Sign_upBy Kent Heckenlively, Esq.

On the night the Polings were to be interviewed by Larry King on CNN I had a problem.  On that same night I’d been asked by the principal of the school at which I'm a science teacher to talk to the PTA about our science program.

I didn’t want to miss this historic interview with the parents of the first child for whom the government conceded that vaccines had “significantly aggravated” her autism, as well as her seizures.  The PTA meeting didn’t actually start until just after the Larry King show ended so I asked the principal if she could open up another classroom with a television so I could watch.

“I’ll join you,” she replied, showing up two minutes before the start of the show, clutching a bag of Taco Bell takeout.  Everybody at school knows I’m an activist about vaccines and autism, but my principal has always been non-committal.  She listens, asks questions, but has never ventured an opinion.

As Larry King interviewed Dr. Jon Poling and his wife, Teri I couldn’t help but notice how closely my principal was watching the program.  Finally I asked, “Hey boss, why are you so interested in this?”

My principal is a reserved woman, sometimes even a little shy, but this time there was no hesitation.  “I think my niece is autistic,” she answered.  “I’ve talked to my sister about it, but she’s not there yet.”  She pointed to the Polings and Larry King.  “When she is ready to talk, I want to be able to tell her what to do.”

I thought about that night with my principal a lot this last weekend after having a long conversation with a fellow autism activist.  This activist had some criticisms of Age of Autism for aggressively pushing the vaccine-autism connection.

It wasn’t that she thought we were wrong, but that we were making it difficult for medical researchers to study this link.  By the same token, though, she didn’t really trust the CDC to do the right thing.  This activist was worried that there were only a few medical researchers in the world who could do the needed research, especially the newly opened avenue of a possible mitochondrial connection. 

If the subject became too hot those few researchers who could perform unassailable research might decide they’re already too busy, or didn’t need the headache of taking on the American medical establishment.

I am not so pessimistic.

In difficult times there have always been heroes who have answered the call of decency and truth.

More than thirty years ago a source known only as “Deep Throat” provided Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein with the information they needed to bring down a corrupt president.  That source was eventually revealed to be Mark Felt, the number two man at the FBI. One of J. Edgar Hoover’s original G-men brought down Richard Nixon.  Heroes can come from the most unlikely of places.  I believe there are still such people of honor and integrity existing today and they will take the same risks Mark Felt did to help our children.

“I’ve talked to a lot of these researchers,” this activist told me, “and they’re so scared of what might happen to them if they venture into this area that they wouldn’t do it even if you promised them a million dollars or the Nobel Prize when it’s all over.”

The activist was absolutely correct.

The medical professionals we need won’t help for the promise of money or glory.  They’ll help because of a tiny voice inside which tells them to do what’s right.

They’ll help us because they came from families where integrity and honesty were paramount.  These are values they’ll want to pass down to their children.  They’ll help us because they see the values of their own profession at stake.  They’ll help us because they took an oath to be healers.

I don’t know what form the heroism of these people will take.  Is there research they’ve already done, but haven’t yet published?  Is there work they want to start?  Is there something in a private file they’d like to see reach the right reporter?

All I know is that when you ask for heroes, they usually show up.  And I am asking for your help.


Ricci King

When autism touches your life, your view of the world changes. While I don't wish autism on any family, I expect it will take someone touched by autism to step out and do what is right. It doesn't have to be directly in their family, as we have seen from the passionate journalistic efforts of Dan Olmsted and David Kirby. Jay Gordon is a pediatrician who is definitely stepping out and doing the right thing. I join your call, Kent. We need all the heroes we can find. Thank you for another great article, and all that you do.


Kent, You are a lawyer and a science teacher? WOW Very talented. May I ask when you took science teacher position?


among many of you out there, i'd like to say that jenny and katie are BIG heroes. many stars and notables have children with autism and have never said a word...these two have stood up to make some noise and i couldn't appreciate them more. i hope they know how much their "noise" is appreciated...


So, the reason these scientists feel this topic is too hot to touch is not because of the united CDC/FDA/AAP front, and not because of for example how Dr. Wakefield has been treated, but because of the parents who are voicing their concerns, for example at AOA? But if we would just be quiet, these topics would be researched and remedied?

Our agencies and pharma companies have been aware of these issues for years, but have done little to remedy them, other than removing thimerosal from most (not all) vaccines. Other toxic ingredients and multiple live viruses remain. The vacccine-autism connection has not been researched except through bogus epidemiology studies. Parental accounts of their kids regressing into autism after vaccines are still largely ignored and discounted as fallacy, not studied. The CDC will not even recommend against giving multiple vaccines on the same day or take the unnecessary thimerosal out of flu shots. Nobody is studying the cumulative effects of giving so many vaccines at such a young age, or comparing health outcomes among vaxed and unvaxed kids.

I'm sure your friend would argue that these topics would be more likely to be researched if not so controversial. But even if we said nothing now, there would be tremendous outcry if it were found that the vaccine schedule is harming children. I guess your friend may be thinking that changes could quietly be made to the vaccine schedule without admitting any harm, if these issues weren't so visible.

But, we are past the point of waiting. The powers that be have had seven years to take action. It does not appear that anything will be done unless there is massive publicity and protest, and independent science. They missed their chance to make quiet changes.

But, thanks for another great article! I'm sure there are some heroes out there!


In the 1960s my father taught me that sometimes you have to stand apart from your friends and stand up for what's right. Several times since I've had to make choices that alienated friends and co-workers who had more flexible situational ethics.

I hope that more medical professionals realize the truth about our vaccine-injured children, and come forward to promote a safer vaccine program. Yes, it will take courage. Yes, they may find colleagues distancing themselves. But when all is revealed, clarity will follow -- along with the precious sense of being right with the world.


A science teacher??? How can you have a science background and believe in the link of vaccines and autism (please note the sarcasm in my voice.....) Science only finds what you want it to find.....


"In difficult times there have always been heroes who have answered the call of decency and truth." I love that.

I totally agree! I really believe we're going to start seeing "heros" come out of the woodwork. The winds are changing. We should all continue our calls, emails, and letters so the momentum continues to move in favor of our kids!

Love the piece Kent! Thanks for everything you do!

Dan Olmsted

Kent -- great column! there are a lot of people like your principal out there. a former colleague just asked me for resources on safer vaccination and i sent her to generation rescue and donald miller's alternate schedule. it's hard to argue, as your acquaintance did, that we should all be more polite and low-key in the hopes that researchers will feel freer to pursue the truth. it's their job to pursue the truth and they've had since 1943 to get it right. clearly the pressure from parents is behind the kind of publicity we're seeing on this first world autism day. maybe jenny mccarthy should just quiet down? i don't think so! -- dan

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