Cryshame Statement and a Thank You from Dr. Wakefield
Age of Autism Donation Thank You Gift

The Brother Code

Big_brother_shirts_1 By Kent Heckenlively, Esq.

"Hey, what do you think about all the news on Wakefield?" my brother asked over the phone.

He had called me.  This was a rare occurence.  Usually I call him.  He's my older brother, just a little more than two years older, although in school we were separated by three grades.  He was one of those December babies, ready to take on the world, and so he ventured into school younger than most of his peers.

My brother had asked my parents for a baby brother and they obliged him, so I wasn't perceived as a rival to our parent's affections.  In addition, my parents had the foresight to buy gifts from "the baby" every time my mom went for a doctor's appointment, and when I came home from the hospital there was a new tricycle waiting for him.  He had asked for me, and in an unexpected bonus, I came  with presents.

While we were close it was also clear we had wildly different personalities.  He was a fighter, a scrapper, an athlete, and well, I was none of these things.  We had a joke that when the coaches saw me coming they'd rub their hands in expectation saying, "Great!  Another Heckenlively!  And then they'd meet me."  Because let's face it, my brother was a stud.  He won hundreds of first place ribbons in swimming, was a pitcher for his little league team, and captain of his high school footbal team.  And as for me, in swimming I beat exactly one person in two years of swimming, held the strike-out record in tee-ball, and although I played a year of high school football, nobody was clamoring for me to become captain.  I disappointed many a coach.

In school however it was a different story.  The second part of the joke was that the teachers would see me on their roster and say, "Oh, no!  Not another Heckenlively!  And then they'd meet me."  Because let's face it, I was a teacher's pet.  I did well academically, always landing on honor roll, being chosen as my college's Rhodes scholar candidate, leading my college's delegation to the Harvard Model United Nations, top student in my mock trial class, and being a writer and editor for the law review.  I pleasantly surprised many a teacher.

And then there was the difference in our social groups.  My brother hung out with the cool crowd, the ones who drank, had girlfriends years earlier than my friends did, and drove their muscle cars far too fast.  And if somebody gave them attitude, or wasn't treating somebody else fair, they weren't above settling it with their fists.  My last fight was in the sixth grade.

One might think that's the end of the story, one brother a brawler and the other a thinker, but it's remarkable how things can change in a life.

As I saw the near-miss of my son, Ben into autism, laying bare what had really happened three years earlier to my daughter, Jacqueline, I became a fighter.  I started writing, first on Dr. Amy Yasko's forum, then was recruited by J. B. Handley into Rescue Post which later turned into Age of Autism.

And as I became a fighter I wasn't sure what my brother thought of it all.  I'd always been the rational, logical one, the Spock to his Captain Kirk.  He wanted to know what I thought, but I wouldn't hear much about his opinion.  At times I longed for the fiery Sicilian passion of our mother who often declared that if anybody harmed one of her boys they would suffer the most extreme pain and torture imaginable.  Our mother was fond of sweeping declarations of vengeance such as "I don't care if it takes as long as I live but . . . " (Use your own imagination to fill in some supposed injustice.)  You always knew where you stood with her.

But I didn't know where I stood with my brother.  He'd listen, ask questions, then say something along the lines of, "It's a really tough fight."  I never doubted his love, but I sometimes wondered if he doubted my grasp of reality.  I told him once I thought he was the one who should be in this fight, not me.  He laughed.

Then he told me that among the group of developers for whom he is their lawyer he has the opposite reputation.  "They think I'm the nice guy, and if I can't figure out a way to make it work, there's no way it can.  You're right where you need to be, brother."

Probably the biggest breakthrough came when my nephew in college wanted to write a persuasive essay on why vaccines may be linked to the autism epidemic.  It was a chance to start fresh, with a young mind, and although it's a vast subject I was able to use Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill's wonderful book, The Age of Autism - Mercury and a Manmade Epidemic to concentrate on how mercury and vaccines were implicated in the very first autism cases described by Dr. Leo Kanner.

My brother was impressed with his son's paper and by extension my own understanding of the subject.  I believe it was the point at which my brother crossed over, from wary curiousity to cautious support.  He understood why I was fighting.

When the news about Wakefield hit he was concerned.  He wanted to know my opinion.

And so I explained it to him; how Wakefield had been marked from the first moment he published his paper in The Lancet.  There was never a moment when the pharmaceutical companies took his claim seriously.  I told him how none of the parents had ever complained, no doctor had ever complained, and how the journalist at the heart of this, Brian Deer, had been supported for years by Medico Legal Investigations, a pharmaceutical front group.  And even now the British and American medical establishments list gastro-intestinal problems as a condition which happens in combination with autism.  All in all, the entire thing resembles a bad Julia Roberts movie.

He quickly accepted my explanations and it was then I realized he wasn't really asking about Wakefield at all.  He was asking about me.  That's part of the brother code.  Understanding the question behind the question.  What he wanted to know was if I was going to continue the fight. 

And it made me laugh because I thought of all the times I looked up to him for his steadfast refusal to submit to any form of unfairness.  He didn't put up with shit from anybody.  Nobody could outplay him, no girl could resist him, and he'd take you on even if you were a head taller than him.  That's the kind of courage he had.

I never thought I was a fighter.  Fun, entertaining, and witty, yes, but not a warrior.  Not a David willing to take on Goliath.  I thought of how I'd watched Anderson Cooper shout down Dr. Wakefield, giving him less respect than if he'd been talking to a dictator who butchered millions, and it roused my warrior's blood.  They are not playing fair.  The fate of millions of children are at stake.  I can not remain quiet.

And so after I hung up with my brother I turned on the computer and started on my next article.

Kent Heckenlively is Contributing Editor for Age of Autism





Hi Jen - Thanks for your offer :) (again).


@tina, I don't know about MLI and who hired who, but Brian Deer hardly tells the truth. 8 out of the 12 parents in the Lancet paper have come forth and stated that not once did they speak to Deer. Yet, he claims that he has. Worse, how did he ever get access to the patient confidential files to find out who they were (and worse, he published their names!) So much for confidentiality!

Don't believe everything your read on Deer's website (or here for that matter). Always, always, dig into the facts for yourself...


You say that AoA has been "plain nasty" in recent weeks. I would say that there has been a fairly dignified stance in terms of the frustration at Dr. Wakefield not having a fair chance in the media to defend himself. It bothers me that this man should be attacked so forcefully and singly when other vaccine researchers who have fairly obviously committed real fraud, have not ( examples would be Fombonne, Madsen, Thorsen).

Tina Charles

I have looked in at Age of Autism from time to time and have followed the general medical commitee trial in London of Dr Wakefield. I also got hold of the transcript of the hearing from another parent and looked at Mr Deer's website. I am very concerned that Kent Heckenlively should say that he told his brother the things that he did.

Kent: 'And so I explained it to him; how Wakefield had been marked from the first moment he published his paper in The Lancet.'

When I looked into this, I found an enormous amount of support for Dr Wakefield in the British media including whole series of articles repeating what he said.

This article has today's date on, but was written many years ago -

Kent: 'There was never a moment when the pharmaceutical companies took his claim seriously.'

According to Mr Deer's articles, Dr Wakefield was working for pharmaceutical companies, and he gives their names -

Kent: 'I told him how none of the parents had ever complained, no doctor had ever complained,'

The transcript of the general medical committee shows a mother giving evidence against Dr Wakefield, and dozens of doctors.

Kent: 'and how the journalist at the heart of this, Brian Deer, had been supported for years by Medico Legal Investigations, a pharmaceutical front group.'

Mr Deer gives a very detailed explanation of this at his website, which to me sounds very true and very detailed -

Kent says: 'And even now the British and American medical establishments list gastro-intestinal problems as a condition which happens in combination with autism.'

I would have to think that every possible medical condition 'happens in combination with autism', so what this means I do not know.

I know that other readers of this website have become concerned with this issue of Dr Wakefield and why Age of Autism has become so plain nasty in recent weeks. Kent Heckenlively may have told these things to his brother, but I wonder what kind of family that would be. In my family, both my husband and his sister have read the reports in the british Medical Journal and found them to be very well presented with a great deal of material we can check, some of which we already have.

The future of autistic children is much bigger and much more important than one doctor.


Maybe Michael Moore could do a movie.


Kent, I look forward to that next article!

kathy blanco

Unfortunately, autism is a very intimate experience, not many people, even your family members understand the ups and downs, throughs and inbetweens of autism. It truly does throw your world upsidown, and once upsidown, you are now somehow obligated to teach people what it "REALLY IS". You know, at this point, I don't think we need to teach it or preach on it anymore, because, it's about to hit a door near you. If it's not autism, it's ADHD, autism, seizures, ataxia, learning disorders of all types, allergies, etc etc...I wish family meant family empathy, but sometimes it means family judgement. Sure, I get the wow, I couldn't do it, or, you really must have something more than most people, and or God trusted you to take care of this, but I would rather hear, how can I help, what can we do to adovcate for you and your family, and I tell everyone how it happens, and or the best one of all, yes, because of your experience, we didn't vaccinate our children. At least my daughters listened, and because they did, I saved my baby boy grandchildren from this "highly inheritable disorder". Yeah right, my behind. It's vaccines stupid. But, I realize it's not always vaccines, it's predisposition to immune weakness, so don't tip the boat in ANY FASHION. Yep, that's all going on up in my head, but my reality is, for the most part, as much as they love as and admire us, it's just the unlucky autism card, and by the way, your not invited to this, and that, and other things. Well, have a nice life...then...

Cathy Jameson

"I believe it was the point at which my brother crossed over, from wary curiousity to cautious support. He understood why I was fighting."

Another great article--straight from the heart, and with a perfect message. The cross over for a family member is a crucial moment in time. Not everyone gets to experience it. Keep up the good fight and the great writing.

Cindy Griffin

I like the idea of a movie...autism deserves it, and think of the folks that "Super Size Me" woke up.

VEry nice post, and I'm sorry for those who don't have a "big brother" (Literally or figuratively) to support and fight with and for them. And I rejoice in those who do.

Autism needs all those "big brothers" it can get. Thank you for inspiring us all.


Well, Henderson, I've been thinking of you lately, what with previous adoption offers. I wish I could tell you that my parents understood the whole BMJ/Wakefiled thing but even they bought it hook line and sinker because "it was on the news." They are getting on in age and I explained the circumstances but unfortunately sometimes even people like my parents think that something couldn't be "on the news" if it was that wrong. Of course, I pointed out that my mom's new Christine Northrup video shows Dr. Northrup mentioning vaccines in a not very favorable way. And my dad keeps marvelling that the urologists don't recommend Bell's tea when he has found it so helpful for his prostate. Sigh, it's frustrating but I guess things sometimes seem worse before they get better.


I wish I had your older brother. My siblings and aunts have been gleeful. I've simply ignored them, as I'm exhausted and disheartened. They won't listen and never have.


"A bad Julia Roberts movie..."

Kent, that may be what we really need--a Julia Roberts movie. That might be the most powerful way of getting our message across to the public. It worked for the movie "Erin Brokovitch." It worked for Susan Sarandon's "Lorenzo's Oil." People now realize how major corporations don't care what lives they ruin, and how profits trump health in the research.

We need to convince someone to make a movie about a child's seizure reaction to a vaccine--and then their subsequent and immediate slide into autism. That is, I suspect, the ONLY way to convince someone who hasn't lived it themselves.

And we need to do it BEFORE the pharmaceutical industry makes one from their point of view.


Kent, I always look forward to your articles, with evidence which is so logically explained from the viewpoint of an attorney with an obviously brilliant legal mind....but this one is different in that it demonstrates your ability in creative writing spurred on by your special relationship with your brother:

" brother a brawler and the other a thinker, but it's remarkable how things can change in a life...

And as I became a fighter I wasn't sure what my brother thought of it all....

That's part of the brother code. Understanding the question behind the question. What he wanted to know was if I was going to continue the fight...

He didn't put up with shit from anybody... That's the kind of courage he had...

They are not playing fair. The fate of millions of children are at stake. I can not remain quiet."

With all of the information you have shared with your brother, the question now is "Oh Brother, where art thou?"

Will he remain quiet or join the fight?

Mary Jane Guidry

The Lord executes righteousness for those who have been oppressed.PS:103!!!! He chooses to work in and through us. Keep up the fight.Mother of healed and recovering vaccine injured son.19 years Mary Jane Guidry


Thank you; I think what you wrote speaks to every parent or grandparent of a child on the spectrum. I think what you wrote here will help many a person carry on.


Thank heavens for supportive family members, who realize that the belligerent press attack can only implode. The Pharmafia's foundation of lies is a precarious covering atop their ethical sinkhole.


I loved this. Because let's face it, we can all get Sicillian if we feel we have to. How does Brian Deer live with himself?

angela s

Judgement and lack of empathy from family and friends is most often the biggest obstacle in this fight. It helps to hear that even our strongest warriors have faced this too.


Inspiring post Kent, rings true to so many of us. Thanks for all you do.


Wonderfully said. So glad your brother loves you that way. And very glad you are still fighting.


i always look forward to your articles..great insights into family..especially has roused our blood.what they have done to the children of this generation it is moral bankruptcy to poision a generation of children,andy was shockingly mis treated, -we are all witness and living collateral damage..the damage just wont go away..we will exspose what they have done..keep up the good fight..candace


Go, Kent! We must keep up the fight.


Great post. So glad you are keeping up the fight. We all have too. As you said, too much is at stake.

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