Washington Post Voices: Autism Not Baby Boomers Biggest Health Challenge
Isolation, Despair, Compassion and Murder

Dr. Tom Insel on Autism: "How We Prepare of Nation for a Million People Who May Need Significant Services"

Grasshopper and ant' By Anne Dachel

Thomas Insel: “How we prepare the nation for a million people who may need significant amounts of services”

Dr. Thomas Insel is an important expert when it comes to autism.  He’s the director of the National Institute of Mental Health (run by the National Institutes of Health) and he’s the chairman of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee.  He periodically reports to Congress on the progress the IACC is making with autism. 

Insel recently gave a one and a half hour talk at NIH on what scientists now know about autism HERE. Members of the audience were students and credit was being given for attending this lecture.

I listened to the entire talk and noticed several new pieces of information in what Insel was saying.  As expected, he talked about the spectrum of autism or “autisms” as he put it.  He brought up genetics several times and stressed the need for early intervention.  He stated that a percentage of children with autism were normally developing as babies but later regressed.

Insel then addressed the increase in the rate of autism.  Rather than referring to a rate of one in 110, he cited an article in Pediatrics from last year that announced that one in every 90 kids in the U.S. is affected.   He noted the fact that in 1992, the rate was one in 1,500.  He talked about his days in med school when he never heard about autism. 

Next Insel made what to me was a stunning announcement.  He said that if one in 90 children has autism, it means that there are about 700,000 children in this country with autism.  Furthermore he added, "Eighty percent of the people with a diagnosis of autism [in the U.S.] are under the age of eighteen."  Insel described it as "a huge wave that is moving through the system."

This was alarming information and it’s rare for any official to talk about autism in these terms.  Insel was at a loss to tell the audience why this is happening.  He did make it clear that the claim of better diagnosing and expanded spectrum could only explain a small portion of the increase.  He talked at length about environmental toxins being the cause of the soaring rate of autism.  He also admitted he’s clueless as to what the exact triggers might be. "What's probably more striking here is what we don't know." 

Insel said that he and others had actually made a list of possible toxic exposures that might be behind the autism increase and he named fluoride and fertilizers as examples of what they came up with.  In the end, they came to no conclusions.

Millions of dollars are going into autism research.  He talked about the IACC, along with the strategic plan of action and the national data base.  He made it clear that the U.S. government takes autism seriously.

What really got my attention was a passing comment he made about what the future holds for this country.  In Insel’s own words, “We have responded to this AS IF IT'S A CRISIS.  WE SEE THIS AS AN ENORMOUS PUBLIC HEALTH CHALLENGE.  If you look at those numbers, the increase and recognize how many of those kids will become adults, we ...also need to be thinking about how we prepare the nation for a million people who may need significant amounts of services as they are no longer cared for by their parents or as their parents are no longer around." 

You’ll notice that Insel did not actually call autism a crisis.  He said “as if it’s a crisis.”  No one at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the American Academy of Pediatrics has ever referred to autism as a crisis.  “Public health challenge” is the strongest language ever used by officials at the CDC and it looks like everyone in positions of authority has gotten the message that autism is merely a “challenge,” never a “crisis.” 

Personally, the idea of a million disabled adults overwhelming social services in the coming years seems more of a disaster/emergency than a crisis.  In addition, Insel gave the audience no idea of how he intends to “prepare the nation” for the autism tsunami.  

Insel added, "We need to figure out how this gets paid for and who provides the care,” but I can’t imagine what solutions he’ll come up with to meet this challenge.  

Could there possibly be a worse response from someone in the position Thomas Insel is in?  There was no alarm being sounded.  He used the term “interesting” most often in referring to what they were finding out about autism.  He's in the midst of this nightmare, charged with addressing what's happening to hundreds of thousands of children right before his eyes, yet he continues to scratch his head over what’s behind the epidemic.  Insel doesn’t hesitate to say over and over that “we don’t know” as he’s done for years.  
Insel began his talk by saying: "The best experts may be the parents," but he has never honestly addressed the claim by countless thousands of parents that their children were healthy and normally developing until they received certain routine vaccinations.  

Thomas Insel admitted this is an epidemic increase of disabled children.  He pointed out that it’s worldwide and that the numbers continue to grow.  He’s aware of what will happen to this nation when one percent of adults as well as children have autism.  He readily acknowledged that he has no way of preventing more and more children from falling victim to autism.  And he talked about all of this with no sense of real urgency.

Finally, most conspicuously absence from Insel’s hour and a half lecture was any mention of the most heated controversy in medicine today: the claim that an unsafe, unchecked vaccine schedule is behind the worldwide autism epidemic.  He never brought it up nor did anyone in the audience during the questions at the end.  It’s more proof that no matter how bad the news is about autism, they’re never going to honestly address vaccines.


Last August, I wrote a piece for Age of Autism about Thomas Insel's testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee chaired by U.S. Senator Tom Harkin. HERE
In his remarks in August, Insel sounded no alarm over the autism rate.  He wasn't sure at that time if there was a true increase.  Insel said, "We have to remember the difference between prevalence, which can be affected by ascertainment, by changes in diagnosis, and the difference in incidence, which we don't have right now, good evidence that there's a true increase in the incidence...the rate of new cases."
While he did state, "We have a whole wave of children with autism who'll soon be adults with autism," he didn't warn us that we need to prepare for the toll a million autistic children will take as adults in need of "significant amounts of services." 
In the nine months since Insel briefed Harkin, the autism rate from the CDC increased from one in 150 to one in every 110 children and Insel has come to accept that the epidemic is real.  And although he's no closer to knowing what the true cause is, he knows that as adults, Americans with autism will have an even greater impact on our economy.
I'm wondering if Insel is going to contact Senator Harkin to advise him of his latest findings.  Or is he only going to talk about this to classes at NIH?  Will the government have to wait two years until Insel goes back to Capitol Hill to report on the state of autism in America?

Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.



RE: Thomas Insel--

"The NIMH Director, Thomas Insel, MD, is under siege for his problematic relationship with Charles Nemeroff. In his own defense, Insel placed a remarkable new post today [6-8-10] on his official blog. It signals that Insel and NIMH just don’t understand the current controversy....It’s about the appearance of hypocrisy, with Insel assisting the compromised Nemeroff to land a new job at Miami while he is co-chairing a NIH effort to revise ethics guidelines....It’s also about common sense and administrative propriety. Let us perhaps grant that Insel could not prevent or discriminate against Nemeroff in applying for new NIMH funding. There is weasel wording to cover Insel if he chose to take such a position. But does that mean Insel has no discretion over whether Nemeroff is invited onto two new NIMH review panels? Nemeroff has no entitlement to claim a place on these peer review panels. Whatever possessed Insel to extend this privilege to a compromised individual like Nemeroff? The answer plainly is that Insel doesn’t recognize the compromise and corruption of his crony Nemeroff...."


Eileen Nicole Simon

I noticed a post still today on this article, and I haven't had time to respond to Gatogorra (May 19 at 8:48pm). Can you point me to the evidence that "The majority of children with autism were born naturally; many were home birthed by dulas; many didn't have cords clamped prematurely"?

I have been curious about whether there are statistics comparing autism in children delivered by natural versus hospital births. I do have citations to Amish birth practices, which adhere to the tradition of natural birth.

The problem with epidemiology reports is that they give only passing mention to how the brain might be affected. Research with animals is badly needed, and I proposed a vaccine research strategy to the IACC over a year ago at:

Two interacting environmental factors are far more likely the cause of brain impairment in autism than just oxygen insufficiency or vaccines alone. Clamping the umbilical cord does not injure most children, nor do vaccines. Clamping the umbilical cord and neonatal vaccinations should both be stopped now. This would be a far safer experiment than yet another "randomized controlled trial".

Cherry Sperlin Misra

Friends at AOA- listen to what the man says and rejoice. You may not like what he says in some ways, but notice carefully- He is now saying the things which autism activists have been saying since 1998 and which were scoffed at for so long. This shows that we are making an impact and the research studies are finally making a dent in the thinking of mainstream medicine.
And I shall go out on a limb here- to say that I suspect that one reason that he says nothing about the cause of autism is for the very reason that he knows very well what it is but cannot say it. Notice that he does not say 700,000 and increasing, because in fact it is very likely that the days of severe autism are over. With large amounts of mercury finally (it appears) out of the vaccines, we are only going to see reasonably mild cases except in children who have received many flu vaccines and whose families eat a lot of fish- or the child was vaccinated abroad (as often happens with children of immigrants) or there is some other unusual source of mercury. Often , in the mild cases, the parents will ignore the signs and the child will never be diagnosed. What I am speaking of applies to children who were born (approximately) after 2003 to 2005.In this way, our health officials hope, the contentious topic of autism will die its slow and natural death
As we have seen, it is going to take the CDC a very long long time to actually study the cohort of kids born in those years and by that time the young parents giving birth will no longer be much concerned about autism as they will not have friends who have autistic children.
Of course, other countries, such as India now have their own waves of autism, but I dont think any of us need to think that the CDC is going to go there to study the cause of autism. They only purchase tickets to Denmark , you know.
I know Im going out on a limb here, - so I suggest that next time any of us meets a pediatrician, we could ask him or her if they have seen a severely autistic kid under 6 years of age lately and one day we can compare notes.


Benedetta-- anticonvulsants are also prescribed for "depression" and headaches due to concussion. The field of neurology is simply at a dead end and drug dependent. Get the book, "Medication Madness" for an illustration.

Does anyone think actual "science" goes into deciding which psychoactive drugs to prescribe for any condition or that these drugs have any clinical benefit (other than-- when they do, if they do-- to contol life threatening seizures)?

The most compelling evidence I've read seems to show that the vast majority of adult "bipolarity" is caused by psychiatric drugs, mostly antidepressants and benzodiazepines. Perhaps previous environmental injuries spurred the use of the drugs to begin with but the drugs simply make everything worse. The practice of drugging drug injuries with more and more drugs has made the field of psychiatry the richest in the world, so it won't stop any time soon. 1/10 adults take them and the resulting rate of mental disability from brain damage caused by the drugs has skyrocketed. I believe it's a parallel epidemic to vaccine injuries.

SSRIs apparently have effects similar to methamphetamines and LSD, can cause tics, stereotypies, hostility, mania, delusions, hallucinations, violence, suicide, self injury, OCD-- the list goes on. The syndrome is actually the DSM definition of "bipolar disorder" in a nutshell. The drugs were mostly originally derived from solvents, pesticides and industrial dyes, so it's not a big surprise. The theories of efficacy were usually made up after some lab tech noticed that the chemical made people "high"-- no more clinical or "scientific" than sniffing glue.


One more thing about bipolar.

If bipolar - the mannia phase is not some type of epilepsy then how come most of the medicines prescribed for it are

anti- epileptic medications????



No mention of the enviroment in the article you brought to our attention.

Brian circuity????

Bipolar is heredity??

I have one of those bipolars looking at me right now. I am thinking bipolar is mis named. I am thinking ischemia esp in the mannia phase. Some one tell me if there is anything or anywhere I can go for that????

or do I just sit here and give her seraquil and hope for the best?


Thomas Insel is a horrible, talking out of both sides of his ass, evil little man, and simply cannot be trusted, no matter what he says. Reading anything about this man causes me to lose all hope. Check this out, in direct contradiction to what we just read:


Heidi N

What I have to say Tom, since I am pretty sure you are reading this: You're coming along slowly, could you speed up your learning a little. After all, thousands have been recovered by docs and even herbalists and homeopaths who have knowledge to the cause. So, maybe trying to ask those practitioners for some information. Mine are recovered from ridding pathogens and toxins. Their immune systems are shot. I could easily list those pathogens and toxins for you in just a few lines, but I would rather you get the information from a doctor with a success record. After all, anyone else would be discredited whether they were correct or not. Even the docs are afraid to talk, so they are careful what they say. I am sure you have an old college buddy somewhere who has gotten into autism recovery. After all, these docs are everywhere, in all the big cities. I understand your position is a very challenging one, but how long can this continue before the burden is irreversible? I will tell you the real problem. There are not enough checks and balances. When companies go un-checked, they will NOT produce quality. It's just plain human nature. Just like, most would not pay taxes if there were no IRS. Our current checks and balances on everything from medical, to food, to toxins, is not working. We can NOT function with all the conflicts of interests. When the laws get changed, these other problems will fix themselves. We need management overhaul to changes polices, checks, balances, etc., so that medicine, food, environmental toxins, etc. are safe. A big part of autism recovery is completely changing the food intake. It's such poor quality, that it's not healthy to consume. Autism is merely one more disease that has become an epidemic because we have let so many toxins and poor habits develop. People think that everything sold is safe. People were too trusting. Those recovering their children from autism, they don't trust anymore. Many refuse all mainstream medicine. Many are now growing their own food, etc. We have been failed. There is a growing movement to no longer trust blindly, but to do your own research and determine for yourself what is good, bad, healthy, etc. We have no choice. It's either do something different or be disabled. Some policy changing could bring back accountability. With accountability, we might get a more healthier Earth. Without it, things will continue as they are, which is not sustainable. Many of these decisions are within your reach. What are you going to do now that the answers are getting more clear to you, knowing your decisions will significantly impact millions?


Eileen-- though I agree that the increase in birth interventions may facilitate the development of autism, I don't agree that this is the cause and don't generally support the "grab-bag" theory of autism causation. The majority of children with autism were born naturally; many were home birthed by dulas; many didn't have cords clamped prematurely-- and still they developed autism. But yes, autism may very well be more common for those who had C-Section. But that doesn't mean the percent of children with autism born by C-section is that high. It's like the "old mom" thing. Yes, mothers over 40 have a higher risk of having children who subsequently go on to develop autism. But only 5% of children with autism were born to older mothers.

The key to an epidemic is what is in common with victims and, so far, the major culprit is vaccines and, to be more specific, perhaps the mercury in vaccines. The only unvaccinated Amish child reported to have autism (the four others reported had been vaccinated because they were adopted) was one child who had mercury poisoning from proximity to industrial mercury pollution. Live vaccine viruses or even wild viruses may be a crucial part of the "recipe", not merely facilitators.

But I think what you're talking about are facilitators. There are literally thousands of things which no doubt play a role in increased risk-- but that's different than central cause.

Eileen Nicole Simon

In 1975 autism was very rare. I did not know any other children with autism until my oldest son was admitted to the children's unit at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center. My oldest son suffered head trauma at birth, and his brother, Conrad, had to be resuscitated at birth - that's why I looked everywhere for how the brain is damaged by asphyxia. Conrad's developmental milestones were all on time - only his peculiar echolalic speech was strange.

The increase in autism is due to the huge increase in invasive perinatal procedures: ultrasound, induced and augmented labor, clamping off placental circulation moments after birth (this is the worst), then vitamin K, hep B, and more. I suggested an animal research possibility to the IACC at

Yes, animal research, not more experimentation on human infants. This tragic epidemic of autism could have and should have been prevented long ago.


Where does that Autism Speaks money go?? They are soliciting donations from Sprouts markets this month. Fortunately no cashier has asked me to donate, because they would get an earful!

Here's where we know it is going: SALARIES!!! Probably bonuses as well, for raising more money than expected in Chicago

Oh, and another genetic and behavioral study.


Insel is a crook. The worst kind of crook there is: the kind that says he is here to help you, all the while slipping the wallet out of your purse.


well I hope that Dr. Insel finds vaccines and autism as interesting as fertilizer and autism, for our childrens' sakes.


Insel blocked vaccine safety research on IACC while making sure that IACC recommendatons included psychopharmaceutical "treatment" algorithms for autism.

During his directorship of the NIMH, Insel oversaw the most extreme ramping up of officially sanctioned, excessive drugging of children and adults with dangerous psychopharmaceuticals in the US while he covered up evidence of harm and abetted industry corruption and research fraud. If any of this was effective, you would expect rates of disabled mental illness (not including autism) in the US to have declined among adults, instead of skyrocketing to the current 1/70 (from 2 in 1000 in 1955).

Insel wouldn't get on an elevator with an autistic child.

Insel, as the top shrink in the country, might be expected to have healthy children himself if anything he represents has merit, but does he? http://www.silverribbon.org/images/events/events_narsad06_gala13.jpg

Dr. Insel has precided over the worst medical disaster in human history during a period when anyone with integrity and half a brain would have started making connections. Did he sound the alarm? Did he resign in protest for not being heard? Nope. And now, at the eleventh hour, he's going to try to polish up his legacy a bit by admitting that the epidemic actually exists and has to involve an environmental factor.

But it won't polish up his legacy. It shows he had reason to know what was going on and is the guiltier for it. Insel is one of the engineers of the autism epidemic as well as the disaster capitalism exploiting the victims.


A new administration in in power now a little over a year, after eight years of denial and obfuscation by the previous administration. I have little faith that it is going to make a hill of beans difference, because the new boss seems the same as the old boss when it comes to pharmacronyism. But maybe, just maybe, there is some reassessment going on. Maybe they are being forced to recognize that the strategy of defend (vaccines) and defame (parents) is not going to hold much longer. They can say correlation doesn't equal causation until they are blue in the face, they can call us stupid unscientific dangerous rabble all they want, they can pay off and bully the media and hire social networkers to post online all the livelong day, but it isn't going to help them when the wave hits. They aren't going to be able to sweep it under the rug. It's going to cost money. People are going to start waking up and demanding to know WTF is going on. The functionaries fail to recognize that plausibly being able to say you were "prepared" for the wave that's coming -- however laughably false the assertion -- isn't at all the same as being able to explain the reason for the wave. It isn't the same as actually acting with urgency to bring others to safety, helping them to avoid being swept up in the wave. Here, Insel spoonfeeds the hungry lie to students -- the lie that they don't know what's causing it. What a tosser.


@ "Pissed" - thanks for the excellent link. Dr. Insel is totally BSing there -- basically saying stuff like "asked & answered" and "don't divert attention/resources from looking for the real cause". And then he basically says we should not even answer the question of whether vaccines cause autism because diseases are dangerous and some people die from measles.

Sen. Harkin asks a lot of great questions and says he grew up with all these diseases.

Dr. Dawson agrees with Dr. Insel that we can't do a double-blind prospective study where parents don't know whether their kids are being vaccinated or not, because that would be unethical. But while Dr. Insel acts like this means we can't do a vaxed/unvaxed study at all, Dr. Dawson says that we can do a vaxed/unvaxed study. She suggests that medical records should be gathered as part of two large currently ongoing long-term studies of children. If records of vaccines were gathered, an analysis of vaccines received and frequency of autism could shed some light on these issues. Dr. Insel said they don't have funding to gather those records, and Sen. Harkin said he would look into that.

Of course, a prospective study could be done on animals. But Dr. Insel is playing dumb here and acting like there is only one kind of study, a double blind prospective study on humans, which he says would be unethical (I guess he sometimes believes in vaccine choice?)

Schoolteacher in NYC

But haven't you read New Scientist lately? We're the ones in denial! Or are we?

When the crisis has finally grown so big that it is too late to save the system from disaster, we'll see who is accused of having been in denial. I will be proud of having stood with the right people. At the same time I will weep for the generation of innocent children who could have been helped, even saved, had our nation's public health authorities not been in denial.


Two statements: "He did make it clear that the claim of better diagnosing and expanded spectrum could only explain a small portion of the increase. He talked at length about environmental toxins being the cause of the soaring rate of autism. He also admitted he’s clueless as to what the exact triggers might be. "What's probably more striking here is what we don't know."
AND: began his talk by saying: "The best experts may be the parents"


I have always said better diagnosing and expanded spectrum can not explain WHY we are seeing this explosion in cases...I believe they are better at diagnosing and HAD to expand the spectrum BECAUSE of the increase!
I love how they safely stay with "environmental toxins" Yeah, let's not talk about those toxins you shoot our kids up with...those are okay, huh?!

The BEST experts ARE the parents! NOT "The best experts MAY be the parents" He is not clueless!

Tanners Dad

“We have responded to this AS IF IT'S A CRISIS. " Insel Did I fall aspleep for 50 years ... Where is the Response? TannersDad Tim


Why would you bother if the numbers were only 1 out of 15,000.

Because you knew back then even it was 1 out of 350 which went up to 1 out of 250 in the early 80's and now here we are today.

If you have one bit of voice, keep trying, while the rest of us is a crying.


Yes, I think it's probably fluoride. In 1988 children in record numbers started swallowing their fluoridated toothpaste.


Anne- Thanks for this very interesting post. After observing Insel's leadership skills, it strikes me that he's very smart and realizes exactly what's happening (and many of the paths that need following to find out why) but either a) lacks the intestinal fortitude to speak his mind (you see how he gets so painfully close and "almost there", then backs off) or b) recognizes that the only way to get issues on the agenda in the face of real and strong opposition is to dance around the edges. It's clear to me that he knows quite well that Dr. Healy's comments about what we don't know were correct, and that the current construct of vaccine safety, research, and promotion is fatally flawed.

I don't know which of the two more accurately describes where his mind is at but, either way, it's not a good place.

My hope is that the IACC, at a minimum, listens to experts like Denise Resnick and focuses on the lifespan challenges and issues that face the cohort Dr. Insel confirms does exist.


Yes, parents are the experts on everything except when their children reacted to vaccines.

I clearly remember watching Insel and Geraldine Dawson testify for Tom Harkin last August.

Linked below is video of that committee. FF to about minute 134 and watch to the end. Dawson and Insel are in cahoots to not look where they have not looked in regards to vaccines. Harkin got it- he asked the right question- amount of vaccines in 1980 to today. 8 vaccines in first 2 years versus 29 today in the same period.

Insel bumbles the answer. Starts talking about herd immunity among other irrelevant issues in terms of autism- what he was there for. He admits the research hasn't been done but ethically they can't do the research.

Autism Speaks will not be pursing that avenue of research. It's not ethical according to them. It seems it's more ethical to turn a blind eye to one in 91 developing autism then to look at the children who exist today that are not getting the current vaccine schedule.

They are more interested in waiting for the 21 year study- which does not even look at medical records. They claim they don't have enough money to do that. Do we have the money to care for all these children who fall victim to "autism".

Simply put they don't want to know what role vaccines play.

BTW, Autism Speaks just raised 1.3 million in Chicago last weekend. What are they doing with their money??



I really like the picture.
The grasshopper fiddles away his summer.
As we parents try to gather in the harvest of damaged kids.

Eileen Nicole Simon

It is difficult to be heard. In 1975 I proposed a pattern of auditory system impairment that might underlie the language disorder in autism at

I discussed this again at IACC on April 30, and I proposed requiring mandatory long-term care insurance for all citizens from birth - as much to involve actuarial scientists in the search for environmental causes. My comments are at

I will keep trying. . .

Bob Moffitt

There is only ONE hope we have in gaining control over the research that will prove successful in identifying what CAUSES autism. I know it is positively frightening .. but .. that single HOPE lies with our elected representatives in Washington, D.C.

We ought not expect, let alone wait, for Insel to contact Sen. Harkin. Someone with influential access to mainstream media and politicians in Washington should do it .. such as .. AUTISM SPEAKS!!!!!

Why does this powerful organization, some at the higher levels earning lucrative salaries .. remain SILENTlY UNCRITICAL of public health agencies (IACC, CDC, FDA, IOM, NIH, etc)who have proved so dreadfully unsuccessful over DECADES in identifying what is causing the autism epidemic?

When is Autism Speaks going to start demanding our political representatives publicly examine public health officials, under sworn oath, with the same zeal and zest for truth (headlines?)they regularly covet while pursuing Toyota CEO's, FEMA's Katrina response, Goldman Sachs execs, steroid abusers in baseball, on and on and on .....


I wonder if we are getting to witness this man's process unfold right before our eyes. He could go on denying that there is any true increase and that there are no environmental triggers but he is not. He is clearly responding to studies released in the past year pointing to true increase and environmental triggering. My suspicion is that he, just like everyone else in an official capacity, has had huge blinders on. But, because he is so close to the situation and since he is exposed to more information routinely, his are slowly dropping. How far he will ultimately allow them to fall remains to be seen....

Jim Thompson

Thank you Anne.

Once again your message is right on.

This new information screams a message to all parents:

For the sake of your children, contact your US Senators and Representatives and ask that this person be replaced immediately.


What musr it be like for this man to wake up everyday and LIE all day long. He knows and he's ok with his job as chief liar. He'a an evil little man this one.

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