An example of where I disagree with Rodney Peete

1 Apr

Rodney Peete is the husband of Holly Robinson Peete and the father of two autistic kids. Mrs. Peete recently wrote a blog post on the Huffington Post that was fairly reasonable. It was also promoting her family’s upcoming books.

Mr. Peete has a book out, Not My Boy, and there is an excerpt at the Today Show’s website as

Facing the trauma of autism diagnosis
Former NFLer Rodney Peete writes about his son’s condition

The choice of the title, “Not My Boy”, is not one I would make. The picture on the cover makes it clear that he is not saying, “This child is not my boy”, but I’d still have picked something different.

The excerpt on the Today Show’s website has a section about vaccines. Too bad. I bet there are big sections of the book that don’t dwell on vaccines at all. Mr. Peete isn’t as bad as, say, Jenny McCarthy in terms of quantity of misinformation and his approach is better. He is still not well informed. As in, “The symptoms of mercury poisoning look an awful lot like what children with autism suffer”.

For the record, autism is not at all like mercury poisoning. I’d suggest people who want to explore this idea talk to toxicologists, people who have experience with those who have mercury poisoning. DAN doctors (who don’t treat actual cases of mercury poisoning and have little or no training in toxicology), actors and football players are not my first line for medical advice.

That said, I probably would have skipped discussing this if that was all. A title that’s, well, not so great. Information that’s, well, not so great. One line I read, though, sticks in my mind. This one line is why I am writing this. Keeping it in context for the moment, in talking about the early years with his son before the autism diagnosis, Mr. Peete writes:

We asked our pediatrician what was happening with R.J., and he acted as though what we described was no big deal. He reminded us that boys develop differently than girls. Growing up isn’t a straight line, he said. He’d catch up just like Ryan had pretty much caught up with him physically.

I see now that we were willing to accept this because he was telling us what we wanted to hear. There was nothing wrong with R.J. He was just going through a phase, a temporary setback that he’d recover from before he started school in the fall. We were overjoyed when we found out that Ryan and R.J. had been accepted into our top choice for preschool. The teachers there were well trained and compassionate, and we expected that they would help R.J. learn more social skills and encourage him to make friends.

I thought that trying to keep up with the other kids would be a huge motivation for R.J. to snap out of whatever phase he was going through. Maybe once he was around the other kids he’d start to do what they did. That would help with speaking too, I thought. If R.J. really was a member of the Robinson-Peete family, there wasn’t anything that could have prevented him from talking. Our pediatrician confirmed everything I had hoped about how getting R.J. out into the world would be a way to break his isolation.

And here is the statement out of that that bothers me:

If R.J. really was a member of the Robinson-Peete family, there wasn’t anything that could have prevented him from talking.

I’m certain I have written and said things I don’t want my kid to hear or read someday. I believe the above statement is supposed to tell us Mr. Peete’s feelings at that time and his opinion has evolved. It probably reads well to other pro sports players. But, assuming his thoughts have evolved, I wish Mr. Peete had made that evolution more clear.

I just can’t imagine thinking, “if my kid were really a member of the family…” for a kid that young. I guess if an older kid (or adult) is doing things that are harming others, yeah, sure, not part of the family.

I thought that sitting for a few hours to think it over would result in the line making sense and I wouldn’t be writing this. I was wrong.

32 Responses to “An example of where I disagree with Rodney Peete”

  1. Jackie at 14:05 #

    I saw them on The Today Show too, and was annoyed by their disappointment that their son won’t be able to throw a ball around like his father, because that’s so important in the grand scale of things right?

    As far as his comment about his son not really being a member of the family because he can’t talk, perhaps someone should remind Mr. Peete of a time where people who had his skin color weren’t considered even human let alone a member of any family. Maybe then he’ll realize him saying such a discriminating thing about his son, isn’t much different from how people used to treat Black people. I don’t even begin to understand what he was trying to convey with that statement, maybe it’s more of that otherling BS or something.

  2. angela at 00:29 #

    I presume he just meant that its disappointing that his son won’t be able to do the same things (or him being able to share the same things) he has with his son. Perhaps it could have been worded better.

  3. Smarter Than You at 02:41 #

    Hi Kevin, yes you are right you people should talk to someone who has had mercury poisoning! I have had mercury poisoning and yes it is 100% identical to the symptoms of Autism…100%!!!! You need to pull your head out of your ass and quit only thinking of mercury poisoning from an acute standpoint! And yes go ahead and talk to toxicologists, I just interviewed yet another one a couple weeks ago and they too will tell you the difference in symptomology between acute and chronic mercury poisoning. Maybe one day you and Paul Offit will figure out that nobody is talking about Autism in regards to acute mercury poisoning here, IT’S CHRONIC!!! Maybe you should read Merck’s MSDS sheet for thimerosal and then you will see that it too calls out symptoms of Acute, and completely different symptoms for chronic. Hmmmm, do the chronic symptoms look familiar? Probably not to you because you don’t know shit about the “real” symptoms of Autism!

  4. Chris at 07:52 #

    I have had mercury poisoning and yes it is 100% identical to the symptoms of Autism…100%!


  5. Dawn at 12:47 #

    @ STY: Gee, since I have you killfiled at home, I see you blathering on LBRB with crap instead? OK, liar (from previous experiences), which type of poisoning and what symptoms did you have (note: these symptoms are obtained from a REPUTABLE medical site,, not the crap alt med sites):

    Elemental mercury is usually quite harmless if touched or swallowed. It is so thick and slippery that it usually falls off your skin or out of your stomach without being absorbed.
    Considerable damage can occur, however, if mercury is made airborne into small, little droplets and breathed into the lungs. This can often occur by mistake when people try to vacuum up mercury that has spilled onto the ground.
    Breathing in elemental mercury will cause symptoms right away (acute) if enough mercury is breathed in. Symptoms will also occur over time (chronic) if little amounts are inhaled every day. If this occurs, symptoms may include:
    Metallic taste
    Difficulty breathing
    Bad cough
    Swollen, bleeding gums
    Depending on how much mercury is inhaled, permanent lung damage and death may occur. You may also have some long-term brain damage from inhaled elemental mercury.

    Unlike elemental mercury, inorganic mercury is usually poisonous when swallowed. Depending on the how much is swallowed, symptoms may include:
    Burning in the stomach and throat
    Bloody diarrhea and vomiting
    If inorganic mercury enters your blood stream, it can attack the kidneys and brain. Permanent kidney damage and failure may occur. A large overdose may cause massive blood and fluid loss from diarrhea, kidney failure, and death.

    Organic mercury can cause sickness if breathed in, eaten, or placed on the skin for long periods of time. (emphasis mine)
    Usually organic mercury causes problems over years or decades, not immediately. In other words, being exposed to small amounts of organic mercury every day for years will likely cause symptoms to appear later. Regardless, a single large exposure can also cause problems.
    Long-term exposure will likely cause neurological symptoms, including:
    Numbness or pain in certain parts of your skin
    Uncontrollable shake or tremor
    Inability to walk well
    Blindness and double vision
    Memory problems
    Seizures and death (with large exposures)

    And then, please show how those symptoms are identical to the diagnostic criteria for autism (DSM-IV clinical criteria):

    I) A total of six (or more) items from (A), (B), and (C), with at least two from (A), and one each from (B) and (C)
    (A) qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
    1. marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction
    2. failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
    3. a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people, (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
    4. lack of social or emotional reciprocity ( note: in the description, it gives the following as examples: not actively participating in simple social play or games, preferring solitary activities, or involving others in activities only as tools or “mechanical” aids )
    (B) qualitative impairments in communication as manifested by at least one of the following:
    1. delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication such as gesture or mime)
    2. in individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
    3. stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language
    4. lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level
    (C) restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by at least two of the following:
    1. encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
    2. apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
    3. stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
    4. persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
    (II) Delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas, with onset prior to age 3 years:
    (A) social interaction
    (B) language as used in social communication
    (C) symbolic or imaginative play
    (III) The disturbance is not better accounted for by Rett’s Disorder or Childhood Disintegrative Disorder

    Maybe if you quit lying and start posting proof of things, I’ll unkillfile you at home.

  6. Susan Goewey at 14:35 #

    This is NOT TRUE: “For the record, autism is not at all like mercury poisoning. I’d suggest people who want to explore this idea talk to toxicologists, people who have experience with those who have mercury poisoning. DAN doctors (who don’t treat actual cases of mercury poisoning and have little or no training in toxicology), actors and football players are not my first line for medical advice.”
    WHAT PLANET DO YOU LIVE ON? 80 symptoms of mercury poisoning are IDENTICAL to symptoms of autism! My NORMALLY DEVELOPING son bit and swallowed the bulb of a mercury thermometer … I too was told that was “not the kind of mercury that is absorbed” … so stupidly, I put it out of my mind, until he gradually developed symptoms of BOTH mercury poisioning AND autism: red rash on cheeks, troubles w/ digestion, gluten/dairy intolerance, loss of language, cognitive ability, eye contact!!! You are TERRIBLY misinformed if you think ANY amounts of mercury are safe, esp. for small infants/toddlers. DO YOUR HOMEWORK before you write such nonsense. It it infuriating. And Peete is “not as bad as Jenny McCarthy”. Geez. Slamming DAN! doctors as “never treating mercury poison?!” What is your agenda that you would post such nonsense. DO YOUR RESEARCH and apologize to parents/doctors who treat autism every day of our lives. Good God.

    Read more:

  7. Dawn at 15:13 #

    Susan: It IS true. Read my post,with the REAL symptoms of various types of mercury poisoning. Your son, if he BIT and swallowed the end of a bulb thermometer (and you weren’t concerned about the glass?) should have showed signs of acute poisoning. ANY doctor would have follwoed up on it.

    Please post the “80 symptoms of mercury poisoning are IDENTICAL to symptoms of autism” with proof that they are identical (and gee, aren’t you lucky that I have listed all the REAL signs of various types of mercury poisoning right above yours, along with the REAL diagnostic criteria for autism). This should be a snap for you.

  8. Sullivan at 15:25 #


    it just so happens that there is one researcher who has studied both autism and mercury poisoning, Patricia Rodier.

    You can read her testimony in the Omnibus, or the pieces we have on that

    If you listen to Elizabeth Mumper’s testimony in the Omnibus proceeding, you will hear her answer the question, “Have you ever treated a real case of mercury poisoning”. She hasn’t. She’s medical director for DAN.

    I’ve done my homework. I’ve spoken to actual medical toxicologists. I’ve spoken to actual autism experts. DAN doctors are neither.

    I would strongly urge you to take your child to a medical toxicologist–a person who has been trained specifically in areas like mercury poisoning.

  9. Chris at 15:53 #

    Susan, you are arguing by blatant assertion. That does not work. Post the evidence. Or better yet, actually read for comprehension what Dawn wrote. You should also read this other comparison:

  10. Smarter Than You at 16:18 #

    Dawn, oh Dawn, I’m glad you can google and copy and paste…good job! Now maybe try spending 6 years interviewing hundreds of doctors, scientists, toxicologists, etc. and see what you find out. You are just another fat ass that sits and googles and doesn’t know how to do anything else. You are so misinformed I’m afraid to tell you. I can do just what you did and find a thousand sites with the “symptoms” identified and refute you 100%. And if you think the symptoms of Autism are just the “psychological” symptoms layed out in DSM-IV….YOU HAVE NO CLUE ABOUT AUTISM!!! You are a joke, but good try with such a moronic rebuttal. Oh yeah, also try having it yourself after getting one last shot with 25 mcg in it and entering a world you couldn’t even comprehend. Then maybe we can talk. Unitl then, again the truth will finally be known by the end of the year and dipshits like you will be silenced and embarrassed for your behavior and fatal misinformation.

  11. Sullivan at 17:33 #

    “Smarter than you”

    Much as your rant serves to discredit you, that isn’t really my goal here.

    If you want to carry out some sort of vengeful rebuttal to Dawn, do it somewhere else. If you would like to add something substantive, please do.

    If you make any more threats to people, you will be banned. I do not take kindly to people threatening to “silence” others, given the various connotations of the word.

  12. Dawn at 19:06 #

    Thanks, Sullivan. I’m sorry. I probably shouldn’t have responded to STY. I killfiled him/her on Orac’s page because I was really getting angry and was afraid I’d say something really nasty. I won’t feed the troll here.

    But I hope Susan, at least, can respond with sense to my request.

  13. Smarter Than You at 20:25 #

    Oh no please don’t ban me from such a great website of inaccurate information that misleads innocent people and puts them in harms way! Please do ban me!!! Dawn, I wouldn’t want you to say something really nasty now would I. That’s all you can do now Dawn, because I know you haven’t once gone out there and talked to the specialists and experts yourself so you can finally see how utterly wrong you are. So sad!!! Maybe this will motivate you to go out and get the information for yourself. Until then, keep up the good work googling and pasting data that you don’t even understand.

    • Sullivan at 21:18 #

      Smarter Than You,

      I have done the research. I have spoken to actual toxicologists. I have emailed experts in autism.

      If you want to refute what is said about junk science like the pseudo-paper by Sallie Bernard and others, please do. Their idea that autism looks like mercury poisoning is nonsense. You can follow the link above to the discussion of Prof. Rodier’s point by point takedown of it.

      Or you can post empty taunts like you do. Your choice.

      What you do not have a choice on is making threats against people on this blog. You have chosen a very childish response to that very serious question.

  14. Dedj at 00:29 #

    I do remember that we once had a well known ‘autism = mercury poisoning’ proponent who was utterly unable – despite careful directed questioning – to support their contention that the symptoms were identical. They were quite literally looking at the AREA of impairment, but not consider the actual nature of the impairments.

    As an example, people with Parkinsons and MS often have mobility impairments, yet the ones in Parkinsons are so distinct as to be partly diagnostic.

    This person is both well respected and also in the process of becoming a published authour on the subject, yet to them, a speech and language impairment is a speech and language impairment. Most of the ‘autism = mercury poisoning’ crowd seem to be like this. They stop at the level of the type of impairment, and almost never look at the nature of the impairment, as would be required for a clinical diagnosis.

  15. Science Mom at 05:01 #

    Sullivan, Smarter than you will post the same drivel over and over again since s/he has no real argument to put on the table. You would do yourself a great favour by banning STY.

  16. Ruth/STL at 15:23 #

    If autism was mercury poisoning, Victorians would have had high rates, as mercury compounds were commonly used in medicine. Look in a Materia Medica from 1900 or so-instructions for preparing mercury to treat routine GI problems. The average person today ingests much less mercury and lead than people a centry ago. (BTW, I have degrees in chem and toxicology).

    Rodier worked with Tom Clarkson(retired now), who literally wrote the classic book on mercury tox. Several of his papers in Pubmed would be of interest to non-specialists.

  17. Synesthesia at 15:40 #

    I have pointed that out before. Folks in Mozart’s era use mercury to treat syphilis.

  18. Sonicspeedx13 at 17:53 #

    so ya…im not going to go into the posioning and all that, becues i know if i do i’ll carryed away and start acting like STY ._. so anyways i’m just going to go with the “if your part of this family” bit.
    you know, in a few years once that child is smart enough to know about the world and everything, and then if he reads that, hes goign to be mad at his dad, i know i would. im a 15 year old Autsisc child and i always hate it when someone in my family blocks me out becues of how difrent i am. and that happens alot. its going to hurt the child alot. the father should care more about his education, becues only a little persentage of people ever go into sports, and autsisc people are mostly good at more creative things. not saying sports issnt creavtive, but i havvnt seen a autsic kid who was so into sports, maybe sports manageing..idk really, but the guy should really be ashamed of what he said. becues i would hate my father if he said something like that.

  19. Susan Goewey at 18:17 #

    “People vary in how they react to mercury they ingest and how fast they purge it. The EPA’s exposure limit is based on its calculation that mercury above 5.8 parts per billion in young women’s bloodstreams may pose a danger to their babies. By this measure, 5.7% of U.S. infants, or 228,000 a year, could be at risk of mercury poisoning during gestation, based on the latest blood survey of women of childbearing age by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The maximum safe level might be lower still, says the EPA’s top mercury risk assessor, Kathryn Mahaffey, based on recent evidence that fetuses concentrate more mercury in their blood than do their pregnant mothers.” (also see and Trace Amounts. Review the study of the children in Iraq affected by the mercury poisoning of the pig feed. The idea that you think your research is “better” than that of those of us who have been studying the connection for more than a decade –you see, because we live the results of the damage to our children 24/7 is pitiful. Sally Bernard, sadly, died before she could convince closed minded people to even consider the possibility that a substance banned in eyedrops has no business being in vaccines. Yes. It is still in the flu vaccine. It’s ridiculous. Aluminum too. Heavy metals damage the brain. That is a fact. ) Here’s the source of the quote. Interesting article you should read and quit being such a know it all. Research evolves over time. You dismiss parental stories and you’re losing an awful lot of data. The truth will eventually come out. It always does.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) at 18:31 #

      Research has evolved. Groups like SafeMinds and others promoting the autism/mercury connection have failed to keep up with that evolution.

      You can go ahead and repeat all the old mercury stories. (the Iraq story isn’t pig feed, it was seed grain that wasn’t intended for consumption but was eaten anyway). Go ahead and repeat every one in David Kirby’s best selling book and all that has come since. That book is now 10 years old and it’s sad, very sad, that Kirby doesn’t have the courage to admit he was wrong. Very, very wrong. And in the process caused a lot of kids to go through chelation for no purpose. What harm came from that we may never know. We do know that chelating animals that don’t need it results in lower cognitive ability. Lower.

      I think you are confusing Sally (aka Sallie) Bernard (who is still alive I believe) with Liz Birt, who passed on years ago.

      Your link is to a 2005 story on mercury and tuna. What does that have to do with vaccines? (answer: nothing)

      You don’t have your facts straight. At all.

      • Susan Goewey at 13:59 #

        This is a fact: no level of lead is “safe” nor mercury…there are only “less harmful” levels. Some bodies can handle heavy metals better than others. Mercury is more harmful to boys than girls since estrogen has a slightly protective factor. There are many, many facts about the harm of heavy metals on humans and other animals. I am sorry if I conflated some of them. No need to discredit David Kirby. It is too bad that his book was not a best seller. Most parents blindly believe fish and flu vaccines and other sources of trace mercury (like HFCS) are “safe” … for some they may be. For others, they cause harm to bodies and brains.

        (Pigs ate the seeds laced with mercury. I think you are nit picking about what it was called. It DID harm. )

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) at 16:42 #

        Prove to me that the food you ate yesterday is 100% free of mercury.

        You can’t because it isn’t.

        Prove to me that food and water have always been 100% free of mercury.

        You can’t because it hasn’t.

        And yet humans have survived and thrived. And, yet, life expectancy has increased. Health has improved with time.

        But, if we took your logic, we are all dead. And humanity died out hundreds of thousands of years ago. Because mercury.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) at 16:43 #

        “No need to discredit David Kirby”

        True. He did that himself quite thoroughly.

        Kirby is a slick writer. A PR man who caused a lot of damage. Perhaps there is a “safe level” of David Kirby writing. I haven’t seen it.

      • Chris at 17:08 #

        So you took over three years to respond and you still have absolutely no verifiable citations? Why should we believe you or even David Kirby, who was just a travel writer until he was paid by SafeMinds to write his book.

        Do explain why it was safer and cheaper for this child to get tetanus instead of having it prevented with a series DTaP vaccinations:

  20. Carla White at 09:00 #

    You must be a real asshole. The line you object to was humorous…he was saying that everyone in his family are talkers…BIG talkers…that’s all it means, and that’s all it meant.

    • Chris at 15:47 #

      Who are you talking about and why did it take you six years to compose that comment?

  21. Carla White at 09:09 #

    And you’re ignorant also. Doctors who worked at the CDC and are whistle blowers have testified that there is a clear link between autism in African American boys and vaccines. If thousands of people go to a restaurant through the years and people get sick in large numbers right after eating there, but some don’t, anyone would come to a conclusion that something at the restaurant makes some people sick but not others.

    • Science Mom at 13:59 #

      Calling someone else ignorant while spewing the party line of “CDC whistleblowers testifying” is deliciously ironic. Because a.) there is no CDC whistleblower, let alone plural and b.) no one has testified. And c.) there isn’t a “clear link” between vaccines, autism and AA boys. That was fabricated by Brian Hooker.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) at 01:35 #

      “Doctors who worked at the CDC and are whistle blowers have testified that there is a clear link between autism in African American boys and vaccines.”

      It’s interesting to see how this story morphs and changes. Clearly you don’t even know the source of the information you repeat (as demonstrated by Science Mom’s comment).

      The story you think you are referring to is that of William Thompson. A singular person who, while he holds a Ph.D., I would refer to him as “Doctor”. He hasn’t testified. And, in fact, hasn’t said there is a clear link.

      He made exactly one public statement since this story broke, but he also provided this statement to Representative Bill Posey.

      I’ll draw your attention to:

      “The fact that we found a strong statistically significant finding among black males doesnot mean that there wasa true association between the MMR vaccine and autism-like features in this subpopulation.”

      Which is an epimiologists’ way of saying, “there is not a clear link between autism in African American boys and vaccines”

      Does it bother you that whoever gave you your information was wrong?

  22. Chris at 05:56 #

    Please do not spam with that drivel.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) at 08:34 #

      I deleted the spam. I’m not here to host a copy and paste of a junk article.

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