By Anne Dachel
Every once in a while it is my great pleasure to talk about a book on autism that is really well-designed to inform and help parents and other people involved with autism. Autism Essentials, as the cover tells us, is about “prevention, causes, remediation, education, vocation, and legal aspects and parental advice” regarding autism.
Autism Essentials is a collection of articles by over 30 writers, edited by Dr. Andy McCabe, a psychologist who has worked for years in special education and who has an extensive background in autism.
This book has so much good information on the real world of autism that I hardly know where to begin. A number of the writers are people I’ve known and respected for years and others who are new to me. All of them have something vital to say about autism.
Since the topics are so varied, I decided to review this book in several separate pieces. Here goes the first.
I like to say my qualifications for any of the writing I do is that I read. I have spent twenty years studying everything about autism. That’s not to say I know everything there is out there, but I’ve amassed a good deal of knowledge. I’ve been writing for Age of Autism since 2007, mostly about the controversy over vaccines and autism and the exponential increases in the rate.
I wrote a book about all this published in 2014 called, The Big Autism Cover-Up-How and Why the Media is Lying to the American Public.
As you can tell from title, it covered the lies and corruption surrounding the link between autism and vaccines.
In that book I devoted a whole chapter to the Dr. Andrew Wakefield story because of his leading role in the whole debate over a vaccine link.
The preface, entitled, Dr. Andy Wakefield: The Story You Haven’t Heard, is where I say once again what I said about Dr. Wakefield in The Big Autism Cover-Up, namely that he was made the fall guy to cover up the collusion and corruption on the part of the British government.
Don’t get the idea that Autism Essentials is just about how vaccines can cause autism, because it isn’t. The link is clearly talked about because there are just too many parents out there who watched their normally developing children lose learned skills and regress into autism following routine childhood vaccinations.
So what is the real story about Dr. Wakefield?
Wakefield was a practicing gastroenterologist at the Royal Free Hospital in London when he reported on what he and other doctors had observed in twelve children who regressed into autism and bowel disease. Eight of those children had parents who said the regression happened directly following their mumps, measles and rubella vaccination.
During an interview in 2009, Wakefield told CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson the real story about his work, “Our duty was not only to investigate those children to see if we could get to the root of their symptoms, in particular their bowel symptoms, their diarrhea, their pain, and their mal-digestion, but also to report their history.”
It was the parents who told Wakefield and the other doctors that regression followed the MMR and that was included in their report.
Wakefield’s work concluded that the children had a new form of bowel disease, one that had not previously been identified. Further study was recommended.
This is what was written up in the Lancet, a British medical journal in 1998. What followed was a disaster for the researchers. Wakefield especially was vilified as a fraud who falsified his findings.
During that 2009 interview Wakefield also told Attkisson that after extensive research resulting in a 250 page report, he cautioned parents to only give their children separate mumps, measles and rubella vaccines, not the combination MMR vaccine. He went on to say that the response from the government was that within six months they stopped the use of the separate vaccines in Britain. Children could only get the combined MMR.
Wakefield made it clear on CBS back in 2009 that he and his fellow researchers had called for more study on the safety of the MMR.
When he was asked by Attkisson about the actions of General Medical Council in revoking his medical license, Wakefield said that the government will “isolate and discredit” anyone who challenges them. Wakefield furthermore denied any personal conflicts of interest in what he had done.
The phrase “isolate and discredit” can also apply to the actions of the media and the government here in the U.S.
In the preface I go into detail about how the American media attacked Wakefield in 2010. Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today Show, Dr. Manny Alvarez on Fox News, Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta on CNN, and George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s Good Morning America, all of them covered the Wakefield story as adversaries. Their interviews were vicious inquisitions.
Incredibly, not one of them talked to any of the parents of the children Wakefield cared for, although the parents had made public statements of support. None of them could cite anything in Wakefield’s book, Callous Disregard, which was his account of the Lancet study.
Wakefield tried as hard as he could to explain what his work was really about, he simply wasn’t allowed to. The fix was in. Major networks gave him coverage in order to discredit him and any possibility of a link between vaccines and autism.
One critically important point that Wakefield wrote about in his book and that he tried to bring up during the interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN was the existence of a whistle-blower in the U.K. who had given him evidence of government collusion. (It seems that health officials there have close ties to the pharmaceutical industry just like in the U.S.)
Wakefield reported that the evidence he’d been given showed that the British government knew the MMR vaccine was not safe and that they had indemnified that vaccine makers. That meant the government would be held responsible if the truth about damaging side effects came to light.
If Wakefield had done all the things he was accused of by British reporter Brian Deer, surely the parents of his patients and the other doctors he worked with would have spoken out against him.
None of them did. The parents stood by him and his fellow researchers stood by their findings on bowel disease in these children, although not on an established link to the MMR.
Wakefield himself never claimed he found a link between the vaccine and autism. He reported what the parents told him. He called for more research and a halt to the use of the combined MMR vaccine until safety was established.
In a perfect world he would have been taken seriously and thorough, independent research would have happened to insure the safety of the MMR. That is not our world however. In the world of corruption, collusion and cover-up, no credibility could be given to anyone who challenges the narrative that vaccines are safe, vaccines save lives.
Thank you, Dr. McCabe, for giving me an opportunity to tell the true story about Andrew Wakefield.
Autism Essentials authors https://citybearpress.com/autism-essentials-authors/