Respectful Insolence

Autism quackery invades my hometown

I hate to see this. I really do.

I really hate it to see people who think they’re doing a good thing, who think they’re raising money for a worthy charity, totally clueless that what they are doing is supporting the rankest pseudoscience and quackery. Here’s an example from my hometown of Detroit. It’s a story about a woman who’s going to raise money for what she thinks is autism awareness and research at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this coming week:

When it comes to dressing for the North American International Auto Show Charity Preview, attendee Val McFarland is sure to look like more than a million bucks.

The former Plymouth resident and current Commerce Township married mother of two will be sporting a gown coated in $1.75 million worth of diamonds, representing the 1.75 million people whose lives are impacted by autism.

McFarland’s 4-year-old son, Callahan, was diagnosed with autism and currently undergoes about 40 hours a week of therapy.

Here’s the kicker:

“We are personally spending $100,000 on our son’s therapy,” she said, pointing out insurance doesn’t cover such needs in Michigan. “The fact is that we are seeing amazing results.”

That was incentive enough for McFarland to found Celebrities Against Autism one year ago. “Our number one objective is to create more public awareness,” she said. “The funds we generate help families.”

Autism is a complex neurological disorder that impacts development in social and communication skills. McFarland believes strongly that “intensive early intervention” is the best means for those with autism to recover.

What’s interesting is that McFarlane appears to be spending all that money on behavioral therapies, as far as I can tell from perusing the Celebrities Against Autism website. I could be wrong, but she does not appear to be spending her money on biomedical quackery of the sort advocated by Jenny McCarthy and Generation Rescue and the sort that has led parents to mortgage grandparents’ retirement funds in search of yet another “cure.” Yet she is participating in a fundraising project that doesn’t directly benefit her group to build the “World’s Largest Puzzle,” selling pieces at $1 per piece.

And where is that money actually going? To Generation Rescue, that’s where. Yes, all of McFarlane’s efforts are going to fund this:

Celebrities Against Autism and Generation Rescue are building the World’s Largest Puzzle. One million puzzle pieces will be put together and revealed during Autism Awareness month in April 2009. Now is your opportunity to purchase a puzzle piece for $1 and spread global awareness and acceptance for children with Autism. The funds raised will support Generation Rescue’s mission – helping families in need get support from Rescue Angels, begin biomedical treatment and fund research on treatment options.

In other words, McFarlane’s work is going to fund antivaccine quackery and antivaccine propaganda for the masses.

But what’s really infuriating, what’s really annoying is how the press reports this:

“Our hope is to drive people to our Web site,” McFarland said. The site, www.celebritiesagainstautism.org, is currently selling puzzle pieces for $1 each, which will contribute to the World’s Largest Puzzle, to support families affected by autism. Patrons may also be on the lookout for therapy dogs provided by Golden Ticket Puppies. The puppies made a splash last year and will return to the event this year. McFarland has partnered with celebrities Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey, whose Generation Rescue Organization also works to fight autism and support research and treatment for families.

No, Ms McFarlane, Generation Rescue funds and supports antivaccine marches on Washington, DC; antivaccine propaganda in the form of ads in major newspapers and publicity pushing the message that vaccines cause autism using extreme misinformation like the “toxin” gambit; and relentless attacks on anyone who would dispute that pseudoscientific message and simply state the plain science, which does not find a detectable association between either mercury and autism or vaccines and autism, or even just do a balanced portrayal of those Generation Rescue’s founder J.B. Handley consider to be enemies.

I have to wonder if Ms. McFarlane knows just what kind of people she’s become involved with. She’s made a deal with the devil. Sure, she’ll get lots of money hooking up with Jenny McCarthy. Sure, she’ll get to hang out with celebrities. But at what price?

The price of any credibility at all, that’s what. The price is that she has, whether she knows it or not, aligned herself with some of the worst of the antivaccine activists and quacks that exist. Her efforts and the money she raises will go to fund ideological efforts to weaken herd immunity by dissuading parents from vaccinating their children. I hope one day she wakes up. Or, if she does know with whom she’s affiliated herself, I hope it’s all worth it. I understand that she wants to help her child. However, there are some prices that are too high to pay.

Comments

  1. #1 Rogue Epidemiologist
    January 16, 2009

    I know we focus on Generation Rescue a lot, but what about some of the other groups? I watch a lot of VH1 Classic, and they run ads for the Rock Autism campaign, which supports the Autism Society of America, a group that seems to tout the “TOXINS! TOXINS! TOXINS!” model of autism etiology. They run the same damned clip of Holly Robinson Peete talking about how she treats her kid with Hg-free fish oil, and hyperbaric O2, and how she wants to make the same “treatments” available to less-fortunate families.

    garr. Hey VH1 Classic: Less spurious autism cure, more Robert Smith Cure, please.

  2. #2 Mike
    January 16, 2009

    Don’t know where to start. You want to shake people and yell at them but the law tends to take a dim view of assault even in a good cause.

    Should we organize a $10 a piece woo puzzle? I’d buy a piece and even do some research into a bit of local woo in my town to attach to my puzzle piece.

    Is the woman approachable? Possibly willing to see the error of her ways? Detroit has so many problems that need solving maybe she could be convinced to ‘work locally’…

  3. #3 FreeSpeaker
    January 16, 2009

    Rogue Epidemiologist wonders why GR gets so much attention. It is quite simple, the “media” have made GR’s mouthpiece the “go to guy” when they need some “balance” i their articles. There does not seem to be any other sources for this mystical need for balance.

  4. #4 Dr Benway
    January 16, 2009

    I can’t blame patients for getting suckered. Patients believe that board certified MDs from good medical schools can’t talk complete bullshit. They believe the AMA, the state, or some professional body would give any obvious woo-woo MD the boot.

  5. #5 dandie andie
    January 16, 2009

    I definitely don’t believe that McFarland is spending that kind of money on behavioral therapies alone. I pay for home ABA out-of-pocket. I employ one of the best behavioral therapists in my region and have aides as well. The amount I spend per year, while very expensive and not covered by insurance, is nowhere near $100k. Even if she does Floortime or R.D.I. instead those therapies don’t cost 100k a year. I wonder if she also follows the DAN! protocols and supplements with HBOT or some other woo-based alternative treatment.

  6. #6 Robster, FCD
    January 16, 2009

    Mike, I like that idea. I would suggest that all the pieces have some saying about skepticism printed on them. But more importantly, NONE of the pieces would fit with each other. It would make a woo puzzle extremely aggravating, and no matter how long you work at it, nothing fits together into anything meaningful!

    Perhaps a fundraiser for the next TAM.

  7. #7 Alyssa Clark
    January 16, 2009

    About a six months ago a pinball enthusiast friend of mine sent me an email excited about “The 1st Annual LA Pinball & Arcade Game Show to Benefit Autism Research” in the LA area. The proceeds were to support TACA (Talk About Curing Autism). I didn’t know the group but just a little research turned up the red flags “mercury” and evil super bitch…I mean Jenny McCarthy. That’s all I needed to respond to my friend. He claimed that the organization probably had no idea about any of these “politics” and only wanted to “help kids.” I won’t rehash the destruction I then laid down on my friend’s ass…but it was severe. I brought some learning to that table. I should have continued on and contacted the organizers directly but I think I was sleepy. That won’t happen again…I am on a strict caffeine regiment. My point, though, is that a lot of people think they are helping in these situations when they are actually doing a lot of harm. And I think it’s up to us (by us I mean those that have the science and facts firmly behind them) to email, call, send donuts and a friendly message, shout, scream, do whatever it takes to let people know their good intentions and money can go to other more worthwhile organizations.

  8. #8 Dan
    January 16, 2009

    Autism is one of what I believe are a number of what are called passive developmental disorders- and autism is the most common. Autism is a disability caused by a brain development disorder of unknown cause, yet some suspect the cause is some sort of neurological dysfunction. Usually, symptoms of the disease present themselves before the toddler reaches the age of three. Before Autism was more understood, others labeled them as childhood schizophrenia or as having a psychosis or mental retardation.
    Out of 16 related characteristics, eight must be present to be considered autistic, according to others. As with all passive developmental disorders, the person expresses language, social, and behavioral difficulties. Treatment includes what are called psychotropic medications that delay the progression of the disorder, as well as relieve some of the symptoms of one who is autistic. Behavioral therapy is common as a treatment regimen as well. Boys get Autism much more than girls.
    Then there is the controversy between many who claim that thimerosal- a preservative containing mercury, which is a neurotoxin that was used in vaccines until 2001, was the catalyst for autism in children. Over 5000 lawsuits have been filed because of this belief, and some have been successful for the plaintiff. Yet most agree the correlation between thimersal and autism is void of scientific merit. Furthermore, the cases of autism have not decreased since the preservative was discontinued in 2001.
    Aside from Autism, the other four passive developmental disorders are known as autism spectrum disorders.
    Asperger’s Syndrome is more common than autism, and the symptoms are milder, as there is minimal delay in language abilities, if at all. What is expressed with Asperger’s syndrome is mild autistic symptoms. In time, the patient may express atypical personality disorders, though. While intelligence is within normal limits with the Asperger’s patient, social interactions and abilities preset difficulty for such a patient. As with Autism, medications and behavioral therapy are treatment regimens with one with this syndrome
    Rett’s Syndrome or disorder presents with not only atypical behavior, but also suffers from restricted physical growth and movement. There is cognitive and social impairment as well. The disorder affects mostly girls, and the cause is due to a gene mutation.
    Chldhood Disintegrative disorder is rare, and is 10 times less common than autism. The disorder has a late onset with mild autistic symptoms. The disorder affects mostly boys, and regression is sudden and possible with this disorder. Skills lost with this disorder may be language, social, self-care, as well as play or motor skills. Decreased function or impairment with this disorder may include social skills and behavioral flaws. Central Nervous System pathology is a suspected cause of this disorder.
    Finally, there are passive development disorders that are not otherwise specified. This may include atypical autism, for example. Yet as with the rest of types of these disorders, the symptoms vary in their intensity, and the range of abilities of these developmental disorders vary widely as well. Medicinal treatment along with cognitive and behavioral therapy prove to be most beneficial for all the different types of Passive Development Disorders that unfortunately exist for unknown reasons,

    Dan Abshear

  9. #9 storkdok
    January 16, 2009

    Dan, PDD stands for “Pervasive Developmental Disorders”, not “passive” Developmental Disorders.

    Many of us who read Orac’s blog are physicians and scientists and many others with interests in the medical field and in science. Using correct terminology is important in discussions of this nature.

  10. #10 The Perky Skeptic
    January 16, 2009

    Um, I always thought PDD-NOS stood for “pervasive developmental disorder, nonspecific,” not “passive.”

    What’s with the cut-n-paste, Dan? It’s only tangentially related to the topic, since no one was discussing what autism is, but rather the harm that is done by various autism organizations which seem to think they’re helping… such as many of those hawking “medicinal treatments” for a spectrum of conditions for which there is little scientific evidence for treating biomedically.

  11. #11 storkdok
    January 16, 2009

    Orac, So sorry yet another person who means well is contributing to autism quackery. It is a little more personal when it is where you live. Or if you live with autism every day. This kind of thing makes me so frustrated for my son. Well meaning people can do a lot of damage. It is too bad this woman didn’t investigate who she was getting involved with.

  12. #12 Dr Benway
    January 16, 2009

    What was that… a drive-by book report?

  13. #13 Dr Benway
    January 16, 2009

    Dan:

    …psychotropic medications that delay the progression of the disorder…

    Hey kid, before you turn that thing in, I’d like to point out that there are no meds for autism. Yes, Risperdal was approved “for the treatment of irritability associated with autistic disorder in children and adolescents.” But using a med for irritability isn’t the same thing as using a med that’s specific for a particular disorder, such as autism.

    Meds can help reduce some difficult symptoms. But many have serious side effects. I see enough tardive dyskinesia in kids to make me uncomfortable prescribing psychotropics unless things are pretty bad.

    It’s important not to over-sell the benefits of meds, just as it’s important not to slag on meds in an uninformed way a la Tom Cruise.

  14. #14 Melissa (oddharmonic)
    January 16, 2009

    I’d delete Dan Abshear’s comment. He has similar articles on pay-per-read sites Helium and Associated Content; the copy-and-paste work is probably an attempt to drive up his credibility at said sites.

  15. #15 Chris
    January 16, 2009

    Melissa (oddharmonic) said “the copy-and-paste work is probably an attempt to drive up his credibility at said sites.”

    Well, I would that his cut and paste (with the wrong words for “PDD”) pretty screwed any credibility he might have had.

  16. #16 Dawn
    January 17, 2009

    So, what is the rate of Autism in all of you unvaccinated MDs out there? Just curious because the majority of vaccines I know are not mandated in your profession. Pretty comical that you demand children be vaccinated.

  17. #17 HCN
    January 17, 2009

    Dawn (the one that needs to read http://www.apa.org/journals/features/psp7761121.pdf ) said “So, what is the rate of Autism in all of you unvaccinated MDs out there? Just curious because the majority of vaccines I know are not mandated in your profession.”

    Go back and read this response to one of your content free rants:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/01/an_actual_provaccine_storyline.php#comment-1313246 … remember that comment?, the one that ends with “Now that you’re aware of this, I hope you will at least stop repeating this particular antivax lie.”

  18. #18 Dawn
    January 17, 2009

    Sorry, not buying the whole, “I get all of my shots” thing HCN. The only reason why Prometheus did was because of the service, or so HE SAYS. Who is to say that he is even telling the truth. One study that I would like to see performed though is the rate of Autism in the families who have Veterans – serving 20+ years, with pages upon pages of vaccines.

    Please don’t get me wrong…vaccines DO NOT cause Autism. With that said, they are the toxic tipping point for many people – to include adults. What is all boils down to is chemicals – chemicals in our food, chemicals in our air, water, furniture, toys, EVERYTHING. They disrupt your thyroid function (which the AMA has yet to establish the correct testing for this too might I add), weakens your adrenal glands, causes major metabolic imbalances, etc, etc, etc. All of that sets the stage for neurological disease, genetic defects, cellular dysfunction, chronic illness and on and on. (We also pass this dysfunction onto our children). The vaccines just add insult to injury. Babing!! Autism or rather the “label” is then added. The damage was already in the works. The vaccines were the smoking gun though.

  19. #19 Dawn
    January 17, 2009

    By the way, I am recovering my vaccine-injured child quite quickly. So quickly in fact, that his weekly therapist told me that “we” are the talk of her employer’s weekly meetings. Yes, I am following Jenny McCarthy’s “quackery” as you would call it and it is working. He is no longer on the Autism Spectrum thanks to Mom’s quick thinking and capability. I have also recovered from my partial hearing loss too – no thanks to that stupid, useless rubella vaccine that I was given. All to save what, 14 lives according to the CDC’s own reported statistics on Congenital Rubella? Yes, thanks to alternative quackery and not Western Medicine quackery, my family is almost completely healed. It is no wonder why the FDA wants “in” on this supplement deal by Dec 2009. The question is – what is in it for them though? Profit? They say regulation, but they cannot regulate their own bowel movements. Who are we kidding?

  20. #20 Samantha Vimes
    January 17, 2009

    Dawn, if you think the FDA is a for-profit organization, why should we assume you know diddley about anything else?
    Epic fail.

  21. #21 Dawn
    January 17, 2009

    Sorry Samantha, I guess you are a new kid on the block. You mean to tell me that you didn’t know that the HEAD of the FDA holds a lot of stocks with several pharmaceutical companies???? This is NOT today’s news girl!!

  22. #22 chancelikely
    January 17, 2009

    Remember, the head of the FDA owns stock in Obama’s forged birth certificate, the gun that shot both Kennedy and Oswald, the company that made the exploding girders used in 9/11, and Chick-Fil-A. Wake up people!

  23. #23 chancelikely
    January 17, 2009

    Incidentally, this sentence is the one I find most telling:

    “He is no longer on the Autism Spectrum thanks to Mom’s quick thinking and capability.”

    Sort of like how I felt about Christianity when I learned that John 3:16 is Jesus talking about himself.

  24. #24 Dawn
    January 17, 2009

    Oh, shut up chancelikely, you probably voted for the jerk too because he SUPPORTS PHARMACUETICAL FUNDS!! Do you think I was born yesterday? Forget about all of the other supposed conspiracies – stop trying to dodge the bullet – we are talking about the FDA and pharma – THAT’S IT!!!

  25. #25 Dawn
    January 17, 2009

    chancelikely stated: “Sort of like how I felt about Christianity when I learned that John 3:16 is Jesus talking about himself.”

    Thanks for sharing more of your personality chancelikely. You really are a sick individual. Keep talking so I can evaluate you more…I might just come up with a “label” too. Maybe prescribe you a little of this and a little of that – ya know, make you “feel better”. Doc knows best ya know.

  26. #26 Dawn
    January 17, 2009

    As far as my Vaccine injured/Vaccine injured recovering child being a fictious person chancelikely – don’t you dare even go there with that. It has been a rough road, but we are getting there and recovering no thanks to the awful medical community. Don’t forget – duh…..vaccines do no harm. If so, it is a “little tenderness on the injection site”. What a joke that is…forget about the high fever, convulsions, seizures, loss of speech, loss of walking, and the list goes on and on. Every medical worker ought to have their ass thrown in jail for lack of informed consent.

  27. #27 chancelikely
    January 17, 2009

    Dawn: I am in no way suggesting that your child is fictitious. I am, however, suggesting that your FDA conspiracy is to be taken about as seriously as truthers, birfers, or Kennedy conspiracists.

  28. #28 Leni
    January 17, 2009

    Dawn wrote:

    Every medical worker ought to have their ass thrown in jail for lack of informed consent.

    You are an ass. An unmitigated, spiteful ass.

    Whatever sympathy you might have garnered from me evaporated with this idiotic, thoughtless remark.

    Let me tell you something. My mother is a nurse. That woman literally broke her back caring for sick people. She has spent her life taking care of people who needed it at the expense of her own health and well being. Her knowledge and experience has been nothing but a benefit for her family and friends. She has helped me through some serious health issues, nevermind the doctors who saved my life. These are people who stood by my side and treated me with dignity and respect at the worst moment of my life. When I couldn’t even do that for myself.

    So if you seriously think she (or any other medical professional) belongs in jail for that, I would like to meet you in person so I could slap your god damned face.

  29. #29 Militant Agnostic
    January 17, 2009

    I would expect a full mental jacket third degree whackaloon is incapable of informed consent anyway.

  30. #30 Robster, FCD
    January 17, 2009

    Dawn, I find it interesting that you say “vaccines DO NOT cause Autism.” Yet you also say “they are the toxic tipping point for many people – to include adults.” and “I am recovering my vaccine-injured child quite quickly.” and “Yes, I am following Jenny McCarthy’s “quackery” as you would call it and it is working.”

    It really difficult for many of us to take your statements as truthful when they contain such clear contradictions.

    Also, as a toxicologist, I can happily tell you that the minuscule amount of chemicals (ooh, scary word) in vaccines are not enough to be concerned about for anybody. If “toxins” concern you so much, you really are better off nor eating anything, drinking anything, or breathing anything. Everything is toxic based on the dose one is exposed to. The dose present in vaccines is just not enough to be a concern.

  31. #31 Joseph C.
    January 17, 2009

    It’s great to have Dawn back. She and cooler ought to get married.

  32. #32 storkdok
    January 17, 2009

    “What was that… a drive-by book report?”

    Hehe, that made me chuckle! Thanks for my morning laugh, Dr. Benway!

  33. #33 Bluegrass Geek
    January 17, 2009

    Dawn, your comment that the FDA is a for-profit organization because the head owns stock in pharma is what’s called an association fallacy.

  34. #34 Mike
    January 17, 2009

    The problem with Dawn’s ranting as with all the woo-spewers is the lack of science. I’m glad her kid is recovering but he/she is one data point and might have traveled the same path to recovery without the new McCarthy-ism. That’s where double blind, controlled, peer-reviewed studies come in real handy.

    New research on Autism points a finger at genetics. That doesn’t preclude that chemical tipping point stuff Dawn is proposing but it means that a segment of the population may be genetically predisposed to failure under chemical loads others may tolerate nicely. Darwin in action. Again, studies are needed not woo.

    Dawn’s crap about the rubella risk is as two faced a lie as any I’ve heard. The risk is NOW small because so many were inoculated in the past. She, McCarthy and the other anti-vaxxers are working hard to correct that success.

  35. #35 MI Dawn
    January 17, 2009

    Oh, joy. The other Dawn is back, spewing her hatred of medicine.

    Dawn…I am a nurse. I can tell you that almost EVERY nurse, MD, hospital employee who comes into contact with patients is fully vaccinated or they can’t work in a hospital. The few (and very rare) exceptions are those who are unable to be vaccinated. None of the hospitals (in 3 different states) I worked at accepted religious exemptions for vaccines (If any medical personnel know of differences, please feel free to let me know)

    While working in a hospital, I have been exposed to many of the common diseases. I also had coworkers who were NOT permitted to work, back in the days before the chickenpox vaccine was invented, because they had never had the disease. Can you afford to not be paid for 3 weeks-the length of varicella quarantine- or use up all your sick time? Hospitals HAVE to forbid exposed, vulnerable employees from working since they are dealing with a immunocompressed population. Ask any hospital employee if they’d rather be vaccinated and earning money or sitting at home waiting to see if they are going to catch chickenpox.

    And once again…getting a disease does not guarantee life-long immunity, either. I HAD the measles and the mumps, and rubella. However, my measles immunity is non-existant (I’ve been tested). So I got the MMR.

  36. #36 Mike
    January 17, 2009

    Robster, FCD
    But more importantly, NONE of the pieces would fit with each other.

    Or they should ALL fit together (squares?) because they can be used interchangeably with the same effect! Also, they’d be easier to make…

  37. #37 storkdok
    January 17, 2009

    “Sorry, not buying the whole, “I get all of my shots” thing HCN. The only reason why Prometheus did was because of the service, or so HE SAYS. Who is to say that he is even telling the truth.”

    I’d certainly believe Prometheus is telling the truth over you telling the truth, Dawn. Your posts are so illogical and rambling it is hard to even understand what your point is, other than “vaccines are bad” and “trust me, I am curing my child of autism”, neither of which are supported by any evidence.

    I got “all my shots” and more in medical school in preparation for a rotation in Papua New Guinea. You name the tropical disease, we got the vaccination for it. In fact, my husband and I were part of the clinical trials for the Hepatitis A vaccine. So what does that prove? Just that we were smart enough to take the precautions of preventing several types of infectious diseases in preparation for a rotation in a developing country. Your question is quite frankly, stupid.

    I think it is more relevant that my children are vaccinated. Autistic and NT.

    You do not speak for me and many/most other parents of autistics. You obviously have no understanding of science and medicine. Stop embarrassing yourself. You are pathetic.

  38. #38 DebinOz
    January 17, 2009

    OMG – that idiot Dawn is baaaack!

    Don’t engage!

    Go take care of your bunch of special needs kids, Dawn, instead of spending time writing rubbish.

    (I am the parent of an AS kid)

  39. #39 Orac
    January 17, 2009

    It figures. I leave the blog alone for more than 12 hours, and Antivax Dawn returns to spew her nonsense.

  40. #40 DebinOz
    January 17, 2009

    “Yes, thanks to alternative quackery and not Western Medicine quackery, my family is almost completely healed.”

    And I bet you pay out the nose for those ‘alternative’ lotions and potions! But I’m sure it gets you the attention that you so obviously seek.

  41. #41 DebinOz
    January 17, 2009

    Here’s a head’s up, Dawn. I work right next door to a naturopath/homeopath/witchdoctor, who drops by to chat daily. Her discussions with me revolve around how many people/patients/suckers she can fit into her working day, and how many ‘prescriptions’ she can sucker them into buying. I get the low-down on how much she makes by selling various ‘remedies’, and to top it off, she then bags the attitude of her ‘patients’ when they complain that they don’t feel any better!

  42. #42 Joseph
    January 17, 2009

    The “recovering” characterization gives Dawn away. You see this all the time with a certain group of parents of autistic children. The kids are “recovering” all the time; never actually “recovered” with biomed, much less written up in a case report.

    Even Jenny McCarthy’s son was described by Dr. Gordon here in Orac’s blog as “recovering.”

  43. #43 mandrake
    January 17, 2009

    Dawn:
    B follows A does not mean B is caused by A. It might be; then again, it might not. That’s why studies have control groups and why anecdotal evidence is worthless.
    Some cancers go into remission all by themselves. If I know someone who drank a bottle of bourbon every day until his cancer went into remission, would I say that the bourbon caused it?

  44. #44 HCN
    January 17, 2009

    Leni said “You are an ass. An unmitigated, spiteful ass.”

    Yes, she is. I think it would have been better if instead of attempting to protect any of her future children by giving her a rubella vaccine after her very premature child was born, it would have been much wiser to just tie her tubes. We really do not need her perpetuating her genome anymore than necessary.

  45. #45 Ronald
    January 17, 2009

    Related, from Newsweek:
    “The warfare over vaccines and autism is heating up yet again. This week, Alison Singer, the executive vice president of communications and awareness at Autism Speaks, one of the nation’s leading autism advocacy groups, announced her resignation, citing a difference of opinion over the organization’s policy on vaccine research. “Dozens of credible scientific studies have exonerated vaccines as a cause of autism,” she wrote in a statement. “I believe we must devote limited funding to more promising avenues of autism research.””
    http://www.newsweek.com/id/179998?from=rss

  46. #46 has
    January 17, 2009

    Leni:

    So if you [Dawntroll] seriously think she (or any other medical professional) belongs in jail for that, I would like to meet you in person so I could slap your god damned face.

    My mother was a nurse too, and I could repeat your own post virtually word for word.

    Can we form a line?

  47. #47 alyric
    January 17, 2009

    Dan wrote that Aspergers is more common that autism. No; PDD-NOS is most common trailed by autism and Aspergers brings up the rear. As someone remarked his credibility is not exactly there so don’t waste your money actually paying for any of his articles. The prevalence figures for the various ASDs are not hard to find.

  48. #48 Socrates
    January 17, 2009

    I’m not sure Jenny and GR can be attacked directly with science.

    Their engines run on emotions and are lubricated with cash.

  49. #49 John Marley
    January 17, 2009

    What is all boils down to is chemicals – chemicals in our food, chemicals in our air, water, furniture, toys, EVERYTHING.

    Oh Noes! Not chemicals!

    Hey, Dawn, have you eliminated Dihydrogen Monoxide from your diet?

  50. #50 Liesl
    January 17, 2009

    “What was that… a drive-by book report?”

    Best.comment.ever.

  51. #51 Lucas McCarty
    January 18, 2009

    Dandie andie, according to FEAT and Autism Society Canada, that pretty much is around what ABA for Autism costs. They’re very aggressive in promoting it as ‘medically neccessary’ for all Autistics and call it the only scientifically supported treatment when it’s not even that.

    Val McFarland has fallen hopelessly for the rhetoric. FEAT and ASC can never seem to decide wether 40 hours a week ABA costing anywhere between $60k-$100k a year or just 5-10 hours a week is normal. When they are lobbying the Canadian Government; it’s 40 hours and any let up on this means Autistics are naturally doomed. When addressing critics, it suddenly becomes a very gentle regime.

  52. #52 Fiamma
    January 18, 2009

    I am a little late to this discussion, but I recently read in CURE magazine a terrific article about Epigenetics. I know it is focused more on cancer BUT I thought this would be a good piece of scientific evidence to throw at the Autism crowd and say “Hey, perhaps you need to look a little deeper into the complexity of DNA and pathologies instead of blaming vaccines.” I am a little tired of a flu shot being the cause when epigenetics could be a breakthrough piece of information.
    http://www.curetoday.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/article.show/id/2/article_id/949

  53. #53 Laura
    January 18, 2009

    BTW, I found some autism quackery on the other end:

    In some of the comments here, some jerks claim that people should put up with being rudely treated by coworkers with autistic spectrum disorders because that’s supposedly the source of good ideas in the workforce: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/missconduct/2009/01/unlikable_peopl.html

    Also, here another jerk’s basically claiming that whites are more advanced in creativity because blacks supposedly aren’t autistic enough: http://www.rdos.net/eng/asperger.htm

  54. #54 Leni
    January 18, 2009

    has wrote:

    My mother was a nurse too, and I could repeat your own post virtually word for word.

    Can we form a line?

    Only if I get to be first ;)

  55. #55 Dangerous Bacon
    January 18, 2009

    Dawn: “So, what is the rate of Autism in all of you unvaccinated MDs out there? Just curious because the majority of vaccines I know are not mandated in your profession. Pretty comical that you demand children be vaccinated.”

    Dawn is still repeating this nonsense, much the same as she did in another recent vaccine discussion on this blog:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/01/an_actual_provaccine_storyline.php

    At that time she said: “We need to start demanding that doctors and nurses receive every vaccine that they demand necessary for our children. When they see the damage in their own families, they will then realize how stupid they were to think that vaccines were safe and effective.”

    From my response (which mentioned my own receipt of recommended vaccines, except in cases where I suffered through the childhood diseases for which vaccines were then unavailable, developing immunity the hard way): “You should also be aware that studies show that physicians follow vaccine recommendations for their own kids to a high degree. More than 9 in 10 pediatricians adhere to the recommended vaccine schedule for their children. Here’s an example in the case of chickenpox vaccination:

    http://cpj.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/42/7/635

    Now that you’re aware of this, I hope you will at least stop repeating this particular antivax lie.”

    So, Dawn, why do you keep repeating the antivax lie that docs avoid vaccines for themselves and their kids, over and over again? Is the truth so painful to acknowledge? Are you afraid that if you concede it in this case, you might be forced to take a hard look at the other misconceptions you cling to?

  56. #56 has
    January 18, 2009

    Leni wrote:

    Can we form a line?

    Only if I get to be first ;)

    Be my guest. :)

  57. #57 HCN
    January 18, 2009

    Dangerous Bacon said “So, Dawn, why do you keep repeating the antivax lie that docs avoid vaccines for themselves and their kids, over and over again?”

    Because that is what they do. Nothing they say can be supported with real evidence, so they just make it up as they go along.

  58. #58 HCN
    January 18, 2009

    I was listening to the 13th Skeptic Zone podcast, http://www.skepticzone.tv/ , and was reminded of this wonderful and very well titled webpage:
    http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/vaxliars/vaccines.htm

  59. #59 dandie andie
    January 18, 2009

    Lucas McCarty, what treatments for autism are you aware of that are scientifically validated besides ABA and sensory integration? Please let me know because I’ve done extensive research and haven’t been able to find any information that supports the effectiveness of anything other than SI and ABA. I’d like to be able to help my daughter cope with her autism as much as possible.

  60. #60 Robster, FCD
    January 18, 2009

    A good crank doesn’t repeat the same lie over and over, but tells lie one, then when called on it moves to lie 2, lie 3, lie 4, etc. Eventually, the crank returns to lie 1, but only once it has had some time to rest.

  61. #61 HCN
    January 18, 2009

    Robster, FCD said “A good crank ”

    There really is no such thing as a good crank. They often slip up before they cycle through the third lie.

    (dandie andie, the crime is that the vaccine crap has reduced funding to educational modalities, though there is real research going on, you might want to check out:
    http://www.autismresearchnetwork.org/AN/ , if you happen to live near one of the universities listed you can try to get some therapy for your child there, or referrals to qualified therapists — one of my sons got reduced fee speech therapy through one of those universities, and I know of kids who went through their experimental preschool program … good luck)

  62. #62 Dr Benway
    January 18, 2009

    Hi dandie andie,

    Yes, there are studies showing that ABA can help autistic kids. I don’t think that necessarily means that parents must shell out $100,000 per year for board certified ABA treatment.

    Behavioral principles can be learned by anyone of average intelligence willing to make the effort. The trick is to become aware of your own assumptions about why people do what they do. Put those assumptions aside. Put aside what seems obvious.

    Look at the function of a particular behavior in terms of
    - social attention
    - some tangible reward or activity
    - escape from something unpleasant
    - self-stimulation.

    Encourage a competing behavior to serve that same function.

    And for that, there is no need to send me a check. :o)

  63. #63 HCN
    January 18, 2009

    And to add to Dr. Benway’s thoughts, be sure to focus only what is important and needed.

    One thing is that my son is deathly afraid of dogs, so I try to accommodate that. I am not going to force him up to a dog and pet it.

    Also, when he was younger he had behaviors that would seem to be odd like certain repetitive motions, or having to go through a procedure a certain way to accomplish a simple task: like having to walk a certain direction around in the kitchen to get to the fridge or moving an object that was not familiar away.

    If the behavior was not obtrusive, I let it go. Though I did have to deal with the moving of objects. It was quite irritating to put a ladder up to change a lightbulb, then go to get the new bulb, only to return to the ladder to find that son had collapsed it and moved it back into its closet. It took a few tries, but he had to learn to live with a ladder not being in the closet (especially since we are painting walls in the house now that kids are now old enough to stop drawing on them — by the way, my disabled son never drew on the walls, it was the two younger “normal” kids!).

  64. #64 Dr Benway
    January 18, 2009

    D’oh! I wasn’t clear. I meant, “To reduce a problem behavior, encourage a competing behavior to serve that same function.”

    Example: Kid pulls hair to get undivided adult attention. Find some other behavior you can encourage, perhaps raising a hand and saying, “I need your undivided attention!” When the kid raises a hand, he or she may not find it so easy to pull hair.

    Make sure the adults generally grant focused attention for the desired behavior and have a minimal reaction to hair pulling.

    As an aside, autistic kids who pull hair often seem to enjoy the feeling of the hair. That might be described as a tangible objective. Access to an item that feels nice to touch might be granted for periods of “safe hands” -i.e., no hair pulling.

    Sometimes, sadly, nothing is quite so wonderful as real hair on a person’s head.

  65. #65 Dr Benway
    January 19, 2009

    Nice example about the ladder, HCN. An ABA therapist might guess that moving the ladder serves as a means to escape a disordered environment. The therapist might ask, is there something else the child could do to escape that unpleasant situation?

  66. #66 HCN
    January 19, 2009

    Dr. Benway said “An ABA therapist might guess that moving the ladder serves as a means to escape a disordered environment.”

    I wish.

    Actually, my thought was that it was a change he had no control over.

    Because if it was a “disordered environment” the young man (my son is 20 years old) would not keep a collection of pop cans by his laptop, he would actually put his clothes away, he would not leave CDs lying on the floor of his room and he would actually put the toilet paper on the holder instead of leaving it on the floor!

    Things to change, but it takes time. We describe him as a 15 year old in a 20 year old body (just a while he was like a 14 years old, as it turns out his 14 year old sister tends to leave socks on the floor through out the house — I bet you can’t wait for your kids to become teenagers!). It took a while but we do have him riding the bus independently. His younger siblings started riding the bus independently at least by age 13, he started when he was closer to 18 (and he once deliberately missed a bus so I had to drive him to a tutoring session!). He now takes the bus to his classes at the community college. But there are limits, he has requested a ride to the court house where he needs to report next week for jury duty (now that should be interesting! and I can’t be there to deal with the unusual surroundings, and he really wants to participate in the process, yes I am worried).

  67. #67 Leni
    January 19, 2009

    has wrote:

    Be my guest. :)

    LOL. That was very gratifying.

  68. #68 JP
    January 19, 2009

    It was reading comments here by folks like Dawn that inspired me to go get every vaccination available to me. Now I’m vaccinated against meningococcal meningitis, Hep A, and up-to-date with Tdap.

    I happen to be the only child of a nursing professor and a dentist, and they vaccinated me against everything possible back when I was a kid. (Except pertussis – had a mild allergic reaction to the old whole-cell vaccine.) Also, both of my parents keep their vaccinations current and get their seroconversion tested regularly.

    In short, healthcare professionals do get vaccinated and do vaccinate their children. Dawn’s wrong about that, plain and simple. And given the lack of evidence from properly conducted trials, she’s wrong about the vaccine-autism link too. But almost everyone here knew that already.

    Also, I want to get in line. My parents honor is impugned and that shall not stand!

  69. #69 Tracy W
    January 19, 2009

    What is all boils down to is chemicals – chemicals in our food, chemicals in our air, water, furniture, toys, EVERYTHING.

    Indeed. That’s the thing about chemicals – everything is made up of chemicals.

    They disrupt your thyroid function

    And they also cause your thyroid function. And in fact they are your thyroid function – if you don’t have any chemicals in you your thyroid is definitely not functioning.

    weakens your adrenal glands, causes major metabolic imbalances, etc, etc, etc

    And also strengthens your adrenal glands, reduces major metabolic imbalances, etc, etc, etc. Don’t believe me? Don’t eat or drink for a few days, the absence of new chemicals will cause serious medical problems.

    All of that sets the stage for neurological disease, genetic defects, cellular dysfunction, chronic illness and on and on. (We also pass this dysfunction onto our children).

    And of course chemicals also set the stage for neurological leaps of insight, bursting with good energy, raising healthy and happy children, etc. Einstein was raised in a chemical-rich environment after all. In fact, every single Nobel prize-winner and every single Olympics gold medal winner was raised in a chemical-rich environment, with chemicals in their food, air, water, furniture and toys (assuming of course that they had any of the latter two).

    The vaccines just add insult to injury. Babing!! Autism or rather the “label” is then added. The damage was already in the works.

    Under this logic, we should all be diagnosed as autistic, as we are all 100% made up of chemicals and the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breath is 100% chemical. (Now some pedant is going to come along and point out that we are in reality mostly made up of empty space).

    Whatever causes autism, it’s going to involve chemicals – genes take the form of arrangements of various chemicals, and the copying process requires chemicals. If the cause of autism is some combination of events in the womb, it’s going to involve chemicals – eg what Mum eats and what gets transmitted to the fetus, or an impact on the womb wrecks the copying mechanism of the chemicals that are being laid down to form the child’s neural pathways, or whatever. And equally, whatever causes most of us not to get autism is due to chemicals. Blaming something on chemicals is a waste of breath. What matters is being able to blame something on a particular chemical, or combination of chemicals, or on another physical effect in combination with chemicals (eg a cut in your skin has an impact at a chemical level).

    By the way, I am recovering my vaccine-injured child quite quickly. So quickly in fact, that his weekly therapist told me that “we” are the talk of her employer’s weekly meetings. Yes, I am following Jenny McCarthy’s “quackery” as you would call it and it is working.

    Don’t be so sure of this. My brother recovered ridiculously fast and well from a severe head injury, despite us doing nothing special about it – he did have various therapists and medical attention, and the therapists were generally wonderful, but he recovered far faster than everyone else at the clinic at the time, so we don’t attribute his dramatic recovery to the clinic.

  70. #70 Scott
    January 19, 2009

    if you don’t have any chemicals in you your thyroid is definitely not functioning.

    Even more interestingly, if you don’t have any chemicals in you then your thyroid does not exist. And in fact, there is no “you” to miss the chemicals!

    On the other hand, I can say with 100% certainty that no completely chemical-free person has ever gotten sick in any way. (Neither has any 17.3-armed person, for that matter.)

  71. #71 Mu
    January 19, 2009

    When I grew up, only small pocks, polio, diphtheria and tetanus were the commonly administered vaccines for kids. In retrospect, it’s amazing that my (very pro-vaccine MD) parents did adhere to the old wisdom of measles parties, but I guess at that time it was considered unavoidable to get most childhood illnesses at some point in your life, you better might get it over with. What to a certain extend probably made sense, make the kid get it while it’s otherwise healthy, and not risk it as a complication to a severe flu. It’s too bad that in today’s outbreaks it always seems to catch a couple kids in a weakened state, with severe consequences.

  72. #72 Laura
    January 19, 2009

    “But there are limits, he has requested a ride to the court house where he needs to report next week for jury duty (now that should be interesting! and I can’t be there to deal with the unusual surroundings, and he really wants to participate in the process, yes I am worried).”

    Ah, so now he may be on a jury of the defendant’s peers (well, if he doesn’t get sent home during voir dire, or the court doesn’t finish its empanelment and send everyone else home before they get down to his name on the list, or however it works in your state).

    When I was a little younger than he is, I thought “peer” was almost a dirty word since I only ever heard it in the context of adults telling me that “peer pressure is bad.” They always used some other word instead of the P word when talking about peers in a positive context. Fortunately, I got the facts before I was first summoned for jury duty at 19, and I bet you’ve been giving your son the facts even earlier! :) Unfortunately, some other adults out there still sure seem to abhor peers: http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2008/08/01/should-you-try-to-raise-a-geeky-kid/

    “…I don’t care whether my child becomes an artist, a maid, or a doctor. Social success in middle school strikes me as worthless when compared to being able to comport oneself appropriately in the boardroom or stockroom…Is peer social interaction relevant to an adult?…”

    What happens to the fairness of a trial when someone like this, or someone raised by someone like this, gets put on the jury? Back on-topic now, how disappointed are parents like this when their sons and daughters turn out to not have autism or at least Asperger’s?

  73. #73 Loralai
    January 19, 2009

    Maybe someone here can answer this question for me, it’s not specifically addressing all autistic children only those who claim to have “cured” their child’s autism. Lately I’ve seen a lot of articles and claims of this. That they are no longer “in the spectrum” or that they once exhibited autistic symptoms and now because of some therapy/diet don’t any longer. There was a radio show host who, not too long ago, commented that most parents “autistic” children were a result of bad parenting. Of course there was a lot of outrage about this.

    On to the question though, if someone’s child is “cured” of autism then couldn’t it stand to reason that either 1) they never had it or 2) it really was just bad parenting? I say this because most people with autistic children claim that there is no controlling their outbursts, their actions or their child’s behavior. Most of these therapies and diets I have to wonder if it’s a placebo affect actually.

    I’ve known several truly autistic children and adults. There is no cure for this. One autistic adult I know is actually quite brilliant, but she absolutely and honestly can not control her actions. She can express herself beautifully through a computer though. I look at her compared to some of these parents claiming their child was “cured” of autism and it does not seem logical or feasible that this is the case.

    The “spectrum of autism” that is now thrown around just reeks to me of the 80′s and 90′s catch-all ADHD diagnosis’. I’ve been on plenty of parenting message boards and the sheer # of parents wondering if their 3 year old has autism because they won’t “share and play with the other kids” or that they “throw temper tantrums” is staggering. I have seen parents ask point blank if their child has autism because “last night at dinner my 2 year old wouldn’t look me in the eye”.

    If anyone has seen or worked with a truly autistic child or adult, I don’t know how anyone can claim to have cured their child of a condition that is not reversible. I could be off the mark but I would love to hear a doctor’s opinion or someone who works with these children (not your own) on a day-to-day basis and get their feedback.

  74. #74 Laura
    January 19, 2009

    “The ‘spectrum of autism’ that is now thrown around just reeks to me of the 80′s and 90′s catch-all ADHD diagnosis’. I’ve been on plenty of parenting message boards and the sheer # of parents wondering if their 3 year old has autism because they won’t ‘share and play with the other kids’ or that they ‘throw temper tantrums’ is staggering”

    Now I wonder what the # of parents is who wonder if their 13 year old has autism because he or she says “I don’t care what the other kids think, they’re just neurotypical!!!” after chatting out with the self-diagnosing trendies on the internet.

  75. #75 konnie.teo
    January 19, 2009

    Autism, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Disorder are all potential pitfalls when a child doesn’t have proper child development. I think all families should be wary of this.

  76. #76 Dr Benway
    January 20, 2009

    konnie.teo,

    Iz u a bot? Iz Turing test?

    Wai programmers do dis??? Wai?

    I haz a sad.

  77. #77 HCN
    January 20, 2009

    Dr. Benway… me wuvs u!

  78. #78 Kitty
    January 20, 2009

    Loralai

    My daughter is a specialist teacher of autistic children, and has worked with all ‘levels’ of the spectrum. Some of the diagnoses leave a lot to be desired and she feels the psychologists have been pressured by parents into giving a diagnosis of ‘autism spectrum’ as a catch-all to enable the child to receive a statement of special educational needs.
    Having said that, she believes that if an autistic child can communicate, even using signing or PECS (a picture system), then he can be taught behavioural strategies which will allow a more ‘normal’ life. She is a strict disciplinarian, taking the time to correct bad behaviour which she is adamant is not a part of being autistic.
    Many parents have been shocked by her approach and she would be rich if she had a pound for every time she’s been asked “You do know he’s autistic don’t you?” Most, however, are converted when their child begins to respond, to say please and thank you, to be able to go to a restaurant, visit friends and even in some cases attend main stream schooling.
    She isn’t ‘curing’ their autism but she is teaching them ways to cope with it. She is also a firm believer that they need to be ‘allowed’ to be autistic at some time each day, in whichever way their autism dictates.
    After a year in her class most higher functioning autistic children can respond to conversation, complete a set task, feed themselves, write their name (or sign a card to mum or dad), dress themselves, and most importantly interact with the other children in a ‘normal’ way.
    These same children could not use a toilet, never gave eye contact, spoke few words, could be violent to themselves or others, would only eat white food ( to name just a few!) and had major autistic repetitive behaviours. Many of these things had been allowed by well meaning carers who had little expectation about the child’s ability or behaviour because of the autism label.
    This is not ‘curing’ autism it is expecting an autistic child to achieve his best potential, and lead as independent an existence as possible.
    Her opinion on the quacks who tout a ‘cure’ is unrepeatable in polite society!

  79. #79 Dr Benway
    January 20, 2009

    A boy I know now in college clearly met criteria for Asperger’s disorder in middle school, but no longer. I think gaming helped a lot – e.g., Dungeons and Dragons, Pokemon, Magic the Gathering.

    In a game situation, social expectations are ritualized and simplified. My turn; your turn. You do one of four things then I do such-and-such. When everyone is focused on the same specific interest, overly detailed monologues don’t stand out as weird and off-putting.

    Games make it easier to be with others. With frequent exposure to peer group situations, some people with autism-spectrum symptoms can learn what to say, what not to say, how to listen better, etc.

  80. #80 The Perky Skeptic
    January 20, 2009

    Kitty, I pretty much agree with your friend. All kids need good, firm, consistent parenting, and kids with autism just need it moreso. :)

    Dr. Benway, I completely agree about gaming!!! I think that’s why there seems to be a high percentage of gamers with Asperger’s syndrome (I have no data for that, so feel welcome to correct me– I’m just going on my personal observations from lots of sci-fi/gaming conventions). Also, the Geek Social Fallacies, though in many cases enabling codependent behavior, do make it a lot easier for people with low social skills to find friends amongst the geeky. :)

  81. #81 Laura
    January 20, 2009

    “Dr. Benway, I completely agree about gaming!!! I think that’s why there seems to be a high percentage of gamers with Asperger’s syndrome (I have no data for that, so feel welcome to correct me– I’m just going on my personal observations from lots of sci-fi/gaming conventions). Also, the Geek Social Fallacies, though in many cases enabling codependent behavior, do make it a lot easier for people with low social skills to find friends amongst the geeky. :)”

    …andmake it a lot easier for men with low social skills to get away with treating women like crap amongst the geeky. :(

    http://bullyscomics.blogspot.com/2008/08/serious-note.html
    http://subatomicbrainfreeze.typepad.com/subatomic_brainfreeze/2008/08/convention-dr-1.html
    http://dccountdown.blogspot.com/2007/08/comic-shop-semiotics-101.html
    http://ami-rants.blogspot.com/2008/08/rawr-rawr-rawr-rawr-rawr-o.html

  82. #82 Loralai
    January 20, 2009

    Kitty, thank you so much for that insight. It is a great perspective and helps me better understand what a therapists hope is to accomplish with an autistic child. I like the honesty you presented of coping with the autism and giving parents and children those skills and tools they need without the false hope or misinformed “miracles”.

  83. #83 Laura
    January 20, 2009

    As for the gaming/comics/science fiction/anime/etc. scenes being society’s designated friends for autistic people (especially the ones who were raised with “You do know he’s autistic don’t you?” instead of good, firm, consistent parenting), I wonder how long that’s going to last.

    Those of us who are in those scenes because we actually like gaming/comics/science fiction/anime/etc. want to be treated respectfully just as much as anyone else, and I’m getting the impression that more and more of us are losing patience with disrespectful behavior. I’ve even heard it a girl in the comics scene (who was raised on a steady diet of “don’t care what anyone else thinks!!!” and had low social skills herself) realize “if other people won’t put up with that crap from me, why should I have to put up with it from him?” and stop talking to a former friend who had even lower social skills.

    For another example, the blogger at the Subatomic Brainfreeze link I posted earlier sure doesn’t have patience with that:

    “…Geek conventions are founded on [Geek Social Fallacies] #4 and #1, that is, ‘If I get them all together, all my friends will be friends with each other. If one of them objects to the other, then the former is Hitler.’ Nobody wants to be Hitler, and many geeks are typically introverted people who don’t like to rock boats, and many geeks have no idea how to act in public, and many geeks are just goddamn opportunists. So a lot of people get away with shit that doesn’t fly in regular society, from the benign to the wonderful to the irritating to the skeezy…

    and here he comments on sexual harassment at comic and anime conventions:

    “…How to deal with these perplexing new feelings, Shinji-kun? No, Shinji! Bad Shinji! Don’t jerk off on the comatose girl! And I guess that’s what this is to me, except Asuka is conscious, and Shinji didn’t even really have any time to whip it out before she got away from him. And a lot of people say ‘Oh, manchild! He knows not what he does! It’s the Asperger’s you know!’. That doesn’t matter. That’s not how you deal with shit like this. People need to learn what’s up…”

    Like the etiquette columnist says in the Boston Globe link I posted earlier:

    “…This is objectively rude behavior–that’s a point you can’t argue. Does it matter that a person with attention deficit disorder can’t help it? Neurotypical people can’t help wanting to be treated with courtesy, either. Does that matter?…”

    Here she’s talking about the workplace but this can apply just as much to social gathering places.

  84. #84 Dr Benway
    January 20, 2009

    Dan Abshear’s book report and konnie.teo’s warning about the “potential pitfalls when a child doesn’t have proper child development” remind me of the penis enlargement hot stock tip cheap drugs by mail intrusions I immediately recognize as spam. However, unlike ol’ school spam, this novel variant somehow manages a tangential relationship to the content that surrounds it.

    Oh, how clever. How insideous. This new mutation must be the product of an unholy union between automated spam output and key word search technology.

    But that means…

    Yes! Somebody set up us the bomb.

    Gentlemen… Make your time.

    Go to the blogs in all the lands and warn the tube dweller: TEH SPOOGLE INVADEZ! OH NOES!!!11!!

    SPOOGLE IN TEH NETS! U NO HAZ FILTERZ! U NO WANTZ!!!1!!

  85. #85 Laura
    January 20, 2009

    “Oh, how clever. How insideous. This new mutation must be the product of an unholy union between automated spam output and key word search technology.”

    New? You realize how often the Iain M. Banks fan newsgroup got hit with financial spam? That was years ago! ;)

  86. #86 Dr Benway
    January 20, 2009

    Banks. LOL.

    The two autoposts here didn’t immediately jump off the page as frauds. That’s the bit that’s new to me.

    Were they obvious to others?

  87. #87 val mcfarland
    January 21, 2009

    WOW- guys we are lucky to live in a country to freely express ouselves. what matters most is our children, how we choose to treat them, or create autism awareness is also our “Choice” I have been extremely fortunate with our family and friends for the support “we beleive” is best for our son. Lets try to keep it positive, I am personally creating a deal of awareness and if you do not agree with who we are associated with than that is your decision. It is my choice and our choice as an organization to work with GR and Jenny who have put autism on the map and single handedly made autism a household word that always helps the general public become more aware.with people who we beleive are doing an AMAZING JOB creating awareness, lets remeber guys that many of us did not know much about autism until our own children received their diagnonsis, Jenny gas personally (whether you agree with her oppinion or not)please remember that many of us are doing what we can to promote awareness and help others. let’s not attack each other, but appreciate that we are all doing our very best.

    Val McFarland

  88. #88 Joseph
    January 21, 2009

    Jenny McCarthy creates autism awareness in theory. I’m sure she believes she’s doing her part and doing a good thing too. But in reality, people are about as aware of autism with or without her. Go to http://trends.google.com and search for autism.

    Second, just because she raises awareness of autism doesn’t automatically make her efforts a good thing. For example, in the foreword to her book, Dr. Kartzinel says autism sucks the soul out of a child. (Quacks say things like these in order to scare their potential clientele). In other words, she’s knowingly promoting the notion that autistics are soul-less. Now tell me, how in the world is this kind of thing helpful to autistic persons?

    Basically, not all ways of raising awareness are created equal, nor should they be free from scrutiny.

  89. #89 Prometheus
    January 21, 2009


    “It is my choice and our choice as an organization to work with GR and Jenny who have put autism on the map and single handedly made autism a household word that always helps the general public become more aware.with people who we beleive are doing an AMAZING JOB creating awareness…”

    I suppose, in a skewed sort of way, this is true. After all, Jenny McCarthy and others of her ilk have increased the general public’s “awareness” of the existence of autism. Unfortunately, they have also made the public “aware” of a number of things that aren’t true, such as “autism is a life not worth living” and “autism is caused by vaccines” and who could forget “there is antifreeze in vaccines”.

    By this logic, we should be appreciative of the HIV/AIDS “denialists” because they have raised public awareness of AIDS and HIV – even though they are completely wrong in everything they say about them. Similarly, we could laud the KKK because they have raised the public’s awareness of racial inequity.

    It would be one thing if Jenny and Co. were simply saying, “Hey! Our kids have autism and we need some answers!”

    Instead, they are saying, “Hey! Our kids have autism and we know what caused it and how to “cure” it, even though the scientific data disagree with us! Don’t listen to the scientists and doctors, listen to us – actors, businesspeople and lawyers! We know more than they do!”

    It makes sense, until you think about it.

    Prometheus

  90. #90 Chris
    January 21, 2009

    Val McFarland said “It is my choice and our choice as an organization to work with GR and Jenny who have put autism on the map and single handedly made autism a household word that always helps the general public become more aware.with people who we beleive are doing an AMAZING JOB creating awareness,”

    The problem is with the false information, and the flip-flopping of what is what.

    First Ms. McCarthy said her child was a crystal or indigo child.

    Then she said he was autistic.

    Then she said he was cured.

    Then she said she was going to start some other routine (chelation?) to cure him (again!).

    The biggest issue is that Ms. McCarthy, Generation Rescue, TACA, SafeMinds and other such organizations is that they have stressed the wrong things. Too much money and effort has been spent trying to place the blame on the wrong thing, and then trying to promote questionable “cures”, and ignoring the real science. And in the mean time there are very real children being injured and killed by some very real diseases.

    What we, the parents of these children, really NEED is educational supports, actual therapy, and support to transition from school to employment.

  91. #91 don't forget
    January 21, 2009

    Chris, you forgot this bit from http://www.mastersinstitute.org/indigo.html:
    /
    This characteristic of late speech often leads Crystals to be misdiagnosed as Autistic. A definition of Autistic is someone who does not communicate or connect with others. Although verbally delayed, these delightful children have no difficulty in communicating in non-verbal ways including telepathy. A dramatic increase in the number of autistic diagnosis is an indicator of the flood of the crystal children that are now arriving on the Earth.
    /

  92. #92 Chris
    January 21, 2009

    I did not forget, I just don’t care. It has nothing to do with reality.

  93. #93 Prometheus
    January 21, 2009


    “This characteristic of late speech often leads Crystals to be misdiagnosed as Autistic. A definition of Autistic is someone who does not communicate or connect with others. Although verbally delayed, these delightful children have no difficulty in communicating in non-verbal ways including telepathy. A dramatic increase in the number of autistic diagnosis is an indicator of the flood of the crystal children that are now arriving on the Earth.”

    Wow! Jenny’s just as correct now as she was then! That’s amazing consistency!

    [Note: Consistency is only a virtue if you're not a screwup]

    Prometheus

  94. #94 FreeSpeaker
    January 21, 2009

    Chris said: “What we, the parents of these children, really NEED is educational supports, actual therapy, and support to transition from school to employment.”

    That is so true, and is so applicable to children regardless of their disability. Transition is something that requires planning years before, and, often, something happens to screw up the plans at the last minute.

  95. #95 FreeaSpeaker
    January 21, 2009

    Storkdoc said: It is a little more personal when it is where you live.

    Absolutely right. Dr. Robert Melillo has “developed” Brain Balance (Google it, as I do not post URLs of quacks) right her on Long Island, NY, home to two national laboratories, a major medical school, etc. Pure quackery.

    Now, for some fun…what is Dr. Robert Melillo’s specialty and why is it not mentioned on either website of his?

    He is offering a free seminar (a/k/a sales pitch) nearby, and I may attend to ask him just those two questions.

  96. #96 Dr Benway
    January 21, 2009

    Ok FreeaSpeaker, I googled “Dr. Robert Melillo.”

    What the hell is a “chiropractic neurologist”?

  97. #97 Robster, FCD
    January 21, 2009

    Dr. Benway,

    A sCAM artist. Did you have to ask? :)

  98. #98 Dr Benway
    January 22, 2009

    From the American Chiropractic Association website:

    Chiropractic neurologists are trained to identify the underfunctioning part of the brain and find treatments to correct the problem, to help that hemisphere grow. “On every patient, we perform a brain function exam,” says Dr. Frederick Carrick, president of the ACA Council on Neurology.

    Heh.

    Why no smack-down from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology for the misleading us of “neurologist”?

  99. #99 FreeSpeaker
    January 23, 2009

    Dr. Benway gets a god star. You ask, what is a “chiropractic neurologist”? Good question.

    To me, it sounds like an oxymoron, since chiropractic teaches that all disease comes from the spine. I always thought that chiropractic required suspension of anatomy and belief that the head, with brain inside, does not exist.

    Well, I am going to his seminar near my home. The place is known for good coffee and I can have a little fun asking about his “credentials”. One of the major things I will ask is where all that genetic research for Autism and AD/HD has gone, and whether he agrees with Dr. Nora Volkow, head of NIDA (Bush’s best appointment. Hmm…his only best appointment.)

  100. #100 FreeSpeaker
    January 23, 2009

    That would be a goLd star for Dr. Benway.

    I think that ABMS only gets involved when soneone falsely claims board certification in one of their member boards.

  101. #101 Laser Potato
    January 23, 2009

    Your own blood is composed of chemicals. OH NOES!
    http://chemistry.about.com/cs/5/f/blbloodcomp.htm

  102. #102 Melissa
    January 26, 2009

    Personally, I believe all communities would gain and benefit from a simple reminder that we need to all work together. “That Went Well…” by Terrell Dougan literally brought tears to my eyes. This is a very personal memoir of a family choosing not only to keep their little girl with special needs at home, but to rally the community and the state to act on behalf of all children with special needs.

  103. #103 Orlando
    January 22, 2011

    So far behavior therapy (ABA, Floortime type stuff) is the only thing that has shown consistent results with the spectrum. Unfortunately, we forget that we are currently in the pioneer stage in this area of medicine and as the saying goes “the pioneers take all of the arrows”. and we parents of kids on the spectrum are the pioneers. I use GFCF(after actual testing revealed a true milk allergy and a gluten sensitivity), HBOT, and ABA for my child.

    Right now the brain balance type stuff will require more research on my part. If it sounds to good to be true it probarely is.

  104. #104 Mark
    February 18, 2011

    Once Autism slaps you and your family in the face, then the naysayers out there may change their tune. When your living with it, and the answers the pediatrician gives is “it’s a phase, they’ll grow out of it.” , then who are we as parents are we to turn to? Organizations like TACA, Generation Rescue, Autism Speaks, serve as a growing voice of the frustrations we parents face. Our kids are sick, gastrointestinal, immunological, mental, physical issues abound, with no real answers as to why. I’ve been fortunate to get my daughter the help she needed at 2 1/2. ABA, bio-med, hyperbaric therapy, Tomatis listening therapy, have all played major roles in getting my daughter out of the “fog” of Autism. I want to tell those parents with affected kids to be strong, and hang tough! My daughter is now 8, attends a challenging Christian school, and is thriving without any aides. She gets in trouble for TALKING TOO MUCH with her friends!

  105. #105 mary s
    January 13, 2012

    If only there were more people like Melissa above (jan. 26, 09) We must nourish those in need. I researched the McFarland woman and her child Cal, who suffers from a moderate diagnosis of Autism while looking for a local charity to donate a small amount of money raised by local school age children. We were able to meet her and son Cal in person. It was heart breaking yet heart warming. How is it that you have such information regarding where the funds are distributed? I was able to find 3 separate local families whose children suffer w/the terrible condition, who were on the receiving end of this organization. If you did a little more searching with a open heart, some inspiration, and mostly empathy instead of negativity you might be rewarded with peace within, not repugnance. Personal opinion rather than personal experience should be disregarded. Shame on you!

  106. #106 mary s
    January 13, 2012

    If only there were more people like Melissa above (jan. 26, 09) We must nourish those in need. I researched the McFarland woman and her child Cal, who suffers from a moderate diagnosis of Autism while looking for a local charity to donate a small amount of money raised by local school age children. We were able to meet her and son Cal in person. It was heart breaking yet heart warming. How is it that you have such information regarding where the funds are distributed? I was able to find 3 separate local families whose children suffer w/the terrible condition, who were on the receiving end of this organization. If you did a little more searching with a open heart, some inspiration, and mostly empathy instead of negativity you might be rewarded with peace within, not repugnance. Personal opinion rather than personal experience should be disregarded. Shame on you!

  107. #107 Lawrence
    January 13, 2012

    My question in return would be: “how does the laser focus on vaccines and the war on the medical establishment, plus the millions of dollars that are spent to attempt to prove already-failed hypotheses that vaccines cause autism, help even one iota the legitimate study of therapy and treatments that can truly assist those with autism live more normal lives?”

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