The damaged done by the antivaccine movement is primarily in how it frightens parents out of vaccinating using classic denialist tactics of spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). Indeed, as has been pointed out many times before, antivaccinationists are often proud of their success in discouraging parents from vaccinating, with one leader of the antivaccine movement even going to far as to characterize his antivaccine “community, held together with duct tape and bailing wire,” as being in the “early to middle stages of bringing the U.S. vaccine program to its knees.” Meanwhile, just last week Anne Dachel, “media editor” for the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism gloated about basically the same thing, how although overall vaccination rates remain high, vaccine exemption rates are up in many areas of the country and how her movement has provided plenty of information to “scare them [parents] out of vaccinating.”

And it is the very same antivaccine propaganda blog, Age of Autism, that is promoting a different, more insidious message, specifically how the brutal murder of an autistic teen nearly three months ago “illumines the autism nightmare.” What do I mean by “insidious message”? It’s the hijacking of the autism advocacy movement, which tries to advocate for more services for autistic children and adults and more awareness and understanding of autism by the antivaccine message that autistic people are somehow “damaged,” be it by vaccines or unnamed “toxins,” that the “real child” has been “stolen” by autism, and that any manner of biomedical quackery to “recover” autistics is justified by the horror of autism. Although Attkisson never specifically mentions vaccines, if you know the background of the case, that message is quite obvious and not very far under the surface of her report on the murder of Alex Spourdalakis:

Not surprisingly, this story was reported by Sharyl Attkisson, who is CBS News’ resident antivaccine reporter. I’ve known her to promote antivaccine views in a manner that gave Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. a run for his money as far back as 2007. Since then, she’s smeared Paul Offit as a “pharma shill,” very likely fed information to someone at AoA to help them portray Lisa Randall at Voices for Vaccines as an “industry group,” done a puff piece about antivaccine physician and hero to the antivaccine movement Andrew Wakefield, and misreported the significance of the Hannah Poling case (which was really just the rebranding of autism). Most recently, Attkisson promoted a truly execrable “review article” summarizing the evidence relating vaccines to autism. The review article, by Helen Ratajczak, cited lots of pseudoscience from antivaccine literature in the service of supporting a truly dumb hypothesis, namely that DNA from vaccines could recombine in the brain of children to result in autism. Attkisson was quite smitten with the idea. As you might imagine, I was not. Along the way, Attkisson also indulged in promoting breast cancer misinformation. No wonder she is the perfect reporter to do this story promoting the viewpoint that autism is so horrible and the system provides so little help that we should understand why a mother like Alex’s might become so desperate that she would poison her son and then, when that failed to kill him, try to slash his wrist, and then, when that failed, stab him in the heart with a kitchen knife.

A feeling of utter revulsion welled up in me when I finally watched Attkisson’s video. On the one hand, I can only begin to imagine how hard it is to raise and care for a child like Alex Spourdalakis, who was nonverbal and, as he grew, was becoming very strong and difficult to manage and control. On the other hand, that is no excuse for murder. Those of you who haven’t read my original post about this murder, go now and read it. It provides the background, in particular how long before the murder the antivaccine movement had latched on to Alex’s story, blatantly used it to promote their viewpoint, and corrupted it. Not long before Alex’s murder, Andrew Wakefield even traveled to visit him and make this video:

That’s just a reminder that even minimal fact checking would have turned up the Wakefield connection, not to mention that shortly after this video an anonymous donor turned up to get Alex out of Lutheran General Hospital and to a “safe, secret place,” or how the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism had a tight connection with Dorothy Spourdalakis that it touted nearly three months before Alex’s murder. Also note that Alex’s mother wrote a thank you note to AoA in which she states:

Vaccines have maimed too many already and there are many more to come. The CDC’s latest stats confirm that. We are not going away, nor are we giving up. My son Alex is just one of millions of children and adults who no longer will be silenced.

It is a sentiment that Sharyl Attkisson appears to agree with.

Lies of omission to exploit an autistic teen

I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that I found Attkisson’s report to be exploitative and far more sympathetic to the mother and caregiver who murdered Alex Spourdalakis than to Alex himself. It’s sympathetic to the mother in that it spins a tale in which a mother, who was so kind and loving that she would wash her son’s feet, sleep on the floor by his bedside, and do everything in her power to find him help, finally despairs and decides that her son is suffering so much that he is better off dead. So she and Alex’s other caregiver Jolanta Agata Skordzka killed Alex and tried to commit suicide, but failed. The exploitation comes from the multiple images of Alex nearly naked and in four point restraints, images that show no respect for his dignity as a human being. Indeed, I would go further than calling this segment exploitative and slanted towards the mother and accuse Sharyl Attkisson of lying by omission in that so many relevant facts about the background of this story are omitted that a viewer unfamiliar with the story would completely miss the context and have no idea who at least two of the people interviewed are. If Attkisson were to plead ignorance, she would reveal herself to be the hack reporter that I consider her to be. I don’t think she can plead ignorance, anyway, because of her close connections with the antivaccine movement through bloggers at AoA and her long history of promoting antivaccine pseudoscience that goes back at least to 2007, which is when I first noticed her, and probably beyond. Why CBS News continues to indulge Attkisson’s penchant for vaccine pseudoscience, I don’t know, but this piece clearly represents a failure of her producers to do even minimal checking of her reporting, as you will see.

The first lie of omission comes from what is not mentioned about the footage of Alex used by Attkisson in her report. Notice the source of the video: The Autism Media Channel (AMC). What is not revealed by Attkisson is that the Autism Media Channel is an antivaccine propaganda network designed to promote the idea that autism is caused by vaccines. Don’t believe me? Then consider this. The Director of the Autism Media Channel is Andrew Wakefield. It’s somehow been mysteriously scrubbed from the site, where you will find little mention of Andrew Wakefield anymore, but the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism refers to Wakefield as the Director of AMC (for example, here) and it is in various news outlets that he is the Director of the AMC (for example, this Guardian story, which lists him as the “director of a company called Medical Interventions for Autism and another called the Autism Media Channel”). Meanwhile, the AMC still features a couple of videos by Wakefield, for example, this video in which he challenges Dr. David Salisbury, Director of Immunisation at the Department of Health in London, the official responsible for overseeing the nation’s immunization program in the UK, to a debate over the death of a child thought by his parents to have been caused by the MMR vaccine. Then there’s this video (the second one on the page), where Wakefield is interviewing Dr. Arthur Krigsman, who, not coincidentally, is featured in Attkisson’s report as the only doctor who could help Alex Spourdalakis when Loyola and other hospitals could not. He is also on the staff of AMC. As the Guardian article put it:

The Autism Media Channel website contains videos with titles such as Not Born With It – a reference to the belief that autism is far from genetic, which leads it to advocate biomedical interventions such as nutritional supplements as well as gluten- and casein-free diets (one video is entitled How To Afford A Gluten And Casein Free Diet). Other videos recommend that parents of autistic children cook food using stainless-steel or ceramic pots so metals don’t “leach into the food and give more toxic overload to your kid”.

The lies of omission are many-fold and just keep coming. For example, Attkisson doesn’t mention the connection between Andrew Wakefield and the AMC, which is not, as it is represented, just a web channel designed to promote the vaccine-autism hypothesis that was started by Andrew Wakefield and Polly Tommey. Instead, Attkisson presents the AMC as a “website with a mission of helping those living with autism.” Very benign-sounding. Who could argue with that? It’s also the AMC’s self-professed mission. However, any halfway decent reporter would have at least mentioned in passing the AMC’s connection with Wakefield. Another omission is that Tommey is quite a familiar presence to British skeptics, being a well-known antivaccine activist and supporter of Andrew Wakefield. (She even has her own approving Whale.to page.) Indeed, Tommey once maintained a Facebook Campaign known as Mothers Supporting Andrew Wakefield’s Work. A few years ago, she launched a billboard campaign to try to score a meeting with then Prime Minister Gordon Brown. British physician Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick pointed out at the time in a response he called An Open Letter to Gordon Brown:

In her campaign posters, Mrs Tommey, whose 12-year-old son Billy is autistic, offers to save the UK government £500 million a year by helping people with autism to get jobs. But it is not clear from the posters how she thinks this can be achieved. However, The Autism File, the magazine she edits, focuses on two issues: supporting the campaign led by the former Royal Free Hospital researcher Andrew Wakefield against the MMR vaccine and promoting ‘unorthodox biomedical’ treatments for children with autism.

The current issue of The Autism File contains a 15-page feature providing a detailed account of the case presented by Dr Wakefield to the General Medical Council, where he is currently facing charges of professional misconduct. The recent judgments in the US Omnibus Autism Proceedings revealed the consensus among experts that Wakefield’s research was scientifically flawed and probably fraudulent. Yet this research has proved damaging to thousands of parents – on both sides of the Atlantic – who were drawn into futile litigation. The resulting decline in confidence in MMR has contributed to renewed outbreaks of measles. It is regrettable that The Autism File should continue to uphold pseudoscience to the detriment of children’s health.

The Autism File promotes a range of ‘unorthodox biomedical’ treatments for autism. These include exclusion diets, vitamins and supplements, anti-fungal and anti-viral medications, and ‘detoxification’ regimes, such as ‘chelation therapy’, which purport to remove ‘heavy metal’ toxins from the body. Practitioners providing these treatments also offer a wide range of unvalidated investigations. Polly Tommey’s husband Jonathan, who is closely involved in The Autism File, also runs a private clinic providing biomedical tests and treatments (though he has no medical qualifications).

And, from the Guardian article:

The presenter of many of the Autism Media Channel videos is Polly Tommey, who is also registered with the Texas secretary of state as a co-director of the company, along with Wakefield. Tommey, who recently moved to Austin from the UK with her husband, Jonathan, and their three children, first appeared on the autism radar in 1999 when she and Jonathan were guests on Tonight With Trevor McDonald. That evening they announced that they had given their autistic son, Billy, an infusion of the hormone secretin, extracted from pig intestines, which stimulates digestive fluids in the pancreas, produces pepsin in the stomach and bile in the liver and, they said, resulted in “excellent progress”.

And:

Meanwhile, Jonathan, Tommey’s husband, who has a sports science degree and a foundation degree in nutritional therapy, set up the Autism Clinic in Berkshire to offer “specialist autism treatment”, including “diagnostic tests” and an array of supplements and vitamins that he prescribes and makes available from his online shop. He also features in some of the programmes on the Autism Media Channel’s YouTube page. In one of those films, Jonathan Tommey – The Biomedical Imbalances In Autism, he recommends “supplementary intervention” such as “vitamins and herbs” for children with autism. In the same film he discusses chelation therapy. “As nutritionists, we can’t use chelating agents. They are prescriptive medications,” he says, adding, “They are available on the web. My suggestion is you’ve got to be very careful doing this without professional guidance, and unfortunately in this country there are not many practitioners that do chelation.” But, he adds, “Chelation has been used to a good level of success.”

So what we have here is a woman who, while she does advocate for families with autism, also promotes the pseudoscientific and dangerous idea that the MMR and other vaccines cause autism, as well as a variety of quackery designed to treat the “toxic insults” that in her mind cause autism. Indeed, a quick perusal of The Autism File website, which is a repository for the magazine, confirms Dr. Fitzpatrick’s assessment quite nicely and confirms the Guardian‘s reporting. For instance the treatment section features articles on enzymes, reiki, homeopathy (complete with at least one testimonial), and many other forms of quackery, “biomedical” and otherwise. There are articles claiming that heavy metals in vaccines cause autism or that vaccines in general cause autism. If you don’t believe that Polly Tommey is firmly entrenched within the antivaccine camp, look no further than to yesterday’s Age of Autism, in which her latest issue of Autism File is prominently promoted as featuring two articles from AoA contributors, Lisa Goes and Cathy Jameson and featuring a monthly column by AoA’s managing editor Dan Olmsted. If you take a look at the table of contents of the latest issue, you’ll see that the author list reads like a Who’s Who of the antivaccine movement, including a column by Kim Stagliano (another AoA contributor), Deirdre Imus, Erik Nanstiel, Anju Usman, and, yes, Andrew Wakefield himself, who penned a piece called Reflections: The Painful Truth Behind Recent Tragedy. Not surprisingly, Wakefield attacks those who try to counter the message of people like Attkisson, Tommey and Wakefield that the mother was a long-suffering saint who finally cracked because there was no help for her son.

Here’s an excerpt:

Clearly of the same assured if mistaken mindset, the Autism Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN), in calling for Spourdalakis and Skrodzka to be charged with a “hate crime,” claims that:

In truth, Alex’s murder is about a repulsive ideology all too common within our society that preaches that it is better to be dead than disabled.

Really? Were these organizations—NCD and ASAN—there for Alex at any stage during the unfolding tragedy? Did they have access to his medical records or interview his carers? Did they warn from Alex’s bedside, as did Jill Rubolino and Jeanna Reed from Autism Is Medical (AIM) of their grave concerns for Alex’s life in the absence of medical care? Did they make spontaneous offers of help, or seek to offset in any way the chance that their “hate crime” was imminent?

This is typical Wakefield, as disingenuous as it gets. Remember that Wakefield wrote in the introduction of his book Callous Disregard a fictional vignette about a mother who loved her autistic child so much that she climbed the Hounds Ghyll viaduct with him and jumped off with him. The view, clearly, was that autism can be such a burden that, when it gets too hard, the greatest act of love is a murder-suicide, which is the way to “keep him safe.” The echoes from this resonate in the Alex Spourdalakis case.

As I pointed out before, it is very likely that Dorothy Spourdalakis was subjecting Alex to “autism biomed” quackery and came to know Rubolino and Reed through that. At the time, I was making an educated guess based on what I could find on AoA and elsewhere on the web. I wasn’t sure that this was true, hence my qualifying my statements with terms like “apparently” or “probably.” There is clear evidence that the Spourdalakis family was offered help, both from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and from the local Autism Society. She refused help from the former, and was put in contact with an attorney by the latter. Dorothy Spourdalakis appears to have refused it because that help consisted of standard conventional treatments for autism. If Alex were transferred to a psychiatric hospital’s long-term care ward he would no longer receive the autism biomed treatments. At the time, I also noted that AoA contributor Lisa Goes portrayed Jeanna Reed as ranting and haranguing Alex’s doctors with pleas to read quack studies and claims that “many of these children present with bowel disease and mitochondrial dysfunction. He could have GERD, duodenitis, esophagitis, ulcers in the small intestines, colitis. How can we know if we don’t test?” As I pointed out at the time, this was pure autism biomed rhetoric, leavened with the arrogance of ignorance. When one of the doctors referred to autism as a “mystery,” Goes actually completely lost it, yelling, “No! No! It’s not. It’s a medical illness that causes bad behavior. All you have to do IS READ*!” Add to this Andrew Wakefield’s grandstanding visit to Alex in his hospital bed last spring, and the connection is clear. Most likely, as far as I can tell, AIM never “spontaneously” offered help, but rather Dorothy Spourdalakis probably reached out to Reed and/or Rubolino through AIM as “autism biomed” advocates. Most likely the NCD and ASAN knew nothing of Alex’s case until after his murder because the only way they would have heard of it is if they were monitoring antivaccine websites, as I do. It wasn’t in the news then.

Unwittingly, Sharyl Attkisson has confirmed my worst suspicions. In her segment, an interview with Polly Tommey is featured prominently in Sharyl Attkisson’s deceptive news segment, but her background is not mentioned. She is presented as nothing more than a concerned parent and autism advocate, rather than the antivaccine activist that she is. Nor are her close ties with Andrew Wakefield ever mentioned. Tommey opines that “His [Alex’s] death didn’t need to be. It was because there wasn’t anything in place for him.” However, that is not true, as I explained above. This leads us to Arthur Krigsman, which was the kind of help Dorothy Spourdalakis apparently did want.

Also featured prominently in Attkisson’s segment is footage shot of Alex Spourdalakis undergoing endoscopy by Arthur Krigsman for his GI issues. Footage of Alex becoming violent is featured, with Attkisson’s voiceover stating that Alex’s mother blamed the fits of violence on severe GI distress, saying, “Dorothy believed that Alex’s violent outbursts were triggered by severe gastric pain, but nobody seemed to know what to do with him.” We’re then told that a “glimmer of hope came” when “autism advocates” connected Alex’s family with a GI specialist. Yes, that GI specialist was Dr. Krigsman, who (it is not mentioned) used to be Andrew Wakefield’s partner at Thoughtful House when Wakefield was still the medical director there; that is, before Wakefield was fired by the board of directors in the wake of being struck off by the British General Medical Council (GMC), which found him guilty of several counts of egregious research misconduct, and referred to to him as “irresponsible and dishonest,” and his having his infamous 1998 Lancet article retracted. Not coincidentally, Krigsman has been a coauthor with Wakefield on three articles.

Given that Wakefield and Krigsman were two of the most vocal promoters of the concept of “autistic enterocolitis” (in reality a nonexistent entity), it is not at all surprising that Dr. Krigsman immediately diagnosed stomach ulcers. To be honest, the images on the screen were there so briefly that I couldn’t tell if this looked reasonable or not, but I’d sure like to see a pathology report of gastric biopsies. Maybe one of my gastroenterologist colleagues could comment. In the meantime, it’s interesting to note that, testifying for the plaintiffs at the Autism Omnibus hearings, Dr. Krigsman stated that he sued a hospital because he claimed it restricted his privileges to do endoscopies because it was “concerned that the colonoscopies that were being performed on these children did not have proper indications of colonoscopy.” He’s also been fined by the Texas Medical Board. In the wake of Wakefield’s disgrace, after having left Thoughful House not long after Wakefield did, Krigsman soldiers on promoting the same idea, the same “autism biomedical” quackery that Wakefield promoted and still promotes, just not at Thoughtful House anymore. Indeed, Dr. Krigsman even presented at the Autism One quackfest last spring, as he frequently does.

CBS News: Epic Fail

I could go on and on about how irresponsible and wrong Sharyl Attkisson is in promoting an idea that tries to absolve Dorothy Spourdalakis and Jolanta Agata Skordzka of guilt for the murder of Alex Spourdalakis just because he was autistic, large, and very difficult to handle, as have Matt Carey, Skeptical Raptor, Science Mom, Paula Durbin-Westby, the Poxes Blog, Liz Ditz, Todd W., and Scott Gavura have. I could go on and on again, as other skeptical bloggers and I have before, about how Attkisson has abused her trust as a journalist to promote quackery. (It is not for nothing that she has won a hallowed place in the Encyclopedia of American Loons.) I could go on and on, as Matt Carey has, about how, through this story, Attkisson has whitewashed the brutal murder of an autistic teen in order to hide the involvement of Andrew Wakefield and other “autism biomed” advocates and, worse, to promote in a not-so-subtle way their message that it is better to be dead than severely autistic. But why bother? Attkisson appears to be beyond redemption, given her long documented history of antivaccine sympathies and promoting autism biomed quackery.

It is CBS News that bears responsibility for airing Attkisson’s irresponsible and deceptive whitewashing of the Alex Spourdalakis case, presenting who opportunistically latched on to it as legitimate “autism advocates” and lying by omission about critical parts of the story. They failed to do adequate fact checking, even the most superficial of which would have immediately revealed the connections between the Autism Media Channel and Andrew Wakefield, between Polly Tommey and the antivaccine movement, and between Arthur Krigsman and Andrew Wakefield. Fact checking would also have rapidly uncovered how Tommey and Wakefield had been collecting this footage most likely to be used in a reality TV show that they were developing, The Autism Team, whose trailer features autistic children screaming, hitting themselves, and throwing tantrums and featuring—you guessed it!—Dr. Krigsman as the only person who can help:

It sure looks to me as though the idea behind this show was to have parents with children with severe autism who are at their wits’ end call for help, and—whoosh!—The Autism Team swoops in, gives the child all sorts of biomedical quackery, and rapidly makes things better. It’s the classic reality show format, in which there is a problem and the reality show host comes in and almost miraculously fixes the problem, the way, for example, Caesar Millan corrects the behavior of unruly dogs in The Dog Whisperer or the way Stacy London and Clinton Kelley fix the fashion-challenged in What Not To Wear. Yes, it is just that blatant, which is why I chose these two examples to illustrate my point, even at the risk of offending. Look at the video if you don’t believe me—if you can stand it. As Carey points out:

That video shows autistic children in meltdowns, being self-injurious. One specific child is flown from the U.K. to New York to see Arthur Krigsman (just as Mr. Spourdalakis was taken from Chicago to New York to see Krigsman). In the trailer, after visiting Krigsman the child was shown happy, playing, and the parents were shown grateful. As we know, this was not the conclusion of the Alex Spourdalakis story. Whatever Mr. Wakefield and Ms. Tommey had planned for the video they had taken, the “treat bowel disease and everyone is happy” story was not to be. Instead, he has produced a video of the “medical establishment fails family, leading to tragedy” theme. I do wonder how he managed to work that theme around the facts that the tragedy (aka brutal murder at the hands of his mother) came to pass after Mr. Spourdalakis was seen by Mr. Krigsman.

Matt Carey is correct. As I’ve pointed out before, the entire narrative of the autism biomed movement is that autism “stole” the parents’ “real child” away from them. Since the idea that vaccines cause autism is basically holy writ for the autism biomed movement, that means vaccines “stole” the real child away by making him autistic. Parents who try to “recover” that “real” child are thus viewed as heroic, rather than abusive, because they’re willing to do whatever it takes to defeat the scourge of autism (and vaccines) in order to rescue the “real” child within. Dorothy Spourdalakis, having valiantly struggled against the demon autism, is thus to many of a tragic and heroic figure, who strove, failed, and decided that life was no longer worth living for either Alex or herself. Worse, a disturbing number of people seem all too willing to accept that narrative, that “autism made her do it.” If the narrative that “autism biomed” can cure didn’t work out for the footage that Wakefield and Tommey shot of Alex and his mother, then another, more tragic narrative, of a mother so overburdened by autism, with no one or nor organization to help her, became so distraught that she killed her child, to them a tragic but understandable outcome. Never mind that it’s a lie in that Dorothy Spourdalakis was offered help at least twice but turned it down, and having a disabled child who is difficult to handle does not justify killing him brutally.

Worst of all, CBS News failed in that they took at face value the claims of Polly Tommey and Dorothy Spourdalakis that no help was offered to her. They failed in how they framed this story so sympathetically to the plight of the mother, letting her surrogates, such as Polly Tommey, state virtually unchallenged the view that “autism drove her to it” and that if only Spourdalakis had had adequate “support” (what kind of “support” is not mentioned), then maybe she wouldn’t have murdered Alex. That CBS News allowed Attkisson to juxtapose a voiceover about the AMC movie project calling it “a rare visual prelude to murder” with carefully selected footage designed to portray Dorothy Spourdalakis as downright saintly and only driven to murder by circumstances beyond her control. Sure, there’s the obligatory interview with someone like Ari Ne’eman who quite correctly points out that it is a dangerous ideology that views those with severe developmental issues as less than human that was behind Alex’s death, but the overall message of the segment is loud and clear. After all, right after the interview with Ne’eman, Attkisson shows Dorothy’s suicide note and intones, “‘Alex will no longer be treated like an animal or subjected to restraints,’ indicating she thought they both were better off dead.” Attkisson then concludes with a survey that claims that doctors aren’t sure what treatments are appropriate for autistic children and by stating that advocates hope that the case of Alex Spourdalakis will result in change.

I, too, hope that the case of Alex Spourdalakis will result in change. I hope that the way CBS News permitted Sharyl Attkisson to exploit it proves so embarrassing that there is change—at CBS News, where change is desperately needed, starting with preventing Sharyl Attkisson from ever reporting on autism or vaccines again. What CBS News has done is to do a story that is nothing more than a press release for Andrew Wakefield and Polly Tommey’s vision. It was beyond an epic fail on the part of CBS News. It was journalistic malpractice of a most despicable order. I hope that the connections between Wakefield, Tommey, and Attkisson all come out in the ongoing investigation into Alex’s murder.

ADDENDUM: If you think I’m exaggerating about how the antivaccine movement is reacting to this and how it is trying to do its best to absolve the mother of guilt for her crime, just read the comments after this post at AoA over the weekend. One example is this comment from someone named Sheila Tzorfas:

WHO really killed Alex? …
The Doctors WHO shot him with Aluminum, thimerosal (Mercury) embalming fluid, fetal cells, rats brains, parts of cows, pigs, caterpillars, ether and more in the name of health. The SCHOOL system that did not send viable home services or place him a nurturing, caring environment, the Medical Staff that did not DETOXIFY him; the Spiritual Community too buy to help, the ER doctors whose training in Autism was close to nonexistent, the Neighbors who hid their eyes, the Insurance Companies that waged a battle, the MEDIA, that hides the increase of illnesses from the viewers as 1 in every 6 children have been afflicted with Developmental Disabilities starting in 1991 when all newborn babies get a shot for a sexually transmitted disease that they CANNOT get,the Psychiatrists that did not give him relief, and the surrounding communities which include all…. Shell of,”Recovering Autism, ADHD, & Special Needs.”

Notice that there’s no mention of the mother on the list of “who really killed Alex.” Apparently she isn’t the one who “really” killed him.

Comments

  1. #1 Emily Willingham
    September 6, 2013

    I guess I’ll make that determination for myself based on my track record of expertise rather than taking the word of some random online pseud who can’t even discern anatomy from physiology. But thanks for offering your opinion. If that makes you bwahahahaha about control in an online forum, you are a sad, strange little person (or, given your “we have read” comment, *persons*), and you have my pity.

    @Alain …. all of the work from my dissertation has been published as separate papers.

    @lilady … thanks. The comments are as revelatory as anything I write.

  2. #2 Shay
    September 6, 2013

    “We’ve read your bio…not impressed. Don’t care. You are still no Autism expert.”

    Says the poster who steadfastly refuses to offer any credentials whatsoever.

  3. #3 Alain
    September 6, 2013

    @ Emily Willingham,

    Ok, I shall hit pubmed tomorrow (it’s getting late and I need painkillers) to read your papers.

    @ Everyone else except Holographic,

    It seem Holographic is getting a high from “controlling” all of us. How about we don’t care about him / her and we keep our good work on complaining at CBS News; it is having an effect 🙂

    Alain

  4. #4 Alain
    September 6, 2013

    @ Emily Willingham,

    That came out wrong, I don’t need painkiller to read your papers but instead, for my suture wound around the navel (had surgery for a ruptured appendix last month). I will read your paper with lot of interest.

    Alain

  5. #5 Jeff1971
    September 6, 2013

    Krigsman is that guy who claimed to have found a new bowel disease, and when the managers of his hospital asked to see children’s charts, Krigsman ran from the hospital – Lennox Hill.

    You would think that any honest doctor would say: ‘Great that you’re interested in my work, the charts are over there, turn the lights out when you’re done’.

    Not Krigsman, he sued the hospital, packed up and left. The details are online somewhere.

  6. #6 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    September 6, 2013

    Ok, I know this comment was posted way back, but I have to interject.
    Holographic @320:

    [I]t would not surprise me if you weren’t a registered nurse in the style of Nurse Ratchet

    Funnily enough, I’ve been reading “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest” recently. The narrator is Chief Bromden, who is an unreliable narrator. In fact, the phrase “But it’s the truth, even if it never happened” is part of his narration.
    Accusing lilady of being like Nurse Ratchet is very silly, all things considered.

  7. #7 Holographic
    September 6, 2013

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2407771/How-Dorothy-Spourdalakis-killed-autistic-teenage-son-Alex-restrained-hospital-bed-12-DAYS-doctors-understand-stomach-illness.html?ito=feeds-videoxml

    EW, takes a strange person to recognize one. Your track record has nothing to do with expertise. Get real, it’s not what you’re known for.

  8. #8 Holographic
    September 6, 2013

    Julian Assange David Frost

    Good to know you are reading. You wouldn’t want to be confused as Sarah Palin’s kin.

    and as for EW, you are a writer, but many see you as a blogger…that’s your track record.

  9. #9 Sebastian Jackson
    September 6, 2013

    I am writing my own blog post about Attkisson’s report. Could someone please guide me to a comment on this thread or a blog post debunking the endoscopy image seen in the piece?

  10. #10 LW
    September 6, 2013

    Quoth Holographic,

    Furthermore, every child needs exercise and the ability to be outdoors. It’s called a healthy lifestyle. Maybe you don’t like exercise, but Alex liked running.

    So — during the twenty years they were living in that apartment (which would span Alex’s entire short life), Alex was able to run around enough to demonstrate that he liked it. But still he was murdered because the apartment didn’t have a yard for him.

    I see.

  11. #11 Wrysmile
    September 6, 2013

    411 comments and not one explaining exactly what medical treatments were denied and how it was deduced what proper medical care was needed even though the phrase or variations thereof “denied the proper medical care” keeps popping up.

  12. #12 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    September 6, 2013

    Good to know you are reading. You wouldn’t want to be confused as Sarah Palin’s kin.

    Aww, was that an attempt at an insult? You’re adorable.

  13. #13 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    September 6, 2013

    Wrysmile @ 413:

    411 comments and not one explaining exactly what medical treatments were denied and how it was deduced what proper medical care was needed even though the phrase or variations thereof “denied the proper medical care” keeps popping up.

    That’s because the only “proper” medical care they will accept is to be told autism is a “disease” (or dis-ease?) that can be “medically” “treated” or “cured”. The fact that autism is an inborn difference in the way the brain is wired will never be accepted by this contingent of loonies.

    Hey, Holographic: Autism is NOT “Medical”!

  14. #14 herr doktor bimler
    September 6, 2013

    Narad:
    so the only question here is whether you’re a lying sack of shıt as well.

    After coming here from AoA to support Rubolino and commenting for a day or two under a couple of sockpuppet identities, Holographic suddenly decided that it was politic to disavow all knowledge of Orac’s name and day job. “OMFSM, who is this anonymous person whose blog I have been commenting at anonymously?!”

    The evidence points to the LSoS theory.

  15. #15 Narad
    September 6, 2013
    An institution is capable? A dumping ground?

    Tell us about the options that were offered to her. Be specific, because you apparently know a great deal about them. Enlighten us.

    Actually investigating Illinois’ developmental disabilities system appears to be yet another item that Holographic eschewed in favor of making things up to incoherently rant about.

  16. #16 herr doktor bimler
    September 6, 2013

    Holographic:
    I don’t have to prove a damn thing to you.
    True, but I wish you would try. It is more entertaining that way.

    Don’t care. You are still no Autism expert.

    I wonder who *does* qualify as an Autism expert in Holographic’s world. Apparently not Alain, despite his research record. Is Laura Wing an expert? Uta Frith? Fombonne? Courchesne?
    If someone’s degrees included developmental psych. training and they had published on AS, would they count as an autism expert? AFAF.

  17. #17 Lawrence
    September 6, 2013

    It does seem that Holo is just going down some transcript prepared by the folks at AoA, parroting every single “party line” despite being shown that the vast majority of those “facts” are nothing but fabrications or “lies by omission” – like the “she was homeless & no one would rent to her – Alex & her were forced to move around” which is now shown to be a lie – as she lived in the same apartment for 20 years.

    Again, if Alex was being treated by Dr. Krigsman after his discharge from the hospital – in the manner in which is Mother wanted, why did she kill him?

    Better yet, if Dr. Krigsman did in fact treat him, why doesn’t he release the medical records and scoping results that would “prove” Alex’s condition?

    I have the utmost sympathy for Alex, who, by all other accounts (by his own family) was a loving boy who had an interest in music and was a joy to be around, but now seems to have been subjected to some kind of twisted MbP by his Mother in an attempt to gain sympathy after her divorce from her husband….

    This isn’t a medical discussion, this is about a group of rabid anti-vaxxers who played the game with an unstable mother & when she no longer received the kind of attention she wanted from them, she killed her son in an attempt to get back in the limelight.

    That makes a heck of a lot more sense than the drivel the folks at AoA have been pushing (and pushing it because it is an attempt to get themselves off the hook for being somewhat responsible, if not mostly responsible for getting this mother into a situation where she felt killing her child was justified).

    Sickos…..

  18. #18 Delurked Lurker
    North of the Tropic of Capricoen
    September 6, 2013

    Lillady is right…time to ignore the holographic lying cowardly troll and make fun of it. This one is priceless full of p^ss and venom and no logic to back its ridiculous assertions. More fun than a barrel full of thingys 🙂

  19. #19 Agashem
    Not in my room
    September 6, 2013

    Lilady, and others in the American medical system, can you tell me something? In Canada (well at least Ontario) the family of a patient have to sign an agreement to have their loved one in restraints. Is this not the case in the U.S.? To me, this is important for all to understand because if Alex’s mother did indeed agree to the restraints, then why is it being touted as an instance of hospital abuse?

  20. #20 Broken Link
    September 6, 2013

    Agashem,
    I’m not an expert in this, but it seems to me that Alex was not “committed”, and that his treatment options were under the control of his mother. If she objected to the restraints, why did she not take him home?

  21. #21 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    September 6, 2013

    I am not painting her in a sympathetic light. Did you bother to read the link above?

    You are trying to disseminate the AoA lie that they had no place to live when it is obvious that is false. I guess I can say that you added your own embellishment to this lie with the whole yard thing.

    What part about desperate don’t you get? These parents and children are being treated like outcasts by schools, mainstream medicine and even by their own families.

    The fact that some of you here have autism think that everyone has to live by your standard, FU. Do you care about the more severe cases? Nope. You care about your own self serving situations. Yes, Oh…thank the creator or tidybowl man…whoever you give praise to that you can speak and work and defend yourselves. What about Alex? At what point do you all think that Alex deserved a chance to thrive like the rest of you? You are so selfish that it is sickening.

    And you know what? You have dozens of comments you made under 2 ‘nyms that have been nothing but attacks on people here, desperate defences of vampires like Wakefield and Rubolino along with demonstrating your ignorance on a variety of topics including how the internets work. You people used and exploited Alex; he was supposed to be your biomed poster child for Wakefield’s venture into reality TV but then something went horribly wrong and you went into CYA mode.

    Don’t you dare feign concern for Alex and use him as a human shield when either a.) you were actively involved in his exploitation and possibly manipulation of his mother or b.) some pathetic groupie hanger-on trying to co-opt Alex’s murder for whatever perverted reason suits you. Every one of your posts reeks of defensive projection.

  22. #22 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    September 6, 2013

    @Holographic

    Let me recap what exactly the issue is from our perspective. First, there is the AoA, AIM and similar groups’ rhetoric. In their world, we have this mother who “had to move around a lot”, who was “refused help” and was at her wits’ end. She was driven to murder her child because of an uncaring system that failed her.

    Here is the reality. We have a mother who lived in the same apartment for 20 years. She did not have to move around a lot. She was offered help, but because it wasn’t the experimental, unproven quackery she wanted, she refused it. She was encouraged in this by the likes of Lisa Goes, Jill Rubolino and Jeanna Reed. She and her son were used for publicity by Andrew Wakefield as he worked on a new reality TV show. She and Jolanta planned for at least a week to murder Alex, supposedly so he wouldn’t have to be treated like an animal. In short, she claims she thought he was better off dead than autistic and out of her control.

    The narrative offered by AoA, Sharyl Attkisson and company is what we have a problem with. That narrative tries to create sympathy for Dorothy and Jolanta (“Oh, he was so difficult to manage”, “She was helpless”, “The system failed her”). They are excuses for what she did. We think that is disgusting and inexcusable. The narrative we’re hearing from AoA and expounded upon by credulous media include errors of fact and errors by omission. We believe that to be sloppy reporting.

    It does not really matter what the conditions were. Nothing excuses Dorothy and Jolanta murdering Alex. Every day, individuals with disabilities are the victims of violence and abuse. Far too often, the media portrayals of these incidents sympathize with the abuser. We want to change that culture. We are aware that better services and support are needed for parents who cannot cope on their own, but lack of services (or in Alex’s case, a perceived lack of services) is no excuse.

    Am I clear? Do you get it now? Or are you still going to rant on, calling us names, questioning our backgrounds and credentials while clamming up about your own?

  23. #23 Ren
    September 6, 2013

    Ren you have too much time on your hands.

    Nope. I’m not the one that’s been beating a dead horse for several hours now, based on the comments. I’m in school, learning stuff so I know what I’m talking about. What’s your educational background, Holo?

  24. #24 Narad
    September 6, 2013

    Here is the reality. We have a mother who lived in the same apartment for 20 years.

    I’m sorry, but where did this notion come from? There are four apartments in that ~3200 square foot parcel. Given that Minos has what appears to be a reasonably successful business, it seems pretty unlikely that the three (or four) of them had been living there. I’m still trying to find the police interview that suggests Dorothy moved in there late last year.

  25. #25 Krebiozen
    September 6, 2013

    I have been reading this thread with a growing sense of disbelief.

    Firstly I’m amazed that Holographic is apparently incapable of clicking on Orac’s name at the top of the page s/he is commenting on which is a link to a page that explains exactly who Orac is, and complaining he is anonymous.

    Secondly, Holographic appears to be arguing that because:

    1. Conventional doctors refused to diagnose a bowel disorder, presumably because there was no evidence for such a diagnosis and

    2. Conventional doctors refused to sanction dangerous, ineffective and/or unproven biomedical quack treatments (which Holographic is, in my opinion, deluded in calling “appropriate medical care”) and

    3. Alex would have been “drugged and/or experimented with” if he had been taken into care and

    4. His mother couldn’t rent an apartment with a back yard,

    Alex’s carers had no choice but to kill him.

    Is this an accurate summary of what Holographic has written here?

    I’m also appalled that Holographic also apparently thinks that objecting to the abuse of autistic children with the kind of horrible biomedical quackery we know is promoted at places like AoA (such as chlorine dioxide enemas, chemical castration, unnecessary colonoscopies and lumbar punctures), is “facilitating the neglect of children’ medical issues”.

    Holographic, you may spend most of your time on planet AoA, but here in the real world where the vast majority of people live, your position is considered dangerous lunacy.

    You have joined the lunatic fringe and now you are railing against the sane for not joining you. I would write you off as a gullible fool who has been taken in by AoA misinformation, but for the obnoxious bile you have written here. I’m truly disgusted with your behavior. I thought my opinion of AoA and its acolytes could sink no lower, but I was wrong.

  26. #26 Mark McAndrew
    United Kingdom
    September 6, 2013

    “I don’t have to prove a damn thing to you.”

    Might make you look a bit less stupid if you tried it, though…

  27. #27 Narad
    September 6, 2013

    In Canada (well at least Ontario) the family of a patient have to sign an agreement to have their loved one in restraints. Is this not the case in the U.S.?

    The main sections of Illinois law on this are 210 ILCS 85/6.20, 210 ILCS 45/2-106, and 405 ILCS 5/2-107 (goo.gl/lIlhje). The latter two contain the consent provisions.

  28. #28 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    September 6, 2013

    @Narad

    Here is the reality. We have a mother who lived in the same apartment for 20 years.

    I’m sorry, but where did this notion come from? There are four apartments in that ~3200 square foot parcel. Given that Minos has what appears to be a reasonably successful business, it seems pretty unlikely that the three (or four) of them had been living there. I’m still trying to find the police interview that suggests Dorothy moved in there late last year.

    Sorry, I saw someone else mention they had been living there for a period of time.

    @Broken Link and ScienceMom

    What source did you have for how long they lived at that address?

  29. #30 Calli Arcale
    September 6, 2013

    Holographic, read what Mark said at 428. You don’t have to prove anything, but if you don’t even try, you really can’t complain when people don’t believe you and write you off as a crank.

    Kreboizen, I want to add to this:

    4. His mother couldn’t rent an apartment with a back yard,

    A few years ago, I read an interview with a Somali widow who had emigrated to America with her infant son, who later was diagnosed with severe autism. She is one of the Somali parents who listened to Wakefield; the article was about the fury in the local Somali community in Minneapolis after a measles outbreak that followed his encouragement to skip that particular vaccine. Somalis are not actually stupid*, so they quickly realized that Wakefield had led them down a dangerous path. Several of their children had been hospitalized for measles by that time. If Wakefield comes back to speak to them again, he might need a bodyguard.

    Anyway, this woman was raising her severely autistic son with the help of her sister, another refugee. In many respects, their situation was very similar to that of Spourdalakis, but for one crucial distinction: they weren’t complaining about it. Part of that is also cultural; these women have endured such severe hardship already in life, far beyond what the average American can conceive, and even with this burden, their lives are much better than they were. They are no longer in fear of their lives every time they poke their heads out a door. And they have support and assistance, from the local Muslim community and also from the school district. They do lament that they have not been able to get a house with a yard; they cannot afford it with the boy’s medical expenses, even with MinnesotaCare covering a lot of them, since the boy cannot go into a normal daycare while they work. But their concern wasn’t about now. They had now covered. Their concern was for the future, and who would care for the boy when their aging bodies were no longer up to the task. They didn’t have answers, but they were looking.

    I have an autistic daughter. She is not severely disabled, but it causes her problems, and I do worry about her future. It is not easy, but life isn’t meant to be easy. Our children are our responsibilities, and we must strive to do right by them. What saddens me is when a parent decides their child is their property. Living people are never property. I am quite convinced that Alex’s mother killed him not because she was at her wit’s end but because she feared losing control over him. It’s territorialism, really, and it’s happened so many times. The fact that the parents were separated is probably a factor as well, yet somehow the AoA folks never talk about that, because it doesn’t serve their narrative of blaming doctors. But how often has it happened? And here, we have the video that clearly admits the boy was going to get residential treatment within 72 hours — there *was* somewhere to turn, if mom was so overwhelmed, but she abhorred the idea so much that an anonymous donor stepped in so the mom could demonstrate she had means after all. And within a couple of weeks, he was dead. She didn’t want him in treatment. She wanted him in her control, and that had been threatened too many times. She had to exert the final act of control over him, by taking his life.

    That appalls me. But nothing appalls me more than the people who defend her for it. She didn’t kill him because his life was too painful or because she couldn’t tolerate things anymore. She killed him because her control over his destiny had been threatened. If it was just about her, she would have given him up to the state. If it was just about him, and she was just too misled to see what the best care would be, she would’ve had him in Dr Krigman’s care (for all the good that would have done). She did neither, so this wasn’t about anything but control.

    *The Somali culture encourages universal literacy, women moving freely and holding jobs in the community, and secular education — which is part of the problem right now, as the religious nutjobs who’ve torn the country apart have different ideas. Hence the huge outpouring of refugees who reject the nutjobs.

  30. #31 Narad
    September 6, 2013

    Sorry, I saw someone else mention they had been living there for a period of time.

    OK, here is one source of the 20-year figure:

    The River Grove Police Department was used to getting calls from the neat, well-kept second-floor apartment on West Grand Avenue where Minas and Dorothy Spourdalakis, described as “really nice, hardworking people,” lived for nearly two decades, Chief Rodger Loni said….

    In 2005, Minas and Dorothy Spourdalakis filed for bankruptcy, records show. Minas, an optician, worked in an optical office managed by his wife. The couple allegedly had more than $400,000 in credit card, medical and other debts, according to records….

    By February of this year, after nearly 23 years of marriage, the couple filed for divorce. Alex required full-time, round-the-clock care. His mother asked the court to grant her sole custody of the boy, while the parents agreed their older daughter should stay with her father, records show.

    So I was mistaken, but the size of the place and the number of units comes from the Cook County Assessor.

  31. #32 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    September 6, 2013

    @ Narad and Todd: http://bangordailynews.com/2013/07/01/news/nation/slaying-of-boy-with-severe-autism-leaves-community-searching-for-answers/
    Many outlets reported the same. If the claims of debt are true then it isn’t at all inconceivable that the four of them were living in the same apartment.

  32. #33 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    September 6, 2013

    Argumentum ad Foxum now Holographic? Any point to this you vapid tosspot?

  33. #34 Broken Link
    September 6, 2013

    @430.

    Todd, a simple white pages search shows that both Dorothy and Minas lived on Grand Ave in River Grove Il.

    http://www.whitepages.com/name/Spourdalakis/Chicago-IL

    Alex was killed in an apartment on Grand Avenue. The Spourdalakis’s filed for divorce in Feb 2013. I think it stands to reason that they lived in that apartment for some time prior to the murder.

  34. #35 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    September 6, 2013

    Thanks for the confirmation of how long they lived there, folks. I saw the 411/white pages info listing both Minas and Dorothy at that address. Thanks, Narad, for finding the “nearly two decades” info.

    So, now we have it documented that they did, indeed, live there for a long time and that Polly Tommey’s claim that she “had absolutely nowhere to go, nowhere to live” is false.

  35. #36 Krebiozen
    September 6, 2013

    @Calli #432

    I entirely agree. I have seen the horrendous conditions in which many people have to live in India and Egypt, so I know the apartment in question would be regarded as absolutely luxurious by the majority of the world’s population.

    I personally live with another adult in an apartment of around 4,000 square feet and have no back yard (though I do have access to one I share with 30-some other apartments). This means I find the idea of being driven to despair through living in an apartment twice that size difficult to grasp. I know my American wife was surprised to find I was living in a shoebox* compared to her house back in the US, but she seems to have adjusted without feeling compelled to murder anyone.

    * Many, probably most, Brits live in homes that I guess seem tiny from the perspective of most Americans, like hobbit-holes, but with less light and ventilation.

  36. #37 Chris,
    September 6, 2013

    Krebiozen:

    I personally live with another adult in an apartment of around 4,000 square feet

    You might want to check your unit conversions. That is actually huge. We have city lots that are under 4000 square feet. Our first house was on a 3000 square foot lot (50′ x 60′). The house was 900 square feet, and when we finished most of the basement we got it up to about 1400 square feet.

  37. #38 Narad
    September 6, 2013

    FWIW, the bankruptcy was in 2005. The only explicit medical bills were for $7547; the rest is an impressive array of mostly personal credit card debt (which of course could include more medical debt). The personal property includes four bedroom sets, so they must have had the entire top floor, County Assessor notwithstanding.

  38. #39 Denice Walter
    September 6, 2013

    @ Kreb:

    Right but you got foxes.

    -btw- My two units total about 1200 sq ft- approx 800 & 400.
    But posh. Somewhat.

  39. #40 Lawrence
    September 6, 2013

    4000 SqFt is almost twice the size of the house I currently live in (and it still feels huge, even with the wife, two kids & two cats)…..

  40. #42 lilady
    September 6, 2013

    IIRC, There is an interview with Dorothy where she stated (paraphrasing) “We need a place…upstate (then out-of-state) so that he can run around” I had the distinct impression that she meant that the three of them (Alex, Dorothy, godmother) would live there together.

    I posted on Orac’s first blog that I located a local business that was in Dorothy/Minas names. It was a prescription eyeglasses shop. Dorothy worked there as an optometry tech and Minas worked as a manager/clerk there.

    Narad, I checked into that link to the divorce case you located and I believe there have been a few motions since Dorothy’s arrest.

    Lies, lies, lies about Dorothy not bathing for 13 days…she had the godmother there to spell her so that she could take a break, go home, bathe, change her clothing, etc. I’d have thought I died and went to heaven, if I had a full-time live-in caregiver to spell me during my son’s frequent hospitalizations. And, yeah, even when my son was in the ICU, I was with him 24/7 until he was put in a regular room, where I could have a recliner or fold-out chair.

    Has anyone heard of The Truther Girls? Cripes, how many more biomed groups are out there?

  41. #43 Krebiozen
    September 6, 2013

    You might want to check your unit conversions. That is actually huge.

    Indeed – I meant 400, not 4,000.

  42. #44 Narad
    September 6, 2013

    It was a prescription eyeglasses shop. Dorothy worked there as an optometry tech and Minas worked as a manager/clerk there.

    Minas seems to pretty much own the Westchester Optical Center. It’s an Illinois “close corporation” (or was in 2005 at least), but he’s the president and agent. He’s an optician. So was Dorothy according to the filing, for The Eyeglass Shop in Oak Park, of which not-in-good-standing corporation she is the president. I believe she worked at Westchester as office manager or something at one point.

    They were making $2600/month each, with Minas having additional income of $1200/month from “non-filing spouse,” which is opaque to me. The interest in the Westchester business was valued at $0 and claimed to have a negative value, but the debt on the store assets for The Eyeglass Shop survived the Chapter 7

  43. #45 Chris,
    September 6, 2013

    Krebiozen:

    Indeed – I meant 400, not 4,000.

    Yes, that is small. My first house at 900 square feet is positively spacious compared to that. But, then again, that house was huge compared to my college apartment.

  44. #46 Krebiozen
    September 6, 2013

    Chris,

    Yes, that is small.

    You should see the size of my first two wives’ houses. Sigh.

  45. #47 Travis
    Ottawa, ON
    September 6, 2013

    I think 400 sounds pretty spacious, my bachelor is probably a bit smaller than that. I’ll have to measure it and check it out.

  46. #48 Narad
    September 6, 2013

    I had 650 square feet in my last apartment, and it felt positively claustrophobic. Fortunately, there was a quasi captain’s walk so that I could pace. The previous place was 800, and I haven’t measured the new one, but I probably could have hung on to some of the stuff that I discarded in a moving frenzy.

  47. #49 Krebiozen
    September 6, 2013

    Without giving too many details that would allow antivaxxers to track me to my lair, I live in a large Victorian building converted into apartments. I live on the ground floor in a maisonette, which has a very high ceiling and is open plan and partly split level, so though the floor space is limited, it doesn’t feel at all claustrophobic.

    I have lived in much smaller places. One room I rented in a house was so small you couldn’t completely open the door because the bed was in the way. I was in my 20s and only used it to sleep and fornicate – most of my possessions were parked at my mother’s place.

  48. #50 Travis
    Ottawa, ON
    September 6, 2013

    Up until recently I had roommates, lived in a house, but I hated it, so when the lease was up I was happy to move out, even though it meant moving into a very tiny, weird apartment (really weird, it is on the 3rd floor, the top floor, but the bathroom is on the second because there is just no room up here) in an older house here. But hey, it is cheap and I like the neighbourhood. However, I am pretty book heavy, I have three large bookshelves and they are overflowing. Moved here in Aug and I definitely have to find some good storage solutions.

  49. #51 lilady
    September 6, 2013

    @ Narad: There is no listing for a licensed optician under Spourdalakis in Illinois:

    https://www.idfpr.com/LicenseLookUp/LicenseLookup.asp

  50. #52 Denice Walter
    September 6, 2013

    Although I purchased a very moderate sized double unit several years ago, I’m next door to an outrageously, hilariously huge place ( 50×70?) which is outfitted in Spanish tile floors, marble columns, outsized windows – a young guy inherited it and couldn’t afford upkeep so he rents out rooms to a constantly changing cast of ( mostly)youngsters and lives elsewhere: there were young girls from out of town, their boyfriends, girls who sing with djs in clubs, an environmental activist, Chinese art students and NOW two attractive gay men and a North African tattooed hottie -who they appear to drool over. They hang on the balcony and smoke or read amongst the potted plants.

    As is expected, the gays find me interesting.

  51. #53 Alain
    September 6, 2013

    Big 4 and a half with a very friendly russian couple. My share is very cheap at 315$ / month interweb included.

    Alain

  52. #54 MI Dawn
    September 6, 2013

    Seriously? Holo linked to *The Daily MAIL”????? Obviously not familiar with the fact that most people (and almost all Brits) refer to it as “The Daily Fail”. It’s a tabloid, not a newspaper.

    I live in a approx 350 sq ft house. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was laid out better.

  53. #55 lilady
    September 6, 2013

    @ Narad: Here’s the listing I found for that shop. Dorothy has ABOC/FNAO after her name…and Minas is listed as the manager.

    http://www.bbb.org/chicago/business-reviews/opticians-and-optical-services/the-eyeglass-shop-in-oak-park-il-19001906

    ABOC= American Board of Opticianry Certifcation

    FNAO=Fellow of the National Academy of Opticianry

  54. #56 Narad
    September 6, 2013

    @ Narad: There is no listing for a licensed optician under Spourdalakis in Illinois

    I don’t think there are any licensed opticians in Illinois.

  55. #57 lilady
    September 6, 2013

    D’oh I Iooked at optometrists…time for me to get some reading specs ?

  56. #58 Krebiozen
    September 6, 2013

    Way OT, but hey, it’s Friday night…
    Denice,

    a North African tattooed hottie

    That immediately brought back of the Christian Berber women with blue crosses tattooed across their foreheads I saw in Morocco, but I don’t imagine that’s quite what your neighbors’ North African friend is like!

    You certainly do live in an interesting location, as do I. I never cease to be surprised by the eccentric but generally wonderful people we run into here. For example…

    My wife has become friendly with a young French woman who we often see locally, zipping about the place on a scooter, not a motorized scooter, one that you push along with one foot like a child’s, which struck me as odd. She told us that she was singing at a local church, so we went along to listen, not expecting much, and were treated to an extraordinary performance of Mozart, Poulenc, Manuel De Falla and Handel.

    It was absolutely breathtaking. It turns out she is a professional singer who has had a career break due to an accident, and is starting out again in small venues.

    Another local character I have become friends with is a retired criminal lawyer who used to defend some of the organized criminals who have always frequented this part of East London. As you might imagine, he has some interesting tales to tell.

    I recently discovered he is also an excellent pianist, and when, on a visit to his home, he started playing the blues I spontaneously rediscovered my voice, which has, for various reasons, been dormant for a while. We now have plans for a public performance, hopefully including the chanteuse I mentioned above, who has expressed an interest in joining us.

    All this from a chance encounter, and common interests in preserving our local history and in gardening.

    Despite the horrors that this particular blog post is about, human kindness and creativity is alive and well and living in the most unlikely places.

  57. #59 Krebiozen
    September 6, 2013

    Tsk, “brought back memories” – it’s after 2 in my time zone – time for bed…

  58. #60 Politicalguineapig
    September 7, 2013

    Holographic: Furthermore, every child needs exercise and the ability to be outdoors.

    I agree. This is why we have things called parks and playgrounds. Or do they not exist in Illinois?

    Seriously just stop. Every single author and commenter of Age of Autism screams for eons about how their autistic children aren’t their ‘real’ children. How they’re broken and can’t ever amount to anything.

    They don’t care about the pain their autistic children undergo, and now that someone actually took that philosophy to it’s logical conclusion, they’re trying to turn the sinking ship around.

    We won’t let them weasel out of this one. Gut disease didn’t kill Alex. The doctors at Loyola didn’t kill Alex (though I do think they dropped the ball.) Mrs. Spourdalakis and Ms. Skordska killed Alex, and you, all your friends, Dr. Wakefield, and Atkisson are all trying to help them get away with murder.

  59. #61 Politicalguineapig
    September 8, 2013

    So, does anyone know if Illinois has playgrounds or parks? Or is it simply one big city? Inquiring for cookies and because I’ve never been. (And likely will never, given that I’d have to go through Creep Central, a.k.a. Ohio to get there),

  60. #62 Antaeus Feldspar
    September 9, 2013

    I swear one of these days I’m going to read something by PGP where she says “Well, it goes without saying that carbon-based life forms in the Milky Way are all X, because I’ve met some and there’s no question that the ones I met were X…”

  61. #63 Nick Theodorakis
    September 9, 2013

    @Politicalguineapig #463:

    I realize you’re making a rhetorical point, but for the record even the most densely populated part of Illinois has plenty of public park space; see:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Park_District

  62. #64 Narad
    September 9, 2013

    I realize you’re making a rhetorical point, but for the record even the most densely populated part of Illinois has plenty of public park space

    It depends on where one is in the city, but, yah, it could be worse. River Grove isn’t Chicago, of course, but they had ready access to a hundres of acres of Cook County forest preserve right where they were, and it’s about a 30 minute drive to the lakefront. (I can’t speculate how well Alex would have done on an equivalent 60–90 minute public transit ride.)

  63. #65 Narad
    September 9, 2013

    ^ Erm, ‘a hundres hundreds’. As for this,

    (And likely will never, given that I’d have to go through Creep Central, a.k.a. Ohio to get there)

    ,

    I’d note that most methods of travel that don’t involve sticking out one’s thumb by the side of the road or carrying a bindle tied to a stick don’t exactly require much interaction with the general populace.

  64. #66 Shay
    September 9, 2013

    This is completely OT but PGP — has it ever dawned on you that you live in a prison of your own making?

  65. #67 Calli Arcale
    September 9, 2013

    PGP: yes, Illinois has parks and playgrounds. I’m a bit puzzled that you asked that question in a non-ironic way. Why wouldn’t you expect it to have parks and playgrounds?

    BTW, my brother’s in-laws live in a Chicago suburb, and not far from their place is a truly awesome playground in a city park. It was built with a grant from Ty (the company that makes Beanie Babies), which is headquartered very close by.

  66. #68 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    September 9, 2013

    I had assumed PGP’s question about parks and playgrounds was, in context, a sarcastic dig at Holographic. Her follow-up I assumed was more of the same or an attempt at humor (as in, “Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
    the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? No, seriously – I’m dying to know!”

    I’m at a loss to understand her opinion of Ohio.

  67. #69 Krebiozen
    September 9, 2013

    At least PGP is merely maligning states now, instead of countries or entire continents.

  68. #70 lilady
    September 9, 2013

    O/T but…

    Congratulations are in order for Jake (former *journalist at AoA). He has announced on his blog that he has his MPH…and is furthering his education at U-Texas.

    “I am a Ph.D. candidate concentrating in epidemiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health.”

    Certainly not in the category of a Doctor of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

  69. #71 Lawrence
    September 9, 2013

    @lilady – so when exactly was he awarded his MPH & what was his thesis on?

  70. #72 Calli Arcale
    September 9, 2013

    Ah, that explains it; I can see the humor in it now, Mephistopheles. In my defense, I’m basically running on coffee today, which has impaired my humor. (Kids had a rough night last night, including a nightmare, a bed wedding incident, and a bad nosebleed. Much Laundry Was Done.)

  71. #73 lilady
    September 9, 2013

    @ Lawrence…Go see his Autism Investigated blog; he failed to mention what his thesis topic is. 🙂

  72. #74 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    September 9, 2013

    Lilady – Miles Per Hour?

  73. #75 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    September 9, 2013

    Calli – I think I muffed the punchline – maybe “No, really, I’ve been a bit out of touch” or “I’m a stranger here” might have been better.

  74. #76 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    September 9, 2013

    Of course, it’s possible that after the initial (deserved) dig, perhaps PGP got to thinking “well, maybe the don’t have public parks in Chicago. It could happen; I’ve not been there.”

    I recall times I thought I made a snide joke and discovered I’d stated something that was all too (and embarrassingly) true. Just like the time someone said “I’m special” and I replied “like education?”

  75. #77 Politicalguineapig
    September 9, 2013

    Guys, it was a joke. Except for the bit about Ohio.

  76. #78 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    September 9, 2013

    @Politicalguineapig – I live just south of Ohio and I’ve not seen more people creep than I’d see in any other state.

  77. #79 Shay
    September 9, 2013

    PGP — please tell me I’m wrong; are you avoiding an entire state because Ariel Castro lived there?

  78. #80 Narad
    September 9, 2013

    “I am a Ph.D.candidate concentrating in epidemiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health.”

    Perhaps somebody should explain to Jake what this means. In fact, given that they also offer a DrPH, it’s possible that might need clarification as well.

  79. #81 AdamG
    September 9, 2013

    Ph.D.candidate

    Perhaps somebody should explain to Jake what this means.

    Yeah, seriously. I mistakenly called myself a ‘PhD candidate’ during a talk in my first year and got thoroughly reamed by the faculty afterwards.

  80. #82 Politicalguineapig
    September 10, 2013

    Shay: Why not? I’ve avoided an entire neighborhood and park in my city for years because a gang rape took place in that area.Sure, maybe Castro was a one-off, but statistically, he probably wasn’t. And it wasn’t just Castro. Heck, the state probably would have let him off the hook if they hadn’t been aware that it would lead to bad publicity.

  81. #83 lilady
    September 10, 2013

    The bot and her flying monkey squad are all over this story. I’ve posted back at her about Alex’s murder:

    http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2013/09/autism-0906

  82. #84 Antaeus Feldspar
    September 10, 2013

    Heck, the state probably would have let [Ariel Castro] off the hook if they hadn’t been aware that it would lead to bad publicity.

    Congratulations, PGP. It takes a lot of doing to make the antivax brigade’s “There’s a whole contingent of officials and scientists out there who actually WANT masses of disabled children” paranoia look reasonable by comparison, but YOU MANAGED IT.

  83. #85 Krebiozen
    September 10, 2013

    PGP,

    Why not? I’ve avoided an entire neighborhood and park in my city for years because a gang rape took place in that area.

    Why not? Because you are grossly overgeneralizing from far too little data. You cannot accurately assess risks like this, it’s the exact same reasoning we see in the “I survived measles therefore it isn’t dangerous” brigade. You will come to a lot of very inaccurate conclusions, will offend people and be accused of being a bigot. You will also very likely put yourself at serious risk if you continue like this – if you walk home alone at night through a neighborhood safely once, that means its safe to do so every night, right?

    That’s quite apart from the positive experiences you are denying yourself – I bet that park you avoid is lovely – and the misery you are causing yourself by assuming that any negative experience you have had (or read about) can be writ large to apply to entire states, countries or continents as I have seen you do here on several occasions.

  84. #86 herr doktor bimler
    September 10, 2013

    Heck, the state probably would have let him off the hook if they hadn’t been aware that it would lead to bad publicity.

    There is the corollary that every other state harbours the same proportion of predators and is just doing a better job of hushing them up. Have you thought this through?

  85. #87 Martin
    September 10, 2013

    Avoiding the state of Ohio because of Ariel Castro is not like avoiding the local park because someone was gang-raped there.

    Avoiding Ohio because of Ariel Castro is like avoiding England because of Peter Sutcliffe, or Wisconsin because of Jeffrey Dahmer, or France because of Michel Fourniret, or Hungary because of Sylvester Matushka, or Germany because of Peter Kürten.

  86. #88 Denice Walter
    September 10, 2013

    As Mephisto, Antaeus, Kreb and bimler note:

    PGP is overgeneralising from single examples to general rules.
    I’d add that when you are worried/ afraid/ have been threatened, your criterion is shifted downwards so that you’ll pick up on even the most weak signal and hypervigilance reigns supreme.

    @ PGP:

    Why not try to think in another fashion wherein you feel as though your own input matters more. Try to see yourself more as an actor than as being acted upon. The whole world isn’t against you and you aren’t helpless.

    First of all, you can see through much of the altie/ woo posturing/ propaganda You’re smart.. You can understand that what people tell us and what we tell ourselves can greatly limit our outlook and how we behave.

    Using a ‘nym with “guinea pig” suggests being acted upon by experimenters – PLUS ‘politically’.

    Why not think of yourself differently. You can affect others as well- it’s a two way street.

    If you suppose others label you and categorise you to have you fit neatly into a box of their choice, you don’t have to go along with it. You can tell them off. You can tell them they’re wrong. You can do the same to them.

  87. #89 Denice Walter
    September 10, 2013

    So Jake is off to Texas to acquire another degree with which to convince people that his pseudoscience and conspiracy mongering are correct.
    That’s not how it works.

    What is it about Texas?

    Dr B, Andy et compagnie, Mike Adams, most recently.

    And now, Gary Null announces that he’ll establish a medical facility there:
    he’s hosted a few health retreats there this summer to raise money for land-based ( Pacifica) radio stations that allow his infomercials airtime. His cronies provide support and instruction as he lectures to his mad heart’s content.

    His retreat palace recreates a luxury spa atmoshere with exercise, diet control, classes, energy healing and brain washing. These were highly advertised on his shows with testimonials and reports of incredible health results. Photos at his various websites.

    Now, his woo-centric RN health counsellor reveals that she
    will be re-locating there and that alt med providers will also follow.( she has her own place in NY for vitamin C drips, et al). The Maestro says that they will provide methods to achieve ‘age-reversal’ and heal serious ills, especially neuorlogically-based and degenerative diseases.

    Good luck with that.

  88. #90 sheepmilker
    September 10, 2013

    Re: Jake.

    One can only feel sorry for his thesis supervisor…

  89. #91 Denice Walter
    September 10, 2013

    @ sheepmilker:

    I am trying to imagine how he was able to reconcile his woo with degree requirements and present something realistic enough to be acceptable to SB professors. And the thesis!

    Ha ha ha!. And what would the subject be? Oh lord almighty.

    I don’t know how he was able to get through. Perhaps Ren or Rueben can enlighten us.

    This is comparable to a student who believed that personality was determined by birth date ( astrological influences) getting a SB master’s degree in psych.

    Perhaps he covered up his real views to please profs.

  90. #92 JGC
    September 10, 2013

    “I don’t believe in astrology–us Virgo’s are skeptical like that”

  91. #93 sheepmilker
    September 10, 2013

    DW, yeah, it’s like a creationist doing a PhD in molecular biology!

  92. #94 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    September 10, 2013

    @Denice Walter

    What is it about Texas?

    Well, I’m sure that Jake’s choice of UT has nothing to do with the fact that his uncle is on the Board of Regents.

    As to his thesis, I don’t recall hearing anything about him presenting one or doing his culminating experience at GWU.

  93. #95 Scared Momma
    September 10, 2013

    lilady,

    Thank you so much for what you do. I forget how vile people can be. I will keep reading Orac’s blog and your comments. Thank you very much to you both for your response.

  94. #96 Alain
    September 10, 2013

    Who is Ariel Castro? Any relationship with Fidel Castro?

    re: Jake Crosby,

    I’m Jealous, but then I might be there too if it wasn’t about my (lack of) income and a psychopath who wanted me dead and had a largish sample of minion to do its deed. At least, I have a publication.

    Alain

  95. #97 Calli Arcale
    September 10, 2013

    Alain — do a quick google search to find out who Ariel Castro is. He was arrested for kidnapping three women and keeping them prisoner for ten years in his East Cleveland home as sex slaves. He even had a child with one of them, though he beat and starved another one to cause her to miscarry multiple times. He pled guilty under plea bargain to avoid the death sentence, and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole (well, multiple sentences of hundreds of years each, which comes to the same thing). Then, just a few days ago, he somehow managed to kill himself in his cell despite being on suicide watch. Despicable human being.

  96. #98 Alain
    September 10, 2013

    Ok, Thanks Calli, I will google him.

    Alain

  97. #99 Politicalguineapig
    September 10, 2013

    Is anyone else getting weird text at the bottom of the post?

  98. #100 lilady
    September 10, 2013

    @ Scared Momma: The “RI Regulars” (TM) welcome you .

    Time now for lilady’s “Media Update of Anne Dachel’s daily Media Update.” The bot posted two comments about Jenny McCarthy’s debut on “The View”:

    http://www.medicaldaily.com/jenny-mccarthy-debuts-view-sympathy-aside-she-believable-spokesperson-health-256104

  99. #101 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    in a hot room with windows open in southern finland ... in bloody autumn!
    September 12, 2013

    Holographic = Barbara’s Cat …. all piss and wind. And bugger all else.

  100. #102 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    September 12, 2013

    comment stll waiting moderation … it’s a good one, honest 😉

  101. #103 selena
    September 16, 2013

    just read the original post: ironic how people who hate hate HATE modern medicine and think all doctors are grossly incompetent also seem to think that the solution to their problem is ‘you doctors just make him better goddammit’.

    anyway, as someone with autism i’m probably a bit biased, but i just can’t wrap my head around the idea that autism as such is this horrible disease that should be prevented at any cost.
    of course autism comes in many gradations, and alex had a severe case. though i would wager (without really knowing the specifics i admit) that his mother accidentally made his autism far worse than it had to be.

  102. #104 Politicalguineapig
    September 16, 2013

    Selena: There was no ‘accidentally’ about it.

  103. […] Few news stories lately have moved me like the sad story of Alex Spourdalakis. […]

  104. #106 Jane Yavis
    September 22, 2013

    Is it me or does it seem Sharyll Attkisson is involved in an awful lot of self-promoting controversy these days.

    Aren’t conspiracy theories at the expense of other the wrong way to gain media attention??

  105. […] was Alex Spourdalakis violent?  Was it because his mother was subjecting him to biomedical “cure” treatments recommended by her …  Was his gastrointestinal pain a result of bleach enemas? Chelation?  I expect we will find out […]

  106. #108 A Mom Who Can Think For Herself
    October 15, 2013

    Wow. A lot to read and catch up on. I want to thank Orac for having the balls to put the truth (oops sorry I know that is a typical warrior mom lingo) out there. I am also in awe of individuals like Lillady, Herr Doktor, Alain, etc for not backing down. We are moms who just want the best for our children and make sound decisions based off REAL science and REAL medicine, not be bullied by the warrior movement. I hope Dorothy and her friend and are punished to the fullest extent of the law. May Alex rest in peace.

  107. #109 A Mom Who Can Think For Herself
    October 15, 2013

    #427. Spot on. Brilliant.

  108. […] (that can totally kill your kid!), autism biomed, chelation therapy, Lupron therapy, and even outright murder is totally justifiable, because hey, your kid wasn’t “normal” (whatever that […]

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