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Autism Speaks: From the Town of Bedrock

Fred_flintstone-5307 By Teresa Conrick

"NEW YORK, N.Y. (September 30, 2010) – Autism Speaks is pleased to announce the 2010 class of Dennis Weatherstone Pre-Doctoral Fellows. Made possible by a multi-year grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation named in honor of former J.P. Morgan CEO Sir Dennis Weatherstone, eight fellowship projects were selected for funding by Autism Speaks with awards totaling $448,000 over the next two years." (Autism Speaks Grants)

Ironically, Sept 30th also marked the 50th anniversary of The Flintstones, another Stone Age group.  How long will we keep getting the same, old, DINOSAUR studies?  It sure looks like GENES is the magic word for giving some researchers easy grant money but who else benefits?  Families?  Children Regressing?  NOPE!  Autism Speaks is living in the past...............

"to study perturbations of synaptic plasticity and intrinsic excitability to aid in the discovery of a common synaptic phenotype among ASDs and facilitate generation of effective therapies for individuals suffering from autism."

Even Fred and Barney know this this has shown nothing in the past and therefore .... what effective therapies are they talking about?

"to evaluate response of children with ASD to an oscillating point of light, studying deficits in the perception and production of motion, setting the stage for future investigations of very early identification of risk for autism, as well as the establishment of early diagnosis criteria"

"Oscillating point of light".....blinking lights on infants to see how they will respond?  Yep, that's new and worth tens of thousands of dollars!!

"to study older youth with 22.a11.2 deletion syndrome as she evaluates their social cognition abilities such as their ability to infer what another person thinks in certain situations: I the only one thinking that the"infer" of this is that it's really dumb and expensive?  And when is a deletion a "syndrome?"  Plus, there has been information available for years, on lead and more importantly, MERCURY, causing deletions!  AS makes it sound like genes just spontaneously delete!  How come they don't want to investigate that? (HERE)

"to conduct a topical human genetic study. Performing comprehensive analysis on the genomes of children with ASD born to parents of advanced age"

YABBA DABBA DOO!  How many times will AS regurgitate the "old genes" theory?  Has it ever showed anything helpful?  NO!  Will they ever get that toxins are the root to the blame?  When will the Flintstones finally meet the Jetsons?

Teresa Conrick is Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.


Teresa Conrick

Neuroskeptic said-

"Next time you want to post about science ask me to fact-check it in advance and you might not look so silly."

Good golly..that's exactly what I should do. Rely on the advice of a skeptico blogger who is rude and grandiose.

You miss the point that I am talking mercury, and "mysterious", "spontaneous" deletions.

A little more science and a little less Freud would be nice, too:

from your Autism category:

"But even if we now see autism as a neurodevelopmental disorder, there is something attractive about Bettelheim's book: it seems to be a serious attempt to understand the autistic experience "from the inside", and to appreciate the autistic child as a person rather than a disease. This is something that we rarely see nowadays."


One AD study sounds interesting: "Dr. Jiang's laboratory created the first ‘knockout' mouse which deleted the SHANK3 gene in mice.... Future studies may lead to important insights into the synaptic basis of ASD pathogenesis and to explore novel therapeutic strategies for ASD." AS is not curious how Dr. Jiang CAUSED the deletion of the SHANK3 gene in mice. They are only interested in finding a drug to mask the damage caused.



You are sure smart!
It puts me to shame how little I know!

So these deletions just happen because its just natural????

So what is the rate of these deletions - I mean dumb me - is it - it - like some regular rate increase, or a steady rate that never changes, or how about a child that regresses - it had the deletions all along it just took it untill age of two to get Kawasaki's or something???

Maybe God invented a destruction button and when he gets tired of us he just pushes the button and the rate of deletions increase untill the human brain as it is "now" that has been around for 100,000 years returns to still human but not like us - like the pre-human brian like what was around about a million years before the human brain of today???

Sure glad there is smart people fact checking these articles so dumb readers like me won't get snookereddd


" I the only one thinking that the"infer" of this is that it's really dumb and expensive? And when is a deletion a "syndrome?" Plus, there has been information available for years, on lead and more importantly, MERCURY, causing deletions! AS makes it sound like genes just spontaneously delete! How come they don't want to investigate that?"

Deletion syndromes are well known in genetics, if you lack a certain gene, or several genes, you may have problems, i.e. a syndrome. 22q11.2 deletion syndrome is just one example, there are many others, depending upon which bit of DNA is deleted.

Sections of DNA do indeed "just spontaneously delete". If something goes wrong during DNA replication in a cell, all of the DNA except a certain section gets copied, but that section is not, so it's deleted in subsequent cells.

This can happen to any part of the genome but it's most likely in certain bits because they have "fragile" (to simplify) DNA nearby.

Next time you want to post about science ask me to fact-check it in advance and you might not look so silly.

Theodora Trudorn

Please don't get me going on Autism Speaks! I can go for hours!!!

One of the many who pretty much ignores anyone with Asperger's. All that money and nothing for us. Nothing for the families who deal with severe autism either. How about you take half of the money you give your scientists to sit around with a thumb up thier (I won't go there...) and actually use it to create programs that will HELP those with autism cope with the world!!

Then, maybe, I might have a more favorable opinion. While a cure is something desired, there needs to be something for those of us who already have the disability. Families also NEED HELP!!!!!! Many are at thier wits end!!

Hey Autism Speaks, how about with your millions you, oh I don't know, DO SOMETHING USEFUL!!!

Oh my, what a concept!!

Teresa Conrick

Dear Margaret,

I am keeping your family in my thoughts and prayers. I share your frustration and hope and anger! Why do so many families have to endure years of anguish and watch their children worsen?

Please post back or contact me

Teresa Conrick


Sure does not seem that your idea of advocating shares my vision or "passion..of AoA."

Your comment -"ASF and those you view to be on the other side of your agenda are really, really skilled at cutting opponents off at the knees in front of policy makers."

Interesting that you brought them up and also interesting that you didn't include yourself here- "Your" agenda?
ie - "we view to be on the other side of our agenda...

but then again I think we knew that.


margaret watson
I read your blog this morning, but did not have time now to respond.

I had no idea that the NIH would actually become involved when other medical avenues had failed!

Thank you for that information.

I am sorry, I will keep you and your granddaughter in our prayers.

Please let us know how it goes??????

Cherry Sperlin Misra

To Margaret Watson, Could you check out Russel Silver syndrome for Emily. This syndrome includes failure to thrive and problems in the esophageal area. With this syndrome, Emily would have a very short height but normal head size. Its easy to treat- you just have to give growth hormone. I believe that this syndrome may have been increasing along with autism. I have seen two cases in the last 3 years of my school. I have never , ever seen any child as short as these two kids (Age two and the height of a nine month old) There is no genetic or other test for Russell- Silver and remember- not every child will have the most exaggerated symptoms of R-S.
And if it is R-S, dont believe it when they tell you it is genetic- Only a small. percentage of RS kids have a particular genetic sign , and that still is not proof that it is definitely genetic in even those kids.Best wishes and please keep us posted about dear Emily. Every child is precious

Theodore Van Oosbree

AS = Autism Sucks!


When AS came to my town, I made sure that I informed all the parents about them.

Sometimes, I venture over to their forum, and it creeps me out that they pay shills to harass parents on the forum. It's just such a creepy thing to do, but obvious.



Dadadvocate we want the truth about vaccines so we can help our children it is that simple, nothing more and certainly nothing less.

These people are in denial,including you and we do not care why you are in denial, about the cause of autism because they make too much money with the vaccines.

Polio virus in this day and age of sanitation and chlorination?

Hep B vaccines (a disease of primarily adult male homosexuals) for little girla and boys that only last4 years typically and 10 years at best Why?

Rotavax that causes small bowel intussusception strangulation of tissue and cell death requiring surgery and possible infant death and serious morbidity for a disease that itself does not even cause that complication that kills virtually no one in the US because we have clean water. Then why give it?

No we want the truth and we are going to have it along with the heads of those responsible.



Teresa - My final thoughts on this issue are that unless AofA directs its obvious passion into effective advocacy, rather than cartoonish criticism of other advocacy groups, the AofA community risks being continually characterised and dismissed out of hand as a bunch of unserious, conspiracy driven tin foil hats. Whatever your personal views, that platform won't get you what you want. ASF and those you view to be on the other side of your agenda are really, really skilled at cutting opponents off at the knees in front of policy makers. To quote the late expert on politics, Hunter S. Thompson, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." AofA folks would do well to heed his advice.

I won't respond to Willie's insult, other than stating to Teresa that you be right, I'm a bit antiquated, but it's because I've been advocating for a long, long time and learned what works and what results in nada and pat on the head rather than policy change. I think Mark, Dan, and Kim "get it", but much of the AofA community seems to be burdened by a troubling certainty on issues which may not apply to all in our broad community. That's an Achilles heel and the exact flip side of the argument many here fight so vehemently.

Consider that, to a degree, everyone may be correct in their arguments when they consider a subset of the affected population, rather than treating the whole as a monolithic disorder.

Anyhow, my focus for a while now has been firmly on adult issues rather than causation and early intervention. I still strongly support research into immune and auto immune issues, including vaccines, and am deeply troubled by the current public health construct that tosses out checks and balances in favor of a structure that is all too vulnerable to commercial interests and links vaccine promotion and safety.

So have at it but keep in mind that effective advocacy isn't moaning and groaning and criticising others for what they do. It's putting together an effective organization to advocate for what YOU want to do. Much appreciation, Teresa, for the civility.

the denial is sad

Cindy: It's a shame Andy Ursitti has this arrogant attitude. If you have ever met their son you can see what extreme damage has been done to him and how he would benefit from biomed and research into vaccines. It's too bad his parents are in denial, but they must love the attention that comes along with raising all that money. Like so many others they think walking for Autism Speaks makes a difference. Many of these mindless followers call DAN doctors snake oil salesmen. Autism Speaks and their hacks are the biggest snake oil salesmen imaginable.


Ditto what WILLIE said.


Well said, WILLIE. I completely agree.

"Any group not proposing, preparing or executing vaccine research is just f----ng around and their position should be ignored as complete and utter nonsense."



Well I read non profit tax returns. I want to know where my donations go and my volunteer hours. A great resource is Especially where I tell family and friends to help in honor of my son working so hard & living with autism. He's my hero. 
The problem I have with Autism Speaks is folks raise money for them thinking they are helping families. Autism Speaks is raising funds for research not much for families today. Fact- see their tax return. 
And on topic Autism Speaks needs to start to fund regressive autism which now seems to make up the largest % of kids. 
The genetic hunt has lost focus and delayed progress. 
While you can discuss percentages - which AS %'s are below BBB standards- they are research focused. 
We need both - Help for families AND research. The question is for donors - which do you support? And please do your research so time and money follow your intentions.
Whether we like it or not autism is a business. But the public can help shape non profits by getting involved and help engage your resources. You are stronger than you think - only when you act for positive change. 

margaret watson

This whole subjects reminds me of all the bureaucracy and garbage around so many funded things that pay "researchers" for busy work and accomplish nothing.For nine years, my grandaughter has been dragged to ever specialist and every test and to major teaching no avail for a diagnosis.PEH with failure to thrive.Now we are going to be seen at the NIH. I hope she lives long enough for SOMEBODY to do SOMETHING.NIH is our last hope.Insurance sucks, NIH will not see you until every specialist has been unable to diagnose my grandaughter.At John Hopkins where she had two procedures, the surgeon and anesthesiologist brought other doctors and nurses to see her because they said they had never seen a smarter, more cooperative, braver 5 year old. Great...but no answers.Her mother is a microbiologist stay at home mother who could not do a better job of monotoring her.But she seems to be no priority as she wastes away to nothing.She has not gained a pound in three years...all has been bone growth.Where is there anything for a child unable to be diagnosed and she has been put through more than I can believe and is still sweet, smart, a great sense of humor and tires so easily that she cannot participate and now is home schooled.Into what category does she fall?There is not enough space to list her tests, scans, etc,, genetic work up from parents (Why? Find out what is wrong), blood work sent to a special lab in Switzerland. And we know nothing.So, National Institutes of Health is our last hope.Once there is a diagnosis, there are choices of ways to proceed. What do we do with Emily??? She literally is vanisishing before our eyes.Where is the funding for difficult to diagnose diseases? Will our answer be after an autopsy? She is on my mind every day and we have spent hours calling, sending asking hospitals all over the country.I feel our medical care has failed us.


"My son has exhibited severe issues with proprioception, as have many in our community. Getting out of a car. Riding an escalator. Movement, balance, place in space...all affected (though, like many, floating nearly weightless in a pool of water is magic and a comfort to him). These are real issues that this type of study may aid as some kind of step that others may build on in the future"
This comment is so nonsensical that it defies an intelligent response

Ladies and Gentleman

Any group of people, bloggers, researchers, autism groups, federal or state support groups, physicians, politicians, legislators, alleged parents or real parents that refuse to acknowledge the central and precipitating role of the unnecessary vaccines, all of them, (yes you read that correctly all of them, they are all bullshit every last one them even if you do not know it or simply to delusional to accept it) in autism has to be regarded as a hostile diametrically opposed faction with ulterior and nefarious motives. These people cannot be trusted they know the truth that VACCINES CAUSE AUTISM and they seek to conceal this very truth by any means.
Do not even bother to talk to these people they are simply measuring your knowledge trying to gauge how much longer they can keep up this manipulative masquerade of caring about children or the families that endure with this man made plague that will most likely send each and every one of them to hell. Many of these people are simply paid off like cheap harlequins to come and raise false flags of focus and interest like the person above.
Even the most novice of parents in autism want to relieve the disease which will obviously resolve the symptoms not observe and accommodate the symptoms as this alleged parent is suggesting. Is it possible he is that uninformed? Yes but doubtful.
Any group not proposing, preparing or executing vaccine research is just f----ng around and their position should be ignored as complete and utter nonsense


Jim Witte

>to study perturbations of synaptic plasticity and intrinsic excitability

This *might* lead to good research in other areas.. Tissue engineering for TBI. Now, if they'd just study how *HBOT* changes synaptic plasticity (and interactions with EGFR/Notch signalling in the hippocampus [1].. That might get somewhere.

[1] “Aguirre A et al. "Notch and EGFR pathway interaction regulates neural stem cell number and self-renewal.” Nature 467, 323-327 (16 September 2010)

Teresa Conrick


Interesting. So you say that you don't believe a parent sharing:

"Autism Speaks is sucking the funds out of every state in this nation. Funds that use to go to smaller Autism groups within each state that actually aided and helped families. Many have folded in my state as donors feel that giving to AS is giving to "autism" and they have done their part."

And your comment regarding NAAR and CAN seems a bit antiquated. When they formed, autism rates were just starting to accelerate but it was 1999, maybe earlier. There was no money as the numbers were not there yet (autism diagnoses) in children. Then this comment, " How many studies does ASA or ARI fund?" Again, a tone of anger, disdain? They do not have the money like AS which was the point of my post. People keep giving to AS walks,fundraisers etc thinking they are helping yet these studies are not meaningful to many families.

Katie Wright is a wonderful mother and advocate, since you brought her up. I think she has made it clear that research at AS is not up to par. Your fixation on cartoon characters as well as your earlier confusion of "mocking" by me gives a sense that somehow you are personally affected by my post that was aimed at an organization that many take issue with. Just needed to point that out.


My oh my. AofA has a bigger challenge than I thought keeping the car on the road (thought I am sympathetic and support many initiatives I read on this site).

Autism Speaks as the Great Satan sucking out $ from other more effective non-profits? Give me a break and give me the evidence (hint: you can't). In answer to Teresa, I am not sick of the influence of AS because before they merged NAAR and CAN together there wasn't any leverage to attract research funding for autism. It was viewed as a career dead end in academic circles. Period.

How many studies does ASA or ARI fund? Not many. Before AS we were simply mom and pop organizations with no scale whatsoever, no leverage, and no seat at the table.

I suggest that people advocate and lobby AS aggressively and rationally (Like Katie Wright does...and not in a cartoonish and easy to dismiss way) to pursue the studies that are applied for that they support.

Autism Grandma

Great illustration of Fred Flintstone sleeping in the hammock---That's Autism Speaks alright---Sleeping on the Job.

Just posting a previous post I wrote regarding Autism Speaks because I am too pooped out to write anything new, and there really isn't anything new going on with Autism Speaks because it's always the same game of beating around the bush in their so called "research"....and oh yes, their other primary function is to support the vaccine schedule at all costs...

Excuse me, but what's up with Autism Speaks? There is not one mention of the word "Vaccines". If you will notice from the following information from the Autism Speaks website, anything and everything BUT vaccines are being researched with their massive funding budget of 33 million for 2008, of which only 2% is going towards vaccines.

Autism Speaks is right in there with the rest of the mainstream medical denial of the reality of Vaccines being the primary single cause of autism. It seems apparent to me that Autism Speaks is involved in the vaccines cover up propaganda. Autism Speaks does NOT speak for our family or for my grandson.

If questions remain, what do you tell parents when they ask whether they should get their child vaccinated?

Let me be clear: Autism Speaks fully supports childhood immunization and strongly encourages parents to vaccinate their children. Our vaccine program is one of our nation's most effective programs for preventing serious infectious diseases. If parents have concerns about the safety of vaccines, we encourage them to find a pediatrician with whom they can ask their questions and establish a trusting relationship. Working with their pediatrician, we trust that parents can make thoughtful decisions about their child's health.

How much of Autism Speaks' research budget is devoted to studying vaccines?

The amount of funding we are devoting to research that is relevant to vaccines is only a small percentage of our overall research budget, about 2%. The bulk of our $33 million in research funding in 2008 is focused on identification of a wide range of genetic and other environmental risk factors, biological mechanisms, diagnosis and early detection, and discovery of effective treatments. We also invest a substantial amount of funds in developing resources for scientific discovery, such as the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE), the largest private genetic data base in the world, and the Autism Tissue Program, a brain tissue donation program dedicated to autism research, among others.

Hundreds of scientists are currently using these resources to advance our knowledge about the causes and underlying biology of autism spectrum disorders. [BIG FAT LIE]

michael framson

Autism Speaks is nothing more than a "stimulous package," a "jobs programs" for the genetic research industry. There function is to funnel research dollars away from anything environmental and of potential immediate usefulness to the children now.

Autism Speaks is an obscenity. They are dishonest, vulgar, and unworthy.

Kendra Pettengill

It is not just public funds we have a right to scream about. The reason.....Autism Speaks is sucking the funds out of every state in this nation. Funds that use to go to smaller Autism groups within each state that actually aided and helped families. Many have folded in my state as donors feel that giving to AS is giving to "autism" and they have done their part.
Meanwhile AS has never helped a single family cope, function, finance help and therapies as all the money is suctioned off for these ignorant attempt to look like they are doing something.
Along with our own money from our own states being used against us in securing the rights of our children to medical care and treatments through insurance. AS will sign on to any bill written by Insurance companies, again claiming they "helped". Well they helped someone, but not families dealing with Autism.
The money AS takes from our states is public money, but the public is being defrauded and convinced they are somhow helping with "Autism". Instead they are robbing the children in their own state of any meaningful assistance that local or state groups used to provide.


To Stagmom: I didn't say it caused it, and neither did the book. It was a book examining some of the many potential environmental contributers to ADD. Personally, I very quickly noticed that heavy metals and nutritional deficiencies were not even discussed and so it's not a book I would recommend in general. But I'm not one to throw the baby out with the bath water and found some otherwise compelling information in it. I'd like to add that I carefully said "exacerbating" as in making an existing situation worse and used the word "contributing" as in not the
"cause." but a possible additional thing that adds to or affects a situation. If anyone thinks TVs help children's minds grow in general, that's great, but I don't agree. I think it has a very negative affect on developing brains, research supports it, and the type of graphics involved is relevant. And if a child has a medical condition that makes his or her brain very susceptible to environmental toxins, it's possible TV can make it even worse in a SUBGROUP of them. And so I think that examining ocillating lights and how autistic children react to them could shed some light on the effect of visual stimulation on a child with ASD. It might not lead to a cure, but it could lead to new coping mechanisms. I would compare it to knowing that gluten or caseins or lectins might have an adverse affect on brain functioning and so I would be very careful re: what I would expose my child to. Certain visuals in certain children might result in negative behaviours or additional difficulties in sensory processing issues.


If your child is severe the federal government will support him (a little)!
Medicaid will be given if your child is servere. Oh, never mind that no doctor will take Medicaid!!! I know because I have asked around about it for the last four years while waiting for a ruling from the SSI office.

"Nurse, does this docotor's office take medicaid?"

"Well, only if they are an establishied patient here." Comes a hestitant answer.

"Well, what happens if the doctor in your group leaves?" I asked.

"Well, the nurse stutters,"If your son is the established patient then the doctor leaves - well - that means he is no longer established."

UK medical center though has to take all Medicaid patients because the state of Kentucky gives them money. BUT all of these are specialists, and it takes a regular doc to give a referrial. Ha Hay, one of them catch 22 moments!

They also will give beside Medicaid - 5,000 dollars a year for expenses. THat is right 5,000 dollars. Hmmm after medicine paid out of pocket that leaves 3,000 dollars. What to buy ----- ??? so many choices; food, clothing, but mostly extra medical help that medicaid would not pay for, or it will go to doctors that take cash instead???

The federal government has no intention of giving us justice, or help, or satisfication. Oh and I want satisfication. I want to hear the head of the CDC stand in front of the cameras and say:

We were wrong. Vaccine does cause autism. This is what happened - and explain.

Then I want to hear a news reporter say. "Hay back in the 80's when this was first happening why didn't you get your arse in gear and do your job instead of saying there was not a chance?"

That is not going to happen. I did not even get satisfacation or justice from SSI.

The only smigett of satisfacation I got out of trying to get SSI for my son was: The federal government had to pay for two psychs. The federal government had to pay for the judge's time - twice, and for someone to read my son's records - three times.

I got to hear about the last psych discussing this with the judge - and he said that all the trouble was brought about by a drug. To cowardly to say vaccine- but now he said just drug induced.

I also got to hear from our lawyer that the psych also said that my son had 23 years of assessments done on him but no treatmenst and he needed treatments. Now what kind of treatment would that be???

Nope, left hanging because it was once again the refrigerator Mom's (Me) heres fault that all we go were assessments and no treatment. Yep, that is me!

Only treatment I guess comes from a bonifide, sure enough, degree holding, college educated, liscense holding, allowed to sell you snake oil medicine psychologist.

Yeap, my son needs this kind of treatment. Did the psych say where we could get this treatment and in the mean time who is suppose to help support a 24 year old that cannot support himself --- oh, yes his parents.

You can not defaud this system - I promise you!!!!The vaccine courts are rigged and also so is the SSI program. It is for those really, really bad off (I am glad for that help to them), but not a dime to those that might could do a lot with just a little support.


This comment is worth repeating. Let's not forget the breed of parents who are the mouthpieces for A.S. and whose influence prevent the proper studies from getting done. Apparently the Ursitti's don't believe in vaccine damage (so much so they seem to mock others who do) nor the research that should be being done, yet they claim they are advocates and raise money for A.S. that goes where? No where useful. Parents like this are far from being advocates but rather hinder the process of getting to the bottom of autism. Maybe they find their situation with severe autism lovely and beautiful but most parents don't. People should stop giving money to these morons.

"Autism Science Foundation All three thimerosal cases are DENIED by Vaccine Court

Andy Ursitti
"It's a conspiracy !!!11!!!"

Just thought I'd go ahead and get that out of the way :-)
Yesterday at 3:09pm

JM, aw, your friends husband celebrated the vaccine court decision yesterday with Alison Singer, how cute! It's nice they were able to stay friends, even though Singer f@#ked the Wrights with barbed wire. He is also a member of Paul Offit Saves Lives on facebook. Charming.

Autism Speaks did fund the Denmark studies. Time to celebrate!! No funding for a lifelong disability, yessssss!!!!!

Paul Thorson (2001 and 2002): Risk Factors for Neurodevelopmental Disorders: MMR Vaccine and Childhood Autism ($105,300).

Used medical records in a group of children in Denmark to determine the change in rates of autism as a function of MMR vaccination."

Posted by: Autism Speaks parents celebrating vaccine court decisions? | March 13, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Tara Marshall

What the scientists funded by Autism Speaks and the members of the group itself are failing to understand is a very BASIC biological principle. They are confusing "genotype" with "phenotype".

The genotype is the raw genetic code, what proteins and enzymes the DNA of our nuclei are coded to make. The epigenetics of each cell (and yes, this is different from cell to cell) are what genes are turned on and off in that cell - you don't want your liver cells and your brain cells to code for exactly the same proteins and enzymes, or there would be no difference between the two organs in function. What this results in is the phenotype - the gene expression, which IS affected greatly by the environment.

For a lovely example, look up a breed of cow called the Belgian Blue. It was bred over generations (for reasons best known and understood by the breeders of cows) to have an extraordinary set of musculature, fully comparable to Arnold Schwarzenneger (sp) in his prime. Do we think that Arnold had a similar genetic gift to a cow that is the result of generations of selective breeding? Probably not (the idea boggles the mind, the Nazi eugenics programs would have had to begun in the Dark Ages for that to be possible on a human generational time scale).

People who are body builders end up looking like the cow in musculature, not because they have genes for the same thing, but BECAUSE THEY MODIFIED THEIR ENVIRONMENTS. They eat specific foods to encourage muscle growth, take growth factors, hormones, anabolic steroids, and etc., then WORK OUT to make sure that all these things are expressed in their ultimate possible fashion. The end result is a person with extraordinary musculature, but with the same genes as their twin, couch potato brother who has difficulty his six-pack of beer.

Genes for autism? Sure, just like there are genes for being great weight-lifters. There probably are a few, but they're the exceptions to the rule. Remember, just 2 decades ago, most people currently diagnosed with Fragile X were diagnosed based on their phenotypic appearance as being autistic. Now they have a medical diagnosis.

Yet, even as this and other populations are REMOVED from the umbrella of autism under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Psychiatric Disorders because of their medical diagnosis, the rate of autism has increased. Hmmm.

Teresa Conrick


I'm right back at you- respectfully disagreeing.

I'm not sure where you are coming from or where you are going with your thoughts but you are entitled to them.

My daughter has severe medical-sensory issues - I am not dismissing our children nor their needs- so your issue with "mocking" may be misunderstood by you.

It is interesting that your focus is on issues such as "Medicare/medicaid fraud" or "gaming the system" - which had not a thing to do with the theme of my post. Are you not a bit tired of enormous amounts of money, influence and possible political persuasion being granted by AS? I think our children need a voice as to WHY they have the medical issues that they do and the need for treatments that are not the same old thing or a 4th version of the same old thing. Having AS influence causation, research and treatments gives all of us the right to say "enough!"

We cannot ignore the fact that the environment (yes, that's mercury) and vaccines are linked to autism. Studying a child or young adult with a rare "deletion syndrome" as to what they "infer" rather than what happened to them- ie caused the deletion(s), medical issues- "autism" diagnosis- is a reality that we cannot continue to ignore.


Great post, Teresa.

Jen - “Losers over at Autism Speaks are beating on a dead drum.” I agree.

"This is environmental damage affecting expression of genes, which does not involve mutations of the genes." - Bob (from a recent AoA thread)

Darwin, himself, could not have anticipated that his theory of evolution would completely sputter-out and be replaced by transgenerational intoxication by pharma's chemicals and biologicals. This gives the phrases "genetic drift", “spontaneous mutations”, and “survival of the fittest” entirely new meaning. The time frame for spontaneous mutation of genes becomes much less relevant when the vaccine schedules regularly transfect us with non-human DNA, retroviruses, reverse transcriptases, chemical and heavy metal toxins. This is entirely a man-made phenomenon. Survival of the fittest has been replaced by social Darwinism. Pharma's genetic engineering endangers us all. If we do not soon stem the rising tide of chemical and biologic intoxicants by pharma, extinction of the species is a distinct possibility.


Look for some grad students to actually do most of the research on "baby mouse faces" and then write up some "promising results" and get another AS grant in 2011..


This hunt for the elusive autism gene reminds me of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.... I can almost hear the sound of those coconuts clapping..hehe..

For those old enough to remember....enjoy!

Anne McElroy Dachel

You'd think some of these people would be getting a little embarrassed after years of genetic research that can't possibly explain where all these kids are coming from.

Personally, I'm waiting to someone to do a study projecting how much all this autism is going to cost and tell us how in the world we're going to pay for it when one percent of adults, as well as children, have autism.

Curious in WI
Anne Dachel


I don't TV has caused ADD, I think TV has changed to meet the needs of children who can not concentrate or focus. The supply is to meet the demand.


what a waste of time and resources. The human genome project showed humans to have only 30,000 genes. Worms have 19,000, fish have 40,000 and the average plant has around 60,000. As the Human Genome Project drew to a close in 2001, biologist David Baltimore commented that "Unless the human genome contains a lot of genes which are invisitble to our computers, it is clear that we do not gain our undoubted complexity over worms and plants by using more genes." ======= EPIGENETICS. Losers over at Autism Speaks are beating on a dead drum.


I respectfully disagree with a good deal of your post, Teresa. I'm also not wild about the current balance that tilts the playing field toward genomics. I think that many genomic focused labs are in vogue and professionally persuasive in applying for grants. I'm also not wild about giving more dough to Catherine Lord, but refining adult diagnostic tools might actually be useful going forward to keep people from gaming the system and diverting (stealing) funding from adults with autism who actually need the safety net.

Medicare/medicaid fraud is a real problem and is going to get worse with an aging population. The flip side of greater autism awareness is that criminals will use it as a cover for their theft. Adults with autism need to be at or near the front of the line vis a vis supports. Fraudsters and self diagnostic abusers can prevent people with autism getting necessary supports.

Second, what heck is wrong with in vivo imaging to uncover potential cortical damage in mouse models? Third, let's examine the "blinking lights to examine complex movement variability study" that you mock. My son has exhibited severe issues with proprioception, as have many in our community. Getting out of a car. Riding an escalator. Movement, balance, place in space...all affected (though, like many, floating nearly weightless in a pool of water is magic and a comfort to him). These are real issues that this type of study may aid as some kind of step that others may build on in the future. The research process is generally iterative, not revolutionary. Lots of dead ends. Lots of wrong turns. That's the risk the donor takes when they fund. My advice (if you want it) is to focus on the publicly funded research. That's your and my dough and I want the Centers for Excellence to be just that. My fear is that the $ are simply funding existing labs and some are slapping the word "autism" on their mission to capture funding.

I'd prefer reading a post here about the promising grants applications that haven't been funded but ought to have been. That can be a good thing to debate and discuss.


I am in no way saying that TV causes autism. But in a book re: ADD, which is sometimes comorbid w/ASD, my friend showed me a chapter on TV and how it affects attention spans and the brain. (The book discusses several contributing factors) It cited an incidence in Japan, when on a Pokemon episode there was a sustained scene with explosions with lights flashing at a frequency of several times a second. (I am not quoting specifics but off my memory.) Something like 900 children were admitted to the hospitals with seizures that night. The general resulting idea is that the flash frequency can elicit various responses in the brain, only one of which might be seizures. Maybe the ocillating light study could shed more info on that. Of course I know that it doesn't apply to bitty babies just born and not even old enough to lift their head and see a TV screen, but it could be a contributing exacerbating environmental factor in older subgroups of kids.


Katie-please tell your parents that they need a new scientific advisory board! We will all be long gone before they wake up to the fact that there is no such thing as a genetic epidemic! Wake up Autism Speaks before it's too late and we lose a whole generation to an illness and not a genetic problem!

Alison MacNeil

O.K. I've renamed these stupid studies (no offense to children with deletion 22.all.2, could be my child for all I know)

1."Common synaptic phenotype study" - More Social Skills Groups for Kids with Fried Circuit Breakers.

2."Oscillating point of light study" - Baby Loves Disco.

3."Deletion syndrome study" - One Sandwich Short of a Picnic.

4."Advanced age study" - 30 is the new 40.


At least Fred and Barney had Wilma and Betty to keep them in line when they did crazy things! Autism Speaks needs a couple of sensible stone-age wives to keep them in line. Not happening!

Maurine Meleck

The month of September, 2010 also marks the 30th anniversary of the Nutcracker auditions in NYC. Care to comment?
Thanks Teresa for this great piece.


Combined with mood and neurology altering drugs, Claudine. And the violence explodes and the lack of functioning continues and American swirls further down the toilet so pharma can make money and a handful of people can get grants and a smaller handful can believe they are not brain injured, which, even if they are not, should not prevent them from seeing that many many people are and need better research.

Claudine Liss

There are so many illnesses out there. All of these entities will be investigating genes until the end of time. We will all be long gone ........

I wish they would start researching detox protocols. I feel that our young women and men will need to detox prior to procreating. Compromised adults..birthing compromised babies...topped off with the aggressive protocol that would most likely injure the most healthy of adult humans, never mind an infant...ugh

Thank you exposing the BS to the light.

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