Age of Autism's reporter of the year 2008

3 Jan

Age of Autism’s reporter of the year for 2008, David Kirby, made something of an error yesterday. On the Huffington Post, the following headline appeared:

Obama Transition Team: “Recovery from autism is neither possible nor desirable”

You see, David was alluding to the fact that Kristina Chew and Dora Raymaker head been appointed by to be their autism bloggers. Trouble is that somehow he got the idea in his head that was actually’s website. is actually a social action networking site run by people who took the time to sift through the applications they received and interview those they shortlisted. They were very, very knowledgeable about the split in the autism community and decided that rather than rely on the sort of scare-mongering and factless blogging that permeates the vaxosphere they would get their facts about autism from a professor with an autistic child and (gasp!) an autistic person themselves.

Lets be clear about the size of David’s error here (in case the post is now gone I have a screenie for you to grab) davidkirbyoopsie

David has pretty much just accused the Obama transition team – without doing the most basic of fact checking – of wanting to leave autistic children to ‘a nightmare without end’.

A lot of David’s post is factless twaddle and made me quite angry to read. He (like everyone else on his side of the autism divide) states there are thousands of recovered autistic kids? Where? Where are the case studies? Certainly not in PubMed.

David claims Kristina doesn’t speak for the ‘countless thousands’ of parents he knows who think vaccines injured their kids. So? AoA don’t speak for the ‘countless thousands’ if not millions of parents that exist all over the world who don’t think vaccines cause their child’s autism.

I have a very strong suspicion in fact that David didn’t actually visit the website of If he had he would’ve seen instantly just by the design of the site that its nothing to do with the transition team. I think some AoA bigwig forwarded on Kristina’s posts and ‘asked’ David to blog about them pointing out all the key ranty elements David mentions in a style that is not usually his.

Perhaps the most damage will be done by the paragraphs:

The President Elect has an old, dear friend going all the way back to Chicago, with a young son on the autism spectrum. That friend will soon be a Senior White House Official.

It is hard to imagine the President one day saying to this man: “I do not think we should devote resources to finding out what happened to your son. I do not believe there is anything we can do to help him, and it is not desirable to even try.

I’m afraid David, that by placing words in the President elects mouth – and utterly wrong words at that – you have demonstrated a certain hubris.

Not only are you wrong that Obama has shown any inclination to say that, Kristina Chew has shown no inclination to say that either. Unlike you, she is parent to an autistic child and you have just said that she feels it is not desirable to help her son. I hope you have the grace to apologise to her publicly as these words are far from true. Maybe you should try spending some time away from the anti-vaxxers and spending some time with the _actual_ autism community – a community who work damned hard with their children. They just don’t subject them to meaningless, expensive and dangerous experimentation.

Age of Autism are obviously not HuffPo readers – they just posted their own copy of the story. And then just as quickly deleted it, but not quickly enough to beat the mighty G. aoaasses click for bigger.

20 Responses to “Age of Autism's reporter of the year 2008”

  1. JKW January 3, 2009 at 13:35 #

    Oh my! Now that is certainly a shot across the bow of the incoming administration.

    The new federal government employees need to be made aware of the extremist, anti-science, and hit-and-run mindset that fringe organizations like Generation Rescue, The Age of Autism (GR’s anti-science rag), and its academically challenged celebrities actually have.

  2. Broken Link January 3, 2009 at 15:32 #

    The actual post is still on HuffPo, as you directly link to it, but it’s no longer on David Kirby’s entry page. I think someone might be feeling a bit embarrassed.

  3. Kev January 3, 2009 at 15:33 #

    Someone should be. There’s a list of comments on there slamming both the transition team and Kristina.

    Someone owes Kristina an apology.

  4. Sullivan January 3, 2009 at 15:41 #

    Wow–they pulled it from his main page but didn’t edit it to add a disclaimer (at the very least!)

    From what I can tell, a lot of comments are being moderated out.

    Mr. Kirby owes us all an apology. He owes the bloggers a big one. The sooner the better.

  5. Another Voice January 3, 2009 at 16:10 #

    I hate to admit it but I made the same mistake as Mr. Kirby, I joined that site. Now that I have awakened to the fact that it is just another social utility making a play on words, I am having difficulty finding a way to remove my name.

  6. storkdok January 3, 2009 at 16:13 #

    At least the Obama team will realize what a lousy “reporter” Kirby is and hopefully won’t give him and the AoA another thought.

    I don’t think Kristina will hold her breath for an apology. No one has ever apologized yet from that camp.

    Kristina did a wonderful job along with her co-writer, Dora Raymaker. It would be wonderful if the Obama team did include people of their caliber.

  7. CS January 3, 2009 at 18:02 #

    Another Voice,

    If your not interested in social progress and justice, isn’t the place for you.

  8. codeman38 January 3, 2009 at 18:09 #

    Sullivan: I also agree that a correction needs to be added on the post itself, given that, y’know, the misinformation will still be indexed by search engines…

    storkdok: Heh, good point. I guess *some* good could come of this.

  9. jypsy January 3, 2009 at 18:12 #

    Its now on AoA

  10. CS January 3, 2009 at 18:20 #

    I tried to post on AoA, but I guess they have blocked my IP address. What a bunch of cowards those people are

  11. jypsy January 3, 2009 at 18:59 #

    AoA caught on and removed their post

  12. kristina January 3, 2009 at 21:01 #

    Guess you could say, I’m not holding my breath—–another factual error on Kirby’s part is regarding what (biomedical) “treatments” we’ve tried.

    The post below is called “Once upon a time, I tried to recover my son from autism.”

  13. Another Voice January 3, 2009 at 21:59 #

    CS said:

    Another Voice,

    If your not interested in social progress and justice, isn’t the place for you.

    CS please relax – your zeal to speak for my interests has you using double negatives.

  14. CS January 3, 2009 at 22:00 #

    Looks like the Age of Harmers are threatening Ben Rattray, owner of the website David Taylor ominously states “Ben, I am very serious. It is going to get very nasty for you.”

    How long will it before Ben is cyberstalked by this group? Everyone should send him a note of thanks for taking the progressive view of disability and being courageous to do so.

  15. CS January 3, 2009 at 22:05 #

    Another voice, sorry I didn’t realize I was speaking for your interests. By the way Chaucer was famous for using double negatives, its just not done as much today.

    We don’t need no education
    We don’t need no thought control

  16. Joseph January 4, 2009 at 14:15 #

    I took issue with David Kirby’s characterization of autism as a “nightmare without end” and explained that he might find it offensive if someone were to say “homosexuality is a nightmare without end.”

    Certainly, I find his characterization personally offensive. It doesn’t matter if he meant that some parents have told him they experience autism as a nightmare without end. It’s a no-no to say things like that, and he should know it.

    Do you think he’d ever say “Down Syndrome is a nightmare without end?” After the Down Syndrome associations are done with him, he wouldn’t know what hit him. Big Autism, on the other hand, is very permissive about this sort of thing.

  17. Leila January 5, 2009 at 18:58 #

    Too funny that AoA chose him as “reporter of the year”. The guy doesn’t know the first thing about Journalism.

  18. Patrick January 8, 2009 at 22:46 #

    Oh, the comedy one misses when 6 feet of snow and depression hit ones neighborhood and person.


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    […] given that he munged the URL in his link, one guess that perhaps he did not. Be that as it may, as Kevin Leitch notes, Kristina Chew and Dora Raymaker have been appointed as the resident autism bloggers for […]

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