Vaccine Injury Isn't Just for Babies: The Desiree Jennings Flu Shot Story
New California Study on Children’s Blood Mercury Levels Leaves Unanswered Questions About Mercury’s Role in Autism.

Autism Chair Thomas Insel Refuses to Ride in an Elevator With an Autistic Child

Thank you to Ginger Taylor of Adventures in Autism  for sharing this post.
"I'm not riding up with them" - Dr. Thomas Insel

On April 17, 2007, Holly Bortfeld attended an autism hearing in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee run by Senator Tom Harkin. At that hearing Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, now current head of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, was there to testify.

Beforehand, Ms. Bortfeld, was waiting with her 11 year old son Max, who has autism, at an elevator on the way up to the hearing. When the doors opened they got on.  After they did, Thomas Insel and a female companion approached and entered the elevator just before the doors closed. Ms. Bortfeld reports that once they were on the elevator together...

"...Max stimmed. Insel looked at him, looked at me (yes, he had his little name tag on, so he knew that I knew he was) then he hit the open door button and ushered his coworker off. As the doors were closing, he said "I'm not riding up with them", looking at my son."

The head of the National Institutes of Mental Health refused to ride an elevator with a child with mental health issues.

...again for clarity and perspective on this episode...

The chair of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee will not share an elevator with a child with autism, on the way into an autism hearing.

This odious behavior is not one of a healer committed to the well being of the disadvantaged or disabled, it is the behavior of a bigot.

It is just one more example of the pattern of astonishing contempt that Insel shows towards the autism community, as he routinely leaves IACC meetings early, dismisses the input of the autism community, and chairs an autism committee with some completely inappropriate appointments, like...

  • Alison Singer, who was asked to resign from Autism Speaks because of her behavior on the IACC, but is still considered qualified by Insel to be on the committee, presumably because she now runs an "autism organization" out of her basement that she subsequently founded with vaccine maker Paul Offit (who admits he has never treated a child for autism), and despite the fact that she is widely disliked by both members of the neurodiversity community and the biomedical community.  (Or perhaps because Singer went to college with HHS head Kathleen Sebelius?)
  • Dr. Yvette Janvier, who is highly offended at the idea that people with autism could possibly have GI dysfunction despite the fact that now even the denialist CDC now tells docs to screen for GI disturbances in children with autism, and who, despite being neither a person with autism nor an autism parent, is holding a seat meant for members of the public
  • Dr. Storey Landis who resigned this weekend after passing notes during an IACC meeting disparaging another member who is an autism mom
  • And perhaps the strangest appointment of all to the committee, Insel's neighbor, a reportedly pleasant autism parent that does not represent any group, does not do any public advocacy, does not seem comfortable with discussing autism science and doesn't seem to have any qualifications for being on the IACC. What are the odds that one of the most well qualified autism parents to sit on the most powerful government panel on autism just happens to live in the neighborhood of the chair of the IACC?

Add to that the fact that after the IACC voted to add vaccine/autism research to the government's strategic plan for autism, Insel pulled classic, corrupt smoke filled back room shenanigans, schemed to get people to change their votes, and then surprised public members of the committee with a revote, not on the agenda, but known to Alison Singer who had parted with Autism Speaks the night before because they didn't approve of her upcoming vote change, to ditch the vaccine research.

Insel also canceled research on chelation as a treatment for autism with the justification that DMSA chelation was to dangerous to even study, despite the fact that it has been the standard treatment for metal toxicity since the Navy developed it in the late 1950's, and is the treatment of choice for lead poisoning in children.

And why was Insel, the head of the National Institute of MENTAL Health present to testify with CDC chief Thomas Frieden at the H1N1 hearing held by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee? Flu is not a mental health issue, is it?  [Update - My bad... it was Anthony Fauci at the hearing... not Thomas Insel.]

Could it be that vaccines are the Insel family business and Insel's participating in this whole IACC political theater is merely to protect the vaccine program? It is surely is not because he has a heart for those with autism, as he won't dane to be in their presence and it cannot be because he is fascinated with autism itself, as he can't be bothered to sit through the meetings themselves.

Insel cares so little for people with autism that he actually ended a meeting early, preventing the testimony to the IACC of a child with autism who had flown in from California to address the committee. The child actually had to give his speech to an empty room.

Thomas Insel is an embarrassment to NIMH and the IACC is an complete farce under his leadership. I join with Dan Olmsted and call for his resignation from his leadership positions of both organizations, and for him to take his bogus committee appointees with him.

Please contact President Obama and demand the dismissal of Thomas Insel from NIMH and IACC, and put an end to the fraud, corruption and CYA in autism causation. 

Demand that someone who loves and values those with disabilities, who will legitimately pursue autism treatment and causation, WHO HAS A TRACK RECORD OF BOTH, be put in his place, not another elitist bureaucrat. End the charade of the IACC, its obstruction of advancement in autism research and its complicity in the growing autism epidemic.



For Jessica,
I'm sorry I should have been more clear. I was thinking of coffins but didn't specify.

Teresa Conrick


I think you have visited us before - always with some kind of "earth-shattering" revelation.

This little detour of personally dragging parent advocates through manure is a stupid and meandering tactic. No matter how you try to slice this,our government has been failing at stopping this autism epidemic with people like Insel in a positon of power. Why you would defend his character and actions reflects a dark side to this autism tragedy that we as parents will continue to fight.

Becky Grant-Widen

Mark, the excuse you make for him about him being 'weary of autism parents' is extremely weak. He had no problem attending and presenting at the National Autism Conference in Atlanta the following November. It was there, in front of hundreds of frustrated autism parents that he made a lovely comment about the possibility of a future vaccine for autism. What a slap in the face.

Being in the elevator with Holly and Max was just a little too close for comfort. It's easier to pretend the issue isn't there if you never have to see the results of your complacency.

Becky Grant-Widen

I think it most likley has to do with the fact that Insel would have more issues with eye contact in that elevator than dear Max.

Unless you have autism, it's tough to look people in the eye when your intentions are not honorable.


If this is what Insel said and did, it's clearly repulsive -- although to me it seems oddly clueless behavior for someone who is so used to being in the public eye, and is wearing a name tag besides. (I'll also admit that if it had happened to me and my autistic child, i don't think i could have managed the kind of self-control Holly Bortfeld apparently exhibited in not publicizing the story for two and a half years.)

I do have to wonder, though, where the outrage was when Heidi Roger of SafeMinds (or someone using her name?) wrote online about a year ago that "death may be better than autism in some cases." (You can see the statement yourself in the comment string right here:

To be honest, i find that notion more offensive than the tale of the autism-phobic doc. But since i don't believe i've seen those comments discussed on this site (though i could have missed them), maybe they don't really bother anyone else.

Amanda Blinn

I wish Kim would blog about this on Huff Po!


Sent to President Obama and congressional representatives:

"Thomas Insel's leadership of the IACC is a complete failure - to a great degree, he has aliented the very people he is supposed to serve.

I join with others to call for his resignation from his leadership position in the IACC.

Please replace him with someone like Dr. Bernadine Healy, who can approach the job with an open mind and the support of the autism community."


I had the measles, the actual disease and the booster. (Mom was a NYS public health nurse)
A few years ago I signed up for volunteer work at a Children's hospital and showed no immunity to measles and was asked to re-vaccinate.
So...I a guess I am a vaccinated risk to humanity.
Because I was pregnant I declined on that shot-which was a good thing. You see that baby got 277X over the EPA's allowable amount of Mercury in his infant vaccines and immediately plunged into Autism after being otherwise healthy.
It cost us our life savings to reverse the Mercury damage.
Vaccines and immunity to disease are not 100% and are as different as each individual's genetics.
Laying blame on the unvaccinated is an inane argument. If your vaccine worked so well why should you worry????
So tire of the fear mongering rhetoric.


Thank you Ms. Taylor. I eagerly sent off my e-mail to the President at your urging. I'm sick to death of what I'm reading about Insel. Your research and commentary made it easy for me to pass on my support of your sentiment to Capitol Hill. Blessings to you...Julie


Mark-- slave owners were terrified of their slaves. Poor dears. If you're a doctor, I'm never getting sick again.


oh!, did I just spit "Autism" on you through my eye balls?
or was that the herpes cooties?
you won't be able to "practice" a hand shake after this.
that drug money is flesh eating.
resign dude!


Insel's bad behavior is comparable to an NAACP head refusing to ride the elevator with a person of color. How perversely despicable.


Ditch this act and ask for a refund.
Write Obama to get some real parents in act two.
We need some balls that wear responsibility like a glove.
Anything less is just greasing IACC monkey arse.

And If Insel is reading this:
Fear of non-conformity IS insubordination in this game.


michael framson

It would be great and some fun to get Insel in elevator, filled to capacity with autism, either children or their parents, push the emergency stop button and do a You Tube video.

It could be a real stimulating, if not enlightening experience.


"This reminds me of why the last administration prevented media outlets from showing pictures of our military killed in conflict..."

Gosh, we are getting off topic here, but this is really not the same thing. I come from a family heavily involved with the military, myself and my husband both serving active duty out of high school, and you might be surprised how many military members *support* the war(s) and believe we should be there. The ban on photographng dead American soldiers is partly in respect to the families who do not wish their sons and daughters dead bodies to be used as propaganda by the enemy. The *families* don't want photos distributed.

And incidentally, the current administration has only lifted the ban on showing coffins - and only then with the families consent. They still ban publishing pictures of dead/dying soldiers.

As for Insel, I can agree. He's like Paul Proffit for me. Has he ever even MET an autistic child? Nah.

Julia C.

"Well guess what i am doctor. I think it was stupid of u not to get ur child vaccinated, you chose to put other children whom have yet to be vaccinated at risk. Right now u are playing a dangerous game of russian roulette, the chance of ur child being infected by a disease is slim but their is still a chance."

Doctor? I don't think so. It looks my like a teenager's text message. Go back to playing your Wii, Mark. It would be more productive.


Hey, I didn't know Thomas Insel's mom's name was Mark! Whatdaknow!


I think Mike inadvertently has provided the means to help us get rid of Insel... We all just bring our kids to whatever building they're having the IACC meetings at and make him run the gauntlet before getting in the building. :)


Too bad the elevator didn't malfunction - not that I was wishing the stress on the ASD child (elevators are scary enough) or parent - but after a few minutes or perhaps hours, our plight as parents of kids with Autism would have been more apparent to him ...

Teresa Conrick

I agree, Andrea. Mark does not seem to represent an education via 4 years of college, 3+ years of medical school, residency and countless hours of people skills.

I think he may just be an ignorant, swarmy, anonymous, provaccine zealot who does not care about individual rights or health.

" Right now u are playing a dangerous game of russian roulette, the chance of ur child being infected by a disease is slim but their is still a chance."

Thanks Mark for showing the world how your message and the messenger are really ridiculous and not a concern.



I'm almost positive you are not a doctor. But if you are, I'm sure your colleagues would appreciate how well you are representing your profession here. Nice way to talk to parents. Real professional and in control. I think you should regroup and collect yourself "doctor".

Ginger Taylor

"Well guess what i am doctor. I think it was stupid of u not to get ur child vaccinated"

Some questions I hope you will take a moment to seriously consider, as I don't think you are thinking about the consequences of your actions here.

Mark... why are are you giving medical advice about a child that you have not examined... of whom you have taken no medical history?

Vaccines are pharmaceuticals and as such have risks. There is no such thing as a pharmaceutical that doesn't injure someone. So how do you know that this child is not one of those someones?

You don't.

Is not not malpractice to make medical recommendations like you are doing now?

Is not unethical of you to call a parent stupid for the medical decisions they are making for their children?

Do you do the same to parents in your practice?

And why.... why in the world... when it is so clear how much contempt you have for parents like us... why should we care what you think?

Where is the logic in what you are doing now? Will your behavior make parents go...

"You know what... Mark is clearly giving sage advice and come to think of it... I am stupid. I need to stop using my own reasoning skills and just do what this cruel anonymous internet doctor is telling me to. Than you Dr. Mark for caring for our family so deeply".

There is no good faith in your remarks.

Are you doing this because you care about our community, or because it makes you feel good to demean us?

Why would I take medical advice for my beloved children from someone who behaves as immaturely as you are behaving now?

Sue M.

Dear "Mark",

Your grammar is atrocious. Take some care with your posts in order to gain a bit of respect back. I can only hope that your 'doctoring skills' don't resemble the laziness of your posts here. I imagine that they are similar, however. This makes me very sad. It is 'doctors' like you who are hurting children - not those of us who have vaccinated our children and who have seen the results of such toxic assaults to their developing immune systems. Please stop ignoring the obvious.


Well guess what i am doctor. I think it was stupid of u not to get ur child vaccinated, you chose to put other children whom have yet to be vaccinated at risk. Right now u are playing a dangerous game of russian roulette, the chance of ur child being infected by a disease is slim but their is still a chance.

Managing Editor

Note, the editorial staff of Age of Autism does not condone the throwing of shoes at, or peeing on the shoes of, anyone at anytime for any reason.

If you have an erection lasting longer than... oh, nevermind, wrong disclaimer.


Regardless of all of the factors that contributed to him being unable to be in the same space as the people he is by the definition of his job supposed to be helping, if he can't even hold it together for an elevator ride, he is clearly in the wrong job.
This reminds me of why the last administration prevented media outlets from showing pictures of our military killed in conflict. The last thing this guy wants to experience is the reality of the consequences of his apathy and calculated interference with potentially helpful research.
BTW, with all of the adults with autism out there, shouldn't he be used to these elevator rides?



I'm going to assume (make an ass of u and of me) that you're a doctor of some kind.

"After being the target of angry parents like you..."

After being the target of medical professionals like you who have lied to me, attempted to intimidate and coerce me, presented me with a vaccine waiver to sign that wasn't even legible, contacted social services (who totally laughed them off BTW) to try to get child services to investigate my family simply because we utilized our state's legal vaccine exemptions, then having born the brunt of a pent-up emotional little hissy fit when I continued to say NO to injecting my four month-old with a ridiculous, insane immunization cocktail all at once, I'm also "weary" of clearly unstable and aggressive people like you. Very, very weary.

You can also substitute "weary of" with "disgusted with" and "sickened by" if you like.

I hate that it's come to this, but due to past experience, as well as the never-ending comedy of errors my family and I were exposed to in the medical world growing up, when I meet a medical professional they have to prove to me they aren't some egotistical thug or greedy idiot in a white lab coat. There's a reason my wife and I double-team on all of our son's medical visits. We used to carry an audio recorder too -- if we had the money we'd hire a pocket lawyer as well-- but thankfully we dumped the local pediatric practice and go to someone we feel we can slightly, remotely trust. And he's an NP... much more compassionate, patient, and intelligent than almost any other MD I've worked with.

The fact that you're an apologist for Insel's behavior is abhorrent and speaks leaps and bounds of your character and your professionalism.


"What if it was you guys that he was afraid of and not the child."

Then I would imagine he would have said "I'm not getting in an elevator with HER".

Is it okay, Mark, for other parents who disagree with you to involve your children?


Thank you, Ginger. I was at a loss for words when I first heard about this, but I'm recovering them quickly.

Insel is a repulsive purveyor of "eugenetic" theory, so it doesn't surprise me that he views our children as filth and parents as tainted by "genetic" association. Insel's entire raison d'etre is to aid industry in rationalizing psychoactive drug treatments and sales regardless of risk, regardless of cause of cognitive issues and regardless of the existance of safer treatments. The revolving employment door between industry and the NIMH is old news.

I thought it was horrifyingly ironic that Insel attempted to downplay autism's rise in the Congressional hearing by pointing out that "bipolar disorder" rates have also skyrocketed because the NIMH is greatly responsible for the rise in both, both because of its vaccine cover-ups and its unbridled promotion of psych drugs. Because my vaccine-injured but never-drugged daughter displayed the "rapid mood cycling" associated with the brand new distinction of "pediatric bipolar disorder" before she began recovering, I know perfectly well that vaccines alone can induce "pediatric BP". But I've seen more than a dozen cognitively normal adults spiral out of control after taking antidepressants and end up with a BP label and there's been a huge amount of documentation on prescription drug-induced mania.

Bipolar disorder has dual cause-- and Insel is violently defending both causes. His guilt is bottomless and this again makes it no surprise that he wouldn't get into a closed space with his own victims. How many Nazi doctors at Nuremberg would knowingly get into an elevator with a death camp survivors? Normally that kind of statement would be a hyperbolization; in this case, I'm not sure it is and that scares me more than anything.

Insel has served his industry masters well. 1 in 10 Americans are currently taking antidepressants-- double the number from 1994. With the new neuroleptics, outcomes for schizophrenics have never been worse at the same time that "new and improved" drug treatments have never been more relentless. 1 in 91 children are now diagnosed with autism and a large percentage of these children are put on one or more psychiatric drugs by shrinks, family doctors and developmental pediatricians who take their guidance from Insel, the country's top psychiatrist. Sales of the drug class typically peddled to children with autism-- atypical antipsychotics-- have gone from $0 to $16 billion a year since 1990 with the greatest leap occurring after Insel's appointment. This is of course both from the extreme rise in cases of autism as well as a testament to Insel's promotional skills.

The health outcomes for vaccine injured children chronically exposed to atypicals is a horror in itself.

Insel is a menace to human health and quite possibly the most dangerous individual in government at the moment.


Insell is just their "useful idiot" of the moment. When the powers that be are done using him to do their dirty work, he'll be thrown away just like the rest of us. Insell doesn't make me angry, he's being used and he's probably doesn't see it yet. Insell if low level management. This problem goes way higher than Insell. Don't waste your time and energy hating this guy, it's his job.

Jake Crosby

A summary of some of those who make life difficult for autistics:

"We're not riding with them." - Insel

"They are incapable of thinking of anyone or anything outside of themselves."
- Reed.

"What do you mean they scream and they're silent?!" - Savage

"He's just stupid. Or lazy. Or both." - Leary

Different people, same attitude towards those of us who suffer from ASDs.


I would have taken off my shoe and thrown it at him--disgusting behavior!
Even if he was avoiding hadn't even said anything! He could have at least kept his thoughts to himself..."them"??? Are you kidding me?
What year is this?


Its very scary to how everyone is so quick to jump at the mans throat. Yes i understand that you are all very angry but you all fail to realize that he is a human to and we all make mistakes. What he did was wrong yes but you must look at it from his point of view. After being the target of angry parents like you i would be very weary of the parents who have children suffering from Autism.


What a despicable man! I have already sent my request for his resignation to the White House. It may or may not do any good, but it sure FELT good!

He is not fit to be in the company of a beautiful and innocent child, so that part he got right.


What if it was you guys that he was afraid of and not the child.


"Not only are we not going to ride the elevator with Autistic Children in New Hampshire, Tom Harkin, we're not going to ride with them in South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we're going to California and Texas and New York … And we're going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we're going to Washington, D.C., to take back the elevator in the White House! BYAW!!!"

"By Thomas Insel"

Cindy Keenan

I agree, Twyla. When I read this, my first thought was "COWARD!"

I've given up expecting anything from our government. This behavior is par for the course. Until our community finds a way to get all the evidence of vaccine injury into an independent courtroom with a jury of ordinary citizens, I doubt we'll make any substantial gains. It's so disheartening, but the powers-that-be will never support policies that could lead to self-incrimination. They couldn't care less that children and families are suffering. Money, power, avoidance of guilt -- those are their sole concerns.


This is also the behavior of a chicken. He can control a meeting because he has certain authority granted to him, but he knows he could not control a conversation with an autism mom. Heck, he might accidentally say something to reveal his true thoughts and feelings and have to resign! If he had confidence in expressing his views he wouldn't be afraid to ride on an elevator with Holly. But it's harder to play a game when you are face to face with a mom.


I hope this story is sent to every government agency that can be thought of.
The best way to get rid of people is to put them under a microscope. This is good! Not good that this is who he is, but good that it is being brought to everyone's attention that THIS IS WHO HE IS!


If I ever see Dr. Insel in a bathroom I will be sure to tell him what a wonderful man he is and what a great job he is doing with the IACC.

I just hope I don't pee on his shoe...


I swear, I, as a bystander would have given it to him for doing that to you and your child. He is garbage.


Well, I'd stone cold refuse to ride an elevator with a snide, arrogant "doctor" such as him any day of the week. The contempt his type and their ilk share for folks like us is absolutely mutual, at least for me. I'm surprised he isn't crashing elevators left and right, with that 3-ton ego baboon humping his back and all.

Anyway, I'm so sorry you and your son had to experience that, Holly.

And for this esteemed "group" to bolt out of a meeting and leave that poor kid stranded. Now that's just straight up class any way you look at it.


Charlie - I think you hit on the head. I don't think it is our children that they are scared of and want to avoid... it's us.

The refrigerator, munchausen or even the "psychogenic" among us... they hate us... the parents and/or former NT adults.

Oh... and "psychogenic" is my new word for the day. Thank you editors for bringing Dr. Vincour to our attention (see Vaccine Injury Isn't Just for Babies: The Desiree Jennings Flu Shot Story post).


I echo Harold's post.

This story screams put me up on a billboard right outside the building where Insel works. Maybe that will get him shown the door.

Kathy Blanco

I guess our kids have leprosy, or the new modern leprosy, or maybe they remind people how damn cruel this world really is? But, a person who is suppose to have a smidgen of respect, and be on committees that gives and or decides for our children and their fates? What the hell?

We all have had those moments, those looks and stares...almost disgust that we dare to take our children to holy sanctuaries such as churches, libraries, political action moments, a movie, you name it. And the worse part about it, is your judged by their behavior. It surely teaches a mom about center core belief and self esteem doesn't it?

This isn't about "but that's how the world is"'s about how the masses are now suddenly bothered by the sheer numbers of children they are seeing. They must think to themsleves that something is going horribly wrong? But, as we all know, that won't happen until it happens to them on a very personal level. For now, we just ruffle peoples feathers...and I hope we do...for a long time, until it irritates them just enough to ask the why's of this?

One time, I had to verbally slap a preteenager at a checking grocery machine. She was staring so silly at my kids, it was obvious she was disgusted. I approached the mother and asked her is something was wrong with her daughter? Offended she replied, no, but your kids have something wrong with them don't they? I let her have it. Basically my favorite line kids have a reason for their behavior, what's your daughters reason? I walked away with a cheser cat smile...and she looked like the wind was taken out of her. Perhaps we need to be that bold these days? I won't offer to such people my pearls of wisdom or the why's, I like to keep them firmly guessing why they behave in such manners...I hope she didn't get sleep that night....


What a collossal jerk. I'm speechless.


Feel free to email or call Dr. Insel is his contact information.

Harold L Doherty

A very eye opening article.

I am a Canadian with no right to make any demands but the IACC impacts autism everywhere in the world and it seems very clear to me that Insel and his pals should be shown the door.


He probably still believes in the refrigerator Mom theory.
Oh but he said "I'm not riding up with them." Maybe he is afraid he is going to catch Autism.

Diane Farr

This is no surprise to me. I'm sure Insel's interview to head the IACC went something like this.

The Obama administration:
"What do you know about autism, Tom?"

Mr. Insel:
"It's not caused by vaccines, my brother told me so. I read Dennis Leary's book and he said it was caused by parents that do not know how to discipline their children."

The Obama administration: "Tom, you are perfect for the job."


Oh, God. They really hate our children, don't they.


Knowing a little about how hard Holly has fought for her son and all our kids, I imagine Mr. Insel has no idea how close he probably came to experiencing a true kanipshin fit from a Warrior Mom. Next time Holly, please let him have it for all of us.

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