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Nancy Snyderman and the NAA

7 Jul

Nancy Snyderman is a TV Doctor (for the Today Show apparently) who recently got the collective knickers of the mercury militia in a twist when she told her audience the truth about the vaccine/autism connection – that there isn’t one. What particularly galled them was being confronted with the truth of their own behaviour. When asked what she thought the motivating factor was for parents to be taking vaccine makers to court she replied with one word: ‘money’.

Several anti vaccine/autism groups published a group response, which you can find on the home page of our old friends and routine liars, the National Autism Association.

Let’s go through the main points of the letter.

Dr. Snyderman’s ties to Johnson & Johnson, defendants in vaccine injury litigation, are obviously dictating the agenda in her appearances on your network at the risk of the safety of our children.

Right. So is it OK to pay people or not? Or is it only OK if you’re the parent group of autistic kids? As I talked about recently, its clear that both the NAA and SafeMinds have financial interests of their own that need explaining. Either its bad for everyone to do it, or no one. Which is it?

NBC’s viewers were exposed to a blatant falsehood yesterday as Dr. Snyderman claimed that vaccines no longer contain mercury. This is not the case, and this misinformation has unfortunately given America’s parents a false sense of security that vaccines are now mercury-free. This false claim puts all of America’s children and the unborn at risk of great harm.

Before I start, I want to say I’m referencing the audio Bob Krakow of A-CHAMP helpfully provides.

In respect of the above quote, Snyderman says:

(thiomersal)…was taken out years ago and yet the rates of autism have increased….

So, NAA et al say this is a blatant falsehood and….

Mercury is still in most flu, tetanus, and diphtheria/tetanus vaccines–and an array of vaccines still contain “trace” amounts. (The term “trace” must be used loosely as this aspect of vaccine production is not being regulated and there is some variation on what constitutes a trace amount. As children often receive multiple “trace” amounts of mercury in one sitting, cumulative amounts and potential adverse effects are as yet unknown.)

This is a blatant falsehood. Thiomersal is _not_ in ‘most flu, tetanus and diptheria/tetanus vaccines’. It exists in one brand (out of three) of DTaP at a trace amount. The NAA and other alarmists may be interested in a blog post I made quite awhile ago about ‘trace’ amounts of ingredients. In it, I discuss how my bottled water has to list all ingredients including fat which exists at ‘trace’ levels.

In other words, the chances of you being overdosed on thiomersal from these vaccines are about the same as you getting fat from drinking spring water. Further, Snyderman is correct. There is no thiomersal _in_ these vaccines (which is what she was asked). These trace amounts occur from the use of thiomersal in the manufacturing process. Its extremely likely that there really is _no_ thiomersal in this one vaccine.

Now, Snyderman was asked about childhood vaccines in the context of the omnibus hearings. Here’s the anchor:

…as a result of getting vaccines when their children were babies….

So Snyderman’s answer of ‘none’ is absolutely correct. Flu vaccines, some of which still have thiomersal _in_ them are not specific to children and are not given to babies as part of the schedule.

As a physician representing NBC, Dr. Snyderman has failed to tell the truth about mercury-containing vaccines and the known dangers associated with them. There is simply no excuse for such careless and false reporting while this country is in the throes of a childhood epidemic of neurological disorders.

Woah…..neurological disorders again? Not autism? This is bullshit intended to allow one to say whatever they want. Hey – National *Autism* Association – how about sticking to autism. Is it because you are well aware that there is in fact no epidemic of autism? We all know what you think about that. You slandered the author of a study who performed science that disagreed with you and set your pack of parent harpies on him right? This was the result:

After Mr. Shattuck’s paper last year, he received “a half-dozen phone messages on my answering machine that were either vaguely or specifically physically threatening,” he said.

One person said, “Don’t be surprised if you get a knock on your door in the middle of the night and I’ll be there.” Another message said it was easy in the age of the Internet to find out where people live.

Anyway, back to the National Autism Association et al. the next part of their letter states:

During Monday’s NBC Nightly News Dr. Snyderman stated, “there really is no science” behind the autism/mercury link. Vaccines and the mercury-based preservative thimerosal have not been ruled out as a cause of autism. To the contrary, there are literally thousands of scientific, peer-reviewed studies supporting the extreme neurotoxicity of mercury and the relationship between mercury exposure and neurological injury

Hey look! There’s that ‘neurological injury’ thing again. What happened to _autism_ ? You are attacking Snyderman for answering a question that you don’t even tackle in your response. She was asked about _autism_ . Her answer was also totally correct. There _is_ no science behind the autism/vaccine belief system. Your response that there are thousands of peer reviewed articles about the toxicity of mercury and the link to neurological injury is utterly irrelevant and nothing more than a very transparent strawman.

In her most recent NBC appearance, Dr. Snyderman was asked why parents were filing claims on behalf of their vaccine-injured children, to which she answered matter-of-factly, “money.” This cavalier statement alone goes far beyond contempt and displays an appalling ignorance of the emotional and financial devastation faced by families of vaccine-injured children. This must be addressed by an immediate apology from NBC to all the parents of children suffering from vaccine-induced illnesses.

I urge Dr Snyderman _not_ to apologise or retract her statement as it 100% correct. It is the only possible outcome from these hearings. If they win, the petitioners get money. That’s why the court was set up. Its a ‘no fault’ system. Do you need it explaining again?

We urge you to speak with the growing number of scientists who have published research supporting a causal link between mercury in vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders, and can provide you contact information for these researchers.

No one needs to do that. The science should speak for itself. If thiomersal causes autism, the peer reviewed literature will show that. Guess what? It doesn’t. Peer review does not include quack journals like Medical Veritas or JPANDS.

Reporting false information is a disservice to the American people.

I find it absolutely unbelievable that this statement is on the NAA website, the source for the false information about Paul Shattuck that led to his being hounded and threatened.

There is a choice selection of the more extreme antivax groups and individuals who are cosigners of this letter (although no SafeMinds I note – wonder why…).

These groups need to start looking at their behaviour. It is appalling. They have already led one researcher to being threatened over his phone because his _science_ didn’t agree with their _beliefs_ – what will happen to Nancy Snyderman? Maybe here is a telling sign. I got this from (you guessed it) the Evidence of Harm Yahoo group:

From: andrea52521991
Date: Apr 5, 2007 3:20 PM
Subject: [EOHarm] Re: Oprah, Autism Speaks, etc…
To: EOHarm@yahoogroups.com

……..

I’d like to meet Dr.Nancy Snyderman in a dark alley someday and shove a 100 HPV vaccines right up her smug ass!

………

The truth is that these groups have an ugly, ugly problem with violence and an unhealthy fixation on committing acts of violence towards people who don’t agree with them. They have recently introduced what seems to be a new policy of referring to ‘neurological disorders’ when responding to points about ‘autism’ and need to have a long, hard look at both the accuracy of their public statements and their methods of what seem to be little more than inciting violence towards people they don’t like.

Safe Minds and David Kirby

5 Jul

Suspicions have been circling for a long time that there was more than just coincidence to the timing of writing and publication of Kirby’s Evidence of Harm. Those suspicions were enhanced for me when it became clear that a lot of Kirby’s associations with certain autism/anti-vaccine groups such as the National Autism Association were on a financial footing.

The ‘official’ story regarding the writing of Evidence of Harm, as reported by Kirby himself, was that Kirby was casting about for something to write about of book length and had been approached by several autism parents who wanted to share their beliefs that vaccines had made their kids autistic. According to Kirby, he was skeptical and unsure about whether to proceed with it or not. What made up his mind apparently was seeing a news report that a politician had managed to attach a no fault rider to a bill passing through Congress, absolving vaccine makers of any legal responsibility.

However, I don’t believe him. Up until recently, that belief was simply a belief. Rumours circulated that Sallie Bernard of Safe Minds was listed as the domain controller (i.e. she’d bought and paid for) the domain evidenceofharm.com. I emailed her to ask her one way or the other. She refused to answer that question. Kathleen Seidel has asked David Kirby that question. He refused to answer.

Why does it matter? Because Kirby claims to be impartial in this debate. His reviewers claim he ‘walks the middle line’ in his book. that his account is ‘even handed’. I would like to know how someone who has an established financial relationship to one major autism/anti-vax group can possibly be impartial. Would the NAA continue to fund Kirby’s website if he said he didn’t think thiomersal caused autism? I doubt it.

Turning our attention to Safe Minds, we can look at their records – records they must supply be law as they’re a non-profit organisation – and see exactly what they have financed. You can access these records via the orgs IRS Form 990:

Form 990 is an annual reporting return that certain federally tax-exempt organizations must file with the IRS. It provides information on the filing organization’s mission, programs, and finances.

Attached is Safe Minds 990 for 2005. It has some interesting details in it.

If we look at line 43, it has a listing amount of $99,196 for ‘Professional Fees’ expenses placed under the ‘Program Services’ Category.

This means that they paid people they considered professionals almost $100k to provide services to their programs. On page 15 of this same document they go into detail about what these services are.

…..THE BOOK “EVIDENCE OF HARM, MERCURY IN VACCINES AND THE AUSTISM EPIDEMIC: A MEDICAL CONTROVERSY” WAS RELEASED IN 2004 AND SAFEMINDS PRESIDENT, LYN REDWOOD, WAS FEATURED ON THE MONTEL WILLIAMS SHOW ALONG WITH AUTHOR, DAVID KIRBY. THIS IMPORTANT BOOK EXAMINES BOTH THE PERSONAL STORIES OF FAMILIES AND THE UNFOLDING DRAMA IN THE COURTS AND HALLS OF CONGRESS.

This is listed as a ‘Program Service Accomplishment’.

So what can we conclude? To me, this is pretty damning evidence that David Kirby was paid by Safe Minds to write Evidence of Harm. It certainly ties in with Kirby’s other financial benefits from the NAA. So much for impartiality.

I have some questions for Safe Minds and David Kirby.

1) Did David Kirby receive any kind of financial incentive from Safe Minds or NAA or any of their boards prior to writing Evidence of Harm?
2) If so, how much?
3) If not, please explain the 990 form from 2005 above and tell us exactly what the information in it means.

What will change?

30 Jun

The first of the nine ‘test’ Autism Omnibus cases has wrapped up. This was also the first of the designated three that will attempt to associate autism with MMR _and_ Thiomersal causation.

In todays’ Wall Street Journal, Professor Roy Richard Grinker, author of Unstrange Minds wraps up what we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks:

Over the last three weeks, I listened to testimony in the first of nine test cases in the U.S. Vaccine Court (Cedillo v. Health and Human Services) considering the question of whether a mercury-based vaccine preservative called thimerosal (which used to be in many vaccines), or the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine, or both together, caused autism in Michelle Cedillo, the plaintiffs’ daughter.

I heard some of the world’s leading experts on autism, immunology, and vaccines testify that there is no biological model to account for an autism-vaccine connection, no scientific evidence or credible studies linking the two. They argue, instead, that autism is largely genetic. And yet just last week, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., wrote in the Huffington Post that there are “hundreds of research studies” from a dozen countries providing “undeniable” proof that vaccines cause autism and Rep. Dan Burton (R-Indiana) wrote a letter to the president of NBC claiming that there is increasingly conclusive evidence that thimerosal caused an “epidemic” of autism. Scores of websites and autism advocacy groups are convinced of the connection, and the vast majority of scientists and physicians can’t understand why.

………….

The scientific testimony has been devastating to the plaintiffs because the recognized experts on autism, vaccines, and immunology do not support even one of these premises, let alone a linkage between any of them. The only thing the government and Cedillos agree on is that Michelle Cedillo has autism.

However, I can assure you that those who support the Cedillo’s – and the Cedillo’s themselves don’t see it like that.

I was able to attend the hearing on Friday.

As I sat in the court room and listen to the twisted bull generated by the defense, I wanted to scream out, “you have proof of what
thimerisol does in the human body-look at all these damaged kids.”

This was posted by Holly (I assume Bortfield) on the Yahoo EoH group. Her response typifies exactly why it won’t make one shred of difference to these people what the outcome of the Cedillo case is – or the other eight to come.

These are not people who are swayed by science. To them, decent, peer reviewed science is ‘twisted bull’. To them idiocy posted to JPANDS, Medical Veritas etc is gospel truth.

This court hearing revealed once and for all Andrew Wakefield’s deliberate falsification of science and the O’Leary labs accidental false reporting of negative samples. In the O’Leary lab it was sloppy science. In Wakefield’s hands it was knowingly ignoring evidence that showed his error plainly. Without Wakefield and without the O’Leary results there was no MMR association to autism whatsoever. That testimony alone is enough to sink the Cedillo case and all other MMR related cases that may come after.

But as Arthur Allen writes in Slate:

None of that moves Laura Wildman, 47, whose son’s case is before the court and who drove from her home near Pittsburgh to watch the hearing, which ended this week. “I know what happened to my son after he got his MMR shot,” she told me. “I have no doubt. There’s no way they’ll convince me that all these kids were not damaged by vaccines.”

At some point we may have to realise that what we are dealing with here is simply blind, deliberate ignorance.

Even the plaintiffs lawyers realise this. Here’s a telling quote from Michelle Cedillo’s lawyer:

The government position is backed by the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence, which has repeatedly found the vaccines safe. But what the Cedillos and other parents lack in hard data, they have made up for with a stubborn passion and sorrow that science cannot dispute. _”It is parents versus science,”_ said Kevin Conway, one of the attorneys for the Cedillos.

Parents vs science. Indeed it is.

The real sorrow here is that the Cedillo’s continue, in the face of all reason, logic and evidence, to passionately insist MMR caused Michelle’s autism.

On the Evidence of Harm yahoo group – and on various other Yahoo groups, the conspiracy theories are already being polished.

Theory one states that the media – bought off by Pharma – have reported nothing but science and dismissed the opinions of parents. This theory goes on to continue to suggest that the three Special Masters will be under the sway of the media.

Its true that the media have not been kind to the mercury militia. This is because there is nothing to write about in their beliefs except for the fact that they are beliefs. The science lies with Respondents.

Theory two suggests that the Special Masters are Pharma plants. Various members of the mercury militia are carefully combing through the backgrounds of these three Special Masters for Pharma connections they can wave about.

Will they ever let this go? Of course not. You cannot reason someone out of a belief they did not reason themselves into.

Generation Rescue II – This Time It’s Vague

3 May

As already blogged by Steve and Orac, Generation Rescue have undergone a change in both website and message.

Up until this week and for the last two years, Brad Handley – GR Head Honcho has promoted a message quite unequivocal:

“Autism is treatable. It’s reversible. It’s nothing more than mercury poisoning,” said JB Handley, founder of Generation Rescue.

In fact, giving a reason for the redesign of the site on Orac’s blog, Brad said:

From my perspective, our website and its message have always been broader than “its ONLY mercury”…

Huh. Weird. Maybe its just me but I detect a teensy-weensy inconsistency between those two statements. Lets switch to the video!!:

And for the non-video-blessed amongst us, what Brad said was:

We immediately realised…and I think this is something that is a big surprise to people….um, that autism is a misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning.

Riiight. So let me see if I can summarise the position. When there is no science to have an informed debate about mercury, and when there’s lots of scary sounding stuff like ‘the Amish aren’t vaccinated and have no autism’ or ‘CDDS proves the epidemic’ floating around then the situation is:

“Autism is treatable. It’s reversible. It’s nothing more than mercury poisoning”.

Now that there’s no science to establish a causative link between mercury and autism, plenty of epidemiology to refute it and now that the first piece of science on the Amish has shown that actually they do vaccinate and that the penny has finally dropped, even for David Kirby, regarding CDDS’ inability to support the epidemic, what is the Generation Rescue position now? Lets see shall we?:

Our children are experiencing epidemics of ADD/ADHD, Asperger’s, PDD-NOS, and Autism. We believe these neurological disorders (“NDs”) are environmental illnesses caused by an overload of heavy metals, live viruses, and bacteria.

Wow. So we’re now no longer talking about just autism. We’re now talking about ‘neurological disorders’, including ADD/ADHD which is not even classed as being on the spectrum. That is quite some turnabout.

And look at this! Now, we’re talking about a _combination_ of causative agents: heavy metals (not just mercury any more), live viruses and bacteria.

Incredible. Makes you feel almost sorry for poor old mercury don’t it? Last week it was the Terror of the High Seas. Now it doesn’t even make it as a distinct causative agent.

The ‘live viruses’ is in there to placate the Wakefield Worshipers who think the MMR also (or in combination with mercury) caused autism. The ‘bacteria’ mention is I’m guessing a nod to the Martha Herbert theory of mold causing autism – a theory that was described thusly last time Martha took it to court:

Dr. Herbert’s publications indicate that she is an outspoken advocate of increased attention to the possibility of environmental influences. Even she, however, despite that acknowledged perspective, speaks in her published work of possibilities and potentialities, rather than of the ‘reasonable degree of medical certainty’ to which she offers to testify under oath in this case. Neither Dr. Herbert’s publications, nor any others cited, identify mold exposure as even a suspected, still less a known or proven, trigger of autism

Going back to MMR and taking a brief side journey for a minute, here’s the latest update from the Autism Omnibus proceedings. When last we left it, Petitioners had put forward one family as a ‘test case’ to see if the whole Omnibus proceeding had enough merit to proceed. There were supposed to be three. Awhile ago, the court told Petitioners to hurry up and identify the other two. They couldn’t. Respondents replied with:

The Court ordered the PSC to find two cases (similar enough to the first) to present the same basic theory of causation…..the essence of its (PSC’s) response is that it does not know of any case presenting the same causation issues as are implicated in Cedillo.

Ouch. How long has this been dragging on? Five years or something? And out of the 4,700 cases in the Omnibus no other case can be found to match the first one put forward. The only people who must be enjoying this are the lawyers.

Anyway, back to Generation Rescue.

Of particular note is the much vaunted, never seen ‘California-Oregon Unvaccinated Children Survey’ of described thusly by GR:

no studies have ever been done to compare neurological disorder (“ND”) rates of unvaccinated children to vaccinated children. We commissioned a national market research firm to survey more than 17,000 children in California and Oregon.

National market research firm eh? How very scientific. Researching popular chewing gum, researching autism causation. Yep, they’re the same. Souds very much like a a ‘convenience sample’ where people are called up. Here’s a friend of Brad’s describing what a convenience sample is and is not:

So. Not data according to David Kirby. Bummer.

Generation Rescue have also revamped their ‘Testimonials’ section. This is the section I looked at I August of last year and reached a (very) rough figure of a 5% success rate for the kids talked about on the GR site where ‘success’ is losing the diagnosis:

Out of these 59 success stories, just 3 describe their child as having been reclassified as no longer meeting a diagnosis of ASD. That’s a ‘recovery’ rate of 5%. Interestingly, one of these cases states they did not use chelation at all. That puts the Generation Rescue chelation success rate at a little over 3%.

Now, Generation Rescue have 76 ‘success stories’ (except they’re not called that any more, now they’re ‘testimonials’). Of that number, 6 claim full recovery with total loss of diagnosis. That’s a percentage of 7.8%. A heady leap of over 2%. Woo-hoo.

I was drawn to some of the newer testimonials, particularly the 6 year old ones as Meg only recently turned 7. One of them, about a girl called Liz was fascinating.

Our daughter Liz was diagnosed with low functioning autism at age three. We blamed the DTP vaccine which she had a bad reaction to. She would have very long lasting meltdowns, she would smear faeces, she would exhibit self injurious behaviour, she did not talk at all, she avoided eye contact and her only activity was that involving toys that spun. She walked on her tip toes and the doctor said she had a low IQ (below 70). We were told by mainstream medicine that she was ‘unreachable’.

Today Liz is six and after following biomedical interventions (and some other things) Liz will talk – on Christmas morning this year I went to wake her up and she said ‘good morning’ to me. She no longer smears faeces and is 99% toilet trained, she can write notes to people and knows all the letters of the alphabet and can count up to 40 unprompted. She can use a computer mouse unaided and has numerous favourite websites. The self injurious behaviour is vastly lessened, as are the meltdowns. Her eye contact is now perfect and overall her sensory issues seem 99% under control. She can drink out of a normal cup and use a knife, fork and spoon to eat whilst sitting at the table.

In so many ways, this is a different child.

Why was I drawn to this little girl so much?

Because it’s Megan’s story. I assumed a false name – Mr Clarence House – and emailed it to the Generation Rescue site. ‘Clarence’ received an email saying it was going to be on the new site which I was very happy about.

All of it is true except the name. The biomedical treatments I was talking about were multi vitamins, fish oil and a steroid inhlaer for her asthma. The ‘other things’ were love, acceptance, patience and education.

Why do this? To prove a point. You can make anyone’s story fit your own beliefs if you twist it hard enough.

Don’t worry, if it disappears I took a loving screenshot.

Brad Handley has tried to shift his goalposts as his first guess wasn’t working out. As evidenced above, he has latched on to items that are equally silly. As evidenced above he is incapable of seeing autism. He only sees mercury. As evidenced above, improvement is not limited – or even related to – detoxification of heavy metals.

Autism amongst the Amish

22 Apr

Don’t Stand So Close To Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and as for vaccination:

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

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

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

No Autism Amongst The Amish

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

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

Dan Olmsted.

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

Dr Paul King, CoMed, closed access Yahoo List.

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

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

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

Poster ‘Jan’ to closed access Yahoo List.

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

Poster ‘Paul Troutt’ to closed access Yahoo List

HE [friend of the poster] HAS NEVER SEEN AN AUTISTIC AMISH CHILD OR ADULT…. Why? THE[y] DO NOT IMMUNIZE….EVER.

Poster ‘Amethyst Mueller’ to closed access Yahoo List.

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

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

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

Source.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Katie Wright’s big day

6 Apr

Yesterday three big things happened to Katie Wright. Firstly, she joined the board of Directors of SafeMinds. Secondly she joined the board of directors of the National Autism Association. Thirdly, she appeared on the US Oprah Winfrey show.

The elusive Ginger blogged the NAA and SafeMinds news which was announced just before/during/after (depending on your timezone) the Oprah show.

The Opera show itself was a mixed bag apparently. There was a lot of self pity at the start:

“he’s not there, I don’t know where he is but he’s not there”

Oprah: A mystery affecting millions of families

“A bad day is a bad day and a good day is a bad day waiting to happen”

Please. Spare me. Not there?

However, a lot of people have also said there were some great moments:

I like the way the show ended with every single parent talking about the gifts their autistic children have given them! “He has made me more spiritual,” “He has made me look outside of myself,” “He takes people just as they are.” “He has given me someone to love way beyond what I ever thought possible.” Amen.

Sue also noted that no autistic adults were on the show and none were interviewed. That’s ridiculous.

However, part way through the show was the Katie Wright Experience. Apparently what happened was that Oprah asked a Doc on the show about vaccines and he repeated the scientific consensus – which is that vaccines have been refuted as a cause. Which is true. The show cut to a break. When it came back on, viewers were greeted by a visibly pink and flustered Katie Wright and then the host of the show told the audience that …..in fact I’ll quote from someone (who I won’t name so don’t ask) who was watching the show carefully:

To me it all seemed quite sane, except for Katie’s little blurt. A pediatrician of south Asian descent whose name I didn’t catch was periodically consulted from the dais by la Oprah, and gave what sounded like reasonable advice. At one point Oprah asked about causes–she didn’t use the word epidemic but said ‘what the cdc calls a health threat–and the pede gave a general response, genetics, possibly some environmental thing, and then Oprah said, “what about vaccines?” the pediatrician responded, “that’s controversial.” and oprah said, ‘well yeah, and?” or words to that effect. The pediatrician said the vaccine theory had been pretty well refuted. That was that, but after the next break, Katie Hildebrand, who was sitting next to Oprah, must have been chewing her ear off because la O told her to say her piece which she did in the usual incoherent shrieking way, “vaccines are not cleared of being responsible, children are given 37 different vaccines, my child has all kinds of immune problems, there’s an epidemic that keeps growing” etc. Oprah said, “there i can see you needed to get that off your chest, you don’t want to go home with that all bottled up. After all, you’re a mom.” the studio crowd applauded though they did not hoot or yell anything specific that i could detect on my tv screen.

Following that, Oprah apparently told the audience that this is what _Katie_ personally believed and it wasn’t supported by any CDC evidence.

Here’s _my_ summation of Katie Wright’s life at the moment.

Katie campaigned to get a Generation Rescue member on the board of Autism Speaks. Here’s how Brad Handley reported that event in a rant:

Kevin Barry, our former President, was hired by Autism Speaks. On his first day of employment, Mark Roithmayr informed Kevin that he was only there “as a favor to Katie” [ the mother of Bob and Suzanne Wright’s autistic grandson]

Katie has spoken of Brad and Kevin Barry as her mentors. Here’s Brad’s mention of Katie Wright:

I just want to share how damn proud I am of this family. Remember, there is no Christian Wright, his name is Christian Hildebrand.

Katie’s decision to be more public about her point of view is not some impulsive move. For almost two years now, quietly but firmly, she has lobbied her parents on the growing morass that Autism Speaks was becoming. By choosing to listen more to the “experts” than their own daughter, Katie’s parents selaed their own fate.

Two years. After which the Wright’s continue to listen to science, not Brad’s people.

Katie Wright has come to believe, after a long association with Brad Handley, that vaccines caused her sons autism. Katie had the king Rescue Angel himself hovering over her for the last two years. Has anyone ever told Katie that Brad is often wrong and never admits it even when its clearly demonstrated? I guess not.

Kim Stagliano (autism blogger – big on pooh) said:

This is a very big day when the SS Minnow overtakes the Titanic.

Really? _Really_ ?

From all I’ve read and seen, all that’s apparent is that the newest mercury mum on the block got appointed to two antivaccine groups and that made a bit of a fool of herself on television. The only difference is that this mercury mum happens to have parents who own and run an autism organisation that she’s just cut her ties from.

What I actually feel the Wrights are guilty of is: Listening to dinosaurs with degrees instead of their daughter, Deirdre Imus, and others speaking the truth, myself included.

In Brad’s world there is no greater sin than not listening to him. Maybe they did listen to you Brad and thought you were wrong.

So, after Katie Wright’s big day – the day the SS Minnow overtook the Titanic – what’s changed?

The world saw a visibly unstable mercury mum on TV being thrown a bone to rant about her pet theory for a few minutes and then the show carried on.

…and thats that. No scientific facts changed yesterday. Katie Wright confirmed herself as a woo-meister. All that means is people will be even less likely to listen to her than they were before. Autism Speaks must be breathing a sigh of relief she’s jumped ship.

Reversal of Rett Symptoms

9 Feb

Reversal of Neurological Defects in a Mouse Model of Rett Syndrome.

Rett Syndrome is an ASD. My friend Kassiane has Rett Syndrome. I would bookmark her blog as I’m sure she will want to talk about this.

Yesterday, the news was published that claimed that symptoms of Rett Syndrome had been reversed in a mouse model of Rett. It seems like decent enough science and yet all the news reports I’ve seen are encouraging very worrying responses in some people.

First, lets go through the science at a level people like me can understand it.

Rett is ’caused’ due to mutations in the MECP2 gene. In simple terms what this paper described was the science team attempting to emulate Rett in mice and then turn on the MECP2 gene to see what happened. One of the things that happened was that in roughly half of the mice they did indeed reverse the symptoms of Rett.

This paper has made it into the Schafer Autism Report already. It is also being discussed on the Autism Yahoo Groups with a view to possibly extending these findings:

Is any one going to contact them in regard to our children’s symptoms?

Posted yesterday to the Autism-Mercury group.

What is worrying to me is two things. First is the applicability of this work to humans. One of my science guys whom I rely on to translate this kind of stuff said:

Simply put, this paper is good work, but it’s a headline job because it has no applicability to humans; this paper simply validated Zoghbi’s work.

That’s worrying enough but in a world inhabited by the likes of Rashid Buttar, the Geier’s and various others who leap from madness to madness in their frightening treatment regimes is the second and much more truly scary aspect of this paper that no one seems to be discussing.

I said above that in half of the mice Rett symptoms were indeed reversed. What about the other half?

….prior to symptom onset, revealed toxicity associated with abrupt Mecp2 reactivation as 9 out of 17 mice developed neurological symptoms and died….The data indicate that sudden widespread activation of the Mecp2 gene leads to either rapid death or complete phenotypic rescue.

This is quite literally, kill or cure.

I have a really horrible feeling that certain ‘doctors’ are going to be chasing this like a dog with a bone – already the Yahoo Groups are asking for details. No one is discussing this ‘detail’. A little bit of restraint is very much what’s required here.

UPDATE

Its begun already. Sallie Bernard posted a comment from Richard Deth on the Autism-Mercury group:

The just-published study shows “Rett syndrome” can be reversed in mice, lacking MeCP2, which binds to methylated DNA. Reversal was accomplished by turning on MeCP2 after symptoms (neurological and obesity) were fully developed. The important point is that an abnormal pattern of gene expression, due to interuption of the methylation-dependent epigenetic mechanism, can be reversed if the methylation-dependent epigenetic mechanism is brought back to normal.

The parallels for autism are clear. If impairments of methylation-dependent epigenetic regulation, caused by oxidative stress
rather than MECP2 deletion, can be reversed, then recovery can occur.

No mention of the rather important details that the reversal killed half the mice, instead just a comparison of this decent science with his own brand of poor science in order to lend it weight and credibility it doesn’t have,

Kevin Barry and dumbing down science

20 Jan

Kevin Barry’s Ethics

Kevin Barry used to be deputy (or something) to Brad Handley’s Sherriff at Generation Rescue. He announced to the EoH Yahoo Group on 21st Nov 2006 that:

As of December 1st, I begin work as a consultant to Autism Speaks. In order to avoid any conflict of interest, I am resigning as President of Generation Rescue.

What a decent guy – wanting to avoid any conflict of interest.

End of story? Of course not. Never is with these goons.

Yesterday, it was noted that one Heidi Roger had made a post to the EoH group exhorting members to flood the Autism Speaks website who had asked for opinions on ‘Unstrange Minds‘ (which you may recall is skeptical regarding a vaccine initiated epidemic).

Except, Heidi had forgotten to strip out the message she had got from the person who had sent her this news. Good old conflict-of-interest avoider, Kevin Barry:

Hi Heidi, Confidential. I am not allowed to comment on the Boards. Would you post this to the EOH board as if you can upon it yourself? It is a page where people can comment on the epidemic “debate”. It would not hurt if Autism Speaks heard more feedback from EOH parents. Thanks, Kevin

Oops (screenshot attached).

So, here we have the moral and ethical finery of Generation Rescue and militia members on show. It seems that Barry is keen only not to get caught. I hope he gets fired. He should be.

Dumbing Down Science

Some fascinating legal developments in the Omnibus Autism Proceedings (OAP). Firstly a quick recap:

A bunch of people decided thiomersal caused their kids autism and decided to sue various people. By doing this, they stepped out of the opportunity to go down the Vaccine Program route which would allow them to contest their beliefs in a very much less stringent legal environment. However, the vaccine makers would suffer no liability and the plaintiffs would gain only a set amount (I think US$100,000) should they win their case.

They eschewed this process and decided they wanted to go down the full, legal shenanigans route. I’ve read invective from various blowhards who talk about taking the vaccine makers to account publicly and making sure that they are vindicated in a proper court of law (and of course the unspoken promise of megabucks).

OK, so fast forward a couple of years and we come to the RhoGAM/autism/thiomersal case in which the vaccine causation hypothesis was utterly demolished under the (totally appropriate) legal principle of Daubert. The take home quote from that case was:

This Court must find more than the “hypothesis and speculation,” engaged in [by Dr. Geier] in this instance….

The science was so bad, the case never even made it to trial. It was dismissed as a total waste of time.

Now you can bet the legal team for the OAP petitioners (numbering some 4,700 claims by now) were watching this closely and on Jan 9th this year, a new document was submitted which detailed how the Petitioners thought the trial should be conducted.

First of all, they want to use a ‘test case’ i.e. a handpicked petitioner from the 4,700 who would:

…serve as a representative case for a significant number of children who claim that a combination of thimerosal exposure and the MMR vaccine caused injury.

and then followed by cases solely addressing thiomersal and cases solely addressing MMR.

Okaaay. Also in this document was a reminder in this document that:

they needed ‘more time for the science to crystallize.’

Heh – you can say that again. Has the ‘crystallisation’ occurred? Maybe the overall intent of this document will tell us.

On page six of the document I have linked to above, the petitioners start to argue that the same legal rules that govern the Vaccine Program (described above) should be used to ‘judge’ the OAP proceedings. They repeat the arguments that led to the setting up of the Vaccine Program originally touching on how vaccines were a national health priority and that supply should not be endangered. The purpose of this legislation therefore was to try and limit the number of civil cases against vaccine manufacturers so that the health of the nations children was never compromised (see pages 6 – 7) .

In order to do this, it was accepted that the burden of proof would be substantially less. It was also noted that from time to time, people who’s kids weren’t actually damaged by vaccines would be awarded compensation. As the petitioners define the statute it reads:

As enacted the vaccinate act has a unique evidentiary standard, a unique standard, one that facilitates resolution of cases in the Vaccine Program and discourages the diversion of cases to the civil arena. It does not require a petitioner to prove his or her case with scientific certainty. It does not require ‘truth’. It does not require a petitioner to show ’cause in fact’

So why is all this lead up to the vaccine program necessary? Because the petitioners – who eschewed their option to go down the vaccine program option if you recall – now want their cases to be tried under these same ‘relaxed’ standards. They want their _civil legal cases_ to be tried under conditions that do not require the truth.

Wow. Just wow. The bare faced, cowardly effrontery of it defies belief.

Let us recall that at the start of these proceedings, plaintiffs stated they required time for their science to crystallize. Now they want to their omnibus case to be tried under a standard that doesn’t require scientific certainty or indeed, truth. That tells its own story about how good the state of the ‘science’ is underpinning the OAP case.

But what really galls me is that here are these people who had their opportunity to go down the route of the vaccine program and follow the same set of rules as described above and refused. They wanted to make a big song and dance about it and parade their science. Now that its apparent that their science is crap, they want their cases to be tried under the same legalities as the vaccine program cases are. Talk about wanting your cake and eating it.

If it was up to me, I’d tell them to go away and accept the consequences of their actions.

UPDATE: Please scroll down and read Anne’s comments on the _actual_ status of the OAP. It seems a whole lot of people who are part of the Omnibus are badly mistaken as to the nature of it and I’ve duplicated their misunderstanding.

David kirby plays the segregation game

3 Jan

A truly fascinating start to 2007. David Kirby writes a blog entry entitled ‘There is no autism epidemic’. Why is it fascinating? Two reasons. Firstly, it reveals the lengths David Kirby is willing to go to shift goalposts even further. The entire entry is replete with strawmen arguments. An example – in his opening paragraph, Kirby talks about being vilified by people who who believe that autism is a stable genetic condition and then names the neurodiversity community as amongst his most spirited detractors.

Nobody I know who shares the opinion of neurodiversity believes autism is *only* a stable genetic condition. However, unless we want to throw out what we know about Rett Syndrome then we do have to accept that some of the spectrum of autism is indeed a genetically based condition.

He further describes neurodiversity as a ‘group of adults with autism’. Again, nowhere near accurate. As I wrote about only yesterday, neurodiversity is not specifically associated with autism, neither is it anything other than a fairly nebulous opinion shared by people who think respect and equality matters. Neither is it an opinion not shared by people who are parents of autistic children.

Here’s how Kirby sums up ‘the neurodiverse’:

Most of them, I believe, have what science calls “Asperger’s Syndrome,” or very high functioning autism. From their eloquent and well reasoned point of view, autism has no “cause,” and it certainly requires no “cure.” To suggest otherwise is to brand these adults with the stigma of disease and disability, which is patently absurd given their educational and intellectual achievements.

No.

Time and time again, the people I speak to who are autistic and who are sharers of the opinion neurodiversity expounds tell me that as children they either were not diagnosed at all and left to rot or diagnosed with low functioning autism. How do I know this? I asked, Mr Kirby, and then I listened to the answer. I didn’t make up any old opinion that suits my argument better. Some, like Amanda Baggs, still _are_ considered low functioning. My Great Uncle was ‘low functioning’ and my Great Aunt was ‘high functioning’ – both were born way before thiomersal was ever around by the way. My Grandma said that her brother-in-law was ‘much worse’ as a child than as an adult. As adults they were able to converse.

The first part of Kirby’s post sets up the second. He is attempting to dismantle the idea of the autistic spectrum and at the same time, corral all ‘the neurodiverse’ into a place where they cannot speak about autism. Here’s the filibuster part of his post in full:

But if that’s autism, then the kids that I have met suffer from some other condition entirely. When I talk about “curing” autism, I am not talking about curing the “neurodiverse.”

I am talking about kids who begin talking and then, suddenly, never say another word.

I’m talking about kids who may never learn to read, write, tie their shoes or fall in love.

I’m talking about kids who sometimes wail in torture at three in the morning because something inside them hurts like a burning coal, but they can’t say what or where it is.

I’m talking about kids who can barely keep food in their inflamed, distressed guts, and when they do, it winds up in rivers of diarrhea or swirls of feces spread on a favorite carpet or pet (no one said this kind of “autism” was pretty).

I’m talking about kids who escape from their home in a blaze of alarms, only to be found hours later, freezing, alone and wandering the Interstate.

I’m talking about kids who have bitten their mother so hard and so often, they are on a first name basis at the emergency room.

I’m talking about kids who spin like fireworks until they fall and crack their heads, kids who will play with a pencil but not with their sister, kids who stare at nothing and scream at everything and don’t even realize it when their dad comes home from work.

These are the kids I want to see cured. And I don’t believe they have “autism.”

Woah! My daughter very rarely speaks, she’s just on the cusp of learning to write, she can’t tie her shoes, she wakes up regularly in the night (on New Years Eve she got up at half past midnight – not 3am) but she is distinctly burning coal free, she tolerates certain foods very well and refuses to touch other foods, she used to smear faeces regularly on both the carpet, the walls, her bed, us, the cat and she’s had the odd bout of diarrhoea (no one said autism was pretty, right?) – she’s pulled out of my hand on occasion and ran and I’ve followed, heart in mouth, she sometimes has the odd pinch or smack at me if I’ve told her she can’t have something, or I’m not getting what it is she wants, she loves to spin – and bounce (have you see my video Mr Kirby?) and she used to be non-social completely.

So yeah, I know what you’re talking about. Guess what? Its still autism. I still love her just the way she is. I still don’t want to change anything about who she is. I’m happy for her to be autistic.

Here’s what *I* think.

I think you’re goalpost shifting again Mr Kirby. You don’t believe they have autism? So what was the last two years about? Why the constant harping on about the CDDS until it stopped showing you what you wanted it to? Why the sudden panicky need to dismantle the idea of a spectrum of autism? Why redefine? Is redefining easier than explaining why your hypothesis isn’t panning out?

And what’s this about?

Asthma, diabetes, allergies and arthritis are ravaging their bodies in growing numbers

Sounds suitably scary but a) has nothing to do with autism and b) would appear to be partly wrong. And what about this:

There is something, or more likely some things in our modern air, water, food and drugs that are making genetically susceptible children sick, and we need to find out what they are.

Wow, is this an admission of error? From stating a belief that thiomersal caused autism you are now suggesting that ‘some things’ are making ‘children sick’ – that’s quite a change of heart. Why? Is it so hard for you to say – ‘guys, I was wrong. Back to the drawing board and I’m sorry you wasted your hard earned dosh on my book’.

Here’s something for you to read on the subject of neurodiversity Mr Kirby, I hope the point doesn’t escape you.

On May 19, a small group of people with Down Syndrome and their supporters disrupted the International Down Syndrome Screening Conference at Regents College in London. This is the first time that people with disabilities have spoken out publicly about prenatal screening. Their protest opens up the debate about genetics, eugenics, and the rights of disabled people.

As a result of the protest, the conference organizers allowed Anya Souza to speak from the podium, a platform her group had previously been denied. Ms. Souza, a trustee of the Down Syndrome Association who is labeled as “suffering” from the condition herself, told the doctors why she opposes the screenings.

The protesters found it unacceptable that doctors would discuss better ways of preventing the birth of people with Down Syndrome while excluding the voices of people with that label from the debate. That runs, they said, directly counter to one of the main demands of the disability rights movement: Nothing about us without us.

“We are what we are,” Gilbert [another protester] concluded. “Ask our opinion.”

Do you get the point(s) Mr Kirby? What you are doing by pretending that AS and autism are two different things is taking away the opinion of autistic people. You are doing it without evidence that you are right, without anything other than a ‘hunch’. An MO that is becoming more than a little familiar. You are following the proud tradition of Lenny Schafer and Rick Rollens, who also want to stop autistic adults talking about autistic children being OK just as they are.

Be brighter than them Mr Kirby. Try and understand that no one advocates letting kids suffer painful medical issues but that these things do not, and never did, equate to autism. What you’ve taken away over the last two years from both these adults and the kids of those you call friends and those you don’t is dignity. Nothing about us without us.

Update: Kristina weighs in too and Joel writes a first class piece on proving one is broken. Diva gives us good instructions and spotting autistic people and Do’C and Jospeh ferries across a river of shit.

‘The neurodiverse are everywhere!’

2 Jan

I read an email from the chelating2kids Yahoo Group where ‘the neurodiverse’ are described as being everywhere. Its almost apocalyptic in the way it describes the way this poor mum feels alone in her local area and deluged under the weight of the online neurodiverse websites/blogs etc.

Of course the responses come thick and fast, just ignore them, you’re OK, they’re mad. etc etc. But it struck me that these people really didn’t get it. They’ve bought into the mercury militia definition of ‘the neurodiverse’ as a set of people who want autistic kids to remain undeveloped, uneducated, unhelped and institutionalised. To them, *everyone* who doesn’t follow a strong Biomed path is one of ‘the neurodiverse’. And that’s why they (the evil neurodiverse) seem to be everywhere – its because they are!

We have to get a bit of reality into this situation. Firstly, I appeal to anyone who’s ever used the term ‘the neurodiverse’ to think about what you are referring to. You are referring to an artificially constructed, non-existent entity. There are no such people/thing/entity as ‘the neurodiverse’. There is a concept called ‘neurodiversity’ which some people like the sound of but it is not like a political affiliation or religion or sports club – no member record exists, no fees are collected, no policies are decided upon. Neurodiversity is, at its essence, an opinion that all people, regardless of neurological setup, are of the same amount of worth and due an equal amount of respect.

Does that sound particularly scary to you? Do you not believe that a person who is Down is deserving of equal respect as someone who is NT? Should a person who has learning disabilities have inherently less worth than someone with none?

That’s neurodiversity. At the nucleus of the concept is the idea of equal worth and respect. Why does that fill you with horror?

You should also note that neurodiversity is not something confined to autism and even more importantly, it is not any kind of response to the anti-vaccine based hypothesis of autism causation. ‘The neurodiverse’ are not about you. They are not a response or a reply to you. They do not stand opposite to you. The ideology of equality and respect existed before your hypothesis and will continue to do so after your hypothesis is gone.

In reality, ‘the neurodiverse’ are *anyone* – including you – who have ever stood up for the rights of themselves or the rights of their children/siblings/grandchildren to have the same opportunities as everyone else. Did you fight for your child s educational rights because you thought they deserved the same opportunities as everyone else? Pull up a chair ‘neurodiverse’! When you hear about an autistic child being bullied does your blood boil about the lack of respect shown to that child? That makes you ‘neurodiverse’.

Where the actual set of people who like the idea of neurodiversity differ from you is where the basic idea of respect takes us. When you hear about a child being bullied, I think you feel the answer to that problem is to cure the child s autism. For people who are consciously aware of neurodiversity, they feel the answer to that problem is to alter societal beliefs to make it unacceptable to bully children who are not NT.

Or lets use an example closer to home – biomed. You think ‘the neurodiverse’ don’t want you to treat your kids and don’t want your kids not to be autistic. No. What they want is to reach a place where the unique strengths of autism are recognised and the weaknesses are assisted. When that occurs, it would seem silly to desire a cure. If, in the meantime, your child has genuine medical issues then address them. If, in a hypothetical situation, the alleviation of your child’s medical symptoms somehow results in the disappearance of your childs autism then so be it. Whats the issue here? If a child of mine developed cancer and if someone developed a cure for cancer that had the side effect of eclipsing every mote of my daughters autistic nature, believe me, I wouldn’t think twice.

Often I hear how strong you believe you are being in taking an extreme biomed option. That the use of chelation, Lupron, HBOT etc means you are being strong for your kids, exhausting every option. I don’t see it like that. I think you are essentially good people who have been shocked into a world you know nothing about (autism) and want to get out of that world as quickly as possible. I think you adore your kids and want the best for them. I think you are being taken advantage of by money and ego grubbing quacks.

In the first instance I would like to invite you to stop and look around the world you are now a part of. Don’t deny the bad, but also – don’t shut out or deny the good. On balance, right here and now, is *autism* so bad? Not the gut issues, not the faeces smearing, not the hassles with schools, but your autistic child. Is it all so bad? Is it unremittingly negative? No good points at all? Not even the pleasure of watching your child progress?

Secondly, I think you are badly mistaken in seeing autism and gut issues/smearing/schooling issues/meltdowns as interchangeable. My daughter is low functioning (but how odd it is that I only think of her in that way when I talk with you) and has experienced all the issues you relate. Seriously, all of them. But that was three years ago. Those things are gone or going. My daughters autism is not. She’s not ‘better’ in the sense I think you mean it, she’s not ‘less autistic’, but in exactly the same way as your child, she is not the same as she used to be. She’s growing. There’s no scale for this. It won’t happen uniformly. I don’t want to hold up an NT state of normality as a ‘goal’. She’s already indistinguishable from her peers – her peers are autistic.

Thirdly and most specifically in your case is the mercury/vaccine issue. I realise how much of a relief it can be to have something to blame when you are in a situation you have no knowledge about and are scared of. However, its only by seeking knowledge that fear of the unknown can be addressed. Knowing the unknown in this case means reading the words of autistic people.

The treatments and situations that I sometimes read about are really alarming. I read an email from a young mother who wanted to chelate a 9 month old baby because it was ‘smiling inappropriately’! I read the replies expecting lots of messages of horror and instead read instructions from non-medically trained people on how to do this. No one thought to say – ‘its probably gas, try winding for a bit longer’.

Your mainstream doctor is not part of any plan to control you via vaccines. They say that there is no risk of vaccines causing autism because it is the truth. No one wants to hurt your kids. Why would any doctor or nurse desire to purposefully hurt your kids? The only people who profit out of perpetuating this situation are the people you give money to for expensive tests and even more expensive treatments. Am I saying mainstream doctors know it all? No I am not. In frequent cases its clear mainstream doctors are woefully ignorant about autism and the needs of autistic people. Its never going to get better if you simply walk away.

‘The neurodiverse’ are everywhere indeed, if you define ‘neurodiverse’ as anyone not into biomed. I would hope that respect, equality and education – what I think of as the core attributes of neurodiversity – are also everywhere. I am not trying to make you realise how small the vaccine based hypothesis of causation is – I think in your heart of hearts you already know, but rather that this isn’t a competition. Its not about numbers. Its about reality and the need to fight for the respect and dignity of everyone to be the person they are without feeling like a second class citizen.