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Reading Age of Autism – All I can handle, I’m no Vladimir Nabokov

13 Nov

I read Dan Olmsted’s latest post on Age of Autism and was reminded I had yet to publish a closing post on my experiences with the book. Here’s a quote from Dan:

It’s doubly disappointing to see traditionally progressive outlets – from Salon to Daily Kos to The Atlantic to National Public Radio and PBS – ignore the evidence presented in our book and so many other places, twist the facts they can’t deny, belittle those who believe otherwise including beleaguered autism parents, and glibly trumpet tired reassurances that the concern over vaccines has been “asked and answered,” that “study after study” has refuted any relation, and that continuing to point out disturbing patterns of evidence to the contrary endangers children and infants.

Quick translation for you: “Waaah, nobody liked our book or thought it was valid. What a bunch of pooh-pooh heads!”

The embarrassing truth for Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill is that their book has been still-born. Take a look at the Amazon rankings compiled by Broken Link and its hard to come to any other conclusion. But why has this happened?

First off, the book is badly written. Its not an easy read in the way that Evidence of Harm was. Of course the style is different but Age of Autism is not even a well written poor story.

Secondly, the content is – well – embarrassingly one sided. Whilst B & O claim to be not anti-vaccine, the whole book – particularly part II is rife with anti-vaccine sentiments designed not so much to lead the reader to a conclusion but to batter the reader over the head with the conclusion B & O reached before sitting down to write even.

Thirdly, the content is old hat. There is literally nothing new in the book. For those of us who have followed the the whole story, AoA has nothing _new_ to add to the overall scenario. Whereas Defeating Autism, Autism’s False Prophets and Evidence of Harm all had something _new_ to add to the story, AoA merely dully repeats truthiness from 3 or 4 years ago and couples it with a retelling of historical speculation that simply reiterates what everyone already knew – mercury isn’t so good for you.

So thats that for me reading purgatory. I’m reading something very much better now that I think Sullivan and I will be blogging at length in the new year.


No association between XMRV and autism?

15 Oct

Recently there has been growing interest in XMRV (Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus) and autism. I haven’t discussed it here on LeftBrainRightBrain as it has been very preliminary.

Well, it looks like I may not ever get into this story in depth as XMRV appears to not be associated with autism.

From ERV at ScienceBlogs, XMRV and Autism: Best conflict of interest EVAH! I learned of this new paper:

PCR and serology find no association between xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) and autism

Here is the abstract.

Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) is a retrovirus implicated in prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Press releases have suggested that it could contribute to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In this study we used two PCR assays and one antibody assay to screen 25 blood samples from autistic children born to mothers with CFS and from 20 mixed controls including family members of the children assayed, people with fibromyalgia and people with chronic Lyme disease. Using a real-time PCR assay, we screened an additional 48 South Carolina autism disorder samples, 96 Italian ASD)samples, 61 South Carolina ASD samples and 184 healthy controls. Despite having the ability to detect low copy number XMRV DNA in a large background of cellular DNA, none of the PCR assays found any evidence of XMRV infection in blood cells from patients or controls. Further, no anti-XMRV antibodies were detected, ruling out possible low level or abortive infections in blood or in other reservoirs. These results imply that XMRV is not associated with autism.

“These results imply that XMRV is not associated with autism.”

ERV noted this paragraph of the paper:

In an interview given on the same day as the Lombardi publication, Dr Mikovits stated that they had found XMRV in a ‘significant number’ of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) samples and speculated that ‘this might even explain why vaccines lead to autism in some children’ [6]. Shortly thereafter, widely circulated articles appeared, containing non-peer reviewed data with reports that XMRV may be present in ?40% of people with autism [7]. Given the recent controversy over the connection between ASD and the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, a scientific evaluation of these statements is important [8,9].

Translation (via ERV):

Mikovits started talking to the media/patients/parents before she had any published science to back up her claims. She increased fear of vaccines. She still hasnt published anything. So I guess we are going to clean up this mess for her.

Also, ERV points out one of the most interesting competing interests statements in a paper:

BCS and RAG are employees of Cooperative Diagnostics. Cooperative Diagnostics is a commercial enterprise that owns the rights to the XMRV real-time PCR assay described in this manuscript, in addition to the Master Mix that was used. Publication of these results may well reduce the potential market that Cooperative Diagnostics could reach with its XMRV assay.

Yes, the authors are from a company which has rights to XMRV tests. If XMRV is not associated with autism, this company stands to make less money in the future.

Ironically, David Kirby is scheduled to present “breaking news” at an upcoming workshop in November:

Breakthrough News: David Kirby will discuss the recent research by Judy Mikovitz of the University of Nevada. Dr. Mikovitz helped discover that XMRV retrovirus was present in 95% of people with chronic fatigue, and she also found in 40% of a small sample of ASD kids. So far, virtually all of the kids whose moms have XMRV and chronic fatigue also have the XMRV virus.

Somehow I doubt the facts in this new study will divert Mr. Kirby from his “breaking news”. Facts have failed to stop him in the past.

It’s time to get past the idea that autism is genetics

19 Feb

Or, at least, this is what David Kirby has to say in a recent interview.

Yes, I’m tired of David Kirby too. But some statements are just plain silly.

“I don’t believe autism is genetics,” he said. “I wish we could just get past that argument and accept the fact that these kids have been hit with some environmental trigger of some sort, or sorts, combined with these genetic predispositions … and get on with it.”

Here’s an admittedly sarcastic response: I am so glad when outsiders to the autism community spend years promoting an agenda that attempts to take focus away from needed science.

And, yes, I noticed that to David Kirby it is still all about “these kids”. Adults just don’t register on his radar.

Mr. Kirby is not always consistent. In the past he has stated:

I have always said there may be a small percentage of people with autism spectrum disorder (perhaps those with Asperger Syndrome) whose symptoms are a result only of their genetic makeup, with no environmental factors involved at all.

So, “a small percentage” in his view, can now be forgotten as we “get on with it”.

I wish Mr. Kirby well with his new book. I hope for the sake of the people whose lives he will affect, he has learned from the damage he caused to the autism communities.

Autism Epidemic Talk

20 Jan

A couple of slap dash blog pieces appeared today both on the same subject – the so called autism epidemic. First off is Harold who writes about a series of interviews with David Kirby. David says:

<blockquote>It’s crazy that in this debate, we’re still debating whether autism numbers are actually going up or not, which is insanity to me. It’s people desperately clinging to this belief that autism is genetic, that it’s always been with us at this rate, that we’re just better at counting it, better at diagnosing it.</blockquote>

Harold claims David has ‘hit the nail on the head’ with this quote. I disagree with Harold and I disagree with David. Its far from insanity to examine a perfectly valid hypothesis. More later.

Anne Dachel at the Age of Autism writes :

<blockquote>Why do I personally know so many young people with severe autism, whose symptoms can’t be ignored?  How could we have just ignored these people in the past?  Where are those misdiagnosed adults with classic autism—those with the same symptoms we see in so many children today?

I’m not talking about [Kristina] Chew’s autistic neighbor who was able to have a conversation with her, or [Paul] Offit’s people who are kind of ‘quirky.’  I mean adults who can’t talk, those in diapers, people who scream for hours and pound hours in walls and who constantly rock back and forth.</blockquote>

Dachel goes on to list several news reports which question the idea of there not being some kind of an epidemic. I disagree with her view and I disagree with the way she has reached her view.

Both Dachel and Harold (and David Kirby come to that) are claiming that epidemiology can be ursurped by individual experience – Dachel’s individual experience with ‘so many young people’ and David’s individual experience with the idea that people are desperately clinging on to some sort of belief in a genetic form of autism.

Now, casting aside the fact that the some of the forms of autism that we know about (Rett Syndrome etc) _are_ solely genetic we have to – as we do with _all_ forms of science, cast aside personal anecdote when making sweeping statements about a very large group of people. What we need to do instead is look at the science. So what does the science say?

Nothing. As far as I can see no firm case has been made that there either is or is not an autism epidemic. Why? Because the science hasn’t been done. It is maybe worth noting that it is the firm opinion of autism experts that a large part of any possible rise is due to:

a) Better diagnostic tools

b) More places at which to recieve a diagnosis

c) More awareness amongst clinicians of autism

d) Earlier diagnosis

e) Diagnostic substitution

f) Widening of diagnostic criteria

Experts such as Eric Fombonne, Roy Richard Grinker and Simon Baron-Cohen have all spoken about these ideas at length. However, that doesn’t make them right. There still seems to be no hard and fast science that says there is an autism epidemic or not.

Another example of irresponsible blogging by David Kirby

14 Nov

Autism Speaks recently put out what I consider to be a rather irresponsible press release. The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) added a new objective, and Autism Speaks chose to frame it as “IACC includes vaccine research objective in strategic plan for autism research“. I’ve discussed that already, so I won’t go into more details here.

Instead, I want to take a look at how David Kirby treated this story. He blogged this as Top Federal Panel Endorses Autism Research That Includes Vaccines – Dueling Press Releases Ensue. Mr. Kirby takes on the role of (misinformed) cheerleader for the vaccine-epidemic groups that sponsor the Age of Autism blog, where the piece was posted. As you will see, he probably should have checked with his community before posting.

On Tuesday, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), Washington’s leading arbiter for directing federal funds to autism research, unanimously voted to recommend studies that include investigations into possible links between autism and environmental triggers – including vaccines – in certain subsets of children.

Mr. Kirby is invited to check the actual process of federal funding of autism research and the role of the IACC. He could watch the latest video of an IACC meeting, where Dr. Insel (director of NIMH and chair of the IACC) makes it clear that the IACC is an advisory and planning committee only. They are far from the “final arbiter for directing federal funds”. That is a minor point compared to the fact that the IACC did not recommend studies into the possible links between autism and vaccines.

This fact that the IACC was not committing to vaccine-autism research was not missed by some of his readers, who are quoted in the conclusion of his recent blog post. A conclusion which is rather confused in tone:

So, just to recap: The Federal Government’s top autism panel has voted unanimously to support studies into autism and its possible environmental triggers – including vaccination. In turn, Autism Speaks has cheered “including vaccine research objectives in the IACC plan” while its supposed rival, ASF, has equally cheered that “vaccine research (is) out of the IACC autism plan.”

Some parents I spoke with grudglingly accepted ASF’s view of events, however. “IACC took out ALL proposed vaccine research studies; They specifically elimated A) a vax unvax study, B) an unvaxed or partially vaxed sibs study and C) an adjuvant study – all gone,” one mother wrote. “They only left the word “vaccine” in a along laundry list of POTENTIAL future possible (translation never) study topics.”

Whether the IACC has recommended specific vaccine-autism research, or environment-autism research, vaccines remain on the list of possible contributors to autistic regression as far as the US Government is concerned.

And that is just how Congressional leaders intended it to be.

If parents are telling Mr. Kirby that the IACC is not really committing to fund vaccine research, how can this “just how Congressional leaders intended it to be”, since Mr. Kirby is asserting that the congressional intent is to include vaccine-autism research? It reads a bit confusing to me.

Well, it’s confusing because David Kirby has once again edited his post after the fact. Take a look at this screenshot of the original post:


Yep, it’s different. Sometime after he posted his piece, he added the entire paragraph :

Some parents I spoke with grudglingly accepted ASF’s view of events, however. “IACC took out ALL proposed vaccine research studies; They specifically elimated A) a vax unvax study, B) an unvaxed or partially vaxed sibs study and C) an adjuvant study – all gone,” one mother wrote. “They only left the word “vaccine” in a along laundry list of POTENTIAL future possible (translation never) study topics.”

Yes, David Kirby wrote a post praising the IACC’s actions as funding vaccine research and then backpedaled when autism parents emailed him with the reality of the situation: the IACC did not commit to funding vaccine research.

He also edited out a comment where he refers to a statment by Alison Singer of the Autism Science Foundation as “And there was this, almost Orwellian statement: ”

I guess it was Orwellian until his own readers agreed with it?

Can you find where Mr. Kirby notes his change in that piece? Neither can I. A major change like this should be noted in the piece.

I’ll take a side-trip here into discussing Mr. Kirby’s mistakes and the way he handles them. Unfortunately, Mr. Kirby has a history of changing blog posts after the fact, even to the point of leaving clearly erroneous posts online without a comment.

A few examples:

He wrote a post, “CDC: Vaccine Study Design “Uninformative and Potentially Misleading“”. After Blogger (and epidemiologist) epiwonk showed the mistakes in that post, Mr Kirby rewrote the post, complete with a note about the error. In an odd move, he left first the erroneous post online. As epiwonk showed, even the second post was seriously flawed, but Mr. Kirby chose to leave it online.

Mr. Kirby made a serious misquote in his presentation to congressional staffers. No mention of the error was made in the power point slides he posted online.

He made a factor of 10 error in reading a graph for a blog post. He copied the blog post from the Age of Autism blog to the Huffington Post, and corrected the error in his Huffington Post piece without correcting the Age of Autism piece.

He made the rather simple error of mistaking the Obama transition teams website for the website. Again, he posted to both the Age of Autism blog and to the Huffington Post. Mr. Kirby added a comment to the Huffington Post piece, but just deleted the erroneous post on the Age of Autism blog.

I make mistakes. Sometimes pretty spectacular mistakes. But I think it shows a certain level of disrespect from Mr. Kirby in how he handles his mistakes.

But, I’ve digressed from the main topic here: how Mr. Kirby handled the press releases from Autism Speaks and the Autism Science Foundation about the IACC’s new objective. Even without the confusing conclusion and the changes made after the fact, Mr. Kirby’s post is irresponsible.

It is one thing to take on the role of cheerleader/journalist as Mr. Kirby has done. But he gets to walk away from this community. He’s tried to walk away once, and he is now about to embark on a new career path taking on factory farming. In a few years when parents are complaining that the government hasn’t funded vaccine-autism research like David Kirby told us the government would…in a few years when the bitterness comes to the surface…where will David Kirby be? Will he be here to take responsibility for the mess he has created?

I admit, this is minor compared to the mess he made with convincing parents that autism was caused by thimerosal. How many children have been “treated” with chelation who wouldn’t have if Mr. Kirby hadn’t taken on this cause? How many of them regressed or were otherwise harmed? We will never know.

And he will never accept his role in this and his responsibility.

Age of Autism: misquotes Story Landis…jumps to unsupported conclusion

2 Nov

When the Age of Autism reported on a note written by Story Landis, they added a word that dramatically colored what was said. I am left wondering why would AoA make such an clearly detectable misquote? Read on and you will see what I mean.

Take a look at the piece titled “Dr. Story Landis: Autism not a multi-symptom disease but a money making scheme?“. That whole “money making scheme” part is what got people riled up. But is it really supported by what was said?

Here’s a little screenshot of the Age of Autism blog post, if you don’t want to click through to their site:

Segment of post about Story Landis

Segment of post about Story Landis

I know this seems redundant, but here is what they quote Dr. Landis as saying:

“I wonder if Lyn Redwood is pushing autism as a multi-symptom disorder in order to feed into vaccine injury awards.

Emphasis added by me.

Why add emphasis, you might ask? Because “awards” is not in what Dr. Landis wrote in that first line. Go ahead and check. Here’s the note, as downloaded from the of the Age of Autism blog.

“I wonder if Lyn Redwood is pushing autism as multisystem disorder to feed into vaccine injury?

It is the second line that mentions awards:

Would be a good justification for looking at vaccine injured kids who have gotten awards.

The insertion isn’t a simple mistake–it is made twice in the same blog post. Here is the second place the mistake was made:

How could Landis imply that families are “trying to make” autism into a total body disease in order “to feed into vaccine injury awards.”

Neither section in the “quotes” is accurate. “Trying to make” isn’t in what Dr. Landis wrote, and, as we have just seen, “feed into vaccine injury awards” isn’t either.

Without the word “awards” added the meaning that the Age of Autism blog post tries to convey, heck, the title of the blog post–that Dr. Landis was speculating that this was a “money making scheme”–is unsupported.

Let’s dive into this a bit deeper. David Kirby, blogger at the Age of Autism and at the Huffington post did a very strange thing. In his piece he gets the correct quote from the note, doesn’t mention the mistake made at the age of autism, but still pushes the Age of Autism interpretation:

To many parents, it seemed that Dr. Landis suspected Redwood of “pushing” the study of these multisystem problems merely to boost the number of autism cases filed in vaccine court (the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program), and to increase their chances for victory. Judging by the comments on Age of Autism, those parents were profoundly offended by the implications of that interpretation.

I’m curious as to how Mr. Kirby came to the conclusion that Dr. Landis’ note was “merely to boost the number of autism cases filed in vaccine court” and “to increase their chances for victory”. Dr. Landis didn’t mention the court, the chances of victory…or even “awards” in the context that would support Mr. Kirby’s interpretation.

I’d be curious as to whether Mr. Kirby pointed out the mistakes to the Age of Autism blogger in question.

A casual observer might find it odd how Mr. Kirby corrected the quote and yet persisted in pushing (yes, I’ll use the term pushing) the interpretation based on the misquote. The same casual observer would find it especially odd, since Mr. Kirby was the one to publicly disclose Dr. Landis’ explanation of her comment:

The other part of my note addressed the fact that it is important for autism researchers to study the children who have been most profoundly affected by their response to vaccines. That in no way mitigates my sincere apology to the families who interpreted my note to be uncaring and disrespectful.

“The other part of my note” being “Would be a good justification for looking at vaccine injured kids who have gotten awards.”

If you can look at the quote fresh, consider this interpretation–the first sentence, “I wonder if Lyn Redwood is pushing autism as multisystem disorder to feed into vaccine injury?” is discussing the if autism as a multisystem disorder would feed into the *idea* of autism as a vaccine injury. The assertion that her comment referred to vaccine injury “awards” is at best speculation and, at worst, a pretty clear misquote. I could speculate on the motives of the Age of Autism blogger, but haven’t we just seen how dangerous it is to speculate on motives with little information?

note: I made some small edits for clarity shortly after publishing this.

David Kirby: No friend to my autistic kid

27 Oct

David Kirby is certainly no friend to my autistic child.

I don’t know why I let David Kirby annoy me. It is a pretty safe bet that whenever he blogs he will write something that rubs me the wrong way. Whether it is his clear lack of science acumen or his faux fence sitting “I’m just trying to spark a national debate” ruse, he never fails to write something offensive.

Recently he responded to the very strong possibility that the number of autistic adults is much higher than previously thought with what amounts to essentially, “Autistic adults? Nope, I’ve never seen ’em. They must not exist”.

The right answer in my view would be, “We need to confirm this right now and find out who may be getting no support or the wrong support.” That’s what a friend to my kid would say. By denying the existence of autistic adults Mr. Kirby has shown himself to be about as far from a friend as I could imagine.

In his recent interview with Sharyl Attkisson Mr. Kirby noted that he didn’t see any autistics on the subway or in his neighborhood, therefore there can’t be 1 in 100 autistic adults. Therefore, according to his logic, there is an autism epidemic. Of course he says this is to support the idea that we need to take the vaccine issue seriously.

It was nonsense when he first said it and I pointed it out. I thought that having embarrassed himself on national TV, Mr. Kirby would quietly drop the idea that somehow “I know ’em when I see ’em” is either valid or respectful. I’ve watched Mr. Kirby for too long to even hope that he would apologize or do a real retraction without real pressure but I will say I was surprised to see him write a blog post basically defending his autistic-radar.

In a recent blog post Mr. Kirby has expanded his scope of not-finding autistics. It isn’t just his recent subway ride that was devoid of adult autistics, it is his entire life:

I have lived in many different cities, worked at nine different jobs, and met thousands of men and women throughout my years. I cannot recall people who showed the characteristics of high-functioning autism, though I must have met some along the way, at least in passing. But there were not 1-in-60 boys with ASD in my schools and there are not 1-in-60 men with ASD in my area. I think I would have noticed them by now.

Repeated for emphasis:

I cannot recall people who showed the characteristics of high-functioning autism

In an entire lifetime, no one who might be high-functioning autistic?

David Kirby has been around the autism community for a while now. Somehow I think he must have seen some adult with high functioning autism. Are we to believe that no autistic adults attend the DAN conferences, the Autism One conferences, or the myriad other alternative medicine conferences that hold David Kirby as a hero? Are we to believe that no autistic adult parents of autistic children attend these conferences?

One specific question that popped into my mind: Has Mr. Kirby never been to a conference with Teresa Binstock? Ms. Binstock is one of the authors of Autism: a novel form of mercury poisoning (a faux-journal paper in Medical Hypotheses). Ms. Binstock is also reported to be an autistic adult (Asperger syndrome). Mr. Kirby has never met her? Possible, but unlikely.

According to his interview Mr. Kirby’s criteria for Asperger syndrome are:

“restrictive, repetitive and stereotypical patterns”

“interests and behaviors that are abnormal”

“Repetive motor mannerisms such as hand or finger flapping”

“Significant impairment in social, occupational and other important fuctions”

I guess as Mr. Kirby was passing people on the subway platform he had some test of social functions? He can tell what your interests are (and somehow label them abnormal) just by looking at you?

For Mr. Kirby’s edification, here are the DSM-IV criteria:

(I) Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
(A) marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction
(B) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
(C) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interest or achievements with other people, (e.g.. by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
(D) lack of social or emotional reciprocity

(II) Restricted repetitive & stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

(A) encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
(B) apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
(C) stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g. hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
(D) persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

(III) The disturbance causes clinically significant impairments in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

(IV) There is no clinically significant general delay in language (E.G. single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years)

(V) There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self help skills, adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction) and curiosity about the environment in childhood.

(VI) Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia.”

Here’s another hint: if diagnosing ASD’s was as simple as a checklist there wouldn’t be tests like the ADOS.

Mr. Kirby continues the old ruse that autistics are so obvious that one couldn’t possibly miss them, even in passing. Contrary to Mr. Kirby’s assertion, it is possible that he could have missed some autsitics in his subway travels. When the autism rate for children in Cambridgeshire was recently reported, the researchers noted that a large fraction (1/5 to 1/3) of autistic students were undiagnosed. Yes, even educational professionals who spend every day with a kid can miss the fact that the child has an ASD.

In his blog post Mr. Kirby bolsters his argument with a quote from Anne Dachel, probably best known to readers here as an blogger at the Age of Autism. Ms. Dachel states:

“an insult to thousands of teachers and counselors and doctors – who apparently ‘stupidly’ ignored these kids in the past. If they were always here, but we just called them something else, then what did we do with them?”

I am always saddened when an educator like Ms. Dachel confuses intelligence with knowledge. Intelligence (smart/stupid) is not the same thing as knowledge (or ignorance). When previous generations didn’t diagnose a child with an ASD there were many reasons. One big reason–the diagnostic criteria were different then. That is and example of ignorance. I feel silly pointing this out to an educator, but in 1980 they didn’t know (in fact couldn’t know) that the diagnostic criteria would be different in 2000. How many times have we heard, “autism wasn’t covered in medical school back then”? This is used to “show” that autism was rare then. Well, if they didn’t get the training, they were very likely ignorant of the differences between autism and other disabilities. They were certainly unlikely to know the diagnositic criteria for Asperger syndrome, since it didn’t exist at the time.

To answer Ms. Dachel’s question, “what did we do with them”: many autistics services were served under the label of mental retardation. This isn’t even speculation. In a recent study King and Bearman showed that a large number of autistics in California were diagnosed as having mental retardation before 1987. As the criteria changed and awareness grew, these individuals (both children and adults) were also given autism diagnoses. They checked the actual records of actual people and documented it.

To further answer Ms. Dachel’s question, “what did we do with them”: many of “them” were unserved–just like today. Remember that study in Cambridgeshire we just mentioned?

Back to David Kirby’s blog post: he shows us that he is truly “concerned”:

In my opinion, to shrug and treat this story as if things have probably always been this way is, frankly, wishful thinking and unsettling.

It is Mr. Kirby’s response that is unsettling. Heck, it is beyond unsettling. Way beyond.

I think his response the NHS report (that there are 1 in 100 autistic adults) by claiming that since he can’t see “them”, “they” don’t exist is beyond wishful thinking and unsettling. Mr. Kirby acts as though the study doesn’t exist. Worse, he acts as though it shouldn’t exist.

I usually try to avoid speculating on motivations. But, I can’t help myself with these latest comments by Mr. Kirby. Why did he feel the need to downplay the existence of adult autistics in high numbers? The report that there is a high number of unidentified autistic adults is a direct threat the the idea that vaccines caused an epidemic of autism. How does that play to someone who has made a career out of “Evidence of Harm. Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy”.

Consider, if you will, what happened when people like Mr. Kirby pushed the idea of an epidemic of vaccine-induced autism. When the ideas came forward that the MMR vaccine or the vaccine preservative thimerosal could be causing autism, the scientific community took it seriously and responded with multiple studies looking for better evidence. But now that there is evidence of a large contingent of adult autistics, Mr. Kirby joins the denialists and defends the old-guard thinking. Ironic, that.

It has always been a reasonable assumption that there is a large contingent of unidentified autistic adults. The active denial of this possibility has long bothered me. The denial in response to the UK survey of autistic adults is just beyond the pale.

Mr. Kirby is just no friend to my kid. My kid needs advocates who will fight to make a better world for autistics. How can we do that if we deny their existence? How can we prepare for the kids of today to become adults if we don’t start supporting autistic adults now?