Holiday Hopes Throughout the Year
Christmas, Pre and Post Recovery, and the Struggles of Managing Recovery

Just Look in the Lost and Found

Christmas hopeBy Dan E. Burns

My life was touched with grace, to my surprise, twice this week.  My 24-year-old preverbal son with ASD, Ben, is on the wait list to have a foreign body removed from his ear.  When the surgeon’s scheduler called this morning to give us the first available date -- 5:30 PM tomorrow  -- I told her I was concerned about the no-food-or-drink-after-midnight rule.  “Because,” I added, “of his autism.”  After a brief hold, she got back to me. “Mr. Burns, I talked to the doctor, and you are scheduled for noon.”  I thanked her.  “No problem,” she said.  “I have an autistic nephew.  I know how difficult it would be for Ben to be hungry all day.”

On errands, we parked at the superstore and Ben ran ahead, vanishing.  He could have been Dan Burns and Benanywhere, avalanched in the crowd.  I asked a young clerk to call security, mentioning my son’s ASD.  She flashed a message to the manager, who called groceries and electronics.  “I have a cousin with autism,” she volunteered.  “He’s five.”  Within moments two staffers were walking Ben back to me.  One had a youngster on the spectrum.  I thanked the staffers and apologized to the manager for the inconvenience.  He shrugged.  “Happens all the time.”

This is a kinder, gentler world, in my experience, than the one Ben was born into.  There was not a hint of the impatience, blame, panic, and miscommunication – “He’s what?  Artistic?” – that would likely have characterized this little drama fifteen or twenty years ago.  In fact, it was hardly a drama at all. 

Nonverbal child with ASD loose in the store?  It happens all the time.

Dan E. Burns, Ph.D., taught Communication courses as an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas at Arlington, and the University of Phoenix. In 1990 his third child, Benjamin, was diagnosed with autism. Burns is the author of Saving Ben: A Father’s Story of Autism. He serves as Adult Issues Liaison for AutismOne, and he chairs The Autism Trust USA, (, a 501(c)3 charity focused on empowering parents to organize communities where their ASD children and others can live and work, enjoy life, give back to society, and continue to heal.


Theodore Van Oosbree

Dr. Burns must be confused. There have always been loads of people with autistic nephews and neighbors who are perfectly familiar with non-verbal 24 year olds (sarcasm alert!) N.B.: we used to get the "artistic" all the time when we explained our sons were autistic - no longer.

Julie Obradovic

Dan, what a gift you have. What a powerful statement on the current state of Autism in our country. And you did it in a few paragraphs. Beautiful and heart breaking. Blessings to you and yours this holiday...and best of luck for a successful surgery.


Two wonderful, touching stories! :)

Merry Christmas to all here! Thanks for a wonderful blog!

Amanda Blinn

I joined a group on Yahoo for recreation, not the GFCFkids, which has helped us so much--just a hobby group where, once or twice a week, I could think about something other than 'tisms' but my first day as a member I began reading the posts of the day and guess what they were about--autism. Of course we know it as vaccine damage. And it is everywhere. I met a nice lady in a thrift store the other day and we were talking about other things...without my bringing it up she mentioned autism and said, "It's not caused by vaccines!" I told her that it was for us. She mentioned Dr. W as a villain. I explained that he was our hero. She has a good mind and a good heart and will read more about it and we'll have another person who knows what we know. The more people who do, the nicer the world will be, because it's not the people who are the is greed, and lies, and ignorance. Here's to wiping them out in 2012.

Angus Files

It, Autism? is the norm Dan no worries ,we all know the truth to well on here as you know, Whats the song “The Times They Are a-Changin'" ...The Murdoch’s have had 40 years of Pharma Press control in the UK .No doubt suitable recruits shall be brought in to buy the papers they will be forced to surrender...




We are everywhere. There is strength in numbers and sadly there will soon be enough of us to rattle many cages. May your son's surgery and healing be swift.

kathy blanco

There simply is not a day I have that doesn't include autism other than my children. So many kids who are on the spectrum, target, library, church, you name it. When my son was born in 1981, it was one in ten thousand. Today it is at obscene levels. Obviously, we are priming the pump of our so called "genetics" by things that irritate the ability to be able to cope neurologically. Obvious, we are overvaccinating, vaccinating in total, putting kids into wombs full of mercury and pesticides, are being masequered literally at birth (via birth drugs and immediate convenience cord clamping), Gmo'd, MSG'd, to death. The unleashing of a retrovirus, a lyme pathogen come to mind, because it sounds almost infectious doesn't it? That said, I find people still don't understand autism, the many ways of escaping, harming self or others, the sounds, the noises, the non compliance, the sensory overloads etc. In our church family we have eleven childen and adults on the spectrum, of around a four hundred fifty member congregation. In my many talks with people in our church, they are starting to wonder what is happening? We have to say it...isn't it obvious this isn't genetic? Genetic in the sense that nothing influences the genes, just your bad genes (yeah right)? Obvious, that we have something in our environment in which most of these kids partake of or are exposed to, that is causing it and allowing genes to express, such as synapse genes (the architecture of the brain which can be influenced by environmental damages). That includes the parents too, because I often find them equally unable to detox, have infectious illnesses unbeknownst to them, even simple thyroid dysfunction, and have a chock load of mercury and other metals in their bodies. The new normal is getting more and more scary. We are at some precipice now, and are now looking down the jaws of hell, or should I say, the cliff of sacrificial many mothers don't realize they are actually throwing their children over this cliff while meantime the lamestream media and the lamestream allopathic care doctors are saying, it's ok Mrs so and so, your doing the right thing by trusting us they won't be harmed....yeah right.

a friend

A generation ago ago, if autism was mentioned in a newspaper or magazine article (forget about TV), it was BIG NEWS in the tiny autism community. Word spread quickly about "the autism article" and everyone had to get a copy of it and read it. Now, there are autism articles every day and the response is more like "Please, not another," especially considering the quality of the typical autism article - generated by pharma/mainstream medicine.

No wonder they're working so damn hard to cover up the autism epidemic that they started. But they will not succeed. The damage is too widespread, too well known and too devastating.

On that note, Merry Christmas Dan. Thank you for all you do - and best wishes for a year of progress and happiness for Ben. You and he are an inspiration.

Holly M.

Dear Dan,
I saw you taught at SMU; my husband is an alumnus. My daughter ran away at the big Natural Food Market on Greenville Ave. We were in Dallas from NJ to see a doctor with my two kids. Same thing...everyone could relate and employees found her in the juice aisle. Good luck with the surgery.

Not an MD

Hi, Dan. I hope your son's surgery goes perfectly well.

I think we are all living the same kind of existence where we constantly run into people who have or who know affected children. I am no longer amazed to learn how others are touched by autism. At my kids' school, I just found out that a teacher has a friend with a 12 year old non-verbal son. I had just given her a copy of the book "I am in Here," as a holiday gift. I also just found out that a different teacher has a child on the autistic spectrum. Our atypical children are now, seemingly, the typical ones. Unaffected children will soon be the minority. Crazy times we are living in right now, due to medical dogma and pure greed.


I wrote to both my "House" and "Senate" representives about this.

In my letter I told that them about a brief trip on a Saturday into my small farming community town - that sits on the edge The Daniel Boone National Forest - use to be called the Cumberlands when I was growing up.

In the Dollar Store a mother with two huge twins - both well over six feet tall - both with autism.

In Rite Aids Drug Store - A mother buying a doll for her young adult daughter with autism.

At the other drug store were we really buy our prescriptions, and good vitamin supply - the druggist there
has a neice with autism.

As I walked out of the drug store to the post office I meet a highschool buddy - with a grandchild with autism.

Right across the street from the post office and the drug store is the animal clinic. The vet never said his daughter has autism -- but he sure blames the MMR for his teenage daughter(S) chrons disease.

Which makes me wonder about all the drugs that has become such a problem in our rural communities.

Our neighbor that works with women with drug problems tells me that he believes most of them suffer from undiagnosed bipolar and mood problems.

Of my two neighbors both have diabetes - they are thin and active. They are the only ones in thier family that has diabetes, and the are rather young.

In my Sunday School class there are 12 of us, and six of us have to take thyroid medicine.

It just is not autism -- it is just the thing that we find the hardest to live with - our future, our children's future.


I can totally relate. Pre-autism, I had no idea how prevalent autism had become. Autism just wasn't on my radar at all. After my son was diagnosed, my eyes were open to the number of families effected. Friends I've known for years now tell me their child, niece of nephew has autism, strangers remark in casual conversation of a child in their family with autism. A condition that was once considered quite rare has become very common. A conversation in the 50's would be "my child's a lefty" todays it's "my childs on the spectrum".

John Stone

Hope based on despair. Merry Christmas Dan, Merry Christmas everybody!

Teresa Conrick to Jessica

Hi Dan,

Hoping the surgery goes well and Ben is feeling great very soon.

I also wanted to comment regarding today vs autism fifteen or twenty years ago. The kinder and gentler is not so much "kind and gentle" but more -- familiar -- because autism is everywhere. It is a sad reflection of the depth of vaccine injury we are experiencing as a nation, as families, as parents. It is devastating.

We talk about it here -- the normalization of autism -- and it is a heart-breaker.

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