The End of an Error
L’affaire Wakefield: Shades of Dreyfus & BMJ’s Descent into Tabloid Science

Dear David of 1932: What Factors Led to Your Autism?

1938By Teresa Conrick

This story is dedicated to David, his family and especially his sister, Carol.  It is also dedicated to Dan Olmsted, who always wrote that AUTISM had its roots in the 1930´s.  He believed, as a journalist, that the epidemic rise of autism was devastating and --- "the story of a lifetime ." What was once a rare disorder, began increasing into exponential growth in the 1990´s and continues into current day.  This should be the the most feared AND most studied medical event in history as normally developing children stop a typical trajectory and instead,  their medical, educational and social-emotional needs change in a drastic and often life-threatening manner.  The spectrum of autism is a gauge, a barometer of health, a yardstick of being socially at ease, to attend, focus, and to learn. The further an individual is along on that spectrum, the more immune abnormalities, microbiome challenges, and health issues we see. The behaviors of ¨autism¨ also seem more pronounced and severe. The spectrum is a gauge of the immune system, from high to low functioning. My interest in this relates to my own daughter, Megan, diagnosed with both severe autism and an autoimmune disorder.  In addition, she has prevalent PANS symptoms, like many others .  My investigations of the research on autism show that it is a disorder that can be mild to devastating as it relates to the immune system and microbiome.  Obviously the brain is affected by both, which is important and hopeful as far as prevention and treatments.

SINCE 1938

Here is David´s story as I was privileged to hear it from his sister, Carol.  She shared family stories, memories, and David´s David infant 1baby book as written by their mother. The devastation this family had encountered unfolded in front of me.  Carol, born in October of 1935, still has many questions about her life with David.

In 1932, as America struggled through The Great Depression while listening to the famous songs of Cole Porter, David was born.  He was born at Evanston Hospital,  a suburb of Chicago, on January 12th, 1932.  Four months later in May, his 5 year-old sister, Ruth Mary, died of spinal meningitis. According to the CDC in this publication on Mortality Statistics of 1932, only 17 females between age 5 and 9 died in the entire United States of epidemic cerebrospinal meningitis.  What were the odds for this to happen?  Such a TRAGEDY -- and then for David to eventually succumb to what the doctors called, Childhood Schizophrenia by age 5, again, what were the odds for this family? Heartbreaking.

The story could end there with of course, the family hardships of losing not only one child but TWO.  Then the day to day struggles for years of raising a child who required much more supervision, special schools, the financial responsibility --- and for Carol, the confusion of a brother who ignored her --¨I did not exist to David.¨ David was not particularly loving and treated the family politely but not with much affection. The word AUTISM was never mentioned to Carol as they were growing up.  It wasn´t until her friend, Rosie, mentioned that her brother, Dan Olmsted, had co-written a book about autism in 2010. It was then that Carol began to hear about the history of this once rare disorder. Rosie described the symptoms and the timing of the first cases, all born in the 1930´s. Carol was struck with the thought that David may have indeed had behaviors that pointed to autism. Dr. Leo Kanner had written about the first patients, children who presented with the unique symptoms. There were not any adults -- only children --“Since 1938, there have come to our attention a number of children whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far that each case merits—and, I hope will eventually receive—a detailed consideration of its fascinating peculiarities....".

The Symptoms of David - Autism?

Here then are the clues to put these family memories and facts into a narrative.  We know that those who have a diagnosis of Autism show outward behaviors, or as Kanner put it --fascinating peculiarities-- but also science is now showing us HOW these symptoms may be manifesting.  Let´s look at what those clues are for David:

■  Like many of the Kanner 11, David had issues with eating.  More and more research points this out as well with upwards of 70% of those diagnosed with autism having significant GI issues. David did not nurse well and his mother writes he was a bit colicky with vomiting.  When on solid foods, he spit up often. David had poor eye contact and very slow in talking. He did not start speaking until he was about 4.  His mother thought maybe the summer of his sisterś death that he had Sleeping Sickness/Encephalits Lethargica because he slept so much.  After age 2, he was often high strung and fearful.  He had a very limited diet and would not taste things.  Later, David was interested in science and mechanical things.  He liked light plugs and cords.  He rarely spoke to Carol and had problems playing with children. 

■ David had severe OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).  It manifested in washing his hands over and over for hours.  Today, science is showing that many of those diagnosed autistic are also harboring infections, classified as PANDAS or PANS, this research  is showing that these infections are NEUROPSYCHIATRIC, that they affect the central nervous system and cause many of these repetitive and obsessive behaviors, as well as anxiety, depression, and an increasing list of social-emotional behaviors.

■ David had tics and perseverated on topics. His tics were described by Carol:  Repetitive movements (walked in and out of a room), strange arm movements and sometimes stuttered his words. Sounds much like PANDAS or PANS as Megan has had identical body tics and repetitive movements. Studies and a repentant researcher show that Thimerosal in vaccines can cause tics, and are ¨four times more prevalent in autism.¨ Check out David´s vaccination record as written by his mother in his baby book.  Diphtheria shots at 9 and 12 months with a REACTION recorded by his mother.  Those vaccines would have been preserved with Thimerosal: ¨ Vaccination January 13th at 1 year - reaction, fever 102 degrees & upset stomach - took 2 months to heal with bandage on Upset stomach is another huge symptom in AUTISM . In later years, Carol described David having seasonal allergies and a mild asthma. He also had circulatory issues which resulted in horrific looking black, lower legs.  For that reason, ¨he would be hospitalized about once a year and put on a drip to clear up any infection.¨  That does not sound like a typical illness.

David photo 2
■  What about David´s parents?  Carol described them as warm and loving, and of course wanting the best for both of their children. They did though, share some common similarities with many other parents to children diagnosed with AUTISM -- IMMUNE issues: SEASONAL ALLERGíES -- ASTHMA -- MIGRAINES -- FOOD ALLERGIES.  Their mother suffered migraines often and their father had severe asthma.  Their parents also wanted David to be educated and cared about his ability to learn and his interest in learning. David eventually became fascinated with science and politics He attended some of the local public schools for awhile in junior high.

■ In the early 1940´s, David spent two years at The  Orthogenic School in Chicago, well known for children with autism. It is also well known as Bruno Bettelheim, of AUTISM infamy, was spewing his mommy blame while mentally and physically abusive to the children. Luckily, David was not there when Bettelheim was ¨holding court¨.  Also around this time, in 1943, Kanner published his famous case studies on those first 11 children of the 1930´s, who exhibited autistic disturbances of affective contact.  Again, emphasis on the parents as being ¨frosty¨ detoured autism from its true roots .

■ Another placement for David as he entered his teen years, was the Anderson School.  Located in New York on the Hudson River, Carol did not know that although it never used the word, AUTISM back in its early days, the history of Anderson School shows a clear connection to AUTISM :  

On a wooded estate overlooking the Hudson River, Dr. Victor V. Anderson founded Anderson School in 1924. He believed that children with special needs would benefit from an integrated program that comprehensively addressed their educational, emotional and social needs. He began with one student. More than 90 years later, Anderson Center for Autism continues Dr. Anderson's work; currently serving more than 200 children and adults with a primary diagnosis of autism.

A Vaccine Inventor - What Are The Odds?

Carol mentioned that David´s pediatrician was somewhat famous on the north shore of Chicago.  I really didn't think much of it as I saw two notes on diet from Louis W. Sauer, MD.  I decided to see how famous  he was and wow, it was a shocker! :

David photo 4

Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, was the greatest killer of infants in the United States before a Winnetka pediatrician developed a vaccine to prevent the contagious respiratory infection. The pediatrician was Louis Wendlin Sauer......A tiny frame cottage on the grounds of Evanston Hospital served as his laboratory during the early stage of research. Sauer worked there with the assistance of one technician while continuing his large pediatrics practice. Later his research facilities moved to the hospital’s Abbott Laboratory Building, supported by grants from Eli Lilly and Parke, Davis pharmaceutical companies.

As a result of Sauer’s research, the whooping cough vaccine was perfected in 1929. In 1931 tests of the vaccine began in the Evanston Health Department’s immunization clinics, at the Evanston adoption agency, the Cradle, and St. Vincent’s Hospital in Chicago—where Sauer was medical director. In 1934 the vaccine became available to the general public. Four years later Sauer developed the DPT vaccine for diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus.

Interesting and possibly pertinent?  Eli Lilly is mentioned and coincidentally, Eli Lilly first patented Thimerosal in 1929 . Here we see that Dr. Sauer´s Pertussis vaccine does contain Merthiolate, the name Eli Lilly used as a trade name for Thimerosal:

SINCE the latter part of 1932, a study of whooping cough has been in progress in Grand Rapids....The vaccine used has been described.3 Briefly, it is a once-washed 10,000 million per c.c. suspension of B. pertussis, Phase I of Leslie and Gardner,6 grown on Bordet-Gengou medium enriched with 15 per cent sheep's blood. The organisms are killed with merthiolate 1:10,000 or phenol 0.5 per cent allowed to act at cold room temperature for a week or more. The optimum dosage by no means has been determined. Sauer used more than 3 times as large a total dose of vaccine......

Could David have been a recipient of the new Pertussis vaccine?  Well, we do know that David received ¨Whooping Cough shots, 3 or 4 in all ¨ the Spring of 1936, as written by his mother. Is it possible as a patient that he also received the vaccine before the general public? David photo 3

We do not know if vaccination may have caused the symptoms that David struggled with for most of his life as this study shows, but these connections of his life seem to paint that picture.

This pilot epidemiologic analysis implies that the onset of some neuropsychiatric disorders may be temporally related to prior vaccinations in a subset of individuals....we hypothesized that some vaccines could have an impact in a subset of susceptible individuals and aimed to investigate whether there is a temporal association between the antecedent administration of vaccines and the onset of several neuropsychiatric disorders, including OCD, AN [Anorexia Nervosa], tic disorder, anxiety disorder, ADHD, major depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder...In general, vaccination rates were highest among children in the AN, OCD, and tic disorder groups....

This research analysis is from Yale. It is good BUT I disagree with this statement: Although the controversy over MMR vaccination and ASD still exists for some members of the public, this association has been convincingly disproven (9, 10).  

David died on May 17th, 1995 in Oak Park IL. In his 60´s, he was living in a small group home at that time.  His prior years had him receiving shock treatment in Wisconsin, upon the urging of a psychiatrist, who also advised the parents to place David at Elgin State Hospital in Illinois. His parents were devastated having to send him there, but he was a resident there for some years until it closed down in the mid 70´s, then he moved to a halfway house in Chicago for a good number of years, and then to Oak Park. Not an easy life and all of the family suffered. 

If a vaccine can cause neuropsychiatric, gut, and immune abnormalities, we must continue to investigate and come up with solutions:

Modern changes in lifestyle, including improved sanitization, cesarean sections, antibiotic usage, and immunizations are among some of the factors that can shift the microbiota, and are being studied as potential drivers of the sudden increase in immune-mediated diseases in the developed world.   

Teresa Conrick is Science Editor for Age of Autism.


Laura Hayes

Fascinating and important expose, Teresa...thank you.

It is also additional proof, on top of the Everests of proof that now exist, that a COMPLETE MORATORIUM on all vaccines is now many decades, nearly a century, overdue. And factually speaking, vaccines should never have come to market in the first place, explained here:

"Vaccines: Elimination Mandatory"

Peggy Jaeger

OMGosh..! Had No,idea vaccinations were invented and used that early. And they may have been available to the public but I don't think I'd ever heard of any kind of vaccinations until the nationaly mandated smallpox vaccinations in the early 40's. My Dad, and we three children had to get them as well as everyone else in the and state. There were whooping cough epidemics, a young cousin had it,,but never heard a vaccine against it was available.

I'm wondering now,,after reading this testimony, if the narrative has been sent to Robert Kennedy..? He must collect these experiences for his career of fighting for children with such handicaps as being caused by environmental that includes vaccinations..? He needs tomread this one too.

Thank you so much,,Teresa for publishing this researched person history. It's a vitally important one.

Aimee Doyle

Thank you Teresa -

This was a very moving story. I always enjoy your scientific articles, but the story of David and his family brought tears to my eyes.

Shelley Tzorfas

An Epidemic is Born, raised, coddled, and SHOT into kids.

go Trump

Could you imagine if it took 25+ years to figure out the Thalidomide problem...

and that some were found to be covering up the problem... while others searched for the "Thalidomide gene" for years to get easy money for something that does not exist ?

The Autism mystery needs to be over.

Jeannette Bishop

Thank you, Teresa, and Carol! I appreciate the sharing and investigation of this family's experience that may help answer some questions. I am curious if David's also departed sister, Ruth Mary, had any of these early vaccines?


Thank you, Teresa, for sharing this post. I am particularly interested to learn that David was diagnosed at the time with childhood schizophrenia. Since my brother is schizophrenic, my own research has been in that area. One of the things I have wondered about is whether autism and schizophrenia are actually the same disorder, with the one major difference being the period of onset. Autism, in essence, is what schizophrenia looks like when the onset occurs either before or during the development of expressive language. Prior to the autism epidemic, it seems that children with autistic features often would be diagnosed with childhood schizophrenia. Now, in the midst of the autism epidemic, I am curious to know how many children are being diagnosed with schizophrenia. My guess is ZERO; they are all diagnosed with autism now. So, what is the difference between the two, if their diagnoses in childhood can be so easily interchanged? That is my question. I am currently exploring the possibility that both disorders are most frequently triggered by changes in the microbiome due to untimely mercury exposure, with autism most frequently being triggered by the mercury in vaccines, and schizophrenia most frequently being triggered by mercury vapors from dental fillings. My rather extensive epidemiological research to date has yet to yield any data that disproves this theory. Testoterone levels at time of exposure also appear to figure into the mix -- with the first six months of infancy for males being a high-risk period due to that brief but dramatic period of testoterone surge, and adolescence for males being the second high-risk period. A weakening of the blood-brain barrier seems to the third major risk factor. This can happen from oxygen deprivation at birth, from any type of head injury, or from illness, including possibly a vaccine-induced mild to moderate encephalopathy (read: MMR). And the fourth major risk factor is genetics -- specifically relating to the ability of the body to rid itself of mercury (e.g. methylation). That's where my research has led me to date. I so much appreciate every post you make here.

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