Autism amongst the Amish

22 Apr

Don’t Stand So Close To Me

I recently had an email conversation with someone who is married to a lapsed Mennonite and who’s secretary is a lapsed Amish. As this was too good an opportunity to miss I asked xyr about autism amongst the Amish and vaccinations.

I was interested in Dan Olmsted’s idea that he and his sources waltz around Amish communities, grabbing people and asking ‘got any autism in the family’? and calling this reporting. When we talked about this xyr answer was fascinating:

As for tracking autistics, forget about it. Families are not likely going to seek diagnosis unless there are seizures or some other acute issue. Imagine driving up to a bunch of Amish farms and asking, “Are any of your kids autistic?” I would guess they probably haven’t ever heard of the word.

As xe explains it, the Amish are deeply religious people. Xe has first hand experience of this and explained to me how it would be virtually impossible given these beliefs and on such a short aquaintance for Olmsted – or his sources -to get ‘close’ to the Amish as a population:

The entire Amish religion is based on shunning the outside, secular world, these are the biblical tenants they live by:

Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers. (II Corinthians 6:14)

Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord. (II Corinthians 6:17)

And be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)

The Amish only make accommodations when necessary. So, they have a phone in the barn to call the vet and the dairy plant. They accept rides in automobiles and trucks but don’t drive. They may shop for essentials but they aren’t going to chat you up.

And as I said before, I doubt seriously that they would seek a diagnosis for autism unless there was some acute comorbidity like seizures. They would likely know that their child was different but that was god’s will.

and as for vaccination:

The Amish are not anti-vaccine. Some Amish kids go to public school and must be vaccinated. My brother-in-law was raised Amish until about age 10 and he’s got the small pox scar to prove the point.

The basic gist is that the Amish are leery of non-Amish/Mennonite (whom they refer to as ‘the English’ (!!) apparently) but if a matter is medical and may cause threats to health than they are not stupid and seek out Western medicine.

Based on this, I really have doubts that Olmsted ever did more than stablish himself as a ‘nosey English’. I really have trouble believing that such a reserved, separate people would open up to either him or his water cooler salesman source about their personal, private medical matters.

No Autism Amongst The Amish

Its a long standing (and oft repeated) belief amongst the autism/antivaccine believers that there is no autism, or vastly reduced incidence of autism, amongst the Amish. This belief is repeated by all and sundry:

…thousands of Amish, almost all of whom do not vaccinate their children and do not seem to suffer much autism.

Dan Olmsted.

This finding of no significant level of “autism”….has also been observed in the unvaccinated children of the Amish

Dr Paul King, CoMed, closed access Yahoo List.

….the Amish community who do not participate in Western medicine, including the practice of vaccinations, have demonstrated their rates of autism are substantially lower.

Lisa Ackerman, TACA (Talk about Curing Autism) Executive Director, closed access Yahoo List.

Why has there never been autism in the Amish community? They dont vaccinate!

Poster ‘Jan’ to closed access Yahoo List.

I challenge anyone to go into any Amish community in this country and find autistic children. You won’t find them. Yet, our schools are being over run with autistic children. Why? The Amish do not vaccinate.

Poster ‘Paul Troutt’ to closed access Yahoo List


Poster ‘Amethyst Mueller’ to closed access Yahoo List.

And so it seems clear right? All these people are saying the same thing. We could go into any Amish community and find very, very low or zero autism. And to what do these people attribute the non-existent autism? Vaccines (or the lack thereof) of course!

What would happen if we removed one of these factors from the equation?

The Old-Order Amish have low rates of vaccination and are at increased risk for vaccine-preventable diseases. A written survey was mailed to all Amish households in the largest Amish community in Illinois inquiring about their vaccination status and
that of their children.


Well, well. How very interesting. Finally some _science_ , as oppose to journalism, that examines whether the oft-reported belief that the Amish don’t vaccinate is true. What did these guys find?

Responses were received by 225 (60%) of the 374 Amish households in the community with children aged <15 years. An additional 120 responses were received by households without children. A total of 189 (84%) households with children reported
that all of their children had received vaccinations; 28 (12%) reported that some of their children had received vaccinations; and
8 (4%) reported that none of their children had received vaccinations.

84% of Amish households reported all their kids had received vaccinations. Only 4% reported that none of their kids had received vaccinations.

Among all respondents who knew their own vaccination status, 281/313 (90%) reported that they had received vaccinations
as children

Wow. Amazing how the two to three ‘toxic train wrecks’ from amongst these adults could not only have been missed (vaccine induced autism being unmissable as we all know) but also managed to fill in a survey.

So – we can say that the assumption that the Amish do not vaccinate is in severe doubt. When 90% of Amish adults in a survey state they received vaccinations and when 84% state all their kids have been vaccinated to what do we attribute the fact that according to Dan Olmsted, Dr Paul King, Lisa Ackerman and various posters on Yahoo groups there is little to no autism amongst the Amish?

53 Responses to “Autism amongst the Amish”

  1. Ms. Clark April 22, 2007 at 08:09 #


    This must be evidence of these Amish getting special batches of vaccines designed to prevent and cure autism. Or maybe they and their neighbors have been immunized to the influence of intrusive reporters.

    The Great David Kirby likes to cite the lack of autism in the Amish. Isn’t he supposed to be some kind of great investigative reporter? He couldn’t verify all this “Amish never vaccinate” stuff? One might think that Kirby and Olmsted just make up what “facts” they need as they go along.

  2. Phil April 22, 2007 at 10:59 #

    This is a fantastic post, Kev! Great work! Puts a common myth in it’s place. I’ve always believed that because of their “seperation” any Autistics would be hidden from view. The evidence you’ve brought out here bears that theory out – in spades.

    As well as well and truly knocking the view that the Amish don’t immunize further out of the park than any six hit in West Indies over the last few weeks!

  3. Joel Smith April 22, 2007 at 14:02 #

    Don’t you know, the CDC has bought off the Amish, doing the bidding of Big Pharma, and because of the need to convince the Amish, that’s why President Bush invaded Iraq? (yes, sarcasm – but I wouldn’t be surprised if some vaccine-causes-mercury person believed the above as it’s more plausable than some of the conspiracy theories believed by that crowd)

    When the mercury moms insist on using bad science, I insist on applying their standards to the TV theory (that TV viewing, which *is* truly becoming more common for young children who are watching more TV than ever before, is a contributing factor for autism). I don’t buy into the TV theory either, but for reasons based on good evidence. They don’t buy into it because it doesn’t have the word “vaccine” in it. But, anyhow, one might note that the Amish may not watch as much TV even if they do vaccinate!

    One thing I’ll say about some of the strong believers in the Amish community is that they seem to practice what they believe – witness their response to the murder of Amish children in an Amish school by a non-Amish person. They came and supported the family of the murder victim, and seemed to be genuinely sorry that he had killed himself. There is probably a lesson there for us – as well as the lesson about accepting one’s children.

  4. Brian Deer April 22, 2007 at 14:51 #

    This one reminds me of when Olmsted claimed to have tracked one of Kanner’s first subjects. I believe he was administered gold salts and recovered. Yeah, right.

    However, Olmsted then explained that he hadn’t actually met this person, on account of the fact that he was “out of town” when the intrepid reporter stopped by.

    Maybe he was Amish too, and didn’t have a phone.

    Or maybe – get this – maybe Olmsted and Kirby are both Amish: and neither of them have a phone.

  5. livsparents April 22, 2007 at 15:07 #

    Once again, Kev, you are taking the word of scientists over the words of journalists. Of course you know who are the most trustworthy and unimpeachable.

    Even if the Amish did not vaccinate, what ELSE do they NOT do? Cell phones, alcohol, Little Debbie Snack Cakes, Television, more exercise, automobiles, the list can go on and on, each with their own possible carcinogens. There’s also the potential of these Amish folks having a less cross ‘pollination’ of genes that may contribute to the genetic portion of this.

    I must admit, I was part of the ‘Amish theory’ rabble 2 years ago, but since there is no solid correlation between thimeresol and autism, the argument falls apart…

  6. Brian Deer April 22, 2007 at 15:52 #

    It’s really terrible isn’t it?

    I thought I was past being shocked by this knot of crooks, quacks and idiots, but I’ve just looked at published research on the Amish and vaccines (which, I admit, is not my thing). Quite clearly, their vaccination levels are lower than other communities (as one finds with marginal groups of one sort or another pretty much everywhere), but if, as Olmsted claims, there is no autism among the Amish, it definitely cannot be vaccines which cause it.

    Not that any further proof was needed.

  7. Emmanuel April 22, 2007 at 15:56 #

    That’s very interesting. I’ve heard the claim that there’s no autism in Amish communities before and didn’t know how to refute it.

    By the way, I linked to this post in my blog.

  8. Kev April 22, 2007 at 17:02 #

    Thanks Emmanuel :o)

    How are you? Haven’t seen you ‘around’ for awhile?

  9. Another Voice April 22, 2007 at 17:16 #

    I have wondered about the Amish view on vaccine while driving through this area. I find it amazing to get the statistics from someone in the middle of England.

    You have to be the most determined fact finder on the internet! Great job and thank you.

  10. Kev April 22, 2007 at 17:41 #

    Thank _you_ Another Voice but I would be lying to take ‘the glory’ as it were. The person I spoke to was American, the person who alerted me to the study was American and the people who did the study were American.

    Smart people one and all. All I did was write about it :o)

  11. Bartholomew Cubbins April 22, 2007 at 17:43 #

    Kev, Very interesting points brought up here. The notion of using the Amish as a natural experiment just got seriously complicated.

  12. Kev April 22, 2007 at 17:51 #

    _”Some of you guys are very good at making it sound like you know what you are talking about. But trust me…. You don’t.”_

    Fark comes to LB/RB

    Marvellous 😀

  13. Emmanuel April 22, 2007 at 19:10 #

    I’m fine, Kev. I’ve been around, just more in lurk mode. I’ve been commenting more on political blogs than ones about autism lately. Sometimes I don’t know which conflict is harder to solve – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the Mercury-Neurodiversity conflict (and I’m only half kidding).

    My nephew is doing great. He’s in a regular classroom. Very smart, very cute.

  14. caseofthevapours April 22, 2007 at 19:13 #

    When my child was diagnosed with ASD my mother said to me that if my son lived on a farm in the 1800s “no one would even think there was anything amiss, he would get along just fine and be valued for his skills.” As time went on, I heard similar comments many times, including “if he lived in Amish Country he would not have any kind of diagnosis whatsoever” – a refrain I heard numerous times as well. I haven’t heard it lately though, perhaps due to the nosey “English” (!!) reporter for the UPI.

  15. Brian Deer April 22, 2007 at 19:25 #

    Okay Jayson, perhaps you could explain to us how there’s no autism among the Amish (Olmstead), because they aren’t vaccinated (Olmstead).

    I’m sure we’re all dying to hear the new position on the “natural experiment”, in the light of a stack of Medline-indexed research on, guess what, vaccination among the Amish.

    I can only repeat that I’m shocked by what Kev has drawn attention to.

    There is just no bottom to this thing.

  16. natalia April 22, 2007 at 19:35 #

    is the Jayson Blair thing a clever joke? look what the wikipedia article says that his name links to.

  17. natalia April 22, 2007 at 19:36 #

    PS: if not, um… sorry.

  18. Brian Deer April 22, 2007 at 19:41 #

    I just thought that. I think we’ve been spoofed. Even Olmstead wouldn’t employ a notorious fraudster.


  19. notmercury April 22, 2007 at 19:46 #

    Joel said: Don’t you know, the CDC has bought off the Amish

    You’d be amazed at what you can get someone to do for a shiny new horse drawn buggy these days.

  20. Zaecus April 22, 2007 at 20:39 #

    (I know you were being sarcastic, livsparents… unless you weren’t. 🙂

    “There’s also the potential of these Amish folks having a less cross ‘pollination’ of genes that may contribute to the genetic portion of this.”

    While I believe that their overwhelming cultural trait of acceptance is probably a much stronger reason for the ‘lack of autism’ amongst the Amish, this lack of cross-pollination, or lack of genetic intake diversity, is still very true.

    I’ve heard people actually say very similar things in all seriousness, and I’m completely unable to figure out why they would think this is a good thing.

    Are we still so mired in the myth of ‘divine perfection’ at creation that we can’t see the evidence currently before us? Those populations, humanoid or non-, that do not have sufficient genetic diversity do not flourish, and those in particularly dire straits begin having even greater problems.

    While they may be very content with their lives, I’m not sure I would say the Amish flourish.

  21. 666sigma April 22, 2007 at 21:50 #

    The Ilinois Amish is a very small community. They represent maybe 1% of the Amish in the US. Their community is integrated into the surrounding community for obvious reasons. They hardly represent a true sample of the Amish in the US. A study on the Amish in Ohio or Pennsylvania would be more appropriate.

    However, the Amish are well known to carry several genetic defects. It is possible that autism may not be one of them. The original gene pool was rather small. The fact that Amish may or may not have autism probably reflects this very small gene pool.

    Your “science” is about as solid as Olmsted’s.

  22. Kev April 22, 2007 at 22:08 #

    My science?

    I didn’t write this paper sigma. Have you read it? I have. It seems OK to me. If you have an issue with the paper I suggest you take it up with the authors.

    Further, a read of my post indicates I am not saying it _proves_ anything other than that the various statements made by the people I quoted that ‘the amish don’t vaccinate’ is clearly false.

    I’m well aware of the size of this population but I’m much more amenable to a scientists opinion and findings than a water cooler salesman and a poor journo. This is a significant paper in that its the first time _science_ was used to get to the root of the Amish issue. Hopefully this paper will be expanded upon and attempt to be replicated elsewhere.

  23. Do'C April 23, 2007 at 00:24 #

    However, the Amish are well known to carry several genetic defects. It is possible that autism may not be one of them.

    That wouldn’t seem likely. A CNTNAP2 mutation has already been noted in the Amish that leads to CDFE and in some cases probably DSM-IV autism.



  24. Ms. Clark April 23, 2007 at 01:14 #

    Wikipedia says that there are about 150,00 Amish people in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana, and one source I found said there were 4,000 Amish in Illinios’ largest enclave, so let’s say there are more than 4,000 Amish in Illinois.

    Looks like closer to 3% of the Amish are in Illinois, to me. Not a lot, but they seem to be pretty big on vaccination. And did the water salesmen know of any autistics in that bunch, apparently not. So here’s respectable sized bunch of Amish and no autistic kids? Even though they’ve been vaccinated?

    This from Olmsted (who has shunned the use of phones, maybe ) quoting the travelling vitamin and water purifier salesman:

    bq. I’ve been working with Amish people since 1980,” he said. “Since early ’99 I have been in a high concentration of health work with the Amish. I just came back from a trip where I visited the 89th Amish community I’ve been invited to. So I’ve been in all the styles of Amish that there are. They invite me to sleep in their homes. They feed me. I pray with them. I know their traditions. I’m going to an Amish wedding tonight in *southern Illinois* and next Thursday I have another wedding. I have seen so much in an intimate way with the Amish, and boy, did it pique my interest when I looked at your research.

    bq. That research has centered on the Amish to try to determine whether an isolated population in the United States has the same prevalence of autism as the “English,” as the Amish call the rest of us. …

    How is it that a water filter salesman can say: “I have been in a high concentration of health work”

    What does that mean, anyway? Is it Pennsylvania German or something?

    I’m guessing that the water filter salesmen would not encourage the Amish to get vaccinated because maybe he’s selling alternative medicine anyway. So if the topic doesn’t come up in conversation, how woud he know if they vaccinate or not? Even if he does attend some of their weddings.

    I’m guessing that the Ohio and Pennsylvania and Indiana Amish vaccinate their kids, too. I can only say from my experience in Montana that the Amish there go to the doctor and get prescription’s filled, because I’d see them in the little drug store in town (they had non-Amish who would ferry them into town in a van every once in a while). I’d see Amish about every couple of weeks when I’d go to their settlement outside of town, because they had a store that sold oddball dented canned goods, and stuff like you might see in a clearance store, and some bread they made and they had a few of their black hats for sale. It was kind of fun and kind of weird. They had lights from these sort of propane things in the ceiling that ran in rows over the store’s aisles (the store was two storey log cabin) So the light was from the flames of the propane. In the daylight they didn’t need them on, if I remember, there were enough windows. I think they had a telephone in the store. The had small refrigeratorated cases and freezer cases, I don’t know what they ran on, do they always need electricity?

    They didn’t have their kids around the store area much, and though you could see girls, it was very rare to see a boy, even a teen boy. I guess they were busy doing stuff that kept them away from the store, but the girls were working in the store sometimes. Maybe all the boys were autistic…

  25. Phil Schwarz April 23, 2007 at 06:21 #

    Actually the Illinois Amish have sold out to the CDC and Big Pharma. The Government has decided that black helicopters are too expensive to keep fueled these days, so they’re going to track Ayoub going forward with horse-drawn buggies…

  26. Ms. Clark April 23, 2007 at 09:19 #


    Black Horse Drawn Buggies, with clop-silencing-slippers on the horses’ hooves?

    David Kirby is saying that it’s all the ethnics, those unwashed thimerosal vaccinated ethinics that are keeping the California numbers up, up, up.

    He’s wondering aloud on EoHarm why the Asians seem to be over represented in the California DDS or something… personally, I think it’s because their parents teach them not to make eye contact because making eye contact with adults is considered RUDE, so if you have a traditionally raised Japanese kid who has any developmental delay, add in his lack of eye contact and bingo, it’s autism.

    There’s a weird thing among the IDEA school numbers in California where they break out Filipinos and Pacific Islanders and “Asians” who would probably include Indians and other southern Asians, and there are strange over and under represenations between the different groups of “Asians.” If Kirby is hinting at those who are big on fish eating, surely the Pacific Islanders would be among those.

    The White kids in the schools have been way over-represented in the autism cateogory, and the black kids were under-represented.

    In 2005 these were some of the numbers…
    So 48.25% of all Mentally Retarded kids in California (schools) aged 6-21 are Hispanic
    30.35% of all MR kids in California aged 6-21 are White
    12.27% of all MR kids in California ” ” are Black

    25.06% of all autistic kids aged 6-21 in California are Hispanic
    49.99% of all autistic kids aged 6-21 in California are White
    9.76% of all autistic kids ” ” are Black

    This means if a kid is White and disabled in California he is more likely to be autistic than Mentally Retarded,

    and if a kid is Asian and disabled in California he is more likely to be autistic than Mentally Retarded

    and if a kid is Hispanic and disabled in California he is more likely to be Mentally Retarded than autistic.

    If a kid is Black and disabled in California his is slightly more likely to be Mentally Retarded than autistic.

    In 2006, the ratio of white to Hispanic autistic kids was shifting. If autism was equally represented among all ethnicities, as it is expected to be, then half or more of the autistic kids in schools in California should be “Hispanic” (which doesn’t always mean a new imigrant or a Spanish speaker). But it was the white kids who were half of all the autistic kids and the Hispanic kids were a third or something like that.

    What is happening, it seems, is that autism diagnosis is reaching into Spanish speaking communities. The parents have to be willing to accept the diagnosis, they might be more culturally inclined to accept a different diagnosis, which would throw off the numbers, too.

    There’s a problem in the California schools, to some extent, they put immigrant kids in disabled kids’ classrooms because the immigrant kids can’t speak English yet.

    The IDEA numbers would be different from the DDS numbers, to some extent. But you can see that Kirby is grasping at straws here. Autism is still a small slice of the disability pie. MR (intellectual disability) is a far bigger group in the schools, and so is “specific learning disability”.

    What we should see for the next year or more is rising, rising, rising Cal DDS numbers because northern California is underrepresented compared to southern, per capita, for autism diagnoses. That is, if a kid is autistic in SoCal, he’s more likely to already be in the DDS system (especially if his parents are English speakers) , if a kid is autistic in NorCal, he’s less likely than his SoCal peer to be enrolled in the DDS system.

    Northern California regional centers are behind in gathering in clients that need their help. The centers vary quite a bit between them as to how likely they are to turn a kid away for being PDD,nos or Asperger’s or how likely they are to shoehorn a PDD,nos or Asperger’s kid into their autism category.

    Speaking as someone who has had experience with the regional center here, and seen how they treat people nearby.

    Kirby is moving away from crematoria and Chinese plumes, apparently, and back to blamin’ them unwashed immigrants.

    His special effort to target vaccines seems pretty transparently obvious at this point. I really think he has a thing about the CDC and vaccines and wants revenge for some imagined misdeed on their part.

    Who has been supporting him all this time? He made it clear that his book didn’t pay that well, and he’s commented on how expensive his rent is for his place in Brooklyn. He doesn’t seem to be writing travel pieces for the NYT any more. His lecture gigs wouldn’t seem to be that lucrative. But maybe they are.

  27. Brian Deer April 23, 2007 at 09:49 #

    Maybe this is the wrong thread to point this out, but it’s kind of on-topic. Kev posted a video of a kid being chelated, saying this kid was clearly totally autistic, or something to that effect.

    When I watched it, my overwhelming impression was that this is not the kind of kid who was being admitted to the Royal Free in London, 10 years ago, for Wakefield’s campaign against MMR.

    Those kids were, for the most part, so seriously disordered that it sometimes took a great squad of nurses to hold them down to have blood drawn.

    The kid in the video displayed absolutely nothing like what I’ve seen among kids diagnosed here with autism, linked to the Wakefield thing.

    Methinks this may be part of the vast diagnostic shift in progress. Real radicals, concerned about “the medical establishment” might wonder about the role of industry, the pressures on the APA committees which write the DSM and so forth.

    But, such is the wasted energy, that I guess folk will spend the next five years pouring over California service provision stats.

  28. Kev April 23, 2007 at 11:11 #

    Hi Brian,

    Master Heeren has a diagnosis of PDD-NOS which places him on the spectrum but (much as I hate these false distinctions) means he doesn’t _appear_ to be as ‘severely’ autistic as someone like my daughter for example.

    This is how ‘lay’ people see it and you’re right, his place on the spectrum might not have existed pre-DSM4.

    What I see in that video is a child who is autistic. To _me_ he is no more or less ‘severe’ than my daughter but to a diagnostician tehre is a difference in severity.

  29. Bonnie Ventura April 23, 2007 at 13:17 #

    Phil Schwarz wrote:

    The Government has decided that black helicopters are too expensive to keep fueled these days, so they’re going to track Ayoub going forward with horse-drawn buggies…

    LOL, that gave me a mental image of the nine black riders in “Lord of the Rings” going forth from Mordor to hunt down the antivaxers.

    Great post Kev… there are some Amish not far from where I live, and if any of them are autistic, they’re just working on the farm like everyone else in the family. Amish kids are not expected to learn how to have telephone conversations, or drive a car, or make a good impression in job interviews, or any of a long list of other concerns that often get mentioned in those media interviews with parents who worry about their autistic child’s future. There’s no reason why Amish parents would get an autistic child diagnosed and put into therapy to learn how to fit into modern society, when they just want him to stay on the farm and live a simple life.

  30. jypsy April 23, 2007 at 14:27 #

    They had lights from these sort of propane things in the ceiling that ran in rows over the store’s aisles (the store was two storey log cabin) So the light was from the flames of the propane. In the daylight they didn’t need them on, if I remember, there were enough windows. I think they had a telephone in the store. The had small refrigeratorated cases and freezer cases, I don’t know what they ran on, do they always need electricity?

    Ms. Clark,
    In our cabin (that I just blogged about this morning)we (eventually) had propane lights as well as a propane fridge (camper size though they do make full size ones) and stove. In one photo I posted you can see the Aladdin lamp we used for good light (way better than a regular oil lamp) before we had the luxury of propane. (We did eventually get electricity after our first child was born and a phone after Alex was born)

  31. 666sigma April 23, 2007 at 14:38 #


    Of course the paper seems okay to you because it backs your opinion. If you dig a little further into Amish history, you would know that their genetic pool is EXTREMELY thin. Whether the Amish have autism or not has nothing to do with their vaccination history. I read the same article as Do’C so it would seem likely that the Amish would not be immune to autism.

    However, using the Illinois community to represent the Amish population in the US seems absurd. That’s like surveying Alaska and saying it represents the US. Gimme a friggin’ break. Go to Lancaster county and get a real sample.

    Ms. Clark,

    There are roughly 200,000 Amish in the US. The largest Illinois community has about 2,200. I guess it is possible that there could be a total of 4,000 Amish in Illinois, but that seems a little high. I think my 1% figure is reasonably accurate.

  32. jypsy April 23, 2007 at 14:41 #

    What I see in that video is a child who is autistic. To me he is no more or less ‘severe’ than my daughter but to a diagnostician tehre is a difference in severity.

    Agreed. I think a “lay person” as well as a diagnostician would label Alex (at that age or currently) as more severely autistic than young Heeren (judging from this video). To me, getting any kind of a real handle on someone’s abilities and disabilities from a YouTube video (with or without reading the mother’s blog) is pretty much impossible. For those who judge books by their cover though, there are some obvious differences.

  33. daedalus2u April 23, 2007 at 15:24 #

    Ms Clark, were you using the term “unwashed” to denote lower social class or actual bathing practices? I happen to think that the absence of bathing would actually tend to move one toward the NT end of the ASD spectrum.

  34. Kev April 23, 2007 at 15:26 #

    _”Of course the paper seems okay to you because it backs your opinion.”_

    OK, so please let me know what is wrong with the paper. I read it, I saw nothing wrong with it, its conclusions seem valid to me. Its a questionnaire – how wrong can it be?

    However, at the same time, I recognise that this is just the start of the necessary science, not the end of it. It does however have the massive advantage of actually being science.

    _”Whether the Amish have autism or not has nothing to do with their vaccination history. “_

    Holy crap! You don’t say!

  35. Ruth April 23, 2007 at 15:30 #


    I know many ASD relatives who have an aversion to bathing, and only wash the minimum required for social standards. And my OCD family members wash and sterilize everything. You are looking at a symptom for a cause.

  36. Tom April 23, 2007 at 15:37 #

    666Sigma said, “Go to Lancaster county and get a real sample.”

    Actually Sigma, going to Lancaster County would be a mistake. There are pediatric clinics and hospitals there specifically for Amish children. (Same goes for Ohio, where the largest population of Old Order Amish reside.)

    Moreover, Hopkins and Uni. Maryland have long standing medical studies and prospective epi studies with Lancaster Amish. The vaccination rate is likely just as high in Lancaster.

    So, the larger point to Kev’s blog is that the claims by Olmstead et al are highly suspect.

  37. Ms. Clark April 23, 2007 at 18:35 #


    Yes, I meant that “unwashed” was a kind of put down that xenophones might use to describe immigrants. I don’t know if any of the immigrants to California actually bathe less than non-immigrants.

    I suppose if they are running from the INS folks, they might be less likely to bathe, but I don’t suppose too many folks with kids would put themselves in that position… actively having to run and hide and not having a home with running water.

    My kids usually got baths every other day when they were bigger than babies. Of course, faces and hands got washed multiple times per day. I don’t know what kind of flora their skin would have had. We have usually been more users of water than very much soap and water, but we have been pretty big on shampoo.

  38. daedalus2u April 23, 2007 at 19:01 #

    Ruth, Actually, my research is on nitric oxide produced by commensal ammonia oxidizing bacteria which I have found live on the skin long term, subsisting only on sweat residues. If you have the “right” biofilm, bathing is optional. Offensive body odors are produced by specific bacteria, and these bacteria are inhibited by the ammonia oxidizing bacteria.
    Bathing does remove them. Before the modern custom of daily bathing, humans would necessarily have had a biofilm of these bacteria, which would raise basal NO levels. The relevant time for the ASD brain structure to form is in utero. I would predict that women who had a biofilm of these bacteria, and remained unwashed during their pregnancy would have a lower indicence of ASD children.
    That is part of my interest in the Amish. Because they don’t use electricity, I would expect less bathing, and a greater likelihood of having the right biofilm.
    Hip fracture rates are lower, and bone mineral density is higher in Old Order Amish. Many treatments that prevent osteoporosis and result in higher bone density have effects mediated through nitric oxide. Precisely what environmental and genetic factors are important remains unknown. Bathing practices might be one of them.

  39. HN April 23, 2007 at 22:39 #

    Sigma, check out this clinic in Lancaster County:

    Is there any evidence that Olmsted even called their office for information on their clients, the Amish?

  40. HN April 23, 2007 at 22:44 #

    Something I just noticed. On this page: there is a specific listing for their “Immunization Program”.

    Did Olmsted interview that particular nurse?

  41. Samuel April 24, 2007 at 02:51 #

    We are NOT Amish and we DID NOT vaccinate our son and he WAS breastfed for a long time and he still has AUTISM. I still believe that vaccines can be dangerous but there is obviously more to it. I’ve given up on figuring out how he ended up with autism and just concentrate on his recovery.

  42. MaryAnna April 24, 2007 at 13:46 #

    When you combine the toxins in vaccines, the poor genetics of people who have had vaccines, the pollution in our food, our water and our air, the chemicals in our food, the bleach and flouride in our water systems (not to mention all the other trash in our water), etc., then you end up with kids whose bodies have no recourse but to fight back through autoimmunity disorders and disease.

    Think about it, we are more sick now than we have ever been. We are actually reversing the concept of “old age” and turning the clock back to younger and younger deaths.

    You can fight the autism is not by vaccines all you want, it really does nothing but make you feel better while every 22 minutes a new case of autism is discovered.

    The chemical cocktail in our children’s bodies is causing autism. It’s really that simple.

  43. Kev April 24, 2007 at 13:58 #

    MaryAnna, thanks. That’s the first decent bellylaugh I’ve had for awhile.

    Now, aside from your factless assertions can you present any evidence at all that vaccines cause autism?

  44. daedalus2u April 24, 2007 at 14:14 #

    I have been thinking about the Amish and other Plain people and wonder if ASD individuals could be considered to be “plain people”, but of a non-religious sort? There are of course exceptions, but in general, ASDs don’t like fancy clothes, don’t like fancy stuff, don’t like stuff that is outside their experience. Certainly I have a utilitarian view of technology, if it is useful, I am all for it. If it isn’t, then I don’t bother with it. There are lots of simple tasks that could be viewed as stimming. Spinning wool into yarn, knitting, sewing, pumping water by hand, carving objects out of wood, sawing. People who stimmed by doing tasks with modest utility would be viewed as normal, or even as role models of industry, not letting idle time slip away. If ASD individuals were allowed to stim when ever they needed to, they would be a lot happier and better adjusted.

  45. Ruth April 24, 2007 at 14:47 #


    Try live in a 3rd world country, without chlorine in the water or vaccines, where life expectancy is 46 years, and you need to have 4 kids to make sure at least one survives to adulthood. Then rant about how bad we have it here, living to 78, where the death of a child is a tragedy, not just an expected part of life.

  46. HN April 24, 2007 at 15:26 #

    Maryanna and Samuel, please tell us exactly how vaccines are more dangerous than pertussis, tetanus, diphtheria, measles, Hib and hepatitis.

    Remember to include actual science based evidence that has been verified. Do not include “research” that was funded by lawyers (Wakefield) or pushed by quacks trying to sell their cures (Geiers).

    Also, Maryanna, my brother is presently working in India. He finds that conditions there incredibly depressing (the tap water is full of crap… literally), and is anxious to leave for his next assignment. Not far from New Dehli there is now an upsurge of polio because of deliberate misinformation on the vaccine being pushed by a certain group. Everywhere else despite the bad water is mostly free from polio, which is spread through fecal material… but one area that is refusing the vaccine is getting polio:

    So which is more dangerous in Northern India: the water or the polio vaccine?

  47. Prometheus April 24, 2007 at 16:32 #

    MaryAnna has apparently not read the latest data from the WHO and the CDC, which show that people in the Western world (e.g. US, UK, France, Germany…) are living longer now than any time in history.

    Well, perhaps a longer life isn’t necessarily a better life, but you’d have to say that it directly contradicts her claim that:

    “We are actually reversing the concept of “old age” and turning the clock back to younger and younger deaths.”

    By that, I assume that she meant that people are dying younger, which would mean that they aren’t living as long.

    Seriously, if you rely on faulty data, it’s no wonder that you come to the wrong conclusions.


  48. HN April 24, 2007 at 16:40 #

    Maybe Maryanna got her information from John Scudamore, the guy who runs the “” website. A site full of ancient, outdated and simply wrong data.

    Oh, and warnings about the Illuminati, plus how to avoid “Satanic black lines”.

    “a large and slightly sorted collection of conspiracy theory save the whale, illuminati, weird “science” COPYVIO and stuff which is not corrected to reflect demonstrated mistakes.”

  49. Lucas McCarty April 25, 2007 at 08:40 #

    Atually, Satanic black lines are real; they turned my cousin Paul into an alcoholic. Of course we all say it was the alcohol that turned him into an alcoholic, but he insists it was Satan.

  50. Michael J. Dochniak April 25, 2007 at 20:54 #


    I’ve speculated that the “scant” incidence of ASD in Amish communities is related to reduced Hev-b protein exposure. (See Specifically, decreased natural rubber latex exposure (i.e., Hevea brasiliensis ) may affect the incidence of allergy induced autism. It’s well known that the Hev-b proteins induce atopy and cross-react immune responses to exogenous and endogenous proteins – The experimental evidence is very much available [e.g., latex allergy] ;~)

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