Movie review: Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis

12 Feb

Alex Spourdalakis was an autistic youth. An autistic youth who faced the sort of crisis we all hope never happens. And that is even before he was killed by his mother and godmother. Much of the last year of his life was spent in a search for a way to treat his sleep disturbance and aggression, with his mother concluding at one point that these stemmed from gastrointestinal disease (she would later decide that lyme disease was at play), a conclusion which apparently put her and her advocates at odds with some of Alex’s doctors some of whom proposed a psychiatric approach. His hospital stays included four point restraints for days and weeks. As a recent study has shown, restraints are not unheard of for autistic patients. This is a topic that deserves attention to limit or end the practice. It is impossible to do justice here to just how serious this crisis was. And that’s leaving out the fact that in the end he faced murder by those closest to him.

He was murdered by his mother and godmother who poisoned him with an overdose of prescription medication and, when that failed, killed him using a kitchen knife to slit his wrist and inflict multiple stab wounds.

We now have a video showing some of the story. A one-sided view of the story. A video by Andrew Wakefield. Mr. Wakefield has a long history with the autism communities and, quite frankly, that history is marked by many less than accurate accounts of fact by Mr. Wakefield. I’ve watched his “Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis” a few times now and tried to put my thoughts into words.

“Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis” is not a true documentary in that the film makers were a part of the story. It appears to have started out as part of their “Autism Team” reality TV show project. Mr. Wakefield’s “Autism Team” was not just standing back and documenting events, they were acting as advocates and advisers to Alex’s mother. For example, they put Alex’s mother in contact with Arthur Krigsman (pediatric gastroenterologist and former colleague of Andrew Wakefield) and arranged transporation for Alex to be seen by Dr. Krigsman. Roughly a week before his death, Alex was in the hospital again, where he was visited by the “Autism Team” in the person of Polly Tommy and it sounds like Andrew Wakefield. Alex’s mother discusses how they’ve been offered a placement in a psychiatric facility, but this would involve Alex being separated from his mother and godmother. A separation we now know was necessary to save his life. In this screenshot we see subtitles for Alex’s mother stating “not in a psych unit. Once a week” (referring to the chances to visit Alex). The godmother is stating, “it’s a psychiatric facility”. And the closed captioned words belong to Polly Tommy who is stating, “No, we can’t do that”. We? The Autism Team are documenting themselves as part of the story.

Before “Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis” was produced many questioned how much did Mr. Wakefield’s “Autism Team” contribute to the horrific outcome. Not directly, of course, but in terms of whether a different group of advocates or different advice from Wakefield’s team would have averted the murder. Alex’s mother was offered help from other groups, and declined it. This is a question that can not be independently explored given this team’s dual role of advocate/advisers and documentary videographers. We are also talking about Andrew Wakefield, who in the introduction to one of his books glorified a murder-suicide involving an autistic and his mother.

But I am now falling into the same trap as Mr. Wakefield: losing sight of the actual story. Because the story isn’t “who killed Alex Spoudalakis”. The story is Alex Spourdalakis. A young man, 14 years old when he was murdered, who was a valuable and often happy person who had reached a point in his life when he needed support: medical and other support. He was a person worthy of respect. Disability did not diminish that. His extraordinary needs did not diminish that. In fact, his extraordinary needs were a big part of the story that needed to be told clearly. While one can pick some of his story out of the video, it gets obscured as the video uses Alex and his story to promote the Wakefield message that vaccines cause autism and a harsh criticism for psychiatry and mainstream medicine in general. And the video argues that Alex’s mother is not responsible for the murder due to alleged use of antidepressants.

Alex needed help. A great deal of help. He couldn’t sleep. He had episodes of aggression. He was in the emergency room for weeks in restraints. Much of the video centers around a division between one side, his mother and the “Autism Team”, who felt that these were signs of an underlying gastrointestinal problem and another side, many of the medical staff, who were often pursuing a psychiatric explanation. It would have been valuable to see an honest account of the question of what was behind Alex’s crisis. But we don’t get that in this video. We get an antagonistic approach to psychiatric care and statements that instead “autism is medical”.

Mr. Wakefield and others would do well to recall that psychiatric care is medical care. For some it can be life saving.

Psychiatric and other medications can also result in extreme reactions. And this is a point Mr. Wakefield makes time and again, to the point of actually weakening the point. For example, we are told about how Alex had a serious allergic reaction to one set of medications, complete with a frame showing this event highlighted in his medical record. Not hightlighted but visible is the statement that this reaction cleared up with two doses of Benadryl. Making a big deal out of a reaction that cleared up with Benadryl, an over the counter medicine, struck me as overplaying this point.

Even with the possibility of adverse reactions to psychiatric medication, Mr. Wakefield would do well to recall that autistics can have psychiatric conditions. Mr. Wakefield is in the community that is quick to tell us that autistics often have comorbid conditions. But rarely does this community point out that a large fraction of comorbid conditions are psychiatric. This was explored by the Lewin Group for children. And by Lisa Croen’s team for adults.

Where GI complaints are 1.3 times more common in autistics, anxiety is 3.7 times more common and schizophrenia 22 times more common (just to name a few psychiatric conditions).

Autistics do have a difficult time obtaining appropriate medical care. One doctor told me that 75% of the information they use to make a diagnosis comes from listening to what the patient tells them. But what if a patient is nonverbal and doesn’t have effective alternative communication? Add to this the fact that autistics often have sensory issues. What happens when, as one friend of mine relates, a person can tell you “I’m in pain” but can’t say where that pain is? And this is before we consider issues such as poor insurance coverage for the disabled and other social factors that limit access to care. This is a story that needs telling. Psychiatric medications are prescribed more often to autistics in poor families than in wealthy families. And this video doesn’t do these points justice.

In the video one does get to see Alex. Yes, the images of Alex in restraints in the hospital that were common online shortly before his death. But also Alex before the hospital stay. Alex Happy. Alex Outside. Alex as a human, not a pawn. It’s telling that Alex’s father and sister do not appear in these videos. According to the video, Alex’s father declined to be interviewed. One does see a great deal of Alex with his mother. She is shown giving him a great deal of affection. I don’t doubt her love for her son. The intention, I suspect, is to portray her in a sympathetic light: the loving mother. She’s so loving that something else must have driven her to the brutal murder of Alex, right? At least that is the message I suspect the director was trying to get across. Well, except downplays the brutal nature of the murder. In the end, though, the scenes of affection between Alex and his mother are more jarring than sympathetic. Knowing that this woman would shortly be poisoning Alex and knowing that she is the one reported to have stabbed him repeatedly, well, the affection does not come across as endearing nor sympathetic. Knowing that Alex loved his mother makes the betrayal all the more painful.

One does have to address that horrific outcome, the question posed by the title of the film: who killed Alex Spourdalakis. Interestingly the first sentence of narration tells us: “what turned Dorothy Spourdalakis, a loving mother, and Jolanta Agatha Skordzka, a loving godmother, into killers?” While it is not contested that these are the killers, the video tries to make the case that it’s more complicated than just who actually committed the physical acts of killing. A critic’s statement, quoted on the facebook page for the group who produced the video tells us one interpretation:

The story of Alex is an indictment of our healthcare system’s ability to treat autism as a disease rather than a psychiatric disorder

In this interpretation, “the story of Alex” isn’t about him or how he lived. And we need to reject the possibility that autistics can have psychiatric needs, because autism is a disease.

The video argues that Alex would have had a happy outcome, similar to that of another “Autism Team” subject, had he followed a “medical” approach of treating GI disease rather than a psychiatric one. One sad irony is that Alex’s mother abandoned the GI approach to follow a different disease approach to his care: lyme disease.

The video downplays the events of the actual murder. Instead of giving the full details, the murder is used as one last critique of psychiatry. In Mr Wakefield’s telling of the murder presents it with a recreation of Alex’s father and uncle discovering the crime scene. The scene is merely described initially as Alex was found “dead in his bed”. This for a scene where a young man was stabbed multiple times and had his wrist slit to the point of nearly severing his hand. He had been dead long enough for rigor mortis to set in. The scene that Alex’s father and uncle found would have been grisly, to say the least. Alex had been bleeding and the blood had time to congeal. But we don’t hear those details. By the time the narration gets to the knife wounds, we hear only that he died of a knife wound to the heart. No mention of the slit wrist nor the other 3 stab wounds.

Instead the emphasis is given to the poisoning attempt. We are told how ironic it is that drugs which Alex is alleged to have had adverse reactions to did not kill him. Psychiatric drugs, alleged to have failed him in life, failed in killing him. This point is give far more emphasis than the actual act of killing Alex.

We are told how Alex’s mother and godmother were found near him, unconscious from a drug overdose. Alex’s mother and godmother had just failed to kill Alex with an overdose and yet chose this same method for their attempted suicide.

His mother and godmother were reported to be “semi conscious” when found. And one document, apparently a police report, shown in the video indicates that the mother and godmother were able to answer questions while still in the apartment. Which begs the question, how many pills did they take in their apparent suicide attempt? Were they really in danger of death?

We need to face the grisly nature of Alex’s murder because glossing over the brutal nature of the murder does not do the victim service. It does help paint the killers in a more sympathetic light. We also must face questions raised by these actions. It is stated that when Alex did not die from the overdose, his mother and godmother took to using the kitchen knife. Why? Was he taking too long to die? Did they fear being discovered? Was Alex waking up? How long did they wait for the overdose to kill him? Why didn’t they call for help in that time?

Mr. Wakefield argues in the video that it was once again psychiatry that failed Alex, and at the same time builds an argument that his mother wasn’t really at fault. The video alleges that his mother was taking antidepressants and the side effects include suicidal thoughts and violence, setting the stage for an insanity defense. There are a few problems with making that argument stick, starting with the argument made by the district attorney that the murder was planned in advance. This argument is supported by the fact that Alex’s mother and godmother made his father and sister leave the apartment a week before the murder. This could be a sign of premeditation: that they wanted to the apartment free to commit the murder. This avenue of reasoning is not explored by Mr. Wakefield in his video. Next, this murder was committed by two people, and Alex’s godmother is not alleged to have been taking antidepressants. In this insanity defense scenario, why didn’t the godmother stop the murder? Report the plans? Next, this isn’t a violent murder–or wasn’t intended to be. It started out as a poisoning attempt. We do not know how long they waited for the overdose to kill Alex, but certainly long enough for either of the killers to have second thoughts and call for help, especially the godmother who is not alleged to have been taking the antidepressants. Lastly, the video tells us that there’s no physical evidence of the antidepressants. They allegedly brought from Greece by Alex’s father, who is further alleged to have removed the drugs from the apartment.

At this point in the narrative Alex is dead. We’ve heard heard an argument as to why his mother isn’t guilty of the crime. But Alex isn’t the story of this video. Even “who killed Alex” apparently isn’t the story. The video next presents us with “one vital piece of this puzzle”. This is the segue into claiming that Alex was a victim of vaccine injury. Mr. Wakefield wasn’t content with telling us this at the beginning of the video, he had to bring it up again at the end. We are told that Aex was a child “…whose life was over in so many ways from the age of 18 months.” In one sentence he negates all the video he invested in showing us Alex as a happy, complete human. Being autistic is being a person “whose life is over.”

Recall that Mr. Wakefield has stated that he makes videos target people who are agnostic on the question of whether vaccines cause autism.

We also get a pitch for the idea that what Alex needed in order to avoid his death was more support from Wakefield’s team. That they are going to start the “Alex Spourdalakis Recovery Center”, a place for autistics and their families after seeing Arthur Krigsman. I am at a loss for words other than to say this is absolutely not the solution that comes to mind to avoid another murder like Alex’s.

In the credits we get snippets of video of Alex. Starting with Alex near the end of his life, naked and rocking. While Alex does appear to be happy in these clips, showing him naked without his permission is inappropriate (note that while Mr. Wakefield does not show Alex’s full body, I have further blurred this image). Then, after showing Alex as a baby and flowers for Alex (complete with business card for Wakefield’s Autism Media Channel), the credits end.

But, apparently just in case we didn’t get the message of the video, we need to be shown two more short scenes appear after the credits. Niether shows or mentions Alex. The last message Mr. Wakefield wanted those watching this film to take away. Nothing about Alex, just a simple screen stating “Merck face legal action for alleged MMR vaccine fraud”. The additional sad irony in this is that even if you accept the claims that Alex was vaccine injured and the claims in the lawsuit, the Merck case is unrelated to Alex’s story. It doesn’t involve Mr. Wakefield’s hypothesis of the measles component of MMR being linked to autism. It doesn’t involve allegations of vaccine injury at all but, rather, the effectiveness of the mumps component.

Alex deserved better in life. He deserved medical care, be it psychiatric, standard medical or both, to bring him back to the happy person he was before his crisis. But Alex also deserves better in death. He deserves that his life and death not be used as a tool to promote Andrew Wakefield’s poorly supported one-size-fits-all approach to autism. He deserves to be the story, not have his story framed as “who killed Alex Spourdalakis”.

Alex deserves better.

By Matt Carey

67 Responses to “Movie review: Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis”

  1. reissd February 12, 2015 at 04:00 #

    Thank you for speaking up for this boy.

  2. Science Mom February 12, 2015 at 04:43 #

    I thank you for watching this gruesome, self-aggrandising film Matt and making all see that Alex Spourdalakis is the victim here. Wakefield, Tommey and all others involved with this are ghouls which is the kindest thing I can think of to say about them.

    • lilady February 12, 2015 at 19:06 #

      Thank you for all your advocacy activities, including the viewing and reviewing of that tasteless and exploitative “documentary”, Matt.

      I recall an old poster put up on the “Autism is Medical” Facebook page which included this choice bit of information “Autism is Lyme’s [sic]”

      So, which one of those biomeddlers from AIM, suggested to Dorothy Spourdalakis that Alex’s autism was caused by “Lyme’s” (Lyme Disease)…when that bogus theory was totally debunked…two months before Dorothy and the “godmother” brutally murdered Alex?

  3. Constance February 13, 2015 at 18:37 #

    So quick to put these kids on medicine to control them, make them think life is a fairy tale. Disgusting! Psychologists and so numerical professionals that truly to this day still don’t know how to treat or help our autistic children. I am sorry but basket holds and restraints on’ll y put more anxiety and fear into them, so they fight back more aggressive. Th s t boys mother was weak, she too became a victim of poor advocacy misleading medical advice. But in the end how could she do that to her child, if she was so overwhelmed then she should have taken her own life. Maybe Alex would be ok if his school district placed him in a proper program instead of the cheapest option. Where was the school district in all of this time period? Why did his case manager never step in speak up?

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 13, 2015 at 19:00 #

      “if she was so overwhelmed then she should have taken her own life”

      No. Absolutely not. But she should have admitted that she couldn’t manage this situation. If she had told the police or CPS or someone, “I am planning to murder my child”, a place would have been found for her child. Had his godmother said the same thing, again action would have been taken.

      It is worth noting that actual autism organizations did offer help, and the mother declined. One org offered help and the mother asked for an attorney.

    • lilady February 13, 2015 at 20:01 #

      Constance, did you actually purchase and view the DVD produced by Wakefield’s Autism Media Channel?

      Are you aware that the anti-vaccine blog Age of Autism showed how the “Autism is Medical/Autism is Lyme’s” [sic] group, whose leadership is composed of practical nurses, registered nurses and unlicensed “mommies” offered medical advice, and how ex-doctor Andrew Wakefield offered medical advice to Dorothy Spourdalakis…and interfered with the medical care being provided to Alex during his hospitalization?

      Do tell us which educational program Alex was attending and why you label that program as inappropriate.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 13, 2015 at 21:54 #

        Mr. Wakefield tries to put the blame on the Hospital for Alex’s mother going to the Lyme doctor. He states that she was supposed to consult a psychiatrist or something. The lyme doctor had nothing to do with the hospital as far as I can see.

        As to a connection back to “Autism Is Medical”, I don’t see that either. A search for lyme gives no hits.

        There are discussions online about Alex where you can see people talking about Lyme, though. One wonders where the mother got the idea to follow that route.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 13, 2015 at 22:35 #

        One might recall that CBS news essentially devoted time in a morning show to an infomercial for the documentary. They described the mother and godmother as:

        “When police found Alex dead at home in June, his mother and caretaker were barely alive themselves after allegedly overdosing him on medicine and stabbing him in the heart before attempting to commit suicide.”

        Barely alive seems a bit of a stretch. One screenshot of what appears to be a police report mentions the mother and godmother responding to questions while still in the apartment before being sent to the hospital and jail.

  4. Paula C. Durbin-Westby February 14, 2015 at 00:03 #

    Thank you so much for this review. The “documentary” is appalling, particularly in its attempt to blame everyone but the ex-mother for a murder. One of the things I wrote about this is here.

  5. lilady February 14, 2015 at 01:13 #

    I know I saw that poster “Autism is Lyme’s” on the AIM Facebook page around the time Alex was murdered. It’s “gone” now.

    Here’s one of those AIM biomeddlers (Lisa Goes), posting another of her infamous screeds on the “Thinking Mom’s Revolution” Facebook page. Goes acts as an apologist for Dorothy Spourdalakis and accuses *everyone for Alex’s brutal murder.

    * everyone does not include her biomeddling group or ex-doctor Andrew Wakefield who provided medical advice to Dorothy, and who interfered with the care Alex was receiving during his hospitalization.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 14, 2015 at 01:46 #

      That is an amazing rant. Just goes on and on.

      I have no doubt that Autism Is Medical has scrubbed comments, posts and more that are problematic for themselves and for Alex’s mother.

  6. Billy Cresp February 16, 2015 at 17:43 #

    What’s with this attempt to vindicate careless administration of psychiatric medications to cover for pharmaceutical industry negligence? It is dangerous to imply that medical treatment for autism just means treating comorbids with psychiatric medications which are often disastrous, especially in children.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 18, 2015 at 01:56 #

      I guess you didn’t read what I wrote, given how you don’t seem to understand it.

      Who, other than Mr. Wakefield, says these medications were administered “carelessly”?

      “It is dangerous to imply that medical treatment for autism just means treating comorbids with psychiatric medications which are often disastrous, especially in children.”

      It is Mr. Wakefield who implies that. You are welcome to take that concern up with him at his facebook page.

      Did you catch the part in the movie where the mother texts about not putting her child *back* on the GI meds that were prescribed. Had those meds been working, she wouldn’t have stopped. She wouldn’t have despaired. She may not have murdered her child.

      • Billy Cresp February 22, 2015 at 15:52 #

        What do GI meds have to do with psychiatric meds? I do not have the knowledge to argue over why GI meds haven’t worked. Making excuses for psychiatric meds is no way to convince others of the corruption of those like Wakefield. Lots of individuals realize that it’s bad to get drugged up like that. With or without autism.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 24, 2015 at 00:27 #

        What does this comment have to do with what I wrote?

        I make no excuses for psychiatric meds. Nor do I give a blanket condemnation of them. If you can’t parse that out of the above, please reread without your inherent bias.

        For some, including many autistics, psychiatric medications are extremely helpful. For some, including many autistics, the adverse reactions to psychiatric medications can be extreme. This is not a new statement by me.

        I do condemn Mr. Wakefield for his approach to psychiatric medication. He, and Autism Is Medical and other groups, failed Alex miserably. And now they blame shift it all on to the psychiatric medicine.

        As to the GI medications, if you do not have the knowledge to comment on the point I made, you do not have the knowledge to comment on psychiatric medication either. The statement made was simple and takes no special understanding of the medication to understand: had the GI medication worked as Mr. Wakefield, Mr. Krigsman, Autism Is Medical and the rest promised Alex’s mother, she wouldn’t have stopped. She would have clung to it, fought for it. Remove the word GI from the sentence if you believe your knowledge is too limited to comment. Or, just dodge the question again in your own assault on psychiatric medication.

        I will make no apology for the direct response you are getting.

      • Billy Cresp February 24, 2015 at 22:08 #

        Psychiatric drugging isn’t a viable treatment for autism, regardless of the privileged groups who get away with it. I don’t see why subduing someone’s behaviors into docility with such drugs, qualifies as a successful therapy. Aside from specific comorbids, off-label prescriptions are riddled with abuses. You mentioned such medications very defensively, saying allegedly a lot. The failure in prescribing GI medications doesn’t prove helpfulness of psychiatric medications for anyone. Who knows what would have occurred if this doctor wasn’t overseeing his treatment?

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) February 26, 2015 at 23:31 #

        “Psychiatric drugging isn’t a viable treatment for autism”

        Autistics are not immune to psychiatric conditions. Much the opposite. Autistics are far more likely to have psychiatric conditions than the general population.

        You keep dancing around that point. And spreading the information that suggests that autistics should under all circumstances avoid psychiatric care is highly irresponsible.

        If anyone should be defensive in this discussion, that would be you. You are parroting the beliefs that led to this child’s death.

      • Billy Cresp February 27, 2015 at 01:54 #

        I implied psychiatric conditions when I said comorbids. Where is the assurance that only properly diagnosed psychiatric conditions lead to prescription of psychiatric medications, in those with autism? What psychiatric condition or conditions was the child diagnosed with that called for prescriptions of psychiatric medications proven to be helpful for them?

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 2, 2015 at 06:37 #

        You keep avoiding the questions posed to you.

  7. Tom April 23, 2015 at 14:38 #

    My apologies, I have not seem the documentary so I have no comment regarding it. However, your statement…

    “Andrew Wakefield’s poorly supported one-size-fits-all approach to autism”

    You do know that Dr. Wakefield’s partner, Professor Smith was exonerated (had the money to fund his case) and that does reflect favorably on Dr. Wakefield. You do know that Japan has decided to not use the MMR vaccine but to vaccinate separately. You do know that Dr. Thompson, senior scientist of the CDC became a whistle blower regarding MMR data coverup. You do know that big money is involved and that sometimes big money will “do whatever it takes” to keep the revenue and profit flowing regardless of ethics (see vioxx). You do know that the editor-in-chief, Harvard’s Medical School Dr Angells resigned stating, “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.” You do know that Dr. Wakefield is in favor of vaccines, but has reservations on “combined” vaccines. etc, etc, etc….therefore you should know that this is not a dead, lets file it away debate. I do not believe that Dr Wakefield and Dr Thompson had a masochistic thought one day and said, “I think I’ll take on big Pharma for the heii of it. Seems like fun”.

    • Lawrence April 23, 2015 at 14:54 #

      @Tom, you do know that you are full of crap, right?

      • Tom April 23, 2015 at 16:22 #

        Lol, what is crap Lawrence? You linked to a Dr. Thompson/CDC article that refutes the allegations. OK, there’s disagreement. What else?

        Here’s more…

        MMR label from Merck … and the possible side effects are…

        Vasculitis, pancreatitus, diabetes mellitis, arthritis, pneumonia, encephalitis and about 20 more.

        By the way, I am pro vaccine. I’m just not convinced the debate of vaccine harm is over.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 23, 2015 at 17:55 #

        “By the way, I am pro vaccine.”

        Right. Some of your best friends are vaccines.

      • Lawrence April 23, 2015 at 17:48 #

        If Wakefield (he’s no longer a doctor) is pro-vaccine, he has a funny way of showing it.

        And your “do you know” routine is old and tired, especially given that just about everything you said has been shown to be wrong.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 23, 2015 at 18:06 #

        Mr. Wakefield has told people he’s pro vaccine. It’s the old “is it what I say I think or my actions that determine if I’m pro vaccine” question. Given that Mr. Wakefield and the truth are seldom seen in together, I would go by his actions.

        Let’s paraphrase Mr. Wakefield:
        “I’m pro vaccine. Now, here’s my video where I make up a story that the CDC are using vaccines in a new “Tuskegee” like experiment in order to scare people.”

        It’s like saying, “I’m pro animal welfare. Pardon me a moment while I club this baby harp seal.”

        I don’t know if he still makes the claim to be pro vaccine. He’s definitely drifting away from his “I’m just a respectable researcher who is asking questions” stance.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 23, 2015 at 17:55 #

      Your entire comment is a non sequitor. You introduce it as following my statement ““Andrew Wakefield’s poorly supported one-size-fits-all approach to autism”” but YOU NEVER ADDRESS THAT POINT. You never address the fact that Andrew Wakefield has a one-size-fits-all approach to autism which besides being wrong on the outset, contributed to the death of Mr. Spourdalakis.

      You have a lot of “you do know…” statements. There’s a search function on the blog where you can not only find that I do know these points, but have discussed them at length.

      As to Prof. Walker-Smith’s appeal, it has no bearing on Mr. Wakefield. Prof. Reiss discussed this at length here:

      One could also note that the first charge found proved and cited by the GMC in their sanction of Mr. Wakefield was that Mr. Wakefield took clinical direction of patients, in contradiction to his position. Mr. Wakefield was not allowed to have clinical responsibility for patients but he went around the other doctors, like Prof. Walker-Smith, and ordered clinical/research investigations. By definition then Prof. Walker-Smith’s appeal does not speak to that charge (and many others) of Mr. Wakefield.

      I do know about Mr. Thompson. He didn’t intend to become a whistleblower, he intended to get some information out into the public eye but was betrayed by those whom he trusted (Mr. Hooker and Mr. Wakefield).

      I do know that big money is in play. Barry Segal is backing Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker and Mr. Segal is very, very wealthy. As is Claire Dwoskin, who is also financially backing these efforts. As are a number of other wealthy people who are antagonistic towards vaccines. How do you think Andrew Wakefield pays the bills these days? He was paid by Barry Segal for his efforts in publicizing the so called whistleblower story. He was paid by Claire Dwoskin to produce his “who killed Alex Spourdalakis” travesty of a video.

      “You do know that Dr. Wakefield is in favor of vaccines” Can you point to a vaccine that Mr. Wakefield currently publicly endorses? I doubt it. If so, please give a link to a statement where he specifically names a vaccine that he encourages people to use.

      You do know that Prof. Walker-Smith, through his attorney, stated that Mr. Wakefield was wrong, don’t you?

      “I do not believe that Dr Wakefield and Dr Thompson had a masochistic thought one day and said, “I think I’ll take on big Pharma for the heii of it. Seems like fun”.”

      Mr. Wakefield was antagonistic towards vaccines from before his entry into the autism world. His colleagues from the Royal Free spoke on that in the GMC hearing. You do know that Mr. Wakefield didn’t do it “for the hell of it” but has been quite well paid for his efforts attacking vaccines, do you not? Aside from the, what, three quarters of a million dollars he got as an “expert” for the UK litigation, he landed a $270k/year job in the US (could he have made that much at the Royal Free? I doubt it) not to mention his opportunities for extra pay as a speaker.

      You do know that Mr. Thompson didn’t step forward “for the hell of it” either, but that he was betrayed by Mr. Hooker and Mr. Wakefield, do you not?

      • Tom April 23, 2015 at 18:33 #

        Thanks for the info. There was no comment on the other side of the money equation, just Dr. Wakefield. Pharma stands or is making 100’s of millions. Regarding Wakefield’s pro vaccine stance, just search YouTube and I’m sure you you’ll find one where he says it. Seems to me, one side says full steam ahead with the vaccines, as is, while the others say “do no harm” first (I’m excluding the 100% anti-vaxxers of which I am not a part of).

        For me, I’m not convinced the story is over.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 23, 2015 at 19:46 #

        ” Pharma stands or is making 100’s of millions. ”

        And lost hundreds of millions if they make mistakes. Covering up harm caused by vaccines would be a huge money loser for them.

        “t. Seems to me, one side says full steam ahead with the vaccines, as is, while the others say “do no harm” first (I’m excluding the 100% anti-vaxxers of which I am not a part of).”

        Let’s see, one side says “Let’s spend a huge amount of time and effort to develop a vaccine, require the manufacturer to conduct multiple large scale safety and efficacy studies then go through an approval process whereby the public and others give input and the vaccine can be shot down anyway as not necessary and then subject both the manufacturing and the usage to the highest levels of scrutiny in the medical world and the vaccine can be pulled quickly if any problems are found, and by the way, *we* are the ones who really apply ‘do no harm'”

        How exactly is that “full steam ahead”? Answer: it isn’t.

        You spend a lot of time repeating the party lines of those who are antagonistic towards vaccines.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 23, 2015 at 19:48 #

        How exactly does your constant harping on vaccines respect the life and needless death of this disabled youth? It doesn’t.

        Take your comments elsewhere. Seriously, you are just another example of how “vaccine skeptics” use autism as a tool. You guys don’t give a damned about the harm you are causing to our community.

      • Chris April 23, 2015 at 19:49 #

        There was never a story. If there was we would have known about it before Wakefield stumbled along.

        The first MMR vaccine was introduced in the USA in 1971. If MMR was associated with autism it would have been noticed in the USA before the UK as it is a much larger country using MMR much longer. Where is the verifiable documentation dated before 1990 that autism in the USA increased during the 1970s and 1980’s?

  8. Tom April 23, 2015 at 23:30 #

    Pharma costs are covered by the Pharma court, i.e. public – nice gig

    All vaccines ARE drugs and we up to what 30+ by 24 months of age.

    Studies – ha! Let’s see, Pharma does the study and submits to the FDA/CDC. Fox managing the hen house.

    “We do no harm” – Yeah ok, let’s see, vaccines have or had mercury, MSG, aluminum and formaldehyde. All known toxins.

    Yes full steam ahead…there are a couple 100 vaccines in the pipeline last I heard.

    Repeating part lines – Cause the answers aren’t satisfactory.

    Don’t care…BS, Pharma doesn’t care. Do you even understand how money influences the world?

    The sad fact is, we are on the same side. It’s just I want “safe” vaccines.

    Oh well, my last post. Have a good day.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 29, 2015 at 20:00 #

      Why are “last posts” almost never the last post?

      Repeating party lines because they have all been addressed. Many times.

      You don’t want pharmaceutical companies to do the safety research on their vaccines? Then what, the taxpayer pays for each potential vaccine’s safety studies (tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars per vaccine)? Sounds like a way for many, many, many more vaccines to be brought to trial. Is that what you are advocating for, because it doesn’t sound like it.

  9. Tom April 24, 2015 at 18:03 #

    One last thing…

    from Dr. Suzanne Humphries, author of Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History…

    “If you want to make these [vaccine] arguments, we have to have information and we have to have knowledge. We have to understand the history, the medical literature, the biology, the chemistry, the physiology, and the immunology. That is not easy. You cannot dabble in the topic of vaccination. If you do, you’re likely going to be toppled by the pro-vaccine lobby because they’re doing their homework.” (true, see comments from Sullivan and others) … “Instead of arguing about any particular vaccine, if you understand the way the infant immune system is designed, you can automatically see that if you were going to toss any kind of a vaccine in there, you might give them some short-term immunity, but you’re also going to change their immune systems so that it can’t function the way it was designed to function… The arguments against vaccines when you really understand the infant immune system I think are irrefutable.”

    hmm…another stupid Dr I guess.
    again…the story/debate continues.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 29, 2015 at 20:02 #

      The idea that Suzanne Humphries understands the immune system as well or better than those who actually study the immune system is, well, difficult to accept.

      “but you’re also going to change their immune systems so that it can’t function the way it was designed to function”

      Right. I wonder what test she has that shows this. If the immune system is different, she could demonstrate that fact rather than waving her hands furiously while making her unsupported comments.

    • Narad April 29, 2015 at 21:38 #

      hmm…another stupid Dr I guess

      A nephrologist/homeopath who thinks the immune system was “designed”? It’s impressive that the adaptive arm works at all.

  10. Tom April 28, 2015 at 00:53 #

    Hey kids, what’s up with the GSK confidential report showing a link to autism and an Italian court awarding damages to a boy who developed autism from their vaccine. Please don’t tell me the report is a forgery and the Italians are too stupid to understand the science.

    Again, I’m all for “safe” vaccines.

    The story continues…

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 29, 2015 at 20:15 #

      Why don’t you tell us about the “confidential” report. Give us a link. And explain how you think it is meaningful?

      You do know that the report included all *reported* events following vaccination? If you think that they are causal, could you provide an explanation for how carbon monoxide poisoning is a vaccine adverse reaction? Or broken bones? Or Arthropod bite? As all of these are also listed as following vaccination in that GSK report.

      You are aware that one of the Italian cases has been overturned, right?

      • Tom Wakefield July 3, 2015 at 11:26 #

        Matt – This is the most biased reviews i have ever seen in my entire life. You are a worthless blogger that will never do anything genuine with your life apart from judge other peoples actions from behind your keyboard. I bet you have absolutely NO IDEA how it is to bring up a child with Autsim. Especially when that child was perfectly happy and healthy until they had the MMR jab. I would love for you to be put in the shoes of those people that have to deal with this realization and see how hurtful it is when you have to read such negative views on a man (the only man) who has ever stood up and spoken out for these people. One day you will be proven wrong and i hope it is in your lifetime. It’s people like you who are part of the mass media who brainwash the public into your bullshit views. I would also like to comment on how petty and unprofessional your reactions are in the comments where Tom is debating with you over the issue. You are basically just a massive c

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) July 3, 2015 at 18:33 #

        “I bet you have absolutely NO IDEA how it is to bring up a child with Autsim.”

        You lose that bet. Didn’t bother to do any research at all, did you?

        I made my views on Mr. Wakefield quite clear to a reporter recently. He’s NOT a part of the autism community. He’s a parasite who attached himself to our community 20 years ago and now uses us for income.

        Yeah, I’m mass media brainwashed. Sure. My guess is I’ve read more about Mr. Wakefield than you. Did you watch the film? Because there’s no way to tell that from your comment. You are a Wakefield fan. Got it. But did you watch the film? Can you make a substantive response to my criticisms above, or just general “you are a brainwashed person who has no idea about autism” generalizations?

        Perhaps if you put more time into looking into Mr. Wakefield–since you clearly don’t do much research–you would come to a different conclusion. And be able to finish sentences.

      • Lawrence July 3, 2015 at 13:43 #

        You should really know a bit more about the person you are insulting Tom, particularly about their status with autistic children.

      • Chris July 3, 2015 at 20:22 #

        “I would love for you to be put in the shoes of those people that have to deal with this realization and see how hurtful it is when you have to read such negative views on a man (the only man) who has ever stood up and spoken out for these people.”

        You can provide the data that showed Wakefield was not fraudulent., just answer the I asked here.

      • novalox July 3, 2015 at 23:27 #


        Thank you for revealing how utterly callous and ignorant you are towards autistic individuals and towards the host. I’ll just point people to your post in the future as proof of what a typical anti-vax individual really thinks of others who have autism.

  11. Narad April 29, 2015 at 21:20 #

    Why don’t you tell us about the “confidential” report. Give us a link.

    See this general vicinity.

    • Brian Deer July 3, 2015 at 13:33 #

      Well, this is what happens. Respond to these people – eg the GSK report doesn’t say what he says, and the obscure little Italian court was overturned on appeal – and what you get back is personal abuse and a change of subject.

      This guy won’t go away and check those facts, and correct himself.

      It’s so similar to the old HIV denialist approach, it could be the same people speaking.

  12. Gold_Star September 29, 2015 at 11:19 #

    The world is becoming enlightened. Vaccines DO cause autism. The deniers here are just bottom feeding pharma shills and trolls with no conscience. But it’s not just autism to worry about. It’s a whole host of debilitating diseases – including encephalopathy, blindness, autoimmune disease, SIDS and death, just to name a few. The ingredients in vaccines are harmful, toxic, and have not EVER been tested for carcinogenic, mutagenic or infertility causing properties.

    • novalox September 29, 2015 at 13:13 #


      So, any evidence for your assertions, because they fly in the face of actual science and reality.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) September 29, 2015 at 19:50 #

        Also, note that of all the articles on this site, “Gold_Star” chose to attach a comment to the one on Alex Spourdalakis.

        It is very sad that this young man was and is such a tool for the anti-vaccine movement. He did and does deserve better.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) September 29, 2015 at 19:40 #

      I appreciate it when people stoop to calling everyone who disagrees with them “pharma shills”.

      Your evidence being? Oh, yeah, we disagree with you. And we have evidence.

      One thing that tipped me off to the fact that the “autism-is-a-vaccine-epidemic” crowd lack evidence is their constant reliance on accusing everyone of being a “pharma shill”.

  13. Nathan Millicheap September 30, 2015 at 11:59 #

    Matt Carey… I don’t care if your a disinformation agent. I care that you are a killer, like me, someone that when put into a position that they feel in any way threatened will do what they have to do… don’t deny this its human nature. The difference between what i want and what i don’t want here is simply a romantic one. I believe the only war worth fighting is the war no one person can win. The only war that i find which fits this category is death… the war against death. We face this war alone… sugarman ill trade you a blue coin to bring back the colours to my dreams… you have no blue coin… no matter what technology you have your going to get stale like one of leonard cohens songs. Its your kharma… anyways PEACE N LOVE BROTHER WE ALL DESERVE LIFE

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) September 30, 2015 at 18:07 #

      “. I care that you are a killer, like me, someone that when put into a position that they feel in any way threatened will do what they have to do… don’t deny this its human nature”

      Don’t project this onto me.

      • shay September 30, 2015 at 18:52 #

        I wonder what Nathan is smoking?

    • Thomas November 26, 2021 at 15:27 #

      Nathan: Why are pro-murder advocates so touchy? Could it be that you know you are wrong? Maybe if you calmed down, apologized for your past behavior, and tried to be a decent person henceforth, you’d be happier too.

  14. autistasangeles July 12, 2016 at 17:57 #

    Reblogged this on autistasangeles and commented:
    Vaxxed Polly Tommy latest update supports murderers of autistics

  15. Laura Sanders November 12, 2016 at 02:57 #

    It may not be a “true” documentary by your definition, but it is a documentary nonetheless. Andrew Wakefield’s life mission is to bring awareness to the vaccine injured and to the link between the MMR and autism. It is absurd to to suggest that Wakefield shouldn’t bring up the point that Alex is vaccine injured in the documentary. The question posed in the title of the documentary as to who killed Alex is a reference to the pharmaceutical products (vaccines) and our failure to acknowledge and effectively treat those who have been damaged by the medical practice of giving these vaccines. Wakefield is addressing the issue that you cannot treat a child damaged by pharmaceutical products that cause neurological damage (vaccines) by giving him psychiatric drugs that cause neoroligical side effects (psychotropic drugs), which would be the only treatment he would receive in a psychiatric facility. What miracle treatment do you think they would provide to him in the psychiatric hospital; he would be drugged and restrained there as well. You failed to report in your review that Alex suffered from excruciating stomach ulcers and GI tract issues. The only thing biased relating to this documentary appears to be your review.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) November 14, 2016 at 18:18 #

      Here’s the definition of a documentary

      a movie or a television or radio program that provides a factual record or report.

      Wakefield puts forth the argument that Alex’s mother and godmother are not at fault. That it is is “big pharma” who are at fault.

      That the people who poisoned Alex are not at fault. That the people who stabbed him, repeatedly, are not at fault. That the people who cut his wrist–almost severing his wrist, are not at fault. That all blame can be shifted to “mainstream medicine”.

      Documentary this is not. I stand aside from Andrew Wakefield, Polley Tommey and anyone else who downplays the rights and dignity of humans like that.

      The question is, why don’t you?

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) November 14, 2016 at 18:19 #

      “What miracle treatment do you think they would provide to him in the psychiatric hospital;”

      Being separated from the people who murdered him.

      One choice: alive.

      The one Wakefield promoted lead to death.

      If you want to call that a “miracle”, you need to rethink your logic. There’s no miracle involved in the simple act of separating a person from someone who is intent on murder.

    • Chris November 14, 2016 at 21:43 #

      Laura Sanders: “Andrew Wakefield’s life mission is to bring awareness to the vaccine injured and to the link between the MMR and autism.”

      So where is the verifiable documentation dated before 1990 that autism in the USA increased during the 1970s and 1980s coinciding with the use of the MMR vaccine that was introduced in 1971?

      • Lawrence November 14, 2016 at 22:34 #

        Funny how the increase in the diagnosis of autism can be directly tracked to the changes in the DSM…..

        And cannot be correlated to any actual increase in the either the number or frequency of vaccination……


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