Dan Olmsted Feed

Best of: Dan Olmsted on Ian "Check my Buttocks for Lesions" Lipkin

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaNote: We miss Dan's voice every single day at AofA. Here is a post he wrote about Columbia Professor, autism/vaccine "debunker" and icky bottomed Ian Lipkin in April, 2016.

By Dan Olmsted

A while back -- on September 4, 2008, in fact -- I wrote a post titled "Letting the MMR Off the Hook" that began: "The last time I saw Ian Lipkin was at the IOM Environment-and-Autism workshop last year. He was spending a lllloooottttttt of time describing some gizmotron that could do something or other to analyze some stuff that might hold clues to autism." I never published it. I'm not sure why, but I did make a note to myself that I was being "deliberately provocative," so perhaps I decided to hold off.

That, anyway, was my impression of Dr. Lipkin, and the bzzz-bzzzt-bzzzt at the meeting was that Lipkin, a professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health -- it takes half an hour just to say the title! -- was hogging the microphone to promote, as I put it, some gizmotron, complete with a slide presentation. For all the world he looked like a salesman raising money for his lab, which sources report that in private conversations seems to be what he cares about.

I went back and found that column this week after picking up my Wall Street Journal on Monday at Starbucks and nearly spitting up my Venti Hazelnut Pike when I got to the Op-Ed page and found, by W. Ian Lipkin, "Anti-Vaccination Lunacy Won't Stop." The professor wants you to know that he was a major player in getting Robert De Niro to pull the plug on Vaxxed at the Tribeca Film Festival.

"I am among those Mr. De Niro consulted. In a 45-minute conversation with him, I recommended that the festival withdraw the film from the 'documentary' category and not screen it." 

Why not just title the column "I, Ian"? 45 minutes with a big star! And a star so famously inarticulate that a glossy magazine once titled its interview with him "Fifteen Mumbling Minutes With Robert Di Niro." I am guessing, but I bet Rankin spent a llllloooottttt of time talking. 

In the WSJ article, Lipkin also manages to call attention to a study he and colleagues did in September 2008 (hence the column I was writing back then), which supposedly absolved the MMR of any involvement with autism. "We tested Mr. Wakefield's two major findings. ... In our peer-reviewed study ... we found that only 20 percent of children fit the Wakefield model in receiving MMR vaccine before onset of GI disturbance and autism."

This study caused a lot of consternation at the time, not least because another author of the study, Mady Hornig, made extravagant claims about those findings and also because Hornig had long seemed sympathetic to vaccine safety concerns around not just the MMR but thimerosal. She authored the famous mouse study that showed auto-immune-susceptible mice given thimerosal chewing on each other and otherwise behaving like out-of-control autistic mice might be expected to behave.

I included her in that 2008 column, too, noting:  "The last time I saw Mady Hornig she was giving me a llllooonnngggg disquisition on exactly how the measles virus could mess up kids in a way that, I swear I'm remembering this correctly, leads to autism."

And I still remember it. She was telling me how the MMR could cause autism! She was doing vaccine lunacy! We were sitting in a round glass restaurant on top of a hotel in Crystal City, Virginia, talking above karaoke, one tune being "Brown-Eyed Girl" (How's that for recall!). There was a terrible storm that I decided to leave in the middle of, and ended up at a close-by friends' house waiting it out. I, Dan Olmsted, am a trained observer. I remember these things. (And here's a what-the-heck: Back in 2005, after the Times ran its infamous Parents-vs-Science takedown of the vaccine-autism concerns, Hornig and Lipkin were among those paying a visit to the public editor to complain. Who looks a little looney now?)

So when the MMR study came out and Hornig was fronting for it, I got the feeling it was a ticket back to respectable mainstream scientism. Mark Blaxill and I addressed it in our book, The Age of Autism, in 2010.

--

“The Hornig study was by all accounts carefully done and the reported results valid. In the press release announcing the publication, however, Hornig went further, claiming, “The work reported here eliminates the remaining support for the hypothesis that autism with GI complaints is related to MMR vaccine exposure. We found no relationship between the timing of MMR vaccine and the onset of either GI complaints or autism.” In our view, this claim was an exaggeration. In her study, only five of the twenty-five children developed these symptoms after the MMR vaccine and therefore, only these five were comparable to the 2002 Wakefield study. In contrast to her public statement, her new study effectively confirmed that results from an earlier study from the laboratory of Professor John O’Leary were correct, and identical to the results obtained by the participating laboratories, which included Wakefield’s original collaborator, as well as the CDC and Columbia lab. Far from repudiating Wakefield’s findings, it provided support for the reliability of the original analysis.”

--

As I look back at my e-mail traffic from the time, this observation was a pretty civil distillation of what most people in the vaccine safety community considered a stab in the back. The operative phrase was "selling out." 

"Just thinking out loud," one e-mailer said. "It’s a big claim to make for a little study. The evidence is what it is. But Hornig makes a grandiose claim. It’s kind of embarrassing, like the way she overstated her mouse findings (one mice ate through the 'scalp' not, as Mady said in talks, the 'skull' of its cage mate). Mady is a good scientist and does thorough work and we should respect it. But she’s way out of her depth as a big picture interpreter."

Right on cue, the Forbes headline read: "U.S. study claims to clear MMR vaccine of autism link."

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Dan Olmsted: Columbo, Hero, Friend

Dan Obit HeadshotBy Teresa Conrick

Dear Dan,  

I miss you.

Dan Olmsted was a hero to me and so many others who have children and young adults diagnosed as, "AUTISTIC."  His Columbo investigations about the FIRST CASES of Autism, convinced me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there was an epicenter to Autism and exposure to certain toxins -- Mercury and Vaccines -- seemed to be a huge trigger to increasing numbers of children being diagnosed. The search for cause and then treatments became a passion of mine, as well.  Dan's support and frequent emails helped me through many a rough day, as well as his encouraging me to keep on investigating how Megan, and so many others who regressed into Autism, became so ill.  Dan told me how much he was learning about the MICROBIOME from all of the articles I had posted over these past years on Age of Autism and told me -- "keep going as nobody is tying it together like you." He cut out an article from the NYT when they were finally mentioning "viral and bacterial issues of the gut" and gave it to me one night at dinner.  I have it on my fridge always as a pledge of not giving up on the research (or Megan and so many others!) and also of how motivating an influence Dan was in my life.  I could not attend Dan's Memorial today in Virginia but wanted to share how fortunate I was to know Dan and be involved in the investigations regarding the Age of Autism:

It was a very warm, September night in 2008, when I first met with Dan Olmsted. I had first seen Dan in a large auditorium at an autism conference a few years earlier. He had been up on the stage in a plaid shirt, talking about mercury, seeds, and Ceresan. With glasses and a laid back way about him, he seemed like Richard Dreyfuss as Hooper in Jaws, ready, willing, and able to take on Autism's menacing monster -- MERCURY.

I didn't understand why this "lumberjack guy" was talking to all of us parents about trees, Lignasan, and ethylmercury. My daughter became sickly and regressed in skills after vaccines -- many with the vaccine mercury called thimerosal. Bacterial and viral infections were then to be constant unwanted parasites in her life as her immune system took a direct hit. Meg was diagnosed with autism shortly after and just recently has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. Dan seemed to me to be on the wrong trail. It took me a while to connect the research and see that these clues Dan, along with Mark Blaxill, had been discussing and writing about for quite some time were the first "puzzle" pieces to Autism.

I shared Dan and Mark's passion about the origin of AUTISM.  MERCURY, both environmentally and in pharmaceuticals, like VACCINES, has been, and continues to be a significant culprit in the damage being seen in both the BRAIN and the MICROBIOME

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First Peer-Reviewed Study of Vaccinated versus Unvaccinated Children (Censored by an International Scientific Journal) Now Public

Breaking newsBy Kevin Barry

Today, a groundbreaking new study of the overall health of vaccinated and unvaccinated children has been released to the public for the first time. The critically important new pilot study has been posted on line.

The paper was leaked to journalist and author James Grundvig, who published an article describing aspects of the study on Medium on February 22, 2017.  Grundvig describes how the paper was leaked to him (and others?), and he describes how he authenticated it with the study’s author and with the journal which censored it.

I will list a few of the many reasons why this paper is critically important at this time.

1. The #RFKcommission.

This study provides numerous clues for potential future research. It may help serve as a blueprint for the RFK Commission in the United States and for other countries.

  1. President Trump

    President Trump is the first President to show any interest at all in vaccine safety. This study reaffirms that President Trump’s concerns about vaccine safety are legitimate, and may help him stand firm in forming the #RFKcommission.

    3. Existing vaccine rights are under attack in 30 states.

    Vaccine exemption attacks and vaccine mandate increases in 30 state capitals in 2017.
    Parent advocates nationwide can add the findings of this study to their arsenal when protecting their and their children’s existing rights from the trillion dollar Pharmaceutical industry in state capitals.

    4. Informed consent

    The international bioethics standard for preventative medical is informed consent. Comparing total health outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations are an important piece of information to weigh when considering consent.
  1. Censorship or self-censorship?

    Is submitting papers dealing with vaccine safety to the “peer review” process of scientific journals, after years of rejection, a form of self-censorship?

    The paper released today was scheduled to be published in November 2016. Had it been published in the journal it would have been “peer reviewed”.

    Speaking for the 7,484,325,473 billion people on the planet who were NOT peer reviewers of this paper, it’s absurd that this paper is legitimate if the 3 reviewers bosses don’t get spooked, and not legitimate if they do get spooked. I hope the 3 peer reviewers - Amit, Kelly and Linda - would agree that their bosses shouldn’t block important information from the other 7 billion of us.

---

I’ve read numerous beautiful tributes to brilliant, wonderful and fearless Dan Olmsted on Age of Autism over the past month. I’m not nearly as talented a writer as those who have honored Dan on these pages. I didn’t know how I could help honor him … until now. Dan tried for more than a decade to get a vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study done, and he pioneered the concept with his series on the Amish.

Please help guide us Dan, and thank you for your dedication to all of our children.
First Freedoms LogoFirst Study of Vaccinated versus Unvaccinated Children - Censored by an International Scientific Journal - Now Public Vaccination and Health Outcomes: A Survey of 6- to 12-year-old Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Children based on Mothers’ Reports, was censored by the journal Frontiers in Public Health.

Key Study Findings

Background: The long-term health outcomes of the routine vaccination program remain unknown. Studies have been recommended by the Institute of Medicine to address this question.

Specific Aims: To compare vaccinated and unvaccinated children on a broad range of health outcomes, and to determine whether an association found between vaccination and neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD), if any, remained significant after adjustment for other measured factors.

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Best of Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: An Absolutely Shocking Statistic From England

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaNote: Dan wrote this piece last May about the wringing of hands of childrens' diminution of skills in the UK, and here in America.

By Dan Olmsted

I met a friend for lunch this week. He was fresh off the plane from London as part of a multi-country jaunt, and he had the baggy eyes to prove it. The first thing he did was pull out Monday’s Daily Telegraph and point to an article on page 12: “Primary pupils who can swipe but not speak.”

The article began: “Parents’ immersion in smartphones has left thousands of children starting primary school unable to hold conversations, teachers say.

“Around one in three children starting school is not ready for the classroom with many lacking social skills, suffering speech problems or not toilet trained, a survey of senior primary school staff showed.”

The litany included “more and more children entering our early years stage with delayed speech” and “levels of reading, writing and numeracy lower than they should be.”

The rest of the article basically blamed the parents and their failure to keep children from coming into contact with the world we live in, which is deemed self-evidently noxious and destructive – too many smartphones, too little parent-child interaction.

Before tackling that bogus argument, let’s just acknowledge the facts in evidence here. A third of pre-school kids in England today have some version of issues that echo autism – speech problems, lack of social skills and toileting problems. My friend, much more knowledgeable about autistic children than I am, said the latter probably reflected sensory issues and GI problems (as well as general delay, I’d suggest).

I don’t care what this is called – autism-like traits, or school-readiness deficit syndrome in a third of children, not otherwise seen before (SRDSIATOFC-NOSB), or whatever. It’s the kind of thing we’ve been talking about for years, a generation and now more damaged by something new and terrifying, and at least in England, it’s indisputable. I asked my friend what he thought was going on, and he said some combination of vaccines and other medical mayhem, pesticides, and god knows what else (the Environmental Working Group's study of all the evil crap found in mothers' umbilical cords is passing through the back of my brain). Unless you want to argue that the ability of one-third of children to make their way in life from the very start is just good old genes doing their work of making our species less able to thrive in a hostile world, it's definitely environmental. And it is NOT smartphones, dammit!

Continue reading "Best of Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: An Absolutely Shocking Statistic From England" »


Best of Weekly Wrap: Do MMR + Hg + SSPE = ASD?

Keep Calm Write OnBest of from September 2012.

By Dan Olmsted

"I wonder whether autistic enterocolitis isn’t a kind of SSPE with a weakened (vaccine) virus," Kathy Blanco wrote in an e-mail this week, with a link to a blog post HERE  that reports: "Hidden government documents have revealed that leading professionals have had serious concerns about the safety of the single measles vaccines for many years. Secret government documents that have been under lock and key for thirty years have revealed that the UK government has known for many years that the single measles vaccine can cause the debilitating neurological disorder SSPE or Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis."

Whether "autism" is in effect a variant form of SSPE is well worth wondering.

SSPE, as many of you will know, is a rare outcome of wild measles virus infection that is debilitating and usually fatal and can come on well after the original infection. It's often cited as a reason the measles and MMR vaccinations are worthwhile public health interventions -- yes, for most kids measles is unpleasant, but for some it can be far worse. It is neurotoxic and lethal.

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Champaign IL News Gazette On Death of Newspaperman Dan Olmsted

Dan headshot for bookHere is an excerpt of a fine tribute to Dan Olmsted by Melissa Merli.  Read the full article in the The News Gazette.

In the late 1970s, the post-Watergate era, daily newspapers ruled the media landscape. Their staffs were robust, with talented reporters hungry to make a mark.

The best and brightest among them at the Gannett-owned Commercial-News in Danville was Dan Olmsted, who had graduated from Yale University in 1975 and had come back to his hometown to work at the newspaper.

He had written for it while a student at Danville High School, where he had been news editor of the Maroon & White student newspaper.

Mr. Olmsted, who died Jan. 23 at his home in Falls Church, Va., won an Illinois Associated Press award for public-service reporting while in Danville and went on to receive national recognition for his work elsewhere.

"Dan was truly a prodigy, an artist and a door-kicking newsman," former Commercial-News reporter/columnist Kevin Cullen said. "I always thought of him as a class act and a model for the rest of our ink-stained little subculture."

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Best of Weekly Wrap: More Mushy, Misdirected Autism Empathy

Keep Calm Write OnOriginally posted on 10/20/2012.  

Dan Olmsted wrote his "Weekly Wrap" each Saturday. The topics and tone varied, yet always informed and entertained in Dan's inimitable style.  We'll be featuring Dan's work over the coming months. Enjoy this post.

By Dan Olmsted

The morning shows were agog Friday over the duet between Katy Perry and a tween girl with autism, to be broadcast on tomorrow’s “Night of Too Many Stars” benefit on Comedy Central. On the Today show, Al Roker said he teared up, and trotted out the old “it must be my allergies” joke as a way of calling even more attention to it.

Touching. But what exactly is this benefit benefiting? PR for the event says it uses “comedy to raise money for autism education programs.” On the benefit’s Web site, we learn: “Night of Too Many Stars benefits a variety of autism programs across the country in support of the overabundance of individuals with autism that so desperately need quality services. In 2010, thanks to your support, Night of Too Many Stars, through its partner organization, New York Collaborates for Autism, gave more than $3.1 million in grants to 41 programs in 13 states."

 I couldn't find any easily located list of who those recipients are, though I'm sure many of them are worthy. But this “partner organization,” New York Collaborates for Autism, is clearly the charitable entity involved, and it has two current initiatives, one of which is the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, due to open next year.

This is Catherine Lord’s project – along with redoing the DSM-V in a way that a lot of us don’t care for. We think it will exclude some high-functioning children with autism and muddy the waters about the real epidemic increase in autism. If you support this work, and the idea that we don’t really know if there’s an epidemic, and never will, and certainly don’t know what is causing it, by all means, contribute.

But you might want to read some of AOA’s coverage of Dr. Lord, starting with this from Katie Wright:

 “What kind of human being makes money by testifying against disabled children with autism?

Dr. Eric Fombonne.

Dr. Catherine Lord.

Dr. Bennett Leventhal.

“These parasites regularly take the stand in Vaccine Court in hopes of preventing sick autistic children from receiving financial compensation for their injuries. … I think their 'work' as anti-child professional testifiers has been insufficiently discussed and deserves a good public airing, don’t you?"

 Anne Dachel has also put Dr. Lord under the microscope. “In April, 2012, Dr. Catherine Lord was STILL saying that all the autism everywhere might just be ‘better detection.’”

 The lifetime cost of autism is pegged at around $3 million (conservatively, given the cost to

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My Tribute To Dan Olmsted – Natalie Palumbo

Natalie and The Age of Autism BookBy Natalie Palumbo

I will never forget the very first time I spoke on the phone with Dan Olmsted. It was spring of 2013, and I was 19 years old. I was already writing for Age of Autism as their youngest contributor, and sibling advocate. Dan wanted me to assist him in creating a video on research that he, Teresa Conrick, and Mark Blaxill had collected for a presentation.

I was honored and excited to contribute to this. I was just beginning my journey into the world of animation and film, and it was before receiving formal instruction from the Motion Design department at Ringling College. The fact that this presentation was going to be shown at AutismOne absolutely thrilled me as a young advocate still finishing my senior year of high school.

Dan sent me newspaper clippings. Articles. Photographs. Everything that supported his research. It was both fascinating and eerie because one of the first children to be diagnosed with autism was born in Baltimore, Maryland just outside of my hometown. I remember distinctly having to re-record Dan saying the word “two” with three different inflections in order to properly time the visuals to the audio. Dan was so nice about it, and we both couldn't help but laugh. I will miss Dan's gentle voice. It had a nurturing quality, much like a parent reading a storybook to a child. I couldn’t help but smile whenever I heard him speak.

Continue reading "My Tribute To Dan Olmsted – Natalie Palumbo" »


The Final Wrap

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Mark Blaxill

Dan Olmsted’s “Weekly Wrap,” his regular Saturday column, was one of my favorite weekend pleasures. Dan’s death last weekend makes his January 21st version his last. So in his honor, I spent much of this week connecting with a few folks who knew him well in order to write a tribute to him in this space. A final wrap.

Dan was born and raised in Danville Illinois, started his career there and maintained close ties to friends and family in the region. His sister Sallie died last year but his other sister Rosie still lives in Wilmette. She has long been a fierce supporter of Dan’s work. Rosie knew from an early age that Dan was a uniquely brilliant and talented journalist. She was a great advocate for the books we wrote together and especially pleased—Dan told me-- that in The Age of Autism, I insisted that we put Dan’s name first on the marquee! (Dan and I actually competed to be the second author and eventually decided to take turns).

Dan was a journalist from very early in life. While in high school he wrote a column, High Times (the “high” stands for high school, nothing illegal!), for Danville’s local newspaper The Commercial News. His talent was apparent early.

“Dan and I were classmates at Danville High School,” wrote Bina Connelly on the comments section underneath his obituary. “Even then, we knew he would leave a mark, make a difference. He was kind, thoughtful, intelligent, passionate. I am humbled to have known him.” Dan’s friend of 40 years, Melissa Merli, tells me he is still in touch with his high school English teacher, who plans to attend his memorial service.

A career in journalism was on Dan’s radar from the very beginning. An English degree at Yale (class of 1974) separated his stints at The Commercial News, a Gannett paper. From there he went to The Democrat and Chronicle, Gannett’s flagship paper in Rochester, New York. On the Gannett fast track, Dan went on to be a founding editor of USA Today in 1982 and its 1984 spinoff, USA Weekend, where he worked for 15 years. Following a brief and abortive stint at an internet start-up in 1999, Dan moved over to United Press International in 2000. Laid off in 2007 after a series of cutbacks at UPI, he moved on to launch the Age of Autism, “the daily web newspaper of the autism epidemic.”

In speaking with Dan’s colleagues during that 40-plus year journey, I’ve heard an amazing and consistent portrait of a man who was, as his longtime partner and husband Mark Millett puts it, “always passionate about journalism and his work.” Melissa Merli was a colleague in the 1970s at The Commercial News and remembers that Dan was widely liked and respected. “Everyone adored him at The Commercial News.” That adoration extended to a number of the female reporters there, including Melissa. “I had a crush on him,” confided Melissa, “and at one point, Dan took me aside and told me he was gay, but that we could still be good friends!” They’ve been close and constant friends ever since.

Melissa described Dan as a gifted investigative reporter from the outset. One investigation stood out: an exposé of corruption in the local police force, where a gang of police officers were running a drug store burglary operation. A grand jury was convened; Dan was sued for libel and won. Melissa later heard from a local official that “there’s one reporter there that everyone’s afraid of and that’s Dan Olmsted.”

Melissa describes a man that many came to know and love. “Dan had a finely tuned sense of justice and compassion for others. He’s one of the most honest people I know. I can honestly say that I have no negative memories of Dan. He was one of a kind.”

We can all thank the dot.com crash for reawakening Dan’s passion for investigative journalism. While at USA Today and USA Weekend, he focused on lighter fare. But after landing at the once proud UPI wire service --then owned by the Unification Church (aka “the Moonies”), a step down in prestige led to a step up in freedom and investigative autonomy. Dan teamed up there with a young reporter named Mark Benjamin and together they embarked on a project that hit the big time: an investigation of the negative side effects of an anti-malaria drug called mefloquine. Or, as it was marketed by Roche Pharmaceuticals, Lariam.

“The Lariam project was investigative reporting at its most pure,” Mark told me. “It was a case of Dan deciding that we were going to take really damaging, but solid information on a bad drug and go up against one of the most powerful and deep-pocketed companies in the world, Roche. And it was one that had the Army and the CDC, quite literally, in its pocket.”

Lariam was widely used at the time in the Army and the Peace Corp and although effective at preventing malaria, in a subset of recipients it was associated with cases of hallucinations, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, psychoses and even homicide. According to an August 11, 2016 article in Military Times. “Mefloquine was implicated in a series of murder-suicides at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2002, and media reports also tied it to an uptick in military suicides in 2003.”

Dan and Mark were faced with sharp initial resistance, but their work eventually had a huge impact. According to Military Times, “Once the U.S. military's malaria prophylactic of choice, favored for its once-a-week dosage regimen, mefloquine was designated the drug of last resort in 2013 by the Defense Department after the Food and Drug Administration slapped a boxed warning on its label, noting it can cause permanent psychiatric and neurological side effects.” Prescriptions plummeted from 50,000 in 2003 to only 216 in 2015. That’s not low enough for some. Dr. Remington Nevin, another friend of Dan, argued that any distribution of Lariam is too much. “This new finding should motivate the U.S. military to consider further revising its mefloquine policy to ban use of the drug altogether.”

Their work had many positive and unexpected ripple effects. Mark and Dan were turned into a composite character, Sherm Hempell, on a Law and Order: SVU episode, which told a story of violence and murder in two Afghanistan war veterans that had taken an anti-malarial drug, Quinium. Happily, the good guys won and the Army cover-up was exposed. More notably, in a real life case that wasn’t “ripped from the headlines” Dan and Mark quite literally saved the life of the first soldier since the Vietnam War charged with cowardice, an offense that carries the death penalty. The Army soldier, Andrew Pogany, was put on trial but ultimately the Army dropped the case when it became clear that his “cowardice” was simply an adverse reaction to Lariam. Mark joked that Dan wrote one of the best headlines ever for their article, “Army Surrenders to Coward Soldier.”

“I’ve never seen anyone else like Dan Olmsted in our business, before or since,” Mark claimed. “You can hold him up against any of the all-time great investigative journalists and he deserves a place right alongside them. What made him so good? There were so many things. He was just smarter than anyone else. He worked harder and once he knew he was right, he just never gave up. He would just never stop.”

It was their glimpse into the inner workings of the CDC and its preferred programs that brought the UPI investigative pair to the vaccine issue, and in Dan’s case, into the Age of Autism. In the summer of 2003, Mark pursued (and Dan edited) a story about conflicts of interest in the CDC’s recommended vaccine program, with a special focus on a little known vaccine inventor, Dr. Paul Offit, and the conflict between his role on the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and his commercial relationship with Merck, which made his rotavirus vaccine. It’s a story AoA readers know well!

Mark Benjamin is the man that brought Dan Olmsted and me together. The two Marks (who when added to Dan’s partner Mark Millett explain Dan’s dedication in The Age of Autism, “to Mark, Mark and Mark, in that order”) had been discussing the issues swirling around autism and vaccines. Mark Benjamin wanted Dan to meet me and he arranged a dinner between the three of us in Washington DC on October 7, 2003. That began a collaboration that would last for over 13 years.

As Mark Benjamin turned to issues with the military and the health of veterans, Dan turned his attention to autism. He and I began to have frequent conversations and email exchanges. In 2004, Dan had decided he wanted to launch an extended, deep dive. And he wanted to find a way into the issue that was unique. By year end, Dan and I were just beginning to share thoughts on the issues we would turn into a book 6 years later. Dan, as he so often did, was trying to find the critical question, one that could spark an investigation. On December 7, he prefaced an email list of questions this way: “I made a list of some odd ways in (some of which I have seen referred to elsewhere but not conclusively) if you have any thoughts…” The very first question was right on the mark: “Is there anywhere they don’t use vaccines and don’t have autism? Or any group, like Christian scientists?”

Bingo.

I wrote (as is my tendency) a lengthy answer. “We have long discussed the idea of using low and zero exposure groups, religious groups (Amish or others), anthroposophic schools, etc. to test the theory. Since autism surveillance stats are not routinely collected, this would require a specific study, one that has never been done (and epi studies are expensive).”

And so it began. Dan didn’t bother to wait for a bureaucratic funding process. He decided to cut to the chase and do the “study” himself. He drove from his home in Falls Church Virginia to Lancaster County Pennsylvania, and started asking real people about autism in the Amish. A bare four months later he launched his UPI Age of Autism series with his first article, The Amish Anomaly. As many of us know by now, Dan found very few autistic children there and all of these were in the relatively small subset of vaccinated Amish.

Starting with the Amish Anomaly, on April 19, 2005, Dan added dozens of articles to the series. He stopped writing only when he was laid off at UPI, ending on July 18, 2007 with “The Last Word.” Along the way, he found the first of Leo Kanner’s case series, Donald T., the first of eight eventual discoveries and the heart of our book, The Age of Autism. Following his departure from UPI, Dan and I reached out to JB Handley and Kim Stagliano who had started their own blog, Rescue Post. Our joint venture went on line just a few months later.

From the very beginning, Dan stayed close to the families and individuals affected by autism. Dan started out talking to doctors on the front line of the epidemic, free thinkers like the late Meyer Eisenstein and Elizabeth Mumper. In fact, the third column in the UPI series “Sick Children” took Dan’s readers to Liz Mumper’s pediatric practice in nearby Lynchburg Virginia. Dan wrote “Dr. Elizabeth Mumper is an unlikely contrarian. Mumper is a pediatrician in the southern Virginia city of Lynchburg. About a decade ago, Mumper said, she began noticing a change for the worse in the overall health of the children she was seeing, including a startling rise in cases of autism. Ultimately, Mumper came to suspect the increasing number of childhood vaccinations in the 1990s -- and particularly the mercury-based preservative called thimerosal in many of those vaccines -- was a big reason.”

Liz was a great source for Dan and me in our second book, Vaccines 2.0. When I reached out to her yesterday to get her reflections on Dan, she described those initial meetings. “Dan came to my office in 2005.  I was in the midst of running a practice in which many of the children had chronic illness and neurodevelopmental disorders. .Dan had such an inquisitive mind and asked such great questions.  I was surprised that a reporter who had not gone to medical school would understand and be able to synthesize complex medical information the way he could.”

Like many of us, Liz remarked on Dan’s tenacity and gift for words. “What a gift to passionately seek answers to the unprecedented tsunami of childhood chronic illness!  He wove the stories of children, families, medical institutions, government organizations and pharmaceutical industries into compelling prose.”

Dan’s subsequent career-- 10 years here at the “daily web newspaper of the autism epidemic” (he truly loved real printed newspapers!), two published books and a third on the way—is all available here at Age of Autism. Under Kim Stagliano’s leadership and with the help of our amazing group of contributing editors we are continuing the noble project Dan started. But we do so with a heavy heart. I heard the news about Dan from his sister Rosie, driving from Boston to Manhattan this Monday afternoon. When I got to the city I sat down for dinner and wept. I didn’t know quite what to do, so I typed out this FaceBook post, as tears smudged my iPhone .

To everyone who is sharing love for my great friend Dan Olmsted, please keep it up. Dan deserved so much and I hope will ultimately get the recognition he deserves. Dan was the consummate journalist. He had so much to teach us all about the ethics and discipline of how good reporters should respond to and treat evidence. But he was more than that. He was a deeply original and creative investigator. That combination was unique and compelling. Dan was brilliant and compassionate and persistent and uncompromising and balanced and impatient. All at once. And man! could he put words together in such a graceful and powerful way.

I was so fortunate to be his fellow traveler on the Age of Autism (his phrase and it was so powerful) journey. I will really miss him. I wish I had the words to say it as artfully as he could. I love you man. We'll all miss you. But you kicked some ass.

Later this week, I took my two daughters to dinner in Cambridge. Dan got to know both of them quite well in our years working together. My oldest, Sydney, traveled to Vienna with us as we researched the medical history of mercuric chloride treatments for syphilis and hysteria. My youngest, Michaela (now 21 years old and diagnosed with autistic disorder), spent a lot of time with Dan in recent months; he came to Cambridge a lot as we wrote our third book, Denial. Sydney knew the news already, but when I picked them up we told Michaela about Dan’s death. She often has difficulty processing emotions, especially sadness, in an appropriate way. But when I told her, “I have sad news, honey. Dan is dead,” I was pleased to see she was genuinely affected in the way Sydney and I were feeling. “Dan is dead,” she repeated to herself in a subdued tone. Trying, in her way, to process the news. She had grown up with Dan and knew how close our friendship was.

Later in the evening, as we were walking into dinner at Legal Seafoods, she asked me an amusingly autistic but poignant question. “Dad,” she asked, “are you going to get a replacement for Dan?”

“No, honey. There will never be a replacement for Dan.”

Mark Blaxill is Editor at Large for Age of Autism.


Daniel J. Olmsted: Obituary

Dan headshot for bookBelow is the obituary posted on the site of the Fairfax Memorial Funeral home. We invite you to leave a message there.  We share your grief. Thank you for your emails, prayers and kind words. We hope you will join us in March to celebrate Dan's life.  If you would like to make a tax deductible donation in Dan's name by check:  Autism Age PO Box 110546 Trumbull CT 06611.  Or use the secure payment button on this site. Thank you. Kim

Link to Fairfax Memorial Funeral Home

Daniel James Olmsted passed away in Falls Church, VA on January 23, 2017. Dan is survived by his beloved spouse, Mark Milett and sister Rosamund McDonel Augsburgnd. He is predeceased by both of his parents, Robert and Catherine (Hatfield) Olmsted, and his sister Sara Vana.

The family will be receiving guests from 1-2p.m. with a celebration of Daniel's life following at the Fairfax Memorial Funeral Home at 2p.m. on Saturday, March 18. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in his name to the Age of Autism, http://www.ageofautism.com/ .


A Sad Announcement from Age of Autism

Dan headshot for bookWe are heartbroken to announce that our dear friend, our brilliant colleague, journalist par excellence, dedicated book co-author, the heart, soul and leader of our "rebel alliance," Dan Olmsted,  passed away this weekend. 

Age of Autism has been a family for many years, and to all of you, we send our condolences, as we are grateful for yours. 

We will share more information as it becomes available. And the rebel alliance will carry on in his name, we assure you.

Mark Blaxill, Kim Stagliano and the entire Age of Autism Team


Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Bernie, Bobby, Andy, and Donald

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Bernard Rimland, Bobby Kennedy Jr., Andy Wakefield and now Donald Trump -- yes he does!  -- represent a kind of mainstream thread of vaccine safety advocacy. The first three put themselves forward and paid a price – Rimland went from the father of “autism isn’t caused by parenting” to being considered a fringe quack kook multivitamins cure autism kind of guy. Bobby went from respected environmental Riverkeeper Kennedy scion who beat GE and got the Hudson cleaned up to mercury-thimerosal-obsessed. 

Donald Trump was inaugurated as president Friday, saying what Bernie said. And if ever a paragraph break was called for (pick your reason) this is it.

Dr. Rimland
Dr. Bernie Rimland conspiracy theorist fringe quack kook. And Andy, well, Andy didn’t even pass go – he was considered a fraudulent finge quack kook from just about Day 1.

Covering autism through the prism of an environmental illness, with vaccine safety a paramount issue, I do have more familiarity with these four folks than I might otherwise. Bernie was an indifferent dresser with a messy beard (me too) who, at least in my memory, thundered with the truth. My Kennedy Albanysingle favorite quote in my decade on this beat is his statement that “The autism epidemic is real, and excessive vaccinations are the cause.” This is brilliantly simple, stark and bold. First you have to stipulate that autism has increased exponentially (it has – that’s the subject of Mark Blaxill and my book out later this year). Then you have to be both narrow enough – pointing not just to some vague chemical or environmental exposure – and broad enough – pointing not just to one vaccine, or one ingredient – to survive the onslaught of denial and rebuke and phony science you can expect the minute you say such a thing. (“Excessive vaccinations” even leaves room for mercury as the prime cause, because if they hadn’t Andy Long Beachadded all those vaccines with mercury, kids wouldn’t have gotten enough of it to cause an epidemic – bad as it is at any dose The MMR also fits -- three live viruses in one, and now a fourth in the MMRV; talk about excessive!)

Lately I’ve been thinking of Bernie, as a new president who says much the same thing takes the oath of office; protecting our kids might be described as Job One. Now that he is one day in office I certainly hope that he will take on the issue and bring Bernie’s claim front and center. I think our collective minds were pretty much blown when he summoned Bobby to the Tower and sent him down with some sort of message, garbled or tentative as it may have been, that he intends to tackle vaccines and autism and that people like Bobby are going to play a major role.

What’s more, before the election Trump met with Andy and some kindred spirits who are editors and sponsors of this blog and listened attentively.

These are huge developments that have been a bit overwhelmed – perhaps by presidential-elect design – by the whole shakeup going on in the transfer of power. More than trial balloons, less that full-fledged policy initiatives, they have made the CDC quake in its cesspool, if that’s possible, and the usual talking heads like Offit and Schaffner turn purple with rage (makes me think of Dylan: “The man standing next to me, his head was exploding. Well, I was praying the pieces wouldn't fall on me.”) The mainstream media is both outraged and, one senses, outgunned at the moment. Who cares about the mainstream media anyway? The best story we got out of the Kennedy meeting was from BuzzFeed, which interviewed both me (I?) and J.B. Handley and, except for repeating the antivax canard (which I told them not to in writing) treated the event as news, not as a crime scene. While I was on the phone with them going through security at National Airport, Nature magazine was on the other line. Quite a moment for a humble blogger.

Everyone comes to this issue from a different perspective, although of course for most it’s witnessing or understanding the fact that vaccine damage is much more frequent and much more serious than the “experts” will admit. For Bobby it was understanding the damage of environmental mercury and hearing from enough autism moms to intuit the connection. For Andy it was a call from the mother of two autistic children in England. He tried to interrupt and refer her on to the neurodevelopmental department, but then she started talking about strange GI issues they had, and, thank God, he stopped to listen.

For Bernie it was the recognition that he and his wife were not bad enough parents to have caused their son Mark’s nonstop screaming as an infant and his subsequent odd behaviors. That opened into an insight that autism was not genetic but environmental, and that led into vaccines.

We’ve had committees and commissions before – Mark Blaxill served on one and, with Barbara Loe Fisher, valiantly dissented from its blue ribbon inanity. (See the excellent “From Safety Last to Children First.”)

So however they – and we – got here, the moment is ripe, and Bernie’s dictum ought to be our guiding principle, one we can unite behind. I hope that before long the president will be sitting at a table with Bobby and Andy and many more people, including Mark and Barbara, who have fought long and hard to bring this issue to the fore. And I hope they leave an empty chair for Bernie and that, at least occasionally, everyone looks in its direction and remembers that there is much more common in our cause than anything we might occasionally fight over – that the autism epidemic is real, and excessive vaccinations are the cause.

Rebel Alliance, unite!

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.


Weekly Wrap: Happy News Year!

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted Trump Kennedy Pence

The world is turning right in front of us and connections we never saw coming are being remade and rewired on a daily basis. While it is too early to get either elated or dejected by current events, the trend-line is clear: Something's happening here. 

Today I thought I'd use more of Anne Dachel's media reports to show how much is happening. I did an interview with BuzzFeed and as I was walking through the airport yesterday Nature magazine called. It's a new year to top all new years!

From Anne: After hours of reading news reports today, this was encouraging. As any of us can attest, once you know how vast and corrupt the vaccine safety issue is, you can never walk away. This is what Kennedy is saying too. 

Kennedy's description of why the media has universally failed us is absolutely right. No one is willing to risk their career covering this in a fair and balanced way. So they write what they're told ...over and over and over. But I know them all, and I will never forget who they are. 

https://www.facebook.com/VaXismNEWS/videos/826271777515863/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED

Robert Kennedy, Jr. “All the things that I do are bent on forcing this debate out into the open—because once the science is in the open, the CDC’s position is so fragile, it’s an edifice of fraud, fraud stacked upon fraud, so high and so wobbly, that even a slight breeze of public scrutiny will topple it. It’s not only Congress that won’t investigate, and the regulatory agencies have been captured, the courts and the lawyers that would normally apply that scrutiny have been removed by the Vaccine Act.

And the press has been compromised. And it’s not just the mainstream corporate media, but also the so-called alternative media like Huffington Post. Daniel Schulman wrote in the Columbia …Journalism Review that for journalists this is radioactive, that this is a career-ending controversy. So reporters won’t touch it, they’re really scared of it. Doctors won’t come out. Doctors lose their licenses if they talk about this. 

What we need is sunlight. If you put a little sunlight on this controversy, the whole thing’s going to fall apart. We’re going to beat these people. I feel this, and I’ve spent my life working on energy issues, environmental issues, and global warming, but I’ve taken a hiatus to do just this issue because I cannot stand by and watch these children being poisoned—an entire generation of kids that is being poisoned now by government policies and greed. We’re going to take them on and beat them.

And we need help. We’re at the World Mercury Project. We need your support, we need financial support, we need members because we’re going to sue government agencies, we’re going to sue pharmaceutical companies, we’re suing the people, we’re figuring out different ways to litigate this. In order for a charitable group to litigate, we need to show that we have members who have standing.

==

The media’s desperate attempt to convince us the science is in on vaccines

Jan 13, 2017 Slate.com: Zealots Like RFK Jr. Have Already Made Vaccines Less Safe

By Brian Palmer

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2017/01/the_thimerosal_episode_explains_the_danger_of_rfk_jr.html

Not just because they fuel anti-vaxxers. This type of paranoia impedes our ability to accurately consider evidence. 

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., political scion–turned–anti-vaccine alarmist, emerged from a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday claiming that Trump had offered him a position leading a vaccine safety commission. This is a terrible idea for reasons that should be apparent, and a dangerous idea, because Kennedy’s anti-scientific rantings have already exerted a chilling effect on honest medical discourse for at least a decade. The thimerosal episode is a perfect example.

“Infants are exposed to more mercury from breastfeeding than they’d ever get from vaccines,” says Paul Offit, chief of the division of infectious diseases and director of vaccine education at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It’s in the earth. It’s in the water we drink. If you want to achieve zero tolerance for mercury exposure, you’d have to move to another planet.”…

Eighteen years later, doctors still argue over the decision to remove thimerosal from vaccines. Halsey has staunch defenders who describe him as an egoless man who was trying to put child safety first, making a very difficult decision in a politically charged environment without the data he needed. Others still rue the decision, arguing that even though there wasn’t hard evidence, our scientific understanding of and experience with thimerosal justified keeping it while research continued.

We caved to public perception,” Offit says. “You’re always better off trying to explain the science—you owe the public that. We made a mistake.”

Wherever you come down on the decision, the real villains in the thimerosal episode are vultures like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who seized on the scientific uncertainty and the public communications challenges to scare the hell out of people….

Specifically, Kennedy insists that thimerosal causes autism. But there has never been any reason to believe that thimerosal or any form of mercury causes autism…

When it comes to his views on vaccine safety, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is dishonest, uninformed, insane, or some combination of them. His refusal to accept medical evidence has put children at risk, and giving him an official position will … you know what? It’s so obvious, it’s not even worth writing. It also doesn’t matter. Neither Trump nor Kennedy care about facts.

Jan 13, 2017, UK Guardian: Trump's vaccine conspiracy theories are a threat to your children

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/13/trump-vaccine-conspiracy-theory-robert-kennedy-jr

Vaccines have been shown safe and effective. When he hints otherwise, the president-elect is gambling with young lives

The science on vaccines is very clear: they are safe and effective. Vaccines do not cause autism. It’s a waste of our tax dollars to rehash this issue yet again. 

Jan 13, 2017, Washington Post: Charles Krauthammer: What happened to the honeymoon?

By Charles Krauthammer

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2017/jan/13/charles-krauthammer-what-happened-to-the-honeymoon/

Finally, it’s his chronic indiscipline, his jumping randomly from one subject to another without rhyme, reason or larger strategy. In a week packed with confirmation hearings and Russian hacking allegations, what was he doing meeting with Robert Kennedy Jr., an anti-vaccine activist pushing the thoroughly discredited idea that vaccines cause autism?

Comment:

The truth is, the agency that approves, promotes, and recommends the vaccine schedule is also charged with vaccine safety. They literally have oversight over themselves. Hundreds of employees at the Centers for Disease Control have conflict of interest waivers because they're also working for the industry they regulate.


Claims of corruption and fraudulent science at the CDC are rampant, even among employees. Krauthammer needs to investigate the 83 cases of vaccine-induced autism compensated by the Federal Court of Claims (since no American can sue either the doctor or vaccine makers for an injury), and which were made public back in 2011.


Finally Krauthammer needs to talk to Dr. Jon Poling, father of Hannah Poling whose case of vaccine-induced autism was conceded by medical experts at HHS and made public in 2008.


Krauthammer may assume that the link between vaccines and autism is a "thoroughly discredited idea," but he's taking the word the people with everything at stake in covering this up.

--

Anne Dachel, Media Editor

 

 

 

 

 


Weekly Wrap: A New Year of Books and Blogs and Big Ideas

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted Dan headshot for book

Last week I said adieu to old acquaintances and was touched by the comments I got both on- and offline. This week it’s time to move forward into what promises to be a big year for AOA and its allied enterprises. There’s even more to come than I’ll talk about here.

But first let me say, did you ever work on a big project over a long period of time that you cared a lot about – but still had a moment of, “How did I ever get myself into this?” Or, even worse, how do we translate an important but overlooked paper from 1907 in a journal called, I kid you not, Zeitschrift fur die Erforschung und Behandlung des jugendlichen Schwachsinns.*

Well, that moment has come and gone as regards the book Mark Blaxill and I are finishing up this month. Although the title is not set yet, the topic is autism epidemic denial – how it hurts kids, families and our future.  AOA readers always come to the rescue, and Birgit Calhoun translated a trove of Mark Dan Book 2017 useful documents from German that are crucial to understanding the whole issue. Thanks, Birgit.

The book, our third together and something of a bookend to the first (The Age of Autism) and second (Vaccines 2.0), will be out in a few months. It has been a fascinating and deep dive into the history of mental disorders in children, which of course is a dark topic, but what we came up with makes hash of the “better diagnosing, awareness, substitution/these kids were always there” mantra we are all so sick of. One more time: No these kids were not ”always there”! We aim to present the definitive account of why autism instead must be a man-made epidemic (the subtitle of our first book) that needs to be stopped. As we say in the book, epidemic denial is not just improbable or implausible; it is, based on both facts and logic, impossible.

We quote our redoubtable colleague J.B. Handley on Paul Offit and his ilk of deniers: J.B. calls epidemic denial the “original sin” of autism. “In Offit’s world, there is absolutely no problem here. Things are as they always were, we just understand it better. Of course, we all know, if there’s no epidemic, there is no environmental trigger, because why have a trigger if something hasn’t actually grown? Said differently: Denying the autism epidemic is to deny the suffering of millions of children and their families and also to deny the exploration into the true cause so the epidemic might end.”

Amen. That’s all I’ll say for now. We have some finishing up to do but are grateful that Skyhorse is again proving a hospitable publisher for our cause. Oh, and we dedicate the book to Bernie Rimland, who “sought the truth and helped sick kids.” Like all of us, we hope to in some small way to further that effort. And we think the timing could be good, eh?

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: A New Year of Books and Blogs and Big Ideas" »


Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Dearly Departed

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Dear Readers:  In an instance of synchronicity, my sister's ex-husband and the father of her two children died this morning after this column was posted.

--

Everybody dies, and everybody knows it, but even so it’s been a death-full year. Celebrities, friends, family, children with autism. Why pretend? I think most of us are just hoping to get out of it without any more demises, our own and anyone else’s.

This is why people sing Auld Lang Syne, I guess, both at the end of the year and at funerals. It’s letting go of the old and the painful and welcoming the new and the promising. It’s best accompanied by enough beer or wine or whatever to be truly mawkish or comfortably numb.

So we’re almost out with the old, and by tomorrow we’ll be focused on the new. But today let me bid a brief adieu and give a couple of people in my own life their due. The year for me began with the death of my sister Sally, a lovely and kind-spirited person who had her share of challenges and met them well. (And told jokes a lot better in the worst of circumstances than I do in the best.) As close as I felt to her while she was alive, and especially during the last couple of crappy years for her, I have not found myself thinking about her as much as I expected I would. Our relationship felt complete when she died, so maybe that’s it. But honestly I don’t know. Maybe this is how we go forward. I will send her good wishes at midnight. It does make me cherish my other wonderful sibling, Rosie, all the more, and I will be sending her wishes for a good year at the same time.

Now the year is ending with word that my childhood pediatrician, W. Robert Elghammer, has passed away. I have a lot of good memories of him back in my youth in Danville, Illinois – one of which is that he invariably ended my visit with telling my how incredibly healthy I was. I think he was compensating a bit for my single mother who worried about scrapes, strains and scratches that would not trouble, say, a father of five boys. One time I set the record for sit-ups at Garfield Grade School, something like 240 at one go, and my mother sent to me to Dr. Elghammer, who seemed more impressed by my record than the fact that my stomach was a bit sore.

That is not the point, however, because in later years Dr. Elghammer became a Dan! doctor, to my great delight. Here was a common-sense decent intelligent experienced reliable credible provider of medical care to children over the course of many years of changes who realized the vaccine program – which in my day consisted of polio, smallpox, and the DPT shot, had gone completely insane. He was not the only doctor to see it, but one of an early, honest and brave minority to say it.

A few years back when I wrote about it for the first time, I said:

This is the coolest fact I’ve come across in quite some time, because here we are hanging out on a limb saying we think there is a problem with the current CDC vaccination schedule, that it’s connected with autism, that an alternative schedule is a no-brainer, and that we need to be treating autism like the environmentally induced illness it really is.

And now I find that W. Robert Elghammer, the level-headed, mainstream voice of reason back in my hometown, is on the same wavelength. I found this out from a faithful reader of our site who posts as Tanner’s Dad and lives in Catlin, Ill., where my grandfather grew up on a farm. [Tim Welsh, now an AOA Contributing Editor who also alerted me to Dr. Elghammer’s death.]

The story ran July 4 -- how perfect -- in the Danville Commercial-News, where I worked in high school, during summers in college and for four years thereafter. Here’s an excerpt from the article.

“Right now, Elghammer believes strongly that the routine vaccinations young children receive may be responsible for the increase in autism. … ‘Immunizations may be fine for 99 percent of the population. I wouldn’t change anything during the first year, just follow the same routine. But I suggest everyone delay their children’s boosters until they’re two years old. By that time, autism will have manifested itself.”

That is a little unclear as reported, but it certainly reflects a concern about too many shots, too soon and autism.  Back in the 1960s, he was the most reassuring and respected person you could imagine. I got the mumps, the measles, chickenpox and a fair number of nasty colds that in those days meant staying in bed and watching “I Love Lucy” reruns all day. But I got through them, and I didn’t get autism.

I looked up Dr. Elghammer on the Web just to make sure he hadn’t been in the slammer in the interim -- you know how the CDC-apologist fringe likes to start throwing stones at anyone who raises these kinds of issues. His record was clear; in fact, I found that just last year the State public health department recognized him “for his excellence in pediatric care and childhood injury prevention initiatives.” It was some obscure honor called THE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, people! Here’s one part of the citation that stands out:

“In 1956, Dr. Elghammer spearheaded the Vermilion County polio drive as its director. Volunteering to inoculate all of the county’s children, Dr. Elghammer administered polio vaccine to thousands of children through visits to schools around the county. The drive charged 25 cents per vaccination, which Dr. Elghammer collected and donated 100 percent of the drive proceeds to the two nursing schools in Danville.

“In 1971, Dr. Elghammer established the Intensive Care Nursery at Danville’s Lake View Hospital. He also designed the equipment and developed the procedures for the nursery including florescent lighting for infants with high bilirubin, catheterization procedures and laminar flow and hyperalimentation procedures for infants who required intensive IV nutrients.”

Wow. A doctor committed to kids and to a vaccine that was really needed and really worked. Now, based on a lifetime of experience, that doctor is saying, Watch out, we’ve got a problem.

And he’s not just any doctor. He’s my pediatrician! I am so psyched.

One more thing: "Tanner's Dad," who put me on to this story, tells me his son's last full sentence after getting his shots and regressing into autism six years ago July 4 was the following: "My name is Tanner. My name is Tanner.

"

Now, says Tanner's Dad, "After diet changes and supplements (Methyl B12 GFCF) he said his first words to me for Fathers day.'Hi Daddy'! It was beautiful yet sad."

It may be worth pointing out that Tanner's doctor these days is an old-school, well-respected, mainstream pediatrician: W. Robert Elghammer.

--

A P.S. for 2017: If you say what you think and stick to your guns and you are right, like my pediatrician and many of you who read AOA every week, sometimes even the president of the United States will come around to agreeing with you.

Here’s to a happy and new year to all of us!

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.


Best Of: Six Bad Ideas That Triggered the Autism Epidemic

6Best of from December 2015

By Dan Olmsted

We probably all know the saying that Ideas Matter. Lately I’ve been mulling a handful of ideas – very bad ideas, I’d say – that have come together to trigger, expand, and perpetuate the autism epidemic and a host of allied disorders that constitute The Age of Autism.

Today I’m going to lay them out in brief, and in coming days I’ll say more about each one, and end with the counter-ideas that could really bring us a happy new year.

Please add your own!

Bad Idea Number One. Vaccines are the Eric Clapton of Medicine; they are God. Vaccines are the number one medical accomplishment of all time, and every day in every way they make our world safer and safer. Bow down!

Bad Idea Number Two. The evidence for Number One is clear. “Study after study” has shown that vaccines work wonderfully and that the so-called “risks” are effectively zero – a one-in-a-million chance of anything serious happening. (“One in a million” is pharma speak for zip, zilch, nada, roll up your sleeve.)

Bad Idea Number Three. Disagreeing with Numbers One and Two is Unacceptable Speech. Claims that vaccines are more dangerous than advertised are bogus and should be suppressed. You need to be a conspiracy theorist, a purveyor of junk science, a pathetically gullible parent looking for someone to blame for your damaged kid, or out-and-out anti-vaccine to harbor such ideas.  

Bad Idea Number Four. Conflicts Don’t Count. Drugmakers, doctors, legislators, bureaucrats, TV programs buoyed by pharma money are immune to the usual concerns that conflicts of interest -- profits, incentives, campaign contributions, ad dollars, liability worries -- require extra vigilance by the press and public. The drug companies may be caught red-handed in corrupt dealing, Congress bought off, the media lazy and desperate for drug dollars, but when it comes to vaccines (see Number One), they have only our health at heart!

Bad Idea Number Five. Because the first four are true, we must trust The Experts who are working hard every day to help us stay happy and healthy. They are god’s messengers on earth.

Trust. The. Experts.

Continue reading "Best Of: Six Bad Ideas That Triggered the Autism Epidemic" »


Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Over the Top and Under Their Skin

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Dear Readers: I’m kind of amazed to announce that you didn’t just meet our November matching fund drive goal, you doubled it. Anonymous Reader put up $5,000 if contributors could match it, and with 60-plus separate donations large and smaller, the total kept rising to just over double that amount.

This is our third year for the matching drive, and we’ve topped it each time. This was really a blowout and we thank you so much. And thanks to Anonymous Donor for not just putting up the match but supporting AOA every day.

--

I had to laugh this week when Josh Mazer sent an e-mail titled Congratulations! I am not above enjoying praise so I opened it with anticipation. “Hi Dan,” Josh wrote. “You made the Honor Roll. You must be doing something right.”

And what honor roll might that be? What collection of widely respected, even if controversial, worthies have we joined?

Oh. “The Worst Web Sites for Science 2016.”

“The Internet is full of misleading, incorrect, or even blatantly fake information,” Real Clear Science reported. “While optimistic futurists once hailed the Internet as an egalitarian source of knowledge – information for all – it has instead proven to be an equally powerful source of misinformation. The following websites are some of the worst contributors to this disconcerting trend.”

Drum roll, please. We are the third worst website for science on the whole darn web of world-wide wackiness! We actually beat Alex Jones’ InfoWars, number four, and lost out only to Mercola, number 2, and Natural News, number 1. To adapt the Miss America language, if at any time during the coming year Mercola or Natural News are unable to perform their duties, we will be the Number 1 worst science website. That is quite a burden to contemplate.

Here is the full citation, which I hope will be arriving soon in the mail, hand-lettered and suitable for laminating at FedEx Kinkos:

Age of Autism, "The Daily Newspaper of the Autism Epidemic," says it best themselves: "the autism epidemic is real, and excessive vaccinations are the cause." Rates of autism absolutely have increased, and the causes are up for debate, but the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence indicates that vaccines do not play a role. (A shift in diagnosis likely accounts for much of the rise.) Evidence does not factor into Age of Autism's reporting, however. Either ignorantly or willfully, they misconstrue science and mislead their readers into believing that vaccines are dangerous.

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“Either ignorantly or willfully” – I love that concept. Either we are too stupid to know any better, or we know better but are too despicable to tell the truth. I don’t like my choices there, so I’m going to say we do know the truth, and we tell it.

A further point of pride – We are a lot smaller operation and Web presence than some of our fellow anti-science travelers. We are causing more trouble per post, per pound, per comment and contribution, than any other anti-science site out there.

And for that, dear readers, you have only yourselves to thank!

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Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.


Weekly Wrap: A Little Milton With Your Post-Election Coffee

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

The election just passed still feels so raw and immediate that it almost seems like it’s still going on – I feel like one of those times when I’ve driven for 10 hours and I close my eyes at bedtime and still feel like I’m driving. That happened another time when Mark Blaxill and I were working on our first book and had put in a marathon long weekend session. I tried to go to sleep but words were appearing in front of me as if the inside of my eyeballs was a sheet of paper.

Much could be said, but little needs to be: I wish President-Elect Trump well and I hope this is an opportunity to end the age of autism and confront the damage done by the bloated, unsafe vaccine schedule. Readers of all stripes continue to be welcome here. Partisan politics really doesn’t advance the cause – and as a non-profit we don’t endorse candidates or adopt a political line beyond calling it as we see it.  Yes, we practice advocacy journalism, for which there is a rich tradition. And at least we acknowledge it rather than descend to the sneering condescension of supposedly balanced outlets like the New York Times. (“On Autism’s Cause, It’s Parents Versus Science.”)

As for Milton, I was recalling the last lines of Paradise Lost – no hidden message here, just the idea that we need to leave the past behind to fully accept the invitation to shape our future:

“The world was all before them, where to choose

Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:

They hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,

Through Eden took their solitary way.”

Let’s hope and expect that Providence, however defined, will continue to guide our efforts. To invoke another of my favorite quotes, “Continuous, calm, powerful use of the will shakes the forces of creation and brings a response from the infinite.” (Paramahansa Yogananda)

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Our matching fund-raising drive has a ways to go to take full advantage of the $5,000 match being offered by Anonymous Reader. We hope that perhaps with the election over and a few moments before the holidays hit us head on, you’ll consider a donation to keep us going strong in the new year, the new administration, the new era. With wandering steps and slow, with continuous, calm, powerful use of the will, we’ll get there.

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Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.


Weekly Wrap: Raspberries, Pesticides and the New Polio

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted Rasperberries on fingers

The alarm bells are ringing louder over the increasing number of cases of sudden paralysis among children in the United States. But the predictable focus on germs by “disease hunters” is obscuring what surely must be a strong environmental component.

Last Sunday’s Los Angeles Times’ piece put the issue on the mainstream media map,and another cluster of nine in Washington State this week – focusing on a six-year-old boy from Whatcom County – made the national news. (That child died.)

Here at AOA, which focuses on autism and other environmental, man-made threats to children’s health, we first called out this issue as urgent in early 2014 because it lined up eerily with work Mark Blaxill and I had done about the original paralysis-inducing epidemics of poliomyelitis. In 2011, we first proposed a new theory for those outbreaks – suggesting the poliovirus combined with novel manmade toxins, most notably the pesticide lead arsenate, to kick off the Age of Polio. The ideas is simple: Toxin plus microbe = polio outbreaks. Without the toxin, polio is a minor, often unnoticed infection. With it, the virus can gain access to the nervous system and cause polio's dreaded effects.

So when this new outbreak of polio-like paralysis among children arose in California, we looked into it. We interviewed the mother of a child, Sofia Jarvis, who developed a paralyzed arm, and we came up with a possible pesticide connection. Here’s a screen grab from a story Mark and I wrote in April 2014.

DO screen grab polio rasperries

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Now it pays to be humble in the face of a new illness. There was a lot going on in this cluster of early cases, which spread from California and Colorado to Illinois and across the country before seeming to fade out last year (it’s back now on a scary cycle that also recalls the periodicity of polio). Some of those patients two years ago tested positive for EV-68, a virus in the same enterovirus family as polio, but others didn’t, and a conclusive link between the infection and the neurological damage couldn't be made in any case.

Sofia had been hospitalized and gotten an IV antibiotic in the same arm that became paralyzed, which is similar to the “provocation polio” caused by needle sticks that allowed the virus to travel, through a process called “reversal axonal transport,” to the anterior horn cells at the top of the spinal column that control movement. (It was upon hearing about this phenomenon while we worked on our 2010 book “The Age of Autism” that Mark and I looked deeper at polio. It seemed to mimic a process we were investigating involving the combination of syphilis and mercury treatment triggering the worst form of that disease, general paralysis of the insane. Note paralysis.)

We were the first to report last month that the CDC was informing state health departments of a new wave of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) cases starting this summer, and we again put forward our idea that the environment, probably in the form of pesticides but whatever the case something besides a microbe, was involved. (Some of our readers will suspect vaccines, which is also certainly plausible.) AFM is basically medical code for WTF?, since it does not describe an infection but a condition. It's like calling poliomyelitis infantile paralysis, the term it went by before anyone figure out what was going on.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Raspberries, Pesticides and the New Polio" »


Weekly Wrap: Bait and Switch

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

'Bout spit up my ginger ale Monday night when I saw an ad from Hillary Clinton taking on Donald Trump for his arm-flapping imitation of a disabled reporter -- Trump claims he didn't remember the reporter and was just lampooning his excitedness, not his illness. 

The Hillary ad's mom said, "It's not uncommon for autistic kids to flap their hands," showing a teenage boy doing just that. "When I saw that [Trump], that was completely disqualifying. I'm a Republican, but this election is so much more than party. My son Max can't live in Trump world, so I'm crossing Party Lines and voting for Hillary. I don't always agree with her, but she's reasonable, she's smart, people can work with her to solve problems. I want to be able to tell kids that I did the right thing when it really mattered."

Oh gosh, well, where to start. Many AOA readers will regard the idea that Hillary is looking out for autistic kids as a canard, to use one of my favorite words for a lie, a fable, a hoary bit of nonsense. Without her resolute "sky is blue" defense of vaccines and her government-heavy intervention in children's health in the 1990s -- progressives always know what's best, and especially love hepping de chewdwen -- we might not have an epidemic to begin with, or at least we might have stopped it earlier, which would have really helped kids. Right now about a trillion dollars would be a nice round figure for the kind of help that's needed.

So yes, galling. But somehow I find even more annoying the elision of the reporter's disability, a joint abnormality, with autism. I mean, the mom didn't exactly say it was the same thing, and the point was kind of the same, but the idea was clearly left that Trump was mocking a child with autism. Which, again, is kind of maddening as his view that vaccines cause autism is exactly correct, and Hillary's claim that they don't is exactly wrong.

Is it any wonder we're going half mad this election season, or half of us are going mad and the other half are just mad, or whatever? Don't take advantage of autism, OK?

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Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.


US Government Will PAY You to Get a Flu Shot! Earn Thousands Today!

BarnumManaging Editor's Note: So maybe I used a bit of clickbait...  But the headline is technically true! True! True!  We run this article from 2010 each Fall during the Flu Shot push that is everywhere.  CVS?  Earn a 20% savings card!  Stop & Shop? "No Cost Flu Shot!" No cost? Not exactly. Read one woman's horror story below.  Hell of a way to make a payday.  

By Dan Olmsted

On the whole, Lisa Marks Smith would rather have had the flu. Instead, the Cincinnati mom of two college-age sons got a mercury-containing flu shot that nearly killed her, led to paralysis, severe neurological problems, 24 days in the hospital – and a check from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program that attests to the truth of her story.

Smith has come to see first-hand how carelessly flu shots are administered, how dangerous the mercury that remains in most of them can be, how little public health officials actually seem to care when the worst happens, why the worst may not be so rare after all – even how similar the side effects can be to symptoms of autism.

She talked to Age of Autism about her ordeal, which began in 2005, in the hope of sparing others.

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Dan: I thought I’d start by asking you where things stand now. How’s your health? How are you feeling at the moment about everything?

Lisa: The only lingering thing I have at this point is that if I do not take big doses of magnesium, my legs shake. And I mean muscle spasms, Charlie horses, twitches – think Parkinson’s shaking. I do feel my feet again after four years. I need to go shoe shopping because I only own sandals, and it’s cold this winter in Cincinnati, and if you feel your toes you can’t wear sandals in the snow.

Dan: Well, I guess that’s a good problem to have, considering what happened. Just to go over the basics, you got a monetary award from the vaccine injury compensation award program and it was how much?

Lisa: I am not allowed to tell but in all honesty the award would not have covered my medical bills. To me, it’s the validation – they can’t claim they don’t know what’s happening when they’re paying people.

Dan: And of course one thing we hear so much about, and it’s almost a cliché, is that correlation does not equal causation – in other words, "just because you got a flu shot and then got very sick doesn’t mean it caused it." But in this case, correlation was a very strong indication of causation.

Lisa: In my case, my neurologist said straight up, this is what caused it. So it’s very hard for them to say one doesn’t equal the other. You’re walking around, you’re perfectly healthy, you don’t even get colds. You have a flu shot and within two weeks you’re paralyzed, and paralysis is listed as a possible side effect.

Continue reading "US Government Will PAY You to Get a Flu Shot! Earn Thousands Today!" »


Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Sometimes the Jaw Goes Slack

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Ollmsted

Anne Dachel does a great job of bringing the latest outrages of the mainstream media to our humble blog -- she reads it so you don't have to, it might be said. But one item this week really caught my attention and bears repeating: Nathan Crabbe at the Gainesville Florida Times watched Vaxxed but never mentions William Thompson, the subject of the documentary!

Instead he says: "For a moment I thought the film might actually be an evenhanded documentary, but that thought was dispelled once Andrew Wakefield appeared on the screen. Wakefield, the film's director, also happens to be the author of a discredited study published in the British medical journal The Lancet in 1998 linking the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism...."

This is the stuff of madness. No one questions -- or in fact mentions -- what Thompson, a senior scientist at the CDC, says about MMR fraud. Instead it's guilt by association. Wakefield. Wakefield. Wakefield.

This is not unusual, based on reading Anne's reports. Many news outlets never mention Thompson, but they cheer the fact the movie has been kicked out of film festivals because "repeated studies have found no connection between vaccines and autism." Yeah, repeated studies like the fraudulent one not mentioned here.

This is lousy, rotten, no good reporting. People who subscribe to the Gainesville paper are paying money to find out what a movie is about.

I'd like to throw an idea in the hopper. When I worked on a daily newspaper, we took our readers very seriously (at AOA we do, too). If a reader had a factual or fairness complaint, he or she could get a serious hearing not just from the reporter but from the editor. 

I would like to see some parents who believe their children were vaccine-damaged  get together after the next outrage by their local paper or TV station and politely request a meeting with the editor. Go as readers with experiences to share, not as a pressure group. If you don't get satisfaction, stand out front of the paper and hand out leaflets asking people with similar experiences to call the same editor. (Bring the pamphlets with you and leave one on the way out if you're dissatisfied.)

I'd ask the Gainesville editor to do a follow-up story describing what the movie is about. They can slam it all they want, but to hide the subject matter is poor reader service. And poor journalism.

Don't cancel your subscription! Start a Reader Revolt. My guess is they'll pay attention.

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This week Mark Blaxill passed along an interesting Viewpoint article from the Journal of the American Medical Association, of all places. I couldn't get the abstract, but the note summarizing it said:

What Happens When Underperforming Big Ideas in Research Become Entrenched?
Joyner MJ, Paneth N, Ioannidis JP.
JAMA. 2016 Oct 4;316(13):1355-1356.

In this Viewpoint, John Ioannidis and colleagues review how rarely gene therapy and genomic medicine have led to breakthroughs for patients and call on the NIH to defund preclinical research that fails to deliver on its initial promise.

For several decades now the biomedical research community has pursued a narrative positing that a combination of ever-deeper knowledge of subcellular biology, especially genetics, coupled with information technology will lead to transformative improvements in health care and human health. In this Viewpoint, we provide evidence for the extraordinary dominance of this narrative in biomedical funding and journal publications; discuss several prominent themes embedded in the narrative to show that this approach has largely failed; and propose a wholesale reevaluation of the way forward in biomedical research.

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Doesn't the NIH drive you crazy? It must stand for Not Interested in Health or No Imagination Here, or some such thing. The idiotic slow-motion response to the AIDS epidemic has played out again with the idiotic slow-motion Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, which is also gene-centric. Whatever the NIH is up to we can be almost sure it adds up to Nothing Interesting Here.

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Back in October of 2014 I wrote about the competing threats of EV-D68 and a new wave of paralysis in children compared to the then extant-threat of Ebola."

"Right now the media is fixated on the first case of Ebola to reach U.S. shores … Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director, says the disease will be stopped in its tracks, and for once I believe him. This is what the CDC does well -- track an outbreak in real time, find contacts, quarantine if necessary, and put an end to it. 

“Enterovirus 68, I'm afraid, may be another story. This prospect is outside the CDC's wheelhouse because it does not follow the straight lines of germ theory - one microbe, one disease. It's another paradigm altogether -- a possible microbe-toxin interaction, the kind we've written about many times. And it comes uncomfortably close to interactions (MMR and thimerosal, another microbe and metal combination) they have already rejected as impossible. 

“I'm afraid they feel much more at home waging war on Ebola.

“Which story is bigger? I vote for the enterovirus.

"If EV-D68 follows the polio trajectory, it will be back in bigger numbers, following a jagged course of dips and spikes that no on can make sense of until, one day, it explodes."

Now it's b-a-a-a-a-c-c-c-k, as we've reported. Even People is on the case: "Polio-like disease is on the rise in the U.S., causing paralysis in children."

As many of you know I've been writing recently -- and Mark and I have been collaborating for a long time -- on the real history of polio and its relation to toxic co-factors. Everything old is new again.

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Just because I want to, I'm going to say I think opening Prince's house as a tourist attraction so soon after his death is some kind of record for instant kitsch. Yes, I know the lack of air conditioning means the items could not be kept around, etcetera etcetera. But please. The man died of an overdose of a prescription drug that is part of a class of drugs that has been hawked, like so many other medical intervention, way out of proportion to its usefulness. 

Here's a memorial to Prince -- take drug ads off TV.

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Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.


Weekly Wrap: No More Measles, Lots More Autism

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

"An effort spanning two decades has resulted in a global first," CNN reported Thursday. "The Americas have eliminated measles, the World Health Organization said this week. The battle was won through mass vaccination to prevent the viral disease, which can cause severe health problems including pneumonia, blindness, brain swelling and even death."

Well, the battle was mostly won before the battle began, as anyone who's looked at the pre-vaccine wipeout of the disease would know.

From Mark Blaxill and my 2015 book, Vaccines 2.0:
Measles Mortality DO MB

In Vaccines 2.0 we wrote: “Much of the recent publicity about measles reflects a small increase in US cases in the past few years—usually overseas travelers becoming infected and then spreading the illness in small pockets that generate alarmist headlines.

“In the spring of 2014, a news outlet in suburban Washington, under a large banner titled “Health Warning,” reported public health workers “are informing people who were at various locations . . . that they may have been exposed to a person with measles. Northern Virginia area health officials are mounting a coordinated effort to identify people who may have been exposed.”

“The idea that measles is highly infectious is certainly true; the claim that it is a health emergency is not. For generations, measles was considered a rite of passage for children, with little risk of complications and the reward of lifetime immunity."

A blogger at Livingwhole.org made the same point in June 2014 in a post titled, Measles Shmeasles:

“So far, in 2014 there have been 288 cases of measles, no cases of encephalitis, and no death. In 2013 there were 189 cases of measles, no encephalitis and no death. In 2012 there were 54 cases of measles, no encephalitis, and no death. In 2011, there were 22 cases of measles, and you guessed it . . . no encephalitis, and no death.

“I could go on, but you get the point.

“By and large, measles is unpleasant, not deadly.

“In comparison, the same cannot be said for the MMR vaccine. As of March 1, 2012 there were 842 serious injuries following the MMR vaccine and 56 deaths. Since 1990 there have been more than 6,058 serious adverse events reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). What’s even more sad is that only 1–10% of cases are actually reported ….”

Honestly. If you’ve seen Vaxxed, you know it does a great job of contrasting the Disney measles hysteria with the blasé attitude of mainstream media and medicine and the CDC and the NIH and HRSA and etcetera to the endless, increasing, debilitating, sometimes lethal autism epidemic and its allied catastrophes.

But of course kids will all be getting the MMR into perpetuity – now with one part that doesn’t work and spawns epidemics post-adolescence that are far more dangerous (mumps); a vaccine for a disease that is usually not serious and is no circulating (measles) but can have serious side effects, and one for which there can be an altruistic argument given the risk of congenital rubella syndrome, but also with serious risks. Put them all together, shake it up and voila -- the autism shot, as Jenny called it.

Kind of like the DPT – diphtheria doesn’t circulate, tetanus is not a serious risk, and certainly not to anyone but the person who might get it, and pertussis, for which we believe there is a case worth discussing.

Not to mention the deadly and disgusting HPV, the useless and dangerous Hep B, the useless and dangerous chickenpox.

This is why parental choice and no mandates are so important, regardless of one’s stance on vaccines overall. Too much autism, too many vaccines with too many side effects – but at least, thank God, no measles.
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Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.


The Age of Polio: The Second Baseman’s Son

SeccafinoBy Dan Olmsted

WYTHEVILLE, Virginia (AOA) -- It was the seventh inning stretch of a home game for the Wytheville Statesmen, the Class D League team beloved by this baseball-obsessed Southwestern Virginia town. The date was June 30, 1950.

The announcer told the crowd that Johnny Seccafico, infant son of second baseman Jim Seccafico, had been rushed to the hospital in Roanoke, seriously ill. (How serious can be measured in miles away: 78.) The fans passed a Statesmen hat and chipped in $227, a generous gesture worth ten times as much in today's dollars. Jim, who looks heartbreakingly young in this photo, was not in the game that night. He never played again.

Johnny had polio, the first case in town that summer, and his father instantly dropped the itinerant life of a D Leaguer to help care for him; Johnny lived. He never walked again.

Before it was over that summer, Wytheville – pronounced WITH-ville, pop. 5,500  – and Wythe County suffered an outbreak of poliomyelitis that struck nearly 200, killing 17, almost all of them children. Per capita, Wytheville remains the worst polio outbreak anywhere, ever.

Why? That was the question on my mind last month when I stopped off for a day in this town in the Blue Ridge just off Interstate 81, on my way back from a camping trip in North Carolina. I’ve learned over the years that the most extreme example of a phenomenon – the first cases of autism, for example, or the worst cases of Freud’s hysteria, or the fatal version of syphilis – can be the most revealing. It’s what Mark Blaxill and I have been doing for a decade now. (Another thing I've learned is to try to visit places I'm writing about -- walking the territory, as one editor put it to me.)

In the case of polio, we concluded a few years back that outbreaks were not as simple as they seemed: a toxic co-factor is required to turn harmless poliovirus infections into poliomyelitis, the illness that attacks the anterior horn cells at the top of the spine and causes paralysis and death. The earliest co-factor, we proposed, was the pesticide lead arsenate; its invention in 1892 ushered in the Age of Polio. Arsenic can weaken the immune system and cause permeability in the GI tract and, we suspect, allow the virus to escape into the nerves and cause paraIysis. Lead, too, is infamous for causing both mental and physical handicaps including paralysis. A handful of medical mavericks have long argued so-called"polio" is just lead arsenate or DDT poisoning in disguise. Our equation is new: virus + toxin = poliomyelitis.

Following our “worst and first” approach to historical epidemiology, I recently wrote about the first big regional epidemic in the United States, which started in Brooklyn in 1916. I made a case that the outbreak was triggered by the first use of arsenic as a weed killer in sugar cane fields; Brooklyn was the sugar refining capital of the world.

Continue reading "The Age of Polio: The Second Baseman’s Son" »


Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Don’t Be Cruel …

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

We always enjoy hearing from readers. Here’s an e-mail I received this week from someone going by the pen name Potato Part:

“I will preface this with the fact that I am autistic.

“I accidentally ran across Age of Autism. Age of Autism is the type of stuff that actually hurts autistic people. This type of thing makes it seem like the parents are suffering when their kids are autistic. That's complete bullshit.

“Those parents are the ones trying to kill us in an attempt to ‘cure’ us. It is definitely very nice to see that we are hated. I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for helping the content that hurts autistic people. Thank you for putting out content that gets autistic people killed. Thank you for actively harming autistic people. Thank you for reminding us that we are thought of as burdens.

“Thank you for making it harder for autistic people to live. Thank you for the content that makes autistic people suicidal. Thank you for making our life harder. Thank you for making our life worse.”

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Another commenter this week wrote the following:

“We have 16 yr old severe autistic child with violent behavior. We cant leave such a beautiful girl in this world alone after us. So we decided to live till we can bear. When we reach a point beyond which we can't pull any more, we will end our roles in this world along with her. People may call us escapists, but after taking this decision, we started enjoying life. We are sure nobody else can take care of such children other than parents.

"Doctors/scientists/bureaucrats/politicians - Put some more efforts/grant enough funds to research more to find solution ASAP to save families suffering from this problem.”

Those two comments just about cover the waterfront, I’d say.

Obviously, premeditated murder-suicide out of despair for the future of one’s child, as this parent is promising, is not OK.  Autistic people like Potato Part feeling suicidal, or at least that his or her life is made harder and that they are hated after reading sites like ours, is not OK.

It’s not my place to offer a glib counterargument to either, although in my opinion death just postpones your karma, so you might as well work it out in this life and ask for -- demand -- all the help you need to do so. The degree of suffering in both these comments is awful and deserves empathy though not encouragement or consent, a difference those of us in happier circumstances have an obligation to convey.

People high-functioning enough to write a note like Potato Part’s might fairly be asked to drop the nihilistic sarcasm and say plainly what they might, or we should, do to make life better not just for themselves but for autistic individuals so incapacitated that their parents believe it would be an act of love to kill them. Parents who think their kids will be better off dead than without them might want to consider Potato Part’s perspective, as well as resources like TACA, before settling on such a dire strategy. I wrote a few weeks ago about a hundred flowers blooming in terms of ideas for group living and other remedies for institutions and social isolation. A lot of families are in this boat. Don't jump ship. Reach out.

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Another comment this week from a regular reader about a conference Mark Blaxill and I were attending left me a little perplexed: It began: “Dan, you do amazing work but I probably won't watch because the conference looked too slick and commercial, which to me means they will probably downplay the role of vaccines in the health crisis.”

Well, first, thank you, and second, you are seriously harshing my buzz, dude. The Real Truth About Health Conference in Orlando did anything but “downplay” the role of vaccines in the health crisis. I’ll say more about it later when I have some video and transcripts to share, but this falls in the category of not wanting to join the kind of club that would have us as members, doesn’t it? Or something like that.

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I picked up a Time magazine at the airport on the way to the Orlando conference. Mistake.

“We shouldn’t dismiss people who deny facts,” wrote Sara E. Gorman and Jack M. Gorman in a short Viewpoint. “It’s easy to dismiss people who believe things that are factually incorrect – that vaccines cause autism, for example, or that climate change isn’t real.” The article attempted to “empathize” with us poor benighted souls. Since no one knows what causes autism – speak for yourselves, Sara E. and Jack M. – “we tend to fill in the gaps ourselves” and respond more to stories than statistics.

“That’s precisely what makes it more natural for antivaxxers to ‘imagine’ the risk of their children dying from a vaccine than it is for them to comprehend statistics that say otherwise.” The article, dripping with condescension masquerading as wuv, sweet wuv, concluded, “changing minds requires compassion and understanding, not disdain.” As J.B. Handley put it on The Doctors a few years back, “I don’t need your sympathy.”

The idea that we are so pitiably illogical comes in the midst of a rather illogical argument, doesn’t it? Many who saw their child descend into autism after a shot were not (duh!) and are not “anti-vaxxers,” nor are they relying on “stories” about children dying. They are sharing what they saw. The Gormans might try listening.

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The Russians apparently hacked the records of some of our Olympians, and the media is reporting on Simone Biles’ ADHD. That’s a terrible invasion, but nothing for her to be ashamed of. It does reinforce a point I made a few weeks back about all the health challenges this year’s Olympians faced – including Michael Phelps, who has spoken openly about his own ADHD. We’re going to start needing a para-para-Olympics for our only “slightly” disabled athletes. Otherwise I’m not sure they’ll be able to put together a men's water polo team in 2020.

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Did you see how the sugar interests paid Harvard researchers decades ago to blame fat, not sugar, for ill health and obesity several decades ago? That’s a big deal as it skewed us away from what has since become obvious – that there wasn’t that much wrong with our grandparents’ diets (and theirs, and theirs) until sugar and preservatives came pouring into just about everything we eat.

I’ve been writing about the role of sugar in the 1916 polio epidemic, and although this has nothing directly to do with it, it shows what comes first, and it's not the consumer.

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Speaking of which, Bayer bought up Monsanto this week for $66 billion. Monsanto developed glyphosate. Bayer and DuPont created the ethylmercury seed disinfectant Ceresan that led to early cases of autism. DuPont and Dow recently merged. Dow and Monsanto supplied the government with Agent Orange. Coleen Boyle of the CDC helped minimize the role of Agent Orange in harming U.S. troops; she hid the cause of the autism epidemic, including the MMR cover-up described by William Thompson, and the dangers of ethylmercury-containing vaccines like the flu shot, DPT, HIB and Hep B. Thimerosal (Merthiolate) was invented for Eli Lilly by the same guy, Morris Kharasch, who invented Ceresan for DuPont and Bayer. Bayer bought up Monsanto ...

It’s a small, toxic world that spins round and round. And real people are really suffering because of it.

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Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.


Brett Wilcox on Vaccine Dogma and the Epidemic of Nonsense Live Today

BrettWilcox-header
Editor's Note -- Today (Tuesday) at 9 am ET, Brett Wilcox is speaking on Vaccine Dogma and the Epidemic of Nonsense. Brett is the author of the very new book Jabbed, How the Vaccine Industry, Medical Establishment and Government Stick It to You and Your Family. Mark, Del Bigtree and I were on a panel with him in Orlando over the weekend and he was terrific, a great new asset to the vaccine injury community. We need some fresh voices, and we've got one. Tune in for free here, and leave a note to win a free copy of his book. Brett lives in Sitka, Alaska, by the way, and has already written two books on Monsanto's mayhem. He's a true antivaxxer. -- Dan


California Medical Board Attacks Dr. Bob Sears for Protecting His Patient

Russian rouletteNOTE:  Welcome to the USSV.  United States of Severe Vaccination. The California medical board is practicing communicable disease communism, demanding lockstep adherence to the pediatric vaccination schedule regardless of physician recommendations.   And they will punish doctors who exercise their medical knowledge.  They are targeting Dr. Bob Sears for his audacity in putting his young patients health before pharmaceutical, public health or government wishes.     There is to be NO vaccine choice in the world of Public/Government health. You will vaccinate with no question of your health status, religious beliefs or personal stance. This is communism. The government controls you.

Please share your support in our comments and most especially on this article.

Dr. Bob Sears faces medical board discipline in recommendation not to vaccinate

Dr. Bob Sears, the Capistrano Beach pediatrician who is an outspoken critic of mandatory vaccination laws, faces possible state Medical Board discipline after he recommended that a 2-year-old patient forgo immunizations, according to legal documents made public Thursday.

The board accuses Sears of committing “gross negligence” in 2014 when he wrote a letter excusing the toddler from future vaccinations after the child’s mother described an adverse reaction as an infant.

The documents say Sears failed to obtain a detailed medical history documenting the unidentified boy’s prior vaccines and reactions, which was necessary for making an evidence-based decision. Sears’ recommendation left the patient and “his future contacts at risk for preventable and communicable diseases,” the documents say.

Sears declined to comment Thursday.

If the board finds Sears negligent, he could face discipline ranging from a public reprimand to revocation of his medical license.

Continue reading "California Medical Board Attacks Dr. Bob Sears for Protecting His Patient" »


Polio-like Illnesses in U.S. Children Show Sharp Uptick, CDC Says

Breaking newsBy Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill

Two years after dozens of children became paralyzed following baffling respiratory illnesses, the CDC says it has received a “notable” increase in reports this year compared to last – a spike that appears especially pronounced since May 1.

Forty-nine reports of suspected acute flaccid myelitis – AFM -- were received by the CDC from January 1 in 22 states; 27 of those reports met the case definition and four more are probable, the agency said. Age of Autism reviewed an official alert containing the information. The CDC received only eight reports to that date last year, five of them confirmed. (Chart shows statistics January-June 2016 in orange compared to the year earlier.) Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 10.01.56 AM

The average age this year is five, with the range from five months to 18 years. The dates of onset ranged from January 19 to July 23, with 20 of the 27 confirmed cases occurring after May 1, 9 of them in July. The agency said no single pathogen had been identified that linked the cases. It’s unclear how many cases may have occurred since July 23.

The original paralysis outbreak beginning in late 2013 affected more than 100 children and was associated in many cases with Enterovirus D-68, a member of the virus family which also includes poliovirus and usually circulates without causing severe illnesses. Age of Autism covered the outbreak extensively and raised the possibility that some of the cases – which began in California – might be linked to pesticides.

The apparent resurgence this year of the paralytic illness is concerning because, like polio, it could be following a fluctuating pattern and peaking in the summertime, suggesting a possible connection to crops and food.

Other troubling signs of pesticide exposure include the death of bee colonies, most recently millions of honeybees in South Carolina after spraying for mosquitos.

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism, Mark Blaxill is Editor-At-Large.


Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Failure to Launch

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Perhaps you saw the spectacular launch pad explosion of Elon Musk’s rocket this week. That is nothing compared to the failure to launch of the entire excessive-vaccination generation. (I adopt that term from Bernie Rimland, who said – and it always bears repeating – that “the autism epidemic is real and excessive vaccinations are the cause.”)


Recently an autism dad suggested to me that kids started having trouble with ADD and ADHD in the 1970s, well before the 1988 spike in autism that defines the epidemic. That could track to the introduction of the MMR and various other adjustments to the vaccine schedule and increases in coverage. And that would give us people like Michael Phelps – born 1985 – who has talked openly about having ADHD. It’s possible some of his substance issues could be self-medication. (This appeared to be the year when Olympians with Issues became the headline. Crohn’s disease, asthmatics – where did this infirmary full of world-class athletes come from? I don’t remember it a decade or two ago.)

Of course, Phelps is an awesome success story by any standard, but especially the standards set by pop culture presentations of young adults these days. One that’s on the airwaves now is for a credit-score company: the impetus for tracking your credit is the ongoing nightmare of living with mom and dad. Two or three amusing vignettes – dad wearing the same shirt to try to be cool, or playing some dopey game – make clear that living with your parents is a drag, man. It finally dawned on me this was one of the first ads I’d seen from a millennial perspective. Rather than the irritation of having grown kids at home – that would be my generation’s complaint -- it was the irritation of having stupid parents in your space, even if it is technically their space!

Also this week, I was flipping through my new edition of Tricycle, a Buddhist magazine, and from a less materialistic perspective picked up the same vibe.

“My students seem burdened,” said Jeff Wilson, an associate professor of religious studies at Renison State University in Canada. “People seem really afraid – we probably all know statistics around antidepressant use and anxiety and depression. I think it’s coming from the dissipation of family and connection with others. It just seems really hard to sustain that in the kind of society we have.”

Oh, pish posh. I wish that people who make useful observations would pause for just one moment before offering mere speculation as to the cause. I just don’t think there is justification for this kind of anomie, some breakdown in our families and society to the point that young people just can’t get it together.

It was no picnic in 1968, let me tell you. Yet today things are so fraught, apparently, that trigger warnings and safe spaces and micro-aggressions are the order of the day. (One is tempted to say, if you want a safe space, go back to your parents’ basement.) It was nice to see the University of Chicago push back in a letter to students this week. My own alma mater, Yale, was the scene of great pusillanimity kicked off by a dean’s wife harmless suggestion that nobody get too riled up by potentially offensive Halloween costumes. I don’t mean to minimize this generation’s own set of issues, nor the need to deal with historical grievances that ours may have never considered. Many will disagree, but I thought Georgetown’s offer this week to give preferential admission to descendants of slaves it had owned (and sold to keep in business) was terrific. There are problems to be dealt with but that does not explain or justify a generation of kids with sawed-off ambitions and crippling apathy who can’t seem to get out of their parents’ basements. I remember staying at home for three or four days right out of college until I moved in with a couple of friends. We were not living large, but it seemed that way because, hallelujah, we were on our own. (And then, a few months later, I moved into my own tiny attic apartment and bought a Sherwood receiver, a Dual Turntable and a pair of Dynaco speakers that I still have and put on a record that was just out -- Blood on the Tracks. Tangled Up in Blue's astonishing instrumental opening came pouring out like warm honey and gave the system a worthy baptism. I digress but being on your own is good!)

There’s nothing heroic about this, it is what people do and have done really for millennia -- a biologic imperative of youth to stand up, strike out on their own, show they can do it better and create their own life. The universe throws in some extra hormones or whatever to push us all out of the nest without a crippling fear of falling. Except, apparently, these days.

One of my favorite quotes is by Lightner Witmer, a Philadelphia psychologist, describing a possible early case of autism:

 “As the flower blooms, the fish swims or the bird flies, so the child crawls, walks and talks. It is the unfolding of his own instinctive impulses. But this child had to be taught to crawl and to walk, and even then he could only toddle around uncertainly. He never uttered a word spontaneously.”

This unfolding naturally continues into adolescence and early adulthood – or it ought to. But we shouldn’t be surprised it doesn’t when we have 1 in 6 kids with learning disabilities, 1 in 68 with autism, more than half with some kind of mental or physical health issue. That’s a lot of kids! Yet when these kids continue to have “delays” into adulthood, we seem to ignore this reality of cause and effect. Saying a three-year-old is delayed is one thing, but a 20-year-old who delays taking on the natural responsibilities and advantages of his age is something else. Or is it? Are we going to be talking about “delays” in 80-year-olds? At some point delay becomes denial of a person’s right to live a full and unburdened life.

It’s what Bernie Rimland called Dyslogic Syndrome in a book by that title available on Amazon. The subtitle says it all: Why Millions of Kids are ‘Hyper,’ Attention-Disordered, Learning Disabled, Depressed, Aggressive, Defiant, or Violent – and What We Can Do About It. This overlooked gem from 2008 – a kind of bookend to his classic Infantile Autism in 1964 – describes the generation now in their late teens and early adulthood.

If you get a generation whose members were delayed in infancy, should we be surprised they remain delayed in everything from leaving home to adjusting to the rough and tumble of what used to be called “the real world,” still "toddling around uncertainly" like the child Witmer described? Speaking of the real world, I'm reliably informed that another reality show, Big Brother, currently has three contestants well into their 20s who still live with their parents. We should stop grabbing for silly explanations and come to grips, like Georgetown with its egregious slave history, with what we have wrought.

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Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.


Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Notes from the Wilds of North Carolina

Do NCBy Dan Olmsted

Catching up from some time away, camping (more like “glamping”) with some autism dads and others who know the score, by the French Broad River in Hot Springs, North Carolina. (The milkweed seemed like a sign of summer’s end.)

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I’m impressed that as the first generation of the autism epidemic cohort – I guess that’s how I’d put it – is aging out of schools and into adulthood, a hundred flowers are blooming, sometimes literally. A dad whose son is 20 talked about all kinds of ideas he and his wife are working on, from a flower delivery service that includes donating one bouquet to a special needs family for every one sold. There was also talk of incorporating the tiny house movement into a group living situation for people with an autism diagnosis.

I know that Dan Burns and Teresa Conrick, among others, have worked on interesting projects. Not all will work on the first try but along with the harsh fact of a world unwilling and unable to accommodate the coming deluge, I’m impressed with the energy and creativity that’s emerging.

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On the way back, I stopped for an Egg McMuffin and one of the staff was being animated and a bit goofy. “Don’t judge me, I’m special,” he said. I wasn’t sure whether to be offended because he wasn’t disabled, or accommodating because he was. I hope it’s not the hip kids co-opting phrases the way they did the R word and “that’s so gay.” But it’s becoming their world now whatever we think about it.

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There are two kinds of studies coming down the pike that I was told to watch – or watch out – for. One looks at acetaminophen, which a scientist dad I talked to at length is convinced is responsible for 90 percent of autism cases. I just don’t buy it but I’m open to the evidence. He sent me some papers to read that I’ll take a look at. What are your ideas about the role, if any, of Tylenol in autism?

I can see the biological plausibility, but the idea it’s the “but for” factor in nine out of 10 cases doesn’t quite work for me. As I told this dad, one of the strongest arguments against it is the work Mark Blaxill, Teresa Conrick and I have done on early cases. If you accept our premise – autism was essentially nonexistent before 1930, first arose with the commercialization of ethyl mercury compounds in vaccines and preservatives, and first affected children in families with those occupations in the background – it is hard to see how a pain reliever fits the fact pattern better.

I thought he didn’t realize the power of that evidence, but then I would think that, wouldn’t I?

The second kind of study looks at older unvaccinated siblings of vaccinated children with autism. Many times parents will forego vaccinating subsequent children in the (correct) belief that there was a connection. But if those unvaccinated kids have the same or a higher rate of autism, it throws an obvious monkey wrench in the theory. If you have ideas for why this kind of data might not be convincing, I’d like to hear them.

Of course this sort of study gives the lie to the claim it’s impossible to compare vax v unvaxxed people, so why not do it in a broader group with unrelated children? We’ve been waiting for that for a long time now.

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about continued attention to the antimalarial drug Lariam, or mefloquine, and the fact that it is most certainly causing a percentage of veteran suicide and violence.

This week I heard from a very good, and cautious, source with military connections that there is evidence the Dallas shooter, Micah Xavier Johnson, who killed five police officers, might have been taking the drug and suffered its long-term effects.

He was an Afghan War Army Reserve veteran, which puts him in the right place at the right time. As long as the media and medicine ignore the acknowledged long term consequences of this drug, we are going to see more suicide or violence, whether this case was representative of that or not.

The only good-faith thing for the military to do is launch a high-power investigation. That, of course, would mean facing up to its culpability in inventing and mandating a deadly dangerous drug. It’s easy to be cynical but I think it can and will happen as more bizarre deaths occur, indefinitely.

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One nice thing about being back is to catch up on posts and comments and realize how much good content appears every day and week. This comment by John Stone caught my eye: “It is a crazy idea that you can just suspend the normal rules of a liberal democracy and not reep appalling consequences.” I looked up liberal democracy and learned that the “liberal” is used in the classical sense of liberty, meaning that individuals within a majority-ruled country should have a wide margin of freedom within that context.

Liberal and libertarian – not so far apart when it comes to our common cause.

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Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.


Best of: A Torrent of Leaks Reaches Flood Stage

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaDan is on a short break. This post ran on 8/23/14. Since then, Vaxxed has exposed the CDC Whistle blower to a broad audience and we're bearing down on a Presidential election. How many children have been diagnosed in 24 months' time? Yesterday I had a new student in a karate class I teach, I heard Mom say, "He attends [name of developmental peer combo preschool in our town.]" I asked her, "Is he a peer or on an IEP?" "Oh! He's been tested for autism 3 times, he has sensory processing disorder and speech delay."  And the leaks continue. And the flood drowns.  KIM

By Dan Olmsted

As the MMR whistleblower issue blows up, here's one thing that’s worth remembering: The specific manipulation of data being alleged is that the CDC covered up a risk for autism in black males who got the MMR shot earlier than 36 months. That is appalling, and raises terrible echoes of the nation’s public health officials and their odious Tuskegee study of untreated black males with syphilis.

But more broadly, according to the medical, scientific, and journalistic consensus of our day, there should be no good evidence of any kind, whatsoever, linking any vaccine to autism in any child, ever. Ever! (“One Thing We Know About Autism: Vaccines Aren’t to Blame” – National Geographic. “Once again, the research is definitive: vaccines don't cause autism, and the potential costs of vaccines' mild side-effects are clearly smaller than those of the lethal diseases that can spread if we don't vaccinate all children.” – Vox.com)

Since “we know” that vaccines don’t cause autism, they certainly don’t cause it in black males. They certainly don’t cause it when the MMR is given to black males. They certainly don’t cause it when the MMR is given to black males in Atlanta.  They certainly don’t cause it when the MMR is given to black males in Atlanta before a certain age – or, for that matter, given on the day of birth to blue-eyed females in Dubuque born on the first or third Thursdays of months ending in "y."

They don't cause autism! Got it? If they did, even in such a circumscribed cohort as black males in Atlanta vaccinated with MMR before 36 months --  that would start a cascade of challenges to orthodoxy that simply can’t – and, if the authority figures have their way, simply won’t – be tolerated. This is what the The Times and The Networks and the Agencies are going to be working overtime to shore up.

The CDC’s William Thompson, whistleblower to Brian Hooker on the MMR study and lead author on another on mercury in vaccines, has probably ruined more than a few of his colleagues’ August vacations at Hilton Head. One can’t help think of goofy cartoon characters running around a leaking dike and plugging every hole that starts spurting. They are down now to using their toes. (Check out this staggeringly off-message comment from Dorit Reiss on CNN: "Even if his [Brian Hooker's] claims about the study were correct, which is doubtful, it would show that for most of the population, MMR does not cause autism." I imagine a Merck guy yelling in her ear, "Dammit, Dorit, don't ever say it's OK if the MMR just makes a few thousand black boys autistic! Do you really want this job? ")

More broadly, these “leaks” in the bulwark of conventional wisdom have been coming for a long time, and not just from people on the inside with information to share.

I’m talking about leaks like all the parents of children on the other side of the elevated-risk stats – MMR shots at 12 months, illness, regression, autism.

Leaks like parents who saw it with other vaccines, at other times  -- parents who were willing to share what happened to try to keep it from happening again.

Leaks like the original Verstraeten study at the CDC that found a high risk of autism for infants who got the most ethyl mercury by the first month of life, as opposed to the least.

Leaks like the CDC coverup of the soaring autism rate in Brick Township, N.J.

Leaks like all the evidence from low-and-no-vaccine populations with low-to-no autism. Leaks like the unwillingness of the public health authorities to even study the issue.

Leaks like the Hannah Poling case, which the government conceded was triggered by autism, but buried by obfuscation. Leaks like the Unanswered Questions study showing autism all over the place in unacknowledged vaccine “court” rulings.

Leaks like the SafeMinds parents identifying autism as a “novel form of mercury poisoning” more than a decade ago. 

Leaks like the Merck scientists who came forward to say the company faked data to make its mumps vaccine look effective.

Leaks like the connection between the first cases of autism reported in the medical literature, in 1943, and the families’ exposure to the new ethyl mercury vaccines and fungicides. 

Continue reading "Best of: A Torrent of Leaks Reaches Flood Stage" »


Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: More Mefloquine Mayhem; Hiding Behind 'Hindsight'; a Polio Pause

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

A study this week found that a service member diagnosed with PTSD was actually suffering from mefloquine toxicity -- the Army-invented malaria drug that can cause suicide, homicide, psychosis, depression and sudden death. It's a topic I wrote about extensively and it's a dead ringer for the autism-vaccine debacle; the government refuses to come to grips with the damage done, and people suffer needlessly as a result. The analogies between the two convinced me the public health establishment will lie and cover up to protect its prerogatives and hide its collateral damage.

http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/2016/08/11/malaria-drug-causes-permanent-brain-damage-case-study/88528568/

I asked Dr. Remington Nevin, a former Army doctor now getting a doctoral degree at Johns Hopkins who has done groundbreaking work on mefloquine (Lariam): "What is your guess about how much of PTSD these days is really Lariam induced?" He replied, "I’m on record as saying it’s probably somewhere in the single digit percentages in military populations — but it could be even higher, depending on the context. Among troops deployed who never saw combat but who were prescribed (and continued to take) mefloquine, the proportion of questionable diagnoses could be much higher — see my chapter 'Mefloquine and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder' for further discussion of this.

"What is interesting is that this is not an effect that is unique to mefloquine. Quinacrine (Atabrine) used in WWII, and chloroquine used in Vietnam both have similar effects. And, of course, what we today consider PTSD was not even formally recognized during either war. Prolonged panic or anxiety reactions in WWII veterans were called 'gross stress reaction,' and were not recognized as a distinct diagnosis among Vietnam veterans until the 1980 DSM III established the new 'PTSD' diagnosis.

"I actually suspect what Vietnam veterans called 'Vietnam syndrome' — which was actually quite different than today’s construct of PTSD — was in many cases simply quinoline antimalarial toxicity."

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I am a connoisseur of after-action, lessons-learned reports. It's always interesting to see what, in the clear light of day, caused a disaster. The O-rings. The 9.11 report. The Pentagon Papers. I have a passing relationship to one such nightmare -- the made-up stories by a USA Today staffer that came to light only after a long string of them had gotten into the paper. I sat next to the reporter in the 1980s when he was an ambitious copy boy in the News Section and I was an assistant national editor. The fake stories didn't begin till after I had left the news section; otherwise I'm pretty sure I would have fallen for some, which were usually written from exotic locales that would be very hard to double-check. Plus -- and this counts for a lot in real time -- he was a really, really nice guy. He just had a bad habit of making stuff up, and that's not something you expect a reporter to do at a national newspaper.

So I'll stipulate it's not fair to hold people to standards that would have required superhuman abilities. It's the cases that were or should have been obvious at the time that really hurt. When the Challenger exploded, the engineers in the lunchroom at the manufacturer realized immediately it was their own product, the O-rings, that had caused the explosion (because the cold weather made them vulnerable to coming apart). Even though the editors hadn't caught the USA Today reporter's fabrications, the New York Times reported some of his colleagues "were so suspicious of his dispatches that as long ago as the mid-1990's, they began keeping crude dossiers on him -- questioning the plausibility of his battlefield descriptions, clipping articles from other newspapers that included phrasing similar to (his), and even making copies of his correspondence with editors." The editors said they never heard about it, but the "hindsight" defense no longer worked; they should have created a newsroom culture where the suspicions reached them. Instead, the after-action report said, they created a "climate of fear" in which no one dared say anything. That's why as soon as they read it the news editor and executive editor resigned.

Most recently, the Brits did a full accounting on the reason for invading Iraq along with the United States. As summarized by CBC News, "the six-year study concluded that London and Washington knew a lot — but underestimated or discounted most of the looming dangers and pitfalls. When (Tony) Blair told the inquiry he could not have foreseen the problems in Iraq, (the committee) would have none of it: 'We do not agree that hindsight is required. The risks of internal strife in Iraq, active Iranian pursuits of its interests, regional instability and al-Qaeda activity in Iraq were each explicitly identified before the invasion," the report said. 

So when did hindsight cease to be an excuse for the man-made autism epidemic and the failure to do anything about it? There are so many inflection points, from the Brick study to the Verstraeten saga to the Thompson whistle-blowing. Pick your poison. The point is that the time is past for the hindsight defense to exculpate anyone. Someday some prestigious panel will write the kind of report I am addicted to reading. I hope I'm still around for it and that it contains words to the effect that "hindsight is no defense when thousands of parents told their doctors and public officials exactly what happened and the number of cases soared with the vaccine schedule. Most remarkable of all was that the CDC was allowed to continue its monopoly both on the vaccine mandates and the safety studies years after its cluelessness, conflicts of interests and coverup became clear to any impartial observer."

And speaking of mefloquine, it should have been obvious by 2003, when soldiers returning home to Fort Bragg from Afghanistan killed their wives and then themselves, that the drug was too dangerous. Instead the relentless wave of veteran suicide, violence and despair has been swelled by the ignorance and arrogance of the military medical command -- the soul brothers of the CDC, the NIH and the civilian public health establishment. The "hindsight" defense just doesn't cut it, especially not when you are on record blaming the "herd," aka the victims who were trying to tell you.

From the Army Times:

"Mefloquine was developed under the Army’s malaria drug discovery program and approved for use as a malaria prophylactic in 1989. Shortly after commercial production began, stories surfaced about side effects, including hallucinations, delirium and psychoses. Military researchers maintained, however, that it was a 'well-tolerated drug,' with one WRAIR scientist attributing reports of mefloquine-associated psychoses to a 'herd mentality.'

"'Growing controversies over neurological side effects, though, are appearing in the literature, from journal articles to traveler’s magazines and resulting legal ramifications threaten global availability,' wrote researcher Army Col. Wilbur Milhous in 2001. "As the 'herd mentality' of mefloquine associated psychoses continues to gain momentum, it will certainly affect operational compliance and readiness. ... The need for a replacement drug for weekly prophylaxis will continue to escalate.'

"Mefloquine was implicated in a series of murder-suicides at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2002," the Army Times continued,  "and media reports also tied it to an uptick in military suicides in 2003."

Yes, media reports of the truth.

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A note for those of you expecting the latest installment in the polio series – I’m taking a break to complete another project but will return with a vengeance in a few weeks. I’ve pretty much completed the arc of the 1916 New York City and North Atlantic epidemic, proposing that sugar tainted with arsenic pesticide triggered the outbreak in those with an active poliovirus infection. Next we’ll look at other outbreaks to test and refine our hypothesis, and ultimately examine why polio is the autism of childhood illnesses, and autism is the polio of childhood disorders – both triggered by an environmental factor that orthodox medicine is either slow to recognize or suppresses altogether. I guess you could call it an after-action report; it's all about "hindsight "that should have been just as clear at the time if the experts weren't blinded by their own theories at the cost of ignoring the people right in front of them.

Catch up on the series here.

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Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism


The Age of Polio. Explosion. Part 12.

Polio color Egypt

Editor's note:  We invite you to read the entire series here.

By Dan Olmsted

When Mrs. G.H. Franklin woke up after collapsing on the floor of her Brooklyn ice cream parlor on June 19, 1916, she found herself in a ward at St. Mary’s Hospital, paralyzed. She was 56 years old. Just two days earlier, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle ran a story on its front page headlined “24 Cases of Infant Paralysis in the Boro; Health Board Acts.”

Polio 12 1

Despite the timing, doctors were loathe to describe Mrs. Franklin's case as polio. For one thing she simply seemed too old for infantile paralysis -- the oldest person in the health department case files that summer.  “The hospital records show that the case was considered some type of meningitis altho a lumbar puncture showed nothing abnormal,” according to a health department report. “On July 8 she was brought to her son’s home at 1250 Curtis Avenue, Woodhaven, Queens. On July 30, after she left, her grandsons Herbert and Calvin were taken acutely ill, the former promptly being diagnosed poliomyelitis, the diagnosis in the latter not yet known. “On July 15, Mrs. Franklin moved to 4559 Metropolis Avenue, Queens, and nine days after arriving there, her grandson Willy was taken ill and also Edith Smith, the daughter of another tenant in the same house. Both proved to have poliomyelitis.

“An interesting sidelight on this problem is the fact that on June 1, when Mrs. Franklin was first taken ill at 1295 Gates Avenue, an Italian baby on the top floor became suddenly ill and died within 24 hours, no diagnosis being made.”  Trying to untangle the coincidences from the  clues was beyond the health department’s ken. Yet the department spent a lot of its time building up voluminous files on each case and tracking down every possible contact. This was a misadventure if the hypothesis I've laid out in earlier segments is true, because it continually missed the environmental trigger -- low levels of arsenic in sugar that had recently arrived at the refineries from Hawaii.

The environmental toxicologist who’s been helping me commented: “Arsenic in sugar would result in intermittent dosing, which is more likely to manifest in some of the other known symptoms of arsenic toxicity such as GI upset. Orally ingested arsenic is very hard on the intestines.  Orally ingested poliovirus enters the body through the intestines, which will be less able to fight off a viral invasion if arsenic-induced inflammation and necrosis is present.” Certainly plenty of polio cases I’ve read about from the 1916 epidemic began with that kind of stomach upset. I wonder if Mrs. Franklin got better just because she was no longer eating her own ice cream all day.

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Brooklyn, where the Hawaiian sugar made port, had the first outbreak. Queens, where most of the raw sugar went to the refinery in Long Island City, had the highest polio rate per capita of the five boroughs. Yonkers, where a smaller amount went to the refinery there, had the highest number of cases of any city of its size in the country. That’s proof of nothing but it’s consistent with the “facts cluster around a good hypothesis” model.

Polio 12 2

More clues, also direct from the health department:

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Here is that cluster on the health department’s map – it’s directly opposite the green square:

Polio 12 4

Continue reading "The Age of Polio. Explosion. Part 12." »


The Age of Polio: Explosion. Part 10



Polio color Egypt
We are updating the full series with each installment on our sidebar here.

By Dan Olmsted

As we prepare to follow the Hawaiian sugar harvest to the U.S. mainland in early 1916, a natural pause suggests itself. I’ve now presented the basic hypothesis: that arsenic applied for the first time ever to sugarcane fields anywhere, at the Olaa plantation on the Big Island of Hawaii, led to the first massive poliomyelitis epidemic in the United States.

It triggered the Explosion that ushered in the Age of Polio.

That kind of claim attracts critics who use words like "laughable." (Of course, laughable things can be true.) Over at Orac, Denice Walter commented: "Although I am often highly entertained by your speculation, I would be much more pleased with you if you took a few life science related courses at your local university." I responded: "Denice, I remain pleased that you are highly entertained. I fear that exposure to actual experts might reduce my ability to amuse you, so I’ll avoid it for now." (The claim here is that a non-scientist journalist such as myself has no business tackling a topic like this. I disagree.)

So perhaps it’s time to say a little more about how the theory evolved and where I am heading with it. In 2011, Mark Blaxill and I wrote a series called The Age of Polio: How an Old Virus and New Toxins Triggered a Man-Made Epidemic.

In it, we proposed that the invention of lead arsenate pesticide in 1892, interacting with poliovirus infections, kicked off the modern era of polio epidemics. Lead arsenate was created to fight the gypsy moth invasion around Boston that threatened to wreck the entire domestic apple crop. In a literal and metaphoric instance of the “butterfly effect” – seemingly minor and distant events leading to major disruptions -- a few moths escaped their enclosure in a back yard in suburban Medford, and before long turned into teeming masses undulating like black waves across suburban streets to devour fruit trees in one collective gulp. This story almost defies belief, but The Great Gypsy Moth War by Robert J. Spear brings it to creepy-crawly life. 

Lead arsenate subdued the moth problem, but the association of the pesticide with poliomyelitis is hard for dispassionate observers (meaning those not wedded to virology as the explanation for everything) to dismiss. In 1893, the year after the first use of lead arsenate in Boston, two local doctors wrote a medical journal article, “Is Acute Poliomyelitis Unusually Prevalent This Season?” and very quickly established that it was unusually prevalent. “It would not have seemed worthwhile to report these observations had it not been that the number of cases observed at the Massachusetts General Hospital in September and October of this year [apple harvest time] is decidedly larger than usual. …” Putting together all the cases from four sources, they came up with six polio cases for the period August-November 1892, and 26 for the same period in 1893.

Polio 10 1

https://books.google.com/books?id=uMAEAAAAYAAJ&dq=boston+medical+surgical+journal+putnam+taylor+poliomyelitis+1893&q=poliomyelitis#v=snippet&q=poliomyelitis&f=false

While that was an impressive rise, it could have simply been natural variation; sporadic cases were observed by medical professionals over the past several decades. Hence the question mark. But the very next year, 1894, in the Otter River Valley in Vermont, came the answer – an unmistakable poliomyelitis epidemic.

The account, a classic of medical literature worth reading in its own right, was provided by Dr. Charles Caverly, a Rutland physician who also happened to be the president of the state medical society – and was in the right place at the right time. The beginning is memorable and haunting, given what was to come and the fact that epidemic poliomyelitis was so unfamiliar in the United States that Caverly didn’t even call it “infantile paralysis” or poliomyelitis until later articles.

Polio 10 3

“During the month of June, 1894, there appeared in a portion of the valley of the Otter Creek, in the state of Vermont, an epidemic of nervous disease, in which the distinctive and most common symptom was paralysis. The great majority of sufferers were children under six years of age.” Hardest hit were the towns of Rutland and Proctor. There were 132 cases and 18 deaths.

This was not like Boston the year before. This was big.

Continue reading "The Age of Polio: Explosion. Part 10" »


The Age of Polio Series: Explosion.

Polio color EgyptEgyptian priest with withered leg. Anonymous stonecutter, limestone stele.

 
Note: Here is the "The Age of Polio: Explosion" series to date, revised and combined. Each new installment published on AOA will be added to it.


By Dan Olmsted

 

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

 

1.

On May 1, 1916, thirteen-month-old Lettie Caruso* moved with her family to a tenement at 1295 Gates Avenue, Brooklyn. A fifty-six-year-old woman named Mrs. G.H. Franklin lived and worked on the first floor, where she ran a small ice cream parlor that “the children naturally frequented,” according to a subsequent report by the New York Health Department. Lettie and her family lived in the apartment adjacent to the ice cream shop. On May 9, Lettie became ill. “A private physician was called the first day and came several days,” the Department reported. “She was examined with the stethoscope and at the first visit the doctor thought it was only a cold. As she grew worse a physician from New York was called in consultation. Mrs. Caruso thought the diagnosis was pulmonary bronchitis. So far as she knew the child was not paralyzed, but she cannot remember any special examination for that. There has been no Infantile Paralysis in this house, nor in the adjoining properties.”

That was about to change.

Looking back with perfect hindsight, Brooklyn in May 1916 was ground zero for an explosion that no one saw or heard for a month and more -- and, to this day, no one has satisfactorily explained. Before it ended late that summer, 25,000 people in the Northeast developed paralytic poliomyelitis, most of them young children, and an extraordinary 5,000 died -- nearly half of them in the City of New York, a toll approaching the September 11 tragedy. It was by far the largest and most lethal polio epidemic to date, and it remains one of the biggest ever (see chart).

As spring turned to summer, polio gripped every family with fear, not just in the Northeast but nationwide. It was a fear that never entirely lifted until the outbreaks ended in the United States and most other countries after the Salk vaccine was introduced a half-century later, an occasion so momentous that church bells rang out across the country. But 100 years ago, and especially Brooklyn, there was barely suppressed panic that the authorities and the media did their best to tamp down.

"While there is no need of undue alarm," the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported in a careful front-page (but one column) article on June 17 announcing the epidemic, "the officials of the board of health are somewhat worried and are taking measures to stamp out the disease."

Since 1894, clusters had occurred with increasing frequency and virulence in the U.S.. The first, in Vermont, affected 132 and killed 18. The worst, in 1907, killed 125 in New York City. It almost seemed like a rehearsal, or a warning. But 1916 marked the moment the Age of Polio arrived in America.

No one could explain why the epidemics began appearing around the turn of the century. As Albert Sabin, inventor of the live virus polio vaccines, mused in 1947: “No circumstance in the history of polio is so baffling as its change during the past fifty or sixty years from a sporadic to an epidemic disease.” It certainly wasn’t a matter of better diagnosis or greater awareness – this of all diseases, with its sudden onset and often permanent disability or death, was as impossible to miss as a child in an iron lung.

“There was no idea in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that poliomyelitis was contagious,” wrote John R. Paul, a professor of preventive medicine and epidemiology at Yale who conducted important polio research himself. “Had there been larger outbreaks in the early or mid-19th century it seems highly unlikely that they would have gone unnoticed.”

In 1917, the year after the Great Northeast Epidemic, John Ruhrah and Erwin E. Mayer wrote, “It seems to be a disease of comparatively recent origin. In the history of most diseases there is a gradual shading off into the older writers until the disease is lost in confusion of inaccurate descriptions. Not so with polio.” They continued: “The disease is so striking in its symptomatology, so devastating in its results, and produces such a deep impression on the popular mind that it does not seem possible that any very considerable epidemics could have happened in the countries in which there were physicians making records of what occurred.”

Perhaps because the outbreak rose and fell so suddenly, bracketed by much that came to define the turbulent 20th century -- war in Europe in 1914, the sinking of the Lusitania, which departed from New York Harbor, the next year; shark attacks along the crowded Jersey shore that sweltering summer of 1916 that caused sensational press coverage and became fodder for Jaws 60 years later; U.S. entry into WW I in 1917; and the Influenza Pandemic that killed 2,157 New York City residents in the week of November 1, 1918, alone -- the epidemic has faded from collective memory. 



Polio 3

But the question remains, and it remains important in an age of new diseases like EV-68 and Zika, and disorders like autism, that seem to come out of nowhere and spread like wildfire: What caused the Explosion of 1916? If I'm right, an environmental bomb dropped on Brooklyn set it off, spreading with a smooth but terrible precision like a pebble dropped in a still volcanic lake. That kind of bomb could go off again at any time, anywhere. We need to understand it.

I've foreshadowed some of this saga in ways not yet apparent. It takes twists and turns I never imagined when I began. I only ask that you withhold judgment till the keystone has locked the blocks into place.

(*Sources and notes: Information about the sugar industry in 1916 comes from multiple sources including articles on newspapers.com and in specialized sugar journals. Case histories of Lettie Caruso, Mrs. Franklin and others are from the New York City Health Department archives of the 1916 epidemic at the American Philosophical Association library in Philadelphia. All names have been changed, which the library required as a condition for access. The chart showing the spike in the polio rate is by my colleague Mark Blaxill. Our series in 2011 proposing a new explanation for the roots and rise of polio epidemics paved the way for this series.)

Continue reading "The Age of Polio Series: Explosion." »


A Special Tax Deductible Fundraising Appeal From Age of Autism

Donate to AofA
Age of Autism is now a non-profit organization in its tenth year of serving as the Daily Web Newspaper of the Autism Epidemic, which we believe makes us the longest-running autism-related publication on the Web.

We are reaching out to you with our first direct request for financial support. Organizational changes have meant that we have lost a considerable portion of our revenue over the past year, and we hope you will consider helping us continue at full steam.

To make a TAX DEDUCTIBLE donation, please click here www.paypal.me/autismage or send a check made out to:

Autism Age
c/0 Dan Olmsted
102 Whittier Circle
Falls Church VA 22046

Our revenue goes for publishing expenses, reporting and research costs, and support for Dan and Kim in their daily work for AOA. None of this would happen without the community’s support – your support.

We promote calls to action from all around the autism advocacy world, offer new information about the microbiome from Teresa Conrick, expose the latest outrages from the IACC by Katie Wright, bring news of the UK from John Stone, distill the latest media coverage with Anne Dachel, share Natalie Palumbo’s sibling perspective, and chronicle Kim’s saga of raising three girls with autism who are starting to “age out.”

Plus there's Cat Jameson's Sunday column, Tim Welsh's power tweets, Kent Heckenlively’s legal perspective, Dan Burns' literary touch, my own weekly column and ongoing investigations, and – as they say – so much more. We've published over 6,000 posts and 130,000 reader comments. A whole genre of books speaking up for victims of vaccine injury has spun off from AOA, and more are coming.

 When I type “vaccines and autism” into Google, we are usually in the top 10 hits, and we are most often alone as a voice for vaccine safety and autism advocacy. I can’t count the number of people who see us as a lifeline and oasis, who say we have helped them make an informed decision, or helped them find their way to autism groups that can really help. We just redesigned our site to be even more accessible, inviting, and compatible with mobile platforms.

Continue reading "A Special Tax Deductible Fundraising Appeal From Age of Autism" »


Dan Olmsted: My Father’s Book

Happy Father's Day TypewriterSeventy-five years ago, my father, Robert Olmsted, finished a book – a labor of love, really, on the influential architect Louis Sullivan and Sullivan’s writings not on architecture, but democracy. Today, I'm publishing for the first time the opening of that book (here.) Let's hear it for the World Wide Web!

A bit of background is in order. My father was 47 when I was born in 1952, and he died at 66 in 1971 (just two years older than I turned Friday -- too young). I missed a good deal of his life, with divorce and distance a further complication. I only knew second-hand, especially from my sister Rosie, that before I was born he spent long hours up in the garret (yes, a real garret) of their house in Danville, Illinois, creating this work. He would have been in his 30s.

It was never published, and everyone believed the manuscript was lost. 

It was not lost, only spectacularly mislaid.  After my mother's sister died, her children were going through the attic and found a manila envelope with –-behold! --the loose-leaf, typewritten pages of the "Louis Sullivan book." My cousin Trevett handed it to me, and I must say that for some while, I thumbed the pages but didn’t really read it. I had no idea what I would find. What if it was awful or misguided or as dated as the typewriter it was written on, at least by my lights? Well, it wasn't.

Introduction

The mammoth Auditorium building in Chicago may have been demolished by the time these words are in print. If the Auditorium is razed, one of the monumental proofs of Louis Sullivan's genius will have submitted to the hand of Time. But Sullivan's legacy to the world is more lasting than stone or steel.

That opening still feels fresh and powerful, at least to me. A lot was at stake -- an architectural masterpiece  might bite the dust. The building's description -- "mammoth" for size, "monumental" for significance -- was a nice variation, especially since "monumental" worked in both senses.The introduction unfolded in the same way, a brief, well-crafted intellectual biography of Sullivan -- and therefore of my father as well. 

Seventeen years after Louis Sullivan's death he is still primarily known as an architect.  Yet those persons who were close to Sullivan during his lifetime all attest that to know him as an architect, as a giant creator-builder -- to use Sheldon Cheney's phrase -- is to know only half the man. Great as was his contribution to architecture, Louis Sullivan, the poet-philosopher, the artist-writer, the teacher, the prophet of democracy, the personality, stands far above the buildings or the theories of architecture he left to the world. If there remains any doubt about this evaluation this book is offered as conclusive evidence.

Yet this was not hagiography. Sullivan's career cascaded into darkness; he ended up alone. He suffered the fate of someone far ahead of the times. But my father was passionate about the point he wanted to make: Sullivan’s philosophy shaped his buildings. Ideas mattered most. And so did the individual. Form followed function -- a term Sullivan coined.

Sullivan's faith was in the democratic idea, a belief in the soundness and kindness of the common, the normal man -- the multitudes. Here was a faith on which to build a genuine optimism; here was a substantial support reaching down to bedrock. America pointed to her steel production; Sullivan looked at the spiritual vitality of the nation as an index of national well-being.

I just love that. I'd call it prairie progressivism, a Midwestern, land-of-Lincoln fanfare for the common man. It's in my bones as well, as readers who care about such things will know. It was an affirmation of, an appeal to, our better angels, as Lincoln had it. 

Continue reading "Dan Olmsted: My Father’s Book" »


"I Am Alone Struggling With My Problem"

Midweek mashup
By Dan Olmsted

Hey everyone -- Still in search of a member of the American Psychiatric Association to make a request on my behalf; and I'm issuing a call for a virologist out there to contact me (olmsted.dan@gmail.com). I have some embarrassingly basic questions to ask. Meanwhile, my query for help with understanding arsenic -- sometimes a metal, sometimes a metalloid, among other tricky properties -- paid off, as you'll see Saturday.

--

Sometimes our comment threads contain tales of such misery that they are hard to read. Like this one:

"I want to say that I have a 20 yr old Autistic son who has started to turn violent these past two years. He does not communicate at all! He used to use the bathroom in his pants, but now I take care of him fulltime as my job and have worked with him to sit and use it. For those who can't get a job because nobody will care for them while you work, in some states you can become a certified provider and get paid by the county to care for your disabled son, daughter, or family member. They need a waiver which can be difficult to get especially if they are under 18.

"I begged, cried, pleaded with the county to please push this waiver through because I was running out of resources and would have to give him up to the state because nobody could watch him while I worked. I have a 10 yr old typical developing daughter I have to support too and couldn't not work. I'm a single mother because I divorced their father three years ago, and he knew it would make my life more difficult by not helping me, hoping I would come back. Now, I believe his violent outbursts are due to him needing to use the bathroom. Maybe constipation, so I started giving him more fiber, and will sit him on the toilet until he has a bowel movement. This seems to calm him down once he has one.

"He has never went after anyone, but gets so upset that he screeches and rocks rapidly back and forth. I have to walk away sometimes for 5-10 min because it gets overwhelming. I hear comments all of the time about how it must be nice to get paid to watch your own son, but you walk a day in my shoes and see if you could handle it. Even for just an hour. I earn every damn penny of it, believe me. Some say he's my meal ticket because of this, but I'm not a lazy ass who lives off of welfare because I don't qualify for it and pay my own bills and go to school. I know I won't always be able to care for him, and need a backup plan. In ohio, the waiting list for a waiver is 2 yrs+.

"I didn't have that time to wait, so after all of the crying I did they put it through as an emergency waiver. Still, it took 6 months for all of the paperwork to go through. I thank God everyday for my mother who helped me. My parents told me they would help as much as they could once I got divorced. I just wanted to vent, and give information to people who has lost hope or almost there. I cry at least 3 days a week because of the stress, but I am strong and will get through this. Love to all parents/family who have a violent child/adult with autism because it takes special people to be able to live with a person with a disability."

--

This is the reality for many as their severely affected children get older, even as the image of Asperger-style whiz kids takes root in our society. Here's one that's less horrific but I'm sure wears people down just as much.

"It took me almost 7 months and several conversations with 4 doctors just to get one of them to sign a tax form indicating that my son still has autism. Why? Because he hadn't had an appointment with any of them in quite some time. We would need to schedule one, on a wait list for months. I resigned myself to the fact that I would miss the tax deadline that year (silly me, thinking this exercise would be a 15 minute thing). It took some intervention from my own doctor's office to get this resolved.

Continue reading ""I Am Alone Struggling With My Problem"" »


Midweek Mashup: A Little Help, A New Look, A Big Sneeze, Battle Casualties, and a Vision of Hell on Earth

Midweek mashupBy Dan Olmsted

Hey everybody – tell your psychiatrist to call me --I need help in a hurry. Well sort of – I’m renewing my request for a member in good standing of the American Psychiatric Association to request some material for me from the APA library. The library is perfectly happy for me to go that route – they just need a member request. Email: Olmsted.dan@gmail.com.

Another request – I’d like to speak to someone who knows enough chemistry to talk me through arsenic and its variations in a fairly detailed way. Again, please email me.

--

Dan Sketch

How are you liking our redesign? I like the overall look and feel a lot, but there are tweaks to come, and we want everyone’s viewpoint as we go about it. For reference sake (and because I’m kind of proud of it!) here is my original sketch for the new look that we adopted last week.

As you can see, I have no one to blame but myself, as what we ended up with is a pretty faithful rendering. But there is something a little “loose,” at least to my eye, about the way it looks on the actual screen.” It’s not quite as elegant as I’d like it to be. Is the type too big? The logo too small? Should we move up the comments on the right and move down the search function? In all of this the goal is to create a clear and calm – and intelligent, and irreverent, and funny, and moving, and all that -- corner of the world for like-minded people to hang out (and for the rest of the world to slowly be convinced we are right…).

Just don’t suggest messing with the red i, as in iconoclast.

Continue reading "Midweek Mashup: A Little Help, A New Look, A Big Sneeze, Battle Casualties, and a Vision of Hell on Earth " »


Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: The Parent-Blaming Trap -- Again

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Last week I wrote about an alarming report out of Britain that fully a third of children coming into the education system have issues with speech, socialization and toileting. This iatrogenic, man-made, unprecedented catastrophe -- which is what it is unless you just want to argue it's always been this way -- was airily displaced onto kids having too much smartphone access, not enough parental interaction, and so on. I said it was another species of parent-blaming -- it now appears to be the primary task of moms and dads these days to keep their children away from all the appurtenances of modern life lest they be ineducable by age 5. But unless you want to turn the phone to airplane mode and go on retreat in the hills of Virginia (as I did this past week, in fact), that's not a very reasonable expectation. And I'm not sure why letting Johnny play Wib Wob during dinner at Outback is any more toxic for the kid than coloring bunny rabbits on the place mat. Is he supposed to discuss the threat to democracy posed by the presumptive Republican or Democratic nominee?

Recently the reliably tone-deaf Autism Speaks plied another version of the "parents did it" canard with one of its Weatherstone grants to post-doctoral students. From AS: "Eric Rubenstein, of the University of North Carolina, will explore the association between autism symptoms in children diagnosed with the condition and autism-like behavioral traits in their parents (who don’t have autism). The goal is to better understand how and when inherited factors play a role in the development of autism and then use this information to tailor interventions that can best meet a child’s needs. The study also promises to deepen understanding of the inherited traits and biology of different subtypes of autism."

Nothing against Rubenstein, but here's the role autism-like traits play in making your kid autistic: None. Now give me my grant money!  This reeks of the Geek Syndrome, in which mere oddities in adults somehow get magnified when they mate in Mountain View et voila, you've got a disabled kid. In fact, 20 times more disabled kids than two decades ago. 

Even rainy weather points to poor parenting. As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported in 2008, a study found higher rates of autism in rainier counties. Could it be (cue Church Lady's voice here) mercury? In water picked up from toxic lakes and streams and dumped on Johnny's house? No: "This week's peer-reviewed paper raised the possibility that heavy rainfall forces vulnerable children indoors, where there is greater exposure to cleaning chemicals and television, and less exposure to sunshine -- and the vitamin D it produces."

Vitamin D -- maybe, although we've had dark days since the dawn, so to speak, of time. But letting a child get within half a mile of cleaning chemicals and TV -- that's bad parenting! Get your toilet scrub at Whole Foods and play patty cake with your child all day or face the wrath of the autism causation committee! (A similar "association" followed Hurricane Katrina, in which a spike in autism cases was attributed to maternal stress, not, never, no, of course not, to the toxic sludge that spilled into neighborhoods. If only these moms had meditated for a week with me instead of getting hysterical about a little old hurricane. It's their fault, you see.)

Back when I first started writing about autism for UPI, and was just starting to suspect the role of toxins in the early cases, I wrote that "it's not who the parents were, it's what they did." But that I meant that it wasn't their personalities, or their intellectual and mathematical and science bents -- and by the descriptions of Leo Kanner and others they did seem a bit bent -- it was the unrecognized environmental risks from their occupations. People seemed to forget that doctors, scientists, engineers, researchers are the leading edge of toxic exposures to novel chemicals of all kinds. Boyd Haley used the great term "bucket chemists" to convey what lots of them did -- slop chemicals into beakers and pour them into each other and suck up (with their mouths -- really) enough liquid in pipettes to keep the experiment rolling. 

I've written about it before, so let me repeat myself, to wit:

Is mainstream science and medicine ever going to recognize the real significance of the repeated clues linking parental occupation and risk of autism? I vote no. A study from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found thusly, according to Science Daily:

"Children of fathers who are in technical occupations are more likely to have an autism spectrum disorder, according to researchers. Fathers who worked in engineering were two times as likely to have a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Those who worked in finance were four times more likely and those who worked in health care occupations were six times more likely to have a child on the autism spectrum. There was no association with a mother's occupation."

And what might account for this seeming hodgepodge of risks? According to a study author, "Parental occupation could be indicative of autistic-like behaviors and preferences and serve as another factor in a clinician's diagnosis of a child with suspected autism. Medical students can be taught that this is one of the things to consider."

I guess that means that perseverative and detail-oriented anti-social types would be drawn to those fields It makes no sense that fathers, not mothers, would be 100 percent of the risk factor, unless both were in technical fields. I suspect that points to the real clue here -- toxic exposures. The workplace is where engineers, lab workers, chemists get the exposure and bring it home one way or the other. (Finance, I would guess. points to higher income and more medical interventions. And medicine points to, well, a lot of medicine!) Women get it from all kinds of things -- mercury flu shots in pregnancy come to mind -- that directly expose the fetus or infant without needing to be mediated by occupation. That adds enough noise to drown out the occupational clue for moms alone.

The bad faith that defines the mainstream medical response to autism is entirely evident here. You really need to turn away from a well-marked trail of evidence to get lost in these weeds. This is something Mark Blaxill and I have been writing about for years, and at the risk of repeating ourselves, let me marshal the evidence again.

In the 1970s -- closer to the start of autism than to today, and better able to tease out signals -- two complementary studies starkly outlined the risk between parents' exposure to toxins and the risk for autism. I wrote about that at UPI, in a two-part series in 2006 that "highlighted a study by Thomas Felicetti, now executive director of Beechwood Rehabilitation Services in Langhorne, Pa. As Felicetti described it in the journal Milieu Therapy in 1981, he compared the occupations of 20 parents of autistic children, 20 parents of retarded children and 20 parents of "normal" children who were friends and neighbors of those attending the Avalon School in Massachusetts where he taught at the time.

"The results did, in fact, suggest a chemical connection," he wrote. "Eight of the 37 known parents of the autistic children had sustained occupational exposure to chemicals prior to conception. Five were chemists and three worked in related fields. The exposed parents represent 21 percent of the autistic group. This compared to 2.7 percent of the retardation controls and 10 percent of the normal controls. The data, subjected to statistical analysis, demonstrated a chemical connection.

"The results of this study point in the direction of chemical exposure as an etiological factor in the birth of autistic children." [He emphasized that educational level had nothing to do with it. One father of an autistic child was a roof tarrier. That's chemicals, not credentials.]

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: The Parent-Blaming Trap -- Again" »


Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: An Absolutely Shocking Statistic From England

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

I met a friend for lunch this week. He was fresh off the plane from London as part of a multi-country jaunt, and he had the baggy eyes to prove it. The first thing he did was pull out Monday’s Daily Telegraph and point to an article on page 12: “Primary pupils who can swipe but not speak.”

The article began: “Parents’ immersion in smartphones has left thousands of children starting primary school unable to hold conversations, teachers say.

“Around one in three children starting school is not ready for the classroom with many lacking social skills, suffering speech problems or not toilet trained, a survey of senior primary school staff showed.”

The litany included “more and more children entering our early years stage with delayed speech” and “levels of reading, writing and numeracy lower than they should be.”

The rest of the article basically blamed the parents and their failure to keep children from coming into contact with the world we live in, which is deemed self-evidently noxious and destructive – too many smartphones, too little parent-child interaction.

Before tackling that bogus argument, let’s just acknowledge the facts in evidence here. A third of pre-school kids in England today have some version of issues that echo autism – speech problems, lack of social skills and toileting problems. My friend, much more knowledgeable about autistic children than I am, said the latter probably reflected sensory issues and GI problems (as well as general delay, I’d suggest).

I don’t care what this is called – autism-like traits, or school-readiness deficit syndrome in a third of children, not otherwise seen before (SRDSIATOFC-NOSB), or whatever. It’s the kind of thing we’ve been talking about for years, a generation and now more damaged by something new and terrifying, and at least in England, it’s indisputable. I asked my friend what he thought was going on, and he said some combination of vaccines and other medical mayhem, pesticides, and god knows what else (the Environmental Working Group's study of all the evil crap found in mothers' umbilical cords is passing through the back of my brain). Unless you want to argue that the ability of one-third of children to make their way in life from the very start is just good old genes doing their work of making our species less able to thrive in a hostile world, it's definitely environmental. And it is NOT smartphones, dammit!

Of course, we also see this in America, with the same veneer of pop psychology pabulum stapled onto it because facing the truth is too threatening to the people doing the observing for a living. From the New York Times last October: “Boys are falling behind. They graduate from high school and attend college at lower rates than girls and are more likely to get in trouble, which can hurt them when they enter the job market. This gender gap exists across the United States, but it is far bigger for poor people and for black people. As society becomes more unequal, it seems, it hurts boys more.”

Ah, so inequality is at the heart of it. That’s the ticket! We can blame vague malignant capitalist forces, and get on the right side of the social justice movement. Well, I am on the right side of the social justice movement, but I don’t think inequality is what’s really going on here. As if there were no inequality – much worse inequality – before this male-centric problem was ever observed? And please tell me, then, why are four out of five autism cases boys? Were they disadvantaged? Did their parents or teachers disadvantage them? That's a discredited old argument but it is gaining new life.

In April 2014 another column in the Times was titled. "A Link Between Fidgety Boys And a Sputtering Economy." As I wrote then: The Times piece came very close to the core issue -- what's the matter with kids today?, and especially, what's the matter with boys? Things have gotten so dire, and the implications so large, that even a mainstream mouthpiece like The Times has no hesitation linking boys' problems to the overall economic fate of the country.

The Times went on: "If the United States is going to build a better-functioning economy than the one we've had over the last 15 years, we're going to have to solve our boy problems," adding that if only girls are considered, there's no problem at all.

As I pointed out, the solutions on offer in the piece, and in the research paper it was based on, and among the "experts" in general, amount to evidence-free bromides -- better schools, more understanding of the ways boys learn, more support for families because boys suffer more when fathers are absent. (What, no smartphone-blaming? Let's get the story straight here.) To quote the Beatles: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Missing was any sense that environmental factors, and specifically toxins, which have been repeatedly linked to problems like ADHD ("fidgetiness") and other neurodevelopmental disorders, which affect 1 in 6 children, and several times more boys than girls, could be playing a role.

So it’s just about unanimous, isn’t it? Even our most mainstream publications, openly hostile to concerns about vaccines or other environmental factors, acknowledge the rise of so many disabled and dysfunctional children that these kids’ futures – and ours, as the society they will inherit – are at stake.

Yet the experts fall back on video games and lack of good parenting and the devastation of being disadvantaged to explain it all. Fifty years ago it would have been the predations of rock and roll, and how refrigerator parents made their kids autistic. Faced once more with an inexplicable problem in children, parent blaming is, once again, the last refuge of those who cannot or will not see.

More on that next week.

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Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.