Julie Obradovic

Paging Dr. Ruth: Autism & Mercury More than a Decade Ago

Ruth_Etzel By Julie Obradovic

Recent events surrounding the US indictment of researcher Poul Thorsen inspired me to revisit the time when he became involved in the effort to examine (and it appears, exonerate) the potential role of vaccines in Autism. An easy place to do so, and one I encourage everyone to visit, is the Put Children First website. It clearly documents the events that took place leading us to where we are today.

While navigating the site, I came across an old email written by  Dr. Ruth Etzel that  I had forgotten about.  (See pdf of email here) It seems more appropriate than ever to share it now, as it accurately and eerily predicts what has happened to the public's confidence in the vaccine program. But to put it in the proper context, let's remind everybody about what was happening right before it was shared. 

The FDA issued a directive called the FDA Modernization Act of 1997 to assess all mercury in food and drugs. This included vaccines, and in December of 1998 and April of 1999, vaccine manufacturers had no choice but to respond to their request for more information. Panic set in as it became obvious there was a serious oversight problem, (even though Merck knew back in 1991 there was a problem) and behind the scenes members of the different agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services, such as the FDA and CDC, joined forces with organizations like the AAP and Public Heath Service to come up with a plan. Collectively, however, they couldn't agree. To begin with, there were no specific guidelines for the safety for ethyl mercury (the kind used in vaccines). And as for coordinating a message to calm the American public? Well, there wasn't much agreement there either. 

Think about it. They had to admit they had no idea what the definition of safety was for injected ethyl mercury exposure in children; that they had no idea how much of it was going into children anyway; that they had no idea what health consequences their oversight could have caused; and they had to find a way to still save the immunization program (as if any of them had any right to be in charge of it anymore anyway). Not exactly an easy task. And like I said, there was a lot of debate over how to do it.

As such, the AAP grew impatient, and on July 7, 1999 at 4:15 PM, a summer Friday afternoon RustedEdsel when they hoped no one would be watching television or paying attention, a joint health statement between themselves and the Public Health Service was issued. In confusing and calming language that tried to be reassuring, they admitted to a potential problem that no one should worry about. Mercury was bad, but it wasn't. They forgot to assess the health risk, but it was fine. They would take precaution but not make a recall. You should be concerned, but not really. It was a mixed message to say the least, and not everyone behind the scenes thought it was a good idea. One of them was a doctor named Dr. Ruth Etzel.

On July 2, 1999 at 10:36 AM, she wrote these words to her colleagues:

"The Committee on Environmental Health and the Committee on Infectious Diseases may want to look at the way Johnson and Johnson handled the poisoned Tylenol affair in 1982. It followed three basic rules:

1. act quickly to recall the affected product

2. be open with consumers about what went wrong

3. show contrition

Seventeen years ago, when an extortionist tried to wring money out of Johnson & Johnson by lacing capsules of Tylenol with cyanide, 7 people died. While the government was still considering what to do (sound familiar?), and before the media had time to put the company on the defensive, Johnson & Johnson recalled all Tylenol products. That cost about $100-million and it lost short term sales. But it emerged from the episode with consumer confidence at a higher level than ever, and quickly regained its leadership of the painkiller market.

The AAP should be dedicated to promptly providing truthful information about this situation to pediatricians. We must follow the three basic rules:

Continue reading "Paging Dr. Ruth: Autism & Mercury More than a Decade Ago" »


The Bruising Reality of Autism and Lack of Preparedness and Medical Knowledge

Lindas son

Managing Editor's Note: We learned that Billy is back in the hospital, hobbled by his agonizing GI pain. Share your own story in the comments please. Or send us your submission to KimStagliano@gmail.com for review.

By Julie Obradovic

Over the last six years I have been privileged to meet some of the most outstanding human beings on the planet. One of them is a woman I'll call Jane Doe.  Jane is a warrior mother in the truest form, a leader in the advocacy community and a parent of a severely affected child. No matter what comes her way, she faces it with grace, dignity, and love. I am lucky to call her a friend.

I have wanted to write about Jane and her son, Billy (not his real name), for a long time. Autism truly is a spectrum, and the severity with which it affects some children is often too casually dismissed. Billy is one of those children who is profoundly affected, now a teenager. Over the years since I have gotten to know Jane, her plight to help him has always hit me hard. I asked her to share a recent traumatic episode with Age of Autism to put a name and face on the children and parents who are fighting this fight everyday. To those of you going through the same thing, this story is also for you. To those of you in a position of power to do something about it, I beg you to do so. This is the reality of Autism for far too many families. Here is the story in Jane's own words....

The Medical Story

Billy is fifteen-years old and nonverbal with a long history of GI disease, immune deficiency, and more recently headaches. When not in pain, he is sweet, engaging and affectionate. He has not been doing very well since the end of September, mostly battling headaches on top of the usual GI issues. For the two weeks prior to this recent hospitalization, the topic of this story, Billy was very edgy, noncompliant, self injurious, and at times aggressive. In the last week before, he became more self injurious and aggressive; I was talking to his DAN physician or the staff almost every day. 

Billy had a little congested cough (very unusual for him) in the two weeks prior, and when the cough ended, the aggression/self-injurious behavior increased. He kept biting/gnawing on his upper arms. He wanted me near him, but he wanted to dig his nails into me and scratch me almost constantly. At this point he would not wear clothes, and he would not get off the couch. 

Billy has epic constipation (he is suppository dependent), reflux and chronic headaches. I know the behaviors associated with all of those things, and I know how to handle them and relieve his pain. This time I knew he was in pain; I just could not figure out what it was. Then he stopped drinking his elemental formula and water. So by Friday I knew there was no avoiding ER, because he was dehydrating. 

We could not even get Billy to the car. He refused to dress and refused to leave the couch, let alone the house. I thought I'd never see anything more frightening than Billly's grand mal seizure in 2006, but this night was worse. The more I talked to him and explained to him that we had to get in the car and get help, the more upset and self injurious he became. He bit up his arms badly, and he gave himself two black eyes in the process. 

I had to call 911. It took five paramedics to get him on a gurney, in restraints, and in an ambulance to get to our local hospital. At this point I thought the poor kid had appendicitis or something. I'd never seen him so out of control. The hospital got IV fluids going and ruled out a  lot of things. CT scan finally showed that his small and large bowel were full of air, even though he did not look any more distended than usual. Soon after the CT scan, however, his belly grew very large and became very hard. 

The local hospital transported us to Children's Memorial in Chicago, which is where we were for five days. Billy was in loose restraints Friday through mid-day Monday. He was just too aggressive and self injurious because of the pain in his belly. Diagnosis was ileus (bowel shut down) due to virus (the cold in the last two weeks).

Since Billy was not vomiting and began passing the air in his belly on his own, the hospital doctors decided not to intervene other than to give IV fluids and a little Tylenol for the pain. So you sit and wait for that air to pass; even with medication on board, it's pretty damn painful. Thankfully, the distention went down, and he seemed more comfortable on Sunday, but then suddenly his belly blew up again and we had to start over. That was pretty disheartening. The doctors at the hospital said that while passing all that air, another pocket of virus can open up in the intestine and cause you to distend again. By mid-day Monday Billy had a soft belly, was much calmer and back to drinking water and elemental formula again. So they took him out of restraints, and on Tuesday they removed his IV. 

Continue reading "The Bruising Reality of Autism and Lack of Preparedness and Medical Knowledge" »


The Absent-Vaccinationist

Absent By Julie Obradovic

I read once the opposite of heat is not cold and the opposite of light is not dark, and that in fact, there actually is no such thing as either. Cold is what we call the absence of heat, and dark is what we call the absence of light. (Einstein even suggested evil was simply the absence of God.) I believe what we are witnessing with vaccine uptake fits more appropriately into the same argument. The overwhelming majority of parents foregoing vaccines are actually not anti-vaccinationists. They are more aptly described perhaps, as absent-vaccinationists. To be sure, absence of vaccination does not equal anti-vaccination. Without the issue being put into the proper context it may be difficult to effect change.

I will explore the reasons for the absence-of-vaccination phenomena as I see them shortly, but there is little doubt it is exacerbated by this flawed position that someone concerned about or critical of vaccines, particularly with regard to policy making, conflicts of interest, necessity, oversight, and safety, is against them entirely. Compounding the problem, these concerned people are then labeled impressionable conspiracy theorists who can't think clearly and should be dismissed from pediatric practices or have their insurance premiums raised. Even less helpful, and more recently, some have gone so far as to suggest they are irresponsible citizens of the world that should be held accountable for children's deaths. 

Clearly this serves no one, fundamentally misrepresenting the issue at hand. While certainly there are extreme positions on either end of the spectrum...all vaccines are always good or no vaccine is ever good...I think it's fair to say the vast majority of people fall somewhere in between. Most people believe that vaccines are in fact a necessary component of individual and public health policies, but also believe, like any pharmaceutical product, it is necessary to scrutinize them, especially where children are concerned. The argument is actually over whether or not there is anything to be scrutinized anymore and who is qualified to do or say so.

Like many others, I have paid close attention to the hateful statements being made about people like myself who believe there remains much to be studied. Bullies in any capacity are not welcome in my life, and it has been with a heavy heart I have watched the bullying of our community. It's hurtful, yes, but most of all, it's concerning. Fanning the flames of anger, hurling ugly insults, and seeking to squash the conversation through threats and censorship is ridiculous. The message has been hijacked. Despite what some would have you believe, this is all there is to it:

Infectious disease is preventable. Autism is too. Vaccinate responsibly. (You could also insert the words "kills, harms, hurts, disables, endangers, is treatable" and "costs" for the words "is preventable".) 

Continue reading "The Absent-Vaccinationist " »


Too Many People

Crowded By Julie Obradovic

At the heart of the Autism controversy lies really only one explanation why vaccines don't cause Autism. Yes, widely accepted science says they don't, but that's not the real reason. Science is a process to find the truth, it is not the truth itself, and the truth it yields is dependent upon the integrity with which it is carried out. Research and design can be manipulated to generate specific outcomes. Necessary science can be left undone for fear of what it might find. Interpretations can be stretched to agree with specific theories. Undesirable results can be ridiculed and erased. Scientific results are truly only as good as the people who do it. The Medical Industry and the Government may be the ones held accountable for Autism which should dismiss them from investigating the issue and yet, we are willing to accept their version of science on this topic anyway. It begs the question, why?

Because there are just too many people involved for it to be anything but honest, relevant, thorough, and accurate, we're told. That's the explanation. That's why vaccines don't cause Autism. There are just too many people. 

On some level, it's a compelling argument. Experience shows you simply can't have too many people involved when there's a big secret to be kept. Too many people would be tempted to tell someone or go public as a whistleblower. Too many people would be personally affected by the issue, friends, neighbors, family members and co-workers of victims. There's just no way a coordinated effort could be orchestrated and controlled on such a level, the thought of it preposterous, laughable, and desperate. People who believe such things are considered foolish conspiracy theorists.

Contrary to what my critics might believe, I agree keeping a secret among that many people is preposterous. Heck, it's hard enough to keep a secret between two people. But I do believe keeping a secret is quite different than perpetuating an untruth or manipulating an unpleasant one. We commonly refer to it as denial, and I know we can all point to some part of our life when we used masterful mental tricks to convince ourselves of something we really wanted to be true that wasn't (or vice versa), especially when we may have been the ones to cause the problem in the first place.

"Oh yes, she's fine. In a year, this will all be behind us, I know it." 

Those were my words exactly. Perhaps Autism parents serve as experts in this area and is one of the reasons why we recognize it so easily. Denial is a powerful force.

Continue reading "Too Many People" »


Age of Autism Awards 2010: Dr. Paul Offit, Denialist of the Decade

Denial_hole_in_ground By Dan Olmsted 

Why bother to call attention to Dr. Paul Offit, the vaccine patent-holder who has led the attack on the idea that vaccines have anything to do with autism or any of the myriad of other ailments afflicting this generation of American children? Well, because other people are paying attention -- including the nation's pediatricians and the mainstream journalists who need to start calling him to account. Offit has a new book out -- "Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All." Here's the question doctors who recommend him to nervous parents, and parents unsure what to think, and journalists who interview him, need to ask: Why is Offit transparently opposed to ever studying the health outcomes of vaccinated versus unvaccinated Americans, even as he acknowledges that vaccines have a long history of causing serious side effects?

While his last book, "Autism's False Prophets," focused squarely on the disability now afflicting 1 in 100 children, Offit branches out here to deride those who have any concerns whatsoever about the safety of the current vaccine schedule. There is plenty of sympathy for parents of children who have died of infectious diseases, but perfunctory dismissal in cases where parents blame vaccines. 

Thus Michael Belkin, whose daughter Lyla died after her hepatitis B shot, is treated as a gullible gadfly, goaded by Barbara Loe Fisher into heading "the Hepatitis B Vaccine Project at her National Vaccine information Center. Soon Belkin, a Wall Street financial adviser, was everywhere" -- everywhere being the CDC and Congress, which is exactly where he should have been as a citizen and parent who believes that Hep B is a dangerous and unnecessary childhood vaccine that killed his daughter. Sniffs Offit: "Despite Belkin's certainty that hepatitis B vaccine had caused his daughter's SIDS, study after study failed to support him."

Parents of girls who died after Gardasil vaccination get similar treatment. The idea that Gardasil is dangerous is "a contention refuted by careful study" and "established science." 

And chickenpox vaccines are critically important because chickenpox can lead to shingles, "one of medicine's most debilitating diseases. Shingles is so painful that it has at times led to suicide. And shingles doesn't only affect the skin; sometimes when the virus reawakens it causes strokes, resulting in permanent paralysis. Chickenpox is a disease worth preventing." Absent is any acknowledgement of the evidence that the vaccine itself, by reducing cases of simple childhood chickenpox, has led to a big increase in shingles by removing the protective immunological "bump" those who already harbor the virus receive when they are re-exposed.

Hannah Poling and the government's $20 million concession that vaccines resulted in her autistic regression? Not mentioned. Billions paid out by vaccine court for all sorts of injuries over the past 20 years? Well, vaccine court is a strange place ...

 

Offit and baby no $ Anyone concerned about any of these things fits Offit's definition of anti-vaccine, because vaccines don't cause any of them, because Paul Offit says so, a solipsism that is really quite breathtaking: "[B]ecause anti-vaccine activists today define safe as free from side effects such as autism, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, and blood clots -- conditions that aren't caused by vaccines -- safer vaccines, using their definition, can never be made."

Yet Offit himself yields an amazing amount of ground by describing unsafe vaccines -- including early polio shots and a rotavirus vaccine that was the immediate predecessor of his own. His technique is to situate all this as historical, part of the triumphant march of progress into the bright sunshine of vaccine safety. Here's a description I find especially astonishing: "When Barbara Loe Fisher burst onto the scene, several vaccines had serious side effects, every year causing allergic reactions, paralysis, or death. Public health officials and doctors didn't hide these problems. But they didn't do anything to correct them, either. And most parents had no idea they existed."

Public health officials did nothing to fix vaccine problems that led to paralysis and death? And parents didn't know about it? Is this not an indictment of the medical industry, and an unintentional endorsement advocates who have worked to remedy it?  Does it not argue that at least some of the time parental observations may well be correct, an early warning system of the first order? Well, no, because apparently those things no longer happen -- to say otherwise, in Offit's parallel universe, would be anti-vaccine conspiratorial quackery. 

Jenny and evan Much of the book is a score-settling screed against anyone who's ever criticized him or vaccine safety surveillance, including Fisher, Jenny McCarthy and J.B. Handley. So it's no surprise that his "can't be done" argument against studying unvaccinated populations for any untoward outcomes arrives in the middle of an attack on Handley. Offit quotes J.B.'s comments on a Larry King segment in April 2009: "Larry, we have no idea what the combination risk of our vaccine schedule looks like. At the two-month visit, a child gets six vaccines in under fifteen minutes. The only way to test that properly would be to have a group of kids who get all six and a group of kids who got none and see what happens. They don't do that testing. They have no idea."

Offit's comment: "Handley was asking for a study of vaccinated and unvaccinated children. One result is certain: given recent outbreaks of Hib, measles, mumps, and pertussis, no vaccinated children would suffer and possibly die from preventable infections. It would be, of course, an entirely unethical experiment. No investigator could prospectively study children who are denied a potentially lifesaving medical product. And no university's or hospital's institutional review board worth its salt would ever approve such a study." 

Offit goes on, outrageously, to compare Handley's proposal to the infamous Tuskegee experiment in which doctors withheld treatment from black males suffering from syphilis in order to study the natural course of the disease. 

P-LEEZE. No one I know of is suggesting that a study of unvaccinated children deliberately withhold vaccination. Rather, there are growing numbers of never-vaccinated children in America -- a fact Offit acknowledges with dismay -- and plenty of families willing to participate in such a study. State governments have vaccine waivers on file for public school attendance that are another obvious source of non-life-threatening data.

The real problem for Offit is not an ethical one; the real problem is that any such study would trump all the self-interested industry and CDC studies that never manage to include never-vaccinated chldren as a control group. Informal efforts to do that -- by myself, J.B.'s Generation Rescue and others -- have pointed toward less autism and asthma, and been met by the medical establishment and its sycophantic sock puppets with an absolute frenzy of denial and misdirection.

In our book, "The Age of Autism -- Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic," MarkAge of Autism_cover quote (3)  Blaxill and I discuss this aversion to doing the obvious. "A very simple test goes right to the heart of the vaccine controversy: What is the difference in total health outcomes, including autism, between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations? We would argue that we've uncovered a number of natural experiments in human populations that suggest we should be seriously concerned over the ever-increasing load of childhood vaccinations, especially in the United States. ... Oddly, when it comes to doing such studies in human populations, and studying the autism levels in the Amish, the homeschooled, or philosophical objectors, vaccine industry proponents resist mightily. Conducting human vax/unvax studies in existing unvaccinated groups would be so fraught with methodological problems that they are 'retrospectively impossible.' As for controlled studies, they would be so burdened with permission problems that they would be 'prospectively unethical.' In short, the resistance to the proposal to do vax/unvax work has not only taken the attitude that 'we already know the answers,' but 'we should not seek to know.' It's pretty hard to make scientific progress in the face of this kind of epistemological nihilism."  

I am begging, on bended knee, that pediatricians quit putting Offit on a pedestal, and that mainstream journalists do their job and ask him why he is so averse to any study that involves the health of never-vaccinated children. Don't let him call you "anti-vaccine," and don't let him change the subject to the quite thoroughly separate issue of preventing deadly disease. That's an important topic, but there is room at the table for both effective public health policies against disease AND a fearless examination of whether today's vaccine schedule contributes to chronic health problems -- whether Paul Offit denies it or not.

--

Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism

 

 

 


"The Age of Autism: Mercury Medicine and a Manmade Epidemic" -- Lessons Learned

Age of autism chicago By Julie Obradovic

Last week I had the privilege of introducing Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill as they stopped by Naperville, IL on their book tour. As I've mentioned before, their book had a profound impact on me; it's not every day you befriend individuals who will truly change the world and the course of humanity for the better. Granted, if there has been any bright spot in this Autism experience, it is that I have met many of those people, but these two gentlemen in particular have a special place among them. (Photo Mark Blaxill, Julie Obradovic, Dan Olmsted, Teresa Conrick.)

I don't think the significance of what they have uncovered can be over-stated. I have told them since the moment I finished reading The Age of Autism that I am humbled to know them. Perhaps it will be a while before people can come to terms with what they've written, but there is no doubt in my mind the day will come they are recognized for their triumphant achievement: bringing to light and beginning the end of The Age of Mercury. Nobel Prize. Pulitzer Prize. Either or both would be appropriate.

Unsure of how to express that in only the few minutes I had to introduce them, I tossed around some ideas of what I would say. Maybe I would share how I met them, or how they asked me to join the team here at Age of Autism. Maybe I would talk about our own experience and how grateful I am to Mark and the other original warrior parents. Maybe I would talk about blasting every article Dan wrote for his series to every person in my address book. I had a few ideas and decided it would be best to shoot from the hip with no script, just speaking from the heart. 

About an hour before I left, I thought I'd try it out. No matter how hard I tried though, I just kept rambling, and as the time approached for me to go, I started freaking out. This wasn't good. No matter what I tried to say, I couldn't get across what I wanted. And then it hit me, just like that. I'll share it with you now.

In my "other" life as I sometimes refer to it, I am a teacher. I teach World Language (the new term to replace Foreign Language) at the high school level, primarily to very high achieving, highly motivated, college bound kids. Disciplinary problems are rare, and the parental support is stellar. I consider myself blessed, even if this group of students can present a different set of challenges than expected.

High achieving kids are tough in their own way. They are extremely hard on themselves and on their teachers. Many of them will tell you right to your face what they think of you, and they take a certain pleasure in catching you making a mistake. In the event you happen to make one, you can be sure you will hear about it. And if one thing holds true, they don't like being told when they do.

In the not so distant past, I have taken some criticism, and perhaps rightfully so, for commenting on scientific papers without a scientific background. My response to that has always been the same. What does it say about the science that someone without that level of expertise can clearly see the problems that those who consider themselves experts can not? None the less, I am not a scientific expert, I agree. I am, however, an expert at a few things. Teaching is one of them. It is my job to teach students how to pay attention to detail and how to reflect upon their work so they can grow. I believe I do it well.

Continue reading ""The Age of Autism: Mercury Medicine and a Manmade Epidemic" -- Lessons Learned" »


Double Double Making Toil and Trouble! (How Dare We Question Vaccines?)

Coven In a short while, a new book by Dr. Paul Offit will be released. The title alone makes me shake my head in disbelief: Dangerous Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All. An honored guest, he shared this message with the American Academy of Pediatrics as a speaker at their conference this month. I'm sure we can expect to see him making the media rounds shortly. It’s hard to imagine highly educated, professional adults have allowed this debate to be hijacked to such an extent. Perhaps I’m naïve, but I truly am shocked that the leadership charged with children’s health has failed to stand up against this ridiculous fear monger-er and take back the integrity of their calling. Instead, they have chosen to make him their champion.

When Dr. Bernadine Healy spoke about the lack of studies existing to close the door on the causal relationship between vaccines and Autism, I remember feeling such relief. It wasn’t as much that she was well respected and was reiterating what we have been saying, but rather that she gave me hope there still were honorable professionals working for all of us and our children. If she could so calmly and rationally frame the debate in such a mature context (which is simply whether or not relevant and objective science has answered the question), perhaps there was hope we could move forward in civility. Alas it seems, no.
 
In addition to the fact Dr. Healy pointed out that the proper science had not yet been conducted, she quietly hit the nail on the head for why that is. There is a very real belief that the American public is too stupid to handle it, to which she countered, “I believe the American public is smarter than that.” We all need to reiterate this loudly and clearly so everyone finally gets it: The mainstream medical community wants to squash the conversation on vaccine safety because not only do they believe there are no safety concerns (they've studied themselves and found themselves not guilty over oversight failure), but more important, because they firmly believe any conversation that challenges that group-think will result in catastrophe; therefore, by deduction, the only way to prevent that from happening is not to allow a conversation at all. In other words, debating vaccine safety equals dead children.
 
The problem is, everyone is having that conversation anyway. And with the internet, coupled with the explosion in children’s chronic health problems for which they offer few answers and little help, information abounds for the curious parent, grandparent and caregiver to form their own opinion. Admittedly, 1 in 4 parents has real concerns.

Continue reading "Double Double Making Toil and Trouble! (How Dare We Question Vaccines?)" »


Back When Autism was A Rare, Life-Long, Institutionalized Disorder: 1991

Psych book p618 By Julie Obradovic

Cleaning the basement last weekend I came across my college psychology book. Simply named "Psychology", the second edition had a copyright of 1991 and was written by four of the leading professors at my alma mater, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. That year I took Psychology 101 with one of them.
 
As I always do whenever I find old medical books, I immediately look for Autism. I wonder what they had to say at the time the book was published and if they can shed any light on it. As I mentioned in a post not that long ago, I have a 700 page book published in 1994 by the American Academy of Pediatrics referred to as the authoritative guide on all things developmental, birth to age 5, that doesn't even have the word in it. Apparently, they didn't think Autism was an important developmental problem at the time, in spite of the fact they changed the criteria to supposedly make it more encompassing that very year. (That's what we're told anyway.)
 
Interestingly however, my psychology book published 3 years earlier did indeed mention Autism. That's the picture of page 618 (click image to enlarge) and this is what it says:
 
"Autistic disorder is rare, occurring in fewer than five children per ten thousand births, but with few exceptions (Lovaas, 1987), it leads to a life of marginal adjustment, often within an institution."
 
Ten years after the publication of these very words, ten years after my eyes read over them and highlighted them in yellow, my baby became 1 in 100. Not rare. Not life long. No institution needed.
 
Julie Obradovic is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.


Autism, Stress and Can We Prevent Tragedy?

Puzzle help By Julie Obradovic

The first time I heard that someone had killed their child with Autism was several years ago. I was actually surprised there weren't more murder-suicides by that point in time, but I was certainly thankful there weren't. As I thought about the incredible stress so many people found themselves under, how isolated and desperate they were, and how completely overwhelmed and exhausted they were, it seemed almost inevitable that someone would lose it. Unfortunately, it has been inevitable. Parents are indeed killing their children with Autism.

I realize these murders induce tremendously strong feelings. Many people believe that absolutely under no circumstance is there any excuse for such behavior, and the perpetrators of these heinous crimes deserve not an ounce of pity or sympathy. Children by no means come with any guarantees, and at no point do we simply get to kill them because things didn't go according to plan. I get that mentality, I do. But I also have a deep desire to understand this behavior so that we can start to prevent it more effectively, if that's even possible. I'm afraid that if we simply shame or condemn parents who are having such violent thoughts they may be more reluctant to reach out for help. It's the most unnatural behavior in the world to kill your child. Clearly, clearly, something else is going on here.

One thing I have noticed about these acts is that they always fall into one of two categories: a planned murder-suicide that either kills them both or almost kills the parent; or a sudden, horribly violent attack with no attempt on the parents' life, but one that leaves them in a comatose and suicidal state anyway. This tells me that the parents are not acting out of selfishness, but rather agony and a very distraught state of mind. In a planned murder-suicide, the parent appears to feel obligated to also end his/her own life. They aren't murdering the child to run off to Mexico or go and finish grad school to further their career. They simply want the pain to stop for both their child and themselves and see no other way out. It's total and complete desperation. And in the instance of the violent attack, such as the recent stabbing, there's perhaps no thought what-so-ever. They just snapped.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not privileged to these peoples' state of mind, and I'm no doubt speculating. But as a mom who has suffered from depression, one thing I do know is that this was the hardest part of the Autism experience to share with anyone. I never felt comfortable talking to anyone about my feelings, especially since I feared I would be perceived as extremely selfish. There was no time for focusing on me, and really, I didn't have any idea how to manage the intense and profound sadness I was feeling anyway. It was better just not to deal with it at all than let it come spilling out messily with no way to clean it up. I always said I'd deal with it later. But funny thing, later always came out as anger and being ashamed of that only made the feelings worse, the perpetual cycle of guilt, shame, and pain accelerating in my own private hell. Thankfully, I never spent too long in one of those horrible places, but still, I remember that pain well. It was all consuming.

Continue reading "Autism, Stress and Can We Prevent Tragedy?" »


The Autism Anomalies

Healthy-Cigarettes By Julie Obradovic

Stupid is a bad word in my house. Although I have to admit I can have a potty mouth at times, this is the one word that I just don't use, and if I do, you know I'm mad. I have never liked the word for so many reasons, but I'm especially sensitive to it now that I have a child with special needs. So for me to use the word in a post I wrote last week was a big deal. I called it, "Stupid is as Stupid Says" referring to the doctor-speak being used to describe the Hannah Poling reward. Trying to split hairs between whether or not vaccines cause Autism or just result in them is desperation at it's finest. No wait, it's stupid.

I was about to send it off the be published when low and behold, something else that struck me as pretty stupid happened. The Pediatrics journal published a study that's been hanging in the balance for oh, 9 years now, on the day sandwiched between the Poling reward and the release of The Age of Autism book. Talk about a genius marketing move. Not so stupid after all. But their PR campaign was not exactly what I was thinking of when I was speaking of the second stupid thing happening. It was the study they were marketing as more evidence thimerosal doesn't cause Autism that I found pretty stupid.

Over the next several days I tried to wrap my head around what was happening. The same week that the government was awarding an astronomical sum to a little girl for her vaccine injury that "resulted" in "Autism-like symptoms", the government, pharmaceutical industry, and medical community were promoting a study that told us once again vaccines, and specifically thimerosal, have nothing to do with Autism. Even worse, it was another study in the long line of mercury-apology studies that claims mercury is not only safe, but that it is protective against Autism. Sounds pretty stupid to me

Now, admittedly, the study doesn't come out and say, "Hey, guess what? Mercury prevents Autism!", but that is indeed what it implies.

Continue reading "The Autism Anomalies" »


Mercury: Why Don't Pregnant Women Know More?

Hg By Julie Obradovic

When I started eating a lot of tuna while breastfeeding my daughter, I had no idea that I was possibly poisoning her. At that time, there was no mention of mercury toxicity and certainly no alarm bell being rung over how very dangerous this particular food was. Crazy enough, I don't even like tuna (adding tremendous insult to injury), but I was getting ready to be in a wedding and wanted to get my pre-pregnancy body back a little faster than normal. Not wanting to hurt myself or my baby knowing I was breastfeeding though, I tried to pick the most nutritious foods I could find. Over and over and over again, tuna showed up as a healthy choice, a responsible high-protein alternative to chicken. And so I ate it, even though I hated it, several times a week for many weeks.

It absolutely floors me that I took every precaution known at that time to protect my baby during and after pregnancy, and yet one of the most dangerous things I could do was completely unknown to me. I didn't start working out until she was 2 months old, well after the 6 week mark they make you wait for. I didn't smoke or stay around people who did. I didn't drink, and even when I had a glass of wine at the wedding, I tossed the milk out for days. I had the house baby-proofed with locks and outlet covers. There were gates on all of the stairs. My stroller had the safest reputation. My car seat was top of the line. I bought a mini-van with a 5 star safety rating. I washed all of the clothes in the gentlest detergent. I never missed a doctor's appointment; if she needed to be there at 2 months of age, we were there on the exact 2 month date. I read to her and talked to her all day long. The list goes on. You name it. I did it. Anything for the safety and healthy development of my child.

Continue reading "Mercury: Why Don't Pregnant Women Know More?" »


Skepticism: It's a Good Thing, Unless it's Vaccines.

Say what By Julie Obradovic

Kids still asleep. Coffee in hand. Open shades and a window. Beautiful day in Chicago. Pop on the TV to see what's happening in the world. Good Morning America. George Stephanopolous. Like him. Tune in.

What's this? A new study of a bunch of studies shows cholesterol medication may actually not be necessary, helpful, and perhaps even dangerous in people who don't have heart disease? You mean not everyone should be taking cholesterol medication no matter what? Dr. Richard Besser, GMA's go-to medical professional, weighs in. My coffee spits out.

Besser: "...We don't have experience looking at this in people over decades, which is really what we should do (comparing those who have heart disease and those who don't)....There are definitely side effects...We want to make sure they are only used in people who are going to benefit....Over time, more and more drug trials are sponsored by industry. And it's been clearly shown that industry sponsored trials are more likely to show a positive result....Not only are trials being sponsored by industry, the data are being collected by industry, they are being analyzed by industry, and written up by industry. For many trials....the lead author doesn't even get to see the primary data. They see the results tables and write up and sign their name on it."

Stephanopolous: "How do we trust all this?"

Besser: "Well, I am very skeptical, and I think people need to be very skeptical about this. You need to see a number of different trials. You need to understand who did these trials, and do they have a vested interest, a financial interest in the results."

Stephanopolous: "Should people stop taking their medications?"

Besser: "....Talk to your doctor if you have questions...diet, exercise, and stop smoking. Those are the things that stop heart disease! It's clear!"

Why doesn't this same logic apply to vaccines? In the land of unicorns and fairies, vaccines are portrayed as essentially benign. No side effects, only extremely-rare-well-worth-it ones that are probably only coincidence anyway. Industry being involved in the studies that say so is considered good science, not a conflict. Question that and you are a conspiracy theorist. Suggest that the government or medical institution is really no more objective given their ties to the industry, their role in the problem, the huge foreign policy and political ramifications they could face, the fact we're primarily talking about harming children and how emotional and defensive that makes people, and well my friend, you are not only a conspiracy theorist, you're a dangerous nut job.

Continue reading "Skepticism: It's a Good Thing, Unless it's Vaccines." »


The Difference Between You and Me

Night and day Managing Editor's Note: Meet Julie Obradovic at Autism One this weekend.

By Julie Obradovic

I am growing increasingly tired of the real reasons there is such controversy regarding vaccines and Autism being misconstrued to make me look pathetic. Alison Singer's attempted explanation at Yale earlier this month (HERE) is a perfect example.

Contrary to what she suggests, our differences are not due to the internet. They are not due to desperation or the traumatization of having a child with Autism coupled with the need to blame someone. They are not due the media or the anti-establishment-toxic-earth movement. They are not due to the dismissive attitude of society and physicians who for years believed bad parenting was to blame.They are not due to an inability to simply accept clear science. They are not due to lack of an education or ability to think rationally. They are not due to being taken advantage of. They are not due to the cult of celebrity.

Wrong. Sorry. Not even close.

Turns out, the real difference is not quite so superficial and insulting. It is simply this:

1. You believe the government (the Department of Health and Human Services) has the legally protected right to research, develop, patent, license, supervise, judge, approve, recommend, mandate, and profit from a product (vaccines) that they produce in partnership with a private entity (the pharmaceutical industry). You further believe they have the right to simultaneously oversee the quality, safety and efficacy of this product, and that they objectively do so. You even further believe that they have the right to fund and conduct studies used to defend their product and policy in a court that they serve as judge and jury over in the event you are harmed by it; and moreover, that if they do find in your favor, they have the right to award you compensation at their discretion using money that was secured by a tax you paid on the product when you purchased it and/or were mandated to use it. And finally, you believe this should be protected by law; that neither the government nor the private entity should be held criminally or financially responsible for negligence in the event it maims or kills you.

I don't.

Continue reading "The Difference Between You and Me" »


How to Actually Save the Vaccine Program

Fear2_cover1-590x460 By Julie Obradovic

Recent estimates are that up to 40% of parents are choosing to selectively vaccinate or avoiding vaccinating their children altogether. As a response, the public can soon expect to be exposed to a campaign to "vaccinate a wary public".

The strategy appears to consist of using fear, imagery, and insults as a way to gain greater compliance. Forthcoming Public Service Announcements with infectious disease victims. Conferences guiding physicians linguistically through tiresome conversations with seemingly misguided parents. Referring to concerned parents as anti-scientific. Censorship by the media at the government's request.

Predictably this strategy will fail miserably and likely only make the situation worse. Why? It misses the point of why parents actually aren't vaccinating.
 
Parents aren't opting out of vaccinating because they are too young to remember infectious disease. It isn't because they take the threat of infectious disease lightly and want their children to get it. It isn't because they are misinformed by the internet and media.
 
No, the real reasons parents aren't complying with recommended vaccination schedule are because:

1. Having a child with Autism far outweighs the risk of having or dying from any infectious disease right now, and anything that could possibly be contributing to the development of Autism, even if it means risking infectious disease, will be considered riskier.
 
2. They don't trust the denial of the role of vaccines in the development of Autism by the medical community or government because they are biased; they will be the entities held accountable for Autism if it is proven vaccines are indeed causal factors. Furthermore, they are both closely tied to the pharmaceutical industry that repeatedly puts profit over safety and has to have products recalled because of it.
 
3. Their reality is vastly different than what these groups are trying to convince them (that Autism always was this prevalent and problematic). A condition that was unheard of only 25 years ago is now the number one issue facing a generation of children and the only explanation offered for any of it is coincidence. Further, 1 in 20 families now has an affected child, with neighbors, grandparents, relatives and friends being eye witnesses to the regression and recovery of these children.

Continue reading "How to Actually Save the Vaccine Program " »


Differentiated Teaching is the Norm. Why Not Medicine?

One%20Size%20does%20not%20fit%20all By Julie Obradovic
 
Not that anyone has noticed, but I've been underground for a little while over the last 10 months. In my life outside of advocacy I embarked on a professional growth project that required almost all of my little free time. Thankfully it is almost complete, as it has been one of the most intense endeavors I have ever undertaken. I'm anxious to be able to dedicate more time to Autism.
 
For those who don't know, I am a teacher. The process I underwent was to enhance my expertise, and I am confident is has. Centered on the framework of reflection, I spent literally months analyzing what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, and how I know if it is working or not. I was forced to analyze the effectiveness of everything from my materials to the physical setting of my room to the rate of my speech and so much more.
 
Perhaps the most frequent question I had to respond to was how I knew or not that my teaching was having a significant impact on student learning and finding the evidence to support that. That's a lot harder than it sounds, and like I said, the process forced me to dig deep. Likewise, I had to explain in great detail what I was doing to address the various learning styles and academic needs of my students. In the educational world, we call this "differentiated instruction".
 
Which really got me thinking.
 
I have an average of almost 25 students in all of my classes. Although I teach an elective that often does not see many children with special needs passing through (something I'm working to change), I do see a wide variety of learning styles, abilities, and needs on a daily basis. And although I use the same syllabus to guide me through the school year and approach the content I need to cover, my biggest goal is always ensuring the success of as many of my students as possible. The speed of covering the content never takes precedent over the process in which we do.
 
In one class, for example, I may have to address 15 different things in just one aspect of one lesson. Suzie can't hear well out of her right ear so I have to make sure to stand where she can. Johnny doesn't do well without paper and pencil tasks, so I have to make sure to modify whatever we're doing to meet his needs. Peter is visually sensitive to print on stark white paper so I have to make sure I used colored paper when making copies.

Continue reading "Differentiated Teaching is the Norm. Why Not Medicine?" »


Autism, Vaccines, Thimerosal: Further Study Needed

Puzzle_incomplete By Julie Obradovic
 
In light of the recent Vaccine Court ruling I thought I would again highlight for readers precisely what has and has not been studied with regard to Thimerosal.
 
The fact is, it is impossible, absolutely, positively impossible to exonerate vaccines and/or Thimerosal in Autism based on the current science. Honest, ethical, and responsible people have no choice but to concede that in good faith.
 
Remember, only 1 ingredient (thimerosal) and 1 injection (the MMR) have been studied for their relationship to Autism. No study exists on the combination of vaccines given to children in a real world setting, with or without additional environmental insults such as antibiotics, or with regard to genetic susceptibilities.
 
No study has looked at the possible effect of the synergistic toxicity of aluminum and thimerosal, which are never supposed to be used in combination (according to the Manufacturer Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for thimerosal ) and are indeed combined in many shots (according to the Vaccine Excipient Summary  from the CDC).
 
And no controlled study, not one, exists on the effect of low dose ethyl mercury toxicity in humans (a statement made by study author Anders Hviid himself below on p.1765).
 
Furthermore, the studies are overwhelmingly population based which is widely accepted as incapable of ruling out causation. The authors repeatedly fail to identify or seek out vulnerable populations.
 
And last but not least, there are the tremendous conflicts of interest presented by the authors, more often than not witnesses for the government in vaccine injury cases, vaccine patent holders, and/or employees of pharmaceutical companies that produce vaccines.

Continue reading "Autism, Vaccines, Thimerosal: Further Study Needed" »


Clive Thompson Calls Questioning Vaccine Safety Decade's Worst Idea

David-and-goliath-sumos2 By Julie Obradovic
 
On Sunday, Clive Thompson, a contributing writer for The New York Times and Wired Magazine posted an editorial in The Washington Post about what he believes is the worst idea of the decade: questioning vaccine safety. (Click here.) According to Mr. Thompson, a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and Wired, the lack of trust that has been perpetuated by those of us in what he calls the "anti-vaccine movement" is directly responsible for the reason the US Government didn't have enough vaccine to fight swine flu this fall.
 
Trying to appease us by not using adjuvant that Canada and "most of Europe" did is his explanation for the shortage. Apparently our government officials were too worried about "spooking anti-vaccine activists" when they decided to forgo using them. He went on to include a quote from Ann Schuchat of the CDC in congressional testimony last month as support.
 
 "The public's confidence in our vaccine system and in vaccines in this country [is] very, very fragile."
 
This is the only part of his editorial in which we agree. Yes indeed, public confidence in the vaccine system in very, very fragile. Why that is, however, we profoundly disagree.
 
We also disagree about the level of influence vaccine safety advocates have. (Which is what we really are but will not be called because that makes us sound rational and educated, not the evil lunatics out to set the world aflame in infectious disease they choose to portray us as. "Anti-vaccine" does that so effectively for them, doesn't it? Yes, anyone who questions vaccine safety and those in charge of it is automatically against them, didn't you know?) According to Thompson we have become "uniquely powerful".
 
Uniquely powerful? I'll take that as a compliment. We have no money, no budget to fund the science our children so desperately deserve, and are probably among the most burdened group of activists out there. We operate from yahoo groups and a blog. And yet we're "uniquely powerful" enough to influence government policy? We're "uniquely powerful" enough to cause a swine flu vaccine shortage? Puh-leaze. We can't even get our own government agency, the IACC, to do what we want.
 
What Mr. Thompson and those like him refuse to acknowledge, however, is the real reason the public's confidence in the vaccine system in the country is so fragile: we have the most vaccinated children in the world and the sickest. If the amount of vaccines they got truly correlated with good health, they should be the healthiest people on the planet, ever, and yet, the exact opposite is true. Couple that with the lack of transparency, urgency, and integrity with which the Autism epidemic has been handled. 1 in 20 American families, if not more now, is personally affected by Autism. 1 in 20. Which means just about everyone now knows a family member, neighbor, playmate or playmate's sibling that has it. A condition that no one over the age of 30 ever remembers hearing about before St. Elsewhere or Rain Man in the late 1980's is now everywhere. And the answers for why that is are nothing short of pathetic. No wait, they're embarrassing.
 
Lack of Autism in the past? Misdiagnosis. Increase of Autism in the past decade? Better diagnosis. 50% increase of Autism in the past 2 years? Over diagnosis.

Continue reading "Clive Thompson Calls Questioning Vaccine Safety Decade's Worst Idea" »


Saving Private Abby

Toy soldier By Julie Obradovic

Almost a decade ago Steven Speilberg directed an Academy Award winning film most remember well: Saving Private Ryan. The story was simple and powerful. The government, having realized one family, and specifically one mother, had lost several of her boys in combat during the Second World War, felt obligated to protect her from losing another. They felt so obligated in fact, that they delegated an entire group of soldiers to change course, risk their lives and pursue nothing other than securing his safety. Some of those men died as a result.

Think about that for a second.

It was during a war, not just any war, but arguably one of the most gruesome, horrific, and dangerous wars mankind has ever faced, with everything at stake. In perhaps an unprecedented point in history, the world was truly faced with the potential of changing permanent course and not for the better. The human loss was staggering.
 
It was a scary, scary time. The enemy was identifiable and fierce. Our country was united, prepared, and dedicated. Men were drafted to participate in the war, but more often than not, were happy to enlist out of a sense of duty, obligation, and morality. Women at home lined up to do their part for the same reasons. The “Greatest generation” was more than willing to do whatever needed to be done, to sacrifice whatever needed to be sacrificed for the greater good.
 
And yet….and yet, and yet, and yet….in spite of everything there was to lose, even they acknowledged there was a limit on what one person was expected to give. Even they acknowledged that sometimes certain sacrifices are too much to ask of certain people. Even they acknowledged, sometimes those who give all deserve an exception.

Continue reading "Saving Private Abby" »


MMR: Overview of the Studies

Question mark

By Julie Obradovic
 
You know, I was wondering. Is the rate of pizza consumption in Chicago related to the rate of obesity in Boston?
 
Or, just what is the likelihood of being diagnosed with obesity in a hospital within 3 month intervals over several years after eating pizza in Finland back in the early 1980's?
 
Or, how likely is it that I will have evidence in my gut of having eaten pizza that made me sick 12 years ago, but not by actually looking at my gut?
 
Or, in Japan, when nobody ate pizza with sausage, pepperoni, and mushrooms for a little while, but still ate pizza with either sausage or mushrooms, any chance the obesity rate dropped?
 
Or, what about the chance that if we looked at a whole bunch of people in the US who ate pizza that all gained weight afterwards, the pizza had something to do with it if only a significant amount of them developed obesity?
 
Or how about the likelihood that if you eat this pizza in the UK before you gain weight the higher the rate of obesity?
 
And finally, among those same people in the UK who eat this pizza, any evidence they are thin, then gain weight and then develop obesity in that order? And if a significant number of them don't, like say they were already gaining weight when they ate the pizza, nobody became obese from the pizza?
 
Oh, I'll stop. I'm just being silly. A little humor to introduce a really not so funny topic. And now I'm hungry.
 
What has been studied about the MMR?

Continue reading "MMR: Overview of the Studies" »


Thimerosal: Questions Asked, Few Answered.

Fourteen By Julie Obradovic
 
Part 5 in the 14 Studies Series
 
I apologize. Originally this was going to be another nice, calmly written post like the others in this series, but given the recent H1N1 vaccine hysteria and imminent use of Thimerosal both there and in the seasonal flu shot (a total of 5 flu shots recommended for pregnant women and children), coupled with the US News and World Report article (HERE) with the AAP stating once again (yawn...) that there is no link between vaccines and Autism, that the science is qualitatively and quantitatively complete, and that it has been the most studied item regarding the cause of Autism, blah, blah, blah... I just had to write this angrily.
 
I have now presented the 14 studies on 3 occasions. Each and every time I do, I get more and more dismayed at the stupidity that is being called conclusive science. I used to be really polite, always professional, always giving the researchers and the nay-sayers the benefit of the doubt, but I just can't do that anymore. You have to willfully ignore and purposefully twist reality in so many directions to come to their conclusion, there's just no way to be nice about it.
 
So let's take a lookey, shall we? Let's copy and paste this to every yahoo group, every mommy blog, every facebook page. Let's look at what has actually been studied about Thimerosal and the context in which it has. Open the studies. Read them for yourselves. See what is being passed off as science these days.

Continue reading "Thimerosal: Questions Asked, Few Answered." »


Autism Perception: "A Bump in the Road?"

Child in road By Julie Obradovic

I had the opportunity recently to spend some quality time with my college room-mates. Senior year we lived in a falling-down-stereotypical-college-campus-house, 8 of us total, all friends for the duration of our school days. They were some of the best days of my life.
 
As we all know too well, time moves on, adulthood settles in quietly, and before you know it, months, sometimes even years pass before you get a chance to see one another. Thank God for email which give you the chance to virtually keep up with all that is going on.
 
A few years ago we got tired of letting so much time pass, so we started scheduling annual girls’ nights or family barbeques. It was my turn this year to take the reigns, so I scheduled an overnight get-away to my parent’s lake house. We couldn’t wait.
 
At the last minute, a few of my friends had to back out, and slowly it became a small girl’s only get together rather than the big family bru-ha-ha I had intended. None-the-less, it was time well-spent.
 
After about 5 hours of catching up and 5 bottles of wine in the process, we started getting sentimental. Aren’t we so lucky to still have one another? Didn’t we have the best time together? Don’t you miss those days of having no responsibility? Yes, yes and yes.
 
But then someone said something that snapped me into sobriety.
 
“And aren’t we all so lucky otherwise? I mean, really, look at all of our lives. We’re all successful career women and moms. We’re happy and healthy. And granted, some of us have had a few bumps in the road, like you, Julie with Eve, but none of us have had anything really traumatic or awful happen to them. Really ,we’re so lucky.”
 
I didn’t know what to say. I sat there with my mouth open. A bump in the road?!

Continue reading "Autism Perception: "A Bump in the Road?"" »


An Overview of the Fourteen Vaccine Studies

Fourteen Part 4 in the 14 Studies Series
By Julie Obradovic
 
By now, I hope many of you have downloaded the studies from the 14 Studies website (HERE) , put them in a binder and have started to read them. If not, please consider doing so. This series is meant to prepare our community to best counter the common notion that “science has spoken” and vaccines have nothing to do with Autism. The more of us there are to do that, the more effectively we can change the trajectory of our children’s lives.
 
At this point we have established the true issue of the debate (should those who will be held accountable for Autism be able to investigate themselves); the context of the debate (the history of why and how they are allowed to); and the positions of those involved (whether or not Autism is a whole body disease with an environmental cause or a purely genetic disorder that is rooted in psychology, and what the implications of those positions mean for research).
 
We will now begin to examine the results of their internal investigation.

Continue reading "An Overview of the Fourteen Vaccine Studies" »


14 Studies Part 3: Ladies and Gentlemen, Take Your Positions

Fourteen By Julie Obradovic

Part 3 in the 14 Studies Series

Okay, we’re almost ready to begin.

As you know, there are very distinct positions regarding Autism; what it is, what causes it, and whether or not it is treatable. If you are reading this, chances are pretty good you know what your position is.

But just as it was important to define the true issue of the debate (Part 1) and the context in which it is taking place (Part 2), it is equally important to clearly define the positions of the parties involved (Part 3).  From there we will be able to analyze some of the research that has been done to support or discredit them.

Position 1: Autism is a Treatable, Medical Disease

People who take this position believe the first problem with Autism is its name. Autism by definition in one dictionary means “preference for fantasy over reality”, an inexplicable cluster of behaviors and symptoms that manifest for some unknown reason. (That particular definition makes it sound like it's even a choice.) It is categorized as a psychological disorder.

Continue reading "14 Studies Part 3: Ladies and Gentlemen, Take Your Positions" »


Setting the Scene: Part 2 the Generation Rescue "Fourteen Studies"

Fourteen By Julie Obradovic
 
Part 2 in a series on the "14 Studies." Read Part 1 HERE.
 
When I was getting my Master's Degree in Education a few years ago, I had to take a class on how to help students best develop their reading skills. Quite consistently we talked about the importance of making sure students are prepared to read by having the necessary background knowledge to understand it. Entire classes were dedicated to coming up with activities aimed at providing a decent backdrop for comprehension for students without the same world experience. In short, setting the scene and creating the context was and is considered vitally important.
 
This point has not been lost on me. As I mentioned in my first article, it is frustrating to read others that dismiss the connection between vaccines and Autism without citing the science they are using to make their claim.
 
Equally frustrating is the lack of background knowledge most of these articles give the reader. Autism and the controversy surrounding it is a complex issue to say the least. Without putting the controversy into the proper context, it leaves the reader more often than not with a biased and incomplete picture. To be sure, I actually can't think of many articles that ever do a good job of truly presenting the issue accurately.
 
That said, setting the scene for my series on the 14 studies will be the point. Dissecting the studies just yet is getting ahead of ourselves. 

Continue reading "Setting the Scene: Part 2 the Generation Rescue "Fourteen Studies"" »


"Fourteen Studies" Presented by Generation Rescue at Autism One

Fourteen studies Autism One begins this week in Chicago. Dan, Mark and I look forward to meeting you. Our sponsor Generation Rescue is presenting their Fourteen Studies throughout the day on Saturday. Thanks to Julie Obradovic, Mother Warrior herself, for her time. 

Many people and organizations claim the "science" published thus far allegedly looking at the relationship between vaccines and autism is both qualitatively and quantitatively conclusive. Often the studies to which they refer are cited in books, articles, and medical literature as proof that vaccines don't cause autism, and they are used as an excuse for why research money would be better spent elsewhere. A closer look at this "science" and the authors behind it, however, demonstrates profound conflicts of interest, a substantially inadequate methodology for identifying susceptible subgroups, and a complete lack of an authentic control group. Has the issue been investigated in an honest, objective, and thorough manner? This presentation will simply put forth the facts and let you decide. For anyone who has ever faced an unpleasant pediatrician's meeting when presented with methodologically flawed studies or those who would like to be prepared in advance, this presentation is for you.

Speaker: Julie Obradovic

Time:  60 minutes, throughout the day Saturday

Location: Wells Room, Lower Level