NAA Metro (New York) & Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities Recognizes Autism Awareness Month
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Why Isn't the Media Really Listening During Autism "Awareness" Month?

Not listening By Anne Dachel
By now we're all familiar with April 2nd being World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) and the whole month of April being dedicated to autism awareness.  On this the third annual WAAD, I looked at how it's being covered by the media.  Hundreds of news sources reported on it; both newspaper and TV coverage focused on autism.  Lots of communities gave attention to autism with special events. 
So what exactly are we supposed to be aware of?
After looking through dozens of news reports, I came to several conclusions:  Even though the subject is autism awareness, there's very little of substance in the stories.  This is scary because while we're getting used to hearing the word autism, we really don't have a clue about what happening to our children. 
I looked especially close at the TV coverage.  Many stations carried brief reports about autism's impact on their local area.  We heard the definition of autism generalized into "a lack of communication skills and an inability at social interaction."  Most of the stories that showed us actual autistic children, showed happy kids, looking pretty typical, at play or in a classroom.  There was little specific information given about any particular child shown on the video report.  Most often, the story started out by telling us that one in 110 kids have autism and that it's the fastest growing developmental disability. 
The Today Showon MSNBC presented the story, Peete family tackles autism.
Matt Lauer began the segment by announcing, "April is National Autism Awareness Month.  More than 650,000 American children have some form of that disorder."  

Lauer interviewed Rodney and Holly Robinson Peete about their son RJ.  The Peetes described the regression RJ went through and Lauer made an interesting comment:

"RJ was doing fine.  Everything, all the milestones.  You were bonding.  He was talking.  And then it changes suddenly.  I wonder if that's not even harder than at birth you're told there's a problem." 

Lauer then noted that the cost to treat autism is out-of-sight and that the Peetes spent more than $150,000 a year.  Holly Robinson Peet brought up adults.  "What's going to happen?  We were told our son was never going to live on his own."  She told Lauer, "You mentioned 650,000 kids.  They're going to become adults. They're going to need friends, a future and jobs and homes." 
Next Lauer commented on how serious the divorce rate is for couples dealing with autism.  "I heard a crazy statistic that the divorce rate among parents who have children living with autism is ridiculously high because of the pressure it puts on a marriage." 
He ended by saying, "It's really important that you're sharing this story in two new books..."
And although they didn't get to talk about it during the Today Show interview, on the MSNBC website, is an excerpt from chapter 2 of Rodney Peete's book.  It's a detailed description of how their son was vaccinated and how he then regressed into autism.

Local news stations around the country featured autism too,  
Texoma, OK  
KXII-TV told us that 130 sites around the U.S. were lighted in blue for autism awareness.  We heard from someone from the OK government urging public awareness.  He praised the parents of autistic children, yet we didn't get to see a single autistic child.
Wausau, WI
WSAW-TV showed a number of autistic children doing various activities, looking like typical kids having fun.  There was no interviewing of any children.
Lynchburg, VA
ABC13-TV gave us a close-up view of a nine year old autistic girl who we were told "can't speak."  We were informed that 'ignorance and fear prevents us from understanding the condition."  We were told that "in recent years major progress has been made," followed by a very young looking teacher saying, "Several years ago some of these children wouldn't have been in school and the fact [is] that they are not only allowed in schools now but they are being embraced not only by teachers but also by
the students."
Cleveland, OH
WKYC-TV titled their coverage of WAAD, ”Cleveland celebrates World Autism Day.”

Los Angeles, CA  
CBS2-TV introduced their piece by telling viewers that one in every 110 children is "born with autism."  Dr. Gary Erkfritz, owner and operator of the Brain Balance Development Center was interviewed and he calmly announced, "It can be anywhere from one in 110 children to actually one in 65 children.  These are different statistics.  In California, I've heard the statistic that one in 38 boys is affected.  It's mainly a boy condition." 
When asked why, Erkfritz answered, "Boys seem to be particularly fragile.  Women are built to go and survive." 
While showing no concern over the cause, Erkfritz advised the audience, "The earlier the intervention in autism, the much better the result.  That's really critical."
An autism mom was featured saying that a GFCF diet has helped her son but nothing more was said about it. 
Providence RI
FOX PROVIDENCE presented two doctors who work with autistic children.  One of the doctors said that in 1976 when they started their program, the rate was
four in 10,000, now, it's one in 110. 
The interviewer responded by saying, "Wow, it's really a lot more common than people realize."
The doctor then added, "People are calling it an epidemic." 
After that the two doctors spent several minutes talking about intervention.

Mobile, AL
FOX10-TV first off presented an eight-year-old boy with autism speaking slowly.  The boys shown on the report looked like really sweet kids.  A woman from the Autism Society of Alabama told us that more children are diagnosed with autism: "Ten years ago it was 1 in 10,000. Today, it is 1 in 110. Thirty-thousand people in Alabama have been diagnosed," but she feels this is all because of "early diagnosis and awareness."   
Then the director of a school for autistic children was shown saying the rapidly rising numbers mean "we've got to find out what is in the environment that is causing so many kids to be diagnosed."  She added, "Because when these children are not served properly, they get into trouble and can't hold down jobs."  The director left us with a warning: "This is something we're all going to deal with. We're going to have someone in our family, or someone we know affected by this and we need to address it or we will address it later in ways we really don't want to."
Idaho Falls, ID  
KIDK-TV reported that "one in every 110 kids are diagnosed with autism making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric aids combined.  In effort to raise understanding of this disease the world celebrates April as Autism Awareness Month."   Then a smiling woman reporter announced that "seventeen percent more are getting diagnosed with the disease every year."  We were shown a family with an affected child and we heard that at age two he "stopped communicating with them."  The mother said that just in her son's class, there are five 4-year-old children with autism and in the neighborhood, there are three children with autism.  
Lexington, KY
WYMT reporter Ashley Reynolds went to a local high school and actually showed us severely autistic kids close-up.  She talked with these students.  She told us there were thirty autistic children in area schools.  
Clinton, IN
WTHI-TV covered WAAD showing us a bowling event to raise awareness for autism.  A mom told about her worries of what will happen when parents are no longer here.  She urged greater awareness and finding a cure.  We got a brief look at one autistic boy sitting with his mother.  The rest of the clip showed scenes of people bowling. 
Birmingham, AL
CBS42 called it an "invisible disease" and presented parents who talked about support groups.  One mom described what autistic behavior is like in a child.  "If you see a child that's misbehaving, if they're on the floor kicking and screaming, that parent is not [allowing] that by choice."  She made the point that autism is a financial struggle because "insurance companies are choosing not to cover the therapies that our kids need."
A dad ended the piece saying, "We want the same thing every parent wants: When we leave this world, we want to leave knowing our children are independent." 
Reno, NV focused on the blue lights being lit in the capital, Carson City, to raise awareness.  Nothing specific was said about autism except that we were told the rate is one in every 110 kids.  No autistic children were shown. 
Bridgeport, WV  
WDTV started off telling us that autism is a brain disorder whose cause is unknown.  The public was shown a mom quietly standing and walking with her autistic son and we're urged to check out the Autism Speaks website.

Portland, ME  
WCSH-TV presented, "In the last 15 years, the prevalence of autism has gone from one in every 10,000 to one in every 110.  This month has been set aside since the 1970s to educate the public about autism.

Parent and federal probation officer noted that police officers aren't trained in autism.  He said this about the rate: "The numbers are exploding to the point that we all need to get on the same page with this." 

"My wife gets all the credit for my son's diagnosis.  I was in denial. ... People with autism are incredibly unique and amazing.  It's the best thing that ever happened to me, having a child with autism." 

From these reports it's clear that autism can't be ignored.  There are just too many affected children and their needs are great.  What's also abundantly clear is that no one can explain what's happening.  It's frightening that the vast majority of TV reports, including the Today Show interview, don't even try.  News reporters calmly told viewers that one in every 110 children has autism.   A once rare disorder is having a devastating impact on children and no one can tell us the reason.  There weren't calls for national action or for addressing this as a health care emergency.  Maybe we’re all just getting conditioned to expect lots and lots of kids to have autism.  That way, if the next increase is to one in every 50 children, or one in 30, we’ll just accept that statistic too.  
I found it interesting that most news reports didn't include a doctor explaining the disorder and what was being done.  Has the medical community just gotten tired of interviews where all they can say is that they have no answers? 
Maybe the only thing that is clear from these stories is that autism is affecting more and more children and no one can say it won't happen to your child too if you’re a new parent.
I have to wonder how WAAD will be covered five and ten years from now.  By that time, reporters won't be saying that autism affects 110 children like all these stories did.  By 2015 and 2020, autism will also be an adult disorder as shown in these recent graphs from Business Week: (HERE)
At that time we won't just be talking about raising awareness because I think we'll all be pretty aware of what a health care disaster autism is and how bankrupting the costs will be for this nation. 
None of the stories I presented said a word about preventing autism but as these kids age into adulthood, we will grow desperate to stop autism from affecting more children because it has the potential to bankrupt our country.  I can't think of another situation in history where a disease or disorder struck a generation of children and they became dependent on the taxpayers for their support and care for life.  The last famous epidemic was polio in the 1950s.  One in 3,000 Americans were affected but most recovered and went on to lead productive lives.  I had an aunt and a cousin who got polio.  Both women got married and held jobs.  The same won't be said about the hundreds of thousands of American children with autism.  I think it's time to change WAAD to SAND...Stop Autism Now Day.


Donna K


Obviously, from the tone of your comments you see yourself as more highly evolved or having better genes or better luck.

For most of us, our children are being tortured with horrible physical pain of the gut and brain, and we are indeed desperate to find something that will "cure" the suffering. Are we supposed to just sit idle and watch our child suffer when the only offer of help from their ped md is a prescription for behavioral therapy? If you had constant diarrhea/constipation, migraines and other debilitating illness would you settle for a script for behavioral therapy?

What is noble are the efforts of the parents and those doctors who ignore the public scrutiny to come to the aid of suffering children.

So Hoxtonpaul, what's your contingency plan when the mythical "autism is genetic so no need for all you highly evolved people with good genes and good luck to worry" explanation is exposed as propaganda? Set aside for a moment the impact of those children who are going to be dependent on their parents for their care because they are so disabled. The CDC tells us that among children in the U.S. we have 1 out of every 6 children experiencing some kind of developmental disability. These children will grow up and have difficulty finding employment. Many will have behaviors that need to be medicated so that everyone else can live peacefully ignorant of the damage that has overcome our future. They become homicidal/suicidal due to the side effects of the prescription drugs they need to take to make it through the day or they can't affort the drugs and become homicidal/suicidal or they try to self-medicate with street drugs. Consider those who suffer from ADHD with driver's licenses. Sleepy behind the wheel when medicated and impulsive and careless when not. Next time you're on the road, think about how safe you really are. How personally secure are you going to feel after accepting that all this increasing damage is heritable genetic evolution?

What do you say when a parent tells you that there is no known autism in their families? What do you have to say about children who develop quite normally--they're talking and interacting socially and behaviorally like healthy kids do and then they stop and lose all the skills they had concomitant with severe intestinal symptoms?

The inherited 'faulty genes' question has been asked and answered--not the culprit in the majority of cases. As far as genetic heritability is concerned a risk factor appears to be those who genetically tend towards being hyperglutamatergic--really smart. So if you and your family are not affected at all, then genetically you can feel some security that autism won't come knocking on your door. On the other hand, if you or your family have traits consistent with hyperglutamatergic genetics then you might consider educating yourself on what environmental exposures can cause interference.

When it comes to the research that has been presented to the public as absolving thimerosal or vaccines how secure are you going to feel when you do your homework and realize that that research is the best fraud money can buy? What then?

So "allergic reactions to vaccines are nothing new" shows how little you, and I'm going to even include doctors in this statement, understand about what effect vaccines have on the immune system. It's much more complicated than that. But, I think you could agree with the argument that it really is a moral imperative to try to find out who is susceptible to vaccine reactions, could you not?

You ask what our contingency plan are. What are your contingency plans when you and the rest of the world wake up to this massive poisoning and the future of humankind?

For Hoxtonpaul

My kid did inherit "faulty" genes. My kid has cystic fibrosis which is proven to be genetic and the gene has been identified. In addition my kid also has severe allergies, sensory/auditory issues and carries very high levels of toxic metals.

To quote you "Please tell me? What if the rises in Autism are due to -
-More people alive than ever before and having families.
-Autism present in families and undetected due to high functionality (My family and Wife's are proof of this together with others we are personally acquainted with) and manifests as low functioning in new generation.
-Recessive genes coming out on the bloodline.
-Pure bad luck."

Why don't you ask any Pulmonologist who specializes in cystic fibrosis those questions? They'll tell you genetic diseases don't have epidemics. They'll tell you that some cases may have been mild and fallen through the cracks or misdiagnosed as asthma. But they will also tell you that with gene testing/newborn screening now being done there still is NO epidemic of this genetic disease. Regressive genes coming out of the bloodline still don't create genetic epidemics. It is pure bad luck,it sucks but I don't waste my time on guilt/blame. I use my time to insure he gets the best treatment possible.

What you are seeing in the parents here at Age of Autism is the same thing you would see in the cystic fibrosis community. Thank God the parents in that community didn't give up and go home crying in the 1950s & early '60s. Instead they created the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Life expectancy has gone from toddlerhood to the mid-late 30s in just a few decades. For my kid, 10 years old, his life expectancy is even longer due to the much improved drugs that have been available to him since birth. Do you see what can be accomplished when science/medicine/research all work together. An ability to identify the problem and a large improvement in outcomes.

You want to know what the contingency plan is, why would it be any different than those parents banding together to find the cause of cystic fibrosis? Why shouldn't this group be focused on finding the cause and finding a cure? Why do people expect these parents to give up and watch their children suffer? I ask you Hoxtonpaul, why would you expect less from this group of parents?



[What will you all do if it turns out that your children simply inherited 'faulty genes'? ]

Then I shall like to compare my genes to those of parents that didn't vaccinate their kids and see why theirs belong in the gene pool and mine do not.

[-More people alive than ever before and having families.]

I thought this was one of the uber-advancements of medical science? The entire reason melting down to: vaccinations save lives, or some sort of derivative. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding you, but it seems a little odd to be using an argument repeatedly made by public health officials et al. as a means to ensure high vaccine uptake and then spin it into a reason that rates of autism are increasing? Irony meters exploding anyone?

[Autism present in families and undetected due to high functionality (My family and Wife's are proof of this together with others we are personally acquainted with) and manifests as low functioning in new generation.]

Interesting timing of the diagnostic change. Certainly not the first time shifts in diagnostic criteria have re-written medical history.

[-Recessive genes coming out on the bloodline.]

Indeed... and what turns some people's genes 'on' may not turn on anothers. The mathematical analyses of the possible interactions are limitless and perhaps that's rather the point. Lots easier to blame the parents than turn that same critical eye on the 'greatest medical advancement of the 20th century'.

[Allergic reactions to vaccines are nothing new, like bad reactions to all sorts of medicines and drugs.]

Vaccine pushers only deny reactions when parents tell you their child suffered one. Otherwise they say that nobody says they aren't risk free, cos nothing is medicine is. You are talking out of both sides of your mouth, you can't have it both ways. Just like when you admonish nonvaccinators for sponging off herd immunity and forgetting that the adult population is grossly undervaccinated.... guess the adults are sponging off the kids that keep disease at bay?

As for contingency plans, I'm certainly not holding my breath that public health officials will wake up and smell what they are shoveling. In the meantime, I'll just keep looking for a doctor that doesn't treat my family like we are cows they must prod through a chute as quickly as possibly so we don't hold up production.

Managing Editor

Hoxtonpaul, I let your comment through so we can respond. It's such an odd question you pose. We welcome the answers. If vaccines were fully omitted from the equation, we'd have an answer. And that would be that. Many treatments for diseases have fallen by the wayside as medicine advances. Some that have not worked. Many American women were on Hormone Replacement Therapy that turned out to be cancer causing - and doctors stopped using it as a blanket treatment. Why would learning more about how to help our loved ones bother us? In the meantime, you seem to ask us to simply sit back, accept and do nothing. That is not the American way. We went to the moon. We saved the world a couple of times. We don't lie down and cry. Neither does your nation - so what an odd question.


I read and appreciate the first commentator whose 5 year old is so low functioning. I have worked with many Autistic people who are somewhat the same, of all ages.

I can see the want for immediate biological change, to evolve and 'cure' these people. I believe many charities such as Autism Speaks are doing and funding research to achieve this noble goal. To upgrade and help people.

So everyone, what's the contingency plan if the mythical research proves that 'cures' are dangerous, deadly and infeasable?

What will you all do if it turns out that your children simply inherited 'faulty genes'?

This is neither an attack nor an insult, simply a good question? What if vaccines and mercury preservatives have always been innocent? What then?

Please tell me? What if the rises in Autism are due to -
-More people alive than ever before and having families.
-Autism present in families and undetected due to high functionality (My family and Wife's are proof of this together with others we are personally acquainted with) and manifests as low functioning in new generation.
-Recessive genes coming out on the bloodline.
-Pure bad luck.

Allergic reactions to vaccines are nothing new, like bad reactions to all sorts of medicines and drugs.

So please, what are you contingency plans?

Pw'eek the Clever

I agree that we need action, prevention, NOT awareness. However, how, exactly, are the media supposed to accurately report on a situation that points a finger in the very direction of those that "pay the bills", namely big pharma? Watch any station (and CNN is one of the worst)-- most of the ads are pharmaceutical ads. Honestly, if I hear "ask you doctor" one more time, I'm going postal! If those journalists want real coverage, they can come to my house. Let them film a 45 minute screaming meltdown, or change one of those ungodly diapers on my almost 5yr old. It really annoys me that they seem to only show spectrum kids at their best (often very rare) behavior. My son has come a long way from where he was when he was diagnosed, but it sure wasn't due to any help from the medical industry. I didn't even know there was an autism awareness day or month until I became part of this community.

Jim Thompson

“After looking through dozens of news reports, I came to several conclusions: Even though the subject is autism awareness, there's very little of substance in the stories.”

Thank you, Anne. We are indebted to you for your diligence, talent, and focus on these vital issues.

Yes, there is little substance in the “free press” regarding the autism crisis—including prevention, treatment, and care. The money that pharma has to spend is incredible and the “media” has it’s snout in that trough.

“As a result, the pharmaceutical industry has been a significant proponent of the legislation, in sharp contrast to its behavior when the Clinton administration tried to pass a similar overhaul. The industry spent an estimated $100 million in TV advertising, grass-roots organizing and other marketing efforts to promote reform.”


Wow, Anne, you sure did your homework. Thanks go to Ashley Reynolds for at least showing the true faces of autism.

Most of mainstream media treat WAAD like it's fricking Arbor Day -- trot out the same boilerplate copy year after year, put a spit shine on it, and then call it a day. Back to the formulaic crime, weather, sports, and maybe a chuckle story at the end.

Autism Grandma

Regarding: "CBS2-TV introduced their piece by telling viewers that one in every 110 children is "born with autism."

"WCSH-TV presented, "In the last 15 years, the prevalence of autism has gone from one in every 10,000 to one in every 110."

So then WHAT HAPPENED??!!! WHY were there only 1 in 10,000 "born with autism" prior to the autism epidemic which statistics correlate directly to the time of the skyrocketing vaccine schedule.

Yes, thanks to vaccines given to pregnant mothers and other medically induced toxic exposures and fetal trauma, some children are "born with autism", but the evidence demonstrates that the vast majority of autism is directly caused by vaccine injuries. Somehow this is never even mentioned in any of these news programs.


Thanks for this overview. I guess this is more evidence we live in a corpocracy, instead of a freedom-of-the-press democracy. Michael Specter is promoting his book, which from descriptions I've read, having not yet decided whether it is worth any time expenditure to read, sounds like it epitomizes (or deliberately props up) "denialism" more than it prevents it, at least where some big business profit margins may be involved, and then today, the head of CNN (possibly taking a path similar to Specter's denialism) is in the news with headlines proclaiming his opinion that CNN does not report with bias, unlike the rest of "mainstream" press. Are these people just in denial, or conscious participants in the perpetuation of the corporate-made epidemics are children are facing?


Thank you for this article....I always feel like I don't see enough on the news/tv coverage about Autism. Now, I can see that it's not that I just happened to miss it....the coverage is just not out there and that's very sad. The information we have should really be portrayed...even if it's both least have more discussions about things like prevention, diet, DAN doctors/Biomedical, Homeopathy, insurance, studies comparing vaccinated vs. unvaccinated!!!! Come on media! How about stop listening to your big pharma sponsors and protect our children!!!!


From watching a few of the TV reports,

I would guess the stations are "paid a fee" to mention or feature "Autism Speaks" in the newscast feature.

When do they put the "checks in the mail" to the network & local stations ???

once again, no cause, no cure, & "walking in circles" seems to be the answer...

Maurine Meleck

I agree. WAAD a bunch of crap these reports are that tell us nothing new. SAND is just perfect. How do we go about changing this?


April should be Autism Action Month. I've posted under several public forums that people may not realize that they have skin in this game whether they think they do or not. Taxpayer dollars are already paying over $40K per for my son's school tuition and the $600 a month he gets from Social Security.

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