consultant reports commissioned by the district, which found no problems with indoor air quality or toxins in the school building, stated: "No history of building water damage or site contamination was found."

Continue reading "AofA Series Tics and Toxins: Leroy School Site has History of Health, Water, Building Woes" »

Age of Autism Series Tics and Toxins: LeRoy Officials Gave Little Attention to Schoolyard Before Ruling Out Environment

Girl-looking-out-window

Note: Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill collaborated throughout much of 2012 on a series called, "Tics and Toxins," fueled by a mysterious illness that affected high school age girls in upstate New York. 

By Dan Olmsted

Health experts say they’ve eliminated every possible environmental and infectious cause for the “tics” afflicting 12 girls at LeRoy Junior/Senior High School in New York state. They’ve scoured the building for mold and carbon monoxide (nothing, they say), considered illnesses that might cause the symptom (none), even checked on vaccinations (not all girls had the same shot).

However thorough that workup may have been, it seems to have stopped at the schoolhouse Exit sign. Except for checking a log of pesticide spraying, there is no evidence they considered toxins in the schoolyard or on playing fields. Yet the symptoms occurred during mild weather when students would have been outside, and the school grounds are surrounded by intensively farmed land from which chemicals could conceivably have seeped or drifted.

The school is required to keep annual pesticide logs that were reviewed by a consulting firm looking into environmental factors, and therefore pesticides were ruled out. As best I can determine, that’s as far as it went.

That may not be far enough, given that parents and some of the students involved don’t accept the psychogenic diagnosis they have been given, and that a number of Web commentators familiar with the school have raised concerns about the grounds and how the relatively new building is sited.

Public health officials remain adamant that the case is closed.

"The LeRoy school is safe,” Jeffrey Hammond, a spokesman for the state Department of Health, replied Friday after I raised the issue in a telephone call. “The environment or an infection is not the cause of the students’ tics. There are many causes of tics-like symptoms. Stress can often worsen tic-like symptoms.

“All of the affected students have been evaluated and some have shown signs of improvement. Vaccines (Gardasil) have been ruled out."

While the department has been careful for privacy reasons to avoid naming the illness, a doctor treating the girls has now gone public, with their permission, by calling it “conversion disorder.” Known less gingerly as mass hysteria, the diagnosis is rooted in 19th century Freudian psychology: Stress or trauma is subconsciously transformed into physical symptoms that can occur in several people at the same time. 

In part because the LeRoy diagnosis took months to emerge, and in part because many people – including parents and affected children – find conversion disorder a suspect explanation, multiple theories continue to arise. Those include concerns about the school building and grounds, expressed in online comments:

-- An environmental study “would be the first logical step, knowing that the school was built in a swamp and that a number of classrooms were underwater the first year as well as the gym you would think it would be the first thing the school would address- even if only to disprove it.”

Continue reading "Age of Autism Series Tics and Toxins: LeRoy Officials Gave Little Attention to Schoolyard Before Ruling Out Environment" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Over the Top

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted Thank you type

I'm so happy to report on this Thanksgiving Weekend that we have met and exceeded the $5,000 matching amount pledged by our Anonymous Donor.

Since last week, dozens of readers contributed a total $6,750 to our fund drive, bringing the total to $11,750, which we will put to good use going into the New Year.

Believe me, we all recognized that autism families have plenty of demands on their money, and we are grateful, and frankly amazed, that so many were willing to put so much toward our efforts. It makes us feel like the community has our backs.

We promise not to hit you up again for quite a while -- except for this parting word: We are now tax deductible, so anything given by the end of the year will partly repay you by April.

Again, so many thanks to all our readers for keeping us going strong into our eighth year. 

--

 Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

Age of Autism Age of Authors

Vaccines 2.0Managing Editors Note:  I've heard of some very popular boy band called "One Direction." I couldn't  hum a single bar of their music. No idea what they look like. But I like their name because it reminds me of the Age of Autism team. We move in ONE DIRECTION. Forward. While many around us dwell in negatives, in the past, in what's "wrong" with our community and pontificate on and write some seriously nasty gaaaaah-bage as my Mom would say in Boston, our team has been "busy, busy, busy" writing books.  Actual books that can never be rescinded, removed or retracted. Old school. BOOKS. The volume of volumes is dare I say? Voluminous!  (Humor me, it's the end of a long weekend.....) 

Special congrats to our Editor Dan Olmsted and Editor at Large Mark Blaxill on the February debut of Vaccines 2.0: The Careful Parents' Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family. 

We hope that you will buy one or two, perhaps more, of these books. Yes, money is tight. But I can promise you that each and every book will help you as you work with your  loved ones with autism, as you discuss the needs of our community with medical providers and politicians and will give you hope that we will all move in ONE DIRECTION. Forward. Like a train.

Vaccines 2.0: by Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted The Careful Parent's Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family


Plague by Kent Heckenlively and Dr. Judy Mikovits - One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases

The Big Autism Cover Up by Anne Dachel -  How and Why the Media Is Lying to the American Public

Vaccine Injuries by Louis Conte and Tony Lyons - Reveals the truth behind the controversial issue of vaccine-related injuries.

The Autism War - a Novel by Louis Conte - Tony Colletti, a good suburban cop and father of a child with autism, finds himself drawn into the controversy over the apparent but rarely acknowledged connection between childhood vaccines and autism. His quest to uncover the truth forces him to risk all he holds dear while confronting corrupt government officials, the powerful pharmaceutical industry, and disturbing elements of his own past.

The Vaccine Court by Wayne Rohde - The Dark Truth of America's Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

Finding Lina by Helena Hjalmarsson - A Mother's Journey from Autism to Hope

Saving Ben: by Dan Burns A Father's Story of Autism

The Thinking Moms'  Revolution - Autism beyond the Spectrum: Inspiring True Stories from Parents Fighting to Rescue Their Children

 Compiled by Helen Conroy, Helen Conroy, Lisa Joyce Goes
Foreword by Robert W. Sears
Compiled by Lisa Joyce Goes
Foreword by Robert W. Sears
 
All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa by Kim Stagliano

Callous Disregard  by Dr. Andrew Wakefield - Autism and Vaccines--The Truth Behind a Tragedy

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Fund Drive Update, and Autism Vs. Alopecia

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

We can’t offer you a very special concert with Yanni, or every episode of Upstairs Downstairs on DVD. All we can promise is that, with your help, we’ll keep doing what we’re doing.

Boring, I know. But that’s what our current fund drive is all about. Last year we were approached by an Anonymous Donor, as this person wished to be known – who put up $3,000 as a matching donation. A.D. said they would give us up to that amount, but only if our readers matched it – which you did, and more. This year the same A.D. approached us again – which we were hoping they would, but were taught by our mother to be too mannerly to ask – and this time A.D. is offering an amazingly generous $5,000 match through Sunday, Thanksgiving Weekend.

That’s wonderful, but it also boosts the amount we need to raise or risk leaving money on the table Donate button that, combined with your donations, will go a long way for our humble blog.

Halfway through, we’re halfway to our goal – $2,880 as of last night. This is terrific, thanks to so many of you, and we really think we can get all the way there if people realize the power of doubled donations of whatever amount. And this year for the first time, we’re tax deductible, something we’re doing in large part to make gifts like yours (and A.D.’s) as easy as possible to make. (You should see the form the IRS wants! And I just got one from the Commonwealth of Virginia Friday “to determine liability for state unemployment tax.” Yikes.)

So, in short, if you were to send us $25 via the Donate button by next Sunday, it would be the same as sending $50, and it’s deductible. What is not to like? (If you want to send a check, feel free – e-mail me for the address at Olmsted.dan@gmail.com)

All of us who converge here have different likes, dislikes, and lots in life, but we are joined by a powerful sense of outrage over what is happening to kids and a strong belief that it needs to be addressed, now. Activism, politics, legal action, journalism – we’re all in it together with our own particular gifts and passions.

So: Help us keep going so we can all help end the age of autism. And know how grateful we are for all your contributions.

--

When Mike Nichols died Thursday, I noticed that he was born in 1931, the same year that autism began (in the person of Vivian Murdock, oldest child in Leo Kanner’s case series from 1943, whom Teresa Conrick, Mark Blaxill and I first identified on AOA – an example, come to think of it, of what financial support helps accomplish).

When I learn about other people born then, it reminds me how recent autism is – within the span of one lifetime, this catastrophe has descended upon us. The reason, we believe, is the first use of ethylmercury in commercial compounds starting then, including in vaccines as thimerosal.

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Fund Drive Update, and Autism Vs. Alopecia" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Happy Anniversary to Us!

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted Happy anniversary

Our humble blog reached the seven-year milestone this week. During that time, we’ve had well over 15 million hits on close to 7,000 posts; our readers have left 110,000 comments.

When we started – merging with Generation Rescue’s Rescue Post – we hoped but weren’t sure that this was the future of daily newspapers in general and investigative reporting about autism in particular. Events have borne that out – even though I came up through “print” and love holding real newspapers and books in my hands, I now get most of my news online. On Thursday the Post and Times came to the door as usual, but besides bringing them inside and saving the plastic wrappers for the next dog walk, all I did was check to see if the interview with Kim on Seinfeld was in the printed edition as well as online (it wasn’t, but it didn’t matter since it had already spread around the world).

I can’t remember using or even knowing about Facebook seven years ago, or Tweeting, and such. We now have a Facebook page and plenty of tweeters, or twitterers, or however you say it. And while more blogs have arrived and joined the fray, we seem to have staked out our patch of turf and, I hope, used it to tell the truth as we see it.

That truth, as you know, is that autism is the defining disorder of our age, man-made and thus treatable and preventable. It is “made,” largely, by a reckless and bloated vaccine schedule that has long since passed the risk-reward point, wherever  that might be, and is wreaking all kinds of havoc. So the epidemic is real, the causes are clear, the remedy we embrace is investigating and telling the truth and bringing like-minded people to a common platform.

Of course, we’ve had our stumbles and tumbles. We make no apologies for declining to run material that doesn’t meet our standards or divides our community, or for moderating comments, making this a safe and civil space for people – often parents living with the eyewitness truth – who are ridiculed elsewhere.

I never would have guessed seven years ago that as a result of this I’d have co-written two books (Vaccines 2.0 will be out early next year, again with Mark Blaxill) or had the pleasure of seeing our own Anne Dachel (The Big Autism Cover-up) and Kent Heckenlively (Plague) and Kim Stagliano (All I Can Handle, I’m No Mother Teresa) and Cat Jameson and Lisa Goes (Thinking Moms Revolution) publish books, along with close allies like Lou Conte and Wayne Rohde. I’d never have imagined Sharyl Attkission leaving CBS and launching some of the same broadsides in her book (Stonewalled) that we’ve been hurling – the old mainstream media is dying, it’s a mediocre shell of its former self, it is enabling catastrophes like the autism epidemic and the Iraq war by failing in its first duty, to hold government and other powers-that-be to account.

Nor did I envision the Canary Party or HealthChoice arising in tandem with our efforts. We are, first of all, journalists, and our advocacy results from what we have discovered ourselves, not because anyone told us what to say or think.  

As journalists like Glenn Greenwald and whistleblowers like Edward Snowden have helped demonstrate, our government has operated with a sense of secrecy and superiority for far too long, unchecked by good traditional journalism.  If the NSA and CIA can spy on its own citizens, the FDA and CDC should not be considered above reproach, either. The mess the CDC first made of Ebola was a wake-up call for some who consider it sacrosanct, and the appearance of whistleblowers at the CDC and Merck show where things are headed.

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Happy Anniversary to Us!" »

Holiday Book List from A "ho ho ho ho" of A

Never-enough-booksKent Heckenlively, Anne Dachel , Louis Conte and Wayne Rohde have been as busy as Santa's elves in 2014 writing and editing their books. It's no easy feat to publish a book. A special thank you to Tony Lyons of Skyhorse Publishing who took a risk on a kooky woman (Kim here) with three daughters with autism and published her pink book. And who from there built the very best, most informative and innfluential catalog of titles about autism.   Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted have another book coming out as well. Stay tuned.

Whether you've been naughty or nice, hang a stocking, spin a dreidel or celebrate Festivus (since we have Seinfeld on our minds), we can all welcome the New Year with a stack of books. 

Plague by Kent Heckenlively - One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases

The Big Autism Cover Up by Anne Dachel -  How and Why the Media Is Lying to the American Public

The Autism War - a Novel by Louis Conte - Tony Colletti, a good suburban cop and father of a child with autism, finds himself drawn into the controversy over the apparent but rarely acknowledged connection between childhood vaccines and autism. His quest to uncover the truth forces him to risk all he holds dear while confronting corrupt government officials, the powerful pharmaceutical industry, and disturbing elements of his own past.

The Vaccine Court by Wayne Rohde - The Dark Truth of America's Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

Finding Lina by Helena Hjalmarsson - A Mother's Journey from Autism to Hope

The Thinking Moms'  Revolution - Autism beyond the Spectrum: Inspiring True Stories from Parents Fighting to Rescue Their Children

 Compiled by Helen Conroy, Helen Conroy, Lisa Joyce Goes
Foreword by Robert W. Sears
Compiled by Lisa Joyce Goes
Foreword by Robert W. Sears
 
All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa by Kim Stagliano

Callous Disregard  by Dr. Andrew Wakefield - Autism and Vaccines--The Truth Behind a Tragedy

Weekly Wrap: Sharyl Attkisson Gets it Right

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

I know our readers appreciate Sharyl Attkisson and her willingness to take on vaccines and autism in a fair-minded way, but her new book Stonewalled really puts her at the center of a broad revival of fearless investigative reporting. It is the opposite of the “access journalism” that has plagued Washington for far too long. The New York Times-sponsored war in Iraq (aided by Judith Miller’s cozy lunches with Cheney aide Scooter Libby) and the media-wide cheerleading for the idea that vaccines don’t cause autism (because their pals at the CDC tell them so) are cases in point. Sadly, it is no exaggeration to say that lazy, credulous, cozy-up journalism has helped lead this country into the two worst international and domestic disasters of our time. 

StonewalledOtherwise, the media is doing just fine in their role as “watchdogs of democracy” (the ironic title of a book by another great Washington reporter, Helen Thomas).

I thought about this as I took Uber – a disruptive innovation that I’d never heard of just a few months ago and now means I will never call a taxi again -- from my home in Falls Church, Virginia, into what we locals call "the district" on Thursday night. As we crossed the Roosevelt Bridge, the Lincoln Memorial was lit up on the right and the Kennedy Center and Watergate on the left, with Arlington Cemetery and the Potomac River receding in the rear window. For once I wasn’t driving and trying to figure out the next turn, so I settled back. It is an awe-inspiring vista if you let it be – the greatness and majesty of the American Experiment spread out before you, with Watergate thrown in to remind us that the press keeps the government honest -- and tonight I was letting it be, the way I had 32 years ago when I came here as a wide-eyed member of the startup crew for USA Today. (These days, I’m one of those jaded residents who like to tell visitors that the rococo multi-tiered Watergate looks like a wedding cake, and the bland, rectangular Kennedy Center like the box it came in.)

The book party was in Georgetown, the center of the permanent establishment in Washington. This Sharyl Dan is where so many of the government and media bigwigs live – Bob Woodward, and Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee before their deaths, and John Kennedy up to the morning he became president. Its charm is undercut these days for the people who actually live there by the Georgetown students who roam the streets after the rowdy bars let out, and by the lack of a metro stop which makes traffic and parking impossible (hence my Uber ride). But its iconic role is intact -- the last scene in All the President’s Men is Woodward and Bernstein standing with Ben Bradlee in his pajamas and robe on his front lawn in the middle of the night, conveying the full scope of the Watergate scandal and warning him that his own house might be bugged.

The car deposited me at a magnificent mansion on a quiet side street, one I suspect would have made Ben's eyes pop and Kay Graham wonder where she went wrong. This place, I knew from a little research after I got the invitation, was most definitely not Sharyl’s; the owners had paid in the upper seven figures (as Realtors here like to say) for it a decade ago, and, at unfathomable further expense, transformed its interior into an “oasis of Zen tranquility” in white, according to a design magazine spread, complete with priceless Asian artwork and statuary. (I also had borrowed a friend’s house for our book party four years ago, though on a somewhat smaller scale.)

There was a young woman just inside the door holding up a copy of Sharyl’s book, although whether that was an invitation to buy it or just a sign that we had wandered into the right mansion was unclear to me. Beyond her, a couple of hundred loudly energetic people were milling about the gorgeous rooms and, I feared, tracking mud from the recent rain onto the (white) carpets. Sharyl was surrounded, so I got a drink and a plateful of A-list food (“journalists love free food” is a truism that has fueled many a successful media event), and moved to a corner of the dining room next to a nearly full-size Buddhist statue to eat in tranquility. 

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Sharyl Attkisson Gets it Right" »

Midweek Mashup: Autism Research Suppression

Midweek mashupBy Dan Olmsted

The field of autism research looks just about the way you would expect it to look if the nature of the condition –inflammation and immune stimulation in utero and in infancy – were inescapably clear, yet the biggest and most obvious contributor – vaccines in utero and in infancy that cause inflammation and autoimmunity – were suppressed by mainstream media, medicine and scientific research.

If that were the case, we'd hear about every other possible source of inflammation and autoimmunity in utero and infancy popping up in their tedious turn -- traffic pollution and air pollution and power plant emissions as culprits, and pesticides and sudden unexplained surges in head size, and kids with all the signs of encephalitis (brain swelling) after well-baby visits (note, well babies), and we'd get too much white matter (autoimmunity) making for generalized inability of parts of the brain to connect, even as some parts function at savant levels; and we'd get typical facial features and normal intellectual development because the triggers all came along not in the genes but after the genes had expressed themselves and assembled the architecture and wiring for the last and most innately human functions – language, affective contact, a zest for novelty, not repetition – to come on line. But they wouldn't, for some mysterious reason.

We'd hear things that point to exactly what is happening and where it is happening – in the doctor’s office, the health clinic, the grocery store “health” center – but because of what and where it is happening and whose job it is to figure it out – the bureaucrats who approve and recommend the shots – we'd be having the ridiculous conversation we are in fact having about traffic pollution, which has only gotten better, not worse, and methyl but not ethyl mercury (ditto) and lead (double ditto).

We'd hear about “exciting” gene discoveries that in some unfathomably complexificated way must grab onto the 80,000 other environmental factors through some Rube Goldberg contraptions that are no doubt the next “frontier” at Autism Speaks, even as the daughter of the founder is begging them to look her child in the eyes and publicly acknowledge the truth.

We'd witness an outpouring of parents and families and (increasingly) doctors and researchers who have seen the truth, and seen it again, and again, and again, armed with hashtags and transcripts and room numbers for Congresspersons, and the evidence of their eyes and their children’s lives, stepping beyond their individual catastrophes in a messy but massive advance.

We'd see the truth leaking out of vaccine court rulings and fishy legal language and we'd detect it in the shrill dismissals of “skeptics” whose business is to take down the reputations of anyone who even gets close to speaking the truth.

We'd see the dawning realization among the supposed cognoscenti that the disease fighters don’t have the sense to stay off the subway and away from commercial flights and bowling alleys and panini shops in Princeton for 21 days because they believe their work in other countries – other countries, not here, where we could use some common sense and common decency -- places them in a special category where the only harm they can imagine is harm done to their own schedules and convenience. That’s the modern medical mantra -- Do no harm – to me!

We'd see all that, and we'd say, the doubt and anger are just about everywhere now. If we wanted to be nasty we could call it a virus and say it's endemic, which is the epidemiological version of "too late." It got loose while the experts were trying to appear above it all and stamp out chicken pox and hep B in newborns, and it’s infecting the institutions dedicated to holding it back. How it all goes down from here is just guesswork, but one thing for sure is that there's no vaccine to stop it.

That’s how the field of autism research would look right now if the only suspect remaining in the lineup were the truth. And that, in fact, is how it looks to me.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

Weekly Wrap: Renaming Autism Won’t Work Forever

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

As the walls close in on the bogus claim that vaccines don’t cause autism, the latest trick of the vaccine injury deniers seems to be calling it something else.

So we’ve got idiopathic autism (meaning cause unknown). Secondary autism (meaning triggered by some acceptable environmental factor, like valproic acid, in the womb). Regressive autism (like, we just didn’t notice it before). Autistic-like features due to some genetic vulnerability merely triggered by vaccination (like, mito disorder). And even vaccination that results in autism but doesn’t cause it.

And now comes “isolated” autism. This charming term popped up in the William Thompson whistleblower investigation. One of the stated purposes of the 2004 study he has renounced was to look for “isolated” autism as a risk of earlier MMR administration – “isolated” being a subset defined by the paper’s authors as “those with autism and without comorbid developmental disabilities.”

According to the powerful fraud complaint filed this week with the HHS Office of Research Integrity, the research did in fact turn up a link with “isolated” autism, just as it did with black males, but both findings were suppressed.

Reading the description of “isolated” autism brought to mind those hoary days of yore, lo a decade ago now, when I looked into the rate of autism among ye olde Amish. Much time and effort has gone into debunking my humble anecdotal observation – which was, and is, that in this group with a documented lower vaccination rate, there appeared to be less autism.

One of the debunkers, Autism News Beat, no friend of this site, did me an accidental favor. Mr. News Beat reported that Dr. Kevin Strauss, a pediatrician at the Clinic For Special Children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, told him “the idea that the Amish do not vaccinate their children is untrue,” something I never claimed anyway.

Then came the beauty part: “Strauss said the clinic treats ‘syndromic autism,’ where autism is part of a more complicated clinical spectrum that can include mental retardation, chromosomal abnormalities, unusual facial features, and short stature, as well as Fragile X syndrome. ‘We see quite a few Amish children with Fragile X,’ he said.

“Strauss said he doesn’t see ‘idiopathic autism’ at the clinic, which he defines as children with average or above average IQs who display autistic behavior. ‘My personal experience is we don’t see a lot of Amish children with idiopathic autism,’ Strauss said. ‘It doesn’t mean they don’t exist, only that we aren’t seeing them at the clinic.’”

In other words, all those Amish kids whose autism can’t be explained as part of a genetic spectrum present from birth – where the hell are they? They sure aren’t hard to find in the rest of the country.

Idiopathic autism. Isolated autism. Same difference. That’s because there’s a low rate of autism in otherwise typical children who are not inflicted with the CDC’s bloated infant vaccine schedule. There’s a high rate of autism in previously typical children who are.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Renaming Autism Won’t Work Forever" »

Weekly Wrap: Epidemics, Fast and Slow

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

We knew this was coming: “Imagine cities, countries, and entire continents ravaged by Ebola-like outbreaks, with millions dying in the streets from crippling, incurable, and fatal diseases,” someone named Eliyahu Federman writes over at Fox News. “That is what the world looked like before the middle of the last century - before the widespread use and development of vaccines that eradicated these diseases.”

And of course the return of this pestilence is all on Jenny McCarthy: “Celebrities like Jenny McCarthy are scaring parents out of vaccinating their children, spreading misinformation and promoting conspiracy theories, such as the long-disproved claim that vaccines cause autism.”

Conflating death in the streets with reasonable concern that vaccines cause autism is really pushing Ebola NY Postit, wouldn’t you say? The fact is that an effective response to a rapidly spreading epidemic – Ebola in Africa – is completely consistent with taking action to end a slower but no less damaging one in America – autism and other disorders caused by the bloated and out-of-control CDC childhood immunization schedule.

And isn’t it interesting how the CDC has ended up on the wrong side of both? Its stewardship of the response to the arrival of Ebola on our shores has been so messed up that President Obama just appointed a lawyer – a lawyer, not a doctor! – to run things from here on. As far as I can tell he has zero background in public health whatsoever. What a relief.

I thought only medical professionals were qualified to make decisions about such things as disease control and prevention. But maybe not – maybe they let infectious people on planes, don’t provide effective protection to the help (aka nurses), don’t “scramble the jets” when they really do need scrambling (Ebola), and do scramble them when they don’t (chickenpox, influenza, rotavirus, etc).

Rather than demonstrating the bankruptcy of concern over vaccination policies, Ebola points to the bungling of the people who are in charge of those policies.

Now, whether a vaccine for Ebola would be a good thing or not, the fact is there is't one. What we’re seeing at the moment is the importance (and, unfortunately, the failure) of common sense public health measures – quarantining the infected, getting basic sanitation and safe water and health infrastructures into the developing world, and finding not just preventives, but treatment. Using the blood of people who’ve survived Ebola to treat people fighting infection is an old idea – the diphtheria toxin-antitoxin was derived from the blood of infected horses. But it works!

Taking advantage of Ebola to claim once again that vaccines don't cause autism – when the fact is, vaccines do cause autism – is really quite unpleasant, not to mention irrelevant. We have to retain the ability to prevent and respond to urgent outbreaks like Ebola along with the slower-moving kind. It’s taken 25 years of a bloated and corrupt vaccine policy, but half the kids in this country now suffer from some kind of neurodevelopmental or chronic condition.

That’s what's killing us, not Ebola.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Autism Speaks Says To Get the MMR and Prevent Autism!

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted Autism speaks backward

For sheer spectacle, it’s hard to top – and maybe a little hard to watch – Autism Speaks flip, flop and flounder in the perilous sea of autism causation.

But now they’ve really cast their lot with the vaccine injury deniers. I don’t see much more wiggle room. On Thursday, Ronan Farrow on MSNBC did an interview that managed to mangle just about every fact surround the William Thompson whistleblower controversy. He began by announcing that some are calling this Vaccine Injury Awareness Month.

Farrow attributed this to the “anti-vaccine” movement and said one of the most common alleged vaccine injuries on this group’s list was autism. “The problem,” he said, “is there’s zero evidence of such a link. The Centers for Disease Control, reviewing existing literature, concluding there’s not a causal relationship between certain vaccine types and autism.” No mention of the inherent conflict that the CDC promotes vaccination.

“Where does the autism conspiracy theory come from?” Farrow asks. “Well, a study published in 2004 found a potential link between vaccines and autism in African-American boys. But this past August, two of the authors did a re-analysis of the data and concluded that their earlier analysis was faulty, apologizing for omitting key information.”

Say what now? This is pretty close to gibberish.

“The report has since been removed from the public domain. So what is fact and what is fiction?”

Enter AS. “So joining me now is Paul Wang,” senior vice president and director of medical research for Autism Speaks. “Clarity is the most important thing here,” Farrow says, having already muddled things irretrievably. “So first of all walk me through what happens with this mysterious study. It seems to have proven back in 2004 that there was a link, but there are problems.”

What now, again?

Wang says: “It’s a very interesting study. If you look back at the original study from 2004, it did say -- there was no cover-up – it did say there seemed to be a higher risk for autism among children who got the MMR vaccine before three years of age. The part that nobody’s talking about if you looked in that study, children who got the MMR on time, which is before 18 months, there is no increased risk. So it actually looked like the increased risk was in people who were getting it late. There’s no cover-up there, that’s in the original study.

“Even this new analysis, which has since been retracted, doesn’t challenge that. People who got it on time have no increased risk for autism.”

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Autism Speaks Says To Get the MMR and Prevent Autism!" »

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