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Autism quackery: Try, try, try, and never give up

Antivaccine quackery is arguably one of the worst forms of quackery. First, the pseudoscientific beliefs undergirding such quackery are based on the fear and demonization of one of the greatest medical advances in the history of the human race, the result of which are children left unprotected against preventable diseases that routinely used to populate cemeteries with little bodies. Almost as bad, one of those beliefs, namely the scientifically discredited belief that vaccines cause autism, has led to a cottage industry of quack “treatments” based on the idea that autism is a manifestation of “vaccine injury.” Thus, the most vulnerable of children, children with neurodevelopmental disorders, are routinely subjected to treatments that range from useless to dangerous treatments like chelation therapy (which can kill), stem cells of dubious provenance sold by Central American clinics and injected into children’s spinal columns, and—I kid you notbleach enemas. These “treatments” are promoted at antivaccine quackfests like Autism One in a culture that’s coalesced around the belief that autism is treatable and parents can “recover” their “true” child from the demon autism and that vaccines are a major cause of autism. It is a culture that promotes belief and discourage questioning, such that leaving it is akin to apostasy.

A key claim frequently made by the practitioners of these alternative medicine treatments is that they are “individualized” to the parents child. Of course, such claims often disintegrate under the lightest of scrutiny. For instance children who get Miracle Mineral Solution (a.k.a. MMS, a.k.a. bleach) get pretty much the same regimen, and, if you believe Kerri Rivera (the most infamous practitioner promoting MMS as a treatment for autism) every child should get it. Indeed, if you look at many of these quack treatments, they all proceed from a similar idea that vaccines somehow injured the child and the child must be somehow “detoxified” to reverse that injury.

Be that as it may, when you combined a culture in which parents are encouraged never to give up in trying to “recover” their child with a cornucopia of quack treatments that are in essence practitioners making it up as they go along, bad things happen. Unfortunately, it’s the autistic child to whom they tend to happen. This is what I was thinking when I saw a new post on the blog of the inappropriately named Thinking Moms’ revolution entitled Why I Try “So Many” Protocols in Treating My Son with Autism. Basically, it’s a justification of the neverending search for cures described by Jim Laidler. First, read this passage from an article about him:

For several years, on the advice of doctors and parents, the Laidlers treated their children with a wide range of alternative medicine techniques designed to stem or even reverse autistic symptoms. They gave their boys regular supplements of vitamin B12, magnesium, and dimethylglycine. They kept David’s diet free of gluten and casein, heeding the advice of experts who warned that even the smallest bit of gluten would cause severe regression. They administered intravenous infusions of secretin, said to have astonishing therapeutic effects for a high percentage of autistic children.

Using substances known as chelating agents, the Laidlers also worked to rid Ben and David of heavy metals thought to be accumulated through vaccines and environmental pollutants.

Now, look at the TMR article by JuicyFruit:

I refuse to look back in a decade and say “I really wish I had tried that when I first heard about it” or “I really wish I had pushed through that wall of herxing and gotten to the other side.” That is why we have tried so many protocols (and we’ve given them all true trial unless they caused our son to regress) and why I continue to go to conferences to hear new ideas and try new things. This is why I read medical literature over my lunch hour and why I bring new treatment ideas to my naturopath.

How many times have we seen such behavior before: Never give up. Never question. Always keep searching. And, above all, never accept your autistic child for who he is.

Oh, and don’t worry about anything resembling plausible biological mechanisms or even if everything you’re trying is based on the medical equivalent Mad Libs: Throw together different terms and hope they sound good. It matters not at all if the resulting story has any relationship to actual science or medicine. We get a flavor of this idea from JuicyFruit’s post. But first we get an extreme version of “personalization.” Basically, there is no cause of autism because pretty much everything causes autism. It’s different for every child! Thus, no treatment works for every child! Here’s what I mean:

If there is one truth about autism, it is that nothing works for every child with autism. There is no roadmap that says if you do X, your child will do Y. There is no clearly laid out order which all medical professionals agree is appropriate for all children with autism – because there is no one cause of autism. There is no one genetic mutation, and there is no one environmental trigger that cause autism. There are MANY causes.

Now here’s the difference between actual “individualization” of treatments as practiced by science-based doctors and “individualization” practiced by quacks. Generally, there will be an understanding of a mechanism or a small number of related mechanisms, and therefore the number of potential treatments to choose from will be similarly constrained. More importantly, there will be a framework to identify which patients should receive which treatments, an algorithm if you will, as in, if test X shows Y, then try treatment Z first. There will also be concrete, generally agreed upon measures to determine if the treatment is working. Simple examples include a decrease in the size of a tumor when treating cancer or a decrease in blood pressure in response to antihypertensive medications. There will also be clinical trial evidence, often evidence from randomized clinical trials, to support the treatment. Yes, there will be variability, and treatments might not work, necessitating trying something else, but there will be limits and evidence-based guidelines overseeing the process. The description above has no guidelines. Basically, because each child is a unique special snowflake, there will only be one treatment or combination of treatments that will work and it won’t work the same for any other child.

Of course, what I usually say is that a condition for which there are many, many treatments is almost always a condition for which none of those many, many treatments actually works very well.

And here’s the consequences of the idea that every case is different and there are many, many causes of autism:

In my son’s case we know now that, genetically, he has a compound heterozygous MTHFR mutation with multiple other mutations that impair his ability to detoxify. I had amalgams. I had antibiotics while pregnant. I am sure I ate tons of GMOs while pregnant because it wasn’t even on my radar to avoid them. I do not have natural immunity to measles, mumps, or rubella because my generation is the first to be vaccinated for them. (my personal theory is that the vaccines I got as a child have a role in the way I passed down immune function to my son). My son regressed after a virus shortly after his third birthday. Not after a vaccine – we had started them after he turned two and did one at a time. It was an influenza virus that caused his regression.

Sigh. I really do have to do an in-depth post about MTHFR mutations one of these days, because they seem to be the new mitochondrial disorder in the autism world. Remember several years ago, when the Hannah Poling case led every autism quack to declare that autism was due to mitochondrial disorders (in combination with other problems, of course)? MTHFR is a lot like that now, and there’s no way that a naturopath has clue one what these tests mean.

But notice all the other “causes” of autism. There are mercury amalgams. There were antibiotics while pregnant. There were GMOs (of course!) and, of course, vaccines. Seriously, so powerfully evil are vaccines in JuicyFruit’s mind that her having received them as a child instead of getting the actual diseases themselves to achieve “natural immunity” gave her son autism. Now here’s the funny thing. JuicyFruit admits that her son didn’t regress after vaccines, but she’s still convinced that vaccines were a major cause of her son’s autism. How? She invokes the magical view of epigenetics that so many believers in alt-med have:

I’m starting to see parents who have one child on the spectrum already, who knew not to vaccinate further children, wondering why those unvaccinated, 100% GMO-free, breastfed siblings are seeming to regress after being ill, and I cringe because I worry that the answer lies in Mom’s health. In Mom’s childhood vaccines. That those pieces created an in-utero environment that shifted our children’s epigenetics. I worry that we’re de-evolving as a species.

That’s right. Those vacines and GMOs are so powerful that they make your children autistic through epigenetics. I say to JuicyFruit what I say to every quack who invokes epigenetics: Epigenetics. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

In fact, vaccines are so bad that JuicyFruit foresees them causing the utter destruction of America. No, I’m not exaggerating, she really predicts that:

I can see a future – led by California – of forced vaccines for all children (unless they have a medical waiver) and all adults. I see a huge rise in kindergartners and seventh graders suddenly regressing into nonverbal, head-banging, feces-smearing vaccine injury because of the total load of shots they are required to have. (It would be interesting to see how the media handles that . . . I am guessing it would be completely ignored.) I see a huge rise in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease in formerly healthy adults because of the sudden need to be caught up on vaccines which contain aluminum and formaldehyde.

I see a future where we don’t have enough healthy adults to run this country – where half the population lives in a care facility and doesn’t work. Where we have no military because there is no one left healthy enough to be in it.

So, even though her child didn’t regress after vaccines, but rather after getting a vaccine-preventable disease (influenza), JuicyFruit not only still blames the vaccines she got but thinks that vaccines are so harmful that they will render so much of the population severely autistic due to childhood vaccines and result in so much of the senior citizen population having Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases that they can’t care for themselves that the US won’t even be able to maintain a military.

Now that‘s some serious fear mongering. To prevent that possibility, this not-so-Thinking Mom “thinks” that she has to try and publicize every autism quackery under the sun.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

192 replies on “Autism quackery: Try, try, try, and never give up”

If anyone needs it, Skeptical Raptor wrote a post about MTHFR.

And the power of vaccines across generations is, indeed, amazing. However did anything go wrong before them? Or was everything perfect?

This is so very sad. JuicyFruit has to find something to blame. She can’t accept that it was just a role of the crap dice due to genes and accept her precious child as he is.

I wish she could meet my cousin, who is watching 2 of her 3 children die of a genetic disease. Cousin would be thrilled to have a child with autism instead of their disease – she would know that child would be able to live a normal life. Talk about regression – her children went from “apparently healthy” and have slowly regressed to non-verbal, wheelchair bound children over the years. She still has plenty of joy in them, but knowing they will in all likelihood die before they reach 30 breaks her heart (and ours).

@Dorit: Everything was perfect, of course. If children died from (now) vaccine preventable diseases, well, then, they just didn’t deserve to live, they were obviously weak creatures nature was culling out.

People with autism didn’t exist before vaccines. Neither did most mental illnesses, heavy metal toxicity, or mental retardation, because the TMR never saw it. Therefore, they didn’t exist. (And don’t give them facts or history based on records. Facts, schmacts. They KNOW. They don’t need no steenkin’ facts.)

Juicy Fruit reads medical literature? From her ideas I get the idea, she mostly reads fiction, perhaps disguised as medical literature, but fiction not-the-less.

I’m glad my parents never experimented on me.

OK so a relatively small percentage of additional people getting vaccinated is going to destroy more than 50% of the population?

Wow those things are really powerful. Not sure how they are convinced that even if they still avoid all vaccinations how a few more people each year getting them are going to give their kids autism, and their parents Parkinsons and/or Alzheimers.

@Renate: “Juicy Fruit”‘s definition of medical literature probably differs from what most of us would consider medical literature. I suspect that what she really means is she looks things up in the Google University library.

Then again, she might be telling the truth about reading “medical literature”. We’ve seen several examples from earlier Orac’s post of woo-filled articles published in journals. Some of those journals are pay-to-play scams, but unfortunately others appear in journals published by legitimate academic publishers (*cough* Elsevier *cough*) but with lax or even subverted quality control. A layman like Juicy Fruit wouldn’t know the difference between that and real research.

To make matters even worse:

TMR was inaugurated by women who knew each other in RL plus like-minded others they met through facebook. They maintain internet friendships with (supposedly) tens of thousands of others through their website, facebook, twitter and another social network the name of which presently escapes me.

Their books and live presentations ( such as those at Autism One) discuss treatments as a matter of course: they give others advice about “cures”, some of which are very unrealistic ( homeopathy, trance channelling dietary woo). Their secondary group, Team TMR, raises money from donations in order to help parents pay for the woo du jour.
They have charity status.

MI Dawn correctly assesses the situation:

these partisans believe that autism is a new phenomenon because THEY weren’t aware of its existence and how people with autism, ID, SMI and other conditions were shut away and forgotten in institutions.

I assume that based on their ages, many contributors at AoA and TMR are old enough to have lived in that era. Ann Dachel is over 70 I believe, John Stone, RFK and Dan Olmsted must not be much younger and many others are around 50. They SHOULD know at least a little about this.

My uncle has type A hemophilia. I carry a gene for it (mutation is different from his). If Delphinette had been a boy, 50/50 chance she’d be a hemophiliac.

Hemophilia, like autism, is better understood than it was when my uncle was a small boy, 60 odd years ago. My grandparents tried everything to make him well, though the list of what to do was pretty small. But here’s the thing: they were under the care of actual physicians. And their son had a potentially fatal illness.

I will never understand the lengths to which these parents go to “cure” their child. The desperate search for something or someone to blame. The terrible things they foist on their own flesh and blood. It makes no sense to me at all.

They administered intravenous infusions of secretin, said to have astonishing therapeutic effects for a high percentage of autistic children.

Who is giving these infusions? Naturopaths? Doctors? I always cringe whenever I hear about alternative treatments given intravenously. Also who said that? Her TMR buddies? It surely wasn’t the medical literature she was supposedly reading.

So, even though her child didn’t regress after vaccines, but rather after getting a vaccine-preventable disease (influenza),

To be fair the flu vaccine seems to be a contributing factor. Failure to get one that is.

[email protected]

Juicy Fruit reads medical literature?

I think her idea of medical literature is AoA, NN, GMI, etc. Maybe a biased reading of low quality studies linked to from a
said sites. If she is reading actual peer reviewed studies she’s clearly not reading critically at least.

@ Delphine:

I’m sure you know about the Tsarevich Alexei and how his condition affected his parents in pre-revolutionary Russia.

-btw- we have thin blood ( but not that illness) which might have contributed to my grandfather’s death and made my father’s later years more complicated.

I see a huge rise in kindergartners and seventh graders suddenly regressing into nonverbal, head-banging, feces-smearing vaccine injury

The only high school in our county with 100% vaccine compliance (although the rest of them are pretty high) is the lab school associated with the state university. It’s for the whiz kids — you can’t get into that school unless you’re pretty gifted academically.

About the TMs theories of causation:
I watched a few of their presentations at Autism One ( 2015) and it’s not all vaccines as Orac says.

“Professor” has an unvaccinated child who first became ill after antibiotics, previously MacNeil also held this belief. Others discuss their own problems contributing to autism, like amalgam fillings and vaccines. Non-organic foods, food,additives, GMOs, gluten, caseine all are mentioned by different TMs.

Interesting blog post about the history of autism.

http://epiphanyasd.blogspot.com/2015/08/vienna-and-some-selected-autism-history.html

This paragraph is especially interesting.

Twenty years even before Johns Hopkins Hospital had been founded in Baltimore, children with epilepsy, “autism” and GI problems were being treated in London at Great Ormond Street Hospital, today of Europe’s top children’s hospitals.

They were using a very early drug to shift the excitatory/inhibitory balance of the neurotransmitter GABA. It was Potassium Bromide, which is still used today in Germany to treat children with epilepsy. Of course back in 1877 they did not know why it was effective.Below is a link to a fascinating chapter of a book.

The book at the link is Autism: A Social and Medical History By Mitzi Waltz,a textbook published in the UK in 2013.From what I read on Google,this looks like a much better,and more objectivie history than Steve Silberman’s pop cultured and neurodiversity biased history.Read the whole chapter about Great Ormond.There are incredible,and detailed accounts of two children with low functioning autism,and medical conditions.”Ralph”,who died very young,perhaps about four years old,may have had mitochondrial disease.

I’m pretty sure the reason that all those autism mommies have latched onto the idea of MTHFR is because it sounds so much like motherf**ker. Easy to remember, easy to blame. It’s consistent with their lingo, which includes FUA (f**k you autism).

I wonder how their children feel when they hear that term.

“I worry that we’re de-evolving as a species.”

JuicyFruit is a sterling example of why we should all be concerned.

There’s an interesting episode of “Steven Universe” where a few characters (Steven, Pearl, and Greg) are trying to build a spaceship. After seemingly hitting a dead ends, Greg admits “sometimes, you’ve got to know when to bail.” But Pearl refuses to give up, works all night scavenging materials from Greg’s van, and builds a ship taking herself and Steven into space.

It blew up before it left the atmosphere, as would any hastily-constructed ship made of improvised materials. Pearl and Steven only survived because Steven knew when to bail.

An odd moral for a children’s show, but one certain people should consider.

“‘I worry that we’re de-evolving as a species.'”

So do I, JuicyFruit. So do I…

“I really wish I had pushed through that wall of herxing and gotten to the other side.”

This parent is talking about a “treatment” that made her/his child so sick they had to discontinue it. This parent is lamenting that they lacked the fortitude to continue inflicting suffering on their child in exchange for the slimmest glimmer of false hope.

This child was not “herxing*,” but rather was suffering needlessly at the hands of her/his caregivers. If this suffering was the result of autism biomed (i.e., “recovery”), then this child was being tortured by her/his parents.

*Herxing is a self-limiting and short-lived side-effect noticed in treatment of some bacterial infections. SCAMers use it to mean anything nonsensical thing they want (e.g., chelation makes you sicker, because it dislodges deposits of metals).

Mr. Kulp: “this looks like a much better,and more objectivie history than Steve Silberman’s pop cultured and neurodiversity biased history”

I am curious how you felt about the description of Lovaas methods of treating children, including the starving of the pair of twins to get compliance. And how that encouraged George Rekers to use those methods to deal with “feminine boys.” Because it is obvious that those in the LGBTQ community are not real because it might mean there is a “neurodiversity.”

By the way, you have never responded where Silberman lied. Do point out the page numbers, and be specific by providing links to the truth.

Broken Link:

I’m pretty sure the reason that all those autism mommies have latched onto the idea of MTHFR is because it sounds so much like motherf**ker.

I have to admit that that word was the first thing that popped into my mind when I read MTHFR.

Dr. Johnson,

Fragrances bother the ever loving —- out of me (generally as headaches) especially at the proportions people use. So do cleaning supplies in enclosed spaces. I don’t claim multiple chemical sensitivities but I also don’t think it is something I made up.

“They administered intravenous infusions of secretin, said to have astonishing therapeutic effects for a high percentage of autistic children.”

Actually secretin was studied in over 15 double-blind placebo controlled trials in children with autism and was conclusively found to ineffective. Most of those studies were in 200-2002 timeframe. There’s a systematic review (PMID: 22513913), which concluded: “There is no evidence that single or multiple dose intravenous secretin is effective and as such currently it should not be recommended or administered as a treatment for ASD. Further experimental assessment of secretin’s effectiveness for ASD can only be justified if there is new high-quality and replicated scientific evidence… “.

So when the writer cites “astonishing therapeutic effects” it is a clear example of ignoring solid negative evidence.

@Not a Troll – I am “scent sensitive” also. I gag when I am near people with too much perfume/aftershave on. If I hug someone wearing *any*, I can smell it on myself for hours after unless I wash/shower. In a room with those oh-so-popular plug in scents, I’m miserable. I open car windows if they have deodorizers hanging.

Not that not all scents bother me (though Lysol gives me a migraine). Light amounts of perfume/aftershave are fine. It’s the “marinators” (as I call them – they wash/moisturize, perfume all in one scent) that bother me a lot. And, sad to say, many of my Italian male friends’ aftershaves. (I’ve had to ask a few to please not wear ANY when I see them because they wear a very strong scent)

They administered intravenous infusions of secretin, said to have astonishing therapeutic effects for a high percentage of autistic children.

This quote, flagged by [email protected], is from Wired. That’s a tech magazine, not a biomedical publication, so it’s not surprising if the author is not a medical expert. But the passive voice construction in the second clause buries an important question: who is saying this? I’ll stipulate to David’s point that medical experts say otherwise. But people who are into autism woo have a tendency to listen to people who are not medical experts. I’d like to know just who was saying that secretin was so effective: one of the usual suspects, somebody new on the scene, or a bona fide MD who has gone over to the dark side? A real journalist would have asked that question. Of course it may have been the editor’s decision rather than the author’s, but still, bad call on Wired‘s part.

I’m pretty sure the reason that all those autism mommies have latched onto the idea of MTHFR is because it sounds so much like motherf**ker.

I’ll admit that thought crossed my mind, but I thought better of it. I can envision George Carlin’s voice saying, “Alright, Sheriff, we’re gonna f**k you now. We’re gonna f**k you slow.”

As much as I hate to admit it, she may have a point. Not necessarily about MTHFR, but about a genetic predisposition in general. We don’t really have any evidence that these children are not pre-autistic individuals whose immune systems are stressed by vaccines, and the children then develop autistic symptoms. Do we? I’m scanning PubMed as I write this, and mostly just seeing analyses of SNPs associated with cytokine responses following vaccination. (Granted, I’m not reading the papers fully– I’m an immunology grad student taking a quick internet break to avoid staring at my data for the millionth time.)

Lead by California? Let’s give credit where credit is due, Ms. Juicy Fruit: it is Mississippi and West Virginia that have long had what you call “forced” vaccination regulations.

Could that be because those two states have a higher pecentage of people in poverty, among whom cases of childhood diseases still occurred more lately, so all could see how deadly they are?

Nah, that can’t be it.

If it’s the eevuhl mercury that’s at the bottom of autism, why aren’t the antivax-quacks trying to shut down coal-burning power plants, the biggest mercury polluters anywhere?
Millions of people still living heated their homes with coal furnaces and many still do. Have the quackerati done the obvious epidemiology? Do they have any way of researching the children of 19th Century felters and hatters ? What’s the autism rate in Minimata? Have they tried to find out?
It’s the usual conspiracist ranting. None of them ever have any first hand evidence, and they never bother to look for any.

Anybody remember that guy who was commenting a while back (years ago, possibly), or maybe it was at SBM, who sword up and down that alt med was the best thing for treating his gout? Gout’s horrid. Every time he’d get a flare-up, he’d try various rememdies, until finally something worked and he got better. So he’d try that *first* with his next flare-up. Sadly, nothing ever seemed to work twice; each flare-up needed a different treatment, but he was’nt giving up. He’d just go on trying stuff until he found what worked for that episode.

Mind you, each episode was lasting about as long as untreated gout.

He was really quite convinced that it was working, and he didn’t seem like an idiot or a fool; just a genuinely nice guy with a sucky medical condition that he was really determined to treat without resorting to “conventional” medicine. So determined that he couldn’t see that really none of the treatments were doing anything at all.

I see the same pattern in some of these parents’ refusal to give up on their kids’ autism. As a parent of an autistic kid myself, you absolutely must not give up, but you also need to be paying attention. Most of the proposed therapies are worthless for anything; don’t waste your kid’s valuable time on them. Don’t just randomly flail around. And maybe try appreciating your kid as a person sometime, rather than the thing they must endure until the autism goes away. Focus not on “curing” the autism but on helping your child be happier and more successful.

CaitlinM, you make an interesting point, but:

We don’t really have any evidence that these children are not pre-autistic individuals whose immune systems are stressed by vaccines, and the children then develop autistic symptoms. Do we?

Well, yes we do, actually. Multiple studies looked at the autism rates of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. There was no statistically significant difference. In fact, enough children have been studied for a meta-analysis of literally millions. If vaccines caused even a minority of cases of autism, this effect would have been detected. It wasn’t, so we can confidently say that vaccines do not cause autism.

We don’t really have any evidence that these children are not pre-autistic individuals whose immune systems are stressed by vaccines, and the children then develop autistic symptoms.

That’s not how it works. We also don’t really have any evidence that these children are not pre-autistic individuals whose immune systems are stressed by organic foods. Just because we don’t know the cause doesn’t mean we need to prove otherwise, given the epidemiology soundly rejects any association.

An immunology grad student??

[email protected]: As a general proposition, we have good reason to think that autism is at least partially caused by genetics. But Juicy Fruit isn’t blaming her son’s genes, at least not entirely. She is blaming vaccines. Not the vaccines her son got, but the ones she got:

my personal theory is that the vaccines I got as a child have a role in the way I passed down immune function to my son

In fact, she specifically denies that her son’s vaccines had anything to do with his symptoms; instead, she correlates it with a bout of flu. (She is probably as guilty as the vaccines-cause-autism crowd of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.) And she later emphasizes her theory that it’s the mother’s vaccines:

I’m starting to see parents who have one child on the spectrum already, who knew not to vaccinate further children, wondering why those unvaccinated, 100% GMO-free, breastfed siblings are seeming to regress after being ill, and I cringe because I worry that the answer lies in Mom’s health. In Mom’s childhood vaccines.

I haven’t heard anybody else espouse that “theory”, though maybe somebody better acquainted with the autism crank literature may know of an antecedent. I have no reason to think it’s any better than the claims that the child’s vaccinations directly cause autism. If anything, it’s even harder to establish a causal mechanism.

I haven’t heard anybody else espouse that “theory”, though maybe somebody better acquainted with the autism crank literature may know of an antecedent.

Stagliano blames her own vaccines for her unvaccinated daughter’s (of three) autism, IIRC.

I’m starting to see parents who have one child on the spectrum already, who knew not to vaccinate further children, wondering why those unvaccinated, 100% GMO-free, breastfed siblings are seeming to regress after being ill

These losers really do believe that breastmilk is pretty much the balm for everything, that breastfeeding in and of itself is just so super-worthy-making. The evidence doesn’t bear it out in developed countries, but I guess it’s not like factoids ever put a halt to their lunacy.

CaitlinEm: “We don’t really have any evidence that these children are not pre-autistic individuals whose immune systems are stressed by vaccines, and the children then develop autistic symptoms.”

Then how would these children with those fractured immune systems that make them autistic with the tiny amount of vaccine antigens do when they get the full blown diseases? Why would they do better getting measles than the MMR? Ask one of your professors about this. I really hope one asks you for the mechanism of how a vaccine could autism and, but the wild disease not cause full blown pneumonia nor encephalitis on an oral exam.

“They administered intravenous infusions of secretin, said to have astonishing therapeutic effects for a high percentage of autistic children.”
Actually secretin was studied in over 15 double-blind placebo controlled trials in children with autism and was conclusively found to ineffective. Most of those studies were in 2000-2002 timeframe.
[….]
So when the writer cites “astonishing therapeutic effects” it is a clear example of ignoring solid negative evidence.

Bear in mind that the author is relating events prior to 2002. So at the time the Laidlers were administering secretin, yes, people were claiming “astonishing therapeutic effects”, and there was no solid negative evidence.

The column’s author could have explained more clearly that these claims were limited to the past tense, but the main point was to show that the Laidlers had some rationale for an intervention which was, at that time, not obviously cranky.

Chris @23:
By the way, [Roger Kulp] have never responded where Silberman lied. Do point out the page numbers, and be specific by providing links to the truth.

I have to say that Silberman misquotes an anecdote from my homeboy Tony Attwood, then misspells Tony’s surname when providing the reference. That did not instill me with a great sense of reliability.

Calli Arcale,

Anybody remember that guy who was commenting a while back (years ago, possibly), or maybe it was at SBM, who sword up and down that alt med was the best thing for treating his gout?

I remember him. Homeopathy was his thing, and he was convinced that each bout of gout was subtly different and required a different remedy. He even related that his gout had damaged his toes so badly he required surgery (which conventional treatment could have prevented), yet was simultaneously convinced that homeopathy had helped; extraordinary double-think. I agree that this same phenomena probably explains the biomed autism movement.

Julian [email protected]

If vaccines caused even a minority of cases of autism, this effect would have been detected.

This. It’s not like we can’t detect rare side effects. Look at the rotavirus vaccine and intussusception. Regarding autism we have both more and higher quality data. CaitlinEm’s comment smells suspiciously like a vaccine “skeptic” JAQing off.

Reading this:

[ I do not have natural immunity to measles, mumps, or rubella because my generation is the first to be vaccinated for them. (my personal theory is that the vaccines I got as a child have a role in the way I passed down immune function to my son)]

Caused me to discover that face palming while wearing glasses is painful. My brother would believe this enough to use it as support for his anti-vaccine arguments, which he persists on having while relying on his barely making it out of high school education. While I, as someone who has worked in the immunology field for over 20 years – apparently do not know my science well enough for him to believe a word I say.

People who believe these sort of things have invested so much emotional capital in taking their particular position, they cannot psychologically afford to be wrong. Which is tragic because they are not the ones suffering as a result of their actions.

Orac writes,

…the scientifically discredited belief that vaccines cause autism.

MJD says,

Respectful Insolence (i.e., ScienceBlogs) is intended to discredit a belief while science is the search for truth.

My hope is medical science will continue to do research to determine if there is a vaccine/autism connection.

Well, call it what you will mr orcacle, but let us see you explain the situation.

A small child who is very healthy receives numerous vaccines. Less than 12 hours from that needle stick, said child becomes deathly ill and NEVER recovers from it again. Please explain.

Please explain the numerous deaths and severe side effects from the very unnecessary HPV vaccine. Please explain how an otherwise perfectly healthy girls gets parylized or even dies a few short hours after give this unnecessary vaccine. please … do tell.

MDK,

Well for some of them, it would basically involve admitting they tormented their children, right?

Somebody help me on this because I haven’t been following the autism literature. The last time I looked, there was the beginning of a story that (at least some cases of) autism result from mutant alleles in some genes that are involved in building synapses in the developing brain. In other words, autism is a developmental condition that is genetic, and is the result of some proteins being inserted that are different from the typical ones.

So my question is as follows: What does the immune system have to do with autism? Is there any reason whatsoever to think that there could be an immune effect involved in the development of autism? I ask because the anti-vaccine people constantly mention the immune system as if it were an established link. I do understand that health food faddists and quacks like to refer to the immune system — it seems to be this decade’s fad — but is there any information from real science that suggests a link?

My hope is medical science will continue to do research to determine if there is a vaccine/autism connection.

Why? It’s been researched to death and no link has been found. What makes you think that “more research” will provide you with the answer you want rather than just more negative studies?

Caro,

A small child who is very healthy receives numerous vaccines. Less than 12 hours from that needle stick, said child becomes deathly ill and NEVER recovers from it again. Please explain.

A small child who is very healthy is driven home from the doctor’s office in a car. Less than 12 hours after being in that car, said child becomes deathly ill and NEVER recovers from it again. Please explain.

A small child who is very healthy is driven home from the doctor’s office in a car. Less than 12 hours after being in that car, said child becomes deathly ill and NEVER recovers from it again. Please explain.

Devil’s advocate here. The small child has probably been in the same car multiple times without becoming deathly ill.

Please explain how an otherwise perfectly healthy girls gets parylized or even dies a few short hours after give this unnecessary vaccine. please … do tell.

Please provide examples — with names. If there are so many, you shouldn’t have much trouble. Cervical cancer is the 4th most common cancer among women, world-wide; why is a vaccine that prevents the most common types of cervical cancer unnecessary?

The continued, varied, wide-ranging efforts by many of the TM’s and ilk for treating or “curing” their children reminded me of a behavioral reinforcement system that mimics that of some gamblers and may be one source of superstitions. It is that of only intermittent and random(?) rewards. Apparently this is one of the stronger and more persistent methods of conditioning. Any sign of improvement in a serial experimenter’s “patient” is just encouragement for more, both of the same and anything new. Of course, other things are also at work with these people.

P.S. Anyone more versed in psychology should fee free to criticize, comment, or expound on this speculation without fear of my taking offense. I have not collected all these birthdays without learning of my own ignorance.

A small child who is very healthy receives numerous vaccines. Less than 12 hours from that needle stick, said child becomes deathly ill and NEVER recovers from it again. Please explain.

I was struck by a car immediately following an immunization against yellow fever. Got out of the chair about 30 seconds after the shot and ran outside to put more money in the meter — my car was fewer than 15 feet away.

I was not struck by a car after I was immunized against typhoid, in the same clinic, in the same room, by the same physician.

Please explain.

I only wish that it were true that scientific studies trump anecdote. It’s very hard for scientific studies, at least in the minds of many parents, to trump anecdote because anecdotes are so powerful, emotional, and personal. It’s very hard to trump that with statistics.

The example that I use is an example which happened to my wife. She came into the office on a weekend day. She was helping the nurse give vaccines. She walked into a room. A mother was sitting with her four month old child waiting alongside of the wall. While my wife was drawing the vaccine through the syringe, the child had a seizure and went on to have the permanent seizure disorder, epilepsy. If my wife had given that vaccine five minutes earlier, I think there are no amount of statistical data in the world that would’ve convinced that mother of anything other than the vaccine caused it. What else could it have been, right? I mean, the child was fine, they got this vaccine, and then they had epilepsy. What else could it have been? Even though, in that particular case, my wife hadn’t given the vaccine yet. — Dr. Paul Offit

Devil’s advocate here. The small child has probably been in the same car multiple times without becoming deathly ill.

If it weren’t that small children have been given the same vaccines even more multiple times without becoming deathly ill, that might work

My hope is medical science will continue to do research to determine if there is a vaccine/autism connection. Yes, please, let’s waste even more time, money, energy, bandwidth, resources, in trying to assuage the fears of a cohort of predominantly affluent Western parents. It’s not like those resources could be better directed elsewhere.

Devil’s advocate here. The small child has probably been in the same car multiple times without becoming deathly ill.

In that case it was the cumulative effect of too many car rides too soon.

“If it weren’t that small children have been given the same vaccines even more multiple times without becoming deathly ill, that might work.”

But other children aren’t their own and their own child is unique – except for their online friend’s children who also became deathly ill and the stories of courageous doctors warning of these dangers.

I was not struck by a car after I was immunized against typhoid, in the same clinic, in the same room, by the same physician.

You can see cause and effect quite clearly in this case. No mysteries except for why the driver plowed into you. Drunk or just driving a Toyota whose acceleration went crazy?

I really hope your injuries were mild.

Chris @23
I am writing a reply to you.It may go into moderation as it has more than two links.

“My hope is medical science will continue to do research to determine if there is a vaccine/autism connection.”

My hope is that science will continue to do research into why babies still come from storks….

Chris @23
If you are talking about Silberman’s book,I must admit I have not read the whole thing,only excerpts on the web.I must admit I have my own personal biases against people who see autism as anything but a serious congenital brain disorder that needs cures and treatments.It is not a positive “difference” any more than it is “vaccine damage”.You of all people might be able to understand this.This is why I have not read most of Silberman’s book.if Silberman’s goal is indeed cures and treatments for autism,I would apologize for misunderstanding him.

I have read a good bit of late elsewhere about Ole Ivar Lovass,and his methods.Some of these methods could easily be considered child abuse or torture.Here are some graphic examples I read about:

A 1965 Life magazine piece on Lovass and his methods.
http://neurodiversity.com/library_screams_1965.html

1971 article from Lovass’ own journal detailing some of the type of methods Lovass and his colleagues used.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1310693/pdf/jaba00073-0041.pdf

I am aware similar methods were used to “cure” homosexuals.

Lovass was known to dose autistic children up with LSD.
http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/ajp.122.11.1201?journalCode=ajp

Lovass considered echolalia to be a type of psychosis to be treated with electroshock.We now know echolalia is a way some autistic children learn spoken language.This is not neurodiversity,but neurobiology.

Here is an interesting analysis of Lovass,and his famous patient Noah,from a like minded autistic,and online friend of mine,Johnathan Mitchell

http://autismgadfly.blogspot.com/2009/05/noah-greenfeld-flunked-lovaas.html

Like Bruno Bettleheim .Lovass was a product of both a Freudian education,and living under the Nazis.This shaped his beliefs and teachings.

George Alan Rekers is the product of the same type of religious fundamentalism,that produced the likes of John Hagee or Mike Huckabee.His views on gays were shaped were clearly shaped by his strong religious beliefs,and interpretation of the bible.These beliefs drove his research.This is something I completely reject.As my brain function has improved in the last few years,I have become increasingly atheist.

Could Rekers be another Ted Haggard as far as his own sexuality?

I do not believe that being born LGBTQ is the same as being born with a serious neurological disorder like autism.I reject this notion entirely.Being born LGBTQ has many positives,being born autistic does not have any.Being born autistic is,in my opinion,no different than being born with cerebral palsy or something like Hashimoto’s encephalopathy.Most brain disorders have a wide spectrum of severity as well.

A like minded autistic,and Facebook friend of mine,suggested the possibility that some parents of seriously disabled autistic children might embrace neurodiversity because they had tried everything to “cure” their child’s autism,and nothing worked.I don’t know if this is the case with you or not.

Chris,as I have said here before,I have gotten diagnoses of multiple inborn metabolic diseases in the last few years,after living with them over forty years before they were found out,These could not have been diagnosed when I was a child.These disorders caused me both autism that was at least as severe as your son’s,and all sorts of equally severe medical problems.

The funny thing is,inborn metabolic disorders can be treated,no matter how old you are.When this is the cause of the autism,as it was for me,the autism can be treated,like the medical problem it is,and drastically improve.For me “behaviors” like head banging and wandering were due treatable seizures.My experiences have convinced me autism is a group of medical brain disorders not an “identity”.These disorders may be individually rare,but collectively could account for most of what we call “autism”.

Orac says (#54).

It’s been researched to death and no link has been found.

MJD says,

Atypical immunity, neurological development, protein transcription, enzyme regulation, cytokine expression, lymphocyte expression, NGF expression…

Researching a possible vaccine/autism connection is in its infancy, in my opinion.

hdb: “I have to say that Silberman misquotes an anecdote from my homeboy Tony Attwood, then misspells Tony’s surname when providing the reference. That did not instill me with a great sense of reliability.”

Fair enough. Page number please? (then at least I can check the end notes to see if they match, though I may have to check when I check the book out of library again) And how does that make the entire notion of neurodiversity a “lie”?

I will note that doing a Google on Attwood and Silberman I did come across an article in Wired, which looks like his first bit about the subject:
http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aspergers_pr.html

I am not trying to be contrary, I am sincerely trying to understand. Which is why I cannot accept “Silberman said this, so his whole book is a lie” ploy. I need to know the page, the premise, and where to find the real information. Look at it from my vantage point: a confused parent.

First I gave up being a smart accomplished woman engineer to having a child with a seizure disorder. Then it was a speech disorder, then add in a heart disorder. Along the way between a couple of other kids I am thrown into the LGBTQ issues. Now, finally my oldest has an autism diagnosis (oh, and while he as an adult seems to be “Aspergers”, he would have never qualified for that diagnosis due to the fact he could not speak at all when he was three years old… that took ten years of speech therapy).

I read this book that shows a family just like ours who were told their child did not have autism (over a decade after we got the same spiel), and then I see some of same issues we have dealt with over the years. Plus the revelation of one of Lovaas’ students, George Rekers, was being a “cureby” for homosexuality.

So I really need real answers to the “lies” of neurodiversity. Why is that my oldest son having autism and another child not being true to their birth gender not a form of neurodiversity, and that they must be changed? Why is it so bad to accept them and accommodate their needs and desires?

Explain this to me, because I am old and not privy to the secret information outside of what I read.

[email protected]

In the small cerebral folate deficiency community,of which I am a part,there is a lot of controversy if mothers should breast feed,as breast milk makes the CFD worse,and causes further autistic regression.So does camel milk,donkey milk,and any other type of mammal milk the woo-meisters want to push.

This is a condition mothers pass onto babies in the womb.Dr. Ramaekers in Belgium,and others,are looking at possible genes.Once a child is diagnosed with CFD as the cause of their autism,there is a real moral dilemma if mothers want another baby or not.

@Chris:

I’m sure hdb can speak for himself, but I don’t think he was necessarily painting the notion of neurodiversity as being nothing but a lie, but rather making a slightly pedantic (bimler I loves you!) point about sloppiness in attribution. I have to say that errors like that make me question the scholarship and veracity of a work, too.* Possibly you are conflating his comments with Roger Kulp’s to some extent.

First I gave up being a smart accomplished woman engineer to having a child with a seizure disorder.

Psssht, you gave up being a practicing engineer, maybe, but I see no evidence that you ever gave up being “smart” or “accomplished.”

Incidentally: if the good herr doktor is any younger than you, I am pretty sure it’s not by much. 🙂

*Like the time I tried to read a Richard Dawkins book once** (something other than The Selfish Gene, which I recall enjoying to some extent as a 7th grader) and he wrote, in the introduction, that the US bans “hate speech.” He might have even said something about fire in a crowded theater, I dunno, but fair or not, it didn’t incline me favorably toward the book in general. Dawkins himself already struck me as a blowhard by that point anyway, I think.

**I guess I was curious what the “New Atheists” were on about. Never have been terribly impressed, tbh.

@Caro #51

Please explain the numerous deaths and severe side effects from the very unnecessary HPV vaccine. Please explain how an otherwise perfectly healthy girls gets parylized or even dies a few short hours after give this unnecessary vaccine. please … do tell.

This has been adressed multiple times here.
1st thing : where does your information come from ? Personal testimonies, or VAERS ? If that is the case, this isn’t sufficient to demonstrate the HPV vaccine had a responsibility. This isn’t how it has been proven in the past that some vaccines had to be pulled from the market.

To put things into perspective, we in France have Prescrire, an independant journal, who isn’t known for its complacency towards pharmatical companies or government regulatory agencies. (For example, they were among the first to campaign against the Mediator, one of our national scandals).
This is their opinion on the HPV vaccines : http://english.prescrire.org/en/81/168/49937/0/NewsDetails.aspx
> Safety : not alarmed by the pharmacovigilance reports of multiple countries and the epidemiological studies.
> Efficacy : far more careful and skeptical (still not enough data to determine if this will have a real impact on invasive cervical cancer)
> They also repeat that screening must not be forgotten because of this vaccine and that a national screening program would be great.

We can’t unfortunately always tell what killed or maimed a seemingly healthy person. However, judging by the absence of difference between vaccinated and non-vaccinated people, it is very unlikely to be the HPV vaccine. All we can do is continue to look elsewhere.

Here is also one of the last and largest safety studies, on auto-immune diseases. It was organized by the ANSM (regulatory agency) and the Assurance Maladie (a part of our national socialized health care ; meaning that if there are side-effects, these guys would very much like to know, since they are the ones paying if people are disabled by vaccines).
The only possible side-effect they found (already known and put in the inserts) was Guillain-Barré syndrom (1-2 out of 100.000 vaccinated).
http://ansm.sante.fr/S-informer/Actualite/Vaccination-contre-les-infections-a-HPV-et-risque-de-maladies-auto-immunes-une-etude-Cnamts-ANSM-rassurante-Point-d-information

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