Lisa Jo Rudy, the New York Times-owned about.com autism guide, wrote late last week that "if you read this blog regularly, you'll know that we've been having a very active conversation about the Amish and autism." No kidding!

Amish1_6 I think that was more or less my doing, as I took exception to a piece she wrote – headlined "Do The Amish Vaccinate? Indeed They Do, AND Their Autism Rates May Be Lower."

But forget what Lisa said or what I said about what she said. That's not what this column is about. It's about what the Amish -- and those who know their ways and world -- have to say.

Look at the photo to the left, of a 9-year-old Old Order Amish child and her special ed teacher. This child's parents want people to know their never-vaccinated daughter was taken away from them at age 1, immunized at the Clinic For Special Children (more about them later), and returned a year later with full-syndrome, non-genetic, no-doubt-about-it autism (professionally diagnosed). That's why, contrary to Amish tradition, they let me take her photo. They are mad. They are heartbroken. This is not a study. This is not "a very active discussion about the Amish and autism." This is their child. And they believe vaccinations pushed her over into something they had never seen, something called autism. As people say: Get the picture? I'll show a video of her at Autism One, along with another Amish child whose parents believe she was vaccine damaged, but frankly I'm tired of the crap about how I make stuff up, get things wrong and never even visit the Amish, so the time has come.

Yes, Lisa et. al, some Amish are vaccinated, and yes, there does appear to be less autism. But read your own blog. This comment was posted below my Age of Autism article; a slightly different version is also below your original piece:

"I worked in a PA hospital that treated a lot of Amish. And I witnessed them being lied to and bullied into vaccines. And you can bet those babies are not vaccinated on the CDC's insane schedule --most were vaccinated when they were brought into the ER when sick.
YEAH, you read that right. The babies would be sick enough that they sought the ER and they would leave with a round of vaccines."

Now, that's interesting. Put aside the issue of whether vaccinating kids when they're sick is a good idea, or whether the CDC's vaccination schedule is insane. What we learn here – and I've heard this many times – is that the Amish are under relentless and increasing pressure to get vaccinated, but in most cases they are still NOT getting vaccinated the way the rest of our kids are. Maybe that explains why their autism rate still seems far lower than the 1 in 150 we hear so much about from the CDC.

Hep B at birth? I don't think so, since most Amish are born at home or in midwife centers, not at hospitals unless complications are expected. Every Child By Two? -- every Amish child vaccinated like clockwork just like the rest of America's kids, at their well-baby visits?
Again, I don't think so. The Amish do use doctors – they're not Christian Scientists, after all. But they tend to use alternative and traditional treatments as their first line of defense and go to doctors when they're really sick – what a concept! When they do go, it's to family practitioners and emergency rooms rather than to pediatricians, internists, sub-specialists that require referrals, etc. Remember, most Amish have NO medical insurance. Zero. How often would you go to the doctor, and to which ones, and for what reason, if you had zero insurance?

I've also heard plenty of stories from these real live Amish parents about public health officials showing up with fistfuls of vaccines on their doorsteps, offering (to the point of insisting) to inoculate all 6 or 8 or 10 children, whatever their ages, in one fell swoop. For free. And they do. And invariably some of those kids have reactions – reactions that don't get reported, because where is the follow-up? Certainly not in a telephone survey! Or maybe we expect these parents to get online and report it to VAERS? It's so easy. But with what PC hooked up to what power source, exactly?

The second comment I want to share with you goes right to the heart of the vaccination-autism-Amish issue. Lisa, you may recall, quoted a doctor at the Clinic For Special Children in Pennsylvania Dutch Country as saying that they don't see "idiopathic autism" – autism of unknown origin – even though this clinic says it does aggressively vaccinate children. They don't see, in other words, the kind of kid at the heart of today's controversy over the soaring autism rate. They only see predictable autistic "features" in kids with severe genetic disorders. Here's the quote from Dr. Keven Strauss:

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

Now, in absolute contradistinction to that, check out these comments posted on Lisa's blog by a woman who signs herself as Martha Brinkley and says her son was vaccinated at 4 and 7 months [note: not at birth]. Using her name adds weight to what she says, and if anybody in a position of authority cared they could follow up on this:

"This is an interesting subject to me because we are members of the Old Order River Brethren in the heart of Lancaster County and for all practical purposes most folks consider us to be 'Amish.' Dr. Kevin Strauss [the one Lisa just quoted about seeing no 'idiopathic autism' in otherwise OK kids] saw our son at the Clinic for Special Children three years ago. He would not give Randall a diagnosis for autism because he said these problems are usually genetic and though we have not discovered all genetic disorders out there it was obvious he did not want to give a diagnosis based upon behavioral symptoms alone.

"He conducted a battery of genetic tests including Fragile X and nothing showed up. He further recommended us to Early Intervention. We followed his recommendation and he had an evaluation with EI and was diagnosed with classic autism by the psychologist. Dr. Strauss admitted that he had the symptoms of autism but would not give him this diagnosis. We did not go back to the clinic for Special Children because we felt like they did not have anything more to offer us."

Here is a parent saying that they couldn't get an autism diagnosis at the Clinic For Special Children because they were told autism only shows up in identifiable genetic disorders? Good grief – autism is supposed to be diagnosed SOLELY on behavioral criteria; check out the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

Amish2The child photographed right here, and at the start of the post, was vaccinated at the Clinic for Special Children after she was removed from her family in a dispute about how they were treating a chronic ear infection (sound familiar?). I've got the vaccine records (thanks to her mother) and it looks like she got her shots in just two installments  -- playing catchup, a la Hannah Poling. She has no apparent genetic disorder of which her autism is a "feature" -- just good old-fashioned full-syndrome  autism.

So where are we, friends?  We're badly in need of the whole truth and nothing but – the kind you get from a powerful, expensive, independent, transparent, urgent study of vaccinated-versus-never-vaccinated American children. There's a bill in Congress to authorize exactly that, introduced – and reintroduced -- by the gutsy Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. Maybe when we get a new president, something will happen, since all three of the remaining candidates seem a lot more open-minded about what's happening than the current regime (to the abject horror of the mainstream media, which fears being marginalized above all else). Whether the Amish are the right group for that, especially after all the caveats, confusion and conniptions, I don't know. (Patrick Fitzgerald famously called this "throwing sand in the umpire's face" in the Scooter Libby case.) I think a better choice – and I've said this before – would be home-schooled kids or the fully documented data at Homefirst Medical Services in Chicago, which has thousands of never-vaccinated kids and almost no autism or asthma. Of course, the CDC says it can't be done, period.

Until then, perseverating on the Amish -- and trying to use them to knock down concerns over vaccines and autism -- is apparently going to continue. It's a waste of time (mine included) and a form of misdirection and, as I think I've shown here, quite often achieves the opposite result.

But I must confess I'm a little jealous of Lisa. Last I checked, her Amish post got 36 comments; mine only got 35. There is no justice.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism


Beth B.

Dan.. has it ever occurred to you that these home visits are to deliberately skew a pool of unvaccinated children?

No matter what is 'found out' about I will never vaccinate and will birth at home the next time to protect my children.

Keep up the good work.. You have so many of us supporting you and cheering you on..

~Beth in Vegas

D. Tate

Wait a minute--it seems like the Amish aren't actually less often autistic; they're less often diagnosed with autism.

Lower-income families have similarly lower "autism rates". They also have similarly lower access to health insurance, pediatricians, and well-child visits. In these families, the milder cases go undiagnosed.

Just like with the Amish... where, if one is diagnosed with autism, it will probably be severe. The Amish don't go to doctors for a "quirky" child or one who is "a little slow"... though they will go for an obviously, strongly autistic child.

The Amish are almost certainly underdiagnosed.

Oh, and my unvaccinated little sis was raised on organic, natural food, with no wheat, red meat, or milk, and is autistic. Case study, sure, but there are lots more like her.

Donna Beales

There is some very promising anecdootal evidence that deliberately inoculating autistic children *with* very specific parasites (hookworm)may arrest and even reverse autism. The thought is that we've made ourselves "too clean" by eliminating natural symbiotic parasites & bacteria that we actually need to be healthy. Their absence is the root of autoimmune diseases of all types. The theory is generally called the Hygiene Hypothesis.

It may not be the metal or other components in vaccines that are harmful but the fact that vaccination may somehow exacerbate autoimmune disorders, but only in the absence of natural parasitic infection.

The Amish may be protected overall because many of them may have escaped deworming treatments that were given in the US in the 1930's as a sweeping public health effort. Gut parasites in large numbers cause anemia, but in small quantities they are by many reports harmless. They don't multiply in the body. You have to step on, or handle, stool-infested soil to acquire them. Most Americans are parasite-free.

The Amish may have retained their "worms." Too, they drink raw milk. Their guts are likely colonized with "good" bacteria as well as parasites that lower thier risk of autism and autoimmunity.

I usually don't recommend Wikipedia as a researcher, but this article is very comprehensive: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helminthic_therapy

Best wishes.

Donna Beales, MLIS


I stumbled across this link on Julie's Health Club blog with the Chicago Sun Times. For whatever reason, seeing an Amish child with autism, knowing how the parents would normally shun photographs, just shows how deeply they want people to know what happened. I've seen lots of children with autism, lots of photographs of children with autism, but there is something about these photographs that cuts me to the core... something about how it is almost like innocence being taken away from these people who want to just lead a simple way of life, and now they are thrust into the complex world of autism. Thank you for writing this story Dan, and thank you to the girl's parents for allowing us a glimpse of what is affecting their family.


This story cuts me to the core!
An unbelievable act of aggression on a child.
I would walk her back down to the health department and let them see in person the damage... from their fascism.

Darrel Crain

Speaking of locating a large number of unvaccinated children whose parents would likely welcome a comparative study, consider the children of chiropractors. Most chiropractors I know choose not to vaccinate their kids for the principled reason that there is questionable benefit injecting foreign proteins, carcinogenic chemicals and toxic metals deep into a child's developing immune system to "fool" mother nature into mounting a partial immune response.

Theresa Cedillo

Thank you Dan once again for making this about the child-our children - humans - babies - not just "some controversy about vaccines and autism" as some would have it. When are people going to put aside the controversy and look at the children? This is a powerful piece you've written - keep up the good work.


Why would anyone take their daughter from them for using alternative methods for an ear infection? America is the only country to actively treat ear infections. Our pediatrician is careful when prescribing antibiotics for ear infections, and sometimes opts not to treat. We are very thankful for his careful consideration with each case.
What a sad story:(

Jim Witte

"But if and when such an effort does begin, [Dr. William] Schaffner says that the children will likely be subject to a series of "catch-up" immunizations to help protect them against disease. "It would be a period of weeks, and in some cases months, before all of these children could be protected ideally with vaccines," he says.

Umm.. Hello? After the Hannah Poling fiasco taught us what we already should have known (and DID know, as the relevant facts of the Poling case had been going on for who knows how long..) about multiple vaccinations.. Why on Earth would anyone (even a med. professional suffering from epidemic denial) take such a *legal* risk after that?

Are all of these kids going to be tested for mito problems? I'd hope so, but I think certainly none of them will.


Can't be done?

"I think a better choice – and I've said this before – would be home-schooled kids or the fully documented data at Homefirst Medical Services in Chicago, which has thousands of never-vaccinated kids and almost no autism or asthma. Of course, the CDC says it can't be done, period."

It seems that only when Big Pharma's profits and bottomline is at stake, is when the CDC starts to get all "baffled and confused" and begins to deny anything and everything. Alongwith the rest of the mainstream medical community.

Huge, huge, huge, conflicts of interest here and unparalled corruption, probably unsupassed by anything else in the world.

Robert Carrillo

Dan, here is a poem for the mothers that Don't know about the vaccine dangers.

My Mother didn’t know
She trusted them you know
The moment I was born
My life was given up,
because that is the norm
Injecting me with TOXINS,
to help me develop strong
First do no harm they say,
come to the slaughter house and stay
Do not question do not ask
just do as I say
Like sheep you’ll go astray,
to the slaughter house and stay
Come get your shots they say
Formaldehyde and Mercury are okay
Will keep you strong you pray.
It sound like the clinic is in complete denial about the autism and vaccine connection.
Be sure to visit this site on current vaccine issues:
Let us continue getting the word out. Great job Dan



I hope there are more Amish who come forward to talk about the abuses and coercion going on regarding vaccinations. What's next: seeding Amish communities with lab strain measles virus to "urge" them to vaccinate?

I thought there could be nothing worse than knowing that we were the ones who agreed to let our children be vaccinated, but there is something worse: having your child kidnapped by the state and soul murdered. I feel absolutely sick about what happened to that family.

Whenever that legal reckoning comes, I think we should hope that some of these CPS and health workers who remove children for the purpose of forced vaccination will be put on trial for assault and grievous injury, just so that everyone can get chilling flashbacks when these people say they were "just following orders".


I feel like someone with more talent than me should be writing a song along the lines of the well known "blowin' in the wind" for the autism community. I am sitting at the computer tonight thinking "how many times do I have to read about a another child getting autism from their vaccines? how many times will Merck reformulate and reissue a vaccine for Rotavirus and kill innocent babies with intussuception? how many times will I read op-ed pieces in my local paper emphatically stating that parents who don't vaccinate their children are a public health hazard? How many times will someone like Lisa Jo Rudy get it wrong?" I pray we don't have far to go until the answer to all of those questions is "zero". thanks Dan!

Messing with lives

"How many of the polygamist sect's 450 children have autism. It appears that the children lack vaccinations. Who wants to call the TX authorities and find out?"

We had chickenpox as kids and lived through it. It was the best way to get immunity for life.

I fear these "authorities" are really messing with these people. For starters they had no business whatsoever to separate the kids from their moms. Did you see those moms crying their hearts out? I bet they are going to give these kids shots and mess them up completely - asthma, allergies, autism with the "catch-up" schedule. I bet in a couple of years from now 1 in 15 will have autism.

Also by separating these kids from their parents (maybe the chicken pox came from the stress of the separation, this has GOT to be traumatic) more abused moms and kids will never leave other such compounds, for fear of the outside world and what would happen to their family unit. This has been so badly handled just like the war in Iraq. Who gives these people permission to go and interfere in other peoples' lives? The same goes for the vaccine program, imbeciles attempting to play God, with no knowledge or appreciation of just exactly what they are dealing with.

Dan, tx

How many of the polygamist sect's 450 children have autism. It appears that the children lack vaccinations. Who wants to call the TX authorities and find out?


Teresa Conrick

Thanks Dan! I am so glad you are on the case here. It is always an interesting read. I am so sad for this family and these pictures can break your heart. So, onward we fight--

JB Handley

I think Lisa Jo owes you, and our community, an apology. She hasn't done her homework.


Sandy Gottstein

Josh, You make an excellent point. Unless parents were guaranteed either anonymity or that they would not be harrassed in any way, by someone they trusted, few might get involved. Has anyone read the Maloney bill? Does it have a provision protecting those parents who admit to not having vaccinated? If not, perhaps, Dan you could speak with her about that?

Sandy Gottstein

Thanks Dan, for not allowing your words or intent to be misrepresented.

Once again, though, I must say that unless we get involved in getting the Maloney bill passed, it ain't gonna happen.


Like the Amish I grew up on a farm, had many siblings, drank raw milk, and had most of the diseases for which kids now receive vaccinations. Large families networked extensively via church, visits and phone, and I never heard of anyone with symptoms even remotely resembling autism.

I am so sick of outsiders trying to rewrite our reality, our children's reality, in an attempt to maintain some wishful notion that vaccines are 100% safe. Thanks, Dan, for putting families' stories out for the world to see -- and hopefully act on in an ethically responsible way.

For every story about children saved by vaccines, equal time must be given to children injured by vaccines. It boggles my mind that not everyone's response is to acknowledge these children and attempt to stop vaccine injury from happening.

Kelli Ann Davis

“One sentence later, preposterously 'ACIP recommends simultaneous vaccination.' If simultaneous vaccination has not been safety tested, how can ACIP/CDC recommend it?”

Cuz Merck told ‘em to.

According to information contained in the PowerPoint by Merck’s Patricia Saddier presented to ACIP on February 27, the “rational” for combination vaccines like MMRV are threefold: 1) decrease number of injections; 2) increase vaccine compliance; and 3) increase vaccine coverage rates.

Compliance is numero uno.

Side note: At the NVAC meeting, Dixie Snyder (CDC) was reassuring the Merck VP on the Working Group “not to worry” about these discussions with public participants regarding safety issues. It was strange. I remember thinking, “Why is the CDC concerned about whether Merck’s VP is uncomfortable with public participation/safety issues?? Talk about backwards.”

The comment was totally inappropriate and I wish I had the transcripts to remember exactly what he said. It was classic.

Kevin Barry

CDC admits, April 2008: "Usually simultaneous vaccination is incompletely studied at time of licensure."  

One sentence later, preposterously "ACIP recommends simultaneous vaccination."
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/00_pdf/draft_agenda_recommendations_080404.pdf (page 33)

If simultaneous vaccination has not been adequately safety tested, how can CDC/ACIP recommend it?

Well done Dan.


This young girl's case reiterates two important points: 1) that autism among the Amish is rare and seems to happen only in those who were vaccinated (as reported by ageofautism before) and 2) that in populations where vaccination rates are low compared to the CDC schedule vaccine reactions are easy to find. This data seems to support the idea that adverse effects and vaccine reactions are more common than health officials would have us believe.

Kevin Barry

CDC admits, April 2008: "Usually simultaneous vaccination is incompletely studied at time of licensure."  

One sentence later, preposterously "ACIP recommends simultaneous vaccination."
http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/00_pdf/draft_agenda_recommendations_080404.pdf (page 33)

If simultaneous vaccination has not been safety tested, how can ACIP/CDC recommend it? In light of this admission, the responsible thing for parents to do it to slow down and spread out vaccination, i.e. what we have been suggesting for years.

Well done Dan.


"Amish aren't bad parents (quite the opposite) but they have lots of kids and young kids tend to be supervised by older kids while parents are busy tending to farm and house chores (remember Mom has no electricity to wash clothes and cook - so she's not just "throwing in a load")."

This is what I thought, too, when I read LJR's 1st article about the topic. Do the moms (or dads) really have time for much individual interaction with the children?

Not that I know any Amish, so I didn't comment on the original article. But it struck me as odd. I always viewed the Amish as hard working individuals with very little time for play. I would think moms who have more modern conveniences, would have more time to interact with their children...

Josh Day

While I am not condoning the CDC's slithery inactions in attempting a study on non-vaxxed Homefirst children, you cannot get around the fact that it would be difficult to put together. Not due to the idiotic excuses and distracting counterpoints spouted by the CDC, but for the very reasons outlined in your article about the stormtrooper tactics of social services and health officials in force-immunizing. Many parents of unvaxxed kids do everything they can to stay under the radar to avoid such encounters. There's a very real fear about child protection services and the state moving in on your family. I think the majority of home schooling parents would be leery of being part of a study that labels their child for the government as "unvaccinated."

Of course, if some real, independent protection was put in place for the legal exemptions of the parents in such a study, and it was sound enough for parents to trust it, I bet you'd have parents signing up in droves to prove what so many of them already know.


"Talk about vaxing sick kids. My friend is a pediatric cardiac care nurse and she often sees Dr.s ordering Hep B vaccines for their patients. These are kids that have just come out of heart surgery, etc."

This ALWAYS amazes me. One would think, doctors being educated and all, would know that a child in this immunocompromised state, doesn't stand a chance in hell of creating the antibodies.

It's useless, and dangerous to vaccinate in this way. The anesthesia alone is enough to make the immune system whacky for a few days...

Sara B.


Fabulous piece!

I spoke with Patty Healy at NVIC yesterday and she mentioned that they are not terribly excited about the Maloney bill, as it only looks backward (and VAERS is a joke). Though, I suppose it is SOMETHING and may be better than nothing. I am no expert. What's your take?



Let's not factor out that the Amish have a high rate of accidental deaths in chldren - they spend a lot of time around heavy machinery and commonly have ponds on farms. It's very commonplace to read in PA about "farm deaths" in kids from farm equipment or drownings.

As parents of ASD kiddos we all live daily in fear that our kiddos will get into dangerous situtations, how long could they survive on dangerous unsupervised areas of a farm? I believe that my kiddo would last less than a day in an Amish home - he'd be dead from an accident (equipment, traffic, or drowning).

I have no proof, and I doubt any exists, but I'd also bet this is a factor in the lack of older kids with severe ASD in the Amish population. Amish aren't bad parents (quite the opposite) but they have lots of kids and young kids tend to be supervised by older kids while parents are busy tending to farm and house chores (remember Mom has no electricity to wash clothes and cook - so she's not just "throwing in a load").

PS - I know for a fact that Dan Olmsted visits folks - I've had him live and in person in my living room! He was very pleasant and knowledgable - and this was years ago as he embarked on this autism journey, I'm sure never guessing he'd still be in it years later - thanks again Dan and you're welcome back again anytime!

Central PA


Talk about vaxing sick kids. My friend is a pediatric cardiac care nurse and she often sees Dr.s ordering Hep B vaccines for their patients. These are kids that have just come out of heart surgery, etc.


To the parents of the Amish girl:

I know your anger. I know your pain.

Prayers for us all.

God has a greater purpose.

Have faith.

Funny Dan

"But I must confess I'm a little jealous of Lisa. Last I checked, her Amish post got 36 comments; mine only got 35. There is no justice."

Dan, but you *do* have a sense of humor, right?

Dan Olmsted

Hi Terry, thanks for the kind words. The SIDS story is on my list -- I've got an interesting document I'm trying to figure out how to use. Thanks for reminding me. We are always happy to get submissions -- just send them to Kim and I (that goes for everyone reading this -- we're a reader-written outfit here.)

Terri Lewis


This piece is fantastic.

And just keep in mind--you will be getting more and more comments, as more and more people discover that the truth about autism is alive at this newspaper!

And Lisa Jo Rudy will be getting fewer and fewer comments, at least from those of us who are boycotting her site, due to her extremely poor coverage of the subject.


P.S. You still haven't run that piece about the baby who died from being over-vaccinated last fall, and I sent it with a picture, remember? Of course, a little piece about vaccine-induced SIDS in general is always timely.

At least it will keep parents away from the super-deadly "catch-up" visits that are so popular now.

P.P.S. Do you all need any more help with reporting? Getting too *many* stories to run? Just wondering.

Joe Shlabotnik

Dan, keep up the great work. You are one of the precious few who are getting things right. You are one of the few who cares enough look below the surface. We need you. Dr. Kevin Strauss - typical arrogant a.h.


Dan, great work! Thank you for updating us on this story.

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