By Katie Wright
It felt strange googling my doppelganger. My real name is Catherine Wright. However, my doorman knows to accept any deliveries for Katie Wright, Cathy White or Catherine Rice. I answer to all of them. In a city with hundreds of different languages, I’m not going to split hairs with my pizza delivery guy.
Like many of you I listened to Dr. Catherine Rice’s ridiculous Centers for Disease Control (CDC) press conference on the FRIDAY AFTERNOON BEFORE CHRISTMAS about the dramatic rise from 1 in 150 to 1 in 100 American children affected by autism. This devastating information was read like a product warranty- laboriously and without interest.
And what is with the timing of CDC/ autism press conferences? Always a Friday afternoon…hmmm…I wonder why? And the length of the question period is absurdly brief. About 4 members of the public are allowed ask questions during the Q &A. While Dr. Rice spends an inordinate amount of time talking, the question asker has no time to respond and then whoosh- time’s up and she HAS to go.
Just what else is so important that the CDC staffers cannot spare another hour to answer questions about this catastrophic rise in autism? What else has Dr. Rice got to do that is just SO much more important than answering the public’s questions? Why not take 10 calls rather than 4? Hundreds of autism agencies, parents, doctors and lawyers were left on hold, none able to ask their question. Only 30 minutes for public questions about the most pervasive and disabling development disorder affecting children? Want to bet that a SARS press conference would be 2 hours long?
The CDC loves to talk about diseases no one actually has.
As I listened to Dr. Rice’s speech, I was wondering why everyday is Groundhog’s Day with autism and the CDC. Only the numbers seem to change.
2006: Autism affects 1 in 166 in children. Rice says, “it is hard to say how much is a true increase and how much is improved identification.”
2007: Autism affects 1 in 150 children. Rice says, “it is hard to say how much is a true increase and how much is improved identification. We can’t make conclusions about trends.” Why not?
2008: Rice says, “ It is difficult to determine what is going on.” Maybe for you!
2009: Autism affects 1 in 100 children. Rice says, “ It is impossible to say how much is a true increase and how much is improved identification.”
Autism will be affecting 100% of American children before these geniuses at the CDC have any idea what they are talking about.
Can you imagine if you turned in this kind of performance, year in, year out, in the private sector? Every year performing worse than the year before, having no idea why and taking no responsibility for your incessant failure? Can you even imagine the gay community putting up with Dr. Rice’s nonsense during the AIDS epidemic? If only our families could leave the house! Thanks to the gay community’s intense advocacy, within 15 years there were many life saving treatments for HIV + people. 70 years into autism, the situation worse than ever and the CDC has NOTHING for our kids but “learn the signs.” Thanks, I did that and my kid is still autistic. What now Dr. Rice?
Yes, Rice did say, “A true increase cannot be ruled OUT.” More words of wisdom, ten years behind the curve. I also think it cannot be ruled out that Wednesday will follow Tuesday or that the Earth revolves around the Sun.
Dr. Rice spoke about how genetic and environmental factors (but never toxic adjuvant combinations or over-vaccination) are causing autism. Rice mentioned parental age and stress in pregnancy as possible mysterious environmental factors. Who else find this absurd and insulting? Classic and useless CDC “blame the parent” research based on small low powered studies. Autism researchers have a long and shameful history of placing blame on “refrigerator mothers” and now, I suppose, stressed out old parents? The CDC loves “environmental” research that has nothing to do with the environment. Everyone knows that the stress comes ATFER the diagnosis. Please, my life was a paradise before autism! This silly parental age thing is such a red herring. Almost every ASD parent I know was in their 20s or early 30s when their child was born. If one separates out ASD singletons from ASD multiples one would certainly see a difference. It is well established that smaller and premature babies are more vulnerable to ASD, probably because they cannot withstand such an aggressive immunization assault so early in life.
After my Dad, Bob Wright, asked Dr. Rice why vaccine research was off the table Dr. Rice touted the CDC’s involvement with IACC as proof that the CDC was indeed open to all possible avenues of research. Was she serious? Has Dr. Rice actually listened to an IACC meeting lately because I have! Is Dr. Rice aware that the NIH’s Dr. Tom Insel specifically removed ALL vaccine and adjuvant research in a crafty, secretive, surprise re-vote- after the measure had already passed at an earlier meeting? If Rice doesn’t know that she should. Then Rice claimed there were many autism community representatives on the IACC committee. What? Since when? Besides Lyn Redwood and Lee Grossman there are NO community representatives on IACC.
Meanwhile Tom Insel appointed his neighbor to the committee and allowed an embittered ex-AS employee to abscond with that agency’s seat. The National Autism Association, TACA and Generation Rescue are real autism organizations that represent thousands of parents, physicians and researchers who work everyday providing services, support, cash grants for families and research dollars for the autism community. Instead IACC is packed with over a dozen federal government appointees who are frequently absent from meetings (check the attendance records!), exhibit little knowledge of autism, scarce compassion for autism families yet can usually be counted upon to vote in lock step with Dr. Insel.
After listening to the CDC’s fear, paralysis and self- interest masquerading as science I did a little research on Dr. Rice.
There is a disturbing theme in Rice’s autism work to underplay the seriousness of the catastrophic increase of autism. In October of 2008 Rice said, “ It is important to remember that the risk of having a child with autism is relatively small.” What is that dumb comment about – hiding from reality or flat out denial? Rice said this in an article about why parents of newborns are (rightly!) scared about the incidence of autism. Great advice!
In February of 2009 Rice says at an autism conference that she “expects a leveling off in rates in the next 12 years.” Why? Based on what? ALL the actual evidence points to the contrary? Why this need to minimize the numbers? I am trying to follow Rice’s logic…Is she saying we should be content to wait 12 more yrs, until autism affects 1 in 5 kids, because possibly then the CDC will have a handle on this epidemic? Who knows? It makes no sense at all.
Then I came across some very interesting e-mails, courtesy of Generation Rescue and the Freedom of Information Act. Roy Grinker is the father of a high functioning child on the spectrum. His child, fortunately, is healthy and has suffered no regressions, no post vaccine febrile seizures, no chronic autoimmune problems and no incessant bowel pain as my son has. Grinker strongly believes that there is no real increase in autism because there are hidden hordes of autistic adults just waiting to be discovered.
Apparently this outlandish hypothesis is very appealing to the CDC. Rather than working day and night (as most parents do) to uncover the real causes of this catastrophe, CDC personnel Rice and Dr. Marshalyn Allsop take a great deal of time to chit chat with Grinker and meet with him personally to discuss “finding” those millions of missing adults with autism. Does finding the “hidden” ASD adults = no ASD epidemic to the CDC? They certainly behave as if that is their hope. Allsop tells Grinker that finding adults with autism is * very * (Allsop’s emphasis not mine) important to the CDC and how very disappointed she was that the CDC did not get one decent grant application to find these hidden ASD hordes! THAT is her priority? Incredible. Allsop goes on to helpfully give Grinker many references, citations and encouragement. It reads like a dialogue between soul mates!
Dr. Rice met with Grinker at IMFAR. Grinker shared his creepy book about autism numbers being flat from the beginning of time. Does anyone actually admit to believing this nonsense? It seems like Dr. Rice of the CDC is a fan of Grinker’s hypothesis. He thanks Rice “for her kind words about his book.” Does anyone else feel ill? Have I mentioned that Grinker is a hard-core opponent of vaccine research? Interesting, right? Dr. Catherine Rice’s interest is really piqued by Grinker’s “hidden hordes” logic and e-mails Grinker asking if “you have gotten much of a strong reaction for not fully embracing the epidemic as a phenomenon of increased risk?” Sure sounds like Rice hopes the answer is no. At NO time in these lengthy conversations do Allsop and Rice express any concern about the children suffering now with autism and what to do to help them.
I wonder how many parents of vaccine-injured children have contacted Rice and Allsop and received such over the top research assistance and encouragement?
The only useful information Rice ever delivers is “learn the signs and act early” as if that is all we have to do and as if these services are actually easily accessible. Tell us something we don’t know. Give us information that is not 10 years out of date. Better yet, Dr. Rice, stop talking and start listening. Come to a DAN! or NAA conference, meet children like mine, see our kids’ test results, read about their medical history, watch the regression movies, attend an actual IACC meeting, forget about “parental stress” causing autism and read the papers from the Environmental Working Group about autism and environmental toxins. In other words, Dr. Rice stop hiding from the public, break out of the useless CDC autism groupthink, support real environmental research and independent vaccine research, quit the love fest with anti-epidemic cranks, make finding the autism’s causes a real priority, basically start doing your job.
Katie Wright is Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.