I love the wild conspiracy of hope that is Autism One, the annual convention in Chicago in May which brings together the latest theories and potential treatments for autism. I was happy to have along with me Dr. Judy Mikovits the co-author of our book, PLAGUE: One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth About Human Retroviruses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism and Other Diseases, as well as to make the acquaintance of many people I'd only known on-line.
It was a thrill for me to meet Jeff Hayes, the producer of the wonderful documentary, BOUGHT, as well as to hear from Dr. Brian Hooker about the CDC whistleblower, William Thompson, and to meet and thank Barry Segal, of Focus for Health, a sponsor of the event. I got to speak with the courageous Dr. Toni Bark, and listened to a lecture about the possible use of cannabis oil in autism, how EMFs (electro-magnetic fields) can be contributing to autism, and why exposure to multiple viruses might cause an overproduction of mucus in the intestinal lining leading to gastro-intestinal impairment and an overgrowth of parasites and abnormal bacteria. I am intrigued by all of these possibilities.
I take the approach to these theories about autism that Ben Franklin did to religion. If somebody invited Franklin to attend a religious service he always accepted the invitation and made a donation to the group. Franklin was known as a friend to the synagogue, the Catholic church, and all of the various protestant denominations. Franklin reasoned that until God revealed Himself to be of one particular faith, it was the better part of prudence to make sure all his bases were covered. I feel much the same way about autism. Until somebody comes up with a cure for my daughter's autism, I will listen to anyone.
I think I did a good job in my own talk, detailing why retroviruses might be an important trigger factor in autism and other diseases, but it was what happened afterwards that I think is most emblematic of the optimistic spirit of Autism One. A woman came up to me with a copy of PLAGUE and said, "Can you sign a book for President Obama?"
I was immediately curious and asked, "Do you know President Obama?"
"No," she replied. "It's just that when you were speaking I felt like I almost heard a voice telling me I need to get a copy to President Obama. Your book is THAT important. I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I will."
What do you say to that? I shrugged and tried to think of something appropriate for our Commander in Chief. I wrote something along the lines of, "Dear President Obama, I hope you can change the future for so many children who struggle with autism. All the best, Kent Heckenlively."
I have not yet received any calls from the White House, but the Autism One spirit still lingers with me. As I fall asleep at eleven at night on the west coast, I imagine that at two in the morning on the east coast a single light is still on at the private residence of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Michelle turns over and says, "Barack, why are you still awake?"
In my fantasy President Obama is sitting up in bed, the book Dr. Mikovits and I wrote perched on his lap. "I'm reading this really amazing book by a guy with a funny last name," our Commander-in-Chief says. "Now go back to bed."
And I imagine I am the reason our President is grumpy and bleary-eyed the next morning, wondering what he can do to help our community because he has been radicalized. As I said, Autism One is a wild conspiracy of hope, and I am still apparently suffering from the lingering effects. May I never be cured.
Kent Heckenlively is a Founding Contributing Editor to Age of Autism and co-author with Dr. Judy Mikovits of Plague: One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Other Diseases. Release date is November 18, 2014. Visit his website at Plague The Book. You can pre-order the book HERE.