By Teresa Conrick
In 1995 when Megan was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, I thought all would be ok. It wasn't the "AUTISM" word and the neurologist who gave her that diagnosis was famous, and old, so he had to be an expert, right? HA! How naive I was back then. That doctor knew NOTHING about what was wrong with my daughter and she WAS autistic, according to the DSM, but I think he decided that the term PDD, would somehow get him out of the examining room without holding my hand or witnessing my tears. What doctor in their right mind wants to say in 1995, "Your child has AUTISM - a life-long, unknown cause, no treatment, diagnosis?" Two things he DID say have always stayed with me.
This one -- out of absolute denial of the severity of her symptoms (she lost speech, was a robot of perseverating behaviors, fingers in the ears, spinning, GI distress, crying, etc etc) --"Put her in a regular nursery school as being around NORMAL children may help her." Well, I am all for inclusion in the schools BUT my daughter was exhibiting MEDICAL problems that showed up in her behaviors. I don't think hanging out with Suzie or Johnny was going to stop that diarrhea or eliminate her painful auditory dysfunction. The other comment he made that has always lingered with me was this -- "Many of these children are very fair, very pale." It didn't occur to me to probe him on that as I watched my precious child tapping the blocks repeatedly instead of stacking them. She had been counting and stacking them months before and I was fearful that something very bad was happening. I had no idea what was in store.
And what did happen? Not enough! I had to pull teeth to get speech and OT services while we waited for early interventions via the local school district. Meanwhile she had a frequent flier ticket to the pediatrician's office about every 2 weeks. Ear infections, throat infections, mysterious viruses, nose bleeds, rashes, unknown crying, GI "distress", etc would be written on her medical log. A very sad occurrence through much of this was that people, be it blood connection or friendship, had no idea what to do. That DSM word of "autism" and its related DSM synonyms in 1995, was like saying my daughter now had a form of some weird mental health "cooties." We were put on a small boat with scarce supplies and pushed off the island of "normalcy." I could hear the soup Nazi from Seinfeld shaking his finger saying -- "No casseroles for you!" -- a casserole being the universal sign that someone is sick, that a family has a real need for help. It is chicken or beef combined with love and support but it never knocked on my door.
Enter Paul Offit, some doctor that kept creeping up in news stories about autism as each year passed to the next. The NY Times describes him: "Dr. Offit, a pediatrician, is a mild, funny and somewhat rumpled 57-year-old. The chief of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, he is also the co-inventor of a vaccine against rotavirus, a diarrheal disease that kills 600,000 children a year in poor countries." How come the NYT didn't include Vaccine Patent Owner/Seller, MULTI-Millionaire, and Merck Consultant?
As the years went by, it became apparent that there were many more of us on our little boats but we then landed. It was a new place with MEDICAL research and studies showing that children with an autism diagnosis had real, scientific, medical issues that often caused pain. Most of us shared vaccine injury regression. Much of it had to do with inflammation, oxidative stress and the numerous downstream effects from that. It involved BOTH the GI and the Brain. The more research showing that many of the children had a regressive type of autism that occurred at the same time as vaccination, the more I saw that Offit guy. Could this be an example of that mantra he kept beating the viewers with then and now, over and over, "correlation doesn't equal causation, yet he pops up when new research AGAIN implicates thimerosal to mitochondria damage (after Hannah Poling was diagnosed autistic after vaccination with a mitochondrial disorder) or an Italian study replicating Dr. Wakefield's study showing the same inflammation to the gut in regressive autism. Is that autism/vaccine -- Offit popping up -- like.... correlation and causation? If A+B=C, then yes, I think that VACCINES + AUTISM = OFFIT. That sure seems CAUSATIVE of the CORRELATION of Paul Offit on my TV AGAIN. Why does he keep coming on the news and telling everyone that vaccines are safe and do not cause brain injury or autism when there are 1,300 cases showing just that (HERE) ...and then this story, which sounds not too different from Jan Brady's whopper about George Glass, a made-up boyfriend. Check this one out:
"…it’s hard to make a statistical argument, or an epidemiological argument, to a parent who’s seen something that’s very emotional. There’s a story that I tell, because I think it’s a powerful one. My wife is a privately practicing pediatrician in the suburbs. And she was in the office one day and there was a four-month-old sitting on her mother’s lap. And my wife was drawing a vaccine into a syringe that she was about to give this child. Well, while she was drawing the vaccine into a syringe the child had a seizure, and actually went on to have a permanent seizure disorder—epilepsy. And there had been a family history of epilepsy, so she was certainly at risk for that. If my wife had given that vaccine five minutes earlier, I think there’s no amount of statistical data in the world that would have convinced that mother that anything other than the vaccine caused the seizure, because I think those sort of emotional events are very hard to argue against." (HERE) So you see, we saw something emotional and then we became unable to truly have a cognitive ability on what ailed our children. Offit is setting up the old hysterical spin. It's been used for centuries, and Dan and Mark actually discussed it in in their book, "Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine and a Manmade Epidemic," HERE.
One thing I was interested in was what DID Offit claim caused autism? He is the chief of Infectious Diseases and many, many children with an autism diagnosis have all kinds of infections and inflammation in both the Brain and GI. Don't you think he would be saying something like, "that's interesting" and what his ideas are about that as far as causation? NOPE -You would be WRONG! He NEVER mentions any of their medical issues. Here is what Offit did say in what looks to be an elusive gene hunt and an infomercial for vaccines: HERE
What causes autism?
"It has, at least, a genetic basis. A number of studies have shown a complicated genetic mutation. It's not like sickle-cell anemia, where a single gene has a single mutation, or cystic fibrosis, where a single gene has many mutations. With autism spectrum disorder, it appears that at least several genes have varying mutations." HERE And that's it! All done! Time to pick up the checks! A + B = C! Now, not getting emotional as that then negates any sense I have because having a child with autism makes you emotional therefore the science of vaccine damage is wrong. A + B = C. Well, that is what Paul Offit wants his victims to believe and by victims, I mean the innocent people of the world who expect honesty when it some to health procedures with very possible life altering implications, like seizures, mitochondrial injury, autism, and death They are being told untruths, half-truths and fabrications. BUT it appears that it's not working anymore! It appears that Offit's repeated, year after year denial of vaccine damage causing autism, is losing. This (HERE) just out showing that 52% of Americans polled do not think vaccines cause autism yet 48 % are not convinced they don't. That's getting pretty close and it may be that Offit will be making an appearance soon. REMEMBER, if it's about autism and vaccines -- Offit can't be far away.
Teresa Conrick is Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.