Autism Omnibus – Petitioners suggest new prevalence

14 May

As noted by Ms Clark yesterday, petitioners in the current Autism Omnibus hearing are redefining the terms of the so called ‘epidemic’ to proportions that would’ve been unthinkable to any card-carrying mercury militia member at the start of this year.

And as I noted yesterday, not only is the ‘epidemic’ (so long a standard of the vaccine hypotheses) being seriously watered down, so is the very definition of who can claim status as a member of the vaccine-induced-autism club.

And this is not as a result of any utterance by anybody on respondents (HHS) side – this is all direct from the mouths of the Petitioners legal team and their experts. Truly amazing.

The audio files were posted yesterday (please note that despite everything being linked, as of right now, only Day 1 audio files are actually present for download) so I could finally hear some of what was being said for myself. I haven’t listened to the whole thing yet but I wanted to hear more about what I posted yesterday – the fact that Petitioners are now claiming that thiomersal induced autism (assuming it exists at all) accounts for such a small proportion of autism that it is not detectable using epidemiology.

Dr Greenland says (and this is all on Day 1 File 1 – I ain’t going to transcribe it exactly!) that the figures Petitioners are talking about represent a sub-group of regressive autism he terms ‘clearly regressive autism’ (this is also mentioned in his report which I linked to in the post I made yesterday). And of course regressive autism itself is a sub group of autism. According to Greenland, the figures are:

Regressive autism: 28% of autism1.
Clearly regressive autism: 20% of regressive autism
Therefore, clearly regressive autism: (approx) 6% of autism

Now, when we translate this to what the vaccine hypothesis believers like to call ‘proper’ autism (by which I assume they mean classic/low functioning) we get this:

Classical/LF autism: 33% of ASD (based on Fombonne data again).
So, ‘clearly regressive autism’ is 6% of 33% of ASD.

Or in other words, Petitioners ‘clearly regressive autism’ accounts for approx 2% of all ASD.

I can’t say it often enough. This is the expert report of an expert testifying for petitioners. Amazing.

And lets also bear in mind that Greenland is not claiming that *all* ‘clearly regressive autism’ cases are caused by thiomersal. He’s saying that this is the numerical size of the group Petitioners claim *contain* those injured by vaccines, resulting in autism.

So, when we translate that to actual numbers what do we get?

According to CDC, we can estimate that 560,000 children (0 – 21) have an ASD. Using Greenland’s data we can see that:

2% of 560000 = 11,200 people aged between 0 and 21 have ‘clearly regressive autism’.

Based on the data on the front page of, there are 304,079,911 American citizens as of right now. The child population of which is 25% or 76,019,961.5.

Therefore, according to Petitioners expert witness, the ‘clearly regressive autism’ (aka autism-caused-by-thiomersal) population percentage of the US is *0.015%*.

Tsunami? Hardly.

1] interesting point to note – this is based on Fombonne’s work. Who would’ve thought we’d ever see Fombonne’s data being used to support Petitioners?

PS – maths is not my strong point. Feel free to double check and point out errors/fixes.

27 Responses to “Autism Omnibus – Petitioners suggest new prevalence”

  1. Kev May 14, 2008 at 15:32 #

    Around 2 hours into the days proceedings, Mr Williams asked Dr Greenland if the 6% figure applied to the 40million kids estimated to have received vaccinations during the 90’s/early noughties.

    He said no, because not all the 40million would become autistic. The 6% only applied to the autistic population.

    Sounding rather taken aback, Williams says:

    “we’re still talking about *hundreds and hundreds* of cases that would not be detectable by these studies.”

    “Yes.” Says Greenland.

    Hundreds and hundreds? Less than 1,000 cases throughout a decade of vaccination?

    How many of the way over 1,000 cases in the Autism Omnibus are going to be discarded as not suitable?

  2. Joseph May 14, 2008 at 15:43 #

    It seems like an absolutely necessary tactic by the PSC, the more I think about it. The epidemiology is rather clear: Thimerosal largely removed and rates are not back to 1980s rates. The old hypothesis cannot stand. They need to come up with a new hypothesis, one that cannot be falsified easily now or in the near future, at least until the proceedings are over. They can’t argue some of the things, say, David Kirby has argued (e.g. forest fires) unless they want to be laughed out of court.

  3. Kev May 14, 2008 at 15:44 #

    This is amazing.

    At 2 hours 4mins, Greenland highlights a problem with Fombonne’s methodology in a discussion of incorrect classification of cases. He says:

    …they based their classification of ‘regressive’, if I recall correctly on *parental report*

    I had to rewind a few times to check I’d heard that right. I did. Dr Greenland, expert witness _for the petitioner_ , said that relying on parental report was a problem in methodology.

    Incredible. Is Greenland a ringer? He just destroyed another mainstay of the mercury militia – that parental reports are as good as data.

  4. Kev May 14, 2008 at 16:27 #

    On Cross exam now.

    At 2 hours 36 (approx) Greenland agrees that if vaccines did cause autism and were responsible for ‘an autism epidemic’ that would be detectable in the epidemiological literature. His original testimony of course highlights how epidemiological studies have failed to detect a hypothetical sub-sub group.

    In other words, he seems to be questioning the epidemic.

    He then goes on to agree that non-regressive autism can not be caused by thiomersal.

    Q: So if the risk is confined to that group, clearly regressive autism, are you assuming then that there is no elevated risk to any other group – any other cases of autism?

    A: In the calculations I made, yes.

  5. Ms. Clark May 14, 2008 at 20:03 #

    An interesting thing that came out of Aposhian’s testimony is that DMSA can’t get mercury out of the brain at all, but that parents (who Aposhian has met at DAN! conferences) report it helped their child make great improvements. Aposhian couldn’t explain how it was that chelation was helping autistic kids. He seemed to be implying that there were no other chelators that would work and be reasonable to use.

    He mentioned d-penicillamine and BAL (British Anti-Lewisite). I think he said d-penicillamine can cross the BBB, but as I remember it has very serious side effects so it isn’t used much today. BAL is even scarier stuff. I can’t remember why he mentioned BAL.

  6. Sullivan May 14, 2008 at 21:31 #

    Here’s the catch in the new tactic:

    All of the evidence they present, from Dr. Aposhian, Deth to the rest–

    How are they going to prove that these are data from the ‘clearly’ regressive subset?

    “autistic kids have problems excreting metals. See Holmes et al. and the Ip data”.

    Oh yeah? Did Holmes work with the 2% of autistic kids who are ‘clearly’ regressive? Did Ip?

    “autistic kids have methylation problems”, The autopsy data shows glial cell inflamation…

    Were these results from “clearly” regressive autistics, regressive autistics, early-onset autistics, PDD-NOS, Aspergers…?

    All of their data are now in question.

  7. Kev May 14, 2008 at 21:38 #

    You’re right Sullivan. Burying their clients to explain them not being accounted for with epidemiology means everyone who _has_ claimed to have used them/worked with them has to explain how it was they found them.

  8. Sullivan May 14, 2008 at 22:11 #

    From the Holmes “Baby Haircut” study:

    “The severe group was the most likely to have demonstrated consistency in symptoms from birth, only 21% displayed any pattern of developmental regression.”

    Sooo, the Holmes group with the most “severe” symptoms were NOT clearly regressive. In fact, they appear to be mostly clearly NOT regressive.

    This is going to be very tough for the petitioners.

  9. mayfly May 14, 2008 at 23:09 #

    I frankly don’t understand this. Are you stating that there is no regressive autism, or that it is not mercury related? I was under the impression that regression of skills was a fairly normal part of autism as the disorder becomes manifest. Regression does not need to be triggered by an environmental factor.

    As far as the tsunami goes, isn’t it composed of all the autistic children who will need services, not a select few who some claim have “caught” autism from thimerosol.

    I’m not sure when the autism rate went up. Surely some of the”horde” are old enough to have started vocational training. It will be interesting to see if these programs become swamped.

    I’m convinced the increase in autism is due to reclassification and better detection. However, whether the increase is due to completely to the above or some unknown environmental factor is involved as well, the people with the disorder are going to require services, obviously some more than others.

  10. Kev May 14, 2008 at 23:19 #

    _”I frankly don’t understand this. Are you stating that there is no regressive autism, or that it is not mercury related?”_

    Neither 🙂

    I’m saying that for many years, we have heard that ‘all autism is mercury poisoning’ and that there is an epidemic of primarily vaccine induced autism.

    Now, the petitioners in the Autism Omnibus are producing experts who are flatly contradicting this. They are saying that _if_ vaccines cause autism, it can only be in a fraction of autistic people so small it cannot be determined by epidemiology – the so-called ‘clearly regressive autism’ Greenland refers to.

    Personally, I don’t believe vaccines cause autism in _any_ type of autism. The ‘big news’ here for me is the fact of the frankly enormous step backwards those who believe vaccines cause autism are taking in court right now.

  11. Ms. Clark May 14, 2008 at 23:39 #

    As for mayfly’s question about any services being “swamped,” it’s silly. The only reason why a school or facility would be “swamped” is if they aren’t keeping up with the normal increase of clients according to the general growth of the population, or if the gov’t or private agency cuts way back on the program’s funding or eliminates a program altogether so that other remaining programs are “swamped.”

    Mayfly forgets that as there has been this (nightmarish, you name it) “increase” in “autism” there has been a matching decrease in mental retardation and SLD (for instance in the National level IDEA data).

    So while the programs were “threatened” by this “tsuanmi” of autistics, there was a “windfall” of a corresponding lack of MR kids going through the system (a reverse tsunami).

    Funny how that works, isn’t it? (not) And just look at the harm being done to autistic kids by demonizing them as about to destroy or “swamp” programs with their grubby little needs. It happens a lot, this demonization and stigmatization, I mean.

  12. Joseph May 15, 2008 at 00:36 #

    As for mayfly’s question about any services being “swamped,” it’s silly.

    I agree. And there are ways to verify this. If services are to be swamped, in California you might expect to see an increase in the total number of clients who don’t live at home or independently, for example. Because remember, not only adults are put in institutions or group homes. Furthermore, if you look at caseloads in the 18-21 cohort and all older cohorts, you’ll see “epidemics” there as well.

    But there is no such increase. There is, in fact, a slight decrease in those sorts of living arrangements. I guess at the beginning of the next decade this will all become more obvious, and people will say, “Wait a minute; what happened to the tsunami of autistic adults everyone was warning about?”

  13. Ms. Clark May 15, 2008 at 01:01 #

    I’m afraid that what people a few years from now would say is, “I can remember that we are supposed to fear and loathe autistic people, but now I can’t remember why that is…”

  14. mayfly May 15, 2008 at 05:52 #

    Ms Clark, I try to make it a point not to answer people who insult.

    But you misunderstood what I was saying. I don’t know how asking if services such as vocational training are being overwhelmed by the number of people needing their services equates to loathing autistics.

    Who said anything about the needs being grubby? Why does it stigmatize anyone to say that we need to make sure that the help is there for those who need it?

    It seems to me you have a terribly hard time accepting their are children with Low Functioning autism. Are my daughter’s needs grubby? Do those needs only become grubby if their are multitudes like her?

    The chances are my daughter may never be able to repay society for any kindness she receives. That doesn’t make her less than any Asperger’s, HFA, or NT person who lives, has lived, or will live on this earth.

  15. mayfly May 15, 2008 at 06:04 #

    Joseph, thanks I actually had this discussion with my daughter’s regional center person last week. Having read about waiting lists in Maryland and New Jersey for housing, I asked about the problem in the “East Bay” area. She confirmed what you are saying, that they are not having trouble placing people in housing. My daughter has about 11 years of schooling left so yes the question was a bit premature.

    The reason why I asked about the vocational programs because, I didn’t know that there were people of the so called epidemic that were old enough to require the service, but I thought surely some have reached the age where they need vocational training.

  16. mayfly May 15, 2008 at 14:57 #

    One shouldn’t forget that higher functioning individuals need services as well often at a greater level than one might think given the skills they possess. Many of these people are able to survive without services, but need help to reach their full potential while others need almost as much help as low-functioning individuals, and there are those who can live without any such help.

  17. Joseph May 15, 2008 at 16:21 #

    One shouldn’t forget that higher functioning individuals need services as well often at a greater level than one might think given the skills they possess.

    Yes, but I don’t think more people will need them compared to how many needed them in the past (relative to the size of the general population). Whether people will ask for more services is a different matter, and I don’t know the answer to that.

    Because it seems clear that more children are being given diagnostic labels these days than in times past. For example, I’m quite sure that I would’ve be given a childhood diagnosis if I had been born 30 years later than I was. This probably has an effect on how things play out, no doubt.

  18. Ms. Clark May 15, 2008 at 18:26 #

    Mayfly, your response is silly and offensive besides.

    I pointed out that there is a reverse tsunami of people with MR and SLD. MR tends to represent kids who are “lower functioning” and “SLD” tends to represent kids who are more mildly impaired. Over all, if you look at the school data there is no change in the number of impaired kids in the school districts than there ever has been.

    The people who demonize autistics and who are so desperate for attention for themselves that they are more than willing to demonize their own children as part of a class of horrific tax sucking burdens, use the imaginary “tsunami” of children about to “wipe out, destroy, devastate, etc.” various programs to scare people.

    What you said sounds much like the stuff that Rick Rollens and Lee Grossman have said.

    Why ask if these programs are about to be swamped? Why not focus on the fact that the number of MR and SLD kids has dropped away in a way that matches the “increase” in autism?

    Why not celebrate the “windfall” of no MR kids?

    No, let’s focus on how devastating and tax-dollar-sucking autistic people are or may be. No, instead, let’s look with disdain on the grubby autistics and their grubby needs. This is how exactly the dialog goes in the media and in meetings like the one I attended for the IACC.

    My own very disabled ASD kid is not paying taxes and is getting various benefits. How dare you assume that I have some disdain for such people? Seriously, you have a whole lot of nerve and I think you are in denial about how you are speaking about autistic people.

    The thing with higher functioning autistics needing service is true. The number of autistics of this type is stable. The way they have dealt with a lack of services for themselves is to find a way to deal without them, to suffer terribly without them, or perhaps to end up in jail or to die because they never got them them.

    I am one of those people who should be getting services in some areas. I have very little chance of getting any, ever.

    My own kid gets nothing from the DDS because they reject the middle functioning kids in Northern Cal. If I couldn’t take care of my kid, xe would need help from DDS, and wouldn’t get it, if the pattern would continue. But it’s not because my kid is part of the tsunami. My kid is way “pre-tsunami” and one of the people who proves the “high and stable rate” of autism.

  19. mayfly May 16, 2008 at 00:42 #

    Ms Clark, thought part of me wants to trade insults with you. I have instead chosen to seek clarification.

    What makes a child a tax sucking burden? Is it because they require services? If so then one child needing those services according to you is a tax sucking burden. Greater numbers would mean a greater burden, lesser numbers a smaller.

    So people who proclaim their children need services are demonizing them!. If someone says millions will need services they according to you are demonizing those millions. If they say one child needs services, then they, according to your logic,must be demonizing that child. It is not wrong to advocate for your child. It is not done to draw attention to one’s self.

    Are you not demonizing your child by stating he needs services?


  20. Ms. Clark May 16, 2008 at 01:18 #

    The point is that people have different reasons for discussing whether or not their child or they themselves or anyone else in singles or by the thousands or millions need services.

    The point of screaming about a tsunami of young adults about to reach the age of needing help with getting/maintaining jobs and housing or whatever is to force the gov’t to admit that they have created a crisis through their own vaccination program or by allowing the citizenry to eat fish/chicken/french-fries or watch tv or…

    There will be no fresh demand on any service provider for new programs over and above the usual need for an increase of anything based on background population growth.

    So there is no need to ask about the impact of autistics on any program.

    Recently I explained the difference between now and 20 years ago to Lee Grossman, president of ASA, after he tried to scare his audience with “Oh. My. Gawsh!!!!!!! Do you see what is about to happen in this country!!?????? There is a tidal wave of needy autistic teens about to swamp and sink entire state provider systems!!!!!! What’ll we do??? What’ll we do???? We’re all gonna die!!!” That sort of thing.

    I explained to him, first how we know that there hasn’t been a big increase in autism, then that he had already stated at his last presentation at the MIND institute that he realized that the epidemic numbers weren’t real. (He forgot I was there when he said it I guess.) Then I said, the “the tsunami that is about to hit is one of middle and upper class white parents with a bloated sense of entitlement. They will demand that their child (high, middle or low functioning) get the highest quality and highest quantity of services known to man and they will demand that the gov’t pay for it all. When I was a kid my parents never thought of getting services for me, and I never thought about demanding services for my kid. But now you’ve got all these parents who will sue at the drop of a hat for whatever they want and they have been getting it.”

    There’s your tsunami. It’s not that there are more disabled people needing help, it’s some of them have “better” advocates.

    I’m not saying that everything that the new tsunami parents will demand will be wasteful or unreasonable. I’m saying the big difference will be that for the most part the previous generations of identically “challenged” people got NOTHING or very little.

    The tax payers are going to have to decide if they’d prefer to have the kids whose parents aren’t already rolling in the dough (or sleeping with lawyers) be homeless or die under bridges or in bad community care situations. The tax payers will probably be paying for the best of the best for the adult kids of rich white parents, but as for the rest? Will they continue to become homeless and die under bridges or live in awful situations with no help?

  21. mayfly May 16, 2008 at 03:17 #

    Ms Clark Thank you. Note a 1999 California study said typical autism had risen 237% and atypical 2000%. Perhaps these numbers are overstated, but does the ratio hold.

    Also even the so-called rise is based on reclassification, that reclassification has resulted in more services being needed as being labeled autistic opened the gateway for more help.

    The rich white people whom I know are very kind. Better human beings than I . Not because of their wealth, but because of their love for their fellow man.

  22. Ms. Clark May 16, 2008 at 03:59 #

    I have no doubt that there are rich white people who are nice, even generous. I suppose there are some like this who have autistic children. I believe that they would pay their own way and not need any help from the gov’t.

    I believe there are many white parents who do not have a bloated sense of entitlement.

    My problem is that there are some parents (from my experience of watching them in action they are all upper class or upper middle class white people, go figure) who have a bloated sense of entitlement and they don’t care if other kids, even other more impaired kids–even younger, more impaired kids–go without any services at all so long as they themselves get what they want. Since there is a limited amount of money they absolutely understand that what they take is not going to go to a poor Hispanic kid or a poor Vietmanese kid, or poor white kid, even, and frankly, from what I have seen these ones with the bloated sense of entitlement don’t give a (insert pithy phrase here).

    These ones are also likely to blame someone else, anyone else for their kid’s autism and they also want to sue someone.


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