Vaccine Epidemic - The Most Important Book in the Autism Debate?
Swine Flu Vaccine, Genetics and Narcolepsy in Finland

Katie Wright on the CDC Autism Prevalence Meeting

Smoke_Mirrors_Clipart By Katie Wright 

The purpose of this meeting was to bring together a diverse group of scientists, stakeholders and autism organizations in order to discuss ASD prevalence trends and opportunities for further research. This is certainly a worthwhile endeavor given the skyrocketing increase in autism spectrum disorders. Unfortunately, highly conservative groups and thinkers were over represented while parents and innovative scientists were in short supply.

Thank you to Dr. Geri Dawson of AS for opening this meeting to the public and for arranging for the meeting to be available on the internet. Dr. Rice did a nice job of re-iterating questions that were posed off mike. I received a comprehensive outline of the day’s discussion a week in advance, well done. Unfortunately some parents could not listen into the meeting after the 250 limit on listeners was reached. Maybe in the future, lines not being used, by those who reserved them, can be made available to parents on the waiting list.

Dr. Paul Shattuck and Dr. Peter Bearman gave their usual stump speeches about why the ASD increase is mainly due to greater awareness and parental age. Right. They are weirdly obsessed with this parental age issue. More on that later. Bearman also hypothesized that some of the increase could be the result of a virus.

After that we heard some insightful presentations from Dr. Durkin and Dr. Hertz-Picciotto.  Durkin spoke about the massive unexplainable increase in ASD between 1994 and 1998. Durkin found that maternal and paternal age were minor contributors in the rise of autism, explaining only 3-4%.

Dr. Hertz-Picciotto specifically studied the 600% increase in ASD cases from 1990 to 2001. Dr. H.P. argued that surprisingly little of the astronomical rise of autism could be explained by better diagnoses or greater awareness. She found that maternal and paternal age accounted for just 4% of the increase in ASD cases. Clearly there are major environmental factors involved in the rise of autism that must be identified.

Then we heard from scientists studying Parkinson’s, asthma and cancer. None of these diseases have experienced the meteoric rise of autism. It is also worth noting that vast majority of people with these diseases marry and have children. 99% of people with autism (I do not know about Asperger's) do not procreate. Autism’s number should be falling, not rising.

Afterwards the groups divided into panels to discuss specific epi questions. Thank God for Mark Blaxill of SafeMinds. There was no way I could have withstood the torture of listening to the group 4 scientists had Mark not been present. Most of these scientists do NOT believe the increase in autism is real.

I have no idea why but many of these researchers in group 4 were not specialists in the field and seemed to possess little knowledge of autism. Why not give those seats to the perpetually under-represented autism stakeholders? These groups have tens of thousands of dues paying members. I was amazed that the NAA, TACA, the Autism Research Institute or Generation Rescue were not invited to participate in this workshop, yet so many non ASD experts were?

NAA, TACA, GR and ARI all finance cutting edge research. Together these organizations represent 50,000 stakeholders! These groups work with families everyday. They know all about ASD clusters and on the ground prevalence issues. These organizations finance huge academic, clinical and ASD parent conferences at which scientists present the latest and most innovative research. ARI even trains pediatricians how to better recognize, diagnose and treat children with autism!

Autism Speaks, one parent from SafeMinds and members of the neurodiversity movement were the only stakeholders invited to this CDC meeting. Why are Dr. Coleen Boyle and Catherine Rice unwilling to allow these Moms, who representing 50,000 families,  participate? But guess who Rice and Boyle did invite to represent the public?  Get ready for this… Roy Grinker and Eric London.

I mean, please, together do Grinker and London represent 100 stakeholders, 200?  

Dr. Lawler said that maybe now, just maybe autism is increasing, but wait, that it wasn’t true 5 years ago. I know, delusional. Dr. Lawler also gave herself a pat on the back for all progress they have made. Doubly delusional.  For the past decade Dr. Lawler has been in a position to support meaningful and game changing autism research.  Obviously that has not happened. President Obama promised that autism and cancer were his top medical research priorities. Obama wants to see the best and brightest minds invested in cutting edge cancer and autism research. We desperately need to see new scientific leadership.

Dr. MacMahon expressed great frustration regarding the community of families. MacMachon asked for the group’s help in persuading parents to stop disagreeing with him because he knows the science and research best.  MacMahon went on to explain that he was at the end of his professional career and is “tired” of dealing with parents’ questions. As if that were not enough, MacMahon said he was done studying autism and immune issues because and there is no relationship. I mean where does one even begin addressing this?

Mark Blaxill responded that it was exactly that condescending attitude that has created the vast divide between parents and researchers. He challenged the researchers to actually listen to the families rather than lecture them. Blaxill expressed disbelief that they were having a prevalence debate at all. There are more cases with autism because there are more children with autism. This is not a big mystery. Blaxill continued by stating that the CDC has known about this problem for 20 years and has done precious little to investigate or stem the tide of the biggest childhood healthcare disaster of our time. Let’s get going by embracing the most innovative science and a meaningful stakeholder presence.

It very disappointing to hear Dr. Craig Newschaffer talk about how we can never know if the increase in autism is real. “We can never know.” Of course we can know! Look at the 1,000% increase over the past decade. “We can never know,” please. I can never know if one day Christian will wake up in the morning singing “The Star Spangled Banner” but I am 99.99% betting on no. When AS lobbies Congress for more federal funds for autism research they most certainly do not say, “we can never know if the increase is real.”  Dr. Newschaffer is one of a handful of scientists who have the final say in millions of dollars of AS grant selections. His uncertainty over whether a 1,000% increase in ASD is real astounds me.

After that I listened to a bizarre litany of advice from non autism experts. They called for (wait for it…) more genetic research, more genetic databanks, and more research into diagnostic substitution. Dr. Diane Schendel offered both bizarre and offensive advice. She argued again for more databanks. For Pete’s sake, has anyone heard of AGRE, Simons, CHARGE, IAN or the National Children’s Health Study? We are already up to our necks in databanks!

Dr Schendel then encouraged the group to examine 20 yr old Canadian data for clues. Why and who cares? Schendel spoke about the long and sordid history of “fake epidemics.” Schendel stated there was a fake epidemic of anorexia in the 1990s traced to the unrealistic image of women as portrayed by “Playboy” magazine. Then further research found that “Playboy” magazine was not responsible after all. Ah-ha- a fake epidemic! I mean what are we even talking about here? Dr. Rice and Dr. Boyle can you seriously tell me that these insights are more valuable that that of a stakeholder representing 10,000 families?

Then things got even weirder. Some panelist, who forgot to announce her name before speaking, said that she was sure autism was more genetic than not because in her experience she has noticed “strange personality characteristics” throughout ASD families. Another researcher argued that autism diagnostic tests were culturally biased and her experience with Native Americans proved that to her.

By this point I felt more pessimistic about the state of autism research than I have in years.

Fortunately things did get better. A non-panelist, I believe it was the CDC program manager, suggested keeping track of gaps in under-researched epidemiology issues. Truly a great idea! The program manager said, for example there have been so very many parental age studies, isn’t there another area of epidemiology research that needs our attention? Thank you for pointing that out.

After hearing the final wrap-up of all 4 research groups I was pleased to hear some very good ideas for the other 3 groups. These open-minded and innovation-friendly researchers proposed many interesting projects and welcomed greater and more representative stakeholder participation. If only we could separate the wheat from the chaff and move forward!


Katie Wright is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.


K Logan

Can you cite a source for your assertion that, "99% of people with autism (I do not know about Asperger's) do not procreate"? As an adult with autism (diagnosed under the DSM-V) and mother to a child with autism (also diagnosed under the DSM-V), and whose father exhibited classic characteristics of autism (in a time when autism was much more under diagnosed), I find this assertion offensive. If there is data behind it, I'd be interested in reading it, since my family seems to be beating the odds.


To Dr. Germain, MD:
"If it were a virus I expect it would have been identified long ago." --- well, well, knowing as we do that 50 or so novel viruses are identified (read ‘discovered’) every year, do you really think that we know everything there is to know about viruses, and that we really can identify those whose existence we are not even aware of? (Could you please provide examples of ‘efforts to identify’ viruses in autism, and whether those efforts included yet unidentified viruses?).

Here is a brainteaser for you Dr Germain:

A large number of HIV positive children develop neurological dysfunction. Symptoms of Paediatric Neuroaids include impairments in language, communication, play and social skills, repetitive actions (rocking, spinning etc), behavioural disturbances (irritability, tantrums etc). Basically all the checklist diagnostic symptoms of autism. (is television to blame?). There is often regression of previously acquired skills – those who talked and were developing normally suddenly regress into above symptoms. Luckily many (but not all) of those children respond to ART treatment and recover their neurological function when HIV levels and CD4+ counts are brought under control. In other words they recover from autism. BUT it seems that only children with certain chemokine genetic polymorphisms are at risk of developing HIV-induced neurodevelopemental/ neurobehavioural dysfunction. So Neuroaids a genetic disorder? (since there is a clear genetic risk...). What would we diagnose those children with today if HIV was still amongst unidentified pathogens? Do you think providing those children with ‘nurturing environments’ is really all they need in order to thrive? Do we really not want to treat their ‘autism’ biomedically? Do we ignore their health problems as ‘just comorbidities? How do we know for certain that some/most/all of children diagnosed with idiopathic autism today are not carriers of tomorrow’s HIV?

PLEASE ask yourself the following: ---------------- Imagine for a moment that this was 1982: a child comes into your practice exhibiting all the symptoms of moderate/severe autism. There is no mistake about it, and you diagnose that child with Autism. He is not much different to every other child you diagnose with autism. He exhibits many health comorbities that you (rightly) believe are just comorbidities and are not causative of child’s autism. Then few years down the line you hear that the child had been identified as HIV+ and is receiving treatment. His health has now improved enormously, but so have his symptoms of autism. One day you get to meet this child (now teenager), and witness that all the neurological and behavioural symptoms have receded. The child is communicating and interacting with the world in a typical manner. What do you call this child now? Would you say that television played a role back when you first diagnosed him?

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY (and I really hope that you give this some thought) – how does the above (real life) story make you feel? On a professional and personal level?


Check out Dr Peter Aaby and his team who have toiled for more than 30 years, and now monitor the health of 100,000 people in the West African country of Guimea Bissau. They have discovered that vaccines and vitamin supplements have unexpected effects-good and bad-on the immune systems of children. Their health detective work has generated more than 600 scholarly articles in the world's leading medical journals, and have been responsible for the withdrawal of a potentially deadly measles vaccine by the World Health Organisation. BUT, the WHO has not acted on the most explosive findings yet coming from Guinea Bissau, that show the world's most commonly used vaccines can strengthen-or-weaken-a child's immune system in the long term, and affect their ability to fight off disease. The results directly challenge the WHO's global health advice, followed by most countries in the developing world, and could mean that thousands of young lives, in Africa and beyond, are needlessly at risk. Dr Aaby's findings are backed by some of the world's most respected public health scientists. We have to ask WHY the World Health Organisation has not acted on his findings yet, on the evidence generated so far? WHY safety tests for new vaccines and vitamin supplements, heavily promoted by donor agencies and pharmaceutical companies alike, are not sufficiently far reaching. Dr Aaby has family medical history going back 30 years. WHY aren't the authorities banging on his door and gleaning more information? With the world pandemic of Autism one would expect that all the stops would be pulled out to find a cause since the massive increase from the late 1980's to date.Leave no stone unturned.
Mother of a son who suffers from Regresive Autism. Brought up identically to his older sister who does not have Autism.


I hope I'm not the only one who finds this assertion by Dr. Germine shocking: "Now is not the time to say it is caused by this or that. The prevalence is still going up, most likely meaning that those with some genetic predisposition are more frequently developing the disorder."

I suppose we are to wait until everyone is autistic. Then the prevalence cannot go up any further and perhaps we can get down to the business of finding what caused it in the first place.

Or -- just a crazy idea here -- we come to grips with the fact that there is no such thing as a genetic epidemic, that something is CAUSING those with genetic predispositions (or epigenetic changes in those without genetic predispositions) to suddenly explode with autism, and that it might be a good idea to figure out what that mysterious something is NOW before it happens to more people. {coughvaccinescough}

You are right, doc. NOW is not the time to say "it was caused by this or that". The time for that was TEN YEARS AGO.

John Stone

Dear Dr Germine,

I returned the other week to the recent Hallmayer twin study and was struck by the somewhat cautious wording:

'CONCLUSION: Susceptibility to ASD has moderate genetic heritability and a substantial shared twin environmental component.'

So, it isn't ASD which is moderately heritable but 'susceptibility'. After decades of pursuing the issue of autism as a genetic disorder this is a very vague claim, and a huge research failure for the geneticists and their friends in the psychiatric profession. With the best will in the world I can't help thinking it is also putting the cart before the horse. We look obscurely at susceptibility to environmental harm, rather than the agents of environmental harm and their damage - which is simply perverse, and completely out of keeping the needs of an international catastrophe.

John Stone (UK Editor)

Mark Germine, MD, MS

It seems to me that it is easier to react than to act, and to do so requires devaluation those who give suggestions.

Yes, association does not the same as causation, this is a simple rule of epidemiology and it has not changed. This is because statistics are done using the Fisher method, which is atheoretical. Bayesian analysis is neededt to support the assumptions implied be Fisher statistics. One study often proves very little, metanalysis of many studies proves much more. Unfortunately, most or all the commentators that have tarnished my reputation without actually understanding fully what the statistical methods are and what they can tell us. I am being mocked for saying association does not prove causation - all of the physical or medical problems

It is easy to be ignored by the ignorant, The sperm as no mitochondrial DNA, the egg carries all the mitochondrial DNA to the offspring. The Y chromosome always comes from the sperm, feelings are XX and males XY. If the mitochondrial DNA were involved to any reasonable extent, ASD's would be passed done strictly along the female line. I do not believe this is the case. Autism prevalence according to various studies is 3.2 to 7.6 times higher in males than in females. X is very important psychiatrically. The ratio of males versus females suggests that a recessive gene on X may be involved, which would always be active in males but require the two X's to share the same genetic abnormalities in females. The role of serotonin and response to serotonergic medications would support this idea, or maybe its another blind lead. I am not looking for a Noble Prize, just a little respect, not being publically humiliated. I treat my patient's well, and parents and family have been happy with my care - because I really do care, and I really do know what I am doing. In this area I have been a clinician, not a researcher, although I have done research in many other field within outside of psychiatry. Who am I treating, the parents or the child? If a parent says it is caused by this or that, I let them believe whatever they would like. Their treatment of the child is much important, as well as plans for future care, as many continue to live with their parents well into adulthood, and when they become incapable of caring for the disability or die, they are often are thrust into a dysfunctional institutional setting.

My message was that autism is multifactorial. Concordance in identical twins vary with the study so: 1) Much of autism is related to genetic predispostion, 2) other factors must be involved. So, it is multifactorial. The "new research" that I am said to be ignorant of has not, to my knowledge, not proven that toxins or vaccines are involved. Studies of the MMR vaccine have been negative, yet mothers are avoiding the vaccine, leading to a measles epidemic.

I recently worked as a psychiatrist in a school that had a large proportion of autistic children. Staff were literally abusing these and other children, yelling at them, physically restraining them, I putting them in padded cells on minimal provacation. I resigned after two weeks and sent letters of protest to the authorities. I received no response.

I have been involved with the UC Davis group and have attended their meetings. I am up to date, but the new rave sometimes is used to negate all past research. There is plenty of room for various opinions, and I assure you, mine are well informed. All of the medical symptoms may either 1) reflect genes that common to ASD and medical/neurological problems, or 2) Reflect signs and symptoms of autism. It is quite doubtful that most have an role in causing autism. A young adult patient of mine has a history of sensory deficits, including early history of being hard of hearing and having a severe refractive abnormality that was not corrected in the early stages of development. Did these deficits cause his autism? I really can't say. His father had Asperger's Disorder and his mother, whose mitochondrial DNA he inherited seemed quite normal.

People have accused my of saying autism is genetic, when what I really said was the genetics was a factor, which has been proven beyond doubt. Autism is a "pervasive developmental disorder," so why is it such a crime to look at developmental issues and genetic predisposition? Now is not the time to say it is caused by this or that. The prevalence is still going up, most likely meaning that those with some genetic predisposition are more frequently developing the disorder.

What can you do besides condemn me and other psychiatrists?
Look at the neglect of autism by psychiatrist who are doing cursory evaluation and care to make money and aren't really involved with their patients. Really caring is not the problem, and I'm afraid that the other specialists that you admire because they tell you convient lies about autism no being psychiatric at all, in the end I have seen them doing more for the denial of the parents than for the child. Do an inquiry of how these children are mistreated and abused. It may be a minority of schools, or may be more widespread. In some schools they do an excellent job, but these are special schools, which the autistic child really needs as they actually show some remediation of signs and systems. All autistic children deserve such care. So, advocate for this. I am not the enemy, just a psychiatrist, physician, and a scientist who dared to enter such a hostile list. The anger is obviously, and is actually justified, but displacing it on me is not.

Katie Wright

Oh my. This is beyond bizarre.
Yes Dr. Germine, I am sorry to say, that we do not find your expertise of value.
This information you cite is dated, factually incorrect and just plain out of touch w/ reality.
Try reading some new autism research:

just start there- read post 2008 research and let us know what you think

Mark Germine, MD

To all,

Autism and other pervasive developmental disorder are multifactorial. Fully controlled studies are almost impossible to do. However, there certainly is a genetic component. My point was the opposite of what is stated - the concordance has been done for identical twins separated at birth. You should be very lucky if you brought your child to me, ASD are generally missed or misdiagnosed. Mitochodria have DNA too, but if it were strickly be mitochondrial DNA we would expect it to be transmitted strictly on the maternal line. If it were a virus I expect it would have been identified long ago. Vaccines have been ruled out in a very large study. I know of no assocation of lead and ASD. The recommendation of the American Pediatric Association is no TV prior to 2 years old. Genes serve more than one function so the comorbitity is not surprising. The bottom line is that ASD do not respond well to medications, and that the psychosocial treatment we give these children and adolescents is disgraceful. I hear no outcry about this. I studied ASD under Chris McDougle, a world expert, and have seen hundreds. It is most convenient psychological to deny developmental factors and therefor deprive infants and toddlers real human contact. I'm sure the industry loves this, and that the society and family gain some solice in knowing that their compliance with money over love has nothing to do with it. My recommendations stand - uncertainty deserves prudence, not ignorance. You all can deny what you wish - the less you are involved with your youngstars the less they are involved in the world - very simple. Denying this, you project and externalize blame on nonsense. The toddlers comment is a low blow, in keeping with your attitude "ignorance is bliss." Stand up and fight for the proper developmental programs for this young people instead of pointing the finger. By the way, there is a very firm finding that in areas of high precipitation and youngsters being kept by the television rather than active outdoors there is an increased rate of ASD. You all would rather abuse than use an expert, and it's your loss.

Mark Germine


Dr. Germine:
Would you consider that psychology dignosis of autism is the out come of a previous brain injury?

After all there are also a lot of tourettes and epilespy that goes along with people with autism - as well as other medical problems that you did speak of????


Dr. Germine:
Am I understanding you correctly.
That the rise in autism is caused by;

1.)Mother's not staying home with their babies at all?
2.)Too much television and video games are baby sitting these kids as the parents are absent?

But you do think it is not genetic?

Mark Germine, MD


My statement has been taken entirely our of context. Genetics provides a predisposition or susceptability, with concordance in identical twins as low as 46%. I would hardly call this genetic causation. Children with autistic disorder commonly have certain medical problems, this does not mean these problems or autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are caused by these medical illnesses. This is what I meant be my statement. There are many variables involved and infant and tottler development within the social setting is, in my professional opinion, prime among them. The relationship between mother or primary caregiver is crucial very early in life, yet mothers are forced to go back to work as early as 2 weeks after delivery. I understand these disorders very well, and still diagnose children and adolescents with autistic disorder who have been otherwise diagnosed by multiple disciplines and specialists for as long as ten years.

My paper was meant to bring forward a recent, pre-publication study that showed a relationship between television viewing and ASD. Infants and toddlers under 2 should not be watching or even hearing television and similar media. This has been the recommendation for many years, and now it is quite clearly extablished that this is a variable, perhaps one of many, in the development of ASD. Mothers have not, in my experience, heard this, and this organization had best get the word out and not shoot the messenger for a comment taken out of context when, in fact, my paper was intended, not to imply the ASD are genetic destiny, but develope in a psychosocial setting that critically involves the primary caregiver. Mothers are forced to go back to work as early is 2 weeks after delivery. We should not be placing infants in day care - I am very sorry - these developing minds have needs that day care does not meet.

There are many crimes here, and what many of our bloggers have done is divert attention away from these crimes are placing it on less important possible risk factors. The crime is, we are not raising our infants and adolescents in a way that fulfills their psychosocial needs, and this goes across the board beyond ASD. You can choose to bury your head in the sand, buy "Baby Einstein" (which Disney, who is endorsed by Michelle Obama, has recalled). Disney and all the others were very poorly advised regarding infant and tottler television. Their intention is only to make money, and even over infants have been turned into consumers.

The makers of the infant, toddler, child, and adolescent media - including video games - love to see this kind of blaming of the harmful psychosocial consequences of their products on other things that direct attention away from the fact that we are failing in a great many ways in providing the proper care and environment. Our eductational system has lost sight of the needs of the growing mind of our young people, and is failing us as well.

The treatment of ASD in our public institutions is frankly scandalous. These children and adolescence and being punished for their illness with harse behavioral interventions that are doing them more harm than good, while the contract providers of professional services are taking in enormous profits by contracting mandated services that they are not providing. These youngsters are abused physically, verbally, and emotionally, physically restrained in a violent manner, drugged up in all kinds of senseless ways just to make them docile and compliant, violently restrained and placed in isolation in padded cells for extended time periods for even minor failures to be compliant. Big money is being made on several fronts, and we are doing these youngsters much more harm than good. I have seen it, and I will no longer be part of it, so the field has lost me.

So, if you want to be an advocate, open your eyes. Don't be fooled into thinking certain causes of ASD that are being promoted are actually central or even important. A very large study of the vaccines has been done and no association has been found. Does this mean that there is not a problem with vaccines - not necessarily, but they are really more of a side show diverting attention to the real causes, which our society would rather deny, while diverting the blame to all kinds of other nonsense.


My first reaction to Mark Germine's post is, THANK GOD I NEVER TOOK MY KID TO A PSYCHIATRIST.

You say that association does not imply causation, but at the same time, you talk about concordance in identical twins as though that proves a genetic-only cause of autism?

That's association, not causation. Those identical twins received identical vaccines, at identical schedules, from the same batches. Those identical twins were exposed to the same environmental toxins, whether from vaccines, lead poisoning, or the famous highway fumes. They didn't grow up in bubbles, so it's completely unscientific to assume causation from genetics there.

Then again, I would have expected that a psychiatrist--an MD, for crying out loud--who claims expertise in infant and child development might actually know that the word "toddlers" is not spelled "tottlers."

Theodora Trudorn

What planet are some of these people from?! How can anyone not see the dramatic increase? A small rise could be explained by increased awareness, but not numbers like ours! And there are litterally millions who's stories match one another identically, far to many to just dismiss when it comes to what happened after the children get vaccinated, period!

I have noticed that those on the spectrum have weaker immune systems than the general public. I used to be the one who always got sick first, and the sickness would leave me the last. My vitamins and teas help with that greatly, but I am still below my peers when it comes to immune response. This is true of every ASD person I know, and that is a decent number. It's all in the medical records.

So they are either ignoring such facts, lieing, or don't have much intelligence and probably shouldn't of become a doctor in the first place. For even one such as I, who never went to med school can see the increase is to large to be explained away by awareness.


Dr, Germine,

Autism parents are reporting physcial symptoms like:

Chronic diarrhea
parasitic infections
GI inflammation
high viral titers
excessive urination
bacterial infections
not eating
food allergies
lack of energy-listlessness- child is in a fog

If a parent were to approach you with the above list wouldn't you send them to a medical doctor??

now either our kids are misdiagnosed or the medical community is suddenly classifying these symptoms as psychiatric ... looks to me like medical community is just passing the buck to you psychiatrists. They don't want to deal with our kids or maybe they don't know how to deal with all these problems.

If you really want to see what's going on you have to get in the trenches in our community .. join a autism parents yahoo group. It will open you eyes.


Thanks so much, Katie & Mark!

All this continuing debate over prevalence is so ridiculous that it must be a deliberate smokescreen.

Son in Recovery

More meetings with no results except - "Hey, let's do more gene studies" and "Boy, all these moms of autistic kids are old". Katie we appreciate you and everyone's efforts in attending meetings. I am completely frustrated with our government and the lack of urgency. Even more frustrating is the fact that we as a community are limited in our ability to get in front of these folks. First, they don't want us to attend, obviously, second, many of us are drowning in so much dept because of medical expenses we lack travel funds, and third it is very difficult to leave our children for several days. This all plays into the nay sayers hands. We are a community that has come together because of the internet. I'm not giving up - I am the Voice of the Voiceless.

We need to organize, we need to make phone calls relentlessly, we need to march. The government will continue to bury it's head in the sand, ensure that studies show no link between vaccines and autism and try to silence us. We NEED to draw the line in the sand and take a stand for our kids... NOW!


@Dr. Germine:
"There is a simple rule of statistics and epidemiology - association does not imply causation - that seems to be lost here.

Mark Germine, MD"

What seems to be lost here is you. You clearly are not part of the autism universal consciousness but maybe you are here because it's time to get enlightened. Please stick around. Visit often and you will learn from others' experiences that statistics and epidemiology have been used since at least 1999 to obscure the clinical truths that the families and researchers here see every day, things like seizures, bowel disease, and other physical disorders. Stop worrying about when your patients' mothers went back to work and start worrying about how many of them have mitochondrial dysfunction. Then you can, like the rest of us, worry about what caused that dysfunction and what can be done to reverse it and prevent others from suffering the same fate. Your patients really need you to be dialed in to the recent research. Bettelheim? Seriously?


"Bearman also hypothesized that some of the increase could be the result of a virus."


L Land

Prevalence and genetics discussions are just their way of doing nothing!
Do they have to count of the cases of an E. coli outbreak before they treat anyone? Do they have to make sure it really qualifies as an outbreak before they acknowledge that the patient's pain is real and that something better be done about it?
In an E coli outbreak do they research the genetics of the patients to determine why they are susceptible to food borne illnesses before they treat the patients?

They are never going to do anything to help babies or kids, and certainly not those teens turning into adults, with autism. ARI, DAN, NAA, TACA, GR are where we can look for help.

As the CDC gets bigger and bigger, it does less and less good.

Jeff C.

"Dadvocate, while I agree with much of what you post, the Chief Science Officer of AS is a psychologist - how is that any better for the reality of autism than a psychiatrist?"

A psychologist might waste our time and money, but at least they can't pump our kids full of Ritalin or Risperidone. A zero is better than a negative.


Katie Wright and Mark Blaxill thanks for going to this meeting and speaking up.

However, since it was CDC and all - I would suggest a very good hot shower, lots of lye soap, and maybe a good rinsing in holy water, or maybe rubbing yourself with a cross, or Bible or whatever it takes to get rid of the evil taint of being near CDC.

Teresa Conrick

Dr. Germine,

Your narrative of "I am a psychiatrist with many years experience" has to be one of the most disturbing passages that I have read in years. Your ignorance is vast. Autism is a gut/brain disorder triggered by an environmental insult in many of the cases - vaccines being a HUGE causative factor.

Your summation of what autism is: "a host of psychopathologies and cultural problems have arisen as a result of misplaced priorities that detract from the necessary predicates of infant and child development"..."primarily genetic," "perinatal stress,"...."not curable"

This is just profoundly incorrect information, has not one shred of scientific backing and you should be embarrassed and ashamed for posting it yet I doubt you are.

Thank you though, for again showing us all how Psychiatry has no business in dealing with autism.


Kim- Every shrink is different of course, but the common denominator I have come across is basically a "nothing can be done" attitude. Treating or examining GI disorders, eeg abnomalities, recurring otis media episodes in infants, immune dysfunction, perseveration and self stimulation, skill losses and regression (many think parents observations should be discounted on this topic), abnormal brain growth, abnormal white matter, mito dysfunctions and other clearly biological symptoms is a good step (that many psychiatrists don't think have anything to do with autism). But the important thing is to be curious and pursue the mystery of why these show up in our population with such great regularity.

My kid is a late teen so we've been at it a while and I've yet to see too many psychiatrists pound any drum other than genetics. They've added basically zero to the conversation in my view. Perhaps it's because they were taught so little in med school and we still know so little now. I would just like to see an ounce of curiousity and out of the box thinking from the profession from time to time.

kathy blanco

two words, XMRV and Vaccines, ok, that's it.


Dadvocate, while I agree with much of what you post, the Chief Science Officer of AS is a psychologist - how is that any better for the reality of autism than a psychiatrist?


Egad. Dr. Germain. You present, in your own words, "Exhibit A" why the psychiatric profession (with few exceptions) has utterly failed our community for too many years to count. ANYTHING but a neurobiological answer is preferred, even if it's insanity like too much TV, living by freeways, or moms who go back to work too early after giving birth and aren't nuturing their kids. The ghost of the criminal Bettelheim rears it's ugly head...."woooo".

Really, Dr. Germain, please consider attending IMFAR this year if you treat patients with autism and learn some things to actually help them, like the concept of treating "subtypes" with different protocols. Also, please read the consensus statements from the leading clinicians and researchers specializing in autism have created in the many meetings that Autism Speaks their predecessor organizations have readily available on their websites.

It is really, really frustrating when we cross paths with too many professionals in your guild. You guys hold back medical progress. I advise most folks to run the other way when encountering a child psychiatrist, unless they have an autism specific practice and actually know a few things. People are far better off consulting neurologists, gastroenterologists, good developmental pedias, and other professionals who have specialized practices in autism spectrum disorders.

Heidi N

It's very obvious that "they" are all about money and nothing else, because if "they" gave a tiny inkling of care about children with autism, they would be pounding down the doors of the many recovered children, asking the parents and doctors how it was done. It's too difficult to believe that "they" are too ignorant to know to do this, so there must be a purposeful avoidance.


Does not someone want a Nobel prize for finding the cause... or at least "one of the causes" of Autism ???

After about 20 years, one would think someone would want to go down in the history books for finding the source of the problem.

I would guess Dr. Offit or Dr. Germaine hope to win a Nobel prize for creating medical telephone surveys /debunking whatever a parent may say....

They are certainly world class debunkers....

Amanda Blinn

Thank you, Katie Wright, for continuing to attend these gruelling meetings, and reporting to us, and trying to make a difference in the forum which should be representing families of autistic children.

Donna K

Dr. Germine,
Your theory, "It may be that the careers, parenting practice, and urban cultures are involved, again, in the severity of these illness, which then lends itself to recognition," has not been well thought out and possibly results from not keeping up to date on the developments in autism research. Like so many speakers at this recent meeting on prevalence, you are out of touch with the reality of autism and the recognized involvement of environmental factors creating metabolic, immunological, neurological, gastrointestinal and endocrinological problems that are significant players in the etiology and expression of autism. I would suggest you bring yourself up to speed on the topic by first reading Dr. Francis Collins' statements about what is currently known and accepted about autism, prevalence and causation. We're not amused or fooled by the clowns the CDC brought in for this most recent prevalence meeting.

For the most part, the mental health and developmental professionals are brought in late in the game. You're mistakenly focused only on the behavioral symptoms and trying to reconcile neurology and development through nuture and genetics all the while ignorant of how immunological dysfunction impacts the neurology and ultimately the behavioral symptoms of an environmental disease process labeled autism.

You might want to step outside your box and familiarize yourself with what we have learned by reading Dan Olmsted's and Mark Blaxill's book the "Age of Autism" that takes a historical look at how autism was misidentified as a psychiatric condition and supported with strong evidence that it is indeed a man-made disease, the result of an environmental poisoning.


"V.K. Singh has studied autism as an autoimmune disorder for over fifteen years. He believes that up to eighty percent (and possibly all) cases of autism are caused by an abnormal immune reaction, commonly known as autoimmunity. The autoimmune process in autism results from a complex interaction between the immune system and the nervous system."

Auto-Immunity, Vaccines and Autism

Jeff C.

Dr. Germaine - Sorry pal, blaming unloving mothers isn’t going to cut it around here. Do you have any empirical evidence for your rehash of Bettelheim’s conjecture?

When we need amphetamines for our children, we’ll look you up. In the meantime, 1961 called, it wants its theory back.

Carolyn M

Dr. Germine,

The theory that autism was caused by lack of nurturing by the mother - as proposed by Bruno Bettleheim - was totally disproven a long time ago. Autism also frequently includes such medical conditions as gastrointestinal dysfunction, immune system issues, mitochondrial dysfunction and seizures. NONE of these are caused by lack of nurturing.

I have been a stay at home mother since before my daughter was born. I took her everywhere with me. There was absolutely no deficiency in nurturing - and she has severe autism.

Kim is absolutely correct; your statements are offensive in the extreme. I am appalled by the harm that you are doing by espousing this viewpoint - not just in public, but probably also in your psychiatric practice. Parents of children with autism have enough to deal with; you are unnecessarily adding to their problems.

Harry H.

Dr. Germine,

Autism may have a genetic component but genes alone cannot account for the pandemic numbers we see. Environmental insults must be considered as a likely contibutor and the one constant environmental component is vaccines.

There is a saying that has been floating around this community for years; "Genetics loads the gun, vaccines pull the trigger."

For modern medicine to ignore the opposing science and cover-up the role vaccines play in the rise of autism is unscientific, unethical, and criminal.

Kim Stagliano

Dr. Germine, I gave birth under nearly "perfect" circumstances. I was educated, I had natural child birth so as not to put chemical into her body, my act of love and sacrifice for her, I fully vaccinated, I nursed her for 6 months, I sang to her, read to her, carried her in a sling on my chest, dined with her, took her to restaurants, Church, on an airplane for a vacation - we were inseparable and in as love as you can be with your first precious child. I brought her to work (yes, I worked, it was 1995 not 1794) for a couple of hours a week and then worked at home. Her head shape changed, her bowels changed, she changed. And was diagnosed with autism. Your implication that nurturing could have saved her is offensive in the extreme. You may or may not return with an apology and I don't much care either way - somehow your training has indoctrinated you into this way of thinking - my daughter is not mentally ill - she is neurobiologically ill - well out of your domain of expertise.


Bearman was just telling the world recently that autism has to do with having children spaced too closely together.

All of you elderly, highly-educated parents who live near freeways should stop having so many children.


Autism experts say, that they recognize the subtle signs present in infants as young as six months and some dispute claims from parents that say, that their children were "completely normal", prior to a vaccination, but, perhaps, those signs were just those of a normal,developing "introverted baby". Introversion is not an illness, a handicap or a social problem, but introverts do tend to have a lower baseline for arousal and have more brain activity in general, specifically in the frontal lobes. They are usually more sensitive to noise and sounds. It's a trait born in about a quarter to a third of the population. Seeing as many parents of autistic children have said, that their child's autism developed after receiving a vaccination and considering that vaccines stimulate the immune system, perhaps that infant would have developed into a normal, healthy, happy "introverted child" if he/she had not been given that inoculation. The genetics, plus the trigger (the vaccine) is what may have caused the child to become autistic.


Dr. Germine,

Thanks for weighing in. I'm curious as to why no medical evaluations are being done during the diagnostic process to assess if our kids have an underlying metabolic problem.

If, according to Dr. Shoffners study, 65% have mitochondrial dysfunction, wouldn't that indicate a need for metabolic screening? If anything it might help tease out the specific underyling medical problem and open the door to new treatments that could really benefit our kids perhaps even get them off the spectrum entirely. Some kids have lost their dx. I personally know of one. I hate to think that kids are put on the spectrum when what they really need is medical intervention.

Most developmental evaluation is done with through a psychiatric/behavioral lens shouldn't this approach be more comprehensive to include medical causes?

Aso, when you say autism is "primarily genetic", do you mean mitochondrial DNA? My son's DNA test (chromosomal microarray) came back normal.. we never looked at his mtDNA though.

If autism is all genetic, how is that 1 in 28 US born Somali children in Minneapolis, MN have severe autism yet it was rarely heard of/ described in Somalia? This to me seems more like a toxic environmental exposure on a sensitive population.


Dr. Germine,

Hmm, "...association does not imply causation...", you would do well to keep that in mind when you re-read your post -- which is full of this.

Genetics? Nurturing mothers? It's not the 60s anymore.

Katie Wright

Thank you everyone. I do not deserve much credit I just listened to the meeting. Mark Blaxill was there representing all our families.

As hopeless as it may seem at times (and when someone started complaining about ASD diagnostic tools being biased about Native Americans believe me I felt a major hopeless pang) having a real parent voice at these CDC or NIH meetings is valuable.

Even though he was vastly outnumbered Mark really gave the other panelists a reality check. They were audibly surprised and disturbed by Mark's sentiments. His comments were made in a totally professional and polite manner and were easily the most impactful of the day. Remember most of these people never interact w/ children ours and are totally insulated from 90% of the ASD community. Believe me they will remember what Mark said. And we, in turn, will remember what they said!

Mark Germine, MD

Katie and others,

I am a psychiatrist with many years experience diagnosing and treating autism spectrum disorders. Severe cases of autistic disorder are very difficult to miss because of the profound language impairment, but the language criteria can be much more subtle, and such cases can be missed, and often are. One example is a the case of an 14 year old adolescent who obviously had autistic disorder, but it had been missed for ten years in multiple evaluations be psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals. So, for me, the real test of whether autism is, in fact, increasing in prevalence, would be the prevalence of these more severe cases. In my own experience, I have rediagnosed patients I originally diagnosed as having Asperger's Disorder with Autistic Disorder based on further history and observation. These rediagnosed individuals may be said to belong the "broader phenotype," with less severe signs, symptoms, and impairments. As a whole, it appears to me that the ASDs are still vastly underdiagnosed. I have diagnosed Asperger's for the first time in individuals who had previous psychiatric evaluations in the elderly, and have seen provound cases of autism in young adults with previous evaluations, in whom the diagnosis has been formerly missed.

While autism seems to be primarily genetic, the concordance in identical twins ranges in studies from 36 to 96%, and perinatal stress seems to be a factor in those sets of twins. While autism and the ASDs are not curable, it is not untreatable, partial remediation can and does make a big difference. Remediation in the development of language is crucial is preventing life-long impairments is those severely afflicted. Social functions can, to a large extent, be learned, but this requires expert and educational resources.

There seems to be an autistic phase of development in infant symbiosis. In this phase it is crucial that the mother and/or other care providers consistently and lovingly nurture the infant. While this may no prevent ASDs, it is likely to effect the severity and degree of impairment. There are many other adverse effects of inadequate or pathological symbiosis. Mothers are being asked or forced to go back to work as soon as 2 weeks after birth. By impacting severity, problems with symbiosis may increase recognition. The breakdown of the nuclear and extended families, the current need for two working parents, and the advent of things like infant television is a factor that may lead to some developmental arrest in symbiosis, and, given the genetics of ASDs, may impact the severity of these disorders.

It is my professional opinion, based on experience and what I know of infant and child development, that mothers should be encouraged and enabled to nurture there infants and tottlers, with a full year of supported leave. It is my professional opinion that a host of psychopathologies and cultural problems have arisen as a result of misplaced priorities that detract from the necessary predicates of infant and child development.

It is very easy to say, for example, that the clusters of autism in cities in individuals who are highly educated are the result of higher recognition, but this theory does not have a firm, evidentiary basis. It may be that the careers, parenting practice, and urban cultures are involved, again, in the severity of these illness, which then lends itself to recognition. There is a simple rule of statistics and epidemiology - association does not imply causation - that seems to be lost here.

Mark Germine, MD

CT teacher

Stagmom, I'm with you. Autism Speaks should stand up for the kids.


The Homefirst practice of Dr. Mayer Eisenstein has thousands of never vaccinated children in it. Couldn't a small study be done of this population? He's got the medical records. Maybe they're computerized.

Eisenstein is lukewarm to cold on vaccines. He vaccinates if parents want him to, but never before six months. He says that he has no cases of autism among his unvaccinated children (and very little asthma and diabetes). Get the unvaccinated kids from him and the vaccinated kids from somewhere else.

Admittedly it's not perfect because Eisenstein is an outspoken critic of vaccines, but these endless studies comparing vaccinated children to slightly differently vaccinated children are beyond useless.


Thank you Katie! I didn't get a chance to watch this one. I'm almost glad I didn't now because I'm not sure my stomach could have handled such nausea.

When I wrote to the CDC I told them that they have argued for too many years over prevalence and our children are suffering for their ridicules time wasting ignorance. It's unnerving that this is still the major source of conversation. Where are all of the conversations on the multitudes of studies finding medical abnormalities and immune dysfunction in the kids? An epidemiologist is not going to tell you what's wrong with a child medically, nor how to treat them. I was 28 when I conceived my son, my husband 29, monies wasted on epidemiology and parental age does nothing to help my son, does nothing to help any of our children.

Ignorance seems to have been in full force that day. The 'unnamed' woman said the most discriminatory statement of the day. Followed by the 'know it all' Dr. MacMahon, who would rather all of the parents go away. What a disheartening meeting, with a complete lack of empathy. What may be the only way to make these people understand what's going on is to bring all our kids to a meeting. It's becoming obvious that they may only be visual learners.


My strong suspicion is that the non-autism "experts" are seatwarmers put there to engage in bureaucratic jujitsu in order to prevent funding from escaping their sponsor's pet programs and into autism research. Human roadblocks are not unusual in committees or panels of any type, from Congress to your local Homeowner's Association. It's not paranoia, it's politics. I always find it helpful when engaging with groups or committees to do a lot of research beforehand to try to identify the constituencies folks represent. In any professional field, including medicine, there are webs of interlocking Boards, Advisory Committees, professional alliances, etc.

The old saw in poker always holds true. "If you don't know who the sucker at the poker table is, it's you."


no ones genes are, me and virtually everyone in the human population has defects in their genes .. some probably have more defects than others.

Our genetic defects are likely immune related hence we see a familial clustering of auto immune disease in families of children with autism. Defects in genes are nothing new but stressors triggering the expression of those defects is what's causing the autism increase.

Remove the triggers and the disease will lay dormant. There are those who want to remove the disease causing defects from the himan population altogether. There is modern day eugenics movement afoot and it's being applied to genetic defects that result in disease. This is why there is so much emphasis on genetics.

Association of family history of autoimmune diseases and autism spectrum disorders.

Familial clustering of autoimmune disorders and evaluation of medical risk factors in autism.


This outcome is absolutely predictable since they've put a bunch of reductionist scientists in charge of solving a complex problem. History has repeatedly demonstrated that reductionists drive their own agendas, because they are incapable of seeing the big picture. Typically, they are quite ignorant of everything outside of their area of expertise.

The outcome of these things will not change until some real systems scientists are put in charge of the investigation.


This treatment sounds like it would be beneficial for autism cases:


I often wonder why Autism Speaks, given their money, marquis names and perceived clout - don't just put an end to this nonsense of dithering over prevalence - would they even exist and grow if autism were still rare? Why the heck don't they stand up and shout - ENOUGH - WE HAVE FAMILIES TO HELP! They could change the face of autism in a heartbeat - so why don't they?

Shannon Johnson

We are so fortunate to have you participate and report on these important meetings... Your passion is palpable and this autism-mom is so grateful for what you do. It will make a difference. It has to.

Harry H.

These are the top autism scientists in the country? What a wrecking crew. They just can't admit the sacred vaccine program has more than a few major flaws in it, and the collateral damge is much more extensive than the best and the brightest planned for. But how dare we challenge their assumptions since they know the science and they have all the answers? All we have is our observations, and our kids. They are the proof that the epidemic is real and that genes can't explain it away. To lay the blame for this catastrophe on genetics is the lazy persons version of science.

If this is the prevailing version of science, we're in worse shape than I could have imagined.

One who clearly has "strange personality characteristics"

Re: "Then things got even weirder. Some panelist, who forgot to announce her name before speaking, said that she was sure autism was more genetic than not because in her experience she has noticed “strange personality characteristics” throughout ASD families."...

This one cracks me up.

Once upon a time, I was an interesting, dynamic, fun person who was passionate about many things (who also pulled in a paycheck in a capacity that demanded a Masters degree).

So, my "genes" were normal.

Now, I am frazzled, stressed out, person who now has full blown ADHD accelerated by PTSD, who furthermore, is unable to work as I am a professional case-manager of my child and can barely handle the day... who is now only passionate about one topic (to the outside world) - autism. In our world - I'm passionate about many topics - environment, health, treatments (of all stripes), prevention, fundraising, privacy, local services, school issues, politics on the micro and macro level, etc., etc., etc. So, I think I'm still interesting - but not so to everyone outside of our world. So, I am clearly NOT fun to be around.

So now, my "genes" are not normal.


Beneath the autism prevelance numbers lurks a biological commonality...a mitochondrial dysfunction. For a true measure of prevalance, these researchers should screen our kids a mitochondrial dysfunction instead of wasting time debating prevelance based on DSM V diagnosistic criteria.

I always go back to what Dr. Jon Poling said: "It's the mitochondria" ...those words always echo in my head.. I think this is ground zero.

If we were to test all our kids mtDNA how many would show mutations? wear due to age? or damage?

Deleterious (old) mitochondria may be more prevalant in older mothers which is why maternal age is cited as a risk factor and why it keeps coming up.

The prevelance of mitochondrial DNA mutations that pre-dispose us to disease is 1 in 200 in the human population. Mitochondria are very sensitive to viruses and toxins. 65% of children with autism have been fond to have a mitochondrial dysfunction...

so what it is the trigger? hmmm... untested vaccine schedule,no drug toxicity tests are done on mitochondria (this is stunning!), vaccines contain viruses (some live) and toxins compound that with a host of childhood illnesses and fever and you have a recipe for autism.

I think we should follow Dr. Polings lead. I think the majority of our kids probabaly had a mitochondrial dysfunction like Hannah Poling. How kids many had a dysfunction? Let's start counting.

Before they waste another 20 years debating numbers, we should steer the discussions to more mito - autism research.


Do some of these people ever even consider UC Davis' research. Several California studies have the increase distributed almost equally between better diagnosis and true increase. How long will certain people act like those studies do not exist, burrying their heads in the sand while chanting the better diagnosis is all mantra.


Katy - thank you so much for taking the time to suffer through these meetings and write them up for the rest of us. It's really appreciated...even though it tends to rip my heart apart fresh each and every time.

Maurine meleck

It's amazing that Lyn, Katie and Mark aren't bald. What an absolutely frustrating way to spend a day. Thanks as always to all of you. Love also Media Scholar's flying monkey analogy.

John Stone

Thanks Katie - another great report.

It really is a question these days of who is committing fraud. When people deny the absolutely obvious you know you are in a very bad place. I remember reading Fombonne's article about the autism epidemic a decade ago (it was forwarded to me by our Department of Health), and the fallacy was manifest even to a beginner like myself. If I may represent Fombonne's argument he appeared to be saying that without controlled data we cannot be sure that the rise in autism is real, therefore we must conclude that isn't. I concluded, on the other hand, that it suited the authorities not to collect controlled data.

At the time - as there still is - there seemed to be three concurrent projects:

1) To insist that vaccines had nothing to do with autism

2) Autism was not on the rise

3) There is no connection between autism and bowel disease

While it is true that no environmental triggers will be popular with governments or industry, they might have sounded more credible on issue (1) if they hadn't also been flying in the face of any reality on questions (2) and (3).

The other point is of course that they can go on playing logical games ad infinitum demanding ever more absurd levels of proof for things that are not bureaucratically expedient and no level of proof for things which are. Certain good friends think you should just ignore these people. I, on the other hand, think we are greatly in Katie's debt for trying to hold them to account and chronicle their Kafka-esque absurdities.

Media Scholar

A lot of people are culling through information wondering exactly where are we in this sad mellow-drama?

Since the United State Supreme Court is about to release their decision, knowing something about the methods of the media-savvy CDC anti-litigation racket I'd say right here:

Alison MacNeil

Thank you Katie again and Mark Blaxill's comments were so good.

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.)