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The LA Times Makes the Autism Epidemic Disappear

MagicManaging Editor's Note: If you'd like to politely tell the LA Times what you think of their reporting here are contacts: Reporter of the four-part feature, alan.zarembo@latimes.com, VP of health content, tami.dennis@latimes.com, Dept. Managing Editor, marc.duvoisin@latimes.com, Dept. Health Editor, karen.kaplan@latimes.com, Managing Editor, davan.maharaj@latimes.com, Asst managing editor, alice.short@latimes.com

By Anne Dachel

One way to make the whole controversy surrounding vaccines and autism go away would be to make the autism epidemic go away and that’s what the Los Angeles Times is trying to do in their series, Discovering autism: Unraveling an epidemic.

 Discovering Autism Epidemic of Disease or Discovery?

"Autism rates have increased twentyfold in a generation, stirring parents' deepest fears and prompting a search for answers. But what if the upsurge is not what it appears to be?"

In part one of the series, reporter Alan Zarembo presented a number of children who've received an autism diagnosis as proof that the explosion in autism is not what it appears be. He gave us experts like anthropologist Roy Richard Grinker and psychiatrist Allen Frances who see no real increase in autism, only an 'epidemic of discovery.'

The issue of environmental triggers was dismissed with a couple of sentences:

"The search for an environmental explanation for the rise has so far been fruitless."

"Researchers looking for environmental causes of the autism boom keep stumbling across other explanations.

"Irva Hertz-Picciotto, an epidemiologist at UC Davis, suspects that environmental triggers such as exposure to chemicals during pregnancy play a role. In a 2009 study, she started with a tantalizing lead — several autism clusters, mostly in Southern California, that her team had identified from disability and birth records.

"But the hot spots could not be linked to chemical plants, waste dumps or any other obvious environmental hazards. Instead, the cases were concentrated in places where parents were highly educated and had easy access to treatment."

The heated controversy over vaccines and autism is totally ignored. Instead, we were presented with lots of evidence that the exponential increase in autism is due to greater awareness, a push for a diagnosis by parents desperate for services and doctors willing to accommodate them.

Zarembo gave us examples of children with abnormal behaviors that now fall under the autism label and he explained how over-diagnosing and reclassification can account for the increase.

"A driving factor is that parents, physicians and educators have become intent on identifying it as early as age 2, in the hopes of diminishing its symptoms through treatments that are now widely available.

"On the severe end are children who in the past might have been considered mentally retarded, schizophrenic or even psychotic."

"Growth in milder cases accelerated after the 1994 edition of the psychiatric manual added a new diagnosis to the spectrum: Asperger's disorder, for children with autistic behaviors but no speech problems or intellectual deficits.

"Duke University's Frances, leader of the scientific panel that created that edition, said the change unintentionally opened a floodgate.

“'People started seeing it whenever a kid does something the slightest bit strange or starts collecting too many baseball cards,' he said.

"The definition is set to change again when the next edition of the manual is published in 2013, with the aim of greater consistency in diagnosis."

Zarembo will be continuing the series with three more parts, all designed to convince us that having thousands of neurologically disabled children is nothing to worry about. This is very timely coverage because frightening autism numbers are being reported everywhere.

The Salt Lake City Tribune announced that their autism rate is one in every 70 children, one in every 49 when looking at just boys.

Last January the New York Times reported, “The number of New Jersey students classified as having autism has grown rapidly… to 13,358 in 2010 from 8,490 in 2006, according to state education statistics.”

None of this really matters according to Zarembo. With an ever-changing definition of autism and more awareness we should expect to find more kids with problems in behavior.

I can see a couple of ways for this information to be used. For one thing, if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ever gets around to updating the autism rate, it won’t matter if it’s dramatically increased to one in every 50 or one in every 40 children. (The one in 110 rate used in this piece is from studies of eight years olds done back in 2006. Those kids are teenagers now. The agency that gets billions to run health care in the U.S. seems unable to tell us what the current rate is for eight year olds.)

This kind of reporting also backs up the claim that there’s no connection between the ever-expanding vaccine schedule and an epidemic increase in neurological problems among children. This report will come in handy for doctors hoping to ease parents’ fears over vaccine side effects.

What seems to matter most to Zarembo is the label autism. As long as children don’t come under this category of disability, there’s no problem. Personally I don’t care what you call it, as the embedded videos on this piece show, there are more and more kids out there who can’t communicate, can’t behave, and can’t learn. How is it that so many children were missed years ago? What did we do with them in a crowded classroom?

And what about all the parents who report that their children were born healthy and were developing normally until around age two (coincidental to receiving vaccinations)? Suddenly they developed health problems like seizures and bowel disease. Many stopped talking and lost learned skills. Doctors are at a loss to explain this regression. Are we to just accept that bad things happen to kids?

No one can show us an adult population like them anywhere. I don’t mean quirky acting adults. I mean adults with the same signs of classic autism we see in so many of our children. Where are the head-banging, non-verbal sixty year olds in diapers? Where are the middle aged autistic adults who have a history that includes a dramatic loss of skills as toddlers that were never recovered?

It seems the media will stop at nothing to convince us that what we see happening right before our eyes isn’t what it seems. The real test of Zarembo’s theory is the future cost to society as all these disabled children become adults. Will the taxpayers be able to handle all the better diagnosing?


Anne Dachel is Media Editor of Age of Autism.






Julie Leonardo

I just sent another letter myself and made sure it went to everyone on the list:


I have briefly scanned the first part of your series: Discovering Autism Epidemic of Disease or Discovery?

I have to admit that I am a bit disheartened from what I have read. It appears to me that the basic consensus of the article so far is that the increase in Autism is just a factor over better and earlier diagnosis, coupled with a more lax diagnostic criteria. I have to tell you that as a mother of an autistic child (coupled with Down Syndrome,) I know hundreds of mothers of autistic children. Many of them, if not most, fought to get any diagnosis, though it was evident that their children fit the criteria. I have a second child myself who has ASD characteristics, but none of the experts would diagnose her as autistic. So it is pretty insulting to insinuate that parents and schools are just diagnosing children willy nilly in order to get benefits. I DO know moms who have autistic children who refuse to get diagnoses, on the other hand, so that their kids don't get labelled and singled out. That DOES happen, and frequently.

As far as the genetic theory of autism, there may be a genetic susceptibility just like you can have a genetic susceptibility to alzheimers or heart disease, but that doesn't mean you will get it, especially if you live a lifestyle and avoid the things that could trigger it. But Autism is NOT genetic like Down Syndrome is. THAT is a true case of genetic. But even that is caused by something not working right in the body, which causes the chromosomes to stick together in the process. There is actually only one form of genetic DS (translocation), and that is not the majority of cases. So even something Genetic is not genetically transmittable.

Something in the environment either prenatally ("born with it") or postnatally (regressive autism) is happening. Even the government admitted this in the following link:


People from all over the place, families, special ed teachers who have been in the field for decades (I have personally spoken with a few myself,) heck, even Dr. Oz (!) are admitting that there is an epidemic of Autism. It is real, and it is increasing. Just take a look around at the senior centers of the world and see how many elderly autistic there are. There aren't many. There should be if the numbers have not changed. The current estimate of autistic teens about ready to leave the school system is about 1 million, so it should be easy to find a similar number of autistic elderly, yes? But where are they? Do a search of nursing homes and get those people diagnosed. I will bet you any money that there won't be nearly the number of people.

The fact is, the people working with our kids, scientists, doctors, therapists all know that our children are being poisoned by our environment. Which chemicals? All of them, interacting with each other and synergistically damaging their neurological systems. Autism is an umbrella term to describe behaviors and symptoms, not a real disorder. Autism is Lyme disease, mitochondrial disorder, food allergies, PANDAS, Cerebral Folate Deficiency, and other disorders. It's many illnesses on top of each other and not a psychological disorder. Any parent could tell you that. We don't need all of the eye gazing and genetic studies. All of the genetic studies won't do any good in helping the children of today or even the next couple of generations. Down Syndrome can teach you that. All that happens with genetic information is the ability to test for it earlier so you can abort. DS is a prime example of the. the estimate is that 92-95% of positively prenatally diagnosed fetuses are aborted. New testing has just come out that can be done in the first 10 weeks, and it's very accurate. So how many more will be aborted? You see, there is no cure when the genes are found. Only testing available to terminate pregnancies.

We need stories like this to go by the wayside in order to get help for our kids. As long as the increase in Autism is buried and attributed to numbers, then Autism hasn't changed and nobody has to hurry to find help for our kids. That's the sad outcome of all of this. The reality that may have to hit home is that those 1 million that are leaving the school system have no support outside of school. And the low estimate for care for them is $3 million A PERSON. That's the low estimate. And who is going to pay for them? They are going to bankrupt the country at this rate. So you see, it is in your best interest to get this issue on the top of the list of priorities for our scientists. Enough genetic studies! Let's get real research done, chemicals, pathogenic studies, nutritional studies, new therapeutic techniques. That's what we need, not genetics and eye gazing. That's a waste of your precious tax dollars and mine. Do you want to caregive for my now 7 year old in diapers who won't let me dig the feces out of under her fingernails? There are about 10-18% of those with autism who have DS and Autism out there, and they are on the lower end of the function spectrum. So you see, you should be doing a report on this. And not to urge testing in order to abort, but to get real help.

And the best thing of all is this. Once you do a story on this and get the right information out, a lot of these things that we know to work also will have a positive affect on jeuvenile diabetes, asthma, allergies, and other illnesses of the immune system. They're all connected. But that's another letter for another day.

So be a hero, and please, please get out the truth. Stand up for us and don't be a tool of those who don't care.

Julie Leonardo

Mike Sweeney


Well at least Disney understands our issues, and I received a thank-you from one of the top executives at Disney who is a friend.


I can just imagine Part III of this series, coming out tomorrow: "Coming Thursday: Families chase the dream of recovery"

Thanks so much for writing about this infuriating first installment, and for writing to the LAT! The denialism is so bizarre, surreal.

Adam M

Do you think they're in denial? I've wondered for a long time if they're just so uncomfortable or unsettled with the notion that our current system is so badly defiled that we are actually destroying ourselves and our children day after day after day in the western world and calling it standard of care. When you've been given as much information as these people have how do you not see the truth? A neurotoxin is a neurotoxin. It doesn't matter where it turns up, it is always dangerous and can produce predictable results. When you see those predictable results and you know they're was an exposure, ..... how do you not put it together?

OR are they hoping if they can just ignore it long enough until it becomes someone else's problem to report?

OR are they being richly rewarded by the perpetrators to actively cover this up?


re. "People started seeing it when any child does anything the slightest bit strange or collects too many baseball cards." YES, and that would be due to stupid articles like the ones in the newspapers lately. Hello! Many children are on the severe end of the autism spectrum. I just had an interesting conversation with my sister in law describing a lot of the kids I work with lately. I mentioned their lack of speech, minimal understanding of language, toiletting habits and melt downs and she almost gasped. She said,"well that's not autism, that's something else." No!!, I told her that IS autism; it is unfortunately the severe end of the spectrum and it isn't all "Rain man." People need to be educated about what is happening to children and the newspapers are not doing it. Early intervention is great and all but we need to focus on cause ( sorry "science"- bloggers but that means a vaccinated VS un-vaccinated study that you are so terrified of and will make up any excuse to avoid) and bio-
medical treatments.

autism uncle

Bob Moffitt, thanks for your always cogent thoughts, yet strong appropriate language Myself, I get so angry about the (vaccine-caused) crimes and carnage so prevalent it's hard to write intelligibly.

The U.S. Immunization Chart for aged 0 to 6 years CLEARLY reveals the hundreds of toxic/deadly ingredients of vaccines injected into babies; 26 doses by 6-7 months! If not criminal assault, what is it?

Here the Chart is again on AoA:


Anne McElroy Dachel

My letter to the reporter and editors at the LA TIMES:


Anne Dachel, Media

why not

I know this sounds weird,,, but I think there is a way to use this to an advantage. As stated in the big book... Autism is an incurable neurological disorder... I would bet most of these kids don't have an incurable neurological disorder,,, rather they have physical illness caused by toxins. I beleive the "labels" of autism, ADD, ADHD, PDD... etc.. are just a means for insurance companies to deny appropriate assessments and treatments. Any doctor who gives an autism dx or ADD, or ADHD without proper medical assessment beyond the standards of care for those labels should be sued for negligence. Once the kid gets the label, medical assessment stops due to standards of care.

Jake Crosby

I wouldn't waste my time sending anything polite to Tami Dennis, Co-conspirator in Wakefield smear campaign and vaccine injury cover-up:

"From the blog Science-based Medicine : "What I can’t figure out – I mean, really, really can’t figure out – is why the anti-vaccine movement continues to cling to Wakefield’s tattered 'science' and lionize this fraud as a hero. "

That's a good question.


kathy blanco

Lisa Goes posted this one in retort of this horrible hit piece on families with autism, I hope she doesn't mind I post it here..it's too good to not muddle over. Personally, I am ashamed of my country and my supposed fair and balanced media. LA times should be boycotted by all of us and those we ask. The entire medical system is morally bankrupt, and their moral compass has so far gone over to the dark side, I am not sure if they can be rescued, other than by parents who WILL be anti vaccine and pro choice in whom they will HIRE only like minded health consciences as their overseer of their children's health (aka naturopath, homeopath and chiropath). To be honest, I think we have the brains enough to know when our kids are sick and require some medication, treatment, and or just good ole nutrition. Our pioneer mothers and fathers knew how to cure kids...it started even in the age of "take your cod liver oil"...yep...because you know instinctively, the mother knew that if the child did get sick with the measles, that the measles virus would have no place in a highly vitalized VIT A body. They also knew that when they bore their children, the placenta needed to drain ALL of it's blood into the baby (instead of now when we asphyxiate children), and they knew that sunshine, good wholesome unpesticided/adulterated franken NOT foods were the key to health. They also breastfed as long as they could, nourishing the baby for life. IS this why we have some centurians today? YOU BET! They have total blood volume, they have less vaccinations (hopefully the seniors didn't buy into that line), and they grew up in a non BPA, MSG, GMO type of world when their youthful immune systems thrived under nature cures. We can learn a few things about being healthy...

And oh, let's get this straight, I trusted in that horrid system of vaccinations, er, I mean lambs to the slaughter, and look what it brought me? Two children with ASD, PANDAS/Autoimmunity,immune dysfunction, inflammation in their brain and gut, seizures, heart problems, etc. I am anti vaccine now, because I saw the effects, and the science wrapped up together in a very tidy package....I have no shame in saying, that the entire allopathic system from cut and poison, to "nutrition, what's nutrition?", is bogus.

Anyways, lisa's eloquent words below...
Lisa Joyce Goes

Dear LA Times,

My child is profoundly medically ill. PANDAS, measles titres off the charts. Metabolic failure that keeps him from gaining weight, thriving nutritionally. Mitochondrial dysfunction and immune dysfunction. While you and Mr. Grinker continue on the path of better diagnosis, little ones everywhere possessing a GENETIC VULNERABILITY to environmental toxins will get shot up with autism. While you wax on about the fantasy of better diagnosis, more children become ill. More children die. The government's first response, every time we have a true tragedy on our hands is to make it appear less than it really is so people don't panic.

New parents...you should panic. Unless you have an incredibly wise physician who is immune to pharma-speak, who does not get penalized by insurance companies if less than 95% of his patients are vaccinated--you should panic. The financial incentive for newspapers and doctors to keep this fantasy going is tremendous. Pharma funds dying papers and profit-based science. They take med-school students out to lunch, and sponsor their educational seminars. Pharma, despite a double dip recession is immune to financial suffering. Because pharma runs the country.

But the thinking population says, "Hmmm, my friend who just completed her masters and has a fully vaxxed son who "got autism" at 18 months...she isn't pro-infectious disease. She says her kid got sick after all those shots and never came back." And, "gosh, when I was in school, 15 of my 30 classmates were not chronically ill requiring stabilizing medications for inflammatory disorders." Nopers. Because it is simply not true. You can plant the seed of doubt L.A. Times. You can pretend Harvard Researcher Martha Herbert does not exist. You can jump on the bandwagon destroying all the "charlatan" doctors (you know the doctors whose own kids got sick and died after vaccination), but the thinking population knows the truth.

THE TRUTH. AUTISM. IS. MEDICAL. I would love to chat more but I have to go educate immunologists about the need for IVIG for many of these children. I'm busy doing my part to HEAL SICK CHILDREN. You know, the ones that don't exist.

Best, lj goes


I don't know about anyone else, but this is going well beyond insulting now. To me, this is actually getting scary.

We all know that the autism epidemic is real, you'd have to be an idiot to believe that it isn't real. Yet reporter after reporter, wielding nothing more than science-less rhetoric, keeps churning out this crap to keep the public in the dark.

How is that people with no scientific training whatsoever, keep setting the record straight for people who supposedly do? And why is that the handful of scientists who are smart enough to see through it ( .. and who actually have the balls to come clean with what they know!), are ignored at best, and silenced at worst?

Why is that these same reporters who have no dog whatsoever in this fight, are so determined to convince the public that our incredibly sick children ... aren't really sick at all??!!

This generation of kids are sicker than at any other time in our history. Yet the medical community , pediatricians in particular, are more concerned with covering their asses, than they are with rushing in to help the children they took an oath to protect.

Something smells really bad here, and defenseless children are being victimized while an apathetic public sits idly by, waiting for that definitive study to to tell them what they already know.

There is a concerted effort to make our children sick, and an even bigger effort to cover it up. It all being done by the same group of people, and the only way to stop it is to expose these people for the monsters that they are.

I'm not how that can be done, but I'm pretty sure that it will take more than just blogging about it.

Bob Moffitt

Anne .. thanks for your dedicated pursuit and exposure of the media's relentlessly, unfair and biased coverage of autism .. such as .. this latest poppycock series published by the LA Times.

If the LA Times were serious in identifying what may or may not be "causing" autism .. they would be among the loudest voices demanding political support for pending legislation that seeks to fund an independent, scientific study of "vaccinated v. unvaccinated" populations, to ascertain, once and for all, if BOTH populations have suffered the same, inexplicable, dramatic increase in chronic autoimmune disorders, such as, autism, allergies, asthma, juvenile type 1 diabetes, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, infant stroke .. to name just a few of a growing list of chronic autoimmune disorders that were far LESS COMMON, IN ALL PREVIOUS .. LESS VACCINATED .. GENERATIONS.

The LA Times should be ashamed of themselves for continuing to ignore the ongoing .. deliberate .. failure of public health officials .. who have the resources, data and expertise to conduct this critical study using "voluntarily unvaccinated" children ..


After all .. if vaccines and the policies by which they are administered are as "safe and harmless" as the LA Times insists they are .. DO THE DAMN STUDY AND PROVE IT.

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