Kevin Leitch’s Jab in the Dark
He is the founder of the Autism Hub, a collective of neurodiversity blogs, which brags that they are, “the very best in autism blogging.” He is also owner of Leftbrain/Rightbrain, the most highly-trafficked of the blogs. A web designer by trade, manic-depressive self-advocate, and an autism parent, Kevin Leitch, “Kev” for short, is one of the internet stars of neurodiversity, and a dedicated one at that, despite formerly expressing belief that vaccines cause autism.
A British native, his website has a UK domain name, but an estimated 70% of visitors to his site are from the US. Though he has since sold off his ownership of the Autism Hub to Dave and Kathleen Seidel, they do not hesitate to give credit where credit is due, saying “Sincerest appreciation to Kev Leitch for original creation of The Autism-Hub.” Since neurodiversity mainly operates online, it is not far-fetched to say that he is the most important figure in the movement, given that he essentially created the neurodiverse blogosphere. His blog leftbrain/rightbrain, which he still owns, vigorously challenges Age of Autism and associated “cure groups” on a regular basis, with headlines such as “Is Generation Rescue trying to get Airborne to fund junk science?,” and “Age of Autism abandons Pretense,” the latter written by Kev himself. He even called us “less evolved creatures.”
Kev also critiqued my very first contribution to Age of Autism, “Living with Aspergers,” concluding “Mr Crosby seems to be missing the point of self-advocacy. To some autistic self-advocates, their autism is beneficial. To Mr Crosby, it seems it is not. It is largely a matter of perception and choice in my opinion. I have no idea who (if anyone) speaks for the majority of people with Asperger’s and I’m not sure it really matters that much.”
Eight months later, however, it appears he does have an idea of who speaks for those on the spectrum. The day Newsweek Magazine published an article for Ari Ne’eman, Kev wrote, “Well done Ari, I’m proud to think that you are representing all manner of people on the spectrum, from the very high functioning Jake Crosby to the very low functioning such as my daughter.” However, as previously stated, Kevin Leitch’s blog was not always about neurodiversity activism, and he even openly expressed his belief that vaccines can cause autism. Over six years ago in the very first entry, he wrote, “The purpose of this blog is to document my daughter [X] progress. She has recently been diagnosed as Autistic at age 3.” He continued, “[X] was born on 17-02-00 weighing slightly more than usual. The first few months of her life were totally normal- we didn’t feel concerned about her health or well-being at all…” But then, “That changed however when she had her DTP jab.”
I don’t think that this requires further explaining, since most visitors to Age of Autism are all-too familiar with this kind of story. To anyone involved in vaccine-related controversies for a long time, the DTP shot (what the Brits call a “jab”) has a long and controversial history, not just for causing autism but a wide range of disorders such as epilepsy and learning disabilities. It was the subject of a 1991-published book by medical historian Harris Coulter and NVIC founder and AoA contributor Barbara Loe Fisher, entitled “DTP: A Shot in the Dark.” The book even touches on the connection between the shot and autism spectrum disorders. Lawsuits of the 80s for damages caused by the shot led to the National Vaccine Injuries Act of 1986, which prevented manufacturers from going out of business by shielding them from lawsuits. It also created the top-secret Vaccine Safety Datalink. As early as 1967, for that matter, the Autism Research Institute asked parents if their children had adverse reactions to the shot. So the news of the DTP shot being associated with adverse events including autism is certainly nothing new.
Before launching his character assassination crusade against Dr. Andrew Wakefield at the behest of his editor whose father sat on a sub-committee approving the MMR vaccine in Britain, journalist Brian Deer defended the DTP shot. In a 1998 article published in The Sunday Times, “The Vanishing Victims,” he alleges that children damaged by the shot and compensated for personal injury were not actually damaged by the vaccine and that the judges had been tricked by a conspiracy of parents, lawyers, and doctors. In other words, Brian Deer concocted what is practically the same story about the DTP shot as the one he is currently fabricating about the MMR vaccine.
More recently, a 2006 study led by Neurology Professor Samuel Berkovic, who previously won a research award from DTP manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline, claimed to have found a genetic base for one of the conditions associated with the vaccine, which was published in the The Lancet Neurology. The disease in question was Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy (SMEI), and the associated genetic defect was mutations in the SCN1A gene. Defenders of the vaccine argued this vindicated the drug. However, Berkovic et al. admitted, “In the presence of SCN1A mutations, vaccination can still be argued to be a trigger for the encephalopathy, perhaps via fever or an immune mechanism.” In fact, the study offered more evidence of a genetic predisposition. A paper referring to Berkovic et al. by Erick Sell and Berge A Minassian of the pediatric neurology division of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, published only one month later in The Lancet Neurology, concluded “Is the SCN1A mutation a predisposing factor waiting to be triggered by fever or other stress? Probably so. In fact, as early as 2000, Nieto-Barrera and colleagues12 noted that more than 50% of patients with SMEI had their first seizure after DPT vaccination.” Worth noting is that likewise, any genetic association found in autism, if one is ever found, cannot be proof that the disorder is purely genetic rather than a predisposition to environmental insults, much less a pseudo-association found in 65% of cases and 61% of controls.
But back to Kevin Leitch’s jab in the dark. The DTP is every bit as relevant to the current controversy surrounding autism as it was to SMEI. After all, the vaccine in Britain contained 25 micrograms of mercury at least until the end of 2004, well after the incident described by Kev in his first entry to Leftbrain/Rightbrain. Mercury-containing versions are still being exported all over the third world. So why Kevin Leitch’s about face? Well, he describes it on his own site, under the “canards” category, regarding the vaccine-autism connection, “I was forced to abandon that belief when I read the science involved. That’s when I became aware of the importance of thinking critically.”
His last post about mercury in vaccines and autism in 2004 was made on August 11. The UK government just scrapped the routinely recommended DTP vaccine containing thimerosal around the same time Dr. Mady Hornig’s study came out showing autistic behaviors developed in mice injected with thimerosal. In this post, Kevin Leitch states his position rather clearly, “We believe that the 3 in 1 jab [X] had triggered her autism and we also believe that there was mercury used as a suspension fluid in her DTP jab.”
He stopped blogging about mercury causing autism for a while after that. Then, on March 11, 2005, he writes about it again, only from a completely different perspective. He opens by saying, “Another day and another ‘cure’ group springs up. This one is called Generation Rescue and centres its efforts around the removal of Mercury.” He seems to have since believed that autism should not be cured. He goes on, “They claim that its the Mercury in our everyday lives that has caused autism and that its removal from the body will cure autism,” but then tells us he knows better, “However, they are wrong. If they were right then there would be no genetic evidence that autism exists.”
Given that the latest and best “evidence” for autism genes trumped up as one of the great discoveries of the year by TIME Magazine showed a never-before replicated mutation in 65% of cases and 61% of controls, it appears that statement of his is evidence-free. Also ridiculous about his comment was that, as previously described about SMEI, even if a genetic association were found, it would more likely suggest a genetic predisposition for the disorder, not a purely causal link. He descends further into his logical fallacy, “Some autistic people have comorbid conditions such as ADHD, Tourettes etc. If an autistic person is proven to be suffering from Mercury poisoning and subsequently treated, they have been successfully treated and cured of their poisoning – not their autism.”
What on earth caused the change from, “we believe that the 3 in 1 jab [X] had triggered her autism,” to this? Did “the science” really force him to abandon the former? Did he really start thinking critically? Certainly there was no science to back up those assertions of his about mercury poisoning having nothing to do with the etiology of autism. Such thinking is far from critical. Questions addressed to Kevin Leitch about what caused his change of opinion were sent to Leftbrain/Rightbrain. To date, there has been no response.
And yet, he seemed to have reported success from treatment based on the very same premise that Generation Rescue uses to advocate chelation, the detoxification of heavy metals, namely mercury. In a May 10, 2004 entry entitled “Homeopathy,” he writes, “the Homeopathic regime [X] is on has cleared her body of a lot of the toxins introduced by the immunisations she had and -best of all - has helped her settle back down into a much more stable sleeping pattern.” Even more incredible is that this can be viewed on Generation Rescue’s website, after Kevin Leitch sent in a personal testimonial, saying grimly, “Our daughter [X] was diagnosed with low functioning autism at age three. We blamed the DTP vaccine which she had a bad reaction to. She would have very long lasting meltdowns, she would smear faeces, she would exhibit self injurious behaviour, she did not talk at all, she avoided eye contact and her only activity was that involving toys that spun. She walked on her tip toes and the doctor said she had a low IQ (below 70). We were told by mainstream medicine that she was 'unreachable'.”
But then, his story quickly changes, “Today [X] is six and after following biomedical interventions (and some other things) [X] will talk - on Christmas morning this year I went to wake her up and she said 'good morning' to me. She no longer smears feces and is 99% toilet trained, she can write notes to people and knows all the letters of the alphabet and can count up to 40 unprompted. She can use a computer mouse unaided and has numerous favourite websites. The self injurious behaviour is vastly lessened, as are the meltdowns. Her eye contact is now perfect and overall her sensory issues seem 99% under control. She can drink out of a normal cup and use a knife, fork and spoon to eat whilst sitting at the table. In so many ways, this is a different child.” (HERE)
Kevin Leitch later revealed that his submission to Generation Rescue was originally under a false name “Clarence House,” after a royal home in London. However, he appears to stand by his belief that these therapies have worked. On his blog, he writes, “All of it is true except the name. The biomedical treatments I was talking about were multi vitamins, fish oil and a steroid inhaler for her asthma. The ‘other things’ were love, acceptance, patience and education.”
But what about the homeopathy that supposedly removed all those toxins, presumably mercury? Under the Homeopathy entry of Kevin Leitch’s blog, a commenter named Sandy asked that very same question on September 21, 2005, “I was wondering…a year and a half later are you still feeling the same way about homeopathy as you do above?” Kev replied, “They’re a true reflection of my thoughts at that time – I made a recent post on this very subject not too long ago.” Unfortunately, the “recent post” he linked to at the time is no longer accessible. To date, Leftbrain/Rightbrain has not responded to questioning about the contents of the unavailable post. He continues, “I feel mostly like these were things we did for us rather than for [X] and that realising that fact was one of the biggest impetus’ for change we had as a family.” Interestingly, he did not deny that the therapies worked or were effective, merely indicating that his philosophy about using them changed. Given his grim “before” story, “She would have very long lasting meltdowns, she would smear faeces, she would exhibit self injurious behaviour, she did not talk at all” etc., it very much seems like the treatments he did were “for [X].”
Kevin Leitch’s new viewpoint is more like a change in philosophy than “reading the science involved.” His attack on Generation Rescue is apparently part of a greater discontent with curing autism, in spite of his hypocritical testimony of success from the kind of treatment the charity advocates. Earlier in the month of March 2005, he also gave his opinion of Cure Autism Now. “This, to me,” he said, “verges on eugenics.” The month prior was when he made perhaps his first post ever against someone wishing to cure autism, Lenny Schafer, whose comments to multiple news and media outlets have overwhelmingly been that neurodiversity should simply be ignored.
But what is perplexing about Kevin Leitch is the way in which he made his about-face. What could possibly have made him transform his blog from that of an ordinary autism parent to radical ND? The change, apparently, was expressed in a very long post on January 11, 2005, perhaps the longest Kev had ever written since the founding of his blog, about an article that ran in the Daily Telegraph two days before. The headline of his entry says it all, “Cure for Autism?” The article to which he refers gave publicity to proponents of neurodiversity during the pre-ASAN/Ari Ne’eman days of people who informally referred to themselves as the “Autism Liberation Front,” and their websites, such as autistics.org and neurodiversity.com.
In this entry, Kevin Leitch shows a new perspective, stating that: “Autism is such a fundamental part of autistic people that any other choice is tantamount to eugenics after the fact.” This was presumably the “science” that caused him to change his views - his exposure to the neurodiversity movement. The quote that particularly enticed him was the Autism Liberation Front’s motto, “I am not a puzzle, I am a person…..Here we’re silenced. Parents don’t speak for me.” Ironically, neurodiversity.com is run by a parent, Kathleen Seidel, not a person with autism. The co-webmaster of autistics.org, Amanda Baggs, is equally dubious, presenting herself as having low-functioning autism when her own former classmates have contended that she was perfectly normal in school. The homepage of autistics.org displays a computer-generated picture of dead people - in a trashcan. On the side of the trash reads “C.A.N.,” the acronym of Cure Autism Now.
So why was Kevin Leitch so easily taken in by Neurodiversity? What pre-condition made Leftbrain/Rightbrain shift so quickly from being just another blog about a parent’s struggle with autism to one that takes a hard-line pro-autism stance?
Let’s go back to the very first entry on his blog again, where he said, “The first few months of her life were totally normal- we didn’t feel concerned about her health or well-being at all. That changed however when she had her DTP jab.” The following paragraph, he continues (boldface mine), “I know there’s been a lot about the jabs (particularly the combined MMR jab) in the news but we (or rather I, [Mother] was a lot more dubious than me but I managed to convince her) decided to go ahead with it and on the night of her first lot of jabs [X]began projectile vomiting and developed a temperature that peaked at 102 degrees.” Apparently, Kevin Leitch was behind this fateful decision. The unfortunate story continued, saying “We phoned for an Ambulance and took her to A and E where they brought her temperature down, then told us they couldn’t find much wrong with her. We were relieved but by the end of that week we knew something was wrong with [X].” Telling us what that something was, he says that eventually, “we were formally told that [X] was Autistic.”
Let me send out a message to AoA’s dear old friend, Kev, in case he is reading. If you cannot bear an autism-vaccine connection out of guilt caused by a decision you made nine years ago, just imagine what you will be feeling in the future for all those parents who were convinced after reading your blog that vaccines like those preserved in mercury were safe, and your mistake was repeated.
Addendum: Kevin Leitch claims my mentions of trying to contact Leftbrain/Rightbrain are erroneous. This is not true, I could not find his email address on the site's contact page, which is not working, and did not want to post questions publicly on the site's "feedback" forum for the whole world to see when they were addressed solely to Kevin Leitch. I did, however, contact the following address at Leftbrain/Rightbrain:
[email protected]. I have had previous requests fulfilled by sending to the above email before, particularly in one instance where I submitted a comment to be uploaded to a given page because it wouldn't be uploaded when I tried submitting it in the comments section of Leftbrain/Rightbrain. So this was the email I contacted as a last resort to engage Kevin Leitch in private discussion, thinking it would work based on my previous experience. However, Mr. Leitch now claims that he was not contacted by me, thus indicating that the emails sent to the above account did not make their way to him, which is perfectly fine. However, he is wrong to assume that I did not try contacting him through Leftbrain/Rightbrain simply because he did not receive my email.
Jake Crosby is a history student with Asperger Syndrome at Brandeis University and a contributing editor to Age of Autism.
Perhaps the inducement was better circumstances for his autistic daughter. It sounds like she'll need lifetime care. You might sell your soul for that.
Posted by: Carol | October 21, 2010 at 04:12 PM
It's not a matter of who deserves to be mentioned at this website or not so much as how one gets mentioned on this website, as the source of criticism or praise, and Kevin Leitch has earned more than his share of criticism from AoA, as have Ari Ne'eman, Roy Grinker, Kathleen Seidel, Kristina Chew, and Ken Reibel (aka Autism News Beat), all performers in the neurodiversity sideshow.
Posted by: Jake Crosby | January 15, 2010 at 07:01 PM
Does he deserve to be mentioned in this website?
Posted by: hodan | January 15, 2010 at 06:20 PM
I firmly support John Stone's impression that this has nothing to do with money. I have seen no evidence, nor have I ever gotten any indication that Kevin has acted as a result of monetary interests.
I personally think he's acting in concert with his passionate beliefs. I will also second Maria's comments, in that discussions at his site have become unproductive, although it was not always that way. I also don't think that this problem is due to Kevin himself. In the past, I've had some very civil, informative, and productive online conversations with some of the people there including Kevin.
I also believe it is perfectly valid to question someone's published opinions but once that discussion delves into speculations about private motivations (sans evidence) or physical or psychological diagnosis it is futile and counterproductive since it is pure speculation. I think it is important to avoid what the Offit's, Novella's, Oracs of the world do when they diaguess medical conditions like those of Hannah Poling online in the name of science.
Posted by: Schwartz | January 15, 2010 at 12:37 PM
Breaking News: Ginger Taylor helped put me in touch with the unaccessible comment mentioned in my article:
As we can see, Kevin Leitch completely rewrites history:
"I also talked about ‘knowing something was different’ but really, I didn’t. I’d already decided that the DTP jab was the culprit and my judgement regarding [X]’s ‘difference’ was then formed retroactively, based on that erroneous assumption."
That completely contradicts what Kev wrote in the very first entry of his blog, the trip to the hospital, the relief following doctor's claims that nothing was wrong, and then independent recognition that something was wrong by the end of that week - hardly already deciding that the DTP jab was the culprit and judging a difference retroactively.
It just goes to show he will say anything to legitimize his opinion, even if it means recanting his own experience.
Posted by: Jake Crosby | January 15, 2010 at 12:22 PM
You do have a point John. And Mr. Leitch says he takes medications which are about the equivalent of brain-washing for many people.
I've seen that kind of transformation before just due to the drugs. I've gotten "Winston Smith" emails so much like the blog entry in which Leitch tells of "seeing the light". A very talented artist I knew since college got slapped with the same "diagnosis" (it never fit: she was assaulted as a teen, then drugged for PTSD. The drugs made her manic, thus the bipolar dx). She would get a new med or change her dose-- off would come the dredlocks, out would come the boating shoes, she'd put her paints away and dream of garden parties, twin sets, living her parents' suburban dreams.
There's nothing wrong with any of these aspirations except for the fact that, in her unmedicated state, she had no interest in them. Unmedicated, she was shocked at the vaccine schedule and the growing number of injured kids, the push to medicate children-- called it the "Loboto-Lube". She made sure her brother got books and information on vaccines for his new baby.
But medicated again, she would adjust to a more positive attitude towards her "suppliers"-- which are often the same as vaccine manufacturers. To announce the shift, she'd send out emails denouncing her unmedicated attitudes-- "Now I see that what I said before was..."
Once the typical, later-stage side effects began to frighten her (twitching, asthma, passing out in public from blood sugar problems and fits of obsessive hostility aimed at almost random targets), she might taper down and withdraw. But certain medications are impossible to withdraw from and her reversion back to her former self would be less and less complete each time.
For years I didn't understand the switcheroos, but I've since seen the "chemical cult" phenomenon repeated by others. I wonder how much reliance on industry for one type of addictive product generally influences mass "faith" in industry's other line of goods?
Posted by: Gatogorra | January 15, 2010 at 10:04 AM
I cannot stand to hear the number of parents who are taken in by the "neurodiversity" approach. The children with autism have pain - gut pain, head pain, other GI pain. It can be healed. Every hour of every working day my colleagues and I spend finding out in order to remediate whatever pain a child is in. But if the parent chooses to stick his/her head in the sand of "my child is just different and autism should be celebrated as something special" they are doing their child a disservice - dooming them to a life of physical misery, emotional distress, and ultimately, giving their child no say in his/her quality of life. It becomes a different sort of parent-supported prison and the child becomes the incarcerated.
It sickens me, and strengthens my resolve to help more parents see the light that autism is physical in nature and there are ways to heal and recover from it and live a happy, productive life free of the gut pain that traps them.
Autism is not an event or condition to celebrate. It is a living hell for these kids - and many who have recovered have told us so, even if it's as simply as "Mommy, I don't hurt any more."
Posted by: Cindy Griffin | January 15, 2010 at 09:21 AM
So, Allison Singer commented on Kev's blog. She wrote:
"What a strange story. Many parents question whether vaccines are involved in autism because of the media coverage of the issue, but then they read the science and realize the studies are there and the science clearly indicates no causal role for vaccines".
It is NOT only due to media coverage that parents look at vaccines. There are heroes from way back (before a lot of media coverage) who were able to start putting the pieces together. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that there's a problem when a child has a seizure and has to be rushed via ambulance that same night after a set of vaccinations (such as Kev's daughter)... Or, other documented illnesses post-vaccinations. Stop with the it's all the media. That's bs and you know it.
I am simply saying that Kev as well as yourself should be able to point to the SCIENCE that you claim clears this all up. Where is it? Point it out. If you can't do so... please stop trying to diminish how other parents feel about what happened to their own children. You have a right to your own beliefs. You don't have the right to mock me for mine without something to back it up... You have NOTHING Allison. Zero. Zippo.
Posted by: A Friend | January 15, 2010 at 09:05 AM
Bipolar you say?? Religious obsessions and sudden “conversion” expriences are common in bipolar disorder!!
I believe the suggested pharma-money link to his sudden conversion is a red herring – Kev, and most/all other parents of neurodiverse belief system, would NOT have sold the truth of what had happened to their children for money or material gains. But he would have sold it for The Higher Idea. It is textbook psychology stuff. His manic depression coupled with stressful experience and the sudden I-have-seen-the-light conversion into a religious fanatic fits like a glove.
THE NATURE OF CULT MIND CONTROL
... Cults promote a belief system which is utopian and idealistic, and also dualistic and bi-polar in nature. Dualistic, in the sense that they tend to see the world in terms of two opposite poles, such as pure good and evil, the saved and the fallen, the enlightened and the ignorant, etc.
… Cult belief systems are also bi-polar in psychological terms, rather like Bi-polar disorder or manic-depression. Cults promote a vision of an ideal 'new life' or 'new self' ('the true individual' in FWBO terms), which members believe they can attain by following the cult teachings…
… Cult belief systems are bi-polar because they encourage the aspirant to identify with this imagined ideal new self, and then, from the perspective of this new self, to see their old self as comparatively inferior and flawed….
… All this goes on within a cult members mind. A cult does not really control its members by using external coercion. It is the belief system/worldview itself which is the primary active agent in cult mind control. The actual controlling of mind is done by the person themselves, as they attempt to discipline their mind and reform their personality, in accordance with the tenets of their new belief system. Effectively, a cult, via its belief system, uses a person's own energy and aspirations against them…
… It would be a mistake to assume that only weak-willed people join cults. On the contrary, it is often the more ambitious and strong-willed people who become the most committed cult members.
… The danger for someone who may unwittingly become involved with a cult is that they will be exposed to the cult belief system, which is psychoactive, like a drug. It can be addictive and disorientating, and dangerous even to experiment with. Once involved, it may not be all that easy for someone to escape from a cult belief system.
Psycho-dynamic and other psychiatric aspects of conversion
Christensen… reported on the religious conversions of 22 men professionally engaged in the field of religion, who had all been treated psycho-analytically for some form of mental disorder. Two were diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia, 3 were suffering from psycho-neurotic depression, 7 were obsessive-compulsive reactions, and the remaining 10 had personality disorders. Christensen defines conversion as ‘an acute hallucinatory experience occurring within the framework of religious belief and characterized by its subjective intensity, apparent suddenness of onset, brief duration and observable changes in the subsequent behaviour of the convert’…. Christensen considers that the psychodynamics of religious conversion are due to additional psychic stress which overwhelms an ego already weak or vulnerable as it passes through the transitional stage of adolescence. ‘The religious conversion experience is an egophenomenon’ he concludes, ‘functioning to reintegrate the ego as an hypothesis advanced to explain the event.’ …
A more empirical approach to religious conversion has been made by Sedman and Hopkinson  in their study of 12 cases occurring in 7 schizophrenics, 3 manic-depressives and 2 patients with personality disorders. They believe that conversion appears ‘to be a non-specific phenomenon occurring in both psychotic illnesses, neurotic developments and emotional reactions’. …. Aspects of mood and religious conversion were also discussed, and in general they found that religious preoccupations were less marked during a depressed phase. One patient, converted during an ecstatic phase of his illness, came to doubt his experience when his mental state returned to normal. Another was converted to Roman Catholicism on three separate occasions during phases of exultation: when his mood returned to normal he reverted to his original faith. In schizophrenic patients they found that religious conversion experiences tended to occur most frequently at the beginning of the upward swing from depression to exaltation. Full paper http://tinyurl.com/y8ryyyf
Posted by: Natasa | January 15, 2010 at 06:59 AM
It is interesting that Brian Deer also believed vaccine caused brain damaged in Children and challenged the drug companies. Then he changed his mind and came back fighting against families of vaccine damaged children.
Posted by: Isabella Thomas | January 15, 2010 at 05:46 AM
I somehow doubt that Kev's sea-change was about crude financial inducement - I don't know but somehow I doubt it. Possibly, a longing or a need for conformity.
"He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."
I wouldn't underestimate the pressures of Modern Britain:
Posted by: John Stone | January 15, 2010 at 02:16 AM
I would love to see a spect scan from the amen clinic done on his brain. www.amenclinic.com. This may all be signs of advancing mental illness. he sounds crazy
Posted by: quiet in the south | January 14, 2010 at 11:58 PM
Is there any chance that there is a money trail leading back to the pharm industry, or even Brian Deere, with $$ being the reason he has changed his tune?
Or are his daughter's special needs suddenly being anonymously funded?
OR--has he been threatened somehow?
This sudden 180, without explanation, and with only "I read the science" offered as proof--I'm sorry, this is scary.
Posted by: Momof5 | January 14, 2010 at 11:08 PM
Thanks for the excellent reporting Jake.
This is interesting and I am sure will anger Kev in a big way. His denial and mean comments have always been so intense. He does not seem objective in his posts but instead emotionally driven. He has somehow turned his sadness and pain into an ugly denial using attacks upon those who still hold hope, research, treatments and honor close.
Posted by: Teresa Conrick | January 14, 2010 at 10:57 PM
After an extensive search, I think I found a study that supports Kev's transformation:
Publication: The Journal of Coincidence
Title: Just a Coincidence!
Authors: Justin A. Cohen, Sid Dense, PhD, Coincident Deparment, University of Coincidence
Abstract: It was all just a coincidence! She seemed changed after that round of vaccines? Just a coincidence! She seemed better after that medical/homeopathic treatments? Just a coincidence! "Post hoc", but not "propter hoc"!
Causal connection was ruled out based on no evidence -- no fingerprints, no witnesses who actually saw the brain cells, nerves, GI tract, or genes changing, no security camera videos of immune cells going bonkers.
And if any of you think that does not sound like a serious, formal, peer reviewed study, that is because: you just don't understand the science! So be quiet and leave this in the hands of the experts!!
Posted by: Twyla | January 14, 2010 at 10:46 PM
Don't pick on him too much. He has broken. You all know the toll this disease takes.
Posted by: TexasDad | January 14, 2010 at 10:45 PM
Thank you for finally addressing the Kev issue.
I once read where he wrote that the British government gives financial assistance to families of disabled children. Might his motive be money?????
Posted by: Diane | January 14, 2010 at 10:21 PM
I agree with Schwartz and Elucidatus. Kevin has been always very kind related to my first posts there- long long time ago in 2005- and later.
However, even when I share the importance of acceptance and accomodation that neurodiversity proposes the extreme bias in the analysis of science under certain very narrow paradigm about what autism is has really changed- at least for me- what originally was that blog. There are no spaces to other kind of discussion. It seems that if you are doing biomed AND you want to analyze vaccines (in plural) safety you deserves all the insults in the dictionary.And when you have a change in the paradigm- a la Kuhn- about what autism is such we are facing today (IMO) the interaction there is now not more than improductive- at least for me.
Posted by: María Luján | January 14, 2010 at 10:08 PM
I tend to agree with Elucidatus' assessment of Kevin. I would also add, that Kev has been quite honourable in my private exchanges with him. I can certainly understand the draw of neurodiversity for him and others, especially since he has a daughter with Autism which he clearly loves and some of the messages of advocacy reflect those values and do bring a very positive message.
However, I also see the biasing effect that the organization has had on his ability to to objectively judge the science his site purports to support.
I also note, that the stream of illogical science writing does not typically originate from him, but his writing partner in the US. These days, he only appears to write when something gets him quite angry, and it is more editorial compared to his counterparts' amusing attempts to credibly review any science.
Posted by: Schwartz | January 14, 2010 at 09:27 PM
I have spoken and debated with Kev several times. He is a very well spoken person with a high intellect. However, he has this tunnel vision that cannot be broken or changed from its course of self destruction. I somehow believe that he was on the right track from the start but was coerced by some unknown people to think differently and start his website full of hate and one-sidedness. I remember back in 2006 when his website was brought down. He left a message saying that he was badgered and that his daughter was in danger by a person by the name of John Best and that he would start a new site soon.
I also remember that he called out Dr. Buttar numerous times informing him that he wanted to take on Buttar's challenge. Dr. Buttar had a challenge for any doctor or person that would take the same amount of Toxins\Mercury in one day as a child would take during their annual shots and that he would take Transdermal DMPS versus them taking nothing.
This is a man who has nothing to lose and who has rolled the dice more than once to try and prove his point. He has so many followers that its pointless to even try and reason with his people in the blogs.
Kev will one day realize that he sold his soul to the devil to get even with a one John Best who got the Best of him.
Posted by: Elucidatus | January 14, 2010 at 08:46 PM
I have difficulty understanding the draw of neurodiversity-- that it would be that powerful to make someone do a 180 within a few days. I kind of wonder if Leitch didn't just see a business opportunity in taking a pharma-friendly view. We have to remember that Deer once questioned vaccine safety until he was approached by Glaxo and then suddenly changed his tune. Who manufactures the DPT in the UK?
Posted by: Gatogorra | January 14, 2010 at 07:14 PM
As as aside to the point of your very well written piece, I think it important to point out that the SCN1A gene mutation was noted in Berkovic, et all Lancet Neurology June 2006 citation as arising de novo and that for 11 of 14 patients positive for SCN1A, available DNA for 9 of these parents did not carry this mutation. For them, this was not a heritable genetic mutation.
Posted by: Donna Kincanon | January 14, 2010 at 06:13 PM
other highlights from kev you may have missed, Kev boasting about advising Alison Singer, Kev boasting about getting a preview copy of Offits book .
LOL check the comments Singer has turn up right on Q mmm cosy
Posted by: mark | January 14, 2010 at 05:03 PM
That was an interesting read. You're a talented writer.
Posted by: Kristina | January 14, 2010 at 04:30 PM
Has Kevin Leitch ever written about lab testing and biomedical treatments for his bipolar condition? How would he know whether he is carrying around a high body burden of one or more toxic metals or chemicals?
Posted by: nhokkanen | January 14, 2010 at 04:13 PM
He is a friend of Brian Deer so that says a lot. I wouold not trust this man.
Posted by: Joan Campbell | January 14, 2010 at 03:51 PM
What's irrational is to claim that his opinions were swayed by the science. I'd welcome a study that looked at kids who received their series of DTaP vaccines versus kids who received no vaccines, but of course that study doesn't exist. What possible studies could Mr. Leitch have reviewed that would convince him he was wrong since none have been done asking the right question to answer the fate of his daughter.
The only conclusion I have been able to reach is that he is a gullible moron, read more at www.14studies.org
Posted by: JB Handley | January 14, 2010 at 02:41 PM
Wow, great to know the story behind that site. I am shocked at how much his story sounds like my own. I follow his site some because I like to read lot of different opinions, but I had no idea about the back story. Great job!
Posted by: Fielding J. Hurst | January 14, 2010 at 12:35 PM
When KL used to post 24/7, on his site and everywhere else, I used to envision a really pissed off Mrs. L.
The ND philosophy as presented by KL et al, will never completely take hold because they are hardly the poster children of tolerating diverse ways of thinking/being.
Most of the LB/RB content is whining about what is going on at AOA. Not too long ago they were whining how AOA has too many vaccine posts for an autism site. Um, maybe that’s because people at AOA generally believe vaccines played a role in their child’s autism? If these ND folk don’t subscribe to the same belief, why do they spend such an extraordinary amount of time on the subject? Why fill up their blog space about vaccines instead of oh I don’t know, advocating for people with autism? There is next to nothing on that blog that stands as original content and indeed is just one big wanker’s circle, seeing who can spurt out insults the fastest.
Posted by: samaxtics | January 14, 2010 at 12:23 PM
Well done Jake! I have had my share of run-ins over there at Left/Right behind. Too many of them firmly believe their brains have evolved into creating a super being and they fear they will be exterminated. Too much paranoia for me. Learning from your post reminds me of how obnoxious reformers can be. I like the religious cult metaphor, seems fitting.
Posted by: bensmyson | January 14, 2010 at 12:09 PM
Kevin sounds like a very conflicted man.Conversely, Jake, you are a very brave person. I was interested in that "autism gene" TIME magazine study you referred to. I'd love to hear more about that.
Posted by: jen | January 14, 2010 at 11:59 AM
This is very interesting and truly bizarre.
Posted by: Twyla | January 14, 2010 at 11:16 AM
"He was one of us at one point... And now claims that the SCIENCE has cleared up that silliness... yet, he can't point to this science? Why not?"
The same goes for Jim Laidler. Once a strong believer in biomed, even a DAN! practitioner...chelation, GFCF, supplements, the whole shebang...until the day his son snatched a waffle while on vacation...
Here's the problem, gentlemen.. the study of biomedical treatments for autism is still very much in its infancy, and some of the early "stuff" didn't pan out. (Hell, it wasn't all that long ago that autism was thought to be due to cold, uncaring "refrigerator moms" who hated their children.) That's how science works...you throw out what clearly doesn't work and keep what does, and it's a long, painstaking process that takes many, many years. Our kids don't have that long to wait. They're approaching adolescence, and soon adulthood, where their behavior problems which might have been somewhat manageable as young children now become downright impossible, and in some cases, dangerous.
Frankly, I think some have thrown the baby out with the bathwater.
Oddly, my experience with biomed was the complete opposite...I never persued the biomed stuff, because I didn't feel that the science was there to support it. It all seemed so daunting...special diets, supplements, chelation...it all seemed so science-fictiony to me. Perhaps it was laziness on my part, not wanting to be inconvenienced by having to sort through labels, buying special gluten free foods, which are indeed expensive and hard to find. I thought, geez, having an autistic kid is hard enough without having to do all this other stuff, too. So...I let my kids eat whatever they wanted. I would eventually come to regret that.
Fortunately, for my son, his self-injurious and aggressive behaviors showed me the way, and eventually forced me into biomed, where he finally got the help that he so desperately needed. I say "forced" because it was either that, or have him institutionalized. It's sad that it had to come down to that, but here we are.
Long story short, his response to dietary intervention has been life changing, and saved him from the threat of institutionalization. His sweet smile has returned, and he now sleeps soundly through the night. He is nowhere near "cured" of his autism, but he is no longer in pain. While it's true that we don't yet have all the answers, I believe that DAN! is years ahead of the game. I mean, come on... mainstream medicine is just NOW getting around to realizing that behavioral problems in children with autism are likely due to gut pain?
One day, the idea of using Risperdal and other psychotropic drugs on children with autism will make us shudder in horror, and we'll wonder...who were the quacks, again?
Posted by: Jen in TX | January 14, 2010 at 11:16 AM
The whole ND thing is so clearly a pharma front organization. I totally ignore the whole thing, except I did read this post.
Harris Coulter wrote another book called "Vaccination Social Violence and Criminality." This book changed the way I look at everything. He describes how (vaccine induced) post encephalitic syndrome can produce anything from autism, criminal behavior,anorexia, alcoholism to people who just lack emotional depth. Really interesting and should scare everyone from vaccines entirely.
Posted by: Maggie | January 14, 2010 at 11:00 AM
Neurodiversity is a religious cult. This story makes it so obvious.
On joining the cult, Kevin has handed over all his worldly possessions - the reality-as-he-had-known-it. His previous experiences were no longer his own. The things he had witnessed no longer were his to rememeber. He has thrown his daughter onto the sacrificial fire to feed the hungry God of Neurodiversity. Doesn’t matter that she was hurt. It was for the greater God.
And then he went on to make sure as many people as himself believe in this new-found religion, and bring their own children to sacrifice.
There is no way back. His fervour will get stronger and stronger. Or he will burn and throw himself into the fire, in a moment of total and well-deserved madness.
Posted by: Natasa | January 14, 2010 at 10:08 AM
I’ve never understood why so many people who claim to be so happy with their autism and why so many people who claim to be so unconcerned about their children’s autism seem to spend so much time disparaging people who believe autism is a problem like any other medical problem, and that it might be a good idea to try lesson the problems that people with autism deal with.
I have no patience for people who would claim that smearing feces and self-injury is behavior that doesn’t disturb them when they see it in their child.
Lenny says ignore the ND. It’s hard for me to fathom that there are people who take them seriously. However, at the same time, I’m not sure that ignoring them is such a great approach either, (as much as I am tempted to) when they are so adeptly being used by the people who’ve profited from the vaccines and the vaccine apologists. I think that what you’re doing, Jake—exposing them—is probably a better approach.
Posted by: Robin Nemeth | January 14, 2010 at 09:54 AM
Very interesting to recall Kev's intervention in the Poling case:
There are two "science" gambits going on. One is what we might call the "semantic strategy" which is key to the US government's defence in the vaccine court, which is that because autism is a non-specific diagnosis you cannot logically claim causality. The other is the demand in the face of of very convincing evidence for unreasonable standards of proof. You have here a case where there is very strong evidence for the unfortunate effects of a medical intervention, but this is swept aside - on the other hand there is automatic acceptance that the vaccines are safe, and no evidence to the contrary is ever convincing (dismissed as co-incidental). The latter argument pre-empts any real attempt to monitor vaccines, and is of course an act of of faith - the same you indulge in when you have your child vaccinated. Contrary to the rhetoric this is not a faith in science (as somebody who bloody well ought to know better like Richard Dawkins maintains) but in institutions beset with ideological and financial biases.
Also, Kev lives in Staffordshire, the backyard of notorious MSbP advocate Prof David Southall - so actually making claims about vaccine damage and non-conventional interventions could risk prosecution, and maybe in some cases lead to quasi-religious recantation - who know?
Posted by: John Stone | January 14, 2010 at 09:45 AM
Jake, I continue to be impressed by your eloquent writing and research. Well done! I, too, have had run-ins with "Kev," and he is quite clearly another Orac clone, one of those I call an Oraccolyte. The audacity of that a$$hole to call us less evolved creatures?
Hypocrisy is a common event with these pathetic and useless wastes of oxygen.
Posted by: Craig Willoughby | January 14, 2010 at 09:28 AM
I too have wondered about this about-face from Kev Leitch. His earliest blog entries clearly show how he was minimally concerned about vaccinations. The fact that his daughter had to be taken via ambulance to the hospital on the evening of a set of vaccinations is a huge red flag. Something went on with her that night. Obviously. Now, I can understand that at this point ... he steps away from the connection between vaccinations/autism. That is his right to do.
However, certainly with such a 'high profile' person such as himself (high profile as far as the ND movement goes... which is basically not high profile at all...), it is also imperative for him to come up with REAL SCIENCE in order to explain how his opinion changed so dramatically. His claims of ... I finally looked to the science... is bogus. What science? Where did you look, Kev?
Again, I have no problem with parents who do not connect vaccinations with their child's autism. For some children, there may be no connection. I get that. What I don't accept is someone like Kev Leitch who derides and mocks people who *do* hold the belief that vaccinations triggered a very negative response. He was one of us at one point... And now claims that the SCIENCE has cleared up that silliness... yet, he can't point to this science? Why not?
Posted by: A Friend | January 14, 2010 at 09:09 AM
I never knew Leitch was a flip flopper.It never ceases to amaze me how the outspoken have these "it's the vaccines" skeleton's in their closets.
Thanks for revealing this interesting history about a man who spends so much time bitching about those of us who saw vaccines change our kids and make them ill and continue to tell our children's truth. I'm sure the majority of us do this to prevent future harm to yet unborn children, and to help those parents who sadly listened and followed only to watch their children slip away- that there is hope, autism can be reversed or lessened. What a huge disserve Leitch is doing to his own daughter. How can he live with himself?
And Jake, I applaud you for not sinking to "their" level by name-calling as "they" so often do when writing about those they disagree with. Classy.
Posted by: Andrea | January 14, 2010 at 08:46 AM
Perhaps Leitch's motivations in defending vaccines are purely financial?
Doing one thing for your kid and advocating the opposite for other peoples' kids-- it's becoming a familiar story.
Posted by: julie | January 14, 2010 at 08:39 AM
This explains why the AAP, CDC, NIH, and our doctors are ignoring us. They know they caused our children's autism. That's why a vaccinated/unvaccinated study would be unethical. So this is why I've never had a doctor ask me how I recovered my child from autism. They knew all along that a child can recover from autism. I guess it would be unethcial of them to tell us to remove the poisons that they injected into our babies. "Do no harm (to my reputation)"
Posted by: Diane Farr | January 14, 2010 at 08:31 AM