The Week, Or ‘Weak’, In Autism

Satisfied desire is sweet to a person; therefore it is hateful and exceedingly offensive to [self-confident] fools to give up evil [upon which they have set their hearts].” Prov. 13:19

Something evil this way comes. It was not a very good week in the autism world. As the chatter and activity around autism kicks up in healthcare and government, the divide only seems to be getting wider. It’s becoming more clear that this revolution is going to be fought by parents, for parents, because the powers-that-be are NOT listening. At least that’s how I see it.


The most shocking news of the week–at least to those who care–is that former head of CDC Julie Gerberding has just accepted a job as president of Merck’s vaccine division. My Facebook autism-mama friends spread the news with fury. Let’s just say this woman is not well-liked. In fact, this Cruella Deville look-alike makes us want to go hide all of the babies from her before she makes a coat out of them.

"Get me those babies!"

She has been been a nemesis of the autism community that has been demanding answers for the past decade, and a collective sigh of relief was breathed when she stepped down from her post at the CDC. Now, she has been exalted to the esteemed position as Grand Poobah of vaccines. I like what this fellow blogger said, “That’s like appointing my fat ass as Executive Director to Hostess Snack Cakes.” May it be said and may it be known that as head of the CDC she had some conflicts of interest in how to address the autism epidemic that she denied? Go over to Adventures in Autism for the big picture.


Speaking of conflicts of interest, the New York Times just came out with an article exposing a little more about how shady it is over at the CDC. It said, “A new report finds that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did a poor job of screening medical experts for financial conflicts when it hired them to advise the agency on vaccine safety, officials said Thursday…The report found that 64 percent of the advisers had potential conflicts of interest that were never identified or were left unresolved by the centers…But little attention has been paid to the potential conflicts of advisers to the C.D.C., even though that agency’s committees have significant influence over what vaccines are sold in the United States, what tests are performed to detect cancer and how coal miners are protected.” No wonder the cries of parents who say their children were vaccine injured has fallen on deaf ears!


The CDC just released a study (from reporting period 2006??!?) that shows that the prevalence of autism is jumping dramatically–57% in four years. One in 110. I’ve got to say, I don’t get how they come up with the calculations–they look at eight-year-olds from different periods to see how many are diagnosed with an ASD, and apparently it takes them four years to prepare a report. I don’t know? Good enough turnaround time for government work? So, given all of the many 3-year-olds that are being diagnosed these days, I’m sure these numbers are way higher. But, nonetheless it supports a Pediatrics phone survey that was released in October saying that the rate was now 1 in 91.

Autism is rising, and we don’t know WHY. But what’s most troubling is that the CDC and the powers that be are still not addressing the elephant in the room. In a press conference, they skirted pointed questions about environmental factors and toxicants. They are still mostly about looking for genetic factors.  Neither CDC nor IACC have shown a sense of urgency or commitment to study environmental triggers such as the many toxins and pollutants infants and toddlers are exposed to (including from vaccines).


Dr. Bob Sears just came out with a very thoughtful article responding to these new numbers. What was disheartening was his assessment of his pediatric colleagues: “But let me tell you what I continue to hear from my colleagues in the pediatric community: ‘There’s been no increase in autism – we’re just better at recognizing it.’ I just attended a pediatric lecture, and the speaker, a local pediatrician, stated this very clearly…” Dr. Sears continues, “Denying the epidemic is like a slap in the face of every parent and child affected. Wake up America! It’s time to get to the bottom of this!” In the comments portion, more nonsense talking about better diagnosis, people blaming the rise on older parents having babies, genetics, and the like. Wow, are we really still in autism’s stone age? At any rate, thanks Dr. Sears for speaking up and speaking out!


So, I don’t get this one at all. President Obama invited Ari Ne’eman–a 21-year-old man with high-functioning Asperger’s–to represent the cause of autism on a national level on his Disability Council. Here’s an article about it. The issue I have with that is that he doesn’t like the idea of trying to “cure” autism, nor does he look at it as a disability. Which is all fine and well I guess if you are a brilliant, high-functioning man with some sensory issues and some keen interests. For this mama who would love to have a conversation with her developmentally-delayed four-year-old (who is still in diapers), I would much rather have a parent or a strong advocate for doing something about this epidemic, thank you. I kind of think it’s a very poor choice President Obama made, and I seriously question his intentions of addressing the epidemic and the causes of autism with any fervor.

So, there you have it. This will not go down as our finest week in autism, I must say. But, you know what? There is a revolution happening on the ground… even if it’s not happening on the Hill.

Better to meet a grizzly robbed of her cubs
   than a fool hellbent on folly.” Prov. 17:2


2 Responses

  1. The revolving door just keeps swinging. It’s disgusting isn’t it? I haven’t paid as much attention to these matters as I probably should have–thanks for bringing all of this to my attention.

  2. “The old Devils are at it again. Who knows what they’ll do. And it’s true right now just like it was back then, the old Devils are at it again.”

    ~William Elliot Whitmore

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