Let me start with some resources. Shannon Rosa of the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism have done a good job in writing about resources for families. In particular, Parenting Kids With Disabilities: How to Get Through Tough Times. There are other resources out there as well. As Shannon wrote in a recent Facebook comment
Again: The solution **for this situation** is to spread the message that killing disabled people is unacceptable, and that parents have other choices. Here are some of those choices: http://www.blogher.com/parenting-kids-disabilities-through-toughest-times -SR
Also, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) has an effort to stop such murders. One can find information about that at their Anti-Filicide Toolkit page.
With that long introduction, here’s the main article:
Recently I posted news here about another murder/suicide. The autistic youth, the victim, was Dustin Hicks. Usually when I write these stories I leave out the name of the mother. I do because many news stories focus on the mother, even to the point of not naming the victim. Consider yesterday’s news where they asked if this was a mercy killing. A possible mercy killing?
Dustin Hicks’ mother was named Nina Hicks. They lived in Georgia.
As it turns out, there was a mom in Georgia named Nina Hicks who also listed herself as “Dustin’s Mom” in online discussions. As one can see in the signature in this post left to the “open Georgia Autism Group”. On this list, we see that she is a proponent of so-called “biomedical” intervention approach. Here we see her promoting the Amy Yasko “protocol” (which, by the way, is nonsense):
I would also highly recommend your looking into the genetic testing offered by Dr. Amy Yasko. It takes a lot of the guess work out of biomedical interventions and addresses the underlying reasons why your kiddo cannot excrete toxins like his typically developing peers can. You can find info regarding the Yasko protocol on the two sites I’ve listed above. It’s a little extra $$ up front, but it will save lots of (precious) time and $$$ overall.
She appears to have petitioned on behalf of her son for compensation in the vaccine court (Court of Federal Claims). The decision states that the mother did not provide any medical opinion or medical record that autism was a vaccine injury. Simply put, she didn’t really put forth a case.
One might ask why bring all this up?
Because the culture that goes with the alternative-to-medicine approach and the vaccines-cause-autism movement is toxic. Yes, I know these groups feel some sort of ownership over the word “toxic” and will feel that it’s ironic that I use it here. But their culture has very toxic elements. Let me explain. Because this is exactly what many of us have been fighting against. And the murder of Dustin Hicks is exactly the sort of event we have tried to prevent.
First we have the toxic message, “your child is damaged. You did this by vaccinating him/her. Now it’s your job to fix him/her.” Think I’m exaggerating? Take a look at the introduction to Jenny McCarthy’s first autism book, “louder than words”. The introduction was written by DAN (Defeat Autism Now!) doctor Jerry Kartzinel:
“You broke him, now you fix him!” was the mandate given to me by my wife as we watched our fourth boy slip into the world of autism after receiving his first measles, mumps, andrubella (MMR) vaccine.
Further in the introduction, we read:
Autism, as I see it, steals the soul from the child; then, if allowed, relentlessly sucks life’s marrow out of the family members, one by one.
Let’s break this down. First we get the message that autistics are less than they should be. They are damaged. And not only are they damaged, but autism also destroys their loved ones. Allow autism to go unchecked and you are allowing this damage into your family.
So, “fix him!”. The goal of a parent is to try anything, tested or untested (mostly untested), with a demonstrated safety or (more often) not.
And while not in the above quote, “the clock is ticking”. You as a parent have only a short time before your child will forever be this source of sucking life’s marrow out of everyone around him/her.
Yes, that’s a toxic message. And yes, that plays into pushing some people over the edge. Did it push Dustin Hicks’ mother over? We can’t tell for sure. Did it push others? Yes. Consider Katie McCarron’s mother. She killed Katie because Katie was autistic and wasn’t on a path to being non-autistic. Who cared that Katie was a beautiful child with a future? Well, a lot of people. Her father. Her grandparents, just to name a few. But that wasn’t enough for her mother.
Let’s look for another source of the toxic message of the autism-is-vaccine-injury community. Here’s part of the introduction to Dr. Bob Sears’ “The Autism Book”, titled ironically “an encouraging word”. It begins:
Autism has become one of the most widespread childhoold epidemics in recorded history. Except for some infectious disease epidemics of the past, no other serious condition has ever affected so many of our children.”
He goes on later in that paragraph,
“What makes it so devastating for parents is that autism can strike unexpectedly, seemingly out of nowhere; a healthy and neurologically normal infant can suddenly regress into autism, between ages one and two.”
Where’s the encouraging message? We get the “devastating” and “epidemic” messages. What’s encouraging about that? Well, having sewn despair and fear, Dr. Bob offers encouragement in his book of untested (for either efficacy or safety) treatments based on either disproved or just bad ideas of what autism is.
And, again, having instilled the fear in the parents, what happens as the fake medicine doesn’t really render the child non-autistic? Not only the autism remains, but the fear and despair.
And that’s classic for the Dr. Bob’s and the Dr. Jerry’s of the world–use despair and fear and then sell hope. False hope. Tell them all will be better with fake treatments like chelation. Years back, JB Handley, founder of Generation Rescue, told the world that if you chelate your autistic kid, you “get them back”.
Boyd Haley, long proponent of the autism as mercury poisoning idea tried to coin the phrase “mad child disease” (because autism is just like mad cow disease, right?) for autism. He went on to try to sell an untested industrial chemical, a chelation compound, as a “supplement”.
Then you have people like Andrew Wakefield. Mr. Wakefield has been at the forefront of the vaccines-cause-autism movement for about 20 years now. He introduced one of his first books with a glorification of a murder/suicide. He gives a fictionalized account of a real incident in which a mother jumped to her death, taking her autistic child with her. With no apparent sense of irony, he ends his intro with
She knew. She was ready. Falling ever faster, she pulled him to her, love and instinct keeping him safe.
Because pulling/pushing your child to his death is “love” and “keeping him safe”.
Andrew Wakefield also famously took on a family in a very desperate situation–the Spourdalakis family. Alex Spourdalakis was an autistic teen with very extraordinary needs. Mr. Wakefield was trying to launch a reality show where he would show that his “autism team” could swoop in and save people like Alex, blame vaccines and move on to the next family.
Only after collecting his tape, after taking him to his colleague for the diagnosis of the non-existent diagnosis of “autistic enterocolitis”, Alex’s mother brutally murdered him.
But don’t look to the people who spread the message of despair to take responsibility. No. They will tell you, as Dr. Bob does, that they are giving “encouraging messages”.
In the days when Yahoo Groups were flourishing and many were focused on giving autism parents a venue to discuss autism as vaccine injury and ways to “heal” that supposed injury, one could often read parents write, “what have I got to lose”. Because the lives of their autistic children where already so devalued by the process of selling fake cures that parents actually came to believe, “what have I got to lose”.
Is this what drove Dustin Hick’s mother to the edge? We don’t know yet. Maybe in the past few years she came to separate herself from the ideas of autism as vaccine injury and autistics as being less and “devastating” to the family and all that goes with that message.
While writing this article, the Age of Autism blog came out with their own article on the murder/suicide. Kim Stagliano left this as the conclusion to her comment.
I do understand that some families will be so overwhelmed, so set adrift, so exhausted and facing such despair that murder and/or suicide seems the only solution. There but for the grace of God.
No, Kim, you don’t understand. You are and have been part of the problem. You are just using this tragedy to continue to spread your message of despair. You offer no help, instead you just throw an anchor to those who are already having trouble staying afloat.
Not “there for the grace of God”, Kim. How about, “if you get to that point, STOP. Find resources. If you have reached the end of your abilities, pass on the responsibility to someone else. Because even though it may seem the only solution, it isn’t.”
How about trying to stop this instead of claiming it’s some “new normal”. Not on my watch, Kim. Perhaps on yours, but not on mine.
I won’t close with that. Instead I’ll end as I started, with Shannon Rosa’s Parenting Kids With Disabilities: How to Get Through Tough Times.
To Dustin’s father, I can only imagine what you are going through.
Dustin, you should be alive today.
By Matt Carey