Georgetown By Dan Olmsted

Last evening I climbed out of my home office/nest in the burbs and had a holiday drink in Washington's swanky Georgetown district with a friend and former colleague. I think I might have caught the Christmas spirit. The lights were twinkling in the elegant town houses, spirits were bright in the crowded pub, and a hint of the first big snow was in the air. There was a hint of something else as well -- something my friend happened to volunteer.

Knowing that I now work fulltime on autism and the "epidemic," he offered the following thought: "Why is it, when I have children two and six years old, that I don't know of a single child with autism? If it's 1 in 150, I should. All I know about is one child who got some kind of autism diagnosis, but he doesn't seem very autistic to me. He had some language problems but that was about it."

My friend has one of the best journalism barometers I've ever seen -- what a former editor called the "elevated common sense" that really good reporters bring to bear in new situations. Last night, he was detecting a change in the weather, it seems to me -- one that had nothing to do with the dropping temperature and threat of snow that promised to derail everyone's weekend plans.

Nor is he the only person who has said, in essence, the same thing: Autism ain't what it used to be. Younger kids with an autism diagnosis seem to be recovering in a way that older children do not -- at least their struggle often does not seem as long and their advances as painfully and provisionally incremental. Some of the big autism conferences seem to be drawing fewer parents of young children. Diagnosticians in Boston and elsewhere talk about "autism lite" -- not exactly Asperger's, but not exactly the full-syndrome Kanner autism we have all come to know, either.

What's up with that?, as Jerry Seinfeld, another acute observer of the passing scene, might ask. Well, what's up is that autism as we have known it may be declining, or diminishing in intensity, in ways that are not yet registering -- not in the California numbers, not in the hurry-up-and-diagnose-these-kids push by the CDC and the pediatricians, not in the fevered but fairly pointless ads from Autism Speaks. Ironically, over-diagnosis -- the bogus concept flung at those who have proven full-syndrome autism actually did soar tenfold in the past 20 years -- may finally be coming home to roost.

Come to think of it, I only know of one pre-school child with out-and-out autism from my own social circles -- a child I have not even met. He is a twin, and I'm told he and his sibling were premature, with low birth weights, and that something called caffeination (not just lots of Coke and coffee, apparently) was required to help them thrive. So -- special circumstances, high risk (his parents say he was different from birth). What I'm not aware of is a child of, say, four or five, without obvious risk factors, who has full-syndrome, regressive, treatment-resistant autism. I'm sure there are many (our readers' children among them), but as my friend pointed out, we can't help noticing that we aren't noticing them.

I told my friend that if his children were 9 and 16, I bet he would indeed know kids with just that kind of autism. And that's what made me stop and think. Is it the kids born in the '90s, who got the full brunt of mercury-and-live-virus combinations starting on the day of birth, who are bearing the brunt of autism? Is the government's laboriously compiled data a lagging indicator? Is something else entirely going on that we haven't gotten our minds around? Should we be paying less attention to databases from any one state or source, and more attention to the common-sense observations of my friend and people like him?

I'm starting to think we should.
Dan Olmsted is editor of Age of Autism.


Sandy Gottstein

I have read reports that either vaccine vials with thimerosal are still in doctors offices or that the vaccine manufacturers are still putting it in. (After all, it was "voluntary".) If these reports are true, how clever of them. Make it seem as if mercury has been removed, and when autism doesn't decline as much as you would expect, claim that mercury has nothing to do with autism.


Hey Dan,

That's interesting. I must say, the numbers in our small school district have remained constant, but the severity has lessoned.

My son (born 91) was eventually recovered; the 3 and 4 year olds I'm acquainted with seem milder, are definitely diagnosed earlier, and are in much better shape than my son was by kindergarten. I wonder if it's the reduction in mercury.

My son's cohort represented a huge increase from children born a year or two earlier; they were also the first to receive the increased dose of mercury and overwhelmed the EI professionals and school district. I did some of the math on my blog:

Saga Continues

With all due respect, I am sorry to say that the saga continues. There are actually 2 parts to this fiasco.

Part I - If anyone had listened very carefully to Jenny McCarthy and Holly Robinson Peete on Oprah, the message was:

"One size does not fit all" - there are differing genetic predispositions and what the viruses in the vaccines do is jumpstart an auto-immune reaction. This vaccine induced auto-immune reaction is called "vaccinosis." Google for it. Dierdre Imus just wrote a piece on it. Therefore every kid looks different. Therefore an assembly line heavily laden vaccine schedule just isn't going to cut it, because no matter what the other toxic ingredients in vaccines are, the viruses by themselves are going to cause havoc in the human body. Notice the rise in adult auto-immune disorders, notice the increase in cancer especially breast cancer.

Part II - If anyone had listened very carefully to Jenny McCarthy at the NAA Conference, the message was:

"Take the crap out of vaccines" - there might not be huge amounts of mercury in vaccines now but there are "trace" amounts along with aluminium and a boatload of other unmentionable stuff. The missing mercury from the cocktail is made up by injecting pregnant women and infants with flu shots.

So I would call the 1990s kids as "mercury toxic and vaccinosis" kids. The 21st century kids as "aluminium toxic and vaccinosis" kids. In a way, this aluminium toxicity might be more deadly than mercury because you can't see it right away, it could very well creep up on you.

And its infinitely more difficult to cure an auto-immune reaction than treat plain mercury or aluminium toxicity. Which is why most of us have made no headway in treating our children in several years. How do you get a body to throw out mercury and other toxins in the presence of a full-blown auto-immune disorder? The endocrine, immune, lymphatic, and digestive systems are completely out of whack. Just ask some of us emotional, neurotic, and just plain stupid, grieving parents.

As for the experts out there, its this thing about dust, no matter how many times you keep sweeping it under the rug, it magically keeps reappearing. Sooner or later.


Dan, I would love to think that autism rates are on the decline, but what I am seeing in NJ is not supportive of what you have been told. In the gluten- free aisle of a health food store, I met a man with a 3 year old son with no language at all. I figured he either had celiac disease, or an autistic child. When I saw the haunted look in his eyes, I just knew, so I asked him if he had a child with autism. I was unfortunately right. The man who pumps my gas has a completely non-verbal 3 year old son. My friend has a 4 year old non-verbal son, and I also have an old friend with a 28 month old son who screams, does not respond to his name and has severe language deficits for his age. I was told he says a few words, but despite seeing this child on numerous occasions, he has not ever uttered a single word in my presence. I wish to God what you said were true. I do not think it is only the mercury, but also other components of the vaccines, including aluminum adjuvants and viral antigens. We are all unique individuals, and we all respond differently to drugs and to vaccines. My own beautiful 6 year old twins are on the spectrum, and are thankfully improving on a daily basis (due to speech therapy, OT, ABA and fish oil). I pray for every child, parent and relative touched by this iatrogenic disorder.

Genetica S. Dedd

So the genetics crowd may have been right! The autism epidemic was a genetic "blip" and now it has reversed itself. Wow, fastest evolutionary change in the history of the universe. What? The divine creator, intelligent designer (Blass or Lagerfeld?), Chromosomal King decided that "Maybe this full blown autism isn't advancing the species quite so much. They're sure smart but they keep getting killed when they try to cross the street and I lost 12 last week when they tripped and fell because they can't tie their shoes."

Well, DUH big guy.....

And now all the genetics research dollars can dry up and fly away like the detritus of Fall freeing up tens of millions for TREATMENT for the decade+ worth of kids who are very much here and the even older kids who now need ADULT services. Ding dong genetics is dead!


Yes, It annoys me when people say "oh but there's no mercury in vaccines now" whenever we talk about all the damage that's been done. Like we arent even allowed to mention that it DID happen? First of all that statement isnt even true - there IS still mercury in vaccines!! In fact its in 90% of flu shots which incidentally are now recommended for very young children, in fact flu shots have just been mandated for pre-school children in NJ!!

But mostly for the fact that - don't all those children who GOT the full burden of mercury in their vaccines schedules in the 90's matter?? Its like if you remarked "gee wasnt agent orange a shocking state of affairs?" and the other person snaps back "well we dont use it anymore!!"

Its a shocking and very sad state of affairs.


If friends you've talked to are sensing there's not all that much autism among people they've heard about through their social circles, how could it NOT be true?

Todd Dea

A mom I met at the NAA Conference in Atlanta said to me a number of times, "We have to stop calling what the majority of our children have as Autism". It confuses the issue and causes divisiveness within the Autism community she opined. It took me a while to "get" what she meant but I do believe that she was on to something. There may be, as the ND crowd says, no "recovery" from (Kanner's) Autism. There may be few who recover that were exposed to the "full brunt" of the mercury laden vaccines of the 90's. But for many many of the young children today who could be called "vaccine damaged immune system kids" (the name needs some work) recovery is definitely possible. We need to come up with a proper name for what this generation of kids who's medical issues cause a mirroring of the symptoms of Autism, are burdened with. It looks and feels like Autism but it is not Autism. Until we do, we are not going to get the "buy in" from the rest of society (as well as those ASD parents who actually listen to the ND crowd) that we so desperately need, if we hope to ensure that the incredible number of children being effected actually get the proper treatment or interventions that they need.


My grandson was given a boat load and I mean a boat load of vaccines in one day including a mercury filled flu shot at 15 months old well baby visit. I cannot call his Autism "lite" because the daily work of helping him "recover" is a full time job for my entire family. Strangly enough, my son in law works at a university in Southern California and just within his department there are five co-workers with either a son or grandson with Autism. I work at a newspaper where out of 35 employees three of us are directly affected with a family member with Autism. Is it the "lite" kind? I don't know. I don't find anything "lite" about this horrible disease. I also know the President and CEO of a "Ronald McDonald House" next to a world famous Children's Hospital. Guess what, he has two friends whose grandchildren have Autism. Is it Autism or Autism lite? He didn't say. What he did say may be the reason for Autism Lite, he told us that one friend told him to give us the name of a DAN! Defeat Autism Now doctor and to get our grandson there as soon as possible, mortgage our house, do whatever it takes but to take him immediately to this doctor. And we did, we are. We are seeing amazing results, simply amazing. Will our precious, sweet, beautiful baby boy ever be cured of Autism? We don't know yet, we do however have a huge dose of HOPE that he will be recovered. The physical pain, the suffering of these children and their families will never be lite. I pray for them all every moment of every day.

Please keep writing, please keep being the voice for these precious kids. They need us still.

John Gilmore

I think there are indications that the number of severe kids may be declining. And I think a primary goal of the AAP directive to evaluate all kids at 18 months and 24 months is to obfuscate the issue with false positives. I spoke to the head of pediatrics of the largest hospital group on Long Island about this and she said her staff would have no clue about how to do this, nor would they be interested, and went on to say that they don't consider developmental delay issues there responsibility.

I think this all leads to the burning need for good epidemiology done outside of the influence of the CDC. A-CHAMP and Autism United are working very hard on getting a bill that would require the State of New York to its own intensive prevalence studies done in several counties of NY. We aim to look at the entire population of several areas in order to get an accurate count of what has happened over time. If we could replicate these types of studies in several states we would have data that the CDC could not skew or ignore.



I've thought this is what is happening for some time now. While there still will be those children who are more intensely affected since there are most likely multiple causes of autism; I do think we are seeing a new "autism lite" in children today. It seems that most of these younger kids are recovering rather easily. Today, the availability of information via the internet quickly gives parents the tools to start undoing the damage, and sets them in the right direction to turn the ravages of autism around. Sadly, I have a child born in 1996 who received the "full brunt of mercury-and-live-virus combinations". We did not have the knowledge or the means to address this as parents do today. And sadly, I believe the damage is more profound in my son and others for the reason you stated. Although, I am thrilled to hear when young children are in recovery or recovered, I am a bit sad and a little more then miffed to realize that my son and children like him born in the 90's will probably be the "forgotten generation".

Listening to the IOM's Autism and the Environment workshop that took place in DC this past Spring- I heard one female participant say something to the effect- we don't need to study the amounts of mercury that were once in the vaccines- because it's not in there anymore, or in those amounts. Well the parents of the "forgotten generation" thank you very much for that, lady.

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