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Anne Dachel on HDNet's Vaccines and Autism: Mixed Signals

Mixed signals
 By Anne Dachel

On Tuesday, August 23, 2011, HDNet World Report broadcast the segment, “Vaccines and Autism: Mixed Signals.”  (Download the episode from iTunes HERE.) The report was about a half hour in length and it covered the topic in a thorough and balanced manner.  As many of us are veterans of years of watching media coverage of the vaccine-autism controversy, I’m sure we’d all agree that this program was exceptional.

Many of the people included in the story are familiar names to people in the autism community: Michelle Cedillo, Kimberly Sue Leteure, Mary Holland, Becky Estepp, and Louis Conte.  The focus was a study published this past May that showed that dozens of families who’ve been compensated for vaccine injuries have children who have autism. 

Louis Conte: "What we did was we looked at the cases of individuals who were compensated for encephalopathy and for seizure disorder and we asked another question, does your child also have autism. And in a surprising number of a handful of interviews, ... the answers came back yes."

We were told about the similarities between encephalopathy (brain injury) and autism and about the children whose vaccines injuries were compensated and about children with the same injuries who didn’t receive compensation.  The stunning truth is that back at the beginning of the government’s Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, in the 1980s, if your child was injured by vaccines and had symptoms of autism, chances were good that the injury would be recognized as vaccine related. By the 1990s, as the number of required vaccines had increased dramatically along with the claims of vaccine damage, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program tended to reject the claim.

World Report showed us the personal stories of vaccine injury victims.  It was very hard to watch Michelle Cedillo and Kimberly Sue Leteure and ignore the possibility that vaccines are responsible for the severe disabilities both of these girl endure.  They were both born healthy and suddenly and dramatically regressed following routine vaccinations.  Kimberly Sue won her case in  the Vaccine Program and Michelle Cedillo lost.”

These arbitrary vaccine injury judgments should have us all concerned.  If vaccines aren’t responsible for Michelle’s disabilities, what is to blame? 

“Michelle was one of those test cases. And the government used 17 expert witnesses to argue against her claim of a vaccine injury, none of them actually having examined her. And in the end, although Kimberly Leteure had won a similar claim a few years earlier, the goalposts seemed to have moved. Michelle, along with each of the other test cases, lost, which basically killed the claims of 5,000 autistic children and every claim since. So if you happened to be born in the 1980s, you were compensated. If you were born after that, you weren't.”

As Mary Holland said, “I think the key difference between those who are compensated and those who are not, is the A word.”

Louis Conte agreed, “If a child from 15 years ago could get compensated for encephalopathy, but they also had autism, how come a child today who has autism, clearly encephalopathy and other features as well, just because they have the word autism associated with their case, does that mean they're not to be considered? Or is this really a matter of public policy because we have an increase in autism?"

Becky Estepp’s son Eric was featured.  He too started out as a normal baby boy and was badly impacted repeatedly by his vaccinations resulting ultimately in autism.  And like Michelle Cedillo, he lost in the Vaccine Program. 

World Report pointed out a number of things that are rarely mentioned in stories about vaccines and autism.  We learned about the thousands of vaccine-autism claims that have been thrown out of the Vaccine Program as a result of the six test cases that lost.  And what was most revealing in this report was the absence of any government official who was willing to appear in the story to explain the decisions of the Vaccine Program or to defend the government’s position on the vaccine-autism controversy.    

“We wanted to interview officials in Washington who would offer the best arguments against the supposition that vaccines can cause autism, but no one would talk. We asked repeatedly to interview someone from the Department of Justice which argued against the families making claims. Our requests were rejected with the response, ‘The court's opinion speaks for itself.’

“We also tried to interview any of the arbitrators from the Vaccine Court who are called special masters, some of whom had mocked the parents as ‘victims of bad science’ with ‘reconstructed memories’ and the doctors who supported them as guilty of ‘gross medial misjudgment.’ None could do it.

“We worked with the FDA to get an on the record interview. They declined.

“And we tried to repeatedly to interview someone, anyone, from the Department of Health and Human Services which administers the Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund, including Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The Secretary was quoted last year in Reader's Digest saying of those who argue that there's a link between vaccines and autism, ‘We have reached out to media outlets to try to get them to not give the views of these people equal weight in their reporting.’ When we asked her agency last week whether she had really said that, they responded, ‘No one here can remember or determine that this quote is factual.’”

There were legitimate questions raised in this report.  This is an issue affecting millions of American families.  It is outrageous to learn that no government official was willing to speak publicly and address this controversy. 

Even more concerning was this brief comment:

“Even a member of the government's Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines told us research on vaccine safety remains flawed and incomplete.”   

Parents have a lot to worry about.  If someone working in the vaccine program admits that the science isn’t in on vaccine safety, what are we doing to our children?

Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism. You can subscribe to her newletter at



Ray Gallup


Thank you.

Diane Farr,

Thank you. Thank you for being a follower of TAAP. Glad to hear your son has recovered. Eric lives with children from 8 years old and up, unfortunately, since I don't like to see that younger kids are placed. It is a shame.

As you know, we used to fund autoimmune research for Drs. Vijendra Singh, Andy Wakefield and James Oleske at UMDNJ. The sad part is that it is no longer done for autism and that there isn't any organization moving beyond what was done. So I realize Eric and other adults/children will be warehoused in residential centers for the rest of their lives and there is nothing I can do to change it.

So I accept what you can't change where before I thought there was hope when I ran TAAP. So I deal with that now accordingly...accepting it.

Diane W Farr

Ray, I was one of your early followers on TAAP. TAAP was my bible as Age of Autism is today. TAAP enlightened me to so much information that helped give me the courage and information to fight this battle. Thank you for sharing; my son is recovered. I will never leave this community and will always keep fighting. God Bless Eric!


That came out wrong as usual, but you know what I mean.


Ray, you turned the key and without that someone later will be able to open the door. That could be a reality.

Ray Gallup

Dear Benedetta:


"I am truly sorry that not only do you have to have your son placed away from you, but no one even said they were sorry, seemed to care, in an occupation that was suppose to be built on caring and compassion. In your case- seeing them in hell probably would not be enough."

Thank you for your kind words.

We never received any help from the school system, the medical community, etc. We had to pay a lawyer $5,000.00 to help us and Eric to get him in a residential center. That was the only place we received help. In the end, families and children/adults with autism are on their own. That is reality.

I ran the Autism Autoimmunity Project (TAAP)for autism research funding from 1998 to 2005. I had hoped to get to the point where we might get a cure for autism but we didn't last long or get the kind of funding we needed for that. That is reality.

I feel bad for Theresa Cedillo and family along with other families that were shot down by the Federal Court system.
I know Theresa Cedillo personally. Even if our family could have joined them in a court case we would have encountered the same. Even if people are awarded money for their children/adults it would never do enough to bring these kids back to normal lives. No money can do that. That is reality.

I'm 67 years old and realize I did what I could for Eric and in turn what I could for others. In the scheme of things, I could have done nothing and I would have gotten the same results. There are things I accept now that I cannot change and that is there is nothing I can do to help Eric. I realize that now and when God decides to blow out the candle I have, I will know that I did what I could. I will know when that time comes that I won't be content but will know that some things cannot be changed. I will accept it as part of life.

That is reality.



Ray Gallup;
I am truly sorry that not only do you have to have your son placed away from you, but no one even said they were sorry, seemed to care, in an occupation that was suppose to be built on caring and compassion. In your case- seeing them in hell probably would not be enough.


Theresa O
I expect no payment by now - afterall it has been 25 years now, and for my duaghter it will soon be 30.
O'le long face (horse face) James Cherry had a good life from what I can see. I have accepted the fact there will be no justice done here.

That stated it still makes me very angry. But all I can do now is follow the diet, pay out 100's of dollars for supplments - we are finally for the first time without health insurance just this year so I will be paying for that too, but someday hopefully from my perch in heaven - (I know this is so wrong) but I want to see them all sitting down in hell.

Bob Moffitt

“We also tried to interview any of the arbitrators from the Vaccine Court who are called special masters, some of whom had mocked the parents as ‘victims of bad science’ with ‘reconstructed memories’ and the doctors who supported them as guilty of ‘gross medial misjudgment.’

Isn't it odd the Special Masters refused to defend their decisions? After all .. these very same Special Masters were not shy when writing their opinions .. wherein they unleashed a vicious attack on the personal reputations of parents and those doctors supporting them of "gross medical misjudgment".

In my opinion .. their refusal to defend their decision when given the opportunity to do so .. is tantamount to someone claiming the "fifth" when asked to testify to the truthfulness of their testimony.

Ray Gallup

As a point of information, our son, Eric got the MMR vaccine in April 1986 and regressed into autism after that.
Eric was born on January 17,1985. We had a feeling he had autism in 1988 and he wasn't formally diagnosed with autism until early 1989. We didn't find out that Eric was vaccine damaged until 1995 when we got the elevated measles titer antibodies test and tested positive for myelin basic protein antibodies blood test from Dr. Vijendra Singh at that time. We also look at the videotape recordings that picked up on his regressive and lose of early speech at that time in 1995.

Eric is now in an out-of-state residential center for his aggressions and autism. I contacted VAERS and had his case placed there. We fell under the 3 year limitation rule from the 1986 law, so we were screwed like lots of other families and we were in that 1980s period. Even if we could have gotten in with the 5,000 families now in the system, I'm sure we would be screwed likewise.

So in essence, the whole thing didn't matter. I contacted various law firms and they said the same....we came under the 3 year limitation rule. So that is that.

Theresa O


I think independence--when to step back, and when to step in--is one of the hardest things for a family with someone who is affected less severely (pardon the expression). I think it's great that your son is working with you, and selling the watermelons sounds great. What a satisfying experience (even with getting ripped off a little bit).

I have a friend who works for the VA, assisting Vietnam veterans with claims, and she says that many times the veteran has died by the time the claim gets paid. It is very troubling to think how often a good citizen (like your son, like the vets) ends up getting the short end of the stick. I tend to be a very cynical person, so maybe I'm less likely to get screwed, but it is a tough way to have to live.

I still have hope that a Congressional inquiry into the VICP will allow more families to get some measure of justice.


Thereasa O;
Thanks for your refections on this, you always seem to have a lot of common sense on all this. And that sounds right to me, even right on down to the statue of limitations. That is why - our family took so long, and I kept thinking like a lot of parents that maybe everything would turn out okay - and --- I sure did not want to cheat my own government - that is how I use to think.

Thank You for asking and yes our family - we'll do.

But on a Personal note: My son, sold the watermelons he and I grew this summer, and he made 230 dollars off of it. He is pleased at punch and counts it over and over again.

To do his sales he worked at it, when a customer came by he jumped up and ran to help them, and made change.

One customer got away with not giving him fifty cents, because his Dad came along and was handing, and giving and confusing - my son smoldered for the entire evening about fifty cents. He is very infexible about it all, and we will have to work on that, as well as his Father staying out of his way.

Maurine Meleck

It was such an extraordinary program. I hope some of those sitting in the pews saw it too. As always, thanks Anne.

Angus Files

From WHO tables show the the inept, corrupt workings against vaccine damage claims..

"Common elements of vaccine-injury compensation schemes for six selected countries"


"No-fault compensation following adverse events attributed to vaccination: a review of international programmes"

Thanks Angus

Angus Files

If you can put a claim in because if they dont award compensation it shows the system up to be biased ..In the UK it is the worst in the world 1 in 200 cases are accepted as vaccine damage and disability has to be over 60% physical loss .

In the dis- UK, the VDPU admits damage caused by vaccines but then turns round and states but your not weren`t hammered enough!!no is the only human damage I know where harm is done and admitted to but they can stil walk away happy because you arent hammered enough by the vaccine despite requiring 24hr care for the rest of ones life by as many carers you can get at least one for the term of life...



Theresa O


Regarding the severity of the compensated cases, I don't know. I would venture to guess, however, that a parent whose child is less severely affected would be less likely to bring a suit against HHS to begin with, because of the time and expense involved and the low likelihood of compensation. We don't know how many parents never brought suit on behalf of their vaccine-injured children because of the cost/benefit ratio.

Then, of course, there is the statute of limitations. A person whose child was less severely impacted by vaccine injury may have taken longer to find out what happened, and missed the cutoff.

I hope you are doing all right, Benedetta. Your comments always make me think.


I wonder, and would like to know since we lived in such a bubble in the 80's, but did only the most severe cases get compensated by the vaccine injury court. Does anyone know out there?

Now, In the last 10 years, is the most severe cases not been compensated for, even if they don't use the word autism?

What is considered a severe case?
Is it only considered severe if the child is in a wheel chair, hands drawn back onto thier wrist, being feed through a tube directly into their stomach?

Would it also be considered severe if the child just has to be watched all the time, for self injury or other behaviors, behaviors bad enough that the parent can't even talk on the phone without them making loud grunting noises?

But I am sure it is not severe if a child is just quiet, reclusive, can speak a word or two or even limited conversation, with perhaps epilepsy and perhaps spending hours on what interest them like video games? That is not severe I am sure. But still not what God made them in the first place, not what they were born to.


From the recent IOM report on vaccines:

"....There are reports of autistic syndromes acquired in children with acute encephalopathic illnesses...."

The paragraph goes on to list them. The next paragraph says this:

"The foregoing literature suggests that infectious or inflammatory etiologies may underly [sic] some cases of autism, although most of the cases described do not meet current diagnostic criteria for autistic disorder, owing to their late onset....Vargas et al. (2005) described a unique pattern of inflammatory changes in brain tissue obtained at autopsy and in cerebrospinal fluid from living patients (Zimmerman et al., 2005) with established diagnoses of autism, using suitable controls and DSM-IV criteria...."

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