Autism: An Epidemic Is Finally Acknowledged
Government agency takes first step to protect our children
James Ottar Grundvig
Special to The Epoch Times
Dec 30, 2005
BEVERLY HILLS: Actor Dustin Hoffman speaks at the 2005 Cure Autism Now's 10th Anniversay Gala last November. Hoffman is known for his convincing portrayal of a man stricken with autism in the film Rain Man.
The year 2005 will be a year to remember in the autism epidemic: The debate came to a head between parents of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) children and the federal government, which has long denied an autism epidemic exists.
The ebb and flow has turned in the favor of these long-neglected children, who today number well over one million in the United States alone. Governmental agencies in charge of children's health and the pediatric-psychiatry-pharmaceutical axis had erected a wall to protect their errant policies regarding baby vaccinations. In 2005 that wall began to shows signs of cracking.
The turning point came not as a single event, but a timely confluence of several streams. In April, New York Times contributing writer, David Kirby, came out with the book "Evidence of Harm" that tied the increase in vaccines to the rise in autism. Others, like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and radio show host Don Imus drove the vaccines-mercury-autism debate home last summer. The efforts of these high-profile individuals combined with those of autism not-for-profit organizations and parents like myself—who have filed a deluge of vaccine-injury cases on behalf of their children in the "vaccine court" created in 1986 by Congress—to help remove the shadow of ignorance from autism. The prevailing hypothesis that autism is a psychological disease rooted solely in genetics was debunked.
In 2005 Iowa and California became the first states to ban thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative used in many baby vaccines. For a long time, most parents of ASD kids have suspected that thimerosal was the major culprit in the sharp rise of autism cases, particularly the regressive form of the disorder. New York State jumped into the act by passing a law that will ban thimerosal from vaccines. The only problem: the law won't go into affect until 2009. Better late than never. I suspect those states, which will undoubtedly be followed by others in the coming years, realized that with the spike in autism comes a spike in costs for special education and healthcare that has placed an enormous burden on the tax coffers. Yet none of those states' actions against thimerosal would have been necessary if the federal government, namely the CDC and FDA, had acted in 1999.
Where Has the Federal Government Been?
Seven years ago, those agencies were warned, informed, and had ample opportunity to ban the known neurological toxin, but failed to do so. Because of their inaction, tens of thousands of babies born since 2000, including my son, won a most unfortunate lottery. America's ASD children were given vaccines with just enough thimerosal to shutdown their ability to filter out heavy metals, while simultaneously poisoning their brains and central nervous systems.
Instead, the CDC suggested to the pharmaceutical companies, like Merck (maker of the hepatitis B "birth dose" vaccine) and Eli Lilly (grandfather of thimerosal, invented in the 1920s), to remove gradually this known toxin from vaccines. Of course, Merck & Co.'s suppression of the bad reports on the painkiller Vioxx, and subsequent attempts to keep Vioxx out of the courts and the press, provides an example of how Big Pharma can't be trusted. And the CDC's actions on thimerosal suggested the government might be too close sometimes to that industry.
So it came as a shock this December to learn that ASD children were receiving an early holiday present, gift wrapped by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Although barely covered in the news, the NIMH finally admitted that autism is an epidemic. And genetics alone can't cause epidemics, since genes only mutate from one generation to the next. The cause for the epidemic might still be an issue, but such a revelation in the wake of all those denials is the jump-start that is needed to make other guardians of our healthcare system look at the very least foolish, and at the worst promoters of terrible propaganda.
An Opportunity for Change
How should the Pediatric Association of America, which continues to state that vaccines are safe, take this news? And what about the legions of psychiatrists and psychologists who have long sold the mantra that there wasn't an epidemic, only people who were not properly trained in the past to diagnose autism in children? What do I think? They should be ashamed of themselves for choosing to protect vaccines over the health of children.
I grew up in a small town in Westchester County, north of New York City. In the 1960s, there were no children on the spectrum there, and that was for kindergarten through 12th grade. In the past year I learned that beside myself, three other students within two grades of my own (the average grade size was 120 kids per class) have ASD children. For me, nothing has been more powerful than that fact. All the denials, disinformation, and twisting of numbers of the amount of thimerosal in a given vaccine couldn't cloud the truth. Autism is an epidemic.
For the New Year, there will still be people, companies and agencies that deny there is an epidemic, let alone one caused by the over-use of vaccinations. Some are ignorant; while many will do anything to protect the status quo, due to the financial windfall that the twenty-plus vaccines given to each newborn baby within its first two years brings to the vaccine-makers.
Now is time for the CDC, FDA, the White House, and our congressmen and senators to join the NIMH and admit that autism is an epidemic. It is time for the news media, which have too often under-reported this plague of the twenty-first century, to do the same. Then maybe the frontline defenders of children—pediatricians and child psychologist—can come clean and join in chorus with the parents. That would be an enormous first step in defeating autism.
Until that day, there will be an epidemic. And it's not going away until those in charge of the American healthcare system admit they have crisis on its hand.
Its name is autism.
James Ottar Grundvig lives and works in New York City. He is the father of an autistic child.