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The Pretty and the Ugly Sides of Autism


By Anne Dachel

I've been reading all about the darling little autistic girl in Britain who paints masterpieces. Of course she's getting coverage. It's more proof that having autism is not so bad.  The media loves to share these feel good stories. And we're happy to read them - to hope that all our kids might find that sweet spot of success, whether 3 or 30.

MSN: These paintings by a 3-year-old girl have the art world enchanted

"Iris Grace Halmshaw's colorful, impressionistic watercolor paintings have an ethereal, glowing, floral beauty, prompting comparison to Monet. Halmshaw, who lives in Market Harborough, England, is 3 years old, autistic and does not speak. Her parents first handed her a paintbrush hoping to help her connect with others; their hopes were more than realized. "When she started doing art therapy we thought it was amazing, but we're her parents so we think everything she does is amazing," her dad, Peter-Jon Halmshaw, said. Others thought so, too - and now Iris Grace's paintings are selling for almost $1,300."

ABC News video: British Toddler's Paintings Go Global

"Iris Grace Halmshaw, 3, has become an international sensation for her paintings, which are selling around the world for thousands of dollars.

"An original painting by the British toddler is selling for up to 1,500 pounds ($2,280), her mother, Arabella Carter-Johnson wrote in an e-mail to ABC News. A print of her painting sells for as much as 295 pounds, or $480."

Fox 2 St Louis video: 3-Year-Old's Paintings Selling For Hundreds  (nine minutes of this child painting)

"There's a three-year-old autistic girl in Britain who's becoming well-known for her paintings. Her name is Iris Grace Halmshaw and she paints as part of her therapy. Grace can't talk, but she can paint.

"But her parents soon noticed that Grace was a pretty good at painting for a three year old. Then they realized she was pretty good at painting for an adult!

"Her paintings now sell online for $58 to $450. According to her parents website, proceeds go to more supplies and Iris' therapy."

New York Daily News: The paintings by 3-year-old British girl with autism wows international art community (VIDEO) "Trapped inside her own head, three-year-old Iris Grace Halmshaw does not speak. But the autistic girl from Britain can paint like a master. "And she has become a global sensation in the art world with her Impressionistic renderings of water, light and beautiful colors."

Atlanta Journal Constitution: 
3-Year-Old With Autism Creates Beautiful Paintings 

This is the up side of autism.  This isn't alarming.  Who wouldn't want a truly gifted child?  A three year old whose paintings go for thousands of dollars is like Rain Man in Las Vegas.  Of course the NY Daily News and ABC News are happy to tell us about her.  Sure, she can't talk, but she's a painting genius.

Autism's not so bad.  This girl is happy. It's more of the media convincing us that autism is now normal and acceptable.  Don't ask questions.  Autism is a mystery and nothing to worry about.  Personally, I think every pregnant woman who finds out she's carrying a boy should be warned that her chances are one in 31 that she'll have a son with autism--LEARN THE SIGNS EARLY. 
The really hidden world of autism is of course, severe autism.  I did a quick search of You Tubes looking for "classic autism." 

Father Explains His Son's Autism

Broken Nights and Lost Days: Inside World of Severe Autism

Fighting For My Son With Severe Autism

Trying To Cope With A Severely Autistic Child

Show Me One Year With Severe Autism


Inside Mysterious World of Severe Autism

Here's the side of autism that the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the New York Daily News never cover.  I wonder why.


Tanya dutta

So so so touching, yes this is how I live,eat breathe sleep autism.all this must come out and the world must know that this exists, not all autists are genuises, it is worse here in india, everyone is clueless .to deal with autism, patience and perseverance matter but on top of it you got to be super rich.your employers don't understand so sympathy goes out of the window but money is needed ,to end up spending a bomb on ur kids "education /therapies" that promise nothing .i can manage autism but living in two worlds is what kills me. The authorities feign ignorance, you are helpless, and the child is not to be blamed..........what do you do when survival is an effort in itself. Each day is another challenge , and how do you just throw away your child into an institution???
Thank you so much for sharing this, my heart weeps because I know that across the oceans there are families who go thru the same challenges just the way I do, each day, each moment.


Tom, I had heard that the "success" of the back to sleep campaign had to do with avoiding some of the flame retardants in bedding. You are probably right that Stomach is a much better sleep position, but someone would need to fight the flame retardant industry so that infants could sleep without toxic fumes surrounding their noses. I have always imagined that infants whose systems are damaged by recent vaccines may be particularly susceptible to SIDS from the toxic fumes in bedding.


A=Autism Rate - IDEADATA.ORG
B=Back Sleep Rate - National Infant Sleep Position Survey

1992 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 2001

If even 10% to 20% of the rise in autism was caused by the sleep position changes that were rolled out in the 1980's and 1990's culminating with the 1994 Back To Sleep Campaign would it be worth it to end the Back To Sleep Campaign? Especially since so many other factors such as decrease in maternal smoking etc. seem to be major reasons for the decline in SIDS. FYI, it's not just correlation - when you switch a child from Stomach position to back position to sleep it has a huge negative impact on oxygen intake, etc.


I often come across people online who seem to be under the mistaken impression that autism is simply a personality quirk so I direct them to youtube videos like the ones above so that they'll have a better understanding of the full spectrum of autism. I find this really pisses off those who have tried to cover up the truth. Thank god for Youtube!

Jeannette Bishop

Thank you, Anne, for picking up where the media fails.

Here is another tough-to-read report in the news today:


The public is looking for answers and they're reading what we post. When a mainstream doctor is cited in a story saying autism is genetic and it's all better diagnosing, it's a great opportunity for parents to talk.


I've met a lot of autistic children in the years since my son was diagnosed, and I've met an awful lot of their parents.

The one thing I have yet to see though, is an autistic child who has an autistic parent.

If autism is a genetic disorder.... shouldn't a fair number of the parents have autism too????

Paul S

Dear Ann D, This was one of the best articles/posts you ever put up on your site. I have been gentle educating a Nurse that I recently met who had an interest in learning about Autism. I gifted her the Olmstead book, Age of Autism and have been selectively sending her articles that I think would helpful in advancing her understanding.
I sent the E-mail below to her, because very few people understand the meaning of children severely damaged by Autism"

1a Video of Severely Autistic Children

Dear Irene, 8 July 2013
I hope that you are well and had an enjoyable
4th of July. Have you had a chance to read the book I gifted to you? I ask because I haven’t heard from you! Did you find the articles that I e-mailed interesting?

Most people only see children that are mildly Autistic because they are reasonably well behaved and have reasonable quirks and the parents can take them out in public. These children are on the ‘MILD’ part of the autism spectrum.
But there is a whole other side that no one ever sees because they fall on the ‘severe’ part of the Autism Spectrum. The families are the care givers 24/7. The behavior of these children is so unpredictable and no one can predict how they will act out at any point in time.

I doubt that you have ever seen or met up with children on the more severe side of the spectrum. Today, for the first time I spotted an article on line that included a look into the behaviors of severely damage Autistic children. Let me know your impression.
Best regards, Paul Shapiro.

The Pretty and the Ugly Sides of Autism

IAngus Files

I never ever knew of a family who had any of this trouble going on when I was a kid say 30 years or so ago. Its as bad as a smoke screen covering the gas chambers in Germany ..shame on the newspapers for not reporting this silent apocalypse of the innocent.



They are reporting the silver lining for this pretty, little girl also is in trouble when it comes to the health and wellness

She is not a teenager yet!
When she gets there - will she have seizures?
That is a real possibilty.
Will she have depression, mania - bipolar.
That too is a real possiblity.

Another artist was that had seizures, and was mostly in mania phase most of his life painted pictures at a rapid rate. when he was depressed he drank an alcoholic drink that had wormwood in it - Thuja which affects GABA. GABA -- what is that now??

Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)"

Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer's day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul

Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue

Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now

For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night

You took your life, as lovers often do
But I could've told you Vincent
This world was never meant for
One as beautiful as you

Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frame-less heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can't forget

Like the strangers that you've met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Now I think I know
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they're not listening still
Perhaps they never will

Val Boergesson

I've just watched two of these videos, and they have me sobbing away here at my computer. These kids are CLEARLY in so much pain, and yet, we can't even get the medical establishment to understand that these kids, who are now reaching adulthood, are incredibly sick!!! I have been at this for awhile, my own severely affected son, with severe medical and GI issues has reached 18, and nothing has changed, there is very little awareness at all over the last 16 years since my son was diagnosed, it's horrifying and makes me sick to my stomach how many of these kids are just suffering day in, day out.


One more reSon media is not on the side of autistic evening broadcasts, count number of pharma commercials. Grab a magazine...count number of pharma ads. Even mags supposedly covering physical well-being or healthcare issues (e.g., Prevention). Note how many pharma ads or articles featuring breakthrough drugs.

He who pays the piper, picks the tunes. The odds against hearing media tell our story are, what? 1 in a million?

Kathy Blanco

pretty little kids with autism, grow up to be BIG kids with autism, with BIG problems socially, at home, school and beyond...when will the public get it? Is it worth your "safety" to think that this child may WHALE ON YOU in a store, like my son has done (pain response)....or, do you want to prevent measles in your kid? I'd take measles ANYDAY!

Anne Dachel

You're absolutely right. I've been studying the media and autism for over 10 years. I gave up long ago. They will never report on this issue thoroughly and honestly. The proof is everywhere, everyday. Editors and reporters are either ignorant, lazy, conflicted, or scared. For whatever reason, they are covering up what autism is doing to children around the world.

They need to be held accountable.

Our really big advantage in online news stories is the comment section.

The public is looking for answers and they're reading what we post. When a mainstream doctor is cited in a story saying autism is genetic and it's all better diagnosing, it's a great opportunity for parents to talk.

This story in the Buffalo News, July 6, 2013, is a perfect example.

Dr. Peter Jensen, a Mayo Clinic doctor, gave us the standard line about autism--lack of communication skills, learn the signs. He didn't even bother to give us the rate for the disorder. There was absolutely no real concern on the part of this doctor.

There were 11 comments (3 were mine). All of them were critical of what the doctor said.

We need to demand legitimate coverage of the most serious medical crisis facing our children.

Anne Dachel, Media

Teresa Conrick

The videos make me want to cry and throw up. How can anyone not see the pain, absolute physical pain in most of these children. The boy hitting his head, hitting his chest, scratches, bruises, biting. The boy in bed yelling"OWIE" for God's sake!

The caregivers deal with this as best as they are able perhaps not knowing that it has an origin that could be eased with diet, vitamins, anti-inflammatories, probiotics, antimicrobials, antibiotics, antivirals and supplements.

Because the media ignores and then denies medical treatments for an autism diagnosis, treatments that have helped like the ones above or the more expensive ones - hyperbaric oxygen, IVIG, GI testing, etc, kids are left to harm themselves, their homes and their caregivers. Seventy years this has gone on and it must end now!

John Stone


It's true but it is also true that I cannot think that there was any time in history when the media would not have wanted to cover this story (without necessarily having any particular agenda).

The tragedy of our time is of course that the media in the US, the UK and elsewhere are becoming as biased and as tightly controlled as in the former Soviet Union, particularly in respect of health - they don't represent the public interest and they don't report the news: we have instead corruption, intimidation and smarmy deceit.


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