Note: Memorial Day in the USA is a day to remember men men and women who died in active military service. So many of us in the autism community feel that we, and our kids most of all, have been drafted into a war on health, logic, common sense and the very values for which our soldiers gave their lives. Dan wrote this post below nine years ago, just after Memorial Day. That boggles my mind. Age of Autism has been writing about the epidemic for over a decade now. Some things have changed. Mostly, we've all gotten older, wiser and tired-er. Keep up the fight, friends. Your personal battles for your own child, and the bigger war to protect our kids as they grow into an autism adulthood never imagined, let alone prepared. This commemorative holiday kicks off summer in the USA. Many times, we forget the meaning of the day. Let's remember those who gave their lives with solemn thanks. Kim
By Dan Olmsted
The New York Times published a piece over the Memorial Day weekend that must have been painful to write – they now realize they had the Watergate scandal handed to them on a silver platter four decades ago and just plain missed it. “The Watergate break-in eventually forced a presidential resignation and turned two Washington Post reporters into pop-culture heroes. But almost 37 years after the break-in, two former New York Times journalists have stepped forward to say that The Times had the scandal nearly in its grasp before The Post did — and let it slip.”
“Robert M. Smith, a former Times reporter, says that two months after the burglary, over lunch at a Washington restaurant, the acting director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, L. Patrick Gray, disclosed explosive aspects of the case, including the culpability of the former attorney general, John Mitchell, and hinted at White House involvement.”
Exactly how this big fish got up off its silver lunch platter and swam away is worth reading (HERE).
But the bottom line is this: If the account is correct, “The Times missed a chance to get the jump on the greatest story in a generation.”
You can watch the same thing happen every day now with the greatest story of this generation, and I mean “this generation” very literally – the catastrophic rise of developmental and chronic diseases in this generation of children, the leading edge of which is starting to age into young adulthood. Start anywhere you want – 1 in 10 with asthma, a forty-fold increase in bipolar diagnoses, record levels of juvenile diabetes and, of course, our focus – the rise of autism and ADD and ADHD and sensory integration problems and etc., the neurodevelopmental kitchen sink that is disabling our future.
The article points out that the Times was preoccupied with covering the Republican Convention when it got the big Watergate tip. It just couldn’t get its institutional mind around what it was hearing – it was an anomaly, a Six Sygma event, so large that it didn’t track with the way their minds had been trained. The same kind of benighted small-minded misdirected perseveration is evident in press coverage these days – preoccupied with the deadly scourge of chickenpox, the failure of parents to submit and obey the CDC vaccine schedule starting with mercury-containing flu shots during pregnancy and Hep B at birth; the alleged inadequacies of the Homefirst medical practice in Chicago.
The latter was flung in the face of Autism One attendees last Friday and Saturday by the Chicago Tribune, which decided that roasting Mayer Eisenstein, Homefirst’s leader, and the Geiers was the single most important use of “The Midwest’s Largest Reporting Team,” as it proclaims directly under its logo on the front page (a bit defensively, since it used to be the Midwest’s Much Larger Reporting Team until a shopping mall magnate drove it into bankruptcy). And talk about missing the story: Eisenstein “proclaims that he’s seen ‘virtually no autism’ in his patient pool of thousands of unvaccinated kids,” the paper reported. Period, end of discussion. It’s clear from the sneering use of the word “proclaim” (when “says” would do just fine) that the reporter doesn’t believe it, and clear from the rest of the story that discrediting anyone who would say (I’m sorry, PROCLAIM!!!) such a thing is job one.
But hold on a second. No vaccines, no autism? As Mark Benjamin and I used to say to each other back at UPI when the media was in bed with Bush and oblivious to the administration's abuse of soldiers and vets, “There’s your story right there.”
And indeed, there is your story, right there – a medical doctor in good standing (the Trib grudgingly acknowledges) says there’s virtually no autism among his thousands of unvaccinated patients.
Of course, journalists should take nothing at face value. So I’ve got an idea – let’s be journalists; let’s realize the importance of that statement, if true, and check it out. As many of you will know, I wrote about this several years ago now, along with similar associations between low-or-no-vaccination and low-or-nonexistent-autism rates, including among the Amish and the homeschooled. The response is always the same – first, it can’t be true (Google Olmsted, Amish, fraud); then, it can’t be determined (Google Olmsted, Gerberding, Amish); then, OK, alright, it’s true but it’s meaningless (Google Olmsted, Wiznitzer, Amish).
By now there would have been plenty of time to not merely dismiss or discredit but actually disprove these anecdotal associations based on careful investigation, not ad hominem attacks, but all that happens is that they continue to hold up. Where are the autistic Amish? Where are the 1 in 150 never-vaccinated autistic homeschooled children? What about Homefirst? Instead, we get theories about how I’m the point person between the Moonies and the Scientologists (yes, you can Google that too) in a conspiracy to destroy the vaccination program, or about what a cad Mayer Eisenstein is.
That’s why it’s important to keep stating what I think the story is, and to repeat it every time a mainstream outlet like The Trib tries to hijack it and turn it into something else. So one more time, this is the story: There appears to be a significantly lower rate of autism in never-vaccinated and less-vaccinated American children. No one in a position of authority seems to want to find out, though they could and should have done so several times over by now, and the failure to do so should be suspicious in the extreme to any reporter with a decent skepticism of government and entrenched interests. (You know there’s a problem when the Trib dismisses vaccine-autism concerns as disproved by “government-sanctioned” studies, as if that is the mark of truth. Good Lord, even the government doesn’t trust itself, which is why The Founders enshrined freedom of the press in Article 1 of the Bill of Rights.) Meanwhile, autism is a problem that demands our urgent attention, and the question of vaccine-preventable diseases and whether Lupron is an effective treatment for autism are separate issues that should not be allowed to silence or subordinate this important conversation.
On Sunday afternoon, I went to Mayer’s talk at Autism One. I don’t know if the Trib reporter was there or not, but I’m sure if she was she was rolling her eyes when Mayer talked, once again, about health outcomes in his practice. You see it’s not just autism – that’s the leading edge, the defining disorder of the Age we’re in. It’s many other things, including juvenile diabetes and asthma, too. And on the latter, you don’t have to take Mayer’s word, even provisionally, for it – the larger HMO group that Homefirst belongs to picked up the virtual absence of asthma in his practice based on computerized records of emergency room visits and overnight hospitalizations of children for respiratory distress.
No one disputes asthma has dramatically increased. No one disputes one in 10 children has asthma – that one in 10 children sometimes struggle frantically for air, and sometimes die because they can’t get enough, to put a human face on this clinical entity. No one disputes, as far as I know, that few if any children delivered at home by Homefirst doctors, treated by them as children and never vaccinated, have asthma. But no one realizes the credibility that fact gives Eisenstein when he talks about the virtual absence of autism in his practice. And, for sure, no one realizes the implications of that for the nature of autism and how to stop it and treat it – the focus of the allegedly “anti-vaccine,” pro-quackery Autism One Conference.
So, I’m going to give Mayer the last word. Think of him as a whistleblower taking Big Media to lunch and telling them they’re missing the story of their generation – here’s the evidence, here’s where to look, here’s what it means, here’s why it matters. Of course, some journalists are going to go back to the office after being told about Watergate and write about the credentials fight in the Mississippi delegation at the 1972 Republican Convention, and some journalists are going to be told that there is a startling association between no vaccines and no autism, and here’s where to look, and here’s the evidence, and here’s what it means, and here’s why it matters, and they are going to go back to the office and write about what a bad guy Mayer Eisenstein is and about what a bad drug Lupron is. For them, there’s no hope.
But I’m going to keep putting pen to paper, so to speak, here at our Daily Newspaper of the Autism Epidemic, because first of all, what else can I do? And secondly, I figure that sooner or later somebody is going to decide to pay attention to the implications of a second-rate burglary attempt at the Democratic National Committee when it is handed them on a platter – I mean, to the apparent low incidence of autism in never-vaccinated American children when it is pointed out to them time and time and time again.
Anyway, here’s Mayer, one more time, and folks, THIS is the story:
“[Our practice] has virtually no autism. I don’t know, there may be cases somewhere, but as you’ve seen this weekend, if you read the paper, Mayer Eisenstein does not have a low profile, and I’ve made this statement for two and a half years now [actually, Mayer, I think it’s 3 and a half years now!]. I got all my partners together; we scoured the records. We looked at ICD codes for neurological disorders, and first of all, we didn’t see it.
“But it’s more than just no autism. I’ve had three partners for more than 25 years, they’re closer to me than brothers … and we decided 25 years ago we weren’t going to take care of asthmatics, we weren’t going to take care of insulin-dependent diabetics, and every few years we kept saying, how many people are we referring away [to other practices that specialize in these disorders] because we see hundreds and hundreds of children. We were delivering at one time a hundred babies a year at home, and we’re still delivering hundreds of babies at home.
“And it never came up. And I can tell you this would be a nightmare when you have to start referring one person a week, two people a week, three people a week, in a large practice, only because, you know, they would say, ‘But Dr. Eisenstein, I want you to take care of me,’ [and I would have to say] ‘No, there are people who are much better at taking care of asthma than me, there’s people who are much better at diabetes than me.’
“It virtually doesn’t exist. For years I thought it was because [mothers in the practice] had their babies at home, they nursed their babies as much as two years, they gave minimal pharmaceuticals.
“Every year I’d be invited a a conference of the LaLeche League, and every year it was the same. They had 40 or 50 children with severe asthma, and I was supposed to figure out what the problem was. ‘You don’t want to talk about home birth?’ [I would ask]. ‘No, we want to talk about asthma.’
“Finally, one of my partners said, ‘Mayer, it’s not the home birth, it’s not the breast-feeding [that’s the key factor in developing or not developing asthma], it’s the vaccines.
“There was an interesting little study … done in Australia, and they had four groups – breast-fed and vaccinated, breast-fed and unvaccinated, bottle-fed and vaccinated, and bottle-fed and unvaccinated. [This was not a big and conclusive study] but this was a very strong breast-feeding supporting organization. And they looked at respiratory illnesses. … The lowest instance of respiratory illness … was in what we expected – breast-fed and unvaccinated. What was interesting was what was in 2nd – bottle-fed and unvaccinated. That was shocking. … This said for them that breast-feeding wasn’t as important as not vaccinating your child.”
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.