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Meet The Age of Autism's Mark Blaxill & Dan Olmsted At the NAA Conference

Happy Third Birthday to Age of Autism!

Editor's note: This post ran on November 10, 2007

Welcome to The Age of Autism, the nation's first daily Web newspaper for the environmental-biomedical community – those who believe autism is an environmentally induced illness, that it is treatable, and that children can recover. For the most part, the major media in the United States aren't interested in that point of view, they won't investigate the causes and possible biomedical treatments of autism independently, and they don't listen to the most important voices – those of the parents. We will do all those things, and more.

To illustrate the difference The Age of Autism will make, consider the way the Baltimore Sun edited a story about Jenny McCarthy, who believes that vaccines triggered her child's autism and that biomedical treatments are a big part of his remarkable and ongoing improvement. Here are phrases that were taken out of the story that originally ran in the Chicago Tribune, as noted by Anne Dachel, who will be Age of Autism's media editor:   

1)  Autism is "something McCarthy believes was triggered by vaccines." Deleted.

2)  "It's not just that she is voicing the same thing parents have been saying for years ('We vaccinated our babies and something happened') on high-profile programs such as The Oprah Winfrey Show and Larry King Live." Deleted.

3) "DAN! also provides contacts for the approximately 600 doctors in the U.S. who use complementary and alternative therapies to treat autism." Deleted.

4) "McCarthy wasn't about to wait for evidence-based medicine; she felt she had a limited window of time to pull her son back into this world." Deleted.

What the (deleted)!? And what an irony that Baltimore is where autism was first diagnosed, and that the Johns Hopkins psychiatrist who did so was the first of many to miss the environmental clues that could have kept hundreds of thousands more cases from ever happening. How can we trust the mainstream media to cover the autism epidemic when they themselves censor important information and skew the discussion toward the tired old genetic argument? Even the fact that autism rates are soaring – self-evident to anyone with eyes to see, and clear evidence of an environmental trigger – is treated as a big question mark by the media and public health officials. At The Age of Autism, we're not going to let those suffering from epidemic denial -- E.D., as our editor-at-large Mark Blaxill calls it -- waste our time or delay urgent research into What's Going On (the apt name of Mark's landmark epidemiology review).

As many of you know, I wrote the Age of Autism column for United Press International for two years, and I became convinced by my own reporting that autism's origins are recent -- triggered by something new in the environment -- and that treatment can work. I located the very first case ever described in the medical literature, Donald T., and heard from his brother the remarkable story of Donald's recovery from severe autism when gold salts were used to treat his juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease. To state the obvious: The very first case of autism recovered with biomedical treatment, but the doctors ignored it because they were so busy blaming parents. Now they don't blame parents for causing autism, they just blame them for trying to do anything about it.

I'm proud to team up with several people who have done a great deal about it, both for their own children and for the autism community at large: Managing Editor Kim Stagliano, mom of three autistic daughters who still found time to write for Rescue Post and for Huffington Post with a brand of hard-won humor that is uniquely hers; and editor-at-large Mark Blaxill. They and J.B. Handley were instrumental in bringing this site to life, along with our founding sponsors SafeMinds, Generation Rescue and TACA. [Now including the Autism Research Institute and Lee Silsby.]

The Age of Autism will be wide-open and transparent in its reporting and commentary on causes and treatments; I am beholden to no individual, organization or fixed point of view. My commitment is to in-depth reporting. I am not a social worker or an autism parent, I'm a journalist drawn to what I called, in my last UPI column, "the story of a lifetime." Based on my own work, I do believe mercury – including the horrendously neurotoxic ethyl mercury in vaccines – is clearly implicated in the rise of autism, and that its continued use in flu shots for children and pregnant women is catastrophic. So is the expanding use of thimerosal in vaccines shipped to developing countries where (no surprise) autism rates are soaring.

Generation Rescue did a phone survey showing much lowers rates of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism, in never-vaccinated kids. That study demonstrated by example that such children are not at all hard to find in the United States, contrary to the protests of the CDC. Again, the media ignored this startling survey when they weren't belittling it – another sign of journalistic group-think from those who believe whatever "the experts" tell them.

We're not going to settle for that. We'll follow the truth wherever it leads, and we hope you'll come along with us and, if you can manage it, donate to The Age of Autism and help us pursue this story. Fasten your seat belts – it's going to be a bumpy ride.

All the best,

Dan Olmsted

Comments

MinorityView

Pam, that is a very good idea. What you are suggesting is to drown them in case studies. May I suggest that a good person to start this strategy would be Judy Converse, a nutritionist who has worked with a large number of children, has a good track record, is a published author, and I believe, keeps professional standard records.

Pam Long

As a fan of Age of Autism, can I offer:

A winning strategy for the biomedical community from the trenches in academia
(where books, spokespersons, & anecdotal recovery stories are ignored)

How did ABA therapy for autism earn the coveted endorsement as “evidence-based” for effective autism treatment? That is a question the biomedical community needs to examine if it wants a respected seat at any forum for autism. Most educators and parents would agree that behavioral therapy is probably the most promising educational approach to autism. However, many children with autism will not optimally respond to any therapy until their underlying medical issues are mitigated or resolved. As a graduate student in Educational Psychology, my peers who are school psychologists and behavioral therapists will not recommend any biomedical interventions to parents because it is not “evidence-based.” As a parent of a significantly recovered six-year-old son who benefited from biomedical interventions, I see firsthand that the biomedical community is not gaining ground with the next generation of interventionists. One textbook published in 2010 offers two theories on autism causation: psychological damage inflicted by the family, and genetics. How can the psychodynamic theory explain that many parents with a child with autism have responsibly parented neurotypical children? How can genetic theory explain that 70% of cases of autism include a regression after two years of typical development? Infuriatingly, textbooks are still omitting that there are several published research studies that demonstrate an environmental theory of causation, specifically mercury (most recently Geier et. al, 2010; Kern et. al, 2010a; Kern et. al, 2010b; Lakshmi et. al, 2010; Majewski et. al, 2010).
As a former Army officer, I look to historical precedents for winning strategies. ABA therapy earned its evidence based status and subsequent recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics by single-subject design research. This type of research rejects large population-based studies and shuns statistical analyses which hide outliers. Single subject design focuses on the individual, controlled variables in the environment, and the functional relationship between intervention and improvement of the individual’s behavior. With one child at a time starting in the 1970’s, behaviorists published single subject research and eventually demonstrated that ABA therapy dramatically improved the behavior and functioning of children with autism.
What are the lessons learned for the biomedical community who cannot compete with the financial resources, large studies, and media support of the pharmaceutical industry? In the American Revolution, the colonists were similarly out-resourced by the British. The patriot townspeople resorted to guerilla tactics with sticks and stones by ambushing the marching, armed, uniformed soldiers from town to town. Subsequently, public opinion in Britain began to dissolve about the war on America. Likewise, the biomedical community needs to form a militia of parents and doctors who are willing to throw the first stones—to publish dozens of single subject design research studies. In order to influence those mainstream educators on the front lines of autism interventions, there must be research with replication that supports biomedical treatments.
Given the logistical weaknesses of the biomedical community, I notice that the single subject research employed by the behavior therapists has proven an effective strategy towards credentialing a movement, and the ingenious resourcefulness of the American Revolutionists has provided a precedent for changing public opinion. Currently, I could find only two relevant single subject studies in support of dietary intervention in the university electronic database (O’Banion, 1978; Genuis and Bouchard, 2009). However, in the files and clients of DAN! doctors across the nation, there is potentially hundreds of single subject designs studies. Like the Army motto which acknowledges the power of the individual to change the outcome of the battle, the biomedical community could embrace the potential of an “Autism of One” and quietly publish dozens of single subject design studies by the next World Autism Day.

Theodora Trudorn

*grins like a lunatic*

Thank you all for the birthday wishes!! Even though we were celebrating aofa.

*raises tea mug*

A toast to you all!!!

I shall keep on keeping on! It's just a heavy relief to me, and relieves that massive burden on my shoulders to know I am not alone in my fight. WE WILL MAKE THE INVISABLE VISABLE!!! :D:D:D:D

Whether pharma or anyone else likes it or not.....

*cue in evil laugh here*

Bre

9 years ago Halloween day, my Daniel was diagnosed! Life has gotten better in the last 3 with AoA, THANK YOU for giving me a site that I pass to parents and recently soon to be doc's @ the park.

Happy Day

Twyla

Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you!

TannersDad Tim Welsh

I wish we were not marking tis anniversary....The day of parties is held until we get answers and support. Thank you for all the team does

4Bobby

Thanks for all you do. I am a daily reader.

julie

Three years old... and my son was diagnosed three years ago. Thank you all. At times you have been my only source of sanity and strength.

Carolyn M

Happy 3rd birthday! Thank you for being such a great resource. May you have many more birthdays and be even more successful!

Happy Birthday Theodora! I hope you have a great day!

tara mcmillan

Thank You for making the connection to our kids, and recovery. One day I pray that I will have a recovered son. You all empower me to want to help him as much as I can.

Betsy

Happy #3!!!! :)

rileysmom

Thank you to Age of Autism for the continued fight, information and break down of all things vaccine injury related. You guys are my "go too" when I have a question or perhaps don't understand something. Your site always provides the answers and discussion I'm looking for. A great group of people!
Happy Birthday Theodora!!!

Jean

A HUGE thank you and appreciation to all of the amazing editors at this wonderful daily newspaper for your tireless work and efforts as true journalists and humanitarians.

May you continue to be able to follow the path of truth no matter what dangers come up along the road in finding it!

Your work has positively affected the lives of countless individuals. No doubt this is one of the results of your integrity and honesty in this pursuit, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable it may become. God bless you all, and again thank you on behalf of all the families and children.

Maurine Meleck

Age of Autism, another reason to rise with the sniff of Starbucks and the toot of the train. Buon Compleanous.
Am I really 3 years older?

Pharmwatch

Happy Birthday Theodora!! The way I see it, your success (with help from your warrior mom) and your advocacy are what this website is all about. A toast to you!

Beth

I remember anxiously awaiting the next installment of Dan's Age of Autism column from UPI. What would he discover next? He always had something new and important to share and I became a huge fan.

And then along came the AoA website and daily newspaper and I was and still am thrilled to see what information is posted here each day.

As a journalism major, I learned about Woodward and Bernstein and their coverage of the Nixon scandal - in "All the President's Men," and well at the end of the day that's just a bunch of dirty rotten politics in the USA.

Olmsted is covering "the Story of a Lifetime" and it's global and autism impacts so many more people and in such a devastating way.

Thank you guys for being here and doing what you do. And Happy Birthday!

cmo

With the newspaper media starved for revenue, there is nothing more important than the "pharma ads" some which may run 2-3 full pages.

That determines what needs to be "deleted from the news stories." A few decades ago the "actual news" used to be what was important.

Could you imagine in the 50's pharma mocking what the "polio mothers" were saying for ten or twenty years and getting away with it ???

There seems to be a push on the TV news for the adult DTaP shot... which is marketed with a "grandparent going to infect your grandchildren" format.


Theodore Van Oosbree

Years ago, I used to think to myself that journalists were missing the greatest medical scandal in history. Thanks to Mr. Kirby and Mr. Olmsted I can amend that sentiment: MOST journalists are missing the greatest medical scandal in history. Thank you gentlemen for shining a light into this blackest of all corners.

Cat Jameson

Happy Birthday! What a gift it is to be here to walk along side other people who believe in our kids. Thank you all so much.

Deb in IL

I will proudly wear my t-shirt today in your honor :)

Theodora Trudorn

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!

From the greatful AS daughter of another mom warrior!!

I too am having a birthday. I turn 26 tomorrow!! I made my own giant cake who do to hard work and mom's prodding, will be a shared giant cake. There will be a little merlot and some music.


*sends some cake and merlot to aofa*

Here, let us celebrate together!! Hurrah for birthdays! Hurrah for moma warriors!! Keep on with the good work!

casey

Happy Birthday! This month is the second anniversary of my son's diagnosis, which he no longer has thanks to tireless work of so many. It's scary but cool to be a part of a real time science. I always think what will we think looking back in fifty years?

Thanks everyone!! :)

bensmyson

As each of us struggle to find a toehold in this mountain we climb with our children in tow this blog, more than anything, has allowed me a sense of community where I can take advantage of those who are ahead of me, the pioneers, the advocates, the strong, the courageous among us to lead the way. As a coincidence this month is also my son's third anniversary of the diagnosis. You have been with me since the beginning. Thank you so very much for being there, here.

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