Sane Vax Press Release: Dr. Sin Hang Lee Challenges Medical and Scientific Community
The Neurodiversity Movement Should Acknowledge Autism as a Medical Disability

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

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By Teresa Conrick - October, 2017

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.



Other than vaccines, there is a another route that may have added to David’s toxic load of mercury and so could be included as a possible contributory factor. The description reminded me a little, of Pinks Disease. This was finally found to be caused by teething powder containing mercury (as its secret ingredient). This BMJ article from 1949 displays something of the befuddlement caused by this disease just cropping up in little groups, here and there, from time to time, since the 19th century.

The comment about circulatory issues which resulted in horrific looking black, lower legs. Well, trying to diagnose retrospectively is a bit like looking down the wrong end of a telescope but could this have been the signs of Secondary Raynaud's Syndrome, which is sometimes the result of oral mercury poisoning. Normally it presents (appears) in adulthood, as red to dark blue fingers and toes. Yet, less predominant discolouration can stretch further back along the affected limbs. So “black lower legs” must not be automatically taken as an exaggeration if it was Raynaud's as severe case do look horrific, so it would be natural to state its full extent. The comment “put on a drip to clear up any infection.¨ Could this, through the distortion caused by the passage of time refer to inter-artirial infusions of Reserpine to prevent gangrene setting in, rather than to clear up existing infections. However, Pinks disease was thought be an infection, so the recollection may be accurate as to what was said about the drip’s purpose. This drug was derived from an Indian Herb and was the only effective vasodilator they had. It first became available around 1954. Being somewhat toxic, it was given artirialy so that the blood took it to the affected part first, before retuning to the heart. I can’t think of anything else that was suitable for infusion before this but I could be wrong. So I wonder if this fits with the time-line?
Mercury as a secret ingredient was used quite commonly until the 1950’s. Even today, one can read of dire warnings not to take Chines Medicine because they can contain mercury. Candle wicks from the far east can be stiffened with mercurial compounds too. Therefore, David’s parents complaints too, may have been caused by this very same heavy metal being present in the potions they consumed in all innocence. Mercury poisonings did seem to occur in groups. From this forward point of time though — we can only speculate upon the past. Yet, hopefully and humbly, use the past to illuminate our way ahead.


Oh and the subset of children reacting to the vaccine; was never hard to find was it. Two in his practice; belonging to the same family.


Good article Teresa.


What is that Swedish, Danish scientist's name? Avey, something like that?
He is well know too. He was involved in vaccinating the little ones that lived in poor Africa.
But unlike Saur, he bothered to look at just what the mortality rate was from other things, that those that were vaccinated with the DPT succumb to. Five fold the mortality rate (is that right, am I remembering that right?) .

Two kids, from the same family, and both going to a famous pediatrician with a busy practice, as he maintains a lab, working on the Pertussis. What a busy man, and looked what he brought to all of us.
Too busy, to think it all out, to take some quiet time and observe, think, pray, reflect.

Brian Nomi

Amazing story. The first ever human being to have autism was born in the 1930's. He did not live what would be considered a happy life.

Stories like this make me want to do all I can to help the hundreds of thousands of Davids that live today. Never give up folks!

cia parker

Also, the sister who died of meningitis when she was five. The CDC says that only seventeen girls between five and nine died that year of meningitis. It would probably be more relevant to look at how many between one and five died: most people now as then develop immunity to all local kinds of meningitis by the age of five, through subclinical infection, and by the same token, most of those who die of it do so as babies (older than six months old: before then they're protected by their mothers' antibodies) or small children. For meningitis usually before the age of two, or even one; for epiglottitis caused by Hib, normally three or four years old. Ruth Mary was at the upper end of the age at which it is more common to die of it, but it may be that she was immunocompromised, in view of the conditions of the other members of her family.

I don't think there's a clear moral to be drawn from their experience. Even the mercury in the vaccines. Were there safer alternatives which they had access to in the '30s which could have been used instead of mercury to kill pathogens in vaccines? I really don't know. If there were, then it was stupid to use mercury, as its dangers have always been known. But I think you'd have to look at the number of children who died from pertussis and diphtheria before the vaccines, and before mercury was put into it, consider how many may have died from vaccine contamination, and then how many died after the vaccines became widely used, before you could really judge. And, then as now, at some point you get to the question of how many with autism is the equivalent of a certain number of preventable deaths from the diseases.

cia parker

Since mercury was first included in the diphtheria vaccine in 1932, and the DPT had it from the time when it was licensed in 1948, I'd say the early versions of the tetanus and pertussis vaccines had it as well, at least after 1932. It was included as an anti-fungal and antibiotic, and I don't know to what extent it was necessary to include it at that time in the killed-pathogen vaccines. But, as tragic as is the case of David and his sister who died of meningitis, for which there was no vaccine until the '80s, you also have to remember how many children died of these diseases and factor that into the equation as well. The original whole-cell pertussis vaccine was always dangerous, but it was much more effective at preventing pertussis than our current acellular version is. On the other hand, pertussis itself evolved to become much milder than it had been, and it HAD been a genuine killer disease, so that after WWII it no longer killed many. That is the point at which the need for it as a universal vaccine should have been reconsidered. Before that point I think it would have been a reasonable choice for parents to get them. Diphtheria and tetanus have always been horrifyingly dangerous killer diseases.

And hindsight is best sight. Would David's parents have known the symptoms in themselves of genetic risk factors which made the vaccines for their children much riskier than for most? Can we say for sure that their children's risk of dying of pertussis or diphtheria was much less than that of reacting to the vaccines with autism? I think the risk of autism from vaccines was one in 10,000 when the DPT became universal soon after 1948, and the risk of a small child's dying of pertussis or diphtheria was much greater than that. I've said here before that my mother's voice trembled every time she spoke about a little neighbor boy who died horribly of diphtheria in Taylor, Texas, in the '30s. Him and many thousands more. The diphtheria vaccine was a godsend for parents then. Forrest Madready recounts the social history of diphtheria very movingly in his recently-published book. He also recounts how the vaccine damaged one or more of the Dionne quintuplets, causing a seizure disorder which eventually killed the first of them to die. I think it's probably impossible to pass moral judgment on the wisdom of getting certain vaccines at certain times in history.

cia parker

A serious question. Is "spinal meningitis" any particular kind of meningitis, or any kind of meningitis which affects the spine? Wouldn't that be all of them? I'm interested because our family records say that in the Civil War my mother's great-grandfather was fighting for the Confederacy in Virginia, and was captured and put into a POW camp (where he died shortly thereafter, probably of disease). He had left a wife and eight children back on his farm, and that same year, 1863, his wife and four of their children all died of spinal meningitis. I found census records showing what families took in the four surviving children, four different farms.

Gary Ogden

Thanks, Teresa. In some ways Medicine is marvelous; in others, a complete mess.

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