Managing Editor's Note: When my Mia was 8 years old, we took her to a ped. endocrinologist with concerns about early puberty. She also had a severe seizure disorder. The endo, a Fellow from Dartmouth working at University Hospitals of Cleveland did the routine tests. Blood, x-ray of the hand bones. Mia was just on the cusp of what would be called "precocious puberty." He offered me Lupron straight away. I asked, "What will Lupron do to her seizure disorder?" He had no idea. In fact, he kept saying, "The social stigma of a girl getting her period in third grade..." And I kept responding, "But she has autism and the social stigma is a non-starter. This is at best a convenience issue for Mom." He wanted her on Lupron but couldn't give me any facts as to how it would affect her overall health, beside her breasts disappearing and her underarm hair falling out. I declined the Lupron out of fear for what it would do to Mia's seizures. Mainstream docs prescribe this drug every day, to children.
By Dan Olmsted
I'm at the Courier Cafe in Urbana, Ill., so named because the building was the site of the old Courier newspaper. How fitting that I'm here to meet my high school English teacher, with whom I've kept up over the years, and fill her in on the latest on the book I'm co-writing with Mark Blaxill on the natural history of autism. I'm going to read her a passage about the first child diagnosed with the disorder -- "Donald T.," in 1943, and how treatment with gold salts for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis also had a remarkable impact on his autistic symptoms, according to his family.
I'm here first, so I stop at the counter for a paper -- in Illinois, everyone reads The Trib, even those who grew up "downstate" like me. It used to be a mean, bigoted, reactionary rag with a full-color American flag and Democrat-baiting cartoon on the front page every day. Now it's just another bankrupt big city paper looking for a way out of irrelevance and insolvency.
And then it hit me -- the huge headline, "'Miracle Drug' Called Junk Science -- Powerful castration drug pushed for autistic children, but medical experts denounce unproven claims." There was a picture of Dr. Geier and Mayer Eisenstein and a mother with her child who has autism. The story was about the debate over Lupron and whether it was helping the hundreds of children taking it.
Of course, this weekend's Autism One Conference -- at which the Geiers and Eisenstein are speaking -- was mentioned. This kind of story is what, when I worked at the paper in Danville, we called a "precede." The Shriners are going to meet, let's say, so you figure out a story to write the day the convention starts. Maybe the latest on a child treated at the hospital for burn victims -- that sort of thing.
Well, this "precede" tells you what The Trib thinks about Autism One and the people like you and me who will be attending -- we're either quacks, or the desperate victims of quacks. The article lumps Lupron -- about which I know nothing, and have no opinion -- in with alternative approaches like diet, about which I do know something, and do have an opinion. Restrictive diets do work for many, many -- though not every -- child with autism. They are safe, they work best with the very youngest children, and it's almost a dereliction for a parent of an autistic child not to give it a try.
But you see what's up here when you read the quote from Alison Singer and the one from Simon Baron-Cohen, without placing either in their proper context. And then you get to this comment about Mayer Eisenstein: "Eisenstein, a family doctor who preaches a message of home birth, vitamins and vaccine safety, said he treated 'virtually no' autistic children in the past."
Dude! He has treated virtually no autistic children because there are virtually none among the unvaccinated children in his medical practice. And virtually none with asthma, either. This is what you call chutzpah -- turning the fact that a doctor has not treated many autistic children, for the simple reason that his practice is not creating them at a rate of 1 in 150 or more, against him!
This is the first in a two-part series, The Trib says, and the teaser for Part 2 suggests they are going to bear down on Mayer. This is the pattern -- anyone who gets too far out there on this issue gets destroyed. And any evidence that suggests a link between vaccines and autism -- like the lack of autism among Homefirst patients, or the Amish -- gets tainted through guilt-by-association or some other irrelevant factor and reduced to mush.
Mind you, if The Trib thinks Luprin is dangerous, by all means let them investigate it. The issue here is proportionality -- for instance, as far as I know, they've never enquired into the virtual absence of autism and asthma in Mayer's practice, or done any original investigation into the huge surge in autism cases. And it's also a question of context; those of us descending on Chicago this week are not all about Luprin or chelation or any one thing. We're about finding the truth and helping sick kids -- a lesson we learned from Bernie Rimland. We have allies, although you'd never know it from articles like this -- no Bernadine Healy mention, and I'll bet you breakfast in the overpriced restaurant in the Westin that she won't be in Part 2, either.
But meanwhile, back to my reasonably priced eggs and corned beef hash and breakfast with my high school English teacher. I can't wait to read her the part of our book about how the very first case of autism recovered -- according to his family, not to me -- after being treated with an unconventional drug not approved for autism, and how that fact managed to stay buried for 75 years while doctors blamed the parents, their genes and whatever else they could dream up, and hundreds of thousands more children acquired autism. Someone treated Case 1, and the child go better? Arrest that man!
See you this weekend -- and welcome to Illinois.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.