Merry Christmas!
AOA Awards: Lisa Ackerman, Person of the Year

Katie Wright on the Mt. Sinai Autism Conference Part II

Miss the mark Read Part I of Katie's review of the Mt. Sinai Autism conference "Bizarre and Disappointing".

By Katie Wright

When last we left off Dr. Boyle of the CDC had been recounting ten years of “tremendous progress” in autism research.  I know, I know…..Ten years ago autism affected 1 in 250 children, now autism affects 1 in 110, and 1 in 70 boys.  It is as if these people feel no sense of urgency at all.

However, Mt. Sinai almost redeemed the day with the exceptional presentation of Dr. Irva Hertz-Picciotto.  Dr. HP was phenomenal. Although HP is neither a parent of an affected child nor a clinician she speaks about autism as a disease and autism as it affects human beings tremendous great compassion and insight. I hope the other presenters took notice of HP’s ability to connect with the audience while addressing the cutting edge autism research. HP was the only presenter to discuss exciting new just published environmental science. She presented a truly ground-breaking study connecting incidence of autism with closeness to a freeway. The argument for the substantial influence of environmental factors in the growth of ASD grows stronger by the minute.

All previous speakers, Dr. Landrigan, Dr. Birnbaum of the NIEHS and Dr Coleen Boyle of the CDC spoke in great excess of their allotted time. After almost 3 hours of lectures I attempted to ask a simple question and got shut down by Dr. Phil “No questions!” Landrigan. This was almost funny because we had just heard from Birnbaum and Boyle, at great length no less, about how essential stakeholder input is into their work. On an on about how they partner with the families and the critical nature of the ASD’ community’s input.

I guess that commitment was operating in suspension at Mt. Sinai?

One of Dr. HP’s first remarks was that the autism research community needs to talk less and listen more. What a revelation! Thank God someone said it.  She discussed the shameful history of autism and how it was standard practice for physicians and researchers to blame the parents for their ASD child’s condition until the late 1970s.  HP was the ONLY presenter to acknowledge the tremendous suffering of those acutely affected and how autism can devastate families. HP discussed how seriously autism can challenge the family system and how siblings are impacted. I was sitting nearby a group of young doctors and medical students. They were furiously taken notes at this point. It is vitally important that any autism research discussion spend just a few minutes giving the audience the appropriate human context of this disease. No one else did that.

Dr. HP did a wonderful job breaking down the numbers behind the exponential increase in autism. HP’s work solidly concluded that at least 50% of new cases do NOT reflect greater awareness or widening diagnostic classifications but are indeed the result of a vast and all too real increase. Sorry Dr. Eric Fombonne.

Dr. Craig Newschaffer gave the next presentation. Dr. Newschaffer spoke about the EARLI program. He went into great detail about the program’s methodology. It is exciting that scientists will be following women before they even become pregnant until their child is age 3. It is even more exciting that all environmental exposures will be documented. However, EARLI is only looking for multiplex families- Moms who already have an ASD child. This is troubling.

There is already a huge industry of multiplex family data collection, AGRE for example. For many years families have been frustrated that the enormous financial investments in these multiplex studies have yielded small benefits. The profile of multiplex and singleton families (aka the vast majority of autism families) are vastly different and much of the information is not transferable between populations. The genetic component of multiplex families is obviously more powerful than in singleton families. It seems counterintuitive that multiplex families would be the right population for a meaningful or ground-breaking the study of possible environmental triggers.

Just because it is easier to study multiplex families doesn’t make it the best choice.

Obviously I would have liked to ask about this issue- but no questions allowed. I know many, many other Moms in the audience wanted to ask about the value and relevance of these hugely expensive long-term studies for those living with autism today. What kind of short-term results and insight will EARLI offer?  If so when? Researchers have to remember that are most often speaking to parents who already have a child with autism. If you had Stage 3 Breast cancer how would you like to sit through an endless lecture on “Learn The Signs” (Dr. Boyle) or hear only about breast cancer research that might be completed in 5-10 years? I am challenging the research community to pair every single long-term study with an equally powerful short-term project on treatment. 

I can “out autism” almost anyone. I will discuss ASD day or night, but Mt. Sinai really bested me. I simply could not sit through another 45 minute lecture and another one after that and another one after that and another after that…I would never made it to 5:00, conscious that is.

The Moms who stayed until the end told me that they were perplexed about the Korea ASD study. So much money has been invested into this, and outside of incidence rate what of value has been learned -- it was very unclear in the presentation. How has this expensive Korean epidemiological study helped the families in that room? It seemed like nothing definitive was found.

When Dr. Landrigan finally opened up the room for questions the audience was ¾ gone.  People can only take so much. There has to be a give and take in these conferences.  Nevertheless, it was very good that Mt. Sinai made a first step towards environmental research. Let’s hope next time we see more audience participation and more novel presentations. The conference room was comfortable, amenities great and the people working there were very helpful.


Katie Wright is Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.




Theodora Trudorn, your "rant" is definitely not "nonsensical"! Thank you so much for posting comments here!


Step one: get people talking/ start a conversation about autism.

we need to get people talking more about the autism crisis and start questioning and thinking about it more.

I have this idea that we simply post questions anywhere and everywhere like: Why are there so many childen with autism? Did you know 1 in 70 boys in the US has autism and that there's been a 600% increase in the last 20 years? Why? Add a website for more info.

Write a question on a napkin leave or hide a note under a glass at a restaurant. Leave sticky notes with questions around (in a magazine, library book, on buses and subways), (not suppose to this but) put questions on dollar bills. Go online and chat with people-- college students are good ones for taking action. Get people talking/ thinking/ caring however we can.

Lot of good ideas we can take from the gay rights movement and how they changed public perception.

read "After the Ball" section:

Deb O.

I sure would like to see the vax-unvaxed study done. We did protest in DC a few times and had some "friends" in Congress. Seems that they were only willing to do so much.
At this point, people do have the option of not vaccinating. What frightens me are recent, unrelated civil right issues in the name of "National Security" which could open the door to required vaccinations for everyone.

kathy blanco

the complicity has to stop. The games and shenanegans. I told you all this years ago, but, maybe someone will listen now. Anti vaccine is the only way they will listen, not green a vaccine, modify the schedule. I realize that radical approach will put us on looney bin tin hat lists, but to tell you the truth, I saw autism occur in one vaccine, or a mercury free one. So, if you want to hit them hard, hit them at the pocketbook levels, the only levels they understand. Then, these nonsense committees will have committees on how to get us to have more vaccines and stop our exemptions. Watch the shit fly. Just you wait, henry higgins, just you wait. Oh, and less we forget, fund independent implicating research, the kind that goes after procedures, products and regulatory agencies which "hover over americans" to make sure they comply with their standards of "safety". Aka, Vaccines, GMO foods/Western Diet, Gluten intolerances, Birth Practices, Infectious pathogens such as Lyme and Xmrv. Until we do such, autism will continue. Get the picture? Change the channel if you don't want to hear this...but to be honest...if we don't stick with message at hand, we're all screwed.

Theodora Trudorn

I am SO IN with the radical!! I'm well beyond p*ed off at this point. For the last decade, zero progress has been made! Inspite of millions of dollars being donated by parents and those on the spectrum who can barely manage to make ends meat. All the goverment and other funding.

We are no further along than we were when I was in kindergarten 21 years ago! There is no relief for parents, or those on the spectrum. We have played nice for years now! It is time we call those in power to account for all the money we have given! And considering how much money that is, we have EVERY right to do so!!

Time is up! That 1-150 from 94 are graduating!! And those on my end of the spectrum will get even less than those on the other side! Nothing, nada, zip! Just sit behind closed doors, were we can't see you and be a good little autistic disabled person!! I am tired of my side of the spectrum being entirely ignored and discounted and autism in general being treated and nothing more than an "interesting topic"!

I carry the burden of thousands of Aspies across my state because no one is there to help them once they graduate! We have no answers, no help. We just get thrown in the trash. I carry that burden because I am the only person that will actually do something about it!! But I am one person standing on the beach against a tidal wave! I am tired of waiting! I have waited for 26 years for answers!!

WE DESERVE BETTER!!!! I am not asking anymore! I'm DEMANDING!!! We don't have time to delay or pass the buck. If you think the economy is in the toilet now, just wait till those numbers go into the service system! We deserve services that work and we deserve some real, truthful answers. And if I have to get radical and bring the da*n crazy to get it, then so be it!!

*nonsensical rant over* :P

Alison MacNeil

I agree with Mike on this one. I think as a community we are strangled by the idea that if we are noisy, impertinent, radical, difficult it will take away from the credibility of our message about the true environmental science that is emerging. That it will get in the way of us, as parents, being taken seriously. To some degree this may be true. But the science showing the environmental damage is growing quickly and it's credibility speaks for itself. I think it suits the established medical authority that we feel the pressure to be polite and careful. Although I do believe that no one can listen carefully when you are shouting and that there is real progress made when careful conversations across sides can take place. I also think it is time for some truly radical and messy behavior on our part. This is a crisis after all. We live this crisis every minute of every day in our homes. I think we should be marching, rallying, protesting and showing our huge numbers and passion for real immediate change. We are not making life difficult enough for the medical authority. Our own lives are very difficult. They created this disaster we suffer from so personally. Let's make it difficult for the medical status quo to go forward as is. If anyone's organizing anything I'd love to help. If no one else is, then I will. Whose in?

Son in Recovery


Thanks again for attending - we very much appreciate you taking the time to listen and question the so called "authority". (We know the parents are actually the authority and I am happy to see one presenter actually spoke to that effect.) As a side note, I did e-mail wikileaks and begged them to find a contact with access to the VARES Database!


I would suppose the actual cost of the Korean ASD study will show up at some point.

With the Minnesota Somali Autism rate of 1 in 28, and nearly 100% ADHD, only makes sense to study the Koreans.



You are so right. it's time to stop playing nice. As Mario Savio said in 1964, it's time to stop the machine. I love being a rebel.(maybe there a reason I'm an autism parent) Where do I start raisin' hell?

Mario Savio "The Machine Speech" on The Sproul Hall Steps, December 2, 1964

Theodora Trudorn

I rolled my eyes when I read the comment about how "FAR" the research has come. Oh really?! Hmm. And what exactly have we learned then boys and girls?

Oh yes, that there is no known cause or cure for autism but we are absolutely SURE it is not the vaccines, don't even ask, HOW DARE YOU QUESTION OUR AUTORITY!!!! (gotta love South Park!!)

Oh yes, how wonderfully far we have come!! I am an aspie, I am extremely practical. To me the proof is in the pudding. And the so called WONDERFUL GROUND BREAKING research has done absolutely nothing to curb the rising numbers!

Nothing to help us on the spectrum. No new facts, just the same regurgetated bs they have been feeding us for over the past decade!! So please excuse my skepticism when they say such ridicoulous things. :P I get tired of being used.

That's right, we are being used, us on the spectrum! All that money raised by them playing the sympathy card to create bogus studies, or really just reprint the same study from 1990 and try to pass it off as new while they line thier pockets.

All the money made from medication that has a tendency to make us all the more violent and all the more miserable and exhasberbate our symptoms instead of helping. Yep, used. And I am beyond sick of it! I do wonder when the rest of my fellows will catch up!

Because when they do, there is going to be a whole lot of p*&ed off spectrumites to throw down the gauntlet to these people. It won't just be the parents anymore. And considering the single-mindedness that comes with being on the spectrum, they will probably be running with thier tales tucked beneath them.

May that day be tomorrow!!

Bob Moffitt

I wholeheartedly agree with Autism Grandma .. who posted:

"I am infuriated every time I read about another study recognizing anything and everything except VACCINES!!! Environmental factors finally being acknowledged is better than all of the useless DNA studies, but excuse me, there were millions of people living near freeways BEFORE the autism epidemic, and lots of formaldehyde in mobile homes, and all kinds of toxic chemical exposures all over the place, but autism was unheard of when I was a kid almost 60 years ago and the vaccine schedule was only 6 doses. Autism was only 1 in 15,000 when my daughter was born 38 years ago and the vaccine schedule was 10 doses."

I suspect you and I were "kids" at the same time .. and .. like you .. I cannot recall a single child in my extended family, public schools or community that was autistic .. or .. allergic to peanuts?

Indeed, in my generation .. the CDC had no reason to inform us that 1 in every 6 children would be suffering childhood development problems .. many .. if not most .. chronic autoimmune diseases/disorders.


Mike Kohloff

I was at a nice restaurant with friends tonight & at the next table was a young couple with a baby girl about a year old.
I complimented them on their child & was pleasant.
Later when leaving I said, "Pardon me for not minding my own business, but I do a lot of personal research on health issues. I'm fairly convinced that vaccines & flu shots are not safe and that you will not get accurate information about them on the TV news because of all the drug advertising money.
So before you continue with your baby's vaccination schedule, I'd like to encourage you to get on the computer & do your own research on it. I'm sorry, it's just that your little girl is so cute."
And they were very nice & seemed to appreciate it.
I plan to do this more, & encourage others to at least send out a few Emails & blog comments every week.
I believe if everyone who reads A of A would do this, it will tend to slowly dry up the vaccine market. And always buy generic meds (if you must) & products.
They live for money, hit them where they live.

Mike Kohloff

"the consciousness of this country over this crisis needs to be raised just like in the 60's over the Vietnam War."
How was that accomplished? Anyone remember?
How was the fight for the civil rights for African -Americans accomplished? Anyone remember?
How was the fight for recognition of AIDS as a real disease that needed serious funding, research, & effective medication accomplished?
How was the fight for Gay rights accomplished?
You have to be willing to make trouble. To make things very uncomfortable for those in Government who see no urgency as long as they can cash their fat paychecks & lead their cushioned lives.
When the speakers take hours to say nothing, applaud, say thank you, & yell "Time's up, please sit down!"
Take the microphone, demand a voice. Make a fuss. Get kicked out if you have to, but get it on video.
Remember, "Don't taze me, bro."? It went viral. It got people's attention.
These people are not serving the interests of families suffering from the man made damage of Autism.
They serve the interests of the men behind the curtain of money & power by keeping the charade going with stalling tactics.
They don't deserve courtesy, stop being so polite.
Stop begging for justice from an unjust system. Demand it. Make noise. Make things difficult. Make things happen.



I was told the same thing by my family, including a brother who is vaccinating the crap out of his younger son, despite the fact that he already has one child with autism! I could not agree with you more! I will NEVER, EVER get over it, and I am beyond furious over this. They damage our children, and then they want to deny, while more and more children and their families suffer! There is a special place in hell for people ( and I use that term loosely) like that!


I agree! They need to look at VACCINES!
I wish wikileaks could get into the VAERS database! That would make my year!

Nancy Naylor

"She presented a truly ground-breaking study connecting incidence of autism with closeness to a freeway." This is great news and we should be supportive of the efforts to do research on environmental factors that contribute to autism. That is - Even when the study is not on vaccines. If we put down every environmental study that is not about vaccines we are going to destroy our own credibility.


Did autism rates soar during the industrial revolution when factories were spewing toxins into the air? no. If the environment is cleaner now then how come the autism rates are increasing? It's because kids are poisoned via injection. It's called drug induced mitochondrial toxicity.

Even though drugs have been found to be toxic to the mitochondria after FDA approval, the FDA still does not require mitochondrial toxicity testing during drug safety tests.

Read this:

Pharmacologic effects on mitochondrial function, Dr. Bruce H. Cohen,

"Many of these drugs can cause clinical injury in otherwise healthy people, but there are also examples where particular gene mutations may predispose to increased drug toxicity. The spectrum of drug-induced mitochondrial dysfunction extends across many drug classes. It is hoped that preclinical pharmacogenetic and functional studies of mitochondrial toxicity, along with personalized genomic medicine, will improve both our understanding of mitochondrial drug toxicity and patient safety."

Paul Shapiro

Hi Katie,
Re: Your report Part II of Mt Sinai Conference

Let me open with a big thank you for all your effort attending and your very lucid
reporting of these almost useless meetings, Dr. Irva Hertz-Picciotto presento accepted.

I am the grandpa of a seventeen year old, beautiful young man, struck autistic at 18 months following the accumulation on the poisons received following the FDA
vaccination schedule. I’ve been active in this community approximately 15 years.

When I attend or read reports about the presenters and their presentations at
these Autism Conferences my mind always jumps to the 1987 movie, starring Barbra Streisand, titles, “NUTS”. The movie was about a court case where a patient, the defendant and the opposing psychiatrists running the mental institution wanted to commit her.. As the case unfolded in court it became apparent that the psychiatrists, had a self serving motive for wanting her committed, sane or not, for without patients they would be out of a job. And it was also made clear that every patient committed counted!

I believe the same motives applies to all the leaches that both cause the illness and those
who earn their living performing studies that are tangential to the problem. It’s a
job and I want it to last until retirement.

The study comparing the status of vaccinated vs unvaccinated cohorts including
the environments, that Dan Olmsted proposed years ago still has not been funded.
I know thing for sure, if a proposed study isn’t funded or started we will never have conclusion.

And wishes for a Healthy and Happy and I’ll throw in, Prosperous New Year to all !


Sarah, I have the same kind of thing coming from my mother. I think I have finally convinced her that I am not a kook, that vaccines really are a huge factor in autism (which you think she might have guessed, given the fact that I had documented allergic reaction to THIMEROSAL back when it was in eyedrops).

Yet, every time I want to discuss it in terms of something recent I have read, either something that proves my point or something idiotic that I can't believe, she wants me to shut up. She says I am wasting my time and energy on this.


If other people had kept their mouths shut, I never would have understood the connection between vaccines and autism. How can I justify keeping silent on this?

" They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up."

Autism Grandma

"She presented a truly ground-breaking study connecting incidence of autism with closeness to a freeway. The argument for the substantial influence of environmental factors in the growth of ASD grows stronger by the minute."

I am infuriated every time I read about another study recognizing anything and everything except VACCINES!!! Environmental factors finally being acknowledged is better than all of the useless DNA studies, but excuse me, there were millions of people living near freeways BEFORE the autism epidemic, and lots of formaldehyde in mobile homes, and all kinds of toxic chemical exposures all over the place, but autism was unheard of when I was a kid almost 60 years ago and the vaccine schedule was only 6 doses. Autism was only 1 in 15,000 when my daughter was born 38 years ago and the vaccine schedule was 10 doses.

The vaccines cause more toxic overloads to vulnerable infants and children than anything else there is and this is why the autism epidemic is happening. None of these research projects ever even consider the research of Mark and David Geier with the vaccine database clearly implicating vaccines. No one gets multi million dollar funding for autism research if their goal is to even consider the vaccine implications as part of the research project.

Living near a freeway could certainly create a toxic level that would predispose serious vaccine injuries, but without the damn vaccines totally overwhelming the entire detox system and immune system, Autism would still be extremely rare.

I am chemically injured myself and I have been convinced by my own research on this subject over the past 20 years that toxic chemicals cause all kinds of health damages, however it is primarily the VACCINES THAT CAUSE AUTISM, and it is nothing short of a criminal conspiracy that this fact is being covered up.

This one research document produced by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. should have blown the lid off the conspiracy and corruption but it has been ignored.

Tobacco Science and the Thimerosal Scandal
by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Heidi N

Yes, I am still not understanding why those who are actually recovering children from autism are being ignored. You would think those who are successful would have the best answers. After all, wouldn't you want to get your advice from a millionaire on how to make money than from someone who can barely pay their bills. Why are those who are not recovering children from autism still leading the show?


Did Hertz-Picciotto explain how these results jibe with her California autism clusters? I believe both studies used data from California regional centers.

The North Cluster Golden Gate and the center of the Valley Mountain cluster, for instance, are far from freeways (in blue):

Mr T

I want to thank you for attending & sharing about these conferences. We need more real physical science not political science.


Saying autism is due to environmental factors is vague enough to cloud over the vaccine issue yet, at the same time, open the door for helping our kids. Ackowledging the autism crisis as environmental gives me more hope about the direction of future research and treatment for our kids, that our kids condition is not untreatable or incurable but, in fact, recoverable. I can attest to that having seen the improvements in my son through biomed and having met kids who have recovered. It's the recovered kids we the one we can all learn from.


The comment by Sara's brother about how she just "has to get over it" is the problem we are facing. Society can't just accept and get over the fact that we are in the midst of a medical crisis and not a hopeless developmental problem. We need answers and solutions for the hundreds of thousands of children, and now adults, who are affected by the crisis of autism. Thanks to Katie for keeping us informed about the conferences and let's keep the pressure on that we will not just "get over it!"


I mean, to my mind, there's no quick way out of this for the jerks responsible unless someone leaks some really incriminating stuff, which could always happen. Otherwise, It's not like the CDC, AAP, NIEHS can just suddenly say, "0h yeah, that research we waxed eloquent about was wrong/bogus," " we were covering up the real problem" etc. etc. No. They HAVE to play it out like this for awhile, then have their "ah ha!" moment. I do think it's coming. The whole "we took the mercury out and it's still happening at a faster than ever rate" has confounded the picture but it's so obviously not the truth when you see how aggressively the flu shots have been pushed , not to mention that a new vaccine is added to the schedule every bloody 6 months.


From the picture you painted it sounds as though the different stakeholders( planned or not) are realizing that they have to start and look at all factors in the environment. They may be dragged kicking and screaming to get to that point and taking baby steps, but in the current political climate ( wikileaks and all) it must be dawning on them that they are going to be looked upon unkindly if they don't actually look for the actual causes in the autism increase. There just seems to be a kind of inevitability to it, like some kind of physical law.

Anne McElroy Dachel

Thank you Katie for being there.

What I see happening here is more of the great autism pretense:
Experts are really trying hard to figure it out, but they still have no answers.
Lots of MDs and PhDs are looking into this.
Most of all, no one's really worried.
Autism's a mystery, not a disaster.
We've got all the time in the world to figure it out.

The autism 9/11 looms over our country. What will we do to provide for hundreds of thousands of autistic adults? I've never heard anyone bringing this up at these conferences.

And you're right, they don't want anyone talking about the vaccine controversy. They're willing to look at ANYTHING---but vaccines.



Something changed these kids. They were healthy, happy, and normally developing. Then they got sick. They changed forever. They lost abilities. WHY DON'T THESE PEOPLE CARE? WHY DON'T THEY WANT TO KNOW WHAT TRIGGERED A SUDDEN AND DRAMATIC CHANGE IN THESE KIDS?

Until this scenario changes. Nothing will be done for a single children. Nothing will stop more kids from being victims.

Anne Dachel



Thanks for sharing this. I have hope when I hear about Doctors like Dr. Hertz Pinchero who are beating the drum on environmental causes of autism. We need that message out as much as possible. I also appreciate that she addresses the emotional costs to the families. I'm encouraged that medical students and doctors were taking notes. They're taking environmental causes seriously and want to learn. It's a positive step forward.

Outside of our community, we need to get people to talk about this crisis as an environmenal and end the epidemic of denial and silence.

I experienced the silence first hand having just spent Christmas with my family, my brother Tim and I were in my mother's kitchen talking about my son and autism and he said "well, Sar, you have to get over it and it's about helping him." (insert sound of door slamming shut)

I said to him "Look, kids are being poisoned, Taylor was POISONED and no, I will not get over it!" I said: "If anything everyone should be outraged over what is happening to these children." I said: the consciousness of this country over this crisis needs to be raised just like in the 60's over the Vietnam War."

Perhaps the public silence is due to guilt, shame, fear or discomfort but that has to stop. We need an "End the Silence about Autism" campaign. Maybe have buttons and bumper stickers that say. "Autism: It's okay to talk about it" or "Be the voice of our autistic kids. Talk about Autism" or simply "Talk Autism" or "Autism is an environmental crisis"

It's almost like people need permission to talk. That it's okay.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)