Popular Science Fiction is Little Comfort to Parents of Children with Autism
Now "Tweeting" at "FromAgeofAutism"

Olmsted on Autism: Columbine's Unlearned Lesson

Heads in the sand By Dan Olmsted

There's a reason we call this the AGE of Autism -- it's because we live in an age where autism is the most dire and widespread -- the defining -- disorder of our day. But what we really have is a generation of sick kids, and of chronic diseases of children and adults that have environmental clues and causes and potential cures -- and a media and medical establishment that won't come to grips with any of it. That's quite a saga -- it is the most important story of our time, which explains why we're all here.
That also explains why I want to briefly stray off-message -- or seemingly so, by noting the tenth anniversary of the Columbine shootings. Since then, there have been more, and an isolated fact noted at Columbine has emerged as a pattern, at least for those with eyes to see. Eric Harris, the leader of the pair, was taking Luvox, an antidepressant. 

Since then, the whole issue of minors and anti-depression medication has become a major issue, though not in these anniversary observances on the drug-dependent TV news outlets. The FDA warned in March 2004 that Luvox can lead to deeper depression and suicide, and urged health care providers to warn patients and families to watch for agitation, irritability, suicide and so on. The agency also noted increased reports of hostility and suicide attempts in children and urged caution in prescribing it to them.
Agitation, irritability, hostility, suicide. In teenagers. Let's leave it at that.
One thing I've learned in dealing with another drug-related story is that anything that can make you depressed and, frankly, disturbed enough to want to kill yourself -- to cause self-harm -- can make you want to do the same to someone else, or many others. When you're OK with dying, you're often OK with other people dying too. What difference does it make when all is lost? If you're already willing to accept the death penalty, there's not much deterrence left.
I want to add here that I have no beef with psychotropic medications. I know from close-up experience that serious mental illness can respond, sometimes miraculously, to medication. I'm all for it, believe me. And that's the point -- for serious ailments, serious medicine makes sense; greater risks, as long as they are understood rather than overlooked, understated or covered up, can be well worth taking. But the Medication Generation we see now -- a direct offshoot of the promiscuous promotion of drugs on TV and in our culture as cure-alls for ailments from arthritis (Vioxx) to weight loss (Phen-fen) to chronic fatigue to restless legs -- is obscene. When Peggy Fleming is hawking Vioxx for her achy skater's ankle, while the evidence mounts that it's killing tens of thousands of people who never needed it, you see the problem writ large.
At Columbine and in other school killings, you see it writ small but with greater impact, because the victims are kids, and they make the evening news, and they make no sense, or seem not to.
I still might not have thought to say anything about this were it not for a conversation I had this weekend with someone on the autism spectrum who -- Paul Offit and the Autism Science Foundation, eat your hearts out -- has responded beautiflly to biomedical help and a wise and loving family and his own innate strength of character and smarts. But at a couple of points he went on something heavy-duty -- Risperdol and Zyprexa. The internal world that created for him -- well, it was the one thing he wouldn't talk about. And he was on them for very short periods, because he had the words to use to tell his parents to get him off them, fast. What that would be like for someone who couldn't describe his feelings, he said, would be indescribably awful. For everyone. 
So let's remember Columbine, by all means. And let's acknowledge what it really means about the world we're creating.
 Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.


Theodore Van Oosbree

Risperidone is being used to treat behavior disorders in children (not just ASD kids)!!


"I know far too many middle/upper middle class women with damn easy lives who are on anti anxiety drugs. No one seems to want to have to handle adversity - even if it's just life's varied inconveniences."

Stagmom - it doesn't matter how easy their lives are - it doesn't take adversity to cause anxiety - a few amalgam dental fillings would be enough to cause it in some people. I had severe anxiety just driving through a tunnel or getting stuck in traffic. I once went to the mountains on vacation and woke up for several nights with severe fight or flight episodes. It made no sense to me - I was on vacation. It was a constant problem for years and was difficult to live with. Fortunately, I never went to a doctor for it but when a million other things began to go wrong with me (severe gastrointestinal problems, yeast inections, skin rashes, brain fog, memory problems, losing language - sound familiar?) - I sought a good alternative practitioner who did a heavy metals test - found very high levels of mercury. I replaced my fillings, underwent biomedical treatment and my anxiety and other symptoms are gone. Despite being under severe financial pressure now (due to the economy combined with debt from biomedical treatment for myself and three boys), I am not suffering anxiety. I just wanted to remind you that we can't really judge someone else's anxiety by how easy or hard their life appears to be. And, as with autism, they often don't know about (or can't afford) the much better solutions.


Thanks, Dan!! You are a true blessing to our community!



Thank you for this very insightful and sad memorial. It seems it's become easier for people to get pills from an M.D. than real advice such as exercise more, eat right, get plenty of sunlight, take vitamins, get checked for allergies, etc.

Whatever happened to common sense in medicine?

My parents would take me to the doctor when I was sick and get at least some of the above advice, not just another prescription like parents do now.

Sue M.,

Thank you for that reflection. It reminds me now of the many friends that I had in junior high and high school that were down, started on anti-depressants, got worse, and many committed suicide. I had not made that connection between anti-depressant medication and the many suicides of close friends that I have experienced.

Their parents, too, were all saying the same thing as your friend... Most of them blamed themselves- feeling that if only they had done something sooner, maybe the medication would have worked.

I wish I could talk to them now and let them know they are not to blame.


I remember taking my 3 year daughter to Georgetown University Medical Center to have her evaluated by a "well - known" expert in autism. After a one hour talk with my husband and I (my daughter was playing nearby), he prescribed Luvox for her...3 years old! I came to find out that he was prescribing Luvox to most of the ASD kids coming through his office as part of a study. We never filled the script and never went back. Six years of biomed later, she is doing well and she is happy.

Teresa Conrick

Working as a special education teacher for years in private psychiatric hospitals and then as a public school teacher -- I have seen my share of DSM diagnoses and medications.

It is too long to even start posting but suffice to say that having a child with autism puts you in a twilight zone in both of these settings. I had to leave the hospital as I no longer was able to stomach the amount of medications and bullshit guessing on how to treat these illnesses. A sad yet pertinent example was a 7 year old girl who was brought in due to "psychosis, seizures,and delusions with auditory and visual hallucinations." She was put on 4-5 medications and had numerous side effects. While reading her history, it said that she had been repeatedly and for lengthy times, been treated for lice. This was not unlike Megan and her vaccines with thimerosal --toxic exposure. I mentioned this to the treating nurse and the doctor. Both minimized it but later did mention it to the mother but continued the hospitalization and all of the medications rather than investigate nonpsychiatric methods (medical/biomedical). It is now known that lengthy lice treatments can produce these symptoms.(see below) I quit soon after this.

Megan's one time experience on psychotropics was when I took her, over 10 years ago, to see a psychiatrist as she had become wild and exceedingly hyperactive. He put her on Adderall and in the short time span of 4 days, she had become dizzy, appeared afraid of climbing stairs and could not turn doorknobs. The culmination came when she fell off a chair and needed stitches at the ER.

That became the zenith moment that I found a doctor just training in DAN!, who did labs and discovered giardia, food intolerances, reflux, and allergies as a starting point to Megan's many illnesses...ie her "hyperactivity and irritability". These were the first clues to what was to become our journey to wellness. Thanks for posting about this Dan because it reminds me of how grateful I am to not be back there.

Ann Emerg Med. 1994 Nov;24(5):972-4. Lindane toxicity in a 24-year-old woman.
Fischer TF.
Department of Emergency Medicine, John T Mather Memorial Hospital, Port Jefferson, New York.

A case of lindane toxicity in a 24-year-old woman who used lindane shampoo for treatment of an alleged case of lice infestation is described. The patient experienced uncontrolled motor activity that began approximately 2 hours after treatment and resolved approximately 48 hours later. A review of the literature revealed that most cases of acute lindane toxicity resulting from topical application have occurred in the pediatric and geriatric populations and are manifested by grand mal seizures. No case of acute lindane toxicity resulting from topical use was found in the emergency medicine literature. This case illustrates the toxic, neurologic effects of lindane in a young adult.

Sue M.

A good friend of mine had a nephew who committed suicide when he was 19. It was years ago but I remember that he had been depressed and was put on anti-depressants... I only remember that because at the time his mother kept saying that she wished the medicine had worked for him. She kept saying it ... At the time, I agreed with her. Looking back, I can only wonder about a different possibility.


What most parents fail to realize when they leave the doctor's office is that the prescription handed them is usually not geared toward their child's unique biochemical condition. Not many doctors run blood work before adding more chemicals to a child's body mix. And there's little short- or long-term monitoring.

Today while flipping TV channels I caught Judge Marilyn Milian of The People's Court reaming out a homeowner, a contractor and a repairman. All had failed to repair a chimney that was leaking carbon monoxide into a house that was for sale. Judge Milian was apoplectic at their moral lapses, yelling "HOW IS THAT OKAY?"

Everyone is looking for a handy encapsulated solution to their problems. But our crap-shoot system of health care isn't working. We go to our doctors thinking they will investigate us medically, but instead they skip the labs, prescribe presumptively and send us on our merry way. How is that okay?

Jack's Dad

It's interesting how biased NBC's Today Show and Dr. Nancy Snyderman have been on vaccines and environmental causes of autism.

Three out of every four commercials on the Today Show are peddling pharmaceuticals. They wouldn't want to bite off the hand that feeds them.


Last Feb the CBC Radio One show "As It Happens" interviewed Professor Irving Kirsh, University of Hull, regarding his meta-analysis of SSRI study data

Somewhere in the CBC interview, as I recall, Kirsch expressed his frustrations over the difficulty his team had working thru the process for obtaining the entire set of (unpublished) data from the FDA. Probably no conspiracy here - maybe just lots of bureaucracy, red tape, FOIA requirements, etc.

In any case, the results suggested that for most cases, SSRI's are clinically no better than placebo for treating depression.

SSRI's vs Skittles - shiny happy people beware - you've been had....

Mark Blaxill

This is an important post, Dan, and one that raises a delicate issue within the family of autism parents. To describe it, I'll just relate a personal experience. One close friend of ours locally, has an affected child. We have followed the biomedical route, while our friends have followed the traditional route, one that include psychotropic meds. Long story short, while our child is doing very well and making terrific progress, our friends' child who was once far ahead of ours in terms of development, has suffered greatly from medications and is obviously miserable.

I suspect that a large part of the vitriol that comes at the enviro/biomedical community of autism parents from the more traditional parents (and especially the ND extremists) is their way of blocking their guilt at not going down a path that, anecdotally at least, is rewarding to many.

More relevant to our community is the delicate difference that arises between parents like my friends above and committed biomedical families. I think shining a light on the downside of thse medications is absolutely critical so that good people like my friends who simply trust their traditional doctors are not punished for that trust with preventably deranged children.

Kathy Blanco

Here's a crazy solution and thought to this whole problem, drop the trust factor. Drop the feeling that the AMA, the whole of humanity is under attack?


Then after that, how about real eating, like foods that are not manufactured and actually don't have 20 ingredients to them, breastfeeding longer, not vaccinating AT ALL, and raising kids in sunshine and love. Hey man save the whales may bring on new meaning? Hey man, how about most of the drugs out there are proven to not work 70 percent of the time, and have untoward awful side effects, which often cause the next problem which needs another pill for.

As a living testament of that life, after the damage done, I can attest, that this kind of living can heal an autistic child. And, it can prevent autism, as I see that first hand in my grandchildren...in which were under the umbrella that "autism is genetic"....yeah right..

Briefly treating infections may also be important, such as one with lyme, which depression is the FIRST neurological symptom, but after that, I advocate just cleaning up the diet, getting the metals out, and whala, no depression. As long as you live a clean life, wholesome one in thought word and deed, I think depression can be cured. It doens't hurt also to live in a sunny setting as well...we humans tend to migrate to places that aren't meant for our DNA.

Kevin D

Ironic that this was published recently:
"NIH Freezes Grants to Emory in Secret Drug Money Scandal"

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has halted payments on a research grant to Emory University, following the revelation that the psychiatrist in charge of the research concealed hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug company payments, possibly in violation of university and federal conflict-of-interest rules.

Charles Nemeroff has temporarily stepped down as chair of Emory's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences after Sen. Charles Grassley alleged that the researcher had failed to report a significant portion of the $2.8 million he was paid by GlaxoSmithKline between 2000 and 2007, even as he was leading research into five of the company's drugs.

Although the scandal only became public in recent weeks, the NIH had been aware of it as far back as August, when it froze payment on a $9.3 million grant to Emory's Centers for Intervention Development and Applied Research for a study into different treatments for depression. All payments have been stopped "pending resolution of outstanding issues relating to conflict of interest procedures," said Emory Vice President Ron Sauder.

Full article:

5 autism stocks (drugs) to watch



February 16, 2009

Autism is considered to be a developmental disability that results from a disorder of the brain and central nervous system impairing social interaction, communication, and other activities. A U.S. court just ruled that autism is not connected to vaccines, saying that there is no scientific evidence that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine caused autism in children. In addition, some families sued Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, accusing them of discriminating against children with autism. With all the news about autism, investors are looking closely at the pharmaceutical stocks. There are several publicly traded pharmaceutical companies that make drugs for treating the autism related disorders and symptoms.

Risperidal, developed and distributed by Janssen Pharmaceutica, a division of the New York Stock Exchange traded company Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), is an antipsychotic medication that is used in lower doses to treat autistic disorders and has FDA approval for use of the drug for symptomatic treatment of irritability in autistic children and teenagers, since 2006. The stock has a P/E ratio of 13 and pays a yield of 3.2%.

Prozac, with the chemical name fluoxetine hydrochloride, is made by Eli Lilly and Company (LLY), also traded on the NYSE, and has been approved by the FDA for both obsessive compulsive disorder and depression in autistic children aged 7 and older. The company recently generated negative earnings and pays a yield of 5.3%.

Ritalin and the time-release drug, Concerta, is a Methylphenidate drug which, although generally used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, and attention-deficit disorder, or ADD, has also been prescribed for children with autism. It is produced by the company Novartis AG (NVS), the ADR of which trades on the NYSE; however, the generic version of the drug far outsells Ritalin. The stock has a P/E ratio of 12 and pays a yield of 4.1%.

Duramed Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a division of Barr Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which is a subsidiary of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA), is a manufacturer of Adderall XR, an extended-release drug which is used to help with attention and focus problems, and behavior issues of individuals with autism. Teva has a P/E of 19 and a yield of 0.9%.

Shire plc (SHPGY) makes Adderall XR, an extended-release version of the drug. The stock has a P/E of 38 and a yield of 0.3%.

For an Excel database of drug stocks that can be downloaded, changed, and sorted, go to WallStreetNewsNetwork.com.

Disclosure: Author has a nephew who is severely autistic and does not own any of the above stocks.

Craig Willoughby

You all have to remember that today's medical industry has no interest in a cure. Their only purpose is to pimp out as many medications as possible so that the person "feels" better. They are not concerned with the cause of the problem, nor are they concerned with the cure. They only want to cover up the symptoms so that they have a steady influx of needy patients.

Jake Crosby

Here is an article in The New York Times written by Gardiner Harris, of all people, about how famed
Harvard child psychiatrist Joseph Beiderman who promised J&J Pharma that he would reveal positive results for Risperdal, BEFORE clinical trials would commence.

Now, the trial was for ADHD in Bipolar children, but Risperdal is FDA approved to "treat" autism. It has also killed 31 children.

Unfortunately, Harris only seems to care about children treated by Risperdal for conditions that the drug is NOT FDA-approved to treat, while apparently showing no concern for autistic children on this "anti"-psychotic.

Still, even industry-tied newspapers acknowledge big pharma is a serious problem as are its aggressive medication campaigns on vulnerable people, though not as much as they should.

I was actually on Risperdal twice, the first time I had a horrible reaction so I got taken off it, then another psychiatrist years later dismissed that reaction as "coincidence," put me back on it, and I had the same problems again. Zyprexa I was on for no more than a week, but it's practically the same drug only under a different brand name. Those were far from the only drugs I was on, there were others...


Kerbob, it's not just the allopaths, I think PEOPLE want to be medicated. I know far too many middle/upper middle class women with damn easy lives who are on anti anxiety drugs. No one seems to want to have to handle adversity - even if it's just life's varied inconveniences. Read the Mommy blogs - brought to you by Xanax.


It is important to not characterize the postal back-fire with SSRIs as in any way limited to those with mental disabilities.

Apparently the allopaths have determined that it's not OK to feel sad, it's not OK to feel mournful, it's not OK to cry, it's not OK to feel weak, and it's not OK to feel loss.

The types of back-fire associated with SSRI consumption, there are many cases of inappropriate drug application.

There is nothing wrong with a person who feels sad, mournful, cries, feels weakness, or contemplates loss.

Whenever new chemistry enters the human body you can expect changes to take place. The allopath's most stubborn lesson to learn is this very fact. It is essentially fraud to suggest otherwise.

What is the important value is one must be weaned off SSRIs very slowly. The host of problems with the drugs are associated during a time of rapid decrease in dosage and cold withdrawal.

Reports from former SSRI users abound on the internet blogs. The stories reflect tapered withdrawal involving shaving down the pill in small increments over many, many weeks and months works best although this might not be common knowledge amongst the medical establishment.

This isn't mentioned as advice, but rather to indicate the serious nature of these powerful drugs.

Please be careful.


Thank you for covering this Dan. I love the
"ostrich man" graphic--this rabbit hole runs about as deep as autism's.

I agree that this topic is only "seemingly" off message because, like many commenters on this subject mention, our kids are being intensely targeted as a "drug-able niche market" and drugs and drug side effects are no longer a separate issue.

For one thing, our kids might be particularly suspectible to the drugs. There is no clinical way to predict which individuals will become psychotic on certain psychiatric meds since even people taking them for non-psych conditions (or even those who took the drugs because of a pharmacy error) and who had no history of violence (and certainly did not have autism) have committed murder while on the drugs. There is some evidence that underlying mitochondrial dysfunction (which ironically can be caused by the drugs themselves as well as vaccine toxins) can worsen the risk of drug-induced psychosis. So our kids are targed for drugs and may be even more likely to react violently to them.

Especially now that autism is being used as a criminal alibi in many cases where drug exposure may have played the more central role, I'm even more sure that this is not off topic:

More than fifty people were killed in mass shootings in less than two months at the beginning of this year in the US alone (if you count Germany and other countries-- which do not suppress the drug correlation-- the number rises steeply). Though mention of the drug correlation isn't common in the press, it does get mentioned (Anderson Cooper brought it up regarding the Alabama shooting).

It turns out that Christopher Wood, the father of three who killed his children, wife and himself just last week, mentioned his antidepressants in suicide notes:
http://tinyurl.com/d88sr9 Christopher Wood apparently had no history of domestic violence.

I just got through reading Breggin's "Medication Madness" which documents cases of sudden, drug-induced violence in a series of people without criminal histories and some of the legal shenanigans pulled by the drug industry to keep the public in the dark about side effects. For instance, we would have known about the murderous side effects of Prozac and, by extension, other drugs almost twenty years ago if it hadn't been for some highly illegal tampering by Eli Lilly during the class action suit against the company in the wake of the Joseph Wesbecker/Prozac massacre. In the case, the jury (just barely) found for Eli Lilly and this was covered widely in the press. But the press never reported when, a short time later, the judge in the case reversed the verdict as "settled with prejudice". The judge did so after discovering that the lead plaintiff attorney was virtually a paid Lilly agent and had deliberately thrown the trial, suppressing evidence and accepting an astronomical under-the-table settlement from Lilly. Without the crucial evidence, expert witnesses against Lilly could not make their case and jury members reported that they felt forced to reluctantly throw the case to Lilly. When the judge attempted to follow through with an investigation of the event and the missing evidence (which the plaintiff attorney had secretly returned to Lilly headquarters), he was unseated.

It's difficult to calculate how many people needlessly died because of that one case of legal tampering and selective attention by the press. The number is in the thousands and thousands at this point to be sure.

It's true that with the mainstream coverage of the 10 year anniversary of the Columbine massacre, no mention has been made of the drugs which Harris was definitely on and which Klebold has been rumored to be on (Klebold was a minor and his medical records were sealed). There's also been no mention of the lawsuit against Solvay Pharmaceutical (maker of Luvox) brought by at least one victim of the shooting:

The increasing public awareness of a correlation between drug use and school shootings has made drug makers hot around the collar and the majority of the US cases have been handled more gingerly since Columbine by law enforcement. For example, one tox screen is typically given to shooters post-mortem instead of the two that it took to find Luvox in Eric Harris's bloodstream. Medical records of shooters-- dead or alive-- are sealed or just "go missing" as in the case of Seung-Hui Cho. According to families of many Virginia Tech shooting victims, this was because of industry pressure.

It should all sound oddly familiar to anyone following the vaccine-injury debacle.

Hans Raible

Here in Germany, firearms are tightly controlled. A person may own them when he/she is a hunter or a member of a shooting society. Therefore, shooting incidents are more rare.

Lately, a 17 year old shot 17 of his schoolmates with a 9 mm Beretta belonging to his father. The boy was in psychiatric treatment. On the pictures published of him, one could recognize the facial redness which is a sign of iron overload. This overload is less frequent here since we do not have iron fortification. Iron overload is like overdosing on a psychiatric drug - it can cause depression and hostility.

The drugs the boy received from his shrink may have aggravated this since iron problems cannot be treated with pills - one has to remove the excess iron by drawing blood.

Hans Raible, Stuttgart, Germany

CT teacher

This is an important message that you have touched upon, Dan. There have been so many of these kinds of incidents lately. If you begin to search for more info , you will find that many, if not most of the young men and boys were on mind altering drugs. My guess is that the suicide rate is pretty high too. However, if you mention it (the drug connection) in polite society you get the same look from people as you get when you say that vaccines cause autism.....the look that says " boy , is she off the wall!"


Sky Walker was on Risperdal. Went on it at 13. And from what I have gathered he was given at least one other drug, possibly more. He began seeing a psychiatrist at the age of 13. his mother reported he would be visiting the shrink 3 to 4 times per year. And that certainly would lead to the use of more meds not less. I would wager Henry Cozad has been on meds for a good part of his life. What lead these boys to do what they did? We need to know their medication regime. This is crucial.

I do have a beef with psych meds and our kids. According to the "experts" we don't understand why our kids have this condition we are calling "autism" yet we will give them meds that will do God Knows what to their already dysfunctional brains? No thanks. My kid already played guinea pig for big pharma once. I'll do whatever I can to keep him off those meds.

Nice piece Dan


Yes, we must remember Columbine and the SSRI antidepressant, Luvox, which was the trigger for this horrific event.

The Physicians Desk Reference states that SSRIs and all antidepressants can cause mania, psychosis, abnormal thinking, paranoia, hostility, etc.

Go to www.SSRIstories.com where there are over 3,000 cases, with the full media article available, involving bizarre murders, suicides, school shootings [48 of these] and murder-suicides - all of which involve SSRI antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, etc, . The media article usually tells which SSRI antidepressant the perpetrator was taking


Regarding the recent murder/suicide in Maryland.....

Francie (the wife) was a member of one of my online groups. My "imaginary online friends" as I liked to call them. She was always pleasant and very sweet. I remember reading the birth story of her daughter who was born at home.

She hadn't posted in awhile, maybe the timing coinciding with her move to MD. But some members kept in touch with her.

Apparently some of the members kept in touch with her outside the group....and posted this morning that her husband was on antidepressants. I can't confirm this though but it wouldn't be shocking at all.

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