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345 posts categorized "Dan Olmsted "

Weekly Wrap: The Truth About The Autism Epidemic in 15 Minutes or Less

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Epidemics are simple, my colleague and co-author Mark Blaxill says. They have beginnings in time and place, they spread in ways that ultimately reveal their origins, and they end when their essence is understood and further cases are prevented.

The autism epidemic is no exception, although the medical-industrial complex wants you to think so, and the mainstream media is only too happy to grant their wish (and scoop up their ad dollars). Autism is a mystery, it's genetic, but many genes, many, many genes and gene-environment interactions and something something about older moms and better awareness and Prozac and maybe freeways and deisel fuel and icky stuff like that.

No! That is not the ticket.

Autism represents a particular kind of environmental injury in susceptible children. It had a precise beginning, in the 1930s when the chemical compound that caused the first cluster, ethyl mercury, was first commercialized. It simmered along as that exposure remained fairly steady for half a century. Then, like a raisin in the sun, it exploded a half century later when one of the commercial uses of ethyl mercury -- as a preservative in multidose childhood vaccines-- was suddenly ramped up.

Other manmade toxins, and other exposures from organic mercury developed in the interval, and the CDC's bloated, too many too soon vaccine schedule, no doubt kicked up the number of cases of early infant brain damage manifesting as the autistic behavioral syndrome. But the inauguration, and later the explosion, of ethyl mercury tracks clearly with the same trajectory as autism -- a real twofer! In a sense it is a challenge-rechallenge situation, the kind of evidence scientists consider proof of causation  but, because it is autism, have to claim is coincidence.

But because it is so simple, and ultimately self-evident, it doesn't take very long to make the case -- just under 15 minutes, actually. This summer, Mark, Teresa Conrick, Natalie Palumbo and I told the first part of the story in a 10 minute video titled, How Mercury Triggered The Age of Autism.



It showed how we went from essentially zero cases before 1930 to the first 11, identified by Leo Kanner in his landmark 1943 medical paper, Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact. Those families' backgrounds, we showed, had an astonishing and otherwise inexplicable link to the new ethyl mercury compounds-- in agriculture via seed disinfectants and lumber preservatives, and in medicine for multidose vials of ethyl mercury-preserved diphtheria toxoid vaccines.

For God's sake, the father of Case 2 was a plant pathologist at North Carolia State whose first paper in his archive there is an experiment with mercury!  The archives contain a notation that he was working with ethyl mercury in 1936 at the same time his son was born. This fact, confirmed by a brochure for the product in his archives, is the smoking gun of the autism epidemic, we've argued.

Now cut to exactly 50 years later. In 1986, Congress approved the Vaccine Injury  Compensation  Act, and despite its helpful sounding name, all hell broke loose -- hell in the form of the autism epidemic. Since then, autism has soared by a factor of 10 or 20 times, as the number of vaccines increased as a result of the liability-free world the act created for the pharmaceutical companies. The amount of mercury kids were getting tripled, and the timing got far more dangerous -- flu shots with mercury for pregnant women, HepB shots for babies within hours of birth.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: The Truth About The Autism Epidemic in 15 Minutes or Less" »

Contact CBS: Support its Strong Reporting on Alex Spourdalakis

SharylBy Dan Olmsted

CBS feedback line 212-975-3247 to support Sharyl.  Click CBS Feedback HERE to send message.  Tweet @cbsnews and @cbsthismorning.

The death of Alex Spourdalakis is really freaking out the pharma-phunded shills, vaccine injury apologists and self-appointed advocates for themselves, who have mounted what seems like a coordinated effort to discredit Sharyl Attkisson's strong reporting on the tragedy.

What to do? Let CBS know they shouldn't listen to a half a dozen hacks who turn up like worms after a thunderstorm to try to deflect attention from the real issue -- the lack of proper medical care for children suffering -- yes, suffering -- from autism. That suffering surely includes, in many cases as in Alex's, the kind of acute GI damage that Sharyl's report showed last Friday.

You don't hear any of the shills worrying about that. Rather, they trot out the usual key words -- quack, crank, discredited, etc. -- to shut down conversation.

Maybe these geniuses could show us what a healthy gut looks like and we can compare it to Alex's.

Unlikely. Instead, these guys make it sound like the report excused Alex's death -- "his murder," as Sharyl labeled it several times -- by his mother and caregiver ("his killers," Sharyl said).

Say what?

As more vaccine court cases linked to autism emerge, the CDC starts talking about vague "environmental" causes (yes, your vaccines!) and parents (wisely) pick and choose their kids' vaccine schedule, this sad, desperate effort to shut down good reporting that veers too close to the truth gets louder.

Here's how Sharyl's straightforward reporting gets twisted. During the segment, Sharyl introduces an interview with Ari Ne'eman: "He says lack of help is no excuse for murder."

Pretty clear, eh?

But over at Left Brain Right Brain, Matt Carey chose to ignore Sharyl's words and quote the accompanying CBS Web site report: "The written article states,  'But some in the autism advocacy community take issue with the idea that lack of help is an excuse for murder.'”

Not idea wording -- all, not some, in the autism advocacy community, and every decent person everywhere, takes issue with anything as an "excuse" for murder. (Probably written by an intern after watching Sharyl's segment.) But hey, it's fodder for making Sharyl look insensitive. Carey writes: "Really? Only some? And is this somehow limited to the autism community? Ms. Attkisson, what is your position? Is a lack of support an excuse for murder?"

Hey Matt, murder is illegal. Hey Ari, this comment you made to Sharyl is the definition of a straw-man argument: "I think an ideology, a dangerous ideology that preaches that people are better off dead than disabled is what led to Alex Spourdalakis' murder."

What ideology, preached by whom?

Sharyl is up for three Emmy Awards this year, including ground-breaking work on the Benghazi attack. This after her reporting on Fast and Furious that shook things up in the Justice Department. But now, on this issue alone, she's gone completely off the rails?

I don't buy it.

So call CBS at 212-975-3247 and support Sharyl.  Click CBS Feedback HERE to use their message form.

Tweet @cbsnews and @cbsthismorning, and thank the Tiffany network for not bowing to pharma's special interest errand boys, and for taking not just the death, but the life of Alex Spourdalakis seriously.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

 

Weekly Wrap: A Death Illumines the Autism Nightmare

 

AS scope
Alex's Endoscopy Revealed Too Many Ulcers To Count


AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

 

Now we know.

Now we know that Alex Spourdalakis, whose short life ended so tragically, was afflicted with the kind of GI damage characteristic of so many other children with autism.

We know because finally, after getting out of the Loyola Hospital hellhole, he was scoped by Dr. Krigsman.

We know because images from the scoping were shown yesterday on CBS. (See screen grab above of what Krigsman called "too many" tiny ulcers to count.)

The one thing we don't know is when the medical world will be held to account for this catastrophe -- not just the effects, but the cause.

Because, of course, the deepest issue is causation. I've been told that Alex's mother specifically described a reaction to the MMR shot as the cause of her son's regressive autism. To cause autism and unbearable gut damage, deny it, and fail to treat it -- well, that is quite some record for a "helping" profession. A broken record, sadly.

As much as I like Sharyl Attkisson and am glad to see this story -- first exposed by AOA Contributing Editor Lisa Goes months ago -- gain national attention, the segment devolved into a bit of a mess. Ari Ne'eman, really? He gave his usual spiel about how some people think autism is so bad its sufferers might as well be dead. So what, Ari, since you don't believe in treatment? Many people who are in agony wish they and/or someone else they believe to be in agony were dead. Some act on that wish. That's bad. Very bad. Tell us something we don't know.

Tell us how to stop it. Tell us how to treat it.

Those of us in the autism biomed community know that won't happen anytime soon, because this goes to the heart of Andy Wakefield's research, the supposedly discredited and fraudulent Lancet case study from 1998 that reported just this syndrome -- MMR, regression, gut pathology -- in 12 children. Hundreds of thousands more children have suffered the same fate since then; many, many more are destined to if things don't change.

And that's something we know for sure.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

Weekly Wrap: Another Medical Practice with a Sane Vaccine Schedule – and No Autism

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted
 
When we at Age of Autism talk about ending the epidemic, the “to do” list seems almost overwhelming – funding a vax-unvaxed study, getting mercury out of flu shots, proving the HepB shot is nuts, wresting control of the agenda from pharma, fixing Vaccine Court (this time in the good sense of “fix”), establishing that biomedical treatments help kids recover, and on and on.
 
But there’s a shortcut to all this, and it goes straight through pediatricians’ offices. The evidence is growing that where a sane alternative to the CDC’s bloated vaccine schedule is offered, and other reasonable changes adopted, autism is either non-existent or so infrequent that it doesn’t constitute an epidemic at all.
 
The latest example comes from Lynchburg, Va., and the pediatric practice of Dr. Elizabeth Mumper. She noticed a frightening rise in autism in the 1990s. Concerned that vaccines and other medical interventions might be playing a role – concerned in other words that SHE was playing a role -- Mumper changed course.
 
Fewer vaccines. Fewer antibiotics. No Tylenol. Breast-feeding. Probiotics. Good, pesticide free diets.
 
Since then, hundreds more children have been seen in her practice, Advocates For Children. But no more autism.
 
Mumper’s study (read it here), recently published in the North American Journal of Medicine & Science, begins with a useful way of describing the epic increase in the disorder – 100-fold since 1975:
 
“During the author’s career, reported prevalence of autism increased from 1 in 5,000 (1975) to 1 in 2,500 (1985), to 1 in 500 (1995) to 1 in 250 (~2001) to 1 in 166 (~2004) to 1 in 88 (~2008) to 1 in 50 (2013); all reflected birth cohorts born earlier. Further research into autism prevalence studies have debunked the initial contention that higher numbers could be explained away by better diagnosis and broadening of diagnostic criteria. …
 
“The horrifying increase in the numbers of children with neurodevelopmental problems happened on our watch. It was frustrating for me and my colleagues to see more children with autism while the debate over whether the autism epidemic was real, whether parents could be trusted to give histories about their own children, and whether there really was a regressive sub-type of autism went on for years. There have been missed opportunities for treatment and possibly prevention.”
 
Mumper’s modified vaccine schedule doesn’t follow the CDC’s, but still gives kids the shots they need to enter kindergarten unless they get an exemption -- see nvic.org.  Here it is (click to enlarge):
 
Mumper Vaccine Schedule

 
What I notice among other things is the absence of HepB starting at birth, no rotarvirus (sorry, Paul), no flu shot in pregnancy and infancy, a potent source of mercury; the MMR is pushed back to age 2 and chickenpox to as late as age 5.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Another Medical Practice with a Sane Vaccine Schedule – and No Autism " »

Weekly Wrap: You're an Idiot, Emily.

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

I hope the homage to Bob Dylan somewhat softens the blow of calling Emily Willingham of Forbes Mag an idiot, and implicitly, Babe (cf Idiot Wind, 1974). What I really mean is, your ouevre is intellectually incoherent when it comes to autism causation, ma'am.

But that doesn't scan as well.

In Forbes Magazine (self-professed Capitalist Tool), Emily turned nasty on Anne Dachel when Anne commented on Emily's piece this week about the new study linking induced pregnancy and autism risk. Emily went after the proposed connection -- a reasonable thing to do, suggesting any number of things in pregnancy that might have caused the study's observation. Anne, also reasonably, posted this:

"And I wonder how many of these mothers got a mercury-containing flu vaccine during pregnancy. The majority of the flu vaccine available contains 25 mcg of mercury, a known neurotoxin. It easily crosses the placental barrier. That much mercury is recommended for someone weighing 550 lbs, according to EPA guidelines." -- Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

To which Emily replied: "Yes, about that fast-and-loose play with the word “mercury.” There’s a prefix missing from your comments. I know you know that. Why do you persist in eliding it?"

Ah yes, sneakily omitting the fact that vaccine mercury is ethylmercury, nontoxic, fetus- and infant-friendly neurologically and immunologically irrelevant ETHYLmercury.

Emily links to a post by Steven Novella, kindly condescending to inform us that the kind of mercury in vaccines is the good kind -- the kind Paul Offit calls "a gentle bacteriostat, " and Arthur Allen calls "safe" (this after Allen had called the concern about it a "not-so-crackpot theory.")

Anyway, Novella says, "First, the EPA limit is for methymercury, not ethylmercury, which is the form found in Thimerosal. Methylmercury is known to be much more toxic than ethylmercury. In addition ethylmercury (half life about a week) is cleared from the body much more quickly than methylmercury (half life about 1.5 months). Further, infants excrete mercury more efficiently than adults. The EPA safety limits are based upon the more toxic form of mercury, with a 10 fold built in safety buffer in case some people are more susceptible to mercury toxicity than others."

For which I have just one word -- no, not idiotic. And not bullshit. Although both apply. No, the word is Burbacher. The University of Washington professor's peer-reviewed study shows ethylmercury goes into the brain, folks, and it stays in the brain a lot longer. It's not excreted, it's trapped in the brain, where it de-ethylates into inorganic mercury and settles in to do its damage.

The idea that ethyl and methyl are the yin and yang -- complete opposites -- of mercury is, well, idiotic. Both are members of the same organic mercury (danger! danger!) grouping: alkyl mercury (mega-danger!) As Mark Blaxill and I show in our book, The Age of Autism, their commercial development in the early part of the last century was accompanied by a healthy respect for the lethality of both.

"There are several lines of scientific evidence that raise concerns about the immediate toxicity of thimerosal," we write. "Mark Noble at the University of Rochester "demonstrated that levels of thimerosal that seem likely to be achieved in the brains of vaccinated infants can interfere with normal growth and development of precursor cells in the developing brain. Noble and his colleagues have shown that thimerosal is as effective as methylmercury in activating cellular response pathways that lead to degradation of cell sufrace receptors of critical importance in normal cell division and survival."

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: You're an Idiot, Emily." »

His Name Was Ritchey: Autism's Case 3 Offers Clues to the Rise and Future of Autism

SolvedBy Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Our search ends here, not far from where it began.

No, says Brook Blanton, listed as the "informant" on the death certificate, she can't give us any information. Politely professional, she can't even say what seems obvious -- that as an employee of Wake County Family Services, she served as guardian ad litem for the deceased, representing the interests of a disabled adult.

So we are left with not much more than "decedent's name: William Ritchey Miller." 

We do know his parents called him Ritchey. And that Leo Kanner called him "Richard M."

And we know that by whatever name, he was Case 3 in Kanner's landmark 1943 report, "Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact."

But beyond Kanner's writing we know only what William Ritchey Miller didn't do. Under marital status on the death certificate: Never Married. Under usual occupation: Never worked. Under decedent's education: 0.

The death certificate, which we'd picked up the day before at Wake County Vital Records, gives his date of birth -- November 17, 1937. The certificate says he died on July 8, 2011, cites "multiple myeloma" as the cause, and reports he had been sick for a year. He was 73 years old.

Ritchey Death Cert



Given the bureaucracy into which disabled children with no one to advocate for them can fall, it is frustrating but fitting that this is where the trail goes cold -- in a public agency where no one is allowed to even acknowledge his existence, surrounded by a virtual megalopolis of hospitals (Wake Med), rehab centers, nursing homes and assisted living, perhaps the nation's true growth industry. Raleigh has the fastest-growing proportion of 65 and older adults in the United States.

And autism, as the fastest growing developmental disorder in children, will eventually comprise a significant portion of such adults, many with no one to depend on at the end but a state-appointed guardian, and the kindness of strangers.

Pieced together from multiple sources culled over the past decade, here are the contours, if not the depth, of a life that deserves to be recognized, both for its own intrinsic value and for what it may tell us about the origins of the Age of Autism, and the future of the thousands now "aging out" into a life for which no one has prepared.

--

"Since 1938," wrote Leo Kanner in that first report of autism, "there have come to our attention a number of children whose behavior differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far, that each case merits -- and, I hope, will eventually receive -- a detailed consideration of its fascinating peculiarities."

Kanner referred to those 11 children only by a first name and last initial, some accurate, some pseudonyms, some, like Richard M., amalgams. "Richard" arrived at the Johns Hopkins Hospital where Kanner practiced on February 5, 1941, age 3 years 3 months. His lack of ordinary responsiveness led his parents to believe he was deaf. He wasn't.

An intern made these notes: "The child seems quite intelligent, playing with the toys in his bed and being adequately curious about toys used in the examination. He seems quite self-sufficient in his play. ... He does not pay attention to conversation going on around him, and although he does make noises, he pays no attention to conversations going on around him."

Ritchey thus fit the emerging pattern Kanner was seeing for the first time -- children of at least ordinary intelligence and no visible physical abnormality who nevertheless were oblivious to the outside world, pursuing strange fixations, rigid routines and nonsense speech patterns, if they spoke at all. Most especially, they failed to form the ordinary bonds of infancy -- the "affective contact" -- that was universal to human development.

Baffled, Kanner wrote up his findings on the 11 children in 1943. By then, he had seen Richard M. twice more, with no improvement evident. "He did not communicate his wishes but went into a rage until his mother guessed and procured what he wanted. He had no contact with people, whom he definitely regarded as an interference when they talked to him or otherwise tried to gain his attention.

"The mother felt she was no longer capable of handling him, and he was placed in a foster home near Annapolis with a woman who had shown a remarkable talent for dealing with difficult children. Recently, this woman clearly heard him say his first intelligible words. They were, ‘Good night.’”

Continue reading "His Name Was Ritchey: Autism's Case 3 Offers Clues to the Rise and Future of Autism" »

Weekly Wrap: Movies, Drugs, Strange Ideas, Mercurochrome, Anorexia, Hysteria

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted 

Times One: Nice to see a positive review in The New York Times of The United States of Autism, which I favorably reviewed a few weeks back. In the great minds think alike category, I wrote this:

" At one level, it's like a bunch of Love It or List It episodes on HGTV jammed together: Host and (unseen) camera crew arrive at the door, family greets them, they go inside and chitchat for a few seconds about their difficult circumstances." I went on to point out that at a deeper level, the quick-cut technique was highly effective.

The Times wrote: "But all should be prepared to forgive the fakey vibe of an HGTV fix-up show, with the happy-faced Mr. Everts being greeted with cheery bonhomie at stop after stop."

The Times didn't like the part where Richard Everts connected with a family member (no spoilers here!). I did. On the other hand, the photo the Times used illustrated what I called my favorite moment in the movie, when a typical sibling who can't really express himself causes Everts to shake with laughter.

The bigger point is the Times reviewed the movie because it opens Friday in Manhattan. Showings there and in LA are prerequisites for Oscar consideration, which this film deserves.

--

Times Two: Also nice to see an op-ed piece in the same paper this week about Lariam, also called mefloquine, by a man who took it in India and completely lost his memory overnight. "Last week," wrote David Stuart MacLean, "the Food and Drug Administration finally acknowledged the severity of the neurological and psychiatric side effects and required that mefloquine’s label carry a 'black box' warning of them. But this is too little, too late."

He's right about that. The bigger issue is the sentencing hearing this month for the Army sergeant who killed 16 Afghan civilians, apparently while taking the drug. As I've been reporting for more than a decade, the Army, which invented the drug, has been derelict in facing up to its atrocious side affects, which include psychosis, suicide, and homicidal violence. A nice combo when mixed with guns.

Just this week the military put out another worthless report on its exploding suicide rate. As Kelly Patricia O'Meara wrote online, the report is "utter garbage and a complete insult to the men and women of our armed forces," largely because it avoids alltogether the role of prescription drugs in triggering suicides.

"Literally thousands of news articles have been written questioning the connection between the military suicides and increased number of psychiatric drugs being prescribed and 'researchers,' using taxpayer funds, do not even consider it as a possible risk factor? Shameful." And Lariam is not even a psychiatric drug. What mayhem are all the others causing, and how will we ever find out if they won't even acknowledge the damage so clearly wrought by Lariam?

Lariam and the military's broader problem with its pill-popping culture is a parallel situation to the vaccine-autism saga -- an FDA approved, CDC-recommended catastrophe and coverup. I wonder if any of the "skeptic" crowd ever wonders how I could have been right about Lariam but, in their opinion, so very, very wrong about vaccines. I hope it gives them nightmares.

--

A few weeks back I wrote that Temple Grandin ought to stick to her subject-matter expertise, this after she said on MSNBC that the big increase in autism was "because the definition of autism over the decade has expanded." No, it's not. She also told the aforementioned NYT that if any vaccine has anything to do with autism, it's the MMR.

No, it's not. Clearly the MMR has triggered autism in a lot of kids, but the best evidence is that most of those kids have been set up by immune-damaging triggers, in most cases -- in my view -- earlier vaccines, and especially ones containing thimerosal. There has never, to my understanding, been a standalone MMR autism epidemic, but there sure has been a vaccine-fueled autism epidemic.

Now Grandin's mother, Eustacia Cutler, has wandered well outside her wheelhouse by writing in the Daily Beast that autistic men have an affinity for online child pornography. I read the piece and, wearing my journalism hat, was struck that an editor let it through -- not because of the sensitive subject matter, but because there was not a single case-in-point mentioned.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Movies, Drugs, Strange Ideas, Mercurochrome, Anorexia, Hysteria" »

Protocol 007: FDA Document Supports Claim of Mumps Vaccine Fraud

Mumps

Note: Previous posts in the Protocol 007 series include:

Protocol 007: Merck Denies Fraud, But Feds Seek New Mumps Vaccine as Cases Spread

Protocol 007: Feds Urge Judge Not to Dismiss Mumps Vaccine Suit
Mumps


“Protocol 007”: Merck Scientists Accuse Company of Mumps Vaccine Fraud that Endangers Public Health

By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
 
Scrawled on a single sheet of paper, an FDA inspection form appears to back whistleblower allegations that pharmaceutical giant Merck committed fraud to convince the government its mumps vaccine still works.
 
The bigger question appears to be: Why didn’t the FDA do anything about it?
 
The document below, obtained by Age of Autism under a Freedom of Information Act request, is dated August 6, 2001. The FDA inspector who showed up that day at Merck’s vaccine laboratory in West Point, Pennsylvania, noted “raw data is being changed with no justifications.”

FOIA Mumps

 
“Spreadsheets used to determine questionable results and retesting clinical samples for [redacted] has not been validated,” the inspector adds.
 
Faking data to hide the real lab results is at the heart of the claim by two former Merck scientists, who filed suit under the federal whistleblower statute. Virologists Stephen A. Krahling and Joan A. Wlochowski say they witnessed the fraud firsthand when they worked at the Merck vaccine laboratory in West Point between 1999 and 2002, and were pressured to participate.
 
Ironically, the fact the FDA investigated after Krahling triggered the inspection is being cited by the drugmaker in its effort to dismiss the suit.
 
“They [the whistleblowers] are asking the court to muscle the FDA out of the way and decide on the science,” Merck attorney Eric Sitarchuk told a federal judge last week, according to a report by Law360. “It's precisely that problem that's why [a whistleblower] case can't be based on the alleged falsity of a label” describing the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
 
The suit was unsealed in federal district court in Philadelphia last summer, soon after the Justice Department, which had been studying the allegations for more than a year, declined to intervene on the whistleblowers’ side.  As we reported then, the alleged fraud was a multi-year effort to hide the fact that the mumps vaccine is no longer anywhere near as effective as Merck claims and may have led to scattered mumps outbreaks around the country.
 
The fraud was dubbed Protocol 007 and widely known and approved within the company’s vaccine division, according to Krahling and Wlochowski.
 
In federal court last week, a lawyer for the whistleblowers argued that Merck’s deception meant the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spent hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars on a vaccine that didn’t work as promised. The mumps vaccine is a component of Merck’s MMR-II – mumps, measles and rubella – shot. It is the only mumps vaccine currently available in the United States.

Continue reading "Protocol 007: FDA Document Supports Claim of Mumps Vaccine Fraud " »

Weekly Wrap: Honestly.

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted Mrburns3_2404


The death of my treasured colleague Helen Thomas last week reminded me of her very useful comment that if you want to be loved, don’t go into journalism.
 
Not that I needed much reminding. Recently I’ve read that “lying is in Dan’s nature” (I read that on Age of Autism, because I published it), that I’m “a pimp,” that my correspondent “never would have thought a ‘Buddhist’ capable of such vile bullying tactics,” and that AOA’s “articles never embrace the real issues. Ever.”
 
And these are my friends! From the other camp, I’ve learned that AOA is a “wretched hive of scum, anti-vaccinationism, and autism ‘biomed’ quackery.” And that I am Number 306 in the Encyclopedia of American Loons, because “Although real experts think autism is a genetic disorder and that reported increases are due to changes in diagnostic practices, Olmsted thinks (well, because he thinks so) the (probably non-existent) increases are due to environmental factors and that the genetics is mostly secondary. He has been described as a serious case of confirmation bias.”
 
And that I am a “Moonie blogger.” And that Mark Blaxill “can tell Dan Olmstead [sic] how many breaths he can take per minute” because he is shoveling money at me at an astounding rate. And that I made my name, such as it is, when I “wrote a series about a discredited hypothesis linking vaccination to autism.”

And that my Amish reporting is a “fraud,” and my work “a steaming, stinking pile of rotting feces.”

Earlier this year, a supposed “friendly” named Barry Segal added a minor note to this symphony of opprobrium, telling me and several others, “You guys are out for personal gain, devious and won’t accomplish anything.”

At least I was in distinguished company. Among those whom Barry labeled as “out for personal gain,” devious, and unable to accomplish anything: Mary Holland, Lou Conte, Kim Mack Rosenberg, Kim Stagliano, John Gilmore. “P.S.,” he added as he pulled back funding he had promised in writing, “I had a great dinner with Jake Crosby after the hearings.”

You really know how to hurt a guy, Barry.

Now, Barry is one of those people who thinks the autism advocacy community is a bunch of bumblers that either can’t or won’t make the fact that vaccines cause autism the core belief of every politician and public health official and journalist in the land. Today. The person who called me a Buddhist bully is one of his best buds and attacks relentlessly if anyone forgets to say “vaccines cause autism” once per every three words.

He already had excommunicated Katie Wright for not being tough enough, showing an exquisite lack of comprehension by copying his and her e-mails without authorization to, among other stray addressees, The New York Times – yes, The New York Times.

Barry thinks raising money for Andy Wakefield’s defamation suit is throwing good money after bad. And he says he doesn’t know which side Robert Kennedy Jr. is on.

Bobby Kennedy might really be on the other side -- now that is rad, dude! It takes some fresh out-of-the-box thinking to come up with that one, the kind of new idea we've all needed for a long time now.

Barry elaborated on his Kennedy critique in a comment on Age of Autism: “He’s worse than his uncles; one took advantage of an 18 years old (virgin) intern and the other got drunk and drove his car into the river. His grandfather was no angel.” (What is it with the sexography?)

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Honestly." »

Weekly Wrap: Jenny and The Journalists

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Back when Time magazine was a cultural touchstone, a critic named Woolcott Gibbs wrote a parody of its staccato, object-first style that included this immortal line: "Backwards ran sentences until reeled the mind. Where it ends, knows God."

I thought of that for some quirky reason this week as I watched the screeching hysteria around Jenny McCarthy's appointment to The View. Backwards ran logic until reeled the mind! Claim taken as fact is link between vaccines and autism has been debunked, disproved, discredited or whatever other "D" word was being offered up.

Idea then follows that since it's been discredited, it's dangerous to otherwise say. Killing babies is Jenny! And therefore, modus ponens style, censored must she be. 

That's back-asswards. As John Stone put it here this week, Jenny is not wrong. Vaccines do cause autism. That's beyond D-E-N-I-A-L. Furthermore, in my view, based on my own reporting, vaccines and vaccine-type mercury are deeply implicated in the roots and rise of the autism epidemic. They are driving the autism epidemic. Anyone who doubts it ought to look at "How Mercury Triggered the Age of Autism," a short video on this page.

THIS discredit!




Also, check out the video above. It's a first try at a weekly video component to my Weekly Wrap. Thanks, Dan Burns, for getting it up and going. Next time, I won't sit in front of a sunny window.

Hey, a start it is. Where it all ends, knows God. Meanwhile, to Jenny, Godspeed!

--
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism

Weekly Wrap: Jenny's View, the Plane Truth, Hidden Hysteria, the Crazy Drug

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

IN DEFENSE OF JENNY: Nice to see that Jenny McCarthy may land a spot on The View. Not so nice to see the same slithering "Science Says Vaccines Are Safe" crowd from Salon, Slate, Discover, etc., emerge from their respective rocks to attack her. As I've said many times, based on my own reporting, it is quite clear that vaccines are the driver of the autism epidemic. As I've also said, it's not just vaccines, it's not just mercury, and it's not just autism. Go Jenny!

GROUND CONTROL TO VICP: Have you noticed how quickly, thoroughly, openly, and fearlessly the investigation into the crash-landing in San Francisco has proceeded? Amazing what a zero-defects approach to consumer safety will do. Can you imagine the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program opening its files, fast-tracking injury claims, funding or backing studies like vax-no vax?

HYSTERICAL: In our book The Age of Autism -- Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic, Mark Blaxill and I propose, apparently for the first time, that many of Freud's seminal case studies around 1900 were not suffering from neurosis or OCD brought on by emotional trauma. Instead, they were mercury poisoned by exposure to medical compounds. 

You can read all about it in Chapter 2. While this may seem like ancient history, it actually points to a fundamental misdirection by psychiatry, which built its rickety psychodynamic edifice on a misdiagnosis of toxic exposure. When autism, triggered by the commercialization of ethylmercury, was first reported in 1943, the intellectual conditions were ripe to mistake it for parental coldness and neglect. This rest is history -- actually, tragedy, tragedy that keeps repeating itself. (See Chapters 5 and 6. See DSM-V. See Tom Insel and the IACC)

Parents are still getting the blame, sometimes in whisper campaigns ("they must be unhinged, hysterical to keep blaming vaccines") and more often in bogus genetic theories that place the blame inside the family circle, rather than outside in iatrogenic and environmental triggers that can be prevented and treated.

Just this week, a book review in The New York Times began this way: 

"Freud’s famous case studies, like Dora, the Wolf Man, Little Hans and the Rat Man, are psychoanalytic readings, suspenseful detective stories and elliptical narratives that have all the drama and contradictions of modernist fiction. Not only is Freud a powerful writer, but his methodology and insights also have a lot in common with literary criticism and novelistic architecture. His patient portraits showcase his skills both as a critic, intent on deconstructing his subjects’ lives, and as a masterly storyteller, adept at using unreliable narrators to explore the mysteries of love and sex and death. It’s no coincidence that he liked to write about characters from Shakespeare, Goethe, Ibsen and Sophocles (yes, Oedipus), or that he paid so much attention to the language and imagery employed by his patients."

Well, yes, it does read a lot like fiction, because it is. Take Dora -- her supposed psychogenic troubles were actually physical and mental symptoms of mercury exposure from her father's treatment for syphilis, we argue. She acted as his home nurse. The Wolf Man, we discovered, told an interviewer all about how mercury as a stomach treatment had destroyed his bowels; Freud seems to have ignored or missed that glaring clue, and claimed it was a symptom of hysteria. Little Hans -- worm treatment. The Rat Man -- a father with syphilis.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Jenny's View, the Plane Truth, Hidden Hysteria, the Crazy Drug" »

As Army Ducks for Cover, Document Points to Malaria Drug in Afghan Massacre

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

They're getting away with it again. 

The U.S. military is ignoring documented evidence that links a violence-inducing prescription drug with the worst American war crime in decades -- the massacre last year of 16 Afghan civilians by Army Sgt. Robert Bales.

The Army invented the drug, called Lariam or mefloquine,  and has consistently avoided reckoning with the consequences, including a string of bizarre murder-suicides stretching back more than a decade.

Officials haven't said whether Bales took Lariam, but I've just obtained   a formal report filed by the drug company with the Food and Drug Administration that says he did -- the first direct evidence U.S. officials have been aware of the prospect, and for more than a year. (See event/problem narrative below.)

  Weekly Wrap

I got the report from Dr. Remington Nevin, a former Army officer who has studied the drug and published peer-reviewed articles about its dangers. In fact, Nevin and former Army psychiatrist Elspeth Cameron Ritchie just published last month in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatric and the Law Online, noting the "potent psychotropic potential" of the drug. "Severe psychiatric side effects due to mefloquine intoxication are well documented," they wrote, "including anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, persecutory delusions, dissociative psychosis, and anterograde amnesia. Exposure to the drug has been associated with acts of violence and suicide."

Nevin told Congress last year it could become "the Agent Orange of our generation." The alarm apparently fell on deaf ears.

"It remains possible this report was submitted by someone without first-hand knowledge," Nevin told me about the newly disclosed FDA report. "However, by any reasonable standard, the fact that this report clearly alludes to a case that can only be Bales' calls for greater transparency by DoD as to whether he was in fact taking the drug."

Last month, Time magazine wrote about a similar report filed with the Irish drug agency, which refers to the incident as "medically confirmed." Time called that report a "smoking pillbox."

The document  reproduced here today is specific about the source -- it says the information came from a pharmacist. The report does not name Bales, but the killing of 17 [later reduced to 16] Afghanis would seem to rule out anyone else. It is hard to see how someone at the FDA could have failed to bring it to the attention of the military, or how the military in its exhaustive criminal investigation of the case could have failed to learn what drugs it had prescribed to Bales.

The Army allowed Bales to plead guilty to the rampage last month and avoid the death penalty. A sentencing trial is scheduled for next month on whether he should receive life in prison with or without parole.

At the time, I wrote a piece asking, "What is the death penalty for?" and wondering why it would have been taken off the table by allowing a plea deal, in the face of deep anger from of Afghan allies. I speculated the Army might want to avoid an unpleasant discussion of its own drug, in return for sparing Bales' life.

At the plea hearing, Bales acknowledged using steroids, and there were also reports of drinking alcohol and snorting Valium. If he took Lariam, however, it could create a classic "but for" defense -- but for the drug the Army prescribed him, it's reasonable to argue the murder would not have occurred.

Continue reading "As Army Ducks for Cover, Document Points to Malaria Drug in Afghan Massacre" »

Weekly Wrap: On Journalism's Future, It's AOA v NYT etc.

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

The revolution now occurring in how journalism is done, and who is doing it,  gives hope that the wall of denial about vaccine injury will crumble sooner rather than later.

Here's why: The top-down journalism hierarchy has a natural affinity for the top-down public health hierarchy, and every other hierarchy that makes Big Journalism feel smug and important and wealthy. That was on display in spades last Sunday on Meet the Press, where David Gregory thought it was just fine to ask Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian whether he ought to be arrested for helping Edward Snowden tell the NAA's secrets while avoiding Bradley Manning's fate of being tortured in the U.S. Military Justice System.

Don't be bitter, David.

"To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn't you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?" Gregory asked. Greenwald replied it was "pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies."

Not so extraordinary, really. Gregory and company love the perks of all-access journalism, as in this classic moment when Gregory and Karl Rove danced around each other at a Washington correspondents' dinner in 2007, dancing "while Iraq burns," as this disrespectful site captioned it.

Why shouldn't you, Mr. Gregory, be ashamed for cozying up to the folks who led us into a stupid war? Not a question David Gregory is going to even dance around -- he's on record saying what a good job he and other journalists did in the runup to the Iraq war. Yikes.

When it comes to vaccines, autism, and this unprecedented generation of sick kids, what you see is a similar attempt to suppress the bottom-up reality of first-hand observation and unpleasant information in general. A recent study that found the HPV vaccine effective was reported in the press without, as far as I can tell, anyone noting that the vaccine has just been suspended in Japan. Too many girls are describing long-lasting pain after the shot, a tipoff to the neurological and immune damage that the mainstream press is never going to report. But it's only  happening when the same vaccine is given in Japan, apparently.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: On Journalism's Future, It's AOA v NYT etc." »

Weekly Wrap: Mefloquine, Madness, and the Military Massacre

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted Mefloquine

Some of you know that I wandered into the autism world through my reporting on an anti-malaria drug called Lariam that was causing some really hard-core symptoms, such as psychosis, suicide, and even aggressive behavior up to and including homicide. Quite an adverse-events roster, especially given that when I first started reporting on it back in 1999, it was the CDC's first-choice anti-malarial, and the agency said that reports of such side effects were overblown, unlikely -- even patently false.

Just "traveler's psychosis," sniffed the malaria surveillance officer at the CDC.

Meanwhile, elite soldiers coming back from Afghanistan committed murder-suicides, Peace Corps volunteers ended up in long-term psych wards, and random travelers came back from nice trips to Africa and blew their brains out. Association is not causation, the experts opined. "People with Internet mystique" who didn't know what they were talking about, the Army Surgeon General warned Congress about those sounding the alarm. (Sound familiar?)

But it was clearly happening. This denialism led me directly to another question: If the CDC, the FDA and the drug company could stand foursquare behind such a toxic substance, what about vaccines and autism -- a question first raised by my reporting partner at the time, Mark Benjamin, in a 2003 investigative report that I edited. Mark went on to do distinguished work on several other subjects. I got stuck on this question of whether vaccines and the autism epidemic were related -- which, I've concluded based on my own reporting, they were. And are.

But back to Lariam, known generically as mefloquine. Over the years, the CDC has dialed back on recommending it; the FDA has ratcheted up the warnings, which now do mention suicide and say that effects can last "long after" someone stops taking it (FDA speak for, "forever"); the manufacturer, Roche pharmaceuticals, has stopped selling it in the United States (along with its equally suicide-inducing anti-acne medicine, Accutane), and the Army no longer pushes it on every soldier it deploys to malarial hot zones, like Afghanistan.

But it's still an approved prescription drug, and it still is prescribed thousands of times a year, and the Army -- which invented it -- can't bear to actually ban its use, which, given the toxic brew of guns, PTSD, and violence into which it is introduced, is truly wild.

This long-running record of delay and denial has now run smack into its karmic brick wall, it appears -- a soldier who committed the worst atrocity (on our side) in the war on terror. Time mag reported this week  that Sgt. Robert Bales, who just pleaded guilty to slaughtering 17 Afghan civilians in 2012, including women and children, and set some of them on fire, may have been taking mefloquine. It's something a lot of us who know what this drug can do have been speculating about for quite some time. 

The Kill Pill: Murder, Madness, and the Army's Mefloquine Cover-up

Time cites a document filed with the drugmaker and forwarded to the FDA. While it's not clear who filed it, the reference to a homicide of 16 civilians (the first press accounts used that figure) could only be referring to Bales' rampage, and the use of the term "medically confirmed" suggests Roche was satisfied that Bales was taking it. As Time points out, the Army has yet to say whether he took it or not -- suspicious in itself -- and it is now past time for the military to come clean. Here's a portion of the report on file with the FDA: (Click photo to enlarge.)

Bales Lariam

 

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Mefloquine, Madness, and the Military Massacre" »

Weekly Wrap: Mercury and the Mystery of the Missing California Kids

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

It's a fool's errand to try to determine the real autism rate these days, especially tracking it over time. But a couple of "soft signals" from California make me question the idea that severe or "full syndrome" autism is still soaring on the same trajectory we saw in the 1990s.

The latest CDC figure -- convenient for the memory-challenged like me -- is 1 in 88, from 2008, among children age 8, born in 2000. Handy, yes, but it's 2013, for crying out loud.

Nobody argues there is still plenty of autism abroad in the land, but nobody, I would argue, truly knows the rate, the trend, or the relative level of severity right this very minute beyond a basic order of magnitude and the fact it is catastrophic. As our book (The Age of Autism -- Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic) shows, the CDC is fully capable of manipulating the true increase into or out of existence (see Brick Township, New Jersey).

And nobody can seriously argue that thimerosal -- the kind of organic mercury in multidose vials -- was out of vaccines by the year 2000.  It could have been, if the feds had yanked it when they announced their concern and went ducking for cover in July 1999. Instead, they asked manufacturers to implement a gradual phaseout -- and even spurned pharma offers to go directly to mercury-free shots in some cases.

Meanwhile, mercury is still in millions of flu shots now given to all pregnant women and all infants over six months of age.

As we also know, there is a world of difference between full-syndrome autism -- mute, self-injurious and sometimes dangerous children who will never be independent or, most likely, employable -- and Asperger's, with PDD-NOS occupying a middle ground of still-severe injury. The CDC likes to conflate all these categories, and new DSM-V further muddles the issue. But severity on the spectrum does matter, and a great deal, however it is gradated and defined.

So the idea that since mercury was "removed" from vaccines in 1999,  "we all know" that the rate of severe autism rate has kept rising -- well, we all don't know that. At least I don't.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Mercury and the Mystery of the Missing California Kids" »

Weekly Wrap: Review of United States of Autism Film; Temple Grandin's Gaffe

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

I had my guard up this week when I sat down with Cat Jameson and her husband, Steve, to watch The United States of Autism. Let's face it, there are a lot of autism movies, and a lot more in the pipeline. I'm interested in causation, not awareness, and I don't view autism as something we just need to get up close and personal with and all shall be well. And really, how good can something be that sprang to life thanks in part to a $50,000 grant from Pepsi?

My guard started dropping partway through the amazing opening credit sequence. I leaned over to Cat and whispered, "That's $50,000 worth of animation right there."

Well, it could have been, but as I learned later, the director and executive producer, Richard Everts, sat down and taught himself to do it after an a professional wanted a couple of thousand dollars for just the first few seconds. I learned that from Richard's wife, Sugey Cruz-Everts, also an executive producer, who attended the screening in Arlington, Va.

But on to the film itself. The gimmick is some guy taking reluctant leave of his wife and son and running around the country for 40 days, dropping in on lots of families with autism and a few experts, interacting, popping questions, shaking hands, hugging, and heading on down the road. At one level, it's like a bunch of Love It or List It episodes on HGTV jammed together: Host and (unseen) camera crew arrive at the door, family greets them, they go inside and chitchat for a few seconds about their difficult circumstances (two kids in one bedroom, etc., if we're talking HGTV). Once over lightly, but from a darker place.

Well, it could have been, if not for the guy they chose to do all that running around -- Everts himself. His interactions with the families don't have to be long and wordy because they are honest, human, and beautifully constructed -- and because Everts avoids the traps of this kind of filmmaking -- insipid narration, icky empathy, lingering fadeouts, tears for the sake of tears.

What you get instead are vivid glimpses of high-functioning kids and adults, full-syndrome kids who do or don't respond to various treatments, siblings who are coping or not (the one who really, really wants her sister to stop talking about "dictators" all the time is priceless), tales of bullying and acceptance and all the rest (including the stunning comment from a Muslim mom that a bystander compared her son to a terrorist during a meltdown).

You have to admire the sheer energy and intelligence that shines through -- not just the geographic pace, but the smart decision to whack the daylights out of just about every interview and leave the nubbin, whether it's two or three minutes or two or three sentences.

At one point, Everts arrives in New York City to interview Ezra Susser of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Setting up the interview, driving  into New York, getting into the building, setting up the camera, making smalltalk, doing the interview, then doing it all in reverse ... that's a lot of work (and money) for only a minute or so of film.

But it's quite a minute. Here is a guy with gravitas saying that you might be able to discount half of the increase in autism due to better diagnosis, etc., but you're left with a fivefold increase. Fivefold! I might pick at that number, but it's a great thing to get on film and a great person to get it from. You don't have to go on about the epidemic after that; you just know that the people you're meeting in this film had no comparison just a couple of decades ago. Enough said, so to speak.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Review of United States of Autism Film; Temple Grandin's Gaffe" »

Protocol 007: Feds Urge Judge Not to Dismiss Mumps Vaccine Suit

Mumps

By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
 
In a blow to Merck’s hopes for a quick legal victory, the U.S. Justice Department is urging a federal judge not to dismiss a whistleblower lawsuit over the company’s mumps vaccine just because the department has not – yet – sided with the whistleblowers.
 
“The United States remains a real party in interest in this suit under the False Claims Act, with a strong interest in the outcome, even though it has not intervened in the case,” according to the statement, filed May 20 in federal court in Philadelphia and co-signed by an acting assistant attorney general. It pointedly noted the government is “allowed to intervene later.”
 
The whistleblower suit was unsealed in federal district court in Philadelphia a year ago, soon after the Justice Department, which had been studying the allegations for more than a year, declined to intervene.  As we reported then, the alleged fraud was a multi-year effort to hide the fact that the mumps vaccine is no longer anywhere near as effective as Merck claims.
 
At stake: Hundreds of millions of dollars in government payments to Merck, and potentially billions in penalties from the company if the whistleblowers prevail in court. Merck could even lose its license to manufacture the vaccine.
 
The fraud was dubbed Protocol 007 and widely known and approved within the company’s vaccine division, according to the two former Merck scientists who filed the suit under the federal whistleblower statute. Virologists Stephen A. Krahling and Joan A. Wlochowski claim they witnessed the fraud firsthand when they worked at the Merck vaccine laboratory in West Point, Pennsylvania, between 1999 and 2002, and were pressured to participate.
 
They describe a supervisor frantically changing test results that showed the mumps vaccine wasn’t working; destroying garbage-bags full of evidence to keep the fraud from being exposed; and lying to FDA regulators who came to the lab after being alerted by the whistleblowers. 
 
A top Merck vaccine official told Krahling the matter was a “business decision,” the suit says, and he was twice told the company would make sure he went to jail if he told federal regulators the truth.
 
Merck says the suit is without merit, and filed a motion to dismiss the case, in part because the Justice Department has not intervened. It even used that fact in its public statements about the case.
 
“Merck--which stressed that none of these allegations relate to the safety of its product--said the lawsuit is ‘completely without merit’, and that it plans to ‘vigorously defend itself,’” the Wall Street Journal reported last June. “The Whitehouse Station, N.J., drug maker also noted that the U.S. Department of Justice has thus far declined to participate in the case after its own two-year probe.”

Continue reading "Protocol 007: Feds Urge Judge Not to Dismiss Mumps Vaccine Suit" »

Help Make "How Mercury Triggered the Age of Autism" Go Viral

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Does everyone have nine minutes to spare to stop the autism epidemic? I am counting on it.

Last weekend, we debuted a nine minute (ok, nine minute and eight second) video at Autism One. We also ran it at the top of our site, in a banner above our logo (where it still resides), and in a note From the Editor.

Well, here we go again. Nothing we've accomplished takes precedence over the evidence we've dug up about the 11 cases of autism reported by Leo Kanner in 1943. I see sharing this evidence as an urgent moral imperative, and I'll risk being redundant or looking naive in order to do it.

So if I can call in one favor after 10 years of chasing the autism story, this is it -- help us spread this video!

In my last Age of Autism column before being laid off at UPI in 2007, titled The Last Word, I singled out four areas I had reported on, including the fact that the mainstream press coverage of autism stunk bigtime, that the MMRV looked even more dangerous than the MMR, and that some less vaccinated folks like the Amish appeared to have less autism and hence a vax-unvax study would be worth doing. 

"The Age of Autism columns that may mean the most over time (IMHO, of course) are about the first cases of autism," I wrote then, noting that Mark Blaxill and I had uncovered several to that point.

Now, in partnership with Teresa Conrick, we're up to eight out of 11 and still on the case every day, because each one we find strengthens the case that ethylmercury -- first used in seed and lumber treatments and, yes, vaccines -- triggered the Age of Autism. 

Public health officials and pediatricians, as you know, say no. It's safe as mother's milk. It's the nice mercury, mercury lite, E-Z Xcrete mercury, the "gentle bacteriostat," as Paul Offit calls it. They go right on injecting thimerosal into 84 million children worldwide every year -- their proud figure, not mine -- even as they claim it was "taken out" of childhood vaccines in the U.S. but the autism rate keeps rising.

This is Orwellian. First, the latest apples-to-apples CDC figures on autism are for children born in 2000. Second, it's not out, not by a long shot. Here's how Reuters drinks the Kool-aid: "With the exception of some types of flu shots, the compound is not used in vaccines in the United States, which are distributed in single-dose vials."

In other words, with the exception of flu shots now recommended for every pregnant woman and all four million babies born in the United States every year, the compound is not used in vaccines in the United States. 

Continue reading "Help Make "How Mercury Triggered the Age of Autism" Go Viral" »

New Video: How Mercury Triggered The Age of Autism

By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill. Motion design by Natalie Palumbo. With Special Thanks to Teresa Conrick. View YouTube Link How Mercury Triggered The Age of Autism here.  We will be discussing this video and more this morning at 8:30 at Autism One in the Louvre Room.

Weekly Wrap: Gag Me

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

There's a moment in the 1950 movie Born Yesterday where the malaprop-prone Judy Holliday says, "This country and its institutions belong to the people who inhibit it." I'm starting to think Judy got that exactly right.

It's hard to conclude otherwise after this week's Columbia Journalism Review piece that singled out me and AOA (flattered, to tell you the truth), and said we were mangy dogs, all right, but that even balanced coverage of the vaccine-autism debate is, effectively, killing babies. It reminds me of the time after 9/11. If you criticized the invasion of Iraq, the terrorists win. If you didn't go shopping, the terrorists win.

Why not just root for the terrorists since about anything you did or didn't do would help them win?  It's more straightforward that way.

Nowadays, if you echo, let's say, Darrell Issa or Elijah Cummings or the late great Bernadine Healy, not to mention Andy Wakefield, and ask questions about vaccines and autism or even, apparently, quote those people disapprovingly, the babykillers win. Perhaps the most exotic babykiller allegation I came across was the idea that Susan Dominus's whack job on Andy Wakefield in The New York Times shouldn't have been published either -- even viciously anti-anti-vaccine attack pieces kill babies by continuing to bring up the subject.

Seriously, they do! Paul Raeburn said so on the Knight Journalism at MIT blog in 2011:

"So why would the Times do this story now?

"Here's why not to do it: I believe that this story will prompt more parents to refuse to vaccinate their children. Some of those children will suffer or die from illnesses that the vaccines would have prevented.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Gag Me" »

Protocol 007: Merck Denies Fraud, But Feds Seek New Mumps Vaccine as Cases Spread


Mumps


By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill

Scattered mumps outbreaks – possibly underreported by the CDC – are reinforcing longstanding concern that Merck’s mumps vaccine is failing far more often than it should.
 
The outbreaks come as Merck defends itself in federal court against a whistleblower lawsuit filed last year claiming it faked data to mask the low efficacy of the mumps component of its MMRII vaccine. Within the company, according to the suit, the effort was known as Protocol 007.
 
In a filing earlier this year, Merck denied wrongdoing and said it stands by its claim that the vaccine is 96 percent effective. It asked the judge to dismiss the claim and pointedly noted that U.S. Justice Department officials have so far not joined on the whistleblower's behalf -- a move that often spells the difference in court.
 
But the government seems anxious despite Merck’s reassurances – just as the whistleblower suit was unsealed, Age of Autism has learned, health officials awarded almost $2 million to a research team at the University of Georgia. The goal: Find a much better mumps vaccine, in a hurry. “The fact that outbreaks had occurred in populations with over 95% coverage of two-dose [mumps] vaccine strongly suggests that the current vaccine is not effective,” according to project information filed by Biao He, a researcher at the University of Georgia who received the $1.8 million grant.

According to a recent filing by the whistleblowers: "The government has not joined in Merck's current motion [to dismiss the case] and has made no decision on the current Complaint. Instead, it has taken a 'wait and see' approach requesting that it be served with all pleadings, motions and court orders in this case, and that its consent be obtained before the case is settled, dismissed or discontinued.

"While the Department of Justice has chosen to sit on the sidelines of this case for now, both the FDA and its sister agency, the National Institute of Health, have since the complaint was filed begun to take steps to address the failure of Merck's mumps vaccine. The FDA has initiated its own study to determine the vaccine's efficacy, acknowledging that the recent mumps outbreak 'indicat[es] lower vaccine efficacy than previously estimated.' The NIH has gone even further. It is funding the University of Georgia to develop a new mumps vaccine because the recent outbreaks 'strongly suggest that the current vaccine is not effective.'"

Merck continues to state that its mumps vaccine is highly effective, as shown in this ad filed with the court by the whistleblowers; it claims 96 percent efficacy for the mumps portion of the MMRII -- in other words, 96 out of 100 people who get the shot are protected from the mumps virus: 


Mumps ad

Continue reading "Protocol 007: Merck Denies Fraud, But Feds Seek New Mumps Vaccine as Cases Spread" »

Weekly Wrap: 1 in 25

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Last weekend I had the good fortune to attend two talks by Andy Wakefield a stone's throw from my home in Northern Virginia. One, a fund-raiser, included talks by David Lewis and Patrick Tierney, two friends of our community who know a thing or two about the suppression of unpleasant science.

The other was a public event, at which Josie Nelson and Louise Kuo Habakus also spoke. Louise has the most polished, impressive presentation of how to take responsibility for your own vaccine choices that I've ever heard. I hope she is called on to share it far and wide (and I'm reminded why AOA named her Person of the Year a few years back).

There were a couple of families in the crowd with adorable infants, and if anyone could help them understand the issues, it was Louise.

Andy updated everyone on his defamation suit against Brian Deer and the BMJ, which now awaits a jurisdictional appeal in Texas. One thing Andy said that really struck me: The autism rate is now 1 in 25. It's happening, it's set in stone, nothing will change it in this cohort of kids.

He didn't elaborate, but he didn't really need to. At the rate of increase, how could it not hit 1 in 25? Only the manipulations of the DSM and the CDC will change it, absent a clear-eyed look at the real cause. (Speaking of which, how about Rep. Posey's speech? He is going to be a must-see at Autism One.)

One in 25 -- that's a rate of one autistic child in every homeroom. Just like the old days.

Josie Nelson gave a wonderful intro, a ringing defense of free speech and independent thinking when it comes to vaccine safety. I asked her to share it with me so I could share it with you:

"Last fall, I said to Brooke Potthast and a room of about…oh twelve other people…that one of my goals for 2013 was to help create an educational event around vaccine exemption rights for our local community.  I don’t think any of us imagined we’d be standing with Louise Habakus and Dr. Andrew Wakefield just a few short months later.  What a treat!  

"And why, might you ask, would any sane person choose to talk about this subject in the first place?  While increasing numbers of parents, scientists, and health practitioners have questions about the size of the CDC recommended vaccine schedule, the signs and symptoms of vaccine injury, and conflicts of interest in the vaccine industry, to be curious about these issues is an easy route to hearing oneself labeled: threat to public health, unscientific, emotional, and even anti-vaccine.  As a consequence, conversations about this important topic tend to take place with pointed fingers and with raised voices, or behind closed doors and in hushed tones; and sometimes, sadly, they don’t take place at all.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: 1 in 25" »

AOA EXCLUSIVE -- Her Name Was Vivian: Clues From the Age of Autism’s First-Born Child

Vivian ancestry

By Teresa Conrick, Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill
 
We found her.
 
Eight years after setting out to identify the 11 children in the first medical report of autism, we have found “Virginia S.”, the eldest child in that landmark paper -- and thus the first-born child of the Age of Autism.

Her real name: Vivian Ann Murdock. Born in 1931, Vivian was placed in a Maryland institution at age 6 and died in a state-run home in 1987, age 56. She was the daughter of a prominent Baltimore psychiatrist, Harry M. Murdock, and his wife, Margaret.

Rosewood2
The Rosewood State Training School, Owings Mills, MD Stuart Dahne Photography

The key to finding her real name was the recent online publication of the 1940 U.S. Census – allowing one of us (Teresa) to test her hunch about the institution to which"Virginia" had been committed as a child: The Rosewood School in Owings Mills. The hunch was correct; the Census listed an "Inmate" there named Vivian Murdock, age 8 in 1940, who we conclusively identified as "Virginia S."

In Dan and Mark's The Age of Autism – Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic, published in 2010, we described the seven children we'd identified to that point, and wrote of “Virginia”: “We continue to search for this eldest child of the Age of Autism and whatever clues her identity may hold.”
 
Now, having spoken with family members, and pored over countless records and archives, we believe her identity does offer important clues, ones remarkably consistent with the other cases in that first report -- exposure to new mercury compounds in their families. 
 
Vivian was directly in the path of at least three mercury vectors:

-- the first use of mercury-preserved vaccines in Baltimore -- a drive to vaccinate every infant with those shots began the month she was born;

-- her parents' avocation of orchid growing and breeding, which required intensive application of chemicals including mercury;

-- and her father’s psychiatric career, which brought him – and probably his family through second-hand exposure – in contact with mercury treatments for a common form of insanity.

Mercury is no longer used in agriculture or mental health treatment. But each year, 100 million children worldwide get vaccines containing thimerosal, the ethylmercury preservative first used in those shots in Baltimore. In the United States, flu shots, most of which contain mercury, are recommended for pregnant women and for infants beginning at 6 months of age.

Our research on Vivian and the other first cases of autism suggests that is a very bad idea. 

Vivian’s identity also offers insight into how the damaging idea of “refrigerator parents” – supposedly cold and neglectful mothers and fathers responsible for causing their children's disorder -- got its start. We will explain these clues and conclusions in detail, but first the basics about the discovery of Vivian Murdock.

--

Seventy years ago this month, in April 1943, a psychiatry journal called The Nervous Child published an article titled “Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact.” Written by Leo Kanner, a Johns Hopkins child psychiatrist who is widely considered the founder of the field, it begins:
 
“SINCE 1938, there have come to our attention a number of children whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far, that each case merits -- and, I hope, will eventually receive -- a detailed consideration of its fascinating peculiarities.” Elsewhere, he called it "a behavior pattern not known to me or anyone else theretofore."
 
The three of us have always found those words remarkable, coming as they did from an acknowledged authority who eight years earlier had catalogued every known childhood mental disability in his landmark 500-page book  “Child Psychiatry.” Those pages contained not a whisper of autism, or anything that in retrospect looks similar.
 
Our own research convinced us the autism rate before 1930 was effectively zero (it is now 1 in 50). A handful of cases over several centuries might conceivably qualify, but there was nothing approaching the cluster of children whose worried parents brought them to see Leo Kanner in the years between 1938 and 1943.
 
Curious whether the family backgrounds of those first 11 cases might point to common environmental exposures, we began trying to identify them in 2005. The eight boys and three girls were described in the paper only by a first name and last initial. But because Kanner gave birth years for each child, we knew that “Virginia S.” was the oldest; her birthday was listed as September 13, 1931. Even as the number of autistic children seen by Kanner rose in later years, none appears to have been born earlier. (In a 1955 update, Kanner revisited his first 42 cases. The oldest autistic person at that point was 24 -- born in 1931 and presumably Virginia S.)

 We began our hunt with Kanner’s original 1943 "Autistic Disturbances" report and a follow-up paper he wrote in 1971. (In the latter paper, he slipped once and referred to “Virginia S.” by what we now know is her real first name, Vivian.) In “Autistic Disturbances,” he quoted a psychologist noting that Virginia “could respond to sounds, the calling of her name, and the command, ‘Look!’

 “She pays no attention to what is said to her,” the psychologist said, “but quickly comprehends whatever is expected. Her performance reflects discrimination, care, and precision. … She is quiet, solemn, composed. Not once have I seen her smile. She retires within herself, segregating herself from others. She seems to be in a world of her own …”

Continue reading "AOA EXCLUSIVE -- Her Name Was Vivian: Clues From the Age of Autism’s First-Born Child" »

Weekly Wrap: Autism Science, Doing Autopsies on Plane-Crash Victims

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

When the mainstream media and medical establishment talk about autism long enough, they end up babbling incoherent nostrums about early detection, greater awareness, the joys of disability and, finally, pure noise. The "news" product that gets extruded through the tube becomes stupider and stupider and older and older.

That's where we are in Autism Awareness Month, limping to the finish line with the last embers of empathy all but extinguished.  I just read as "new" the idea that valproate can cause autism. Yes, we know. And the most delectable morsel had to be the comment in the Times this week, regarding the wrinkled placenta theory of autism, that one researcher had sent another "Milky Way bar-size sections of 217 placentas."

Yum! Allow me to quote from one of our valued commenters, "Barry," in response to someone touting their scientific credentials on AOA:

"It's little wonder that you arrogant, overeducated buffoons have wasted so much time ... and have yet to accomplish anything! What you 'scientists' are doing, is roughly the equivalent of an air crash investigator completing autopsies on all the plane crash victims ... to try and figure out what caused them all to die!

"These vaccine injured children that you prefer to call autistic, have one big thing in common. They all have severely dysfunctional immune systems, which in most cases are relentlessly attacking their own bodies. Hmmmmn... severely disabled immune systems, that have suddenly become rampant in the most vaccinated generation in the history of mankind. Is it really that hard for you 'scientists' to connect the dots on this?"

Yes, it is hard, when rather than listening to parents or calling for vax-unvax data stat or drawing the logical conclusions about the neurotoxicity of ethylmercury, you are shipping Milky Way bar-size portions of placentas to each other.

--

Speaking of listening to parents, Joan Campbell told me this week that her site followingvaccinations.com now has 1771 comments from more than 150 countries all saying the same thing -- that injury, including autism, and even death followed directly and swiftly after vaccinations. When I wrote about it just a couple of years ago it had half as many.

As I said at the time, this is one of the most important documents ever assembled regarding children's health and, among other things, a standing reproach to the glib assertions that things like autism just kinda sorta happen around kinda the time when kids get some shots or sumthin' like that.

Let's just take the first entry:

"Ana Maria Abba  I believe my son's issues stem from the two flu vaccines I was strongly advised to take during pregnancy. I did an alternative vaccine schedule. He developed normally until 9 months when he started to get sick a lot. I looked and it seemed to be around when he got the polio shot. I believe he had mild autism at 2 yrs (I didn't know that then but was starting to be suspicious) then I gave him the Hep B shot since I had just moved to Malaysia and was freaked out about the 3rd world country thing. Anyway after that shot he developed a bad fever. He also lost his strength which was visual learning. He stopped reading his books. He really went downhill after that. He was diagnosed about that same time. Polio and others in Littleton, CO Hep B Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia"

And one from the Z's:

"Dustin Zeimet  Our son was administered hib and the flu vaccine in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Within 3 days we started seeing headbanging, hitting and many more meltdowns than usual.  He is almost 4 now and his regression of skills into autism started between 13 and 15 mo."

Now that's the kind of autism awareness we need a lot more of.

--
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

Weekly Wrap: Yes, Blame Government For the Return of Measles

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted Dr. Andrew Wakefield suit headshot

The British media and medical establishment can't get over Andy Wakefield's gall when he claimed, in a post published here, that an outbreak of measles in Wales is squarely the fault of British health officials. Has the man no decency? At long last, has he no decency?

Well, I certainly agree with Andy that the blame for the measles outbreak rests squarely with the public health establishment. Separate measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines were available when Andy was asked, and gave his honest view, that parents should avail themselves of that choice until more research was done. A few months afterward, the government got rid of those shots, and parents were left with all or nothing -- the MMR, about which quite reasonable concerns persisted, or no shot at all.

Many chose nothing, no shot at all, making the quite reasonable calculation that the risk of those diseeases was better than a 1-in-50 shot at getting autism (actually, of the three, the only good case is for the rubella vaccine, to prevent congenital rubella syndrome in babies). The same dynamic has played itself out in the United States, where separate shots were available, then they weren't, then they were going be, but then they weren't -- and still aren't.

The British establishment would like to paint Andy as a uniquely hubristic satanic fraudster -- who else would engender concerns about the safety of vaccines, and then blame the authorities when parents don't get them in the prescribed way?

Well, Jon Poling, for one. In 2008, Hannah's father wrote a column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in the wake of his daughter's multi-million-dollar award in vaccine court for, yes, vaccine-induced autism: 

 "The current vaccine schedule, co-sponsored by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, injures a small but significant minority of children, my daughter unfortunately being one of those victims. Every day, more parents and some pediatricians reject the current vaccine schedule. In an abundance of caution, meaningful reform must be performed urgently to prevent the re-emergence of serious diseases like polio or measles.

"As a neurologist, I have cared for those afflicted with SSPE (a rare but dreaded neurological complication of measles), paralytic polio and tetanus. If these serious vaccine-preventable diseases again become commonplace, the fault will rest solely on the shoulders of public health leaders and policymakers who have failed to heed the writing on the wall (scribbled by my 9-year old daughter)."

To repeat, the return of measles would rest solely on the shoulders of public health leaders, according to the father of a child compensated for vaccine-induced autism. 

As I wrote at the time, Dr, Poling is the real deal, educated at Johns Hopkins, devoted both to his daughter and his patients, tempered by reality. He's mild-mannered. He's mainstream. He's credible. And he says that if a disease like measles emerges again, "the fault will rest solely on the shoulders of public health leaders and policymakers."

As I wrote then, "I'm starting to think we should rename the CDC the Centers for Disease Contagion. You've all seen the news that there are suddenly more measles cases in the United States and the CDC is blaming it in part on the increasing reluctance of parents to vaccinate their kids.

"But it's the CDC's fault, and no other. ...  Right now they're triggering a measles outbreak, and that may just be the start of the havoc they're going to cause unless Congress or the (next) president reminds them who's REALLY in control around here."

Oh, and by the way, vaccines  including the MMR are the cause of the autism epidemic. More and more parents, families, and ordinary people know it. Andy Wakefield and Jon Poling are stating the obvious -- parents have lost trust in governments that say otherwise.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

 

Weekly Wrap: Snickering About Shingles, Sticking It To Andy

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

My cousin, a doctor, told me a long time ago that the best way to approach doctors and medicine is this: go to the doctor as little as possible, take as few medications as possible, and take as small a dose of those medicines as possible.

I've tried to live by that, and so far have succeeded pretty well. Recently, it was time for a physical, and I braced myself for a discussion with my doctor about vaccines. Ithink doctors may be a bit like members of Congress -- although Congress in general is held in low esteem, voters tend to think their own Congressperson is doing a pretty good job. So while I spend a lot of time harshing on the medical industry, I've always liked my own doctor, to whom I've been going for two or three decades.

When it came time to talk vaccines, she noted I was due for a bundle -- i think tetanus, some kind of pneumonia thing, and, having recently turned 60, the shingles shot. I had my answer ready -- i just didn't want to get any vaccines, thank you (and I didn't want to argue about it, although I didn't say that -- I just didn't argue). I didn't get into how vaccines have caused the autism epidemic, sudden infant death, a whole mess of chronic conditions, and etcetera.

Saying no seemed to do it. But somehow the shingles shot came round again during my visit -- shingles in the eye making people blind was one of my doctors warnings for the shingles-shotless. And, she noted, shingles is more common these days because people aren't getting the immune "bump" from exposure to wild chicken pox in children, due, she said, to the chickenpox vaccine that's become routine in the last 20 years.

I had to say something about that: "Well you know the same company that makes the chickenpox vaccine makes the shingles vaccine -- Merck. And we're trading a harmless and probably useful childhood illness for something that as you say is really dreadful."

Her response was a smile and an obvious sense of amusement and acknowledgement. "Well, that's true," she said. "You are definitely right about that."

Good grief! How did we go from denial that the chickenpox shot triggers more shingles cases, to laughing about how obvious it is? And who signed up to get shingles in order for the stupid chickenpox vaccine to become ubiquitous? (If it's so critical, why don't they have it in Great Britain and most everywhere else.)

It's the New Normalization of bad illness as a side-effect of preventing minor illness, and it makes no sense. Except financial.

Me, I'm sticking with my cousin's motto -- as few doctors visits, and as little medicine as possible.

--

Speaking Of Too Many Shots: The big British paper The Independent has picked up on Andy Wakefield's piece, published on AOA, that blames the government for the outbreak of measles in Wales. You can hear the harrumphing clear across the Pond. But thanks for crediting our humble Web site!

Andy pointed out that the government banned single vaccines for the M, M, and R, forcing people to go all in with the MMR or skip the vaccine altogether. I agree -- it's not his fault, especially since, in my opinion, the MMR does cause autism! A small point, I guess.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Snickering About Shingles, Sticking It To Andy" »

Weekly Wrap:The Big Disconnect in Autism Coverage

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

I've said many times that the media's failure to listen to parents who describe their child's descent into autism after vaccinations is appalling. The First Amendment was not created so that news outlets could help federal bureaucrats reach 98 percent coverage rates for the chickenpox vaccine. It was created to act as a check against government excess, denial and overreach.

So it really makes my skin crawl when i see something like the Arizona TV station report this week, headlined, "Study: Autism risk not increased by too many vaccines too soon.'" It begins:

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PHOENIX -- A new study adds to years of research showing that childhood vaccines do not cause autism, despite worries among a growing number of parents that their young children receive "too many vaccines."

"Jalen has pretty severe autism," dad Jami Nielsen said of his son. "When they were 3, both boys went to get shots and within two to three days, all his language fell completely off."

--

The report goes on to quote the DeStefano/CDC study about how the antigens in vaccines don't correlate with a risk for autism. Even in the self-protective annals of the CDC, this study is a stinker.

But putting that aside, the fact that Jalen fell off a developmental cliff TWO OR THREE DAYS after vaccination ought to make somebody in the editing room at that TV station, or some mainstream outlet somewhere, sit up and take notice.

This happens all the damn time, people! These kinds of parental accounts, combined with the $2 billion plus awarded in vaccine court, including to Hannah Poling; the known properties of vaccination, and the concommitant rise of mercury and vaccines with the autism epidemic, are far more than enough to start asking tough questions.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap:The Big Disconnect in Autism Coverage" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: AS OK's CDC BS

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

The new study that claims the number of "antigens" in vaccines has no bearing on the risk for autism isn't really worth much comment. It's just more messing around by the CDC with data they've already abused (Price, 2010) to obscure the link between thimerosal and autism. That study was described as "an interesting case of over-matching" in a published paper by  DeSoto et al. It's a devastating critique of the BS the CDC piles higher and deeper all the time to avoid implicating itself in the autism epidemic.

And it's exactly why reasonable people have long wanted to wrest vaccine safety oversight from the conflicted hands of the CDC. Any report on immunization safety "from the Immunization Safety Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga.," is suspect.

As Dr. Bob Sears said, it's "another waste of money in another attempt to pretend to do research on vaccines and autism. ... You would probably find the exact same results no matter what group of kids you studied. Pretty much all children in any given span of years receive the exact same number of shot antigens. ... So, why would it even be useful to study this?

"All this study proved is that all the kids in that HMO got about the same vaccines over that 5 year time period. This doesn't give us any useful data on how vaccines would have or would not have influeced the rate of autism."

A reader named Ed Burke offered this analogy: 

"I don't have a horse in this race, but I am surprised that no one is talking about what the study shows, which does little or nothing to inform the debate as to whether the current recommended vaccine schedule is safe.

"If you fire paint guns across a schoolyard all day and that night compare the kids with splattered clothes to the ones clean, they were all exposed to the same number of paintballs. The paintballs still caused the splattered clothes.

"If you expose a population of kids to a slew of vaccines and then compare those who develop autism to those who don't, and say, well, the autistic kids were not exposed to any more vaccines than the non-autistic kids, that does not prove the vaccines do not cause autism any more than our hypothetical proved paintballs do not cause splattered clothes.

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: AS OK's CDC BS" »

Weekly Wrap: What Killed Aaron Swartz? ... A Murder-Suicide Minus the Murder. ... And the 1 in 50 Millstone

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Aaron Swartz looks like a "canary kid" to me. The tech wonderkind, creator of RSS and Reddit, born in November 1986 and a suicide this January, had the dark circles around his eyes and the combination of intensity and depression, keen intellect and chronic ill health, that seem like the two poles of life for so many kids and young people today.

Of course, he was also under indictment for unauthorized downloading, and faced the possibility of a few months in jail (not the 30 or 40 years the media keeps citing). Those who knew him best said they thought the criminal case wasn't really enough to explain why he hung himself, and the details that have emerged suggest what that "else" might be.

"He was small and frail and shy and often sick," according to a New Yorker profile. Specifically, "he Aaron-swartz-428x284had Crohn's disease; he also thought that he was a 'supertaster,' experiencing sensations of taste more intensely than regular people. Partly for these reasons, he ate only foods that were white or yellow. He ate pasta, tofu, cheese, bread, rice, eggs, and cheese pizza. He was phobic about fruit and wouldn't touch it." 

The profile also suggests that a combination of medicines might have triggered suicidal impulses. Regardless, he had enough health issues to remind us of too many other young people in this Age of Autism -- kids with sensory issues, food sensitivities, gut problems that can be disabling.

As I wrote last week, suicide is not just a psychiatric outcome but often reflects a biomedical crisis for the body and mind triggered by environmental factors we need to start acknowledging.

--

I also wrote last week about the phenomenon of murder-suicides, mostly by young men, and noted that the horror of mass murder obscures the fact that all of these young men first decided they were willing and perhaps eager to die themselves. "Suicide by cop" -- in which the only outcome for the perpetrator is death at his own hand or a law officer's -- has become a term of art.

S1.reutersmedia.netRight on cue, we had the example of a student at Central Florida University who appears to have been planning a mass attack but, after pointing a gun at his roommate and being cornered by the police, shot himself. (And after I wrote these words on Thursday, a Marine not far from me in Northern Virginia killed two other Marines, and then himself after being cornered by the MPs. It's getting hard to keep up.)

Too many young people are too willing to die. Why?

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: What Killed Aaron Swartz? ... A Murder-Suicide Minus the Murder. ... And the 1 in 50 Millstone" »

Weekly Wrap: Alex and His Mom, Autism and Suicide, and Psychiatry's Hysteria Hangover

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

March 16, 2013 -- The drama now playing out at Loyola hospital in Chicago, as detailed in Contributing Editor Lisa Goes' superb reporting for Age of Autism,  is a stark case in point of what so many autism families face -- and so many more will -- as this epidemic unfolds. Uncomprehending doctors, a community not yet organized to intervene effectively, profoundly disabled young men no longer suited for cutesy ad campaigns, a media scared away by their reluctance to challenge medical authorities ... all can be seen in this sad saga.

But another part of the story is as old as autism itself: blaming mom.

The fact the hospital seems to be treating her as trouble is par for the course. But I've been quite surprised and a little disappointed by the feedback in our community that there is something wrong with this picture, namely, the mom. Why is she letting Alex languish with no treatment? Why hasn't she tried biomed, if she hasn't? Who is she taking advice from, and if it's not the right advice, why doesn't she get better advice? Why is she going public when maybe a more discrete and decorous handling of the matter might have been better for Alex? (An answer from a fellow AOA  editor: "That's probably right about the bulk of the situations from a practical perspective. But this crap goes on all the time. And sometimes we need to put a spotlight on it.")

All this reminds me of a sarcastic comment my father, a Roosevelt Democrat, made to lampoon criticism of the poor by the privileged: "If they don't like living in the ghetto, why don't they just move?" I'm half expecting someone to tell me that, Psssstttt,  the mom was turned down for the Junior League because, well, she's just not our kind of girl, don't you know?

I feel a little like Hillary Clinton testifying to Congress, waving her arms in exasperation and saying (about Benghazi): "What difference at this point does it make?" The evidence, visual, eyewitness, documentary, is overwhelming that this child's medical needs are not being properly addressed. What more at this point do we need?

Blaming mom, of course, is the oldest trick in the autism playbook, perfected by Bruno Bettelheim (in Chicago, where Alex now languishes), who said infants retreated into the "empty fortress" of autism because they correctly deduced their mother's homicidal wish for them to be dead.

Brian Deer deceived and savaged the Lancet 12 moms, suggesting they were in it for the money, Andy's willing dupes, and Munchausen-by-proxy head cases. Theresa Cedillo, in the Omnibus rulings, was portrayed as the gullible tool of money-grubbing lawyers, a parent so inattentive she missed the earlier signs (earlier than the MMR! far far earlier!) that her child was descending into autism, and couldn't keep her chronology straight.

But this has all come from the other side. Here's hoping we don't pick up their bad habits.

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What to make of the new study that shows kids with autism have a considerable risk of suicide? The key finding for our community -- the community that believes autism is an environmental illness and biomedical treatments can help -- may be that in children with autism whose parents considered them depressed, 77 percent had considered or attempted suicide, according to the Fox News account.

Kids with autism who weren't subject to mood disorders were very unlikely to have done so.

So poor mental health, not autism per se, is the risk.  Of course, autism as presently treated by mainstream medicine (see Alex, above)  is a risk for mental health "co-morbidities," given the lack of support and the tendency to pour toxic psychotropic drugs into kids with unexamined medical conditions (ditto). Many, many kids with autism have problems from GI issues to food and skin and sensory sensitivities that would depress any human being, however neurotypical.

Yet the hospital tells Alex's mother: "We have to heal the mind first and then the mind is going to heal the body." 

Exactly bass-ackwards.

What's more -- to my mind, anyway -- autism makes people prone to psychiatric issues because the causative factor in many cases -- exposure to organic mercury through vaccines and the environment -- also causes depression, irrational anger, and suicidal thinking directly. It's a vicious circle, and the failure to understand it is a catastrophic mistake we can trace back to the very beginnings of psychiatry.

--

In 1900, in Vienna, Austria, an 18-year-old named Ida Bauer wrote a suicide note that would help shape modern psychiatry.

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Alex and His Mom, Autism and Suicide, and Psychiatry's Hysteria Hangover" »

RFK Jr. Is Right: Hg Causes Autism

As people attack RFK Jr.'s new book and say a link between ethylmercury (thimerosal) in vaccines and autism has been disproven, tell them this: the second child ever diagnosed with autism (1943) had a father who was experimenting with ethylmercury dust when he was born. What do they say about that and about Case 7, whose pediatrician mother pushed the first thimerosal-laced vaccines? Seriously, what do they say? That RFK Jr. is nuts?

-0-

“These events revealed totally unacceptable behavior,” CDC Director Frieden says of anthrax, flu, smallpox incidents. “They should never have happened. I’m upset, I’m angry, I’ve lost sleep over this, and I’m working on it until the issue is resolved.”

-0-

Sent this out on Facebook and wanted to share here, about the growing reports linking pesticide exposure and autism: pesticides are a critical clue, perhaps THE critical clue, to the manmade, environmental nature of the rise of autism and, by clear implication, the central role of vaccines. it is exciting to see new research homing in on pesticides, and there is the potential for a breakthrough, i think.

the first pesticides that contained ethyl mercury triggered the first three cases of autism reported by Leo Kanner in 1943, as mark blaxill and i showed in our book. this also implicates vaccines, of course, which were first produced with thimerosal at the same time. anything that implicates pesticides today strengthens our thesis, and hopefully the connection we outlined will gain more attention. it really is the smoking gun for ethyl mercury as the trigger for the rise of autism. please help spread the word -- if we could get some mainstream attention for this early connection to pesticides with ethyl mercury, in the context of new research implicating pesticides, it could be significant. feel free to share this with news sources and anyone else. 

our ten minute video spells it out. ask people to watch it before they repeat the empty claim that a link between vaccines and autism has been "discredited" even as millions of babies around the world get mercury-containing shots every year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiT7Y233404

 

Weekly Wrap: Adam Lanza, Feeling No Pain

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted

Talking about the Newtown mass murderer, Adam Lanza,  is fraught with peril for people in the autism advocacy community, especially that part of the community which believes -- as I certainly do -- that vaccines have caused the epidemic of autism diagnoses now so apparent in schools across the country. The fact that two of the 20 dead children had ASDs just goes to show how prevalent such children are in classrooms everywhere.

Whether Lanza himself had an ASD is still an open question, despite second-hand reports that he had Asperger's. I'm proud of the way AOA responded to that story, starting with a statement that reads in part:

"Regardless of whether or not the shooter truly is on the autism spectrum, we wish to make it clear that autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are in no way associated with criminal violence. More often than not, people with ASDs are the victims of such violence, not the people committing them." 

So while hard information on his ASD status is unknown, and, in any event, irrelevant as a primary cause, there is one diagnosis that was plausible from the start: Sensory integration disorder. From the Associated Press, just a couple of days after the shooting:

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SOUTHBURY, Conn. — At Newtown High School, Adam Lanza had trouble relating to fellow students and teachers, but that was only part of his problem. He seemed not to feel physical or emotional pain in the same way as classmates.

Richard Novia, the school district's head of security until 2008, who also served as adviser for the school technology club, said Lanza clearly "had some disabilities."

"If that boy would've burned himself, he would not have known it or felt it physically," Novia told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "It was my job to pay close attention to that."

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap: Adam Lanza, Feeling No Pain" »

Jake Crosby: "SafeMinds Ignores Major Allegations While Replying Dishonestly to Other Charges"

Capitol

Editor's note: I declined to run Contributing Editor Jake Crosby's original article on this topic for reasons outlined here. Since then, it appeared elsewhere and generated a great deal of comment within our community (and without). We subsequently ran a statement from SafeMinds, the object of the original piece. Now Jake has asked us to run this follow-up. Given that the subject is on the table, and that this article would presumably appear elsewhere in any event, I decided to run it, unedited. -- Dan Olmsted.

(PS: After a thorough airing of views, the comment thread is now closed. Go in peace for all mankind.)

By Jake Crosby

On November 29th, SafeMinds hijacked the Dan Burton Congressional Hearing on autism and vaccines by pretending to represent autism parent and scientist Dr. Brian Hooker, and by changing the topic away from vaccines - thus opening the door to autism epidemic denialists among other vaccine program apologists. On its website and on Age of Autism, SafeMinds responded to my Bolen Report article “SafeMinds Steals The Show, Literally…” claiming that what I wrote about the organization were “false allegations.” However, they provided no proof that any of them were false, completely ignoring some of the more serious allegations.

Continue reading "Jake Crosby: "SafeMinds Ignores Major Allegations While Replying Dishonestly to Other Charges"" »

From the Bolen Report: Jake Crosby on Congressional Autism Hearings

Keep Calm Write OnNot long ago, Jake Crosby, one of our Contributing Editors, submitted an article about the background of the Congressional hearing on autism late last year. I rejected the article because, as I told Jake, it did not meet the standards that I try to apply to everything submitted to Age of Autism. Jake then submitted the piece to The Bolen Report, which, adding to the strangeness of this situation, posted it but did not technically "publish" it, according to Tim Bolen (see my "Tough Tim Bolen" satire below). Some of our worst critics have now had plenty of time to relish its attacks on our friends while the rest of us could only watch in distress.

Now Bolen says he will publish it, which is certainly his right. So, as a reader service, here is the link.

Jake is someone I have long admired for his autism advocacy and writing for Age of Autism. He remains a Contributing Editor. However, this article does not stand up to scrutiny on a number of levels. The invasion of privacy of a number of SafeMinds board members here is unconscionable and, really, inexplicable given the far less-than-critical issues involved. Furthermore, based on preliminary inquiries, the facts do not seem to be as described in this article; certainly, SafeMinds has denied them vigorously. It's bad journalism, glaringly unsourced and without giving the "targets" an opportunity to give their version of events. I stand by the choices I've made in dealing with this unfortunate situation, and will be following up in the near future. -- Dan Olmsted

 

SATIRE: Who is Tough Tim Bolen and Why is He Threatening l'il ol' Age of Autism?

Yosemite samBy Dan Olmsted

There's a tough talkin gun totin fella outta the Wild West, Tim Bolen by name, who's a ridden in to Autismtown like a new sheriff and is here to tell ya, don't a be messin wif him and his posse cuz he's ornery as a stray cat that ain't a had nuffin ta eat in quite a spell.

Pardner.

Tim's been a takin out after the sarsaparilla-sippin rascals over at-a  Safeminds and a hookin up with a bunch of nouveau tough guys who think we all a been a bunch of pansy-asses in never sayin that there therisomil, or however you say it back east, is a causin this here autism, and that other shot too. (Even though Safminds done cooked up that therismole idea in the first darn place!) He's a got a new artical that already kinda got out the barn door on them twitters and facialbooks, but now he's gonna run it for real, like, even though some desperado named Orac already done had a field day with it. Now the rest of us cowhands can gather round the campfire and hear the tale.

Who talks like this? "As you know, it was I, Tim Bolen, who made the arrangements for an
alliance between the North American Health Freedom Movement and the Autism world by, first, arranging for a west coast conference for AutismOne in conjunction with my friends at the Health Freedom Expo at Long Beach, California." And on and on. And on.

And why not? It's time for Tim and his posse to be a callin the shots around here and takin over the town. Autism One? Pansies too. They'll be a run right outta that hoity Chicgao, or a workin for a differen sheriff, namely thisun, befur the sun a come up 365 more times in the West (namely, Orange County, home of fantasyland). Come on a Autism One, you be seein it!

Just a few sunrises ago, sheriff Bolen done took out after this here humble internets place called age of autism, and said, Pardner, I'd a be a careful if I was you. You better a think on whos a gonna be a butterin your skillet cornbread after we get a done with this here sissy factory. Don't a be asking any questions Tim and his posse might not be a likin about that there artical they might be a runnin and kinda already done did. Don't be a calling the pansy ass big shots and so called press spokesmens in Washington to be a tryin to get ackshul facts, that ain't a none of your job. You and your little pansy ass friends might a pushing up digital daisies by a time we a be a done with a you.

Here be somefin called a e-mail -- don't need no stamps! -- that Tough Tim done sent to this here blog warnin' us of more trouble than a porcupine wrestlin with a cactus.

Got it, Pardner.

--

 -----Original Message-----

From: Dan Olmsted [mailto:olmsted.dan@gmail.com
Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2013 8:45 AM
To: tim bolen
Subject: Re: The SafeMinds issue - up to date
hi tim, thanks for these comments. just trying to understand on the question
of publishing jake's piece - you say "if i [tim] do do this," meaning publish his
piece, i think. but you HAVE published it, haven't you?
just trying to get my bearings here. if i write about it, it's correct to
say you published it, right? again, i don't have an issue with you
publishing it...
best,
dan
--
On Feb 5, 2013, at 12:45 PM, "tim bolen" <jurimed2@earthlink.net> wrote:
Dan:
No, that's not true.  I haven't published it.  Notice that it was
intentionally not dated.  I put it in a hidden place where certain key
people could see it to comment on it.  It was supposed to be private. ...
So far, I can't guess how many people have seen it, but if I do the teaser,
and hit the send key, roughly 285,000 subscribers will get it seconds later.
Then, it gets picked up by our network and rebroadcast to even much larger
readership.
Dan, were I you, I'd be very careful about what you do with this.  Rumor has
it that 50% of AoA's income is dependent on either Mark Blaxill or
SafeMinds.  Were I you, I wouldn't even touch this.  You might be just
betting the farm.  The last thing you want to be, right now, is a part of
the problem.  You were right not to touch it in the first place.
Perhaps this is a good time to wet your finger and see from which direction
the wind is blowing in the Autism world.
 
Tim Bolen
--
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap Up: A Really, Really, Really Bad Idea

Keep Calm Write OnBy Dan Olmsted

A few really bad ideas in the hands of people in a position to carry them out can create one heck of a mess. That is the point of a book by Fred Kaplan, "Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power," published in 2008. It begins like this: "Nearly all of America's blunders in war and peace these past few years stem from a single grand misconception: that the world changed after September 11, when in fact it didn't." It didn't because the need to work with, rather than against, the rest of the world remained as important as ever, in Kaplan's argument.


Kaplan cited a handful of other mistakes, including the idea that America was uniquely strong after the end of the Cold War, and could impose its will – including democratic governments – around the world. No, he argues, we needed alliances more than ever. But the prevailing idea, misbegotten as it was, was that flexing our muscle big-time would make the world safe for America. Ultimately, this linked chain of bad ideas fell apart for all to see in Iraq.

My point in quoting this book is not political – you could make a similar argument against the decade-long war in Afghanistan now being run by the Democrats – but to suggest that an analogy holds in the autism and vaccine debate: a few very bad ideas, very strongly held by a relatively few key players, have caused the rise of the autism epidemic. First among them is that there is no epidemic. Therefore the disease is genetic. Therefore it could not possibly have anything to do with vaccines, most especially the MMR and mercury. Therefore expansion and exportation of America's vaccine schedule is an unalloyed good for the entire world, kind of like exporting our version of democracy everywhere.

The ultimate outcome, on the autism front, is that thousands of parental observations, and a great deal of troubling science and natural history (see our book The Age of Autism), are completely ignored in favor of bogus epidemiology and studies concocted by special interests, which sadly in this case include public-health authorities. We saw that on display last week when the Institute of Medicine again ratified the CDC vaccine schedule.

Today, we witnessed another consequence of these few but horrifically bad ideas. The World Health Organization and United Nations ignored concerns about mercury in vaccines, exempting it from the mercury-reduction treaty adopted on Saturday. So mercury will continue being injected into nearly 100,000,000 children a year in the most disadvantaged countries.

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap Up: A Really, Really, Really Bad Idea" »

Weekly Wrap Up: Suicide, Mayhem, and the Rx Effect

Keep Calm Write OnBy Dan Olmsted

Our humble blog has published a number of excellent articles in the wake of the Newtown mass shooting, pointing out the lack of relationship to the killer's supposed autism diagnosis, and looking at whether the use of psychiatric drugs could have been a factor in his behavior. We still don't know what drugs, if any, he may have taken, but as several writers have pointed out, the link between such events and the kinds of medication being given routinely to troubled young men is indisputable.

Indisputable, but largely ignored by the mainstream media and medicine. In any one case, it is impossible to "prove" the drug played a role, so we are left with abstract discussions of adverse event labels. Then when we get down to cases like Newtown, we wait and wait for official reports, and are reminded that any evidence in this one instance is necessarily anecdotal. Meanwhile, senseless deaths pile up.

That's not good enough. We need a robust national discussion about whether any drug is acceptable that, as a "side effect," can lead to mass casualties among people not even taking it.  And that's where my previous reporting on a totally different drug, called Lariam or mefloquine, remains instructive to me. That anti-malaria pill has been linked to psychosis, depression, suicide, and homicidal violence so many times and ways that there is really no question about its capacity to cause those things. And yet the drug rolls on, the denial continues, and when an inexplicable death or outburst occurs, no one even thinks to raise the queation. It's a familiar pattern, and I'm sure that's how Pharma likes it.

But here are two recent cases that ought to raise exactly those questions. You may have heard the Job Price reports that one of the most senior SEAL commanders, Job W. Price, 42, of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, committed suicide in Afghanistan last month.

To anyone familiar with the military's elite Special Forces, this sounds very strange. These highly trained operatives are used to stress and have been vetted for mental health problems. Of course, bad things happen, but before deciding this is one more casualty of frequent deployments or family stress, the question needs to be asked: Given that he is of an age to have served multiple tours in combat zones, and given that Afghanistan is one of the places where the military routinely prescribed mefloquine, did he take it? Did he exhibit any of the signs of toxicity like anxiety, troubled dreams, paranoia, etc.?

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap Up: Suicide, Mayhem, and the Rx Effect" »

Weekly Wrap Up: Pb is Bad, But Mercury is Yummy?

Keep Calm Write OnBy Dan Olmsted MJ wrap

The current issue of Mother Jones magazine caught my eye at the airport this month, with its cover story clevery titled "America's Real Criminal Element: Lead." The article outlines the case for lead -- mainly in leaded gasoline -- as the big reason for the rise, and subsequent fall, of crime. As the author, Kevin Drum, summarizes:

"Put all this together and you have an astonishing body of evidence. We now have studies at the international level, the national level, the state level, the city level, and even the individual level. Groups of children have been followed from the womb to adulthood, and higher childhood blood lead levels are consistently associated with higher adult arrest rates for violent crimes [18]. All of these studies tell the same story: Gasoline lead is responsible for a good share of the rise and fall of violent crime over the past half century."

This goes against a lot of received wisdom, and raises questions about Rudy Giuliani's "broken window" approach to crime fighting (arrest miscreants for minor mischief and you'll nip the murder rate in the bud). It's an environmental approach to explaining social behavior, and as such it's been largely ignored despite the very strong evidence, according to Drum.

Mark Blaxill and I are familiar with the case, having sought out the leading author of the idea, Rick Nevin, who was a government consultant in the 1990s when he stumbled across the data and put together some remarkable charts. We had dinner with him last year and discussed our mutual interests in how environmental toxins, especially lead and mercury, can cause major social mayhem.

Of course, the mercury-causes-autism idea has gotten the same treatment, and worse, as the lead-causes-violence idea. In fact, you don't have to look any further than Mother Jones, and Kevin Drum, to find a case in point. Drum himself ridiculed the idea in 2011 as he blogged in the mag about an article by Chris Mooney:

"Is vaccine denial primarily a leftie/hippy/Hollywood phenomenon? There's apparently no really good data on this, but Chris Mooney rounds up what he can and concludes that the whole issue is pretty nonpolitical: 'Bottom line: There’s no evidence here to suggest that vaccine denial (and specifically, believing that childhood vaccines cause autism) is a distinctly left wing or liberal phenomenon.'" In other words, the silly idea that vaccines cause autism is embraced by idiots of all political persuasions.

Mother Jones was not always so sneering about the idea. In 2004, it ran an article titled "Toxic Tipping Point," and the subhead asked the question: "Are the CDC, the FDA, and other health agthencies covering up evidence that a mercury preservative in children's vaccines caused a rise in autism?" The answer, basically, was yes. The story was fair and full of the Simpsonwood transcripts, the Verstraeten study, and other evidence of looking the other way by federal regulators. Rita Shreffler and Mark Blaxill were quoted respectfully. 

Continue reading "Weekly Wrap Up: Pb is Bad, But Mercury is Yummy?" »

Weekly Wrap Up: Gravely Concerned

Keep Calm Write OnBy Dan Olmsted

I hate to beat a dead horse, but when the supposedly dead horse is the fact that – contrary to the American Academy of Pediatricians-- mercury in vaccines causes autism, I'm afraid I'm going to have to go on beating it.

In a sick way, the new AAP statement condoning the use of mercury in infant vaccinations worldwide has handed us a dream of an issue. The idea that mercury vaccines have no relationship to autism, and therefore nearly 100,000,000 children should be vaccinated with them every year into infinity, certainly concentrates the mind and reminds us of what we are fighting for, or rather against.

The AAP statement is an affirmation of one by a WHO advisory group with the telltale moniker of SAGE, which reported earlier this year it was "gravely concerned that global vaccine discussions may threaten access to thiomersal-containing vaccines without justification. SAGE reaffirmed thiomersal-containing vaccines were safe, essential and irreplaceable components of vaccine programs, especially  in developing countries."

Well, they are not safe, not essential and not irreplaceable. They are dangerous; they cause autism; we can improve world health outcomes without them. In fact we can ONLY improve health outcomes without them.

Thanks, SAGE and AAP, for reminding us what the stakes are here and WHO we are fighting for the future of the human race. In case we needed a New Year's resolution worthy of our time and effort, we in the rebel alliance don't have to look very far.

 

 

 

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap Up: Congressional Autism Hearing

Keep Calm Write OnBy Dan Olmsted

I have to confess I was not expecting much from the autism hearings in the House of Representatives last month. For one thing, I used to be Washington editor of United Press international, and our Congressional correspondent, whose opinion I valued highly, once told me I needed to understand one main thing about Congress: "Congress sucks."

For another, I've learned not to get my expectations too high when it comes to anything about autism. I predicted to Jake Crosby that John Walker-Smith's appeal in Britain would fail, basically on the premise that everything always fails. He enjoys reminding me that Walker-Smith was triumphantly vindicated. (There is a similar joke among foreign correspondents: if you need to write a story about the Middle East and you don't have anything to say, it's always safe to begin by writing: "the situation in the Middle East worsened last week." Someday, that story will be wrong.)

PoseyEven so, the prospect of a late-in-the-session, lame-duck hearing to give Rep. Dan Burton a proper swansong for his pet theory did not seem like a good venue for anything important. What I did not count on, aside from the excellent preparation by many members of our community, was what I will call the legacy effect. Rep. Bill Posey, Republican of Florida, began his legendary grilling of the CDC's Coleen Boyle by noting that he had replaced Dave Weldon in his district, and that Weldon had explained to him the fact that mercury is a likely culprit in autism.

And Rep. Darrell Issa, now chairman of the reform and committee, struck me as a Issa smart and morally serious person, even if I suspect I might disagree with many of his views; his statement that no possible cause would be off the table was quite a moment. It was clear to me that he was not doing this to be nice to Dan Burton, he was doing it because his own judgment of what Burton had been saying was now taking effect.

In a way, this shouldn't have been so surprising. In our community, many of us are keenly aware of the legacy of a number of individuals, most significantly Bernie Rimland. I know personally that doing justice to Bernie's great integrity and perseverance is a factor that motivates me every day, and my connection with him in the years before he died has given me a tremendous sense of commitment. We all have people like that, and I am heartened to realize that history is not lost in the House of Representatives, either.

I hope Dan Burton and Dave Weldon are proud of their legacies. They should be.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap Up: Arrogant, Ignorant "Experts"

Keep Calm Write OnBy Dan Olmsted

One of the guilty pleasures of covering the autism story lo these many years is to witness the spectacle of arrogant, ignorant "experts" weighing in on the issue -- supposedly on the side of science, or, as they often think of it, Science -- and making absolute blithering fools of themselves.

It's even more fun to contemplate the blot this will eventually be on their permanent record, because we're not talking here about trivialities, the kind of feature-y stuff where a lot of these folks spend most of their intellectual energy, such as it is. No, when they opine about things like mercury, vaccines and autism, and declare it to be a proven fact that none of those could possibly be related, they are Wrong When It Really Matters.

That's why I call them Wwirms. The newest Wwirm to come crawling our way is one Alexandra Petri, a Washington Post blogger who  says she "puts the pun in punditry."

"Consider the Congressional hearing today on the dangerous link between vaccines and autism – again, not a real problem that exists, as countless studies have demonstrated. It is abundantly clear that vaccines save lives. Meanwhile, scientists can show no connection whatever vaccines and autism. This is a fictional problem."

 She goes on to say, "next there will be a hearing about how to keep the Dragon Smaug  from ravaging your village."

While it is perversely satisfying to read this kind of thing, the truth is it disrepects thousands of parents and  contributes directly to the suffering of millions of human beings worldwide. That, Ms. Petri and fellow Wwirms, goes on your permanent record.

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Vax v Unvax Brings Deja Vu All Over Again

Keep Calm Write OnBy Dan Olmsted

Back in the summer of 2005, I asked then-CDC Director (now Merck vaccine prexy) Julie Gerberding the following 19-word question (or 20 words, if you count U and S as two words, but I don't, especially because in their abbreviated form they run together without a space between them).

Dan Olmsted: Has the government ever looked at the autism rate in an unvaccinated U.S. population, and if not, why not?

Julie Gerberding: In this country, we have very high levels of vaccination as you probably know, and I think this year we have record immunization levels among all of our children, so to (select an unvaccinated group) that on a population basis would be representative to look at incidence in that population compared to the other population would be something that could be done.

But as we’re learning, just trying to look at autism in a community the size of Atlanta, it’s very, very difficult to get an effective numerator and denominator to get a reliable diagnosis.

I think those kind of studies could be done and should be done. You’d have to adjust for the strong genetic component that also distinguishes, for example, people in Amish communities who may elect not to be immunized (and) also have genetic connectivity that would make them different from populations that are in other sectors of the United States. So drawing some conclusions from them would be very difficult.

I think with reference to the timing of all of this, good science does take time, and it’s part of one of the messages I feel like I’ve learned from the feedback that we’ve gotten from parents groups this summer (in) struggling with developing a more robust and a faster research agenda, is let’s speed this up. Let’s look for the early studies that could give us at least some hypotheses to test and evaluate and get information flowing through the research pipeline as quickly as we can.

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Vax v Unvax Brings Deja Vu All Over Again " »

Landmark Autism Hearing: "The Troops Have Landed on Normandy Beach"

Blaxill Burton HEaringBy  Dan Olmsted

Thursday's hearing before the House oversight committee (view the autism hearing here) will surely be remembered as a landmark. By the end of the day, the government spokesmen from the NIH and the CDC seemed to be the ones people were looking at funny, while those who raised concerns about autism and vaccines seemed positively mainstream.

It didn't help that the CDC's Coleen Boyle testified under oath that fraudster Poul Thorsen  had only been involved in a couple of studies with the CDC. Shortly thereafter, a congressman introduced into evidence a list of more than 20 he had worked on. I feel like calling the CDC and asking: "Has Ms. Boyle retained counsel in anticipation of a possible perjury charge?"

The questions were tough and bipartisan -- from Republicans like longtime thimerosal foe Dan Burton (above, with Mark Blaxill) to Chairman Darrell Issa, who said no topic would be out of bounds as the committee continues to probe. Democrat Carolyn Maloney, who has tried to get a vax-unvax study through the House for years, gave 'em the what-for once again. And while I have seen Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings on TV, I wasn't prepared for the common-sense and deeply troubled approach he brought to the proceedings. The look on his expressive face was priceless. His comment, "There's something wrong with this picture," may go down in history with gems like Jim Carey's "The problem is the problem."

Cummings pointed out the animated, frustrated faces of the audience, many of whom I know quite well. Their collective eye-rolling served as a great backdrop for the in-credible defense of the federal response to autism and vaccine safety worries. And while CDC-types consider individuals as little more than walking anecdoctal evidence, to elected officials they are the voters who put them there and can kick 'em out.

As a general proposition, it is fair to say that the people responsible for running the country do not like hearing that we have double any other nation's vaccine schedule, with a miserable infant mortality rate and an autism epidemic to show for it.

The interagency autism coordination committee (IACC) began to look like the villain it is in this disaster. One congressman even asked for questions that the panel could use if it decided to bring in the IACC for questioning.

It was just one day, but it had the feel of a new one. Our own Mark Blaxill did a fabulous job of presenting the key elements in the argument that autism is environmental, and that mercury and vaccines are so far the most plausible suspects. Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey asked him to submit evidence of scientists who have been blackballed or shoved aside for tackling uncomfortable subjects.

It's been said that the only way to win this battle was to storm the halls of Congress. We saw a version of that Thursday: "The troops have landed on Normandy Beach," Brooke Potthast e-mailed me afterward, and it seems like the perfect metaphor. "It may take more time, but today was significant and historic."

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

More Mush from the Wimps: Autism Speaks, CDC and Capitol Hill Hearings

Managing Editor's Note: We ran this post last April after the hearing on autism statistics. 

Autism_speaksBy Dan Olmsted Cdclogo

After attending Wednesday’s congressional briefing on the latest autism statistics, I found myself with three questions, despite having asked several at the briefing. They are variations on the same theme, and not exactly new, but seem more pressing after more than an hour of listening: Why is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still in charge of monitoring and explaining the rise in autism? Why are the CDC and Autism Speaks cozying up to each other in such a public way at this particular moment? And why was the Congressional host heaping praise on the agency when it covered up the first signs of the epidemic -- and in his home district in New Jersey, of all places?

The event was co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) and billed as “a Congressional Briefing on the Centers for Disease Control's recent announcement that autism now affects 1 in 88 American children.” 

Rep. Smith began the proceedings, which drew probably 30 people to a room in the Rayburn House Office Building. Congressmen often try to make news at these kind of events, and before he started speaking an aide passed out a statement by Smith headlined, “Global Autism: ‘A Developmental Disability Pandemic’ – 67 Million People Affected According to Autism Speaks.” Then I realized the statement was from May 31, 2011. Nothing new to say, I guess.

Smith began by describing the CDC’s Brick Township study, which started after a parent reached out to the congressman in 1997 (he’s been around for 16 terms, as he pointed out). The parent was concerned about “an apparent prevalence spike” in autism. The CDC investigated, Smith said, and “did an expert study that was extraordinary … and all of a sudden it became clear that it wasn’t just Brick. It seemed as if there was some game changer somewhere in the population causing this huge new increase in autism.”

Well, not exactly. In fact, not at all. The CDC did find a rate of 1 in 150 children in Brick Township Pablum2 – the highest ever reported anywhere in the world to that point – but said no conclusions could be drawn from the data about whether there was an actual increase. (That refrain has become familiar, repeated time and again by the CDC at Wednesday’s briefing. Some things never change.)

In our book, The Age of Autism – Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic, Mark Blaxill and I took a look at the actual data the CDC used in its Brick Township study, which the group SafeMinds had obtained from the CDC. In fact, the autism rate in Brick Township was actually zero in 1989, the start of the study period. Not one kid had autism.

As we wrote, “Once you have the real trend data, you can figure out how hard the CDC had to work in order to report a result that said there was no trend. … If this wasn’t a cover-up, it’s hard to think of a polite synonym.”

So the opportunity to recognize, report on, and try to intervene in the autism epidemic years ago was lost, and lost by the CDC itself. Since then, hundreds of thousands more children have developed autism in the United States alone. Today, though, the CDC remains in charge of studying the rate of autism and looking for the reasons behind it. In response to a more recent spike in autism in the Somali population, the CDC said it was going to do a really thorough analysis and cited the Brick study as precedent for the kind of really thorough job it would do. Oh, joy.

Continue reading "More Mush from the Wimps: Autism Speaks, CDC and Capitol Hill Hearings" »

Review of Autism Hearings April 2012

UselessManaging Editor's Note: We first ran this post last Spring.  Dan Olmsted also provided his review of this Autism Speaks/CDC meeting in his post titled: Mush From the Wimps: Autism Speaks and the CDC Take Over Capitol Hill as Rep. Smith Bows Out

By Katie Wright

You have to see this to believe it. No transcript could do this briefing justice.

Thank God Beth Clay was there and filmed the briefing on her phone. I had been told that it would be too difficult to broadcast the briefing. Beth used her iphone and then put the footage on Facebook, not complicated, not expensive.

OK this was a joint CDC Autism Speaks briefing on the new autism prevalence numbers. Listen, I am sure Dr. Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp and Dr. Baio are nice people. The problem is that their understanding and conception of autism is both dated and deficient and, sadly, they are very bad at their jobs.

Yeargin-Allsopp is always polite with parents, but I am sorry to say she is incompetent. Yeargin-Allsop has been working in this job for almost 30 yrs and should have been fired 25 years ago. In the past 2 decades Yeargin-Allsopp has had access to tens of millions of dollars and could have been a hero to American families because she had the opportunity to change the face of autism and stop this epidemic. Instead Yeargin-Allsopp and her partner Coleen Boyle (another sad story) have spent decades devising and executing dreadful, wasteful research that has accomplished little. Just how many studies on parental age do we need? 10, 50, 100? Because we are on our way there! Yeargin-Allsopp has also authored a number of studies on autism and parental aggravation. This is very ironic considering the CDC is a tremendous source of parental aggravation. Let’s not forgot the studies on fat moms causing autism, either. CDC autism research is literally a treasure trove of nonsense.

Continue reading "Review of Autism Hearings April 2012" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Betraying the American Family Since 1943

Keep Calm Write OnBy Dan Olmsted

I try not to comment on the choices and difficulties faced by families dealing with autism -- mainly, because mine is not one. But after nearly a decade (yes, I first edited an investigation of the CDC and vaccine conflicts in 2003), I will venture to say this: The holidays are not always "the most wonderful time of the year" promised in song, advertisements and cultural come-on of all kinds.

There are multiple reasons for this, I think, including the simple inability to gather the way many would wish, due to logistics and occasionally resistance, implied or fully expressed, from other family members. And it can be a bit hard to identify exactly what it is one ought -- ought, never a good word -- to be thankful for. But there's more to it than that, as witnessed in this e-mail exchange I was part of earlier this week, about a child who "ages out" this year right between Thanksgiving and Christmas:

"I'm rather a wreck over it -- haven't brought her paperwork from probate court to town hall.  I just haven't had the heart or courage. It has cast a pall over the entire holiday season. -- so I'm just looking to January to start the year and do the same stuff all over again -- I'm pretty tired right now, and you know how that goes."

Well, I don't know how that goes, personally. Cheap, teary empathy is already too much in vogue. To the extent that I have any insight at all, it mostly comes from talking to, visiting, staying with many families over the years and reading their accounts right here, on AOA. But the other person on this e-mail had plenty of experience.

"We are at a bumpy road and really have been for a while," said this mom, whose daughter is about the same age. "It is so hard, all of it, and I wonder how we do it."

Thanksgiving, especially, is all about family. And one thing I do know for sure is that the autism epidemic reflects a fundamental betrayal of American families. Doctors and journalists and judges and scientists, among many others, have failed in their duty to listen to the real stories of real people, real families, and instead have thrown in their lot with the Bigs -- big medicine, big pharma, big media, big government, big money -- and left families to fend for themselves.

I could do without hearing the phrase "family values" ever again, or at least until those afflicted by autism and other disorders of our Age are heard, understood and compensated, the epidemic ends, and those who let this calamity arise and drag on face some sort of accountability, truth and justice.

Meanwhile, I suppose, we all (or most of us) will slog on, but I don't expect a lot of the folks I know to be particularly festive about it.

"'Happy Thanksgiving' can be an oxymoron for so many of us," wrote one the e-mailers above. "But I do give thanks for all of us being together in this. I wouldn't be able to do it otherwise. Though we are all scattered around the country, just knowing you are all out there fighting with me gives me courage."

As for me, I'm thankful for this, which Anne Dachel quoted in an e-mail lately: "I take comfort in the knowledge that my job is to wake up every day and do the next right thing." -- Paul Arthur.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of AgeOfAutism.com

 

 

 

 

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: The "Very Very Small" Autism Rate

Keep Calm Write OnBy Dan Olmsted Smash TV

If you're like me, there are a lot of times when it feels like getting through the evening news is an almost superhuman challenge. All the supposed breakthroughs that will prevent and treat autism, all the happy sappy stories about high functioning kids and their touching achievements, all the pharma ads in between that show why this kind of pabulum dominates the airwaves, is enough to make you want to throw your remote or take even more dire action, like Elvis and his famous television shootout.

Case in point: On Veterans Day, Diane Sawyer reported on the study that showed a potential link between flu during pregnancy and having a child with autism.  "Back here at home a new headline discussed around kitchen table tonight," Diane began. "We know that one in 88 children are diagnosed with this disorder, and this new study suggests a bout of flu during pregnancy can increase a child's risk."

Diane turned to chief medical editor Dr. Richard Besser, formerly the acting director of the CDC, to get some perspective. "So many pregnant couples are going to be in fear over this," Diane said. But not to worry: Besser said that among mothers who remembered having the flu during pregnancy, the risk of autism doubled. The screen flashed a graphic that read, "Flu during pregnancy increases autism risk from 1% to 2%." Now get this:

"So, still very very small," Besser said, referring to a risk of 2% of having an autistic child.

He also noted the study was not enough to prove a connection – fair enough. Diane then asked about other risk factors we've heard about. Besser obliged with the usual tired list:  "We have some clues. Genetic factors are very important. Parents' age matters. As fathers in particular get older and hit 40, the risk goes up." Then there was time between pregnancies.

"Lots of clues. No hard answers." Diane, lobbing the ball back one more time, said she knew Besser wanted to assure parents about what she called ""the 2% versus 98%." "That's right. That's a very small number. You know women who get the flu during pregnancy don't need to worry about this. They should get a flu shot while pregnant, though, because they're at great risk for the flu."

Oh for heaven sakes. The chief medical editor of one of the leading networks has just said that the risk of autism rising by one percentage point – from 1 out of 100 to 2 out of 100 live births here, in these United States – is a small number and nothing to worry about. That's because 98% – the vast majority – will not be born with autism.

This is just nuts. That kind of autism risk ought to strike fear in every single family in America. And it does. Think about it in terms of another dread disorder – let's say polio, just for example. If parents thought that one out of every 100 children born in United States would have paralytic polio, there would be mass hysteria, and there should be -- and there was. The actual rate of polio complications at the height of the epidemics in the 1950s was more like one in 3000, and that was more than enough to galvanize the entire medical and scientific research establishment to solve that problem.

But when it comes to autism, an equally disabling condition for so many, a rate 30 (or even 60) times that of polio does nothing to galvanize Dr. Besser.

So what's going on here? Well, part of it is the same indolent, incompetent, uncomprehending response to the autism epidemic that we have seen so often. Our own Anne Dachel has documented this so many times. But I wonder if there is something else: Dr. Besser is an old CDC hand, and probably doesn't take flu very seriously in his heart of hearts. He would know as well as anyone the degree to which the CDC has fudged and fumbled the figures to make flu sound like a killer, when it is clearly not for most Americans, including children.

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: The "Very Very Small" Autism Rate" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Trillions and Trillions of Mercury Atoms

Keep Calm Write OnBy Dan Olmsted

Last week I offered a rough estimate of what I believe is responsible for the autism epidemic -- vaccines mostly; other environmental (outside) factors also playing a role in causation, and mercury as an element in both vaccines and the environment, providing a powerful clue to the nature of the disorder: Man-made rather than genetic.
Today I wanted to say a little more about mercury. Metals can be incredibly damaging to human health, whether lead in gasoline or arsenic in Victorian wallpaper and medical potions -- or, as Mark Blaxill and I showed in our book, mercury in everything from syphilis medicine to teething powders to, yes, vaccinations.
We don't need any more studies to demonstrate the neurotoxic properties of these substances. Whole schools are evacuated when mercury -- the relatively less harmful elemental kind, not the organic nightmare that remains in flu shots -- spills out of a test tube. An epic battle was fought to get lead out of gasoline, leading to an increase in the IQ of children -- and a decrease in inner-city delinquency by kids especially exposed to lead paint and gas.
Of all the insanely catastrophic vaccination policies being pursued by our so-called public health authorities -- Hep B on the day of birth; live-virus M, M, and R in the same shot at 12 months, with the chickenpox shot tossed in for good measure -- the worst of all has to be the continued use of thimerosal in flu shots, many of which go to pregnant women and infants.
Had there never been a debate over mercury and autism, this would still be inexcusable, given what we know about the toxicity of organic mercury, namely ethyl mercury, the kind in vaccines. Keeping mercury in any shots became criminal after the FDA recognized the amount in the shots routinely given in 1999. Phasing them out, rather than pulling them off the shelves, was unconscionable. But using fishy language and logic to keep mercury in flu shots -- and extending those shots to all pregnant women and infants -- implies a degree of reckless disregard that would bring a long prison term if it involved anything but -- well, anything but the health of pregnant women and infants.
Recently one of our readers, an expert chemist and outspoken critic of mercury in vaccines, posted a comment that I want to call attention to. The first part will be familiar to most of you, but the last part astonishes me every time I read it.
"A study has been done involving thimerosal-preserved vaccines given to infant monkeys to determine the resultant mercury levels. The whole body exposure of the infant monkeys at 80 micrograms of mercury per kilogram body weight from thimerosal-preserved vaccine resulted in an average of 16 parts per billion inorganic mercury levels in the brain tissue. The half life was over 120 days. See Burbacher et al (2005), figure 7, page 1019.
"Now look at a six-month old human (baby girl) in regard to the exposure from a thimerosal-preserved flu vaccine [in two doses four weeks apart]. First the average weight for a 6 month old baby girl is 16 pounds (7.26 kilograms). See CDC Growth Charts, (2000) page 20.
"Next 25 micrograms of mercury from ... thimerosal-preserved flu vaccine given to a six month old baby girl weighing 7.26 kilograms gives a whole body exposure of 3.44 micrograms per kilogram. So then by extrapolation, as a result of that mercury-preserved flu shot the brain tissue in the child could have 0.69 parts per billion inorganic mercury levels in the brain tissue with a half life of over 120 days.
"That is 2 trillion mercury atoms per gram of the developing brain in that child. No scientist can say that this is a safe level. The insanity of giving children and pregnant women thimerosal preserved flu shots must stop!"

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Trillions and Trillions of Mercury Atoms" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: What Causes Autism

Keep Calm Write OnBy Dan Olmsted

We've had a fascinating back-and-forth during the past couple of weeks over how to apportion the causes of the autism epidemic. It started with a comment by Tony Bateson of Birmingham, England, that I posted in the From the Editor column: 

"We are still banging on around the thousands of complexities facing both sides of the argument as to whether vaccines are linked to autism. And yet I still await an answer to my question posed at the Vaccine conference of November 2002 'where are the unvaccinated autistic kids?'. Please someone tell me, I haven't been able to find them in the UK and no organisation seeks to disabuse me of the notion that they don't exist. What goes on here? It is as though there is an extra dimension where people can endless argue the issue whilst no link exists to the reality."

I followed up with a narrower question: "Is there any evidence that anything but mercury causes anything but an insignificant fraction of the autism epidemic? In other words, but for mercury poisoning, would 'autism' really exist? Anyone?"

Autism Venn

What followed was the kind of crowd-sourced -- i.e., reader-led -- comment thread that to me is the glory of Age of Autism. People with all kinds of experiences and observations weighed in and provided the broad overview and specific detail that makes it possible to refine some answers. (My friend and now Northern Virginia neighbor Josie Nelson, who first expressed keen insights related to all this when we met in Minneapolis in 2010, has added some comments, noted in parentheses. Thanks, Josie!)

First of all, vaccination cannot account for every single case of autism, bar none. We all already know this, I think, because there are enough credible reports of never-vaccinated children with clearly documented diagnoses to show "autism" -- neurological  damage during infancy (or in utero)  that results in a characteristic syndrome of behavior and, often, physical ailments -- is not exclusive to vaccination. But there aren't many such cases, and it can be very hard in a finite group and time period to find any, as Tony Bateson's comment shows. (The Amish and Mayer Eisenstein's Homefirst practice in Chicago are two more cohorts in which there are tens of thousands of never-vaccinated children and little evidence of autism in those children -- certainly nothing on the magnitude of 1 in 88.)

Second, mercury alone is not the sole cause, as many of you who witnessed regression so quickly after the MMR vaccine, in particular, can testify.

But both Tony's question, and mine, point to what I believe is the truth: the autism epidemic is the result of vaccination; mercury both within and without vaccination can be identified as a likely suspect, providing us a key insight into the toxic nature of the disorder. The fact that it falls in the middle of my sketch above, and connects both kinds of exposure, vaccine and environmental, is apt.

(Josie Nelson adds: We also need to pay attention to the way that aluminum (over)stimulates the immune system and can instigate an auto-immune cascade … and the way that that auto-immune cascade can be exacerbated in the presence of a live virus (i.e. multiple vaccinations at once, particularly a live virus vaccine and a killed cell virus vaccine with aluminum adjuvant at once).  We all know that the so-called safety studies have never looked at what happens when you give two vaccines together … let alone two different TYPES of vaccines.  This is a huge piece in my mind … the aluminum is an immune stimulant.  That’s its stated purpose.  When you are purposefully stimulating an immune response without any regard to the state of the individual immune system you are stimulating and you introduce a live virus into that scenario at the very same time, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to imagine what possible (or even likely) results can ensue.  I also think ASD tends to look different depending on what hits occurred.  The mito kids look different from the mercury kids in part because there are (by and large -- oversimplifying here to make my point) different toxins at play.

(Deisher’s research on human DNA contamination and her excellent change point analysis data is a political landmine I know (whatever side of the legalized abortion issue one happens to be on).  But leaving politics aside for the moment, and speaking of auto-immune potential, inserting residual human DNA into a person while stimulating that person’s immune system by other means (aluminum, formaldehyde, MSG) seems like such an obvious area of concern.  According to Deisher there is more residual human DNA in varicella vaccine than there is varicella.  Deisher’s research points to the residual DNA hitting the known ‘hot spots’ on the DNA the areas more susceptible to breakage.)

Someone is surely going to say, but what about genes? Well, what about them? To say there may be a genetic vulnerability to autism is basically to say that it is a disorder acquired by individual human beings. Most of the genetic variability noted in autism (see Jill James) has to do with how effectively toxins are excreted. In a few cases where autism is said to be due to "known" genetic causes -- Down syndrome, say, or tuberous sclerosis -- not every child with those conditions develops autism, suggesting a decisive (and I suspect toxic) co-factor. Add to that the virtual absence of autism before the 1930s -- a time when many genetic disorders were already well-characterized -- and you have a non-starter of a hypothesis, though one that still attracts the lion's share of autism research money.

Plus there's the fact that toxins can cause epigenetic changes. So toxins damage genes that may contribute to autism? That's not a genetic cause.

Forget genes. But for toxic exposures, there would be no autism epidemic.

Bernie Rimland put it to me this way not long before he died: Vaccines do not cause every case of autism, but they have indeed caused the autism epidemic. Exactly what portion is uncertain, but it is fair to say that the strongest case for the rise of autism can be made for overvaccination, period. I certainly believe it's the big majority. A doctor who worked closely with Bernie told me not long ago they believe vaccination probably accounts for 30 percent of all autism cases -- in other words, a substantial minority, with the largest effect due to other medical interventions, including antibiotics, and environmental toxins from food to pollution. So, in my little sketch above, you could draw the ENV circle bigger and the VAX circle smaller. (Or vice versa.) It's not meant to be proportional, just to indicate the circles of causation and the fact they connect, with mercury a clear instance.

Continue reading "Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: What Causes Autism" »

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: More Mushy, Misdirected Autism Empathy

Keep Calm Write OnBy 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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