Julie Obradovic

I Believe the Words You’re Looking for are, “Thank You”

Measles 2024Note: Julie Obradovic wrote this post for us back during the Great Measles Scare of 2015, nine years ago. She details the harrowing agony her daughter endured and the screams she will never forget.  Her 2016 memoir An Unfortunate Coincidence from Skyhorse Publishing shares the full story. EVERY expectant mother should read this, and certainly every parent of an infant. Instead of pillorying us for speaking out, Julie is right, the words only words are "thank you."

We'll be trotting out many pieces from our catalog as measles is weaponized to cajole American families to make pharmaphilic choices, despite their better judgement.


On November 15, 2002, we went out to celebrate my husband’s birthday. My aunt had kindly offered to watch our two children for us while we celebrated. It was generous of her to do so, and we gratefully took her up on it. We had a wonderful evening…. until we returned.

She was standing in the hallway just coming down from the stairs of our split level home as we entered around 1 a.m. Even though it was dark, her face was clear as day, not displaying a good expression. If anything, she looked as if she had just witnessed a horrible tragedy.

Immediately, without asking us about our evening, she urged us to go upstairs and check on our daughter. According to her, our baby girl had let out a scream unlike she had ever heard only moments before. She truly thought someone had entered the house and stabbed her. She was just about to call 9-1-1.

After racing upstairs, she scooped her up out of the crib still mid scream. The way she described it, our daughter was screaming so hard and so violently that she couldn’t breathe, her face red with excruciating pain, arching her back as if to fall back into the crib the whole time. 

Eventually, she stopped, but not in a normal way. She collapsed in my aunt’s arms, as if to pass out. Although still breathing, she wouldn’t wake. My aunt feared she was dying.

Right then, we got home.

Because I didn’t hear the scream, something I have only heard in my dreams since, I couldn’t gauge the seriousness of what had happened accurately. I knew my aunt was the last person to over-react, and given her panic, I realized something was very wrong. We ran upstairs to find our daughter just as she had left her, appearing to be sleeping peacefully in her crib.

I called her pediatrician immediately. She had been suffering from repeated and chronic ear infections for over 14 months at that time, at least 11 at our last count, and had been on at least that many rounds of antibiotics, each one a stronger, harsher version than the next, none of which ever did anything to alleviate them. 

In fact, her gums, her lips, her vagina, and her butt were covered in yeast as a result, and patches of eczema were popping up on her elbow and knee creases as well (something that finally cleared with an antifungal).

I suspected she had another ear infection, which often made her cry at night, and tried not to worry too much. I also tried to calm my aunt who said she knew what a baby crying from ear pain sounded like, and this was not it. She was adamant we go to the hospital.

When the doctor finally called back, he believed it was likely ear pain too, given her history. He told us to give her some pain reliever (aka, Tylenol), and to bring her to the office in the morning. If anything else happened, we were to go to the emergency room, but he didn’t believe it was worthy of a trip right then.

Because over a year’s worth of my instinct that something was seriously wrong with her had been repeatedly dismissed by my pediatricians, and twice, I had been criticized for it, I chose to obey the doctor’s orders. I was tired of being made to feel like I was a bad mom by wanting to do other than what they said.

My aunt was upset. 

She offered to stay overnight with our son if we would just go. She offered to go with me if my husband wanted to stay home. She pleaded. She begged. 

And when I finally promised to take her first thing in the morning, she reluctantly got her coat and said in a way she had never spoken to me before, “I have been a mother for 30 years. I was an aunt to you and all of your cousins. I have been around children and babies my whole life. I am telling you, Julie Ann, I have never heard a baby scream like that. Something is wrong.”

Continue reading "I Believe the Words You’re Looking for are, “Thank You”" »

Dr. Paul Oosterhuis on Shocking Lessons from Australia During Covid

AustraliaNote: We're happy to share this article by Julie Obradovic as a reprint from The Defender. She writes about the crackdown on MDs who took a scientific interest in how Covid was handled and treated in Australia. “In science,” he argued, “you can’t give informed consent without saying the pluses and minuses, the hazards and the benefits.”

‘Even in His Pajamas’: A Conversation with Dr. Paul Oosterhuis on Lessons From the Down Under

Dr. Paul Oosterhuis, an anesthesiologist in Australia and outspoken critic of Australian health officials’ COVID-19 treatment protocol, lost — and then won back — his medical license. He now considers himself a “soldier in the war for medical freedom.”


Julie Obradovic

Sitting in front of a computer screen in August 2021, Dr. Paul Oosterhuis was prepared.

The regulators, the people who hold the registrar of health practitioners in Australia, had recently come out with a document informing practitioners they could only speak about the positives of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Saying anything negative or cautionary was not allowed.

Dr. Oosterhuis addressed the document in a tweet. Since the COVID crisis began on the other side of the world the year prior, he had become rather outspoken on social media about many pandemic protocols.

Now that the virus was finally at Australia’s doorstep, he had a lot to say. “The document is ridiculous,” he tweeted.

“In science,” he argued, “you can’t give informed consent without saying the pluses and minuses, the hazards and the benefits.”

Continue reading "Dr. Paul Oosterhuis on Shocking Lessons from Australia During Covid" »

Interview with an Undertaker

Embalming roomNote: We are so happy to have a post from Julie Obradovic today. Please welcome her back warmly. Her 2016 memoir An Unfortunate Coincidence: A Mother's Life Inside The Autism Controversy dovetails all too well with Ed Dowd's Cause Unknown The Epidemic of Sudden Deaths in 2021 and 2022.

By Julie Obradovic

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with an undertaker. Licensed since 1976, he has spent his entire life in the field having been born into a family who owned and operated several funeral homes in Chicago. He continued the family business after getting his degree in Mortuary Science from the University of Minnesota and still runs his own funeral home with his children.

 To put it bluntly, he has never not been around dead people.

Although I have never had much interest in the life of a funeral home director, I have admittedly been curious as to what they have witnessed and experienced since Covid began. Is it true? Are younger people dying an at alarming rate? What kinds of deaths have increased or decreased and among whom? Has anything unusual been happening that he has noticed, and if so, what?

I decided to reach out on a whim to see if he would answer my questions. It reminded me of what it was like back in the mid to late 2000’s as a high school teacher. After teaching for over 10 years, suddenly we needed an autism specialist. I had had taught over 1000 students by then and been among over 10,000 in our building. We hadn’t needed a specialist (let alone an entire room) for autism until then, but to hear the experts tell it, students with autism had been everywhere. We just didn’t know it.

Was he being told the same thing now? Was his reality being questioned? It was one thing for me to have 10 years of teaching experience when the epidemic hit high schools. He has been preparing the dead for over 50. It would be hard to convince him he just didn’t notice something.

Continue reading "Interview with an Undertaker" »

If They’d Only Had H-E-A-R-T

Heart letterBy Julie Obradovic

It’s been 5 years since I have written anything about autism, vaccine-safety, or the controversies surrounding either. I took a break in late 2017 for personal reasons and spent some time focusing exclusively on them. Subsequently, 2018 and 2019 were very difficult but exciting years for me, free from at least one heavy situation I had immersed myself in for the previous 14: advocacy.

And then 2020 happened.

Like everyone, never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d experience what we did when we did. But perhaps not like everyone, I did foresee the implications of a vaccine-only response to a pandemic barreling down the train tracks a long time ago. I just didn’t see those implications coming to fruition in 2021.

I thought the types of things we were introduced to last year…like vaccine passports…and segregation based on vaccine status…and the loss of freedom to make your own medical decisions and still participate in a free society and/or keep your job…and “quarantine” camps….and globally organized censorship of medical dissent….would be something I wouldn’t see until old age.

Alas, here it is decades earlier. The worst case scenario of worst case scenarios playing out in front of us. All the things fellow advocates and I feared becoming reality way back in 2005 in full effect only 17 years later. (For some perspective, consider this. California was a destination for medical freedom as recently as 2014. They were one of only a handful of states with a philosophical exemption to vaccines for a long time.)

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How to End the Autism Epidemic: Tell the Truth.

TruthBy Julie Obradovic

There are moments when the magnitude of something that has happened in my life rise up and unexpectedly grab me by the throat. The favorite song of a friend who died too young. The smell of my grandmother’s perfume on a letter she wrote. The voicemail my Godmother left that I’ve never erased. The favorite t-shirt of my five year old son, and the memory of him it.

He’s 20 now.

These are the moments when life takes hold and won’t let go, even if only for a second, reminding you of how fragile it is, how special it is, and how quickly it goes. Reminding you of the best and the worst, the happiest and the saddest, the most joyful, and yes, the most painful.

The challenge of it all is how to make it less painful, and in my experience, that’s with a lot of prayer, a lot of writing, a lot of crying, a lot of running, a lot of family, and a lot of friendship. One day after years of moving forward, one step, one day at a time, you suddenly realize, hey...that doesn’t really hurt like it used to...or sometimes not even at all.

For the truly tragic things we experience, however, I’m not so sure those ever really go away.

Like so many people, I have experienced a lot of pain. Lost dreams, lost love, and recently a lost marriage shattered the image of the life I had once envisioned. Some losses I own, some just happened, and others were stolen. I accept what I am responsible for, and I’d like to think I have forgiven those who have stolen from me in one way or another, but every so often, I realize….

I have not.

Well, at least one of them I have not. The loss of my daughter to regressive autism.The most painful and difficult loss I have ever experienced and hopefully ever will.

From the time she slipped away beginning around 8 months of age until only a few years ago, I lived in a low level chronic state of anxiety, anger, regret, and guilt. I was often overwhelmed by her needs and more so why she had them to begin with, and I largely put the blame for all of it on my own shoulders.

I wasn’t a good enough mother. I didn’t ask the right questions...do the right research...see the right doctors...do the right therapies...do enough therapies. I was the reason it happened, and I was the reason it wasn’t better. ALL the way better. Not some of the way. Not a little bit better.


We got more than most, and for that I am forever grateful. But make no mistake, I wanted more. I still do.

Continue reading "How to End the Autism Epidemic: Tell the Truth." »

Awareness without Recognition

How farBy Julie Obradovic

I had the pleasure of experiencing an extremely pride filled day this week. In the morning, my youngest was selected to perform for the school’s annual talent show, and later that night, awarded as the overall outstanding student in her seventh grade gifted program. Her father and I were beaming.

I’ve written before about the simultaneous highs and lows parents like us experience on days like that. In the same instance that your heart soars at the accomplishment of one child, it almost instantaneously breaks at the absence of it for another who will never experience it. Her older sister is that sibling.

Other families like ours are going through the same thing right now. The end of the school year is particularly tough for many reasons. Award Nights. School Dances. Graduations. Concerts. Recitals. Art Shows.

Our friends and neighbors paste their social media walls with beautiful photos of their healthy children experiencing these milestones. While always happy for them, it can sting, repetitive photographic evidence of what your child has lost and continues to miss out on.

Would that have been her friend? What dress would she have chosen to wear tonight? What would she look like now if she didn’t lose her muscle tone and coloring? What award would she have received?

The unfairness can sometimes feel overwhelming, and even though you can always turn off your phone or computer to look away for protection, when the stark differences live in your home among siblings, you can never truly protect yourself anyway. I know families with twins for example, one on the spectrum and one not, who live this difference even more profoundly than we do.

While I have come to a place of great acceptance that the milestones she reaches while different are just as admirable, important, and amazing, I came to the stark realization yesterday that the rest of the world hasn’t come to the same conclusions yet.

It hit me like a ton of bricks while waiting to enter the gymnasium for the talent show. Students from two separate hallways were merging into one forcing a group of students to stand and wait while the other group passed. I had to wait as well.

Continue reading "Awareness without Recognition" »

M.I.A. in April

By Julie Obradovic

It was April of 1943 when Dr. Leo Kanner, arguably the leading childhood psychiatrist of the day, wrote the words in the journal The Nervous Child that changed the rest of us, and the month of April, forever.

“Since 1938, there have come to my attention a number of children whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far, that each case merits – and I hope, eventually receives – a detailed examination of its fascinating peculiarities.”

At that time, Dr. Kanner was an immigrant who had lived on two continents in multiple countries; was fluent in two languages; and had just written the authoritative and exhaustive guide on all things related to childhood psychiatry in 1935. Because of his research, he was the premier expert in the country that the first 11 families of children later diagnosed with autism ever came to for help and why.

The fact that he had just written and published a book on the subject only 8 years prior to making this extraordinary statement; that he was almost 50 years old and had lived on two continents when he did; and that he was announcing to the world in fancy academic language,

“Hey everyone, there’s something NEW here…and PECULIAR… and FASCINATING…. and I’VE NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE…. and I’m an authority on this stuff… and I’m going to give it its own name because of it…”


Because, as our beloved Dan Olmsted and so many others have said for over a decade now, if he was right and autism was new, it cannot be genetic. Something in the 1930’s in two very specific parts of the world actually, the United States and Austria, changed. And that’s really only a handful of things.

And likewise, if he was wrong, he simply gave a name to a human condition that’s always been with us. In other words, he was expert enough to get to name it something new that we still call it, but too ignorant to realize it wasn’t. (Think about how ridiculous that logic is. Never mind. Don’t. It hurts.)

A condition that nobody, including himself, bothered to name, discuss, or identify prior.

That isn’t expressly written about anywhere in medical or folk literature beforehand.

That no one over the age of 40 today ever heard of until the late 1980’s.

Because it was new, but not new, don’t you know?

We just didn’t call it that for 70 years even though it had a name.

Because doctors were incompetent.

Like every school and every teacher.

And every parent.

So we didn’t diagnose it.

And then we misdiagnosed it.

And now we over-diagnose it.

And hordes of misdiagnosed folks were institutionalized.

While they also worked for NASA.

And got married.

And then they died.

(Oh, God, it did make my head hurt. Damn it.)

There’s a word for this kind of rationalizing. It’s called “DENIAL”. And each and every one of us has experienced it at least once in our lives. I can think of at least 3 times in my own life, the regression of my daughter being the first instance that comes to mind.

Denial has a certain sound and a certain language all of its own. It makes things complicated that aren’t complicated. It insists there is an exception to the rule. It speaks in circles and contradictions. It cloaks itself in mystery and layered explanations.

Continue reading "M.I.A. in April" »

What Dan Olmsted Meant to Me

Event Dan TaylorBy Julie Obradovic

Note: This post originally ran on my Facebook page the day after learning about Dan’s passing. It currently has over 41 shares and hundreds of collective comments, so I wanted to immortalize it here. As the days passed, however, I realized I missed some funny and important points about Dan I wanted to include, so this is a slightly edited version. Thanks.

It hasn't quite sunk in yet that Dan Olmsted has passed. I haven't seen him in person for some time, so I keep imagining this is a mistake and at the next big advocacy event, he will be there, sitting at a table talking quietly with other advocates, wearing his normal casual attire, his full beard, and his glasses.

For those of you outside of the autism world, it's hard to put into words what he meant to so many of us. In short, but in unimaginable depth, Dan legitimized our concerns. He legitimized our stories. He legitimized our lives.

I don't know how you thank someone for that, and I most certainly don't know how you express what that means. I guess this is my attempt.

Having a healthy child regress into autism is nothing short of traumatic in the truest sense of the word. In spite of the mainstream's effort to normalize it over the last two decades, there is nothing normal about it.

It's like watching someone kidnap your child right in front of your face, only there's nothing you can Dan walkingdo about it to stop it. And it's not their body that gets taken. It's their personality. Their energy. Their laughter. Their voice. Their words. The light in their eyes. And eventually you realize, their life's potential. All the while their body is left in pain, suffering from seizures, rashes, allergies, autoimmunity, gastrointestinal distress, and more.

It is beyond what any child or parent should ever, ever, ever have to experience. Traumatic really doesn't even seem to be the right word to describe it. It's not intense enough.

My daughter has made a significant recovery, as have I, and even writing those words brings me back to a place of anxiety, fear, and despair that I will never fully be able to shake. But a large part of the reason why I have been able to move forward and make meaning out of what happened is because of Dan's work.

Continue reading "What Dan Olmsted Meant to Me" »

Review of An Unfortunate Coincidence: A Mother’s Life Inside the Autism Controversy

An Unfortunate CoincidenceBy Cathy Jameson

 Soon after starting her book, I sent an email to Julie Obradovic:

I'm in tears and enraged and on the edge of my seat reading your book. It's taken a few sittings to get any reading done (things are insanely busy here), but wow.  I cannot stop reading.  

About a month earlier, Julie had asked me if I might be interested in writing a review of her soon-to-be released book, An Unfortunate Coincidence: A Mother’s Life Inside the Autism Controversy.  Thrilled to be asked, I couldn’t wait to read it and tell her what I thought of it. 

I remember the day that Julie told me she’d gotten a book deal – I’m sure Julie was very excited, but I was over the moon ecstatic!  Always an eloquent writer, I couldn’t wait to read more of what she had to share.  Now that it was time to finally read it, getting through Julie’s book in one sitting just wasn’t happening.  With all the demands being placed on me at home, I knew that I’d have to go elsewhere to concentrate.

Setting aside several hours one day, I headed to the library.  I found a quiet corner and continued to read.  Not intending to put the book down, I’d only gotten a few more pages read when I took a break.  I sent another email to Julie sharing how difficult it was for me to read her story:  

I want to stop.  This is truly painful for me to read because your story is so eerily similar, like almost exactly the same medical timeline of medical issues and the autism discovery - not to mention the same type of dismissive doctors and the anxiety and the feeling like you're in the Twilight Zone - it is so hard to read.  But I'm pushing some emotions aside and will continue, not just to get the review done, but also because I want to know more.  I know what you've written will help so many. 

No doubt that it will.  No doubt that it already has!  

Continue reading "Review of An Unfortunate Coincidence: A Mother’s Life Inside the Autism Controversy" »

An Unfortunate Coincidence: A Mother’s Life Inside the Autism Controversy

An Unfortunate CoincidenceBy Julie Obradovic

Cleaning out the basement the other day, I was reminded that I asked for and received a typewriter for my eighth grade graduation. I still have it, a Smith Corona SC110. I have no idea if it works or if they even make the ribbon for it anymore, but that’s not my concern. I keep it for what it means to me.

On November 1st, a dream of mine that reaches all the way back to junior high will come true. Skyhorse Publishing will publish my first book, a memoir about my life as an autism mother and advocate over the last decade. (It is currently available for purchase on Amazon.)

It’s a surreal feeling, really. Never in my wildest dreams did I actually think I would ever do such a thing. In spite of my lifelong love affair with writing, it was always something I did for personal reasons, never something I aspired to share with the world. Ironically, nothing could be more personal than what I have written and decided to share with the world.

When I was approached a few years ago about the opportunity to write, I tossed around a few ideas. As an educator, I thought maybe I would examine the impact of the autism epidemic on schools and write about how children, teachers, and taxpayers were being affected. It sounded like a good idea, but the more I thought about it, the less interested I became. I’m not a journalist, and I have no interest in writing like one. I have always written straight from the heart.

I knew years ago that my most popular posts here on Age of Autism and elsewhere were those that featured my rawest emotions and called for logic, compassion, and understanding. I couldn’t count the amount of private messages, tweets, hugs, and phone calls I have received over the years thanking me for giving people a glimpse into what it really feels like to be on this side of the fence…and why we are here in the first place.

Continue reading "An Unfortunate Coincidence: A Mother’s Life Inside the Autism Controversy" »

Media & Public Health Reaction If Lead in Water was Handled Like Mercury in Vaccines

Drink up quicksilverBy Julie Obradovic

I’ve watched the Flint water crisis unfold like everyone else. To be sure, it’s horrific. The people responsible for causing and perpetuating the disaster deserve to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. The victims deserve treatment and compensation. Most important, they deserve recognition and an apology.

As empathetic and outraged as I am, I can’t help feel like this issue is the perfect one to point out the utter hypocrisy and lunacy of the exact opposite reaction of our country to mercury in vaccines. For really, it’s quite simple their position:

Lead in water. Outrage! Mercury in vaccines. Fine!

CDC would lie about the safety of water? Of course, they would! CDC would lie about safety of mercury in vaccines? NEVER!

Apparently that’s where the CDC draws their moral line in the sand, we’ve determined. Water? Meh. Vaccines? No way!

Although sarcastic, the following would seriously be how the Flint water crisis would be framed if the lead had been discovered in vaccines instead. Or rather, how the world would respond to it if we considered water as sacred as vaccines.

Clearly, for whatever reason I can’t figure out, we don’t. Because as far as I can see, none of these things have happened to the folks involved in bringing this disaster to the world’s attention. In fact, it’s been the exact opposite.

If we treated lead in water like mercury in vaccines:

  1. Anyone who spoke out about his or her concerns regarding lead in water would be labeled “anti-water”. This label would follow them forever, used to discredit their position, discredit them personally, and come to be defined as “pro-death”. For water is life, its defenders would claim, and any criticism of water is the same as being against it. It would apply equally to all citizens, parents, scientists, journalists, and celebrities that voiced their concerns.
  2. These same “anti-water” people would be told they aren’t qualified to know what lead poisoning is, looks like, or what levels could be dangerous. If they didn’t specialize in toxicology or water safety, they have no credibility and can’t be taken seriously.

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More Bad Ideas that Triggered the Autism Epidemic (Plus Two Good Ones!)

But wait theres moreBy Julie Obradavic Bad_idea.jpg.scaled500

Editor's Note -- this week I wrote an article about Six Bad Ideas that led to the autism epidemic, and encouraged other suggestions. Here, Julie Obradovic -- an AOA Contributing Editor of Long Standing -- offers hers. -- Dan Olmsted


Bad idea #6: Take the most poisonous toxin mankind will likely ever come in contact with and use it as or in medicine for over 500 years.

Bad idea #7: Believe that if you can just get the right form of this toxin in the right amount administered the right way you can harness the poison to kill the bad but not hurt the good without any evidence of that ever being possible.

Bad idea #8: Synthesize it to a new even more toxic manmade form for the purpose of warfare and when that doesn't work out, commercialize it for use on seeds, lumber, and in biologics without any regulators to check for the safety (or sanity) of this practice.

Bad idea #9: Grandfather it into use after the regulators come around still without testing it.

Bad idea #10: Keep it in biologics for decades after being banned for use on seeds and lumber because oops...it's too toxic.

Bad idea #11: Accidentally triple its amount and move up its exposure date to the day of birth (and in the womb for some).

Continue reading "More Bad Ideas that Triggered the Autism Epidemic (Plus Two Good Ones!)" »

The Imperatives of Medicine

Note: Thanks to Julie for this post. There is a trend in America called "slow medicine."   I read that 35% of the MediCARE budget (for seniors) is spent on patients' LAST SIX MONTHS of life.   We  are a nation of medical procedure gluttons.   Slow medicine allows a person to age and ultimately die with dignitiy, care and love, saying no to numerous medical inventions that do not increase quality of life and may harm the elderly patient.   Wait, we can say no to medicine?  Well, sometimes.....

By Julie Obradovic

If you believe it is not only right but just that the medical industrial complex (the government, the pharmaceutical industry, and the medical industry) has the authority to dictate what you must do and when to your own body or your child's for the sake of society in order to participate in society, with or without regard to your consent, your medical individuality, your instinct, your past experience, your family history, your personal or religious beliefs, or the possibility of your injury or death, at the same time that they profit from forcing you to do this, is it not imperative for that complex to be a) trustworthy b) transparent c) liable and d) ethical?

Is it not imperative the products be independently tested for safety by someone outside of the complex against true placebos?

Is it not imperative they be independently studied for cumulative, long term, and lifelong effects?

Is it not imperative the complex be held to the highest level of transparency in a court of law where their science, scientists, research, practices, and behavior can be scrutinized in the discovery process?

Is it not imperative vulnerable populations be identified so that they may be spared? (If the point is to save lives, how is killing anyone in the name of saving them justified? Are we really that complacent and incapable of doing better that we still accept some children must be injured or die so more may not? And if so, how many children is one family expected to give?)

Is it not imperative all data sets and other pertinent information from government studies be made easily accessible to the public who has paid for them so that they can verify the validity of safety claims?

Continue reading "The Imperatives of Medicine" »

A Conversation with Miguel Jara


By Julie Obradovic

A few weeks ago, a friend brought a new book to my attention. A relative of hers in Spain had forwarded a link to an article about the book as a show of support. She was letting her know that internationally there were also questions and criticisms of vaccine programs and politics, not to mention very different philosophies about how, when and who should be vaccinated. It was the height of the measles hysteria here.

My friend doesn’t speak or read Spanish, but she knows I do, so she forwarded it to me. I am both Miguel jara bookfluent and literate. I was immediately interested in not only the book, but also the author. I purchased and read it as soon as possible, followed by an email and a tweet.

Jara responded almost instantly, and we have been corresponding since. He has served as an outstanding source of insight into the thoughts and beliefs about vaccination in Europe, something I think is extremely important for Americans to understand before moving forward with more legislation to require more vaccines for everyone.

Most Americans do not realize that in many other first world nations (that happen to have better infant mortality rates) such as Spain, the law does not require anyone to be vaccinated, nor are vaccines given in the manner or capacity that they are here. Also like here, most people aren’t against vaccines, but they are against forced vaccination, federal product liability, and an ever-expanding for-profit program that seems to have no limits. Spain serves as an excellent example of how vaccination can be successfully done differently without any legislation, bullying, name-calling, or threats involved.

I asked Miguel if he would answer a few questions for me for this blog post. Graciously, he agreed. I have translated them and published them here with his permission.

How did you decide to investigate and write about vaccines?

MJ: The first time I heard a critique of vaccines was almost 20 years ago. Before then I had started to investigate harm caused by medicine and the interests that surrounded that environment, which I expressed in 2007 in my first book, Health Traffickers: How they sell us dangerous medicine and gamble with disease.

Continue reading "A Conversation with Miguel Jara" »

Questions Elizabeth Warren Forgot to Ask

WarrrenBy Julie Obradovic

Senator Elizabeth Warren had quite a moment the other day. In what appeared to be a “smack down” of vaccine safety concerned parents, she asked rapid fire questions to Anne Schuchat, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a last minute Congressional hearing on vaccine uptake amidst the apparent measles crisis of 2015 (which includes a whopping 100 plus cases among a population of 350,000,000 people).

On the surface she appeared to be looking for evidence for a reason a parent might be hesitant to vaccinate her child using the typically touted but not actual questions of concerned parents. (In reality, she was really just trying to attack Rand Paul for his comments about vaccines a few days prior. Make no mistake. This was political, not medical.) For less than well-versed veterans in this issue, it really seemed impressive too. A big wallop of “truth” to shut down dissenters, I heard it called.

Take that, you stupid anti-vaxxers!

And yet, anyone with just a little bit of insider information about this issue could have immediately recognized the familiarity of her questions (Paul Offit talking points) and what was glaringly lacking (serious questions about serious concerns).

Continue reading "Questions Elizabeth Warren Forgot to Ask" »

I Believe the Words You're Looking for are "Thank You"

Go Talk Thank YouNote: Thanks to our Julie Obradovic for sharing this post from her blog. Please bookmark

I Believe the Words You’re Looking for are “Thank You”

By Julie Obradovic

On November 15, 2002, we went out to celebrate my husband’s birthday. My aunt had kindly offered to watch our two children for us while we celebrated. It was generous of her to do so, and we gratefully took her up on it. We had a wonderful evening…. until we returned.

She was standing in the hallway just coming down from the stairs of our split level home as we entered around 1 a.m. Even though it was dark, her face was clear as day, and it was not displaying a good expression. If anything, she looked as if she had just witnessed a horrible tragedy.

Immediately, without asking us about our evening, she urged us to go upstairs and check on our daughter. According to her, our baby had let out a scream unlike she had ever heard only moments before. She truly thought someone had entered the house and had stabbed her, and she was just about to call 9-1-1.

After racing upstairs, she scooped her up out of the crib still mid scream. The way she described it, Eve was screaming so hard that she couldn’t breathe, her face red with excruciating pain, arching her back as if to fall back into the crib the whole time. Eventually, she stopped, but not in a normal way. She collapsed in my aunt’s arms, as if to pass out. Although still breathing, she wouldn’t wake. My aunt feared she was dying.

Continue reading "I Believe the Words You're Looking for are "Thank You"" »

Puliyel Further Challenges Study Authors, Baldo et al, Over GSK Vaccine Deaths

InfanrixBy John Stone

Dr Jacob Puliyel who last week published evidence that GSK and the European Medicines Agency had covered up or overlooked 69 deaths from the vaccine Infanrix Hexa  has published a further challenge  to the authors of a study exonerating the vaccine.  He points out that the rate of death is up to 5 times worse than the GSK document suggests because the denominator is not the number of vaccines distributed but the number of administrations, bearing in mind that in most instances the infants died on first administration (and there are up to 5 doses). He also points out that European agency had delicensed an earlier hexavalent vaccine of similar profile manufactured by Sanofi and Merck after 13 deaths. This, of course, poses huge questions not only about the product but the culture of the manufacturing company and the licensing agency.

Puliyel writes:

Apropos the earlier posting there are a couple of other facts that we must consider when looking at the incidence of sudden unexplained deaths immediately following vaccination with Infanrix.

a) The safety assessment document has used the number of doses of vaccine distributed as the denominator. The report acknowledges that all the doses of the vaccine distributed, need not have been utilized.

There can be another argument against using this denominator. As each child is given up to 5 doses (https://www.gsksource.com/gskprm/htdocs/documents/INFANRIX.PDF) and they could die after any one of the doses (and you can die only once), perhaps it would be more appropriate to look at the number of deaths against the number of babies vaccinated (rather than the number of units of vaccine distributed). The appropriate denominator would be about one fifth the denominator used in the report.

b) Appendix 5A in the document sent to the regulator gives the International Event Report in 13 fatal cases. It can be seen in this sample that there were more deaths after the first dose than after the second and more after the second than after the third dose. This is a pattern seen with adverse events following immunization (AEFI) that are causatively related.

c) In May 2005, Zinka and colleagues have reported six cases of sudden infant deaths caused by another hexavalent vaccine (similar to Infanrix), called Hexavac Zinka B, 2006. Marketing authorization in the European Union was withdrawn in August 2005 (Doc.Ref.EMEA/207369/2005).

d) The CIOMS /WHO’s have revised the widely used Brighton Protocol for assessment of AEFI. The new scheme facilitates misclassification of vaccine related deaths as [Not an AEFI] and this has been discussed on PubMed Commons earlier. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19061929 ) (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23452584 ) (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24021304 ).

e) In some ways the deaths with Infanrix is similar to deaths seen with the use in Asia of Pentavalent vaccine against 5 disease ( DPT, hepatitis B, Hib vaccines) Puliyel J, 2013. Some of these deaths have been investigated by the WHO using this revised method and the vaccine had been declared safe.

f) The deaths are completely unnecessary as the vaccines could have been given separately, and separately they have a long track record of safety. One hopes that the findings will result in an honest assessment of the harms being done by these new combined vaccines.


As mentioned earlier there is nothing sacrosanct about the original Brighton Classification (http://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/publications/AEFI_aide_memoire.pdf) but one has to evaluate the two schemes (Brighton vs CIOMS) from the point of view of patient safety to see which scheme would react to rare vaccine related adverse reaction signals early. “The causality scheme that insists on calling all reactions as ‘indeterminate’ or ‘inconsistent/coincidental’ just because they were not noticed in the original small clinical trials, undermines the very raison d'être of post marketing surveillance. Patient safety (meaning  protecting patients) rather than vaccine safety (protecting vaccines) should be more important.”


A Day in the Life

InclusionBy Julie Obradovic

Recently I was asked by a friend to meet with two moms of young children on the spectrum. She thought I would be a great person to have as a resource. I wrote about that experience on my new blog last week. Ten years after I went through the nightmare of learning what was wrong and realizing the road ahead of us, these two women are going through the same. It was and always is a difficult conversation to have.

At one point, the mom of a two-year-old confessed that she was having a very hard time being around other children her child’s age. She said it was too painful to see what the others were doing, and she asked two poignant questions.

One, do I ever stop grieving? And two, does it ever get easier to be around typical kids?

It was difficult to answer truthfully for one reason only. I didn’t want to saddle her with another blow. She was already distraught and overwhelmed, crying at just asking the questions. To tell her the truth, that yes, I grieve everyday, and that no, it doesn’t ever get easier but you do learn to manage it better seemed, well…mean.

“You go through stages,” I said trying to soften the response.

After our conversation, I couldn’t get those questions out of my mind. They made me wonder about my own grieving process, as well as how often it really is brought to my attention that my daughter is not a “typical” kid.

I know that I think I think about it constantly and that I think I am assaulted by it everywhere I turn every single day, but I began to wonder just how often it really did affect me. Maybe it wasn’t as much I believed. Maybe I could give her a better answer if I actually examined a typical day for me.

And so for one day this week, I decided I would make a note of every time I thought about my daughter, autism, and/or felt a pain in my heart for what has happened to her, and for what the future holds, to really see what was going on in my head. I created a new note on my phone and typed in a brief summary of what had spurred the thought, where I was, and what I was feeling as a result to keep track.

Within two hours, I had to stop.

Continue reading "A Day in the Life " »

No, Jerry, You Don’t Have Autism.

Seinfeld performingBy Julie Obradovic

I’ve been an autism advocate and activist for 10 years. By the mainstream media’s account, I’m on the wrong side of history. You see I’m one of “those” parents. One of “those” who brought a perfectly healthy baby girl into this world only to watch her descend into a physical hell of repeated and chronic illness followed by developmental delays that eventually resulted in an autism diagnosis.

I’m one of “those” parents who did the relentless research and put the pieces together and had the medical testing done that proved her autism wasn’t even kind of sort of genetic. It is epigenetic, a fancy word for environmentally caused. And it is iatrogenic, another fancy word for medically caused.

Here’s all you really need to know about the controversy. The medical industrial complex says my husband and I caused her autism. We know they did. And because they have just a teensy bit more power, influence, money and control over the messaging than I do from my keyboard, well, it’s fair to say they are winning. Jerry Seinfeld is proof.

It’s not uncommon to feel punched in the gut when you are a parent like me, pretty much on a daily basis. Actually, sometimes on an hourly basis. No one, as far as I can tell, is bullied nearly as much as a parent of a medically injured child.

According to 99% of what gets reported, we’re dangerous “cranks” (whatever that stupid word means that nobody ever uses except one guy) who must be stopped before the world explodes in infectious disease because of us. We’re reckless, irresponsible, flat-earth-conspiracy-theorists who can’t accept that we have:

A)    Bad Genes

B)    Bad parenting skills

C)     Bad kids

D)    Bad thinking and reasoning skills

E)     Bad souls

And this is basically what gets reported or blogged about on an average Tuesday.

Going after Jenny McCarthy, who had the guts to be the spokesperson for thousands of parents like me, has become a sport. Slandering her, taking her words out of context, and calling her a liar is simply accepted as good journalism these days. Someone just managed to even make a book out of it. Gross.

Continue reading "No, Jerry, You Don’t Have Autism." »

The Autism (Seems-Like-Nobody-Really) CARES Act

Sugar coatedBy Julie Obradovic

I came across a blog post not that long ago by a mother who was arguing that autism is nothing to be afraid of. Her point, if I remember, was that she had been incorrectly conditioned to believe that autism was a scary diagnosis, and that the people who put forth that idea were not only irresponsible, but also dangerous and misleading thousands of parents. In her view, autism had turned out to be an unexpected gift, and there was nothing she would do to change it. Or something like that.

The comments were all very supportive. These parents were angry with folks like me who had spent years sounding the warning bell, sharing our heartbreak, and calling for action. What were we so upset about? They wondered. And how in the world could we possibly contemplate changing anything about our kids?

By the time I read it, I was fully aware of this perspective. It’s the group of people who want to convince the world of a number of things: autism has always been around; it’s a natural state of the human condition; it’s a gift; there’s nothing that can be done; and there’s nothing that should be done. (Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.)

Rejoice in the diagnosis, turn on some Big Bang Theory, and raise awareness, they proclaim…their awareness, they really mean, which actually just translates as acceptance. Just accept it. Adapt to it. Accommodate it. That’s it.

I try to respect other people’s experiences with autism to the greatest extent possible. Just as no one can tell me what I did or did not live, or how I should feel about it, I do my best to honor the same for others.

It’s just that I don’t know how we’re living such different experiences. And I don’t know how they don’t see the profound difficulty, disability, and danger that so many families experience. Worse, I don’t understand why they don’t want to help those children and families.

I wonder, what do they think when a child wanders and drowns? Do they still seriously believe autism is nothing to fear? That it’s a diagnosis full of joy and wonderment and possibility?

Just recently, another little boy with autism was found dead in a pond not far from his home. I have stopped keeping track, but this is over the tenth child with autism to die from wandering just this year.

He died from his autism. Yes, technically he died from drowning. I get it. But you and I both know his autism killed him. It drew him to water, impaired his judgment and communication skills, and killed him.

Autism killed him. And Avonte Oquendo. And Owen Black. And Mikaela Lynch. And Jeremiah Conn. And so many, many more.

Continue reading "The Autism (Seems-Like-Nobody-Really) CARES Act" »

Chances Are You Are "Anti-Vaccine" And Don't Even Know It.

MirrorNote: Thank you to our friends at Thinking Moms Revolution for this post by our own Julie Obradovic - which we are pleased to excerpt. Please share.

Exactly Who Is “Anti-vaccine”?

If you want safe, non-neurotoxic vaccines for everyone, given in an independently tested and verified schedule and combination, you are “anti-vaccine.”

If you want transparency, accountability, and ethical science when it comes to vaccines, you are “anti-vaccine.”

If you believe those who profit from vaccines should not be in charge of vaccine policy or research, you are “anti-vaccine.”

If you believe you should have the right to informed consent, and that not all vaccines are created or needed equally, you are “anti-vaccine.”

If you believe we should study those who have reacted negatively to prevent problems for others in the future, you are “anti-vaccine.”

If you believe you have the right not to inject yourself with something made using aborted fetal cell lines because it goes against your faith, you are “anti-vaccine.”

If you believe the program has been derailed by special interests ever since they received federal liability protection, and that liability protection should be amended to apply only in times of emergency (if at all), you are “anti-vaccine.”  Read and comment on the post at Thinking Moms Revolution.

Autism and The Life Insurance Factor

Autism Reality

By Julie Obradovic

A few years ago I let my term life insurance policy lapse. The rates had skyrocketed, and we believed we could get a better product. We never did anything about it until recently.

And so last week we met with our good friends’ son, a recent college graduate who is embarking on a career in financial planning. He asked if he could meet with us to discuss my need for coverage and bring along one of his mentors for guidance. We were one of his first real appointments, and were happy to oblige.

At one point, the discussion became a little too close for my comfort. This young man is not only a close friend’s son; he is also a neighbor. Sharing intimate financial details about our life was not something I was comfortable with. He understood and we went back to life insurance discussions only.

It was at that point I realized that I was not prepared for the emotion of this discussion. I had thought it would be a quick one-hour appointment, give me the information, sign the contract and wait for the health test type of thing. I had completely forgotten how much more significant it was, as crazy as that sounds.

Continue reading "Autism and The Life Insurance Factor" »

My Autism Yardstick

Yardstick heartBy Julie Obradovic

For quite some time now, I’ve been using my experience with autism as a way to measure life.

“Well, it’s not autism,” I’ll think as a friend tells me about their child’s issues.

“Been through worse,” I’ll shake my head at what seems to be a trivial matter comparably speaking.

“Do you have any idea what you could be dealing with?” I’ll sigh at the person complaining about a problem I perceive as no big deal in the grand scheme of things.

Without realizing it, I gave myself a yardstick by which to measure my life and others: my autism yardstick. As if it were lying down in the grass in front of me, symbolizing life before autism on one side and life after on the other, until now I have used it unconsciously to rate anything from trauma to illness to complaining to whatever.

It isn’t autism.

Been through worse.

Do you have any idea what you could be dealing with?

On the surface, it doesn’t necessarily seem like a bad thing. Autism indeed, for me, was a traumatic experience. Watching my healthy child slip into a world without words while experiencing tremendous illness and suffering is hard to describe accurately or completely in terms of how it hurt me as a mother.

Coupled with a medical community that didn’t know how to help and blamed me for her problems all while being left to navigate recovery on my own only doubled the pain and fear. I have no shame in saying it was by far the worse experience of my life, and I make no apologies for that.

And there is a lot of truth in those statements. It isn’t autism. Been through worse. Do you have any idea what you could be dealing with? I have a hefty dose of perspective that I bring to all situations. Those thoughts have served me well.

However, I’ve recently become aware of how those thoughts have gone from helpful to hurtful. The very same thoughts that made that yardstick a tool to measure growth and give perspective also made it a tool to dole out punishment. The scary thing is, I had no idea.

1. They have made me insensitive.

It isn’t autism

Been through worse.

Do you have any idea what you could be dealing with?

At some point these thoughts allowed me to put myself on the pedestal of pain, as if no one who hasn’t lived what I have lived could possibly ever have something difficult to deal with or worthy of being upset about.

Continue reading "My Autism Yardstick" »

Julie Obradovic On The Whitney Reynolds Show: Topic Autism

Julie headshotBy Julie Obradovic

Last fall, I had the opportunity to sit down for an interview with Whitney Reynolds, host of The Whitney Reynold's show (a local talk show in Chicago), to talk about autism. The show finally aired last Saturday, May 17th. We discussed many topics, including my experience as a mother and the issues surrounding the disorder. Specifically, she gave me the opportunity to shed light on one aspect of what makes autism so controversial. With two very different paradigms...one, that it is a lifelong, genetic condition you are born with that there really isn't much you can or should do about, and that has been with humanity for all time...and two, that it is an environmentally caused condition in a genetically vulnerable person that is absolutely treatable (and should be treated), and that it is at epidemic proportions unknown to mankind ever before...you can understand where some of the controversy might lie.

Our experience, like many other thousands of parents, was the later, and I was grateful for the opportunity to say so. I thank Whitney and her production team for a wonderful interview and show.

Julie Obradovic is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.

Autism Support in Chicago: Rescue Our Angels Party & Fundraiser May 9th

Rescue our angelsGoodbye April, HELLO HOPE!

Have plans Friday, May 9th? Want to have a great time and help raise money for Generation Rescue?

Then come to the 7th Annual Rescue Our Angels event in Chicago! My husband and I are so honored to have been asked to co-host this incredible event founded by parents Michele and Peter Doyle, and we would love for you to join us! After their little girl was diagnosed with autism in 2006, the Doyle's started the Rescue Our Angels benefit to help raise money for autism families in need. Over the last six years, the event has gone from a small, intimate gathering to a star-studded extravaganza that has raised almost one half of a million dollars! Tickets are still on sale, but are going fast. Get yours today! We hope to see you there!

Too Much of a Good Thing

Too muchBy Julie Obradovic

While doing my Christmas shopping, I found myself in the book isle. Browsing the long shelves, a small white-jacketed book caught my eye. Not only was the cover beautiful, the title spoke right to me.

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and The Art of Battling Giants by Malcom Gladwell.

I snickered as I picked it up thinking how I could relate. Any insight on how to do that more successfully was well worth it. Without reading more than the back cover I tossed it in the cart.

A few days later when I finally got to read it, I realized I had seen Malcom Gladwell and this very book profiled on a television show. Gladwell is the author of Outliers, probably his most famous book, and David and Goliath was following in its footsteps.

In short, Gladwell uses psychological research to prove that by changing our perspective and redefining what an advantage or disadvantage actually is, we can navigate and lead the world more successfully.

I devoured the book in less than two days.

Among the interesting arguments he presents, one stands out as most profound to me: that both deficiency and excess have negative consequences, and that although common sense has dictated this for some time, science is now proving it.

For example, most people assume smaller class sizes are better for student achievement. Research says it’s not that simple. Very small and very large classes are both negative for student achievement, although not in the same ways.

Likewise, most people assume parenting is easier the more money you have. Research also says, no. It gets harder. Poverty and affluence are both challenging, although not in the same ways. (Remember the boy who recently had a reduced sentence using affluence as an excuse?)

Continue reading "Too Much of a Good Thing" »

Best of: White Suburban Moms Public Enemy #1

White picket fence my ideal home.jpg1
We ran this post in early November, but really? It needs it needs a permanent spot on the site.  We are not going away - Warrior Moms.   Ever.  Happy 2014 - let's roll our sleeves up one more turn and get busy.

By Julie Obradovic
There’s a theme playing out in our society, and it’s not a good one: white suburban moms are the enemy.
It started a few months ago with a tweet from Dr. Nancy Snyderman. She was addressing the fact that studies have shown the parent most likely to refuse or question vaccinations for her children is a highly-educated white mom.
She wanted everyone to know that we are a well-meaning bunch, but that we are wrong.
It was ridiculously condescending and reeked of racism. Are we seriously to believe mothers of color don’t have questions about vaccines either?
But for the most part the tweet and what it implied…that we stereotypical silly little college-educated white moms are seriously misguided and endangering our children and society…went unnoticed outside of the vaccine-safety movement.
But it has happened again, and this time, not in the form of a tweet most people will never see or pay attention to. This time, it came from the federal government; specifically from the mouth of Department of Education head, Arne Duncan.
While addressing criticism of the Common Core, he speculated what was behind it:

 “It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary,” Duncan said.
Now I’ve been an outspoken advocate in perhaps one of the nastiest controversies out there for almost ten years. I’ve heard and read an awful lot of insults during that time, Dr. Nancy’s not withstanding. Anything from being a “flat-earther” to being so stupid it’s no wonder my special-needs child has problems.
I try not to pay attention to those things anymore, but every once in a while something catches me off guard. Mr. Duncan’s comments did just that.
It wasn’t just that as a teacher with 17 years experience and two master’s degrees in education that I know first hand what the real concerns are from both sides of the desk, and that it has absolutely nothing to do with worrying about the perceived brilliance of a child or value of a school. It was that his comment is so far off from reality that it’s not just insulting, it’s frightening: he’s apparently completely disconnected from what teachers and parents are actually worried about.

Continue reading "Best of: White Suburban Moms Public Enemy #1" »

Public Enemy Number One: White Suburban Educated Moms

White picket fence my ideal home.jpg1
By Julie Obradovic
There’s a theme playing out in our society, and it’s not a good one: white suburban moms are the enemy.
It started a few months ago with a tweet from Dr. Nancy Snyderman. She was addressing the fact that studies have shown the parent most likely to refuse or question vaccinations for her children is a highly-educated white mom.
She wanted everyone to know that we are a well-meaning bunch, but that we are wrong.
It was ridiculously condescending and reeked of racism. Are we seriously to believe mothers of color don’t have questions about vaccines either?
But for the most part the tweet and what it implied…that we stereotypical silly little college-educated white moms are seriously misguided and endangering our children and society…went unnoticed outside of the vaccine-safety movement.
But it has happened again, and this time, not in the form of a tweet most people will never see or pay attention to. This time, it came from the federal government; specifically from the mouth of Department of Education head, Arne Duncan.
While addressing criticism of the Common Core, he speculated what was behind it:

 “It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary,” Duncan said.
Now I’ve been an outspoken advocate in perhaps one of the nastiest controversies out there for almost ten years. I’ve heard and read an awful lot of insults during that time, Dr. Nancy’s not withstanding. Anything from being a “flat-earther” to being so stupid it’s no wonder my special-needs child has problems.
I try not to pay attention to those things anymore, but every once in a while something catches me off guard. Mr. Duncan’s comments did just that.
It wasn’t just that as a teacher with 17 years experience and two master’s degrees in education that I know first hand what the real concerns are from both sides of the desk, and that it has absolutely nothing to do with worrying about the perceived brilliance of a child or value of a school. It was that his comment is so far off from reality that it’s not just insulting, it’s frightening: he’s apparently completely disconnected from what teachers and parents are actually worried about.

Continue reading "Public Enemy Number One: White Suburban Educated Moms" »

Jon Stewart: Vaccine Bully? Say It Ain't So.

StewartNote: We invite readeres to learn more about vaccination injury in this piece by Bob Krakow, Bachmann Vaccine Injury.

By Julie Obradovic Julie headshot

Dear Jon Stewart:

I love you.

No really, I mean that. You make me laugh all the time.  As a working mother of three (a high school teacher, mind you) with bills to pay, a marriage to maintain, and children to raise I truly appreciate people who can make me laugh. You are one of them.

Even though we don’t always agree on serious political issues, I can always count on you to find the humor and ridiculousness in them. Making things simple to understand is a form of genius. Making them funny at the same time is a gift. You have the ability to do both. I am a huge fan.

But sadly, there was nothing funny about one component of last Monday night’s episode of The Daily Show. It was during your monologue while you were pointing out the latest technique of news programs to simplify debates into a “good thing” or a “bad thing” that I unexpectedly had my breath taken away.

You may remember. While using a clip of a conversation between Wolf Blitzer and Rep. Michelle Bachman to make your point, you paused it to emphasize the stupidity of Ms. Bachman. You did so by reminding everyone that she believes vaccines can cause brain damage.

As the mother of a vaccine injured child, you get used to being bullied. You learn quickly that no one really gives a crap if your child was hurt or not; that most people will never believe she actually really was injured because vaccines are great, and they save lives, and that wouldn’t happen, and they “proved” it didn’t happen, and maybe you’re mistaken, and you just need someone to blame, and on and on and on.

You learn that you can’t talk about it outside of certain groups of friends and family, or hell, even with certain friends and family, without risking an uncomfortable debate or conversation. You learn that doing so very well might result in the loss of those friends, get you blocked on Facebook, and often launch a bunch of strangers on the Internet into a frenzy.

You sit by while an ignorant neighbor suggests the loss of your child’s brain and her physical suffering are all acceptable things for the greater good, because hey, things happen, and it’s better than everyone having polio. Everyone except for her of course, but again, they don’t care. And they’ll tell you right to your face. Quit complaining. At least she’s not dead. Be thankful for that, they say. Or think.

I could keep going, but you get the idea. Ten years of being told your child’s life doesn’t matter in the greater scheme of things, and that hey, by the way, you’ll likely never see a dime for her loss, pain and suffering anyway, and well…you tend to grow a thick skin.

Continue reading "Jon Stewart: Vaccine Bully? Say It Ain't So." »

Well-Meaning, Highly Educated, Right Woman


A good teacher3

By Julie Obradovic

Everyday that I walk into my classroom I follow the same routine.

I flip on the lights, do a quick overview of the cleaning that should have taken place, and make my way to my desk. Doing so is a little bit of a dance this year due to overcrowding. All of my classes have over thirty students.

At my desk I put my personal things away, take out my favorite pen from my purse, turn on the computer and log on. I hang up my coat, if I have one, take a sip of my coffee I’ve brought from home, and wait for the computer to get going.

During that time, I scan my lesson plans for the day, quickly remember if I have made all of my copies or not, and settle into my very uncomfortable, creaky, and old desk chair. In spite of a brand new building redo, my room was left with the old teacher furniture. I’m guessing it’s about 30 years old, minimum.

And sometime right about then, immediately after I see the emergency drill poster on the wall, I have the same thought.

Today could be the day. Are you prepared?

I look at the door, the only entrance and exit to my room, all the way on the other side. I remember if I have it on “lock” so that no matter when the door closes, it is locked. I sometimes get up just to check.

I then look around and remember all of our drills. Against the wall, the one a shooter hopefully couldn’t get to, all thirty-plus of us are ordered to gather. Impossible, I think with a sigh because there’s just not enough room, but we’ll do it. We have to.

The checklist rolls on. Turn out the lights. Move the furniture in front to block the entrance if there’s time. Make sure your phone is on, but silenced. Stay calm. Silence and calm the kids. Be their example. Don’t panic. And listen. Listen carefully.

Continue reading "Well-Meaning, Highly Educated, Right Woman" »

Hollywood Night! Taylor Hawkins Headlines Benefit Bash for Age of Autism, Generation rescue

Event playing

By Dan Olmsted

"We're the fun part," Taylor Hawkins said at Saturday Night's benefit concert in Hollywood for Age of Autism and Generation Rescue. "But we know why we're here."

And oh, the fun part! Hawkins and his two Chevy Metal bandmates threw down a seriously jambalistic 90-minute set of 70s-ish rock at the Sayers Club. (Taylor said in a local radio interview on Thursday it's the kind of stuff that would have appealed to a meth dealer in 1974. Actually it appeals to anyone with a rock bone in their body.)  Rolling Stone covered the showi n an article that ran yesterday.

Rolling stone taylor

Taylor is the drummer, a gig he also performs in a side group called the Foo Fighters. Actually, no! This is the side group, and the Foo are freaking world famous. But calling Chevy a side project or a cover band does nothing to capture the wild authentic energy at the heart of it all. The heart is Taylor's insane drum licks, which cause his long straight blond hair to mop his face in the manner of an Afghan hound shaking off a pesky fly.

For the encore, Taylor leapt from the drums to the main mike and wailed like a one-man Led Zeppelin. There was a whole lotta love.

And that was just on stage. People boogied In place and the Grey Goose flew, with bottles delivered with sparklers and some sort of internal illumination that made them look like lamps for library desks. But not.

Event GR Crew
The Generation Rescue Wonder Team
And wasn't that a Jonas brother over there taking it all in? "It very much is Nick Jonas," GR's exec director Candace McDonald, who knows all, and everyone, told me above the din. "It very much is." A drummer himself, he must have been truly gobsmacked.

All power to Candace, who pulled all this together with her GR staff after Taylor's sister in law, Tara, who has an affected child, got in touch with AOA about Taylor's offer to do an autism benefit if Tara handled the logistics.

AOA's Kim Stagliano pulled in GR, Sayers made a generous agreement with us, and the rest was a rockin' blast. Tara brought it all back home when she briefly told the crowd about the need to put "the CDC under pressure" to produce a vax-unvax study and end the autism nightmare.

Continue reading "Hollywood Night! Taylor Hawkins Headlines Benefit Bash for Age of Autism, Generation rescue" »

The Recovery Room: Moving the Goal Posts


By Julie Obradovic

If anyone were to ask me if I have any doubts about what my recovered daughter will be able to accomplish in her life, I would honestly say, yes. I’m cautiously optimistic about her future, just as I am extremely realistic about her past. I usually teeter between a space of profound sadness at what she lost and profound gratitude for what she didn’t.

Although I am most often in a state of gratitude, I do worry about her future. I’m not naïve about the obstacles she still faces, and I’m not dishonest about them either. The years are ticking by at an alarming rate, and issues that I had desperately hoped would be 100% resolved are yet to be such. Most of them are academically based.
However, if anyone were to ask me if I think she will live an independent, otherwise normal life, my answer would also be, yes. She will live and work independently, no doubt.
And likewise, were anyone to ask me if she will have true friends and date and go to prom and even marry, I would also say, yes.
Or so I thought.

An automatic response to a hypothetical, however, proved otherwise.
It happened over the weekend. My husband and I were celebrating our anniversary in downtown Chicago. While sipping a complimentary drink gazing out over the Chicago River, we fantasized about being able to live like the 1%. We were staying at the Trump International Hotel and Tower, where everything is and everyone has the finest in luxury. (Only a few minutes before we had stepped on the elevator with a woman who had just purchased a new pair of shoes since she had forgotten hers at home…you know how that goes, she laughed…just a nice set of Jimmy Choo’s from Nordstrom’s next door, only $850.)
We continued talking and dreaming about our next fifteen years, examining some of the mistakes we’ve made, relishing in the accomplishments we’ve had, and contemplating the lessons we’ve learned in the last fifteen. We planned our next major financial goals and discussed our distant retirement plans with excitement.

Continue reading "The Recovery Room: Moving the Goal Posts" »

Shake That Vial: Flu Shot Thimerosal Content Can Vary by Draw

SHAKE_IT_Logo-300x300By Julie Obradovic

An experiment conducted by a researcher at a major university (who wishes to remain anonymous) provides evidence that the amount of the mercury in a vaccine can vary by draw from the same vial. Depending on the location of the draw (top or bottom of vial), as well as whether or not the vial was shaken immediately prior to the draw, the amount of mercury differs.

This had been suspected by consumer-safety-advocates for some time. Concerns were that if correct, and they are, certain vaccine recipients could be receiving more mercury than others. Worse, we wouldn’t know who they were or how much that was.

Consumers of Thimerosal containing multi-dose flu vaccine, for example, are reported to be receiving 25-micrograms of mercury per injection. This is based on the assumption that each draw from the vial contains a consistent amount of 25-micrograms, provided that all vaccine vials are shaken immediately prior to being drawn, thereby evenly distributing the 250 mcg in every 5-mL vial that holds ten 0.5-mL draws.

But, the researcher wondered, what if that’s not the case? What if someone forgets to shake it? What if a vial sits overnight or for say, twenty minutes? And does it matter from where the draw is then taken (top or bottom of the vial), shaken or not?

As this experiment shows, it does. Here’s how it was done.

Laboratory Method for Mercury Analysis of Vaccines

A 5-mL sample of multi-dose Flulaval flu vaccine by GlaxoSmithKline was obtained.

To test for mercury content, all sample manipulation was conducted under particle-free conditions in exhausting laminar flow hoods equipped with HEPA filters.

Three subsamples were obtained and analyzed from the 5-mL multi-dose vaccine. Subsamples were drawn from the top, bottom, and bottom-after-settling for 20 minutes, respectively. The entire content of each sample was drawn into a 1 mL rubber-free plastic syringe with a 23-gauge stainless steel hypodermic needle.

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Autism One Features Julie Obradovic: Taking it to the Teachers

World's greatest teacherMeet Julie and the Age of Autism team at Autism One later this month in Chicago. Register today!

By Julie Obradovic

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak on a graduate panel. I had been asked to do so by one of my professors in Educational Administration. I will receive my second master’s degree in education next week.

Back in November, I was in his class the night of the congressional hearings on autism. For the first time ever, I kept my phone out and peeked at the emails and texts coming in from friends who were there. I could hardly pay attention, and at one point, I did one of those weird silent “YEAH!” moves with my fist pumped at the most inopportune time. One of my classmates looked at me like I was nuts.

My professor made a comment that night. Something to the effect of never being able to Google his name, and how he could care less. He told us that if we really wanted to get into administration we’d better be ready to be disliked, to take a stand, and to fight for what we believe is right.

I snickered. Been there, done that, I thought.

Our task that night was to write about it, and so I did. I told the whole sorted tale of the last ten years of my life. How it happened, what I did about it, and where I am today. And then I submitted it hoping I wouldn’t get dropped from the class. You just never know what people are going to think.

When we got our papers back, he asked to speak with me privately.

Oh. Crap. Here it comes.

But I was wrong. He wanted to meet me for coffee and learn more.

Continue reading "Autism One Features Julie Obradovic: Taking it to the Teachers" »

And Nothing Happened

To-do-list-nothingBy Julie Obradovic

I’ve long thought about the coincidences of autism. In fact, my very first editorial to my local newspaper back in 2005 was entitled just that, “An Unfortunate Coincidence”.

I called it that because that is how Harvey Fineberg, then president of the IOM, referred to it when he met with David Kirby on Meet the Press that year. Per his perspective, vaccines were nothing more than “unfortunate coincidence” when it came to autism.

I went through all of those coincidences in detail.

It was an “unfortunate coincidence” that autism settled in shortly after vaccination.

It was an “unfortunate coincidence” that parents noticed it at that time and not earlier.

It was an “unfortunate coincidence” that the symptoms of mercury poisoning and autism were identical.

It was an “unfortunate coincidence” that autism affects four times as many boys as girls knowing that mercury and testosterone are synergistic.

The rise in numbers. Simpsonwood. The IOM report. The Lily Rider. The improvement of symptoms when treated medically. The eyewitness testimony of parents. Leo Kanner. Donald Triplett. The list went on.

All of it.

Absolutely all of it was an “unfortunate coincidence”.

Continue reading "And Nothing Happened" »

Grand Magazine Salutes Autism Grandparents

Julie ObradovicPlease join us in congratulating Contributing Editor Julie Grand Obradovic whose recent post is going to be featured in GRAND magazine online. And, for our grandparent readers, the magazine has generously offered a free print subscription to one lucky winner. Leave a comment to enter please.

A recent post on The Thinking Mom’s reminded me about the roles grandparents play in the autism epidemic. I believe in many cases they are the unsung heroes of much of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the pursuit of health, truth, and justice. I know for me personally, there’s no way I could have saved my daughter, kept my sanity, and found time to advocate were it not for my parents on both sides. No way.

Thinking about them actually brings tears to my eyes, especially when I remember my mother making an honest, quiet comment to someone in a conversation years ago. I don’t remember it word for word, but I do remember the gist of it: how hard it was not only to watch your grandchild suffer, but your own child as well, and mostly how helpless and painful that felt.

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Recovery Room on Grandparents – The Unsung Heroes of the Autism Epidemic

Grandpy handManaging Editor's Note:  That's my now 90 year old Dad holding onto Bella.  My Mom and Dad, like Julie's, have been lifesavers for my husband and me.

By Julie Obradovic

A recent post on The Thinking Mom’s reminded me about the roles grandparents play in the autism epidemic. I believe in many cases they are the unsung heroes of much of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the pursuit of health, truth, and justice. I know for me personally, there’s no way I could have saved my daughter, kept my sanity, and found time to advocate were it not for my parents on both sides. No way.

Thinking about them actually brings tears to my eyes, especially when I remember my mother making an honest, quiet comment to someone in a conversation years ago. I don’t remember it word for word, but I do remember the gist of it: how hard it was not only to watch your grandchild suffer, but your own child as well, and mostly how helpless and painful that felt.

The thought stopped me in my tracks. For so long I had been completely wrapped up in my own pain. It had never crossed my mind to think about how she felt, or how my father felt, or how my in-laws felt. I was completely focused on my daughter and myself, oblivious to the toll this was taking on them.

I thought about it then. What was it like for her, watching me in so much pain? Was she walking on eggshells around me? Of course she was. Truth be told, I’m not the easiest person to deal with when I’m on a mission. No one knows that better than my mother.

On a few occasions we came to blows. As always, she was right. I was out of control, taking on more than I should. Forgetting to take care of my other children and relationships with the same intensity. Trying to save the world, but not making time for a nice meal with my family.

Continue reading "Recovery Room on Grandparents – The Unsung Heroes of the Autism Epidemic" »

The Recovery Room: Can We Ever Abandon Biomed?

Mission-Accomplished-LogoBy Julie Obradovic

As I mentioned in my very first post, when I first thought about recovery from autism, I thought of it as something with a definitive end. Like the last chapter in a long, emotional, roller-coaster-of-a-book, I could turn the final page and be done with it.

That’s what I thought. That’s what I hoped. I didn’t realize, however, that autism would forever change me, and that frankly, that would be impossible.

None-the-less, in practical terms, I did believe it would at least be the end to a few things. No more IEPs. No more weekend rounds of ALA. No more carrying a cooler around in the back of the mini-van.

The supplement cabinet would be cleaned out. I would stop planning my Memorial Day weekend around Autism One. I could get off the computer. I could relax. And most important, we could eat…like a normal family.

Out of all the things I hated regarding autism recovery, I have to admit the thing I hated the most was the diet. Not only were there very few choices for us at that time, it was more than that. It was the way not participating in our culture in a social way made me feel even more isolated than I already did. Food is not only a form of love; it is also a form of socialization. It felt like I was depriving our family of both.

Every day, it seemed, I was on patrol as the food police. I had to battle family members who didn’t buy in and thought a slip of an M-&-M here or there was no big deal. I had to plan days, sometimes weeks ahead of time for a simple family birthday party to make sure we would not have an infraction, and would have an alternative to that piece of cake or cupcake everyone else was having.

Is there milk in that? Did you bring the enzymes? Where did she get that cracker?!

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The Recovery Room: Why Recovery Matters

And-then-whatBy Julie Obradovic

Sitting in the waiting area of the barbershop, I grabbed the March issue of Chicago Magazine to read. The cover boasts a list of the top 100 most powerful Chicagoans with Mayor Rahm Emanuel on the front. My husband just had a luncheon with the mayor last week (along with several hundred other people), so I thought I’d take a look to see who else made the list and ask him if they were there too.

I never saw it.

Not a few pages in, I came across a feature titled “When Autistic Children are Children No More” that stopped me from flipping further. It was a lengthy profile of the plight of three Chicago area families now trying desperately to provide services for their children with autism aging out of the school system.

A summary of the story is provided on the Chicago Magazine website.

When Autistic Children Are Children No More - Across the country, an estimated 300,000 kids with autism will hit adulthood in the next decade. It’s a social crisis in the making, with few resources currently available to help autistic adults become self-sufficient after they age out of government-funded services. Only about 6 percent of adults with autism work full-time and many lack the skills to live alone, so the burden falls on parents and grandparents to find adequate support services for their loved ones. We look at three pioneering Chicago-area families who are rolling up their sleeves to create a better future for developmentally disabled adults.

Not only was it remarkable to see this kind of reporting, it was also remarkable to read the way the problem was being described, “a social crisis” and “looming tsunami” being a few. It’s unusual for a mainstream magazine to refer to the impending catastrophe as such; for a while, I kept checking that Anne Dachel wasn’t quoted somewhere within it. She very well could have been the author.

Most profound, I believe, was the large table provided for the reader entitled, “A Looming Tsunami”. Going back a few decades and forward one more, it demonstrates irrefutably what the past, present, and future look like in terms of people with autism needing services. Suffice it to say it’s startling, and even more startling perhaps, that the author warns the reader these aren’t even the real numbers. Children in private school settings were not included.

Continue reading "The Recovery Room: Why Recovery Matters" »

The Recovery Room: Explaining It

What's in a nameBy Julie Obradovic

So, last time we looked at the definition of recovery. As I suspected, there is no singular definition. Likewise, I have found, there is no singular way to explain it.

If you’re like me, trying to explain what happened to your recovered child is not easy. Well, okay, yes, it is easy…to us. Sick child got better. Simple enough.

But when people (who aren’t us and don’t understand) want to know why she was sick and how she got better, it usually and inevitably goes something like this:

First, I take a deep breath, purse my lips to the side, and raise my right eyebrow in a face that says, “Oh dear God, how do I put this?”

Second, I quickly size up the situation. Who is this person? How well do we know each other? In what context do we know each other? Is it safe?

I have to ask myself these questions because the answers matter. A lot. If this is a new co-worker, for example, I’m giving a very vanilla, polite explanation. I don’t know them; they don’t know me, and this is not how we are going to start things off.

If it is a fellow mother in the Whole Foods buying gf/cf foods, for example; however, I’m more likely going all out.

That said, over the years, I’ve become less and less inclined to sugarcoat things. I just don’t have time for that anymore. Plus, my need to do so really bothered me. I felt like I was betraying my daughter in some way by not just hitting people over the head with it. This happened. This is her truth.

“She was injured by her mercury and her vaccines, which in her case, when used in combination with too much medication, resulted in brain damage. Happens to lots of kids actually. You have probably heard it called Autism, ADHD, and any number of other things plaguing children today. It’s all the same.”

But, I found that put a lot of people off. They didn’t really know how to process something so blunt, and often I found they immediately wanted to change the subject. As a teacher, I hate when teachable moments are lost.

So then I would try the gentler way.

“Well, you see, she got mercury poisoning. And then that led to a whole host of other problems. But really the mercury, for her, was the biggest problem, and thankfully, that is very treatable when treated expeditiously. Sadly, we didn’t know what it was for a few years, so she suffered a long time and ended up with some (what seems to be) permanent damage. However, she did get better when treated, and she’s doing awesome today.”

But even that doesn’t always work. The follow up to that usually is, “Mercury? From where?”

And now I’m back where I would have been if I had been blunt in the first place.

Continue reading "The Recovery Room: Explaining It" »

The Recovery Room: Define “Autism Recovery”

LanguageBy Julie Obradovic

In my inaugural post for this column, I think it’s important to first tackle the definition of “recovery”. What recovery looks like for one person may not be what it looks like to another. Can we all be right? Is there a definition?

Honestly, I don’t know if I ever sat down and defined what recovery meant for us, but I will say, I definitely knew what it didn’t look like: what we were living at the time. I think I initially thought of it in terms of what would be absent from our lives, not necessarily what would be present.

For example, not if, but when we recovered, I would think, I could finally clean off the biomed counter and clean out the biomed cabinet. The liquid supplements taking up a full lower cabinet and the solid supplements taking up a full upper one would be a thing of the past. I could open the door for a bandage perhaps, and not be overpowered by the smell of vitamins or get smacked in the head by a falling bottle of enzymes.

And the cooler we kept in the back of the van for those emergency food times, I would imagine…packed with gluten-casein-sugar-soy-dye-and-taste free foods…could go back on the garage shelf. (This was 2005, people. Dietary pickings were slim.)

Oh, and yes, I would gleefully think, I would no longer spend another weekend getting up every 3 to 4 hours around the clock. After about 100 of those, I was growing weary.

And there was more. The spreadsheet for morning, afternoon, and bedtime diet and supplements could be filed away forever. The prescription antibiotics for ear infection after ear infection would cease. The binder of medical EOBs and bills would get stashed away forever in the autism closet. In fact, there would be no more autism closet! (Do you have one of those?)

The patches of eczema in her elbow and knee creases would disappear. The intense examination of every bowel movement could end. Interviews for therapists and tutors would stop. Oh yes, I would imagine, it would be the absence of all of this!

Continue reading "The Recovery Room: Define “Autism Recovery”" »

The Recovery Room

Diversity-Hands1-400x266By Julie Obradovic

I haven’t written a lot this year. Frankly, I haven’t had a whole lot of time. Between grad school, a new full time teaching position, and a family to take care of, writing has had to take a back seat.

But truth be told, there’s more to it than that.

For starters, I often feel like I’ve run out of anything new to say. I’ve been writing about Autism for almost eight years.

Furthermore, I’m a sensitive soul. Writing about it takes a thick skin, and honestly, sometimes I just want to cover up.

But there’s even more than that; sometimes I just don’t know where I fit in all of this anymore.

The thing is, I live in between two worlds. My daughter has recovered from Autism, yes. She does not qualify for a diagnosis any longer. And yet, my daughter has not totally escaped the residual effects of what it did to her. We still deal with our fair share of social and academic issues; medical and self care concerns, and more.

Make no mistake; I’m not complaining, just explaining.

It’s bizarre, really, one foot in the non-affected world, one foot in the affected. I am never completely in one or the other. A strange state of simultaneous gratitude, relief, sadness, guilt, obligation, responsibility, anger, panic, elation, fear, and exhaustion lives inside me.

On any given day I am relating to the crises so many of my friends are experiencing, trying my best to help them, and then closing my lap top and going to have a conversation with my daughter about her day.

And so it has been with great caution I have tried to share our experience. On the one hand, I want everyone to know recovery is possible! We are living proof! It’s so important my child’s experience make a difference. I also want to share our hardships and lean on my friends.

But on the other hand, those problems pale, I mean pale, in comparison to what some are dealing with. It gives me great pause. Am I being insensitive by sharing my heartache and problems? Can they even compare?

Continue reading "The Recovery Room" »

She’ll Have a Good Life

GoodBy Julie Obradovic

“She’ll have a good life,” she said, reassuring me that everything was going to be okay.

The emphasis was on the good, not in a way that stressed “awesome” “great” or “fantastic”, but in a way that expressed “satisfactory”, “acceptable”, or “decent”.

It was meant to be helpful, I know. It was meant to remind me that things could be so much worse. It was meant to make me feel better.

It didn’t. In fact, it just made me angry…and then sad.

When I look back on my life thus far, I’m relieved to find that my feelings about it are overwhelmingly those of joy and gratitude. I have had a great life, I believe. In fact, I feel like one of the most blessed people on the planet. I really mean that.

It’s only when I really start to think about the tragedy that befell my daughter and our family that I begin to question it.

My child was poisoned. Her brain and body irrevocably damaged. Her life’s potential stolen. Her suffering and experience denied by those who caused it, the same people needed to fix it. Betrayed by our country and our media. Our marriage fragmented. Our lives cracked in half. The pain coming this close to breaking us. Breaking me.

Great life? Really?

And yet, the answer to that is still the same, beyond any shadow of a doubt. Yes, I’ve had a great life. One of the greatest I know.

For I have lived in Spain and danced in the fountains of Madrid and on the shores of Ibiza at midnight.

I have celebrated in Wembley Stadium with over 100,000 people singing in unison…including Prince William.

I have completed a marathon…in Alaska…while pregnant. And I swear I’m not making that up.

I have married and stayed married to the most perfect man on the planet for me, twenty years together this November, teenagers when we met.

I have excelled in academics and have never really had to work hard for anything…until marriage…and then Autism…and then marriage again.

I have the most loving, supporting, amazing, and hilarious family anyone could ever ask for.

I have had the same best friends since I was 7 years old, and we are still as close, if not closer, than we ever were.

I live in Chicago.

I have been able to use my favorite creative outlet, writing, to actually make a difference.

I have marched on Washington for what I believe in. Thrice.

I have stroked my children’s hair while I have rocked them to sleep, breathed in the scent of them as newborns just placed in my arms, and in those moments, have repeatedly experienced true, unconditional love.

I have learned what it means to be willing to die for someone if it would mean an end to their suffering, no questions asked.

I’ve had the privilege of teaching at two of the best schools in the nation.

I’ve been healthy and active, running and exercising my whole life without injury or difficulty.

I’ve learned I’m stronger, smarter, and more powerful than I ever could have imagined. And I’ve been really frightened by the responsibility that brings.

I have seen my favorite band in concert five times, and once, I even got chosen from a crowd of tens of thousands of people to sit in the front row while they shot a video.

I have been honored by Oprah Winfrey as one of America’s best teachers, showered in her “Favorite Things” on television (only to come home hours later and receive a diagnosis that would change my life forever).

And most incredible…she recovered.

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Autism One: Is There a Doctor in the House?

Dr martha herbertBy Julie Obradovic

I sat in the ballroom scrolling through my phone. It was at least another twenty minutes before the keynote, but I was afraid if I got up, I wouldn’t get a good seat. Instead, I kept my butt planted where it was and re-read my notes from Dr. Martha Herbert’s presentation on the brain. I then picked up my phone.

“Autism is not a tragedy,” Dr. Herbert stated emphatically. “It’s a catastrophe.”

She emphasized “catastrophe” and repeated herself a few times. This was in response to an audience member’s question about ADHD and learning disabilities and all of the other things plaguing our children.

Her words struck me deeply. I clicked on my Facebook application and put them as my status. Here was a pediatric neurologist from Harvard telling us what we’ve done is catastrophic, and yet, some outspoken critics would have you believe everything is just fine. It was one of many head shaking moments over the weekend.

Not long after, I thought I saw someone staring at me. I was right.

“Are you Julie?” asked this bubbly, smiley, very pretty woman. She seemed a little embarrassed and then introduced herself.

“I swear I’m not a Facebook stalker!” She apologized. “I just recognized you from your picture and wanted to say hello!”

We greeted one another and she moved closer so we could catch up. Facebook, we agreed has created this new phenomena where you can really get to know someone virtually…all about their family, their life, their jobs…but pass them right up in the hallway. I’m sure I walked right by a number of people I correspond with daily.

For several minutes we talked about our kids. How old is your child? How is he/she doing? What have you tried? What doctor are you seeing? Is anything working? It’s the standard “get-to-know-you” conversation in the biomed world.

When Jenny came out, we finished our chat and she moved back to her seat. We hoped to see each other again and went about our day.

Sometime that night I saw a nasty article already on the Internet about Autism One. To start the conference, there was one slamming it and The Chicago Sun Times. Now to end it, there was one slamming it and the parents who attend.

A blogger, who hadn’t attended the conference, but instead was regurgitating another blogger (who hadn’t attended the conference either), wrote an entire article about the inability to “bleach” the Autism out of a child. She was referring to MMS, a treatment being used for gut problems in some children that hadn’t even been presented yet. It was on schedule for the next morning.

It struck me as really odd that something most people at the conference didn’t even know much about had already been completely scrutinized by people who seem loathe the mere idea of medically treating a child with Autism (with anything but pharmaceuticals, apparently). It seemed obsessive and premature, to say the least, and it was eerily reminiscent of what happened with other interventions in the past.

But mostly, the article irritated me for its tone. The author’s message was clear: parents who try these treatments are gullible, dangerous, and/or don’t love their children, and the people who pass them off are snake oil salesmen.

Things like this used to make me really angry. It’s so damn insulting. I would craft long, thoughtful responses only to end up in a comment war with some coward who won’t even use his/her own name. I don’t have the time or patience for that non-sense anymore, nor do I feel the desire to defend myself anymore. My child is recovered. The results speak for themselves.

Continue reading "Autism One: Is There a Doctor in the House?" »

America's Men: Are Marriage and Children Literally Driving Them Crazy?

Crazy man

By Julie Obradovic

As of this week, I now know five people my age who have been married to or are married to a man with a mental illness. Five. And that's only the ones I know about. Three of the five marriages have ended in divorce because of it. It's alarming to say the least.

The story is always the same, too. Right after they got married and started having children, something changed. For some, it was a subtle change or a pattern of behavior that took years to pin down. For others, it was an intense episode of mania or depression that required immediate psychiatric attention. The man these women had thought they married...who they insist they married...changed. He became selfish and immature, withdrawn and impulsive, irrational and reckless, depressed and sometimes suicidal. He was, in short, like a stranger.

The most common aspect is that it started right after a baby was born. For one, it was after she got sick. For another, the onset began pretty much immediately after saying their vows. One now sees the signs started in college, but didn't realize what it was. All of them agree, however, marriage and children exacerbated it.

For a long time, most of the women chalked it up to rebelling against being tied down. Suddenly, faced with the enormous responsibility of providing for a wife and family, they regressed into their childish ways, trying to live vicariously through their unmarried friends. 

The men insisted that wasn't the case, however. They loved their wives and kids, they pleaded. They didn't know why they were doing these things. They begged for forgiveness, support and understanding.

These wives then made excuses for them. They blamed it on their husband's parents or siblings. They fought for them. Sought counseling. Prayed their hearts out. And eventually, got a diagnosis, bipolar being the most common. 

Sadly, however, the diagnosis didn't fix anything. Yes, it put a name on it, and that was some relief. But managing such a condition proved very difficult. Finding the right medication and dose was painful at best. One husband literally went crazy when put on the wrong drug. He was hospitalized for it. He then became an unemployed, pot-head, video-gaming junkie, and she left him. This was a guy who graduated at the top of his class from a very competitive university. Who had never done drugs before. It was a stunning and tragic downfall. He was barely in his thirties.

Another husband feels good after the right medication is given, but only for a little while, and only to build up a tolerance. He constantly needs more. He has tried to go off, but his depression sets in almost instantly when he does. He is horrified at the thought of spending the rest of his life on medication. He too is in his thirties.

I've asked my parents if they knew this many people with mental illness when they were in their thirties. My dad knew one. My mom knew a few, but speculated there were more. She wondered if maybe no one talked about it then, making it less determinable. She also said many of them were Vietnam vets who had never been the same.

Fair enough, I agreed, but here's the thing. No one talks about it now either. These women that I happen to find out had a husband with a mental illness weren't exactly advertising it. And none of their husbands were in the military. They talk about it like it's a dark, awful secret, still trying to protect the reputation of the man this happened to...even the exes. There is still such a stigma attached to mental illness that most people only figure out it could be one after they have been a part of it. We don't exactly advertise the warning signs or anything.

Before I knew anything about Autism, I'm fairly confident I would have chalked up all this diagnosing to the pharmaceutical industry wanting to make more money. Many mental illnesses appear on the surface to be nothing more than a maturity-chip or responsibility-chip missing. "If they would just grow up..." many claim. 

But I know these men. They are grown up. They were grown up. And something happened. Something changed. The familiarity in those sentences is haunting. It's just like regressive Autism. Something. Happened.

But what? I wondered. What could trigger all of this in so many young men these days? 

I did some research and came across a few well-accepted components of their mood disorder. It often starts in the early twenties, and grows worse from 25-40. It is almost always triggered by a stressful event. There is no genetic explanation, although they believe there is a genetic susceptibility. And the environment, although they don't know how, is at play. It is lifelong. It can only be managed, not cured. And the treatment prognosis is actually not that good. All eerily similar, no?

Additional research, however, some that I've been doing to prepare for an annual Autism presentation I give, coincidentally just reminded me of the identification of the disorder. It was in The Age of Autism by our very own Olmsted and Blaxill. Emil Kraepelin, the German psychiatrist who met with Leo Kanner to look for native Americans with GPI (a form of neurosyphilis) in the 1920's, named the disorder in 1902. Throughout the 1800's, mental illness was exploding all over Europe, and Kraepelin made a career out of naming, describing, and categorizing them. He is literally the father of the DSM.

But something else was going on in the 1800's at that time. Men, women, and children were being doused in mercury. From mercuric chloride, used in some syphilis treatments, to mercurous chloride, used as a topical agent for cuts and wounds, there was no short amount of it anywhere. Add to that, the industrial revolution was underway, literally belching tons of it into the air to be sprinkled over everyone. Their book details these incidences in exhaustive and stunning detail.

Which made me think. Many mental illnesses, like bipolar disorder per se, weren't identified until only about 150 years ago. They sprang onto the scene at a time the world was being doused in mercury, medicinally and environmentally.

Today, we are still doused in mercury, especially environmentally, and still by means of our teeth and medicine. And in the mean time, three variations of biploar disorder have been added to the DSM, most of which reflect milder versions. Isn't it at least possible that our chemically saturated environment is triggering a mental break down in young men experiencing significant stress for the first time in their lives? Is it possible mercury, metals, andstress also combine synergistically? It certainly seems so.

Either way, I'm horrified by what I see and what I know. The destruction has become so catastrophic, and at times, completely overwhelming. It's not just our children, it seems. We are all at great risk for becoming or loving someone who is susceptible to becoming very, very neurologically sick these days....particularly our young men.

Julie Obradovic is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.

The Sound of Recovery

RedBy Julie Obradovic

I remember the moments vividly and painfully. I have some of them on tape.

“Evie, what’s your favorite color? Evie. Evie? Evie, over here. Evie, look at mommy. I’m talking to you.  Evie, listen. Evie? What’s your favorite color?”  I asked repeatedly in my nicest mommy’s-on-video voice, my disappointment and impatience obvious anyway.

“Blah, blah, blah,” she finally replied looking at the camera but not in the camera. Literally that’s what she said. Blah, blah, blah.

“Blah? Blah? Blah?” I repeated confused and heart broken. “That’s your favorite color? No, it’s not. Come on, silly. What’s your favorite color?”

She never responded. Instead she turned her back on me to play with the staircase spindle, a favorite past time at the time. She was 3.

Eventually Eve learned the answer to that question was “red”. “Red” made mommy and everyone happy. But soon enough I was on to her.

“Evie?” I asked one day. “What’s your favorite color?”

“Red”, she replied automatically.

“Oh, yeah? And what’s your favorite food?”

“Red,” she replied again.

“Really? Okay, then. What’s your favorite book?”

“Red!” and this time she started laughing. She had no idea what I was asking her. She had simply learned that the word “favorite” should be followed by the word “red”. I was devastated all over again.

Over the years, I have had to wait a long time for her words to truly come. I am a language teacher by trade and it has been with incredible interest I have watched as she has learned her first language the way someone learns a foreign one. The difference is, however, she has nothing to compare it to, nothing to fall back on when she can’t find the word in her own language. I can only imagine her frustration.

By kindergarten we were mainstreamed without an aide, but we weren’t out of the woods. In that year as well as first grade, I almost gave up asking how her day was because it was too painful to hear the silence. “Good” became the new “red”. It stopped there.

But “good” wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted more. And soon I realized I could sort of get to the bottom of things by giving her questions to respond to that had a choice.

“Well, was it fun or boring?”


“Did you have gym or art today?”


As long as there were choices, she could respond authentically. Without them, however, she was stuck.

This method of communicating continued for years. By third grade, we were finally up to full responsive sentences. There were even appropriate gestures and voice inflections.

“It was fun! I really liked it!”

Continue reading "The Sound of Recovery" »

The Trouble with the ANTI “Anti-Vaccine” Movement: How They Hijack the Issue; Distort the Facts; and Totally Miss the Point

TweedledumBy Julie Obradovic

1. They believe there is an anti-vaccine movement.

This may surprise a lot of people, but there actually isn't an "anti-vaccine movement”. Although there are definitely people who believe no vaccine is a good vaccine, the controversy has never been solely about whether or not vaccines are good or bad; it's been about whether or not they are being used responsibly and have been properly investigated for their role in chronic health conditions.

The more appropriate term to describe people raising this important question would be consumer safety advocates, seeking informed consent, more research, product liability, and policy reform.

Only a few possibilities exist to explain why those who insist on using the "anti-vaccine" label anyway continue to do so: they erroneously assume anyone who questions a product's safety is automatically against it; they believe vaccines already are being used as responsibly as they possibly can be and have been properly investigated; or they choose to use a red herring label like "anti-vaccine" to manipulate people. 

2. Anyone who disagrees with them is an idiot.

If the first line of attack doesn't work it will almost always be followed by an insult. Not only are people who disagree portrayed as dangerous lunatics who want to see the world explode in infectious disease, supposedly they are also "flat-earthers" who can't accept the world is round. Certain journalists have gone so far as to suggest it's no wonder their children have problems.

Such commentary is breathtaking in its insensitivity, entirely unnecessary, and most troublesome once again, not true. Even the CDC has recognized for years, most recently in a study on Hepatitis B uptake, that the most common demographic of a person who questions vaccine safety or refuses them is a highly educated mother with a master's degree.

When faced with this unpleasant fact, anti “anti-vaxxers” are left with little place to go. Some have started calling these parents “superstitious”, “defenders of pseudo-science”, or “conspiracy theorist” instead.

3. They blame Dr. Wakefield for everything.

Dr. Wakefield has now become the scapegoat for the whole controversy. Supposedly this man and his team of researchers, who had the audacity to suggest there might be a problem with the MMR that warranted further study, is single-handedly responsible for the plummeting vaccine uptake throughout the country.

Continue reading "The Trouble with the ANTI “Anti-Vaccine” Movement: How They Hijack the Issue; Distort the Facts; and Totally Miss the Point" »

Do YOU Have Autism? Take This Survey to Find Out!

TestBy Julie Obradovic

The LA Times in their series on Autism last week referenced a British study that appeared to have found 1% of adults with the disorder, the equivalent to the rate among children right now, as a way to convince the public Autism really isn't an epidemic after all. Millions of adults with the disorder have been with us forever they tell us, unfortunately either misdiagnosed, in prison, or worse. The quest to find them has begun, and in Britain, they've already started.

I forgot about that study from 2007 and decided to go back today and look at what it found and how. I remembered it being pretty ridiculous, and sure enough, I was right. 

Logic would dictate that if you were truly screening the adult population for Autism, you would subject them to the same DSM criteria children are, and that you would investigate as to whether or not they had those symptoms as children. Let's compare apples to apples, shall we? But no. That's not really what happened in this study. Instead, it starts with a survey, one that the adult answers themselves. (Think about that for a second.) Naturally, I decided to take it to see if I too would be flagged with possible Autism. 

Here is the actual survey, called the AQ20, and here are my answers. (It's quite obvious the survey is strictly trying to identify people with Asperger's Syndrome. Muddying the waters to say 1% of adults with Asperger's is the same as 1% of children with Asperger's and Classic Autism is pretty neat trick, eh? And for what it's worth, over 5,000 of the 7,000 plus interviewees in this study qualified as possibly being Autistic based on it, making them initially eligible to move on to phase two. Seriously.) 

Go ahead! Try it! Maybe you're Autistic too.

1. I prefer to do things over and over the same way. Yes. I like my laundry folded the same way all the time.

2. I often notice small sounds when others do not. Yes. Since being a mother, I can hear a whisper down the hall at midnight.

3. Other people often tell me what I've said is impolite, even though I think it is. Yes. When I talk about Autism with very little patience and creative curse words, this is usually the case.

4. I am fascinated by dates. Yes. I live my life by the calendar, no doubt.

5. I find social situations easy. Not always. Depends on the situation.

6. I tend to notice the details others do not. Yes. I was raised to. 

7. I would rather go to a party than a library. Depends on the party. 

8. I find myself drawn more strongly to people than things. Depends on the things. Depends on the people.

9. When I talk, it isn't always easy for others to get a word in edgeways. Often, yes. I'm an Irish-Catholic woman from the midwest. This is surprising?

10. When I'm reading a story, I find it difficult to work out the characters intentions. Depends on the writer. Some people are terrible story tellers.

11. I particularly enjoy reading fiction. Not lately.

12. I find it easy to make new friends. Yes, but harder as I've gotten older. 

13. I know how to tell if someone listening to me is getting boredYes. This happens a lot with Autism talk.

14. I find it easy to do more than one thing at once. Easy? No. Can I? Yes.

15. When I talk on the phone, I'm not sure when it's my turn to speak. Cell phone? All the time. The delay kills me.

16. I find it easy to work out what someone is thinking or feeling just by looking at their face. Yes.

17. I like to collect information about categories of things (types of cars, etc.). Yes. I collect coffee mugs. And I really like coffee. Read a book about Starbucks.

18. I like to plan any activities I participate in carefullyYes. I'm a control freak. Ask anyone.

19. I enjoy social occasions. Is my family there?

20. I am not very good at remembering people's date of birth. Thank goodness for Face Book.

Although this is sarcastic, the truth is that even without sarcasm, there were enough positive answers to move me to phase two. You? 

Julie Obradovic is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.

Stop. Sit. Play. Enjoy.

Julie OBy Julie Obradovic

A few weeks ago I attended the Freshman parent night for my eldest. He will be attending high school next year, and it was our opportunity to check out the school. 

Thirteen years have gone by in a flash. It's been hard not to stop and stare at him just a little bit longer lately and think about how quickly he has grown up right before my eyes. My thoughts venture from t-ball games, piano lessons, soccer tournaments, Disney World, and so much more. It makes me teary, even though I am so excited about him moving on to the next stage of his life. As the mom of a child who has had a completely different experience than him, I, perhaps more so than many moms, do not take one ounce of his blessed abilities for granted. He's happy, kind, respectful, compassionate, smart, talented and has lots of really nice friends. The future will be whatever he wants it to be. It doesn't get any better than that.

My youngest is growing up just as quickly, if not more so. Seven going on seventeen, she has been like a tween-ager for the past three years. I don't know if that's how it is for all youngest children, but I just can't keep her from seeming much older than she actually is. She too is a blessed child, well-liked, brilliant, beautiful, athletic, and a real fireball. Passion and compassion run deep in her DNA. I don't take an ounce of her abilities for granted either.

It's painful to admit, but when I look at my middle child, who was not as lucky as her siblings, I don't have the same nostalgia for her youth as I do my others, or the same excitement for her future. The truth is, as I reflect on the last ten years of her life, my memories are overwhelmingly filled with anxiety, guilt, and pain. And as I look forward to the next ten, I am instantly shackled with sadness, fear, and worry. How horrible.

Strange then when I look through the photo albums of our family I see her adorable face beaming back at me. From them, no one could ever tell anything was ever wrong. She's smiling, happy, beautiful, and full of light. She's in Disney World, playing t-ball, swimming, making silly faces, ripping open birthday presents, and wrestling with her dad, exactly like her brother and sister. And yet, she was not like her brother and sister. 

Was she?

Continue reading "Stop. Sit. Play. Enjoy." »

She'll Be a Good Worker

Danger13By Julie Obradovic

"She'll be a good worker," she said with a smile, not meaning to be insensitive in the slightest. I could tell she thought this was a good thing. "She'll be a really good worker."

She'll be a good worker?

My eyes fell to the table, the only place I could look, fixated on the phone in front of me. My husband had participated by phone. He had just hung up a minute before. Save me. Please save me. I sent telepathic thoughts through it to him. I've kept it together this long. I almost made it. Please, God. Not again. Not every year. Matt? Can you hear me? Save me.

He could not.

The typing on the lap top continued quietly, the shuffling of papers all around. I'm certain they were all still talking, although I could hear nothing. 

She'll be a good worker? 

Tears swelled in my eyes, my heart stuck in my throat. If I blinked, there would be no hiding it, so I didn't. I just stared at my phone, and then eventually pressed the weather app in the hopes it would distract me. For a moment it did. And then, a question.

"So I wanted to ask you something," the new speech therapist asked strangely. Instinctively, I knew what it was going to be. She was new to our case, new to me. This happens every time.

She thumbed through her case history and came upon the highlighted sentence. Pondering it, she looked at it, looked at me, and then looked back at it. I was right.

"It says here that Eve was evaluated in 2007," she paused now looking at me again, "and that they consider her 95% recovered from Autism?"

"Yes," I looked her dead in the eyes with a suggestion of "...and your point is?" I have gone from intense pain to intense pain-in-the-ass in ten seconds.

"I don't understand," she responded flatly.

"I don't understand what you don't understand," I carefully answered back. It was still hard to tell if she was being sincere or not. Knowing how defensive I was feeling, I chose to give her the benefit of the doubt.

"Well, explain to me what that means. Recover from Autism?" She was actually sincere. 

Continue reading "She'll Be a Good Worker" »