May 31, 2007

Does Suffering Have Any Value?

Mark Pickup is a man with MS (triplegic) who knows God and the value of suffering.

May 29, 2007

Conflict of Interests in the Wakefield Conflict of Interest Case

As I have mentioned before, I have not focused on the Andrew Wakefield/MMR controversy because Chandler never got the MMR and so that research is on the back burner for me. This article was just to much for me to pass up posting though.

The Wakefield Case is a carnival of conflict of interests with his accusers breaches vastly eclipsing those that they accuse Dr. Wakefield of. The irony would be hilarious were it not destroying a good man who has gone above and beyond for our kids, and holding at bay progress that would be made in understanding our children's illnesses.

I have heard Dr. Wakefield present three times, and have been impressed. He is a humble man, he backs up what he says with research, he is reticent to make claims about topics that are not fully explored yet, and most importantly, he presents case after case of successfully treated autistic children who came to Thoughtful House with horrible bowel issues and who became healthier and more functional when they were able to resolve those issues.

If we could afford it I would be in Texas getting Chandler scoped.

Good thing that these kind of secret hearings and dual relationships shenanigans don't exist here in the US.

GMC Challenged On MMR Inquiry Chief's Vaccine Firm Links

London, England & Scotland/29 May 2007/JWock/ The Chairman of the General Medical Council's inquiry into MMR vaccine doctor Andrew Wakefield, Professor Dennis McDevitt, is being challenged over undisclosed personal interests. On 11th July this year an unprecedented 14 week GMC hearing chaired by Professor McDevitt was due to commence into charges against Dr Andrew Wakefield of the Royal Free Hospital relating to the controversial vaccine. However, previously secret government minutes reveal Professor McDevitt was himself a member of a 1988 government safety panel which approved Pluserix MMR as safe for vaccine manufacturer Smith Kline & French Laboratories (see first .pdf attached). Pluserix MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine was introduced in 1988 but the Government was forced to withdraw it in November 1992 after large numbers children suffered suspected adverse vaccine reactions.

This development follows the recent discovery that High Court Judge Sir Nigel Davis, who in a secret hearing rejected the MMR childrens' appeals against withdrawal of legal (see second .pdf attached), failed to disclose his brother was main board director of the MMR vaccine manufacturer's parent company GlaxoSmithKline (more below).

The GMC hearing against Dr Wakefield relates to events in 1998, seven years after legal investigations into the MMR childrens' ailments first started. Dr Wakefield angered MMR vaccination proponents and created a furore in 1998, when he suggested offering single vaccines alongside MMR - albeit that is current official Conservative party policy.

Nearly 2000 children alleged to be suffering from autism, deafness, bowel disorders and other serious injuries caused by the vaccine filed legal claims against manufacturer Smith Kline & French Laboratories Ltd. Investigations into the claims started in 1991 when applications for legal aid were first being filed. The vaccine was given to 85% of MMR vaccinated children between 1988 and 1992. Labour MP Jack Ashley said at the time of the 1992 withdrawal that correspondence with Minister Virginia Bottomley MP confirmed government knew of the problems in March 1991, some 18 months earlier.

The GMC's inquiry into Dr Wakefield is said to include conflicts of interest alleged by the Sunday Times in 2004. Dr Wakefield was retained as an expert witness in the legal claims. It was alleged Dr Wakefield failed to disclose payments made by lawyers to the Royal Free when his team published a paper in the Lancet medical journal concerning medical investigations into the children's illnesses. Final charges have yet to be published. GMC hearings are often less than a day and usually no more than two or three days.

Other safety panel members who approved the vaccine included controversial paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow, Government vaccination supremo Dr David Salisbury, Dr Elizabeth Miller of the Health Protection Agency, and Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation member and Chairman Professor Sir David Hull.

Dr Miller is also an expert witness for the Glaxo companies defending the children's claims. She has stated "there can be no conflict of interest when acting as an expert for the courts, because the duty to the courts overrides any other obligation, including to the person from whom the expert receives the instruction or by whom they are paid ". Dr Miller has also published in The Lancet without disclosing funding from drug companies and still without complaint from the Editor. Wakefield disclosed his status as an expert witness funded by legal aid in a letter to the Lancet in 1998 - six years earlier so this was known to The Lancet.

Barrister Robert Hantusch in a letter to the Times of 24 February 2004 said "The courts do not consider that the engagement of someone to act as an expert witness in litigation has the effect that that person is then biased. Indeed, if this were the legal position, no paid professional could ever at any time give evidence to a court."

A challenge is also being mounted against the withdrawal of the childrens' legal funding in 2004 concerning High Court Judge Sir NigelDavis failure to disclose his brother was main board director of the MMR vaccine manufacturer's parent company GlaxoSmithKline plc and Chief Executive of the Lancet medical journal. Judge Davis' brother is Sir Crispin Davis (57).

Furious parents who filed complaints with MPs and the Office for Judicial Complaints, which investigates the conduct of judges and coroners are told to expect a response this week..

Judge Davis' spokesman Peter Farr of the Judicial Communications Office said "The possibility of any conflict of interest arising from his brother's position did not occur to him. If he was wrong, any possible remedy must be sought from the Court of Appeal.".

Multinational drugs giant GlaxoSmith Kline appointed Sir Crispin Davis as non executive director 1 July 2003. Three months later the Legal Services Commission were due to decide on the MMR childrens' funding and made the contested decision on 4th October 2003. Five months later Judge Davis rejected appeals against the LSC's decision. The reasons remain secret. Parent Ann Hewitt claims " We have been dumped. Legal advice says Thomas has a strong case, but legal aid was mysteriously taken away." However, parent Marion Wickens, who also claims her severely injured 13-year-old daughter's legal case was strong, said in a later open court hearing that a senior LSC official admitted the decision to stop Legal Aid " came from the government" (see third .pdf attached).

Sir Crispin Davis is unlikely to be a stranger to controversy over the MMR vaccine. He is Chief Executive of the owners of the "The Lancet" medical journal. In 1998 The Lancet published the now controversial study by Dr Andrew Wakefield's Royal Free Hospital London research team into links between autism and the MMR vaccine. Wakefield sparked a furore with the government later to involve Prime Minister Tony Blair when at a March 1998 press conference he suggested single measles jabs be made available alongside MMR.

Six years after the publication of the Lancet paper, in February 2004 and only a week before Judge Nigel Davis's rejection of the childrens' funding appeal, The Lancet Editor, Richard Horton disclaimed the Royal Free paper, claiming Wakefield had failed to disclose a conflict of interest over funding by the Legal Services Commission. Premier Blair was quoted at the time " There's absolutely no evidence to support this link between MMR and autism". Horton expressed public regret for publishing the Royal Free paper and Sir Crispin Davis was knighted three months later.

Parent John Stone comments "A major unexplained mystery is why the issue of what measles vaccine was given to children should have been so political. There was, after all, a perfectly acceptable, cheaper and more effective measles vaccine then available. "

Current Conservative Shadow Health Minister Andrew Murrison says "The last time we commented on this we said that MMR would be routinely recommended (the CMO believes it to be safe) but if refused the single jab would be available. We haven't changed that position. "

Today the issue remains mired in confusion and contradictions. Parent Elaine Butler demands an inquiry "We believe the evidence shows very clearly that our children were damaged by this vaccine. If it was so important to the government, then they should have ensured the case went to trial with full funding so everyone could see the evidence in open court. The additional amount that would cost compared to all the money spent by the government and NHS on attacking Wakefield and promting MMR is trivial . And the irony is, we now learn that 2007 is the year the chance of anyone catching measles and dying became vanishingly small. People in the UK are 60 times more likely to be hit by lightning than killed by measles and the official government
figures show that disparity will continue to increase over time ".

INFORMATION FOR EDITORS:

For the curious politics of MMR see - Top doctor wades into MMR debate BBC - Monday, 23 February 2004

Some of the MPs known contacted by parents include:-
Norman Baker
Stewart Jackson, Peterborough,
Shona Robinson (SNP health minister with autistic daughter)
Sir Robert Smith, Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine
Lynne Featherstone
Alex Salmond
Chris Mullin

For in-depth analysis of the controversy see:-
"MMR - SCIENCE AND FICTION": the Richard Horton story BMJ John Stone
24 Sep 2004
"MMR - SCIENCE AND FICTION": the Richard Horton story II BMJ John
Stone 26 Sep 2004
"MMR - SCIENCE AND FICTION": the Richard Horton story III BMJ John
Stone 30 Sep 2004
"MMR - SCIENCE AND FICTION": the Richard Horton story IV BMJ John
Stone 1 Oct 2004
"MMR - SCIENCE AND FICTION": the Richard Horton story V BMJ John Stone
1 Oct 2004
"MMR - SCIENCE AND FICTION": the Richard Horton story VI BMJ John
Stone 3 Oct 2004

========== Contact information
Peter Farr
Judicial Communications Office
Thomas More Bldg 11.07
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London WC2A 2LL

www.judiciary.gov.uk


Listening in on the Vaccine Hearings

For anyone who wants to listen to the Vaccine Omnibus Hearings that begin on June 11th, Jeff Sell has passed on the link to register.

http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/omnibus-austim-proceeding

May 26, 2007

Holy Crap... I Forgot About The Zinc!

We upped Chandlers zinc at the beginning of the week! I forgot about that when I started getting excited about Chandler's huge improvements this week.

So week 4 of the SCD diet his improvements were steeper than weeks 1-3 probably because we upped his zinc.

Yay for zinc!

"March 11"

Scott called this morning to update me on what is up with Chandler.

Scott was making breakfast and thought he would just ask Chandler a random question. He said, "Chandler, do you know what day your birthday is?"

Chandler replied, "March 11".

Until know we had no way of knowing if he even understood the concept of a birthday. We knew he understood birthday parties have cake and they were damn good things, but that is it.

I told Scott to get out the video camera stat and start getting this stuff on record. Hopefully if I have enough time I can cut something together that shows him before and after the SCD diet.

Incidentally I am here hanging with two moms, both of who tried the SCD diet on their kids with little result, and they tried it for six months and one year, so clearly this diet is not a magic bullet for every child, but it seems as if it is another piece of Chandler's puzzle.

UPDATE:

I forgot that we upped Chandler's zinc at the beginning of the week. Check this.

Not Blogging Autism One

So I have been here for two days and I had to make the choice between trying to drinking all the information I could from the fire hose and writing about it. I choose the former.

but...

I will keep you updated on the crazy breakthroughs of my baby boy.

Stay tuned.

May 25, 2007

“Five”.

So I am at Autism One and I am no longer at Autism One.

I am a thousand miles away back in Maine.

Scott just called me and said, “Are you holding on to your pants?” Then he told me the best thing I ever heard ever.

He took Chandler to pick up his older brother from school. Scott was standing the lobby holding Chandler when the guidance counselor walked by. She knows our family and knows that Chandler is autistic and will be coming to school next year, but had not met him yet and did not know the severity of his disability.

She stopped to say hello, and Scott introduce him. She turned to him and said, “Hello Chandler, how old are you?”

Chandler stuck out his hand with all his fingers spread and said, “Five”.

I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THAT HE KNEW HOW OLD HE WAS!

I am in tears! I am absolutely HIGH right now!

UPDATE:

The hits just keep on coming.

UPDATE:

I forgot that we upped Chandler's zinc at the beginning of the week. Check this.


May 24, 2007

Blogging Autism One

Hello from Chicago. I will be blogging from Autism One for the next three days, and if I can get wifi in the conference rooms, I will be live blogging.

So check back in this weekend.

Simpsonwood Remembered

From the National Autism Association and Mom's Against Mercury:

The Simpsonwood Remembered Rally is getting close!

Join us on June 8th, at the CDC in Atlanta Georgia, in remembrance of the anniversary of the infamous CDC meetings at Simpsonwood and to celebrate and support the United Methodist Women's Division.

Also join us for a poolside meet and greet at the Emory Inn on Thursday June 7th at 7pm (straight through the front doors and outside to the courtyard). T-shirts and magnetic car ribbons will be sold there. T-shirts are $15.00 and the magnetic car ribbons $7.50. We will be raffling off some T-shirts and ribbons at 8pm. Both T-shirts and ribbons are of limited quantity.

Just a reminder that we will be meeting the morning of June 8th at 6:15am in the Emory Inn parking lot (1641 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA).

Thank you all for your continued support and hope to see you there!

For more rally information: http://www.momsagainstmercury.org/rally-simpsonwood.htm

For more information about the infamous Simpsonwood meetings held June 7-8, 2000 please go to:
www.PutChildrenFirst.org and www.NoMercury.org

May 23, 2007

Judicial Watch Uncovers Three Deaths Relating to HPV Vaccine

Judicial Watch Uncovers Three Deaths Relating to HPV Vaccine
Event Reports Obtained from FDA Detail 1,637 Adverse Reactions to Gardasil

(Washington, DC) -- Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released documents obtained from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, detailing 1,637 reports of adverse reactions to the vaccination for human papillomavirus (HPV), Gardasil. Three deaths were related to the vaccine. One physician’s assistant reported that a female patient “died of a blood clot three hours after getting the Gardasil vaccine.” Two other reports, on girls 12 and 19, reported deaths relating to heart problems and/or blood clotting.

As of May 11, 2007, the 1,637 adverse vaccination reactions reported to the FDA via the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) included 371 serious reactions. Of the 42 women who received the vaccine while pregnant, 18 experienced side effects ranging from spontaneous abortion to fetal abnormities.

Side effects published by Merck & Co. warn the public about potential pain, fever, nausea, dizziness and itching after receiving the vaccine. Indeed, 77% of the adverse reactions reported are typical side effects to vaccinations. But other more serious side effects reported include paralysis, Bells Palsy, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and seizures.

“The FDA adverse event reports on the HPV vaccine read like a catalog of horrors,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Any state or local government now beset by Merck’s lobbying campaigns to mandate this HPV vaccine for young girls ought to take a look at these adverse health reports. It looks as if an unproven vaccine with dangerous side effects is being pushed as a miracle drug.”

Judicial Watch filed its request on May 9, 2007, and received the adverse event reports from the FDA on May 15, 2007. Judicial Watch has posted the adverse event reports.

(A recent study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, also questioned the general effectiveness of Gardasil.)

Click here to view the Garadsil Related Deaths Reported to VAERS as of May 11, 2007

Click here to view the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) Reports as of May 11, 2007


May 19, 2007

Autistic Inventor At Work Redux

Ladies and Gents, the second patent that Chandler will be applying for will be The Dental Floss Belt.



Autistic Adults Lack Services

Anne Dachel won the Age of Autism Award last year for her tireless advocacy for our kids.

In an email today she calls attention to the lack of services for adults with autism.

What will happen when the autistic children of Chandler's generation no longer have their parents to care for them?


Before I drive myself crazy here, let me send this. These scary stories about the lack of services are out every single day. They're local and state items. They'll sometimes use the words "crisis" and "epidemic"---but never with a demand for answers. Only rarely do reporters project that the situation will get worse as these kids age out.
With the medical community diagnosing more and more autism, patting themselves on the back for doing it earlier and earlier but with no alarm, and federal officials promoting the myth that there is no increase and that autism is genetic............I truly think that no bad how bad the situation gets, doctors and health officials will continue to pretend it just isn't happening.
We'll have disabled people in the streets with nowhere to go eventually when mom and dad are no longer there.
I have to laugh........every year John who's now twenty, gets a letter from the county telling him his status on the waiting list....
last year, he was #42....this year, he's #36............
I honestly don't know what happens when he gets to be #1..........there are no services in the area for autistic adults.
Anne
"We're going to put people in crisis," said Debra Dowds, executive director of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council. "We recognize there needs to be some changes. The problem is the level they've done is way too severe."

Autism Spectrum Disorder is at a crisis level and the Marcus Institute and Easter Seals of north Georgia are two places trying to help autistic children and their families.


When 'the cuteness is gone'
Bridgewater Courier News, NJ
Much of the media attention focused on autism is directed at children -- but once a child is 21, the state no longer mandates any services to be provided, and a person with autism is on his or her own.
As the growing number of autistic children in New Jersey grows up, parents and service providers are worried about the supply of public resources to help autistic adults live, work and interact with the community with independence and dignity.
Daily Telegraph, Australia

People with autism with no other qualifying "label" are eligible for services under the Developmental Disability Waiver. And guess what? That waiting list is also years long. Children do not have three to five years to wait until their slot is open.


The Texas Legislature is looking at funding that could impact families like the Sausedas, who were on a waiting list for 11 years before finally receiving mental health support for the twins in 2005. Local mental health caregivers, meanwhile, are waiting to learn if 212 other area families can similarly finally stop waiting this year.

Parents plead for aid from county services
Appleton Post Crescent, WI

Group works to help the developmentally disabled
Baltimore Examiner, MD
"There's a bit of a debate over whether that's just a more exact diagnostic capability [or an actual rise]," Morgan said. "Regardless, it's clearly a condition that's increasingly presenting itself for care and treatment."



Johnson & Johnson Clears Their Own Product of Autism Link

(as you read keep in mind Big Tobacco's claims of "no link to lung cancer")

I am sure that if you have viewed a news source this week you have seen that mercury in vaccines has once again been cleared of any link to autism. Articles also state, "Shows over, nothing to see here, move along now... the grown ups need to talk."

This study was done in 2005. So why the big release two years later? Some have suggested that it is because the Vaccine Omnibus Hearings that will actually look at the link and make a decision as to the veracity of vaccine safety claimes will start next month.

Billions and Billions of dollars will be lost by corporations if a link is established.

So here is the story behind the story by an actual chemist who understands mercury, and the initial response from SafeMinds, who will be releasing a full review of the study later.

The mercury, Autism Debacle: Another Week, Another Questionable Study
Michael Wagnitz
May 18, 2007

Another week, another study in which a Doctor tells us mercury in vaccines is safe. Only this time, vaccines were not even part of the study. The headline from the University of Missouri states, "Study Finds No Link Between Autism and Thimerosal in Vaccines". The study looked at injection during pregnancy with Rh immune globulin (Rhig) and its link to autism. Up until 2001 some of these injections contained thimerosal (50% mercury). This is not a vaccine just like a shot of penicillin is not a vaccine. This story was picked up by 72 news agencies. Not one news story mentioned that the study was funded by Johnson and Johnson, the largest manufacturer of Rhig products. Johnson and Johnson just happens to be a defendant in several lawsuits involving the use of thimerosal in their Rhig products. Does anyone really think they would fund a study which says thmerosal in Rhig products causes autism?

What's more amazing is this is old news. The lead author of the study presented her findings in a poster session in 2005 at a genetics conference. This story was all over the news wires back then. Originally, it was stated that the study contained 47 mothers with more than one child with autism. The published study lists only 16 such cases. Where did the other 31 cases go? Did they just disappear because they did not support her conclusion? Is this proper scientific ethics? This "data adjusting" is becoming quite common by mainstream autism researchers.

In her paper she states that the "vast majority of studies indicate no association between thimerosal containing vaccines and autism". The papers she cites are either conflicted epidemiological studies or literature reviews which regurgitate these same studies. One paper cited, Nelson and Bauman 2003, was a paper solicited by Pediatrics to say that thimerosal does not cause autism. This paper was received and published on the same day. Did this paper even go through the peer review process? This paper is infamous for stating that ethyl mercury does not enter the brain. This statement has been disproven by volumes of published research. She cites the 2004 Institute of Medicine (IOM) position paper which ignored all the clinical evidence which differed with their pre-determined conclusion. This expert IOM committee, which looked at thimerosal's role in causing harm, did not include one single toxicologist. Every member had ties to the vaccine industry.

As a major player in the autism is a psychiatric condition caused by some unknown gene, the author knows that billions of dollars in research money is out there to be had. What will become of these "mercury apologists" if these kids ever receive proper treatment for what is causing their illness? Their multi-million dollars of funding will dry up. Their arrogant, controlling power trips will be over. They will become irrelevant.

About the Author: Michael Wagnitz has over 20 years experience evaluating materials for toxic metals. He currently works as a chemist in the toxicology section of a public health lab evaluating biological samples for lead and mercury.


Here is SafeMinds response to the study:

University of Missouri Study on Link Between Autism and Mercury a Discredit to Sound Science
SafeMinds
May 16, 2007
(714) 625-5663

Undisclosed industry funding, unsubstantiated conclusions on vaccines, and study sample alteration undermine credibility on controversial topic.

(Cambridge, MA) A recent press release from the University of Missouri announced the results of a study on autism and Rh immune globulin (RhIg) injections, some of which contained a mercury preservative called thimerosal. SafeMinds reviewed information about this study and found several troublesome aspects, including undisclosed industry funding, unsubstantiated conclusions on vaccines and mercury, and deviation from acceptable scientific practice.

The study was funded by Johnson & Johnson, the largest manufacturer of RhIg products and the defendant in several lawsuits alleging a link between autism and mercury in RhIg. In an earlier 2005 poster presentation, the study authors acknowledged that the research was “supported by Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research,” but the University of Missouri press release omits mention of this conflict of interest.

The press release headline falsely claims that the “Study Finds No Link Between Autism and Thimerosal in Vaccines.” The study is about Rh immune globulin, and immune globulins are not vaccines. “The headline deceives the public,” noted Mark Blaxill, director of SafeMinds. “It says an autism-mercury in vaccines link has been disproved when the research did not do so.” In fact, the study failed to differentiate between mothers who received RhIg brands with mercury and those receiving the brand without mercury, rendering assessment of mercury’s role in autism from RhIg indeterminate.

Changes to the research sample were made in the middle of the study. The 2005 sample contained 47 mothers with more than one child with autism, while the final 2007 study only had 16 mothers with more than one child with autism. The elimination of 31 ‘multiplex’ families means that the original sample was altered, and not just added to, after initial results were obtained in contradiction of standard research practice meant to prevent manipulation of findings.

“An earlier analysis by SafeMinds of the poster presentation revealed numerous flaws in methods, analysis and interpretation,” stated Mr. Blaxill. “We are concerned many of these flaws have not been corrected and quite possibly have been amplified in the published paper. While the poster results demonstrated an increased risk of autism in thimerosal-exposed children, the written interpretation of the data claimed the opposite.”

Once SafeMinds has the opportunity to review the full paper, a full assessment will be completed. SafeMinds calls for unbiased studies on the potential link between autism and mercury exposures. More information on this study is available at www.safeminds.org.

See also:

Rh Immune Globulin in Pregnancy: Relationship to Autism Development

Overview [PDF File, 42K]

Study Abstract [PDF File, 20K]


May 16, 2007

Webster's New Friend Chandler

So after a less than a month on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet the jury is in. It works for Chandler.



He is talking more, his words are more clear, he answers questions more completely and more quickly, he is more present, more affectionate, more interactive and even more willful. (In a good way, usually he will pretty much go where you want him to. Now for example, if I say, "Let's go to the car, we are going to the store," he will protest, "No. I want bike," as he is putting on his bike helmet.)

This morning Chandler gave his big brother a huge hug before he left to get on the bus for school.

After the bus pulled away, Webster turned to his dad and said, "I love that cute little guy. He's so cute. He gave me a hug. That is the second time he gave me a hug. The first time was when he got home from school that day. Do you remember that day, Daddy".

Then he told his dad all about the day that Chandler first hugged him two weeks ago.

Yesterday I took the boys shopping and they had a blast. I had bought them Oballs at a previous store to keep them happy as I dragged them all over town shopping. Chandler decided to play fetch with Webster. He sat in the cart and would throw the ball, and Webster would run to get it and give it back to Chandler. This was high comedy to them and they kept it up for a half an hour (thank goodness the Target was pretty empty), varying the game to include aspects of hide and seek and tug of war.

It was really fun for me to seeing them enjoy each other so much and giggle so furiously for so long. The game only stopped when mommy got annoyed because she was tired and was supposed to be home an hour ago and "Webster please watch where you are going and stop running into the elderly".

There are those who argue that dietary intervention, or any of the biomedical interventions that parents claim work on their autistic children, are merely normal development plus placebo effect. "Desperate" parents want the child to get better so badly that they blow normal gains out of proportion.

The placebo effect does not work on six year old brothers though. Webster does not know interventions we are trying, he only knows that his brother is acting more like a brother.

Hugs don't lie.



May 14, 2007

Autism One Conference Updates

Anybody going to Autism One?

If so, find me and say howdy. I will be the one in the back with the laptop that looks like this:



The Autism One 2007 Conference

May 23-27, 2007
Rosemont, Illinois
www.autismone.org

Dear Friends and Colleagues -
AUTISM ONE LIVE ON DEMAND WEBCAST

We are tremendously excited to bring you the live, on demand webcast of Autism One’s 2007 Biomedical Treatments.

In addition, two pre-conference days, Culinary Health on Wednesday, May 23 and Law Day, Thursday, May 24, will be webcast for live online viewing.

Working to fit your schedule and individual needs:
• You can register before, during, or after the conference to view the webcast.
• You can view all or part of the webcast as many times as you’d like.
• After the live webcast, beginning 7 days post-conference, the presentations will be available for 15 days of online access.
• Handout materials for the presentations will also be available to download.
• In the comfort of your home or office, you will be able to pause presentations and resume viewing at your convenience.


For more information or to register for the live on-demand webcast, please visit SMUG/ZEN Productions at www.zenworksproductions.com.
Webcast Biomedical Treatments Presentations Friday, May 25
8:00 am - 8:50 Mark Blaxill, MBA Why Are So Many Children Sick?
9:00 am - 9:50 Dr. Jeffrey Bradstreet Advanced Biomedical Treatments Using New Biomarkers
10:30 am - 11:20 Dr. Boyd Haley Mercury Toxicity and its Relationship to Neurological Diseases
11:30 am - 12:20 Dr. Liz Mumper Vicious cycles in autism; opportunities for interventions
1:30 pm - 2:20 Dr. Woody McGinnis Update: Oxidative Stress in Autism
2:30 pm - 3:20 Dr. Manuel Casanova What is Wrong in the Brain of Patients with Autism and How can We Improve It
3:45 pm - 4:35 Dr. William Walsh Oxidative Stress and Autism: A Roadmap for Effective Treatment
4:45 pm - 5:35 Dr. Rashid Buttar Beyond Mercury and Chelation - The Buttar Brain Recovery Protocol

Saturday, May 26
7:00 am - 7:50 Keynote Address: Dr. Martha Herbert Next steps with the new autism paradigm: science, infrastructure and horizons
8:00 am - 8:50 Dr. Robert Nataf Biomarkers for Heavy metal Toxicity , Inflammation and oxidative stress in Autism
9:00 am - 9:50 Dr. Andrew Wakefield The Emerging Pathogenesis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder
10:30 am - 11:20 Dr. Sue Swedo NIH-Funded Research on Autism: Challenges, Achievements and Next Steps
11:30 am - 12:20 Dr. Dan Rossignol Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Autism
1:30 pm - 2:20 Dr. Jim Adams Mercury, Chelation, and Autism
2:30 pm - 3:20 Dr. Richard Deth How Genetic and Environmental Factors Conspire to Cause Autism
3:45 pm - 4:35 Dr. Mark & David Geier The Rapid, Safe, and Highly Effective Treatment of Autism Specrum Disorders Which Now Have Been Proven To Be Forms of Mercury Poisoning
4:45 pm - 5:35 Dr. Michael Uzsler Brain Spect scanning - How it makes a difference in Autism

Sunday, May 27
8:00 am - 8:50 Dr. James Neubrander Lights, Cameras, Action - Methyl-B12 Returns to the Spotlight for Treating Children on the Autistic Spectrum
9:00 am - 9:50 Dr. James Neubrander Clinical Responses of Over 15,000 Hours of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Children on the Autistic Spectrum
10:30 am - 11:20 Dr. Arthur Krigsman A Practical Approach to Common Gastrointestinal Problems seen in Children with ASD
12:30 pm - 1:20 Tracy Zieman & Sonja Hintz A Battle Within Our Children: The Impact of bacteria, viruses, and parasites
1:30 pm - 2:20 Dr. Phil DeMio Hot Topics in Biomedical Treatments
2:30 pm - 3:20 Dr. Mayer Eisenstein Is There a Connection Between Autism and Childhood Vaccines?"

There are a number of very exciting options available to help meet your needs. Please visit SMUG/ZEN Productions to learn more about all of the options, including a short video to see how it all works.
A Word About SMUG/ZEN Productions
Steve Janak, the founder of SMUG/ZEN and his crew, has been videotaping Autism One presentations, making them available on DVDs for the previous two years.
Steve is doing it for the right reasons. He has a sister with special needs. Steve’s mother, Laurette Janak, is presenting at Family Health Day and during the main conference. Laurette has played a fundamental role moving the community forward by lending her knowledge to many of the notable scientific autism research projects.
A primary consideration is keeping costs to the minimum. The inconvenience of geography is all the more reason to provide affordable information to as many as possible. Thank you for doing a great job, Steve.
Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or ideas. Thank you.
My Best,
Ed Arranga
714.680.0792
http://AutismOne.org
earranga@autismone.org



Performing during dinner and dancing Saturday evening and throughout the weekend:

"Special Musicians"
The Special Musicians are a group of youths and young adults with developmental disabilities. Joe Yost, a music instructor for the Chicago Park District conceptualized this project. They have been seen on WGN, PBS and other news stations, and have been featured in articles in several newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times.
http://www.specialmusic.org/

"The Naturals"
Craig Christiansen, Dan Massey, Terry Bracey and Maurice Snell will be the main support for the band with assistance from various children. Maurice, Terry and most of the children participating have autism. Terry the lead singer is the Ambassador for Adults with Autism for Easter Seals.
http://www.creativeexchangemusic.com/

"Rock Candy"
Bob's Band!! Robert & Sandy Waters have been seen on NBC, WGN and other news stations. They have been featured in articles in several newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. Also, they will soon appear in a Special on PBS in June 2007! They are the writers/performers of the internationally acclaimed Autism Awareness Song "Faith, Love & Hope ," hosts of "The Candy Store" on Autism One Radio, and headlining the Arts Festival and serving as Autism One’s Arts Ambassadors. "Thank you" to Bob and Sandy for organizing the Autism One concert!
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=101625106

"unVisioned"
Eric (guitar), Enrique (vocals), Jason (guitar), Kyle (bass), Drew (drums) They Rock!! And what's even better -- they support children with autism. They are the opening act for "Static-X" and are the winners of the Batavia, Illinois Battle of the Bands!
http://www.unvisioned.com/

Autism One extends a big "Thank you!" to these bands for donating their performances!

Special note:
A proclamation was presented to Robert and Sandy Waters by long-time Rosemont, Illinois Mayor "The Honorable Donald E. Stephens." Mayor Stephens commended the Waters family on their efforts to increase autism awareness around the world. Mayor Stephens further proclaimed May 25-27 Autism Awareness Days in Rosemont in honor of the Autism One Conference being held in Rosemont, Illinois. "Thank you" to the town of Rosemont and the mayor for this high honor. Read the entire proclamation here.


Household Mercury Bombs

Penny wise, pound foolish.

The CFL Mercury Nightmare
by Steven Milloy
Financial Post

Published: Saturday, April 28, 2007

How much money does it take to screw in a compact fluorescent light bulb? About US$4.28 for the bulb and labor -- unless you break the bulb. Then you, like Brandy Bridges of Ellsworth, Maine, could be looking at a cost of about US$2,004.28, which doesn't include the costs of frayed nerves and risks to health.

Sound crazy? Perhaps no more than the stampede to ban the incandescent light bulb in favor of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).

According to an April 12 article in The Ellsworth American, Bridges had the misfortune of breaking a CFL during installation in her daughter's bedroom: It dropped and shattered on the carpeted floor.

Aware that CFLs contain potentially hazardous substances, Bridges called her local Home Depot for advice. The store told her that the CFL contained mercury and that she should call the Poison Control hotline, which in turn directed her to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

he DEP sent a specialist to Bridges' house to test for mercury contamination. The specialist found mercury levels in the bedroom in excess of six times the state's "safe" level for mercury contamination of 300 billionths of a gram per cubic meter. The DEP specialist recommended that Bridges call an environmental cleanup firm, which reportedly gave her a "low-ball" estimate of US$2,000 to clean up the room. The room then was sealed off with plastic and Bridges began "gathering finances" to pay for the US$2,000 cleaning. Reportedly, her insurance company wouldn't cover the cleanup costs because mercury is a pollutant.

Given that the replacement of incandescent bulbs with CFLs in the average U.S. household is touted as saving as much as US$180 annually in energy costs -- and assuming that Bridges doesn't break any more CFLs -- it will take her more than 11 years to recoup the cleanup costs in the form of energy savings.

The potentially hazardous CFL is being pushed by companies such as Wal-Mart, which wants to sell 100 million CFLs at five times the cost of incandescent bulbs during 2007, and, surprisingly, environmentalists.

It's quite odd that environmentalists have embraced the CFL, which cannot now and will not in the foreseeable future be made without mercury. Given that there are about five billion light bulb sockets in North American households, we're looking at the possibility of creating billions of hazardous waste sites such as the Bridges'
bedroom.

Usually, environmentalists want hazardous materials out of, not in, our homes. These are the same people who go berserk at the thought of mercury being emitted from power plants and the presence of mercury in seafood. Environmentalists have whipped up so much fear of mercury among the public that many local governments have even launched
mercury thermometer echange programs.

As the activist group Environmental Defense urges us to buy CFLs, it defines mercury on a separate part of its Web site as a "highly toxic heavy metal that can cause brain damage and learning disabilities in fetuses and children" and as "one of the most poisonous forms of pollution."

Greenpeace also recommends CFLs while simultaneously bemoaning contamination caused by a mercury-thermometer factory in India. But where are mercury-containing CFLs made? Not in the United States, under strict environmental regulation. CFLs are made in India and China, where environmental standards are virtually non-existent.

And let's not forget about the regulatory nightmare in the U.S. known as the Superfund law, the EPA regulatory program best known for requiring expensive but often needless cleanup of toxic waste sites, along with endless litigation over such cleanups.

We'll eventually be disposing billions and billions of CFL mercury bombs. Much of the mercury from discarded and/or broken CFLs is bound to make its way into the environment and give rise to Superfund liability, which in the past has needlessly disrupted many lives, cost tens of billions of dollars and sent many businesses into
bankruptcy.

As each CFL contains five milligrams of mercury, at the Maine "safety" standard of 300 nanograms per cubic meter, it would take 16,667 cubic meters of soil to "safely" contain all the mercury in a single CFL. While CFL vendors and environmentalists tout the energy cost savings of CFLs, they conveniently omit the personal and societal costs of CFL disposal.

Not only are CFLs much more expensive than incandescent bulbs and emit light that many regard as inferior to incandescent bulbs, they pose a nightmare if they break and require special disposal procedures. Yet governments (egged on by environmentalists and the Wal-Marts of the world) are imposing on us such higher costs, denial of lighting choice, disposal hassles and breakage risks in the name
of saving a few dollars every year on the electric bill?

- Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and CSRWatch.com. He is a junk-science expert and advocate of free enterprise, and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.


Giving Up Recess for Jesus

Contrast the last story with this one.

School kids who were offered a chance to give up recess two days a week to spend time with the autistic kids at their school. A few of them loved it so much they asked to be able to skip recess five days a week.

I should give some sort of Autism in God's Economy award for those delicious little eigth-graders and their yummy teachers.

Were it not for the fact that mentioning Jesus in a public school might get a few people peeved, I would.


8th-graders Help Pupils with Autism
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
By ANDREA ALEXANDER
STAFF WRITER

A group of eighth-grade volunteers at George Washington Middle School in Wayne are teaching their sixth-grade schoolmates a lesson they can learn more easily from peers.

They are teaching them about friendship.

About a dozen eighth-graders volunteered to give up recess to spend time with the autistic students in a sixth-grade life skills class. Some of the students also give up study period to spend time with handicapped students in an adaptive physical education class.

The volunteers, called STARS (Students Teaching and Reaching for Success), were asked to give up time twice a week. But a few -- including Kristen McGuinness and Cameron O'Rourke -- begged life skills teacher Tracy Mara to be allowed to visit five days a week. The pair were so moved by their experiences that they produced a presentation for students and teachers during April for Autism Awareness Month.

Cameron said some of his classmates don't understand why he volunteers. When his friends asked why he gives up recess, he replies, "They are our friends, too."

Kristen said the presentation was important because people in the school "think children with autism are different."

She said she wanted to debunk the myth that the autistic students "shouldn't be treated the same way" as other kids in the school.

On Monday, Cameron and Kristen helped sixth-graders Sung Won DeFries and Juliana Munoz paint wooden butterflies to give as a present on Mother's Day. The volunteers played board games with the students, took them shopping at Willowbrook Mall for the holidays and went ice skating together.

In the winter, a group of volunteers taught children in the autistic class how to have a snowball fight. The volunteers showed the sixth-graders how to make snowballs and how to throw them.

During the holidays, they made a Thanksgiving dinner together in the classroom. Recently, the volunteers took the students to a craft store to buy T-shirts for Field Day and Father's Day presents.

Cameron said the volunteers are working to teach the autistic students the skills they are "going to need to function when they are adults."

George Washington Middle School introduced an autism program this fall to address the students' special needs, said Kathy Ventura, head of the school's counseling department. In past years, autistic students were included in a class for children with multiple disabilities. Three students are in the autistic class, but that number is expected to double next year, Mara said.

Mara, who previously taught disabled students before she took charge of the autistic class this year, started a student volunteer program when she came to the district four years ago.

She said she started the program because "students learn better from their peers than adults."

"They learn to be a kid from a kid," Mara said. "Not adults."

Ventura said the volunteers have witnessed miracles in the class. Kristen said she knew all the time she spent with the class paid off when she heard a student, who never speaks in school, ask for a glass of water.

"It was amazing," she said. "It was more than words can explain."

E-mail: alexandera@northjersey.com


May 13, 2007

Genetic Causation Theory Leads to Autism Eugenics

I missed a lot of stories on my break last year. This is an important one.

Do the proponents of the genetics only theory realize that this is the consequence?

A US example of this fallout is evident in yesterday's LA Times piece by a man whose wife selectively aborted two of the four babies that she was carrying. They aborted the two boys and kept the two girls. One of the reasons they they cited was because boys are more likely than girls to be autistic.

The Eliminators
By Chuck Colson
Thursday, August 3, 2006

British medical researchers recently announced plans to use cutting-edge science to eliminate a condition my family is familiar with: autism. Actually, they are not “curing” autism or even making life better for autistic people. Their plan is to eliminate autism by eliminating autistic people.

There is no in utero test for autism as there is for Down syndrome. As I have previously told “BreakPoint” listeners, that testing, combined with abortion-on-demand, has made people with Down syndrome an endangered population. By some estimates, 90 percent of these people—who, if allowed to live, can live happy and healthy lives—are aborted.

In the absence of such a test for autism, researchers at University College Hospital London are settling for what they call a “close enough” solution. They have applied for permission to use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD, to screen out male embryos in families with a history of autism.

Their “logic” is that since 90 percent of all autistic people are males, their testing would allow families with autistic children “to have a daughter free from the condition.” Of course, they would have also killed males who were not autistic. Talk about wholesale gender cleansing.

The critics are not convinced. Simone Aspis of the British Council of Disabled People drew the what-should-be obvious inference: “Screening for autism would create a society where only perfection is valued.” In the brave new world of the researchers, it is reasonable to fear “that anyone who is different in any way will not be accepted.”

Here in the states, bioethicist Ben Mitchell said that “if unborn children are being eliminated for a genetic disposition to autism, no one is safe . . . Today autism, tomorrow intelligence below 70 I.Q., the next day male pattern baldness. When will this madness stop?”

The only way to avoid this is to understand that we have no business deciding “who should live and who should die.” And that’s exactly where proposals like this are leading us.

Once a disability is “diagnosed” in utero, women are subject to enormous pressures to have an abortion. According to a recent Business Week article, there’s even a name for women who refuse to have an abortion in these circumstances: “genetic outlaws.”

Despite all the rhetoric about “alleviating suffering,” the bottom line in targeting the disabled in utero is the bottom line. As Business Week puts it, “the social cost of accommodating [their] birth is increasingly being seen as exceeding [their] worth.”

Oh my! This utilitarian view of life inevitably leads us exactly where the Nazis were creating a master race. Can’t we see it?

My heart goes out to parents who are raising autistic children. I know what they face because my daughter is raising a 15-year-old autistic son. But I also know firsthand the joy and blessing these children can bring into our lives. The answer is not to play God and keep them from being born—rather we need to help them and their parents. That’s what “alleviating suffering” really means.


Happy Mother's Day to Exceptional Mothers

(This is a repost from last year. But it is good, so I am bringing it back out.)

Once there was a little girl named Wendy.

She dreamed of all of the things that she could be.

First she wanted to be a nurse...
She would care for the sick with gentleness, patience, and love.

Then she wanted to be a teacher...
She would teach children and help them have the best chance for success.

In high school, she thought that being a religious minister would allow her to provide comfort, care, and spiritual sustenance.

A little older, and she wanted to be a lawyer...
She would defend the poor and defenseless.

Finally, she wanted to be a doctor...
She would unravel all the mysteries of what made people sick and how to cure them.

Wendy got married, and she became a mom.
Her little boy flourished and learned with ease, his future was bright, and Wendy was delighted. But his abilities seemed to change, and he seemed to be ill. Wendy’s little boy was diagnosed with autism.

Wendy was scared, so she asked the angels, “Who can help my little boy?”
And the angels said, “You can help him, you will be everything that you always wanted to be.”

“But, angels,” said Wendy, “I am scared that my child will not be all that I’d hoped he could be.”

“He isn’t right now,” replied the angels, “But he is all of the things that you can help him become.”

—Anonymous

What They Should Have Mentioned

Triumphs over autism ease a mother's sense of loss

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."
-- Anne Dudley Bradstreet

I remember the day of my son's diagnosis of autism as if it were yesterday. The tone of the doctor's voice, the silence in the room, the words "lifelong disability, no cure, I'm sorry" still sting when I allow myself to reflect on that day.

But I have paused on occasions too numerous to count and think, "Someone should've mentioned that this would be part of the package" when my child was diagnosed with autism.

Someone forgot to mention that I would listen to my child's simple utterances or attempted approximations as if he were a world leader giving the speech of a lifetime. I could never have imagined the worth of a single word despite the fact that I may never hear it again.

Someone forgot to mention that when my son was finally potty trained at age 9 there would be few people who would understand the significance of such an accomplishment and even fewer with whom I could actually share it. Accomplishments of any size, their true worth known only to me, would bring quiet celebrations between my son and me.

Someone should've mentioned that autism is messy! That wallpaper's meant to be shredded, bathrooms are designed to be flooded, walls are bare in order to smear stuff on them, washable paint really isn't and that more food will actually be crushed and dropped than eaten.

I wish someone would've mentioned that autism is extremely expensive! Doctors, therapists, medications, supplements, conferences and sensory equipment are only the tip of the iceberg. I could not have guessed that it would be my child's disability that allowed people to cross our path in life that otherwise would not have and that such people would respond to a child in need.

Someone should have mentioned that each time your child with autism initiates or engages in a reciprocal hug, that feeling that you had when you held them for the first time comes back time and time again.

What they forgot to mention the day my son was diagnosed with autism is that the triumphs over this disability would far outweigh the tears, that laughter would eventually ease the sense of loss and that sheer faith would allow me and millions of other parents to fall into bed exhausted each night only to get up the next day eager to discover what else they forgot to mention.


May 12, 2007

Fombonne's Folly

Eric Fombonne has released a study that he does not seem qualified to do that tells us nothing about the important question that he is supposedly addressing: Do autistic children have higher mercury levels than typical children.

I believe that this was completely disingenuous on his part. He HAS to know that mercury does not stay in the blood stream and that taking blood mercury levels only shows recent exposure. No one in the autism community uses blood mercury levels to determine how much mercury might be in a child's body and his brain.

But that does not stop it from getting a headline on Yahoo News.

But enough of my take on things. Let's hear from an actual chemist:

The Mercury, Autism Debacle: How Stupid Do They Think We Are?
Michael Wagnitz
May 7, 2007

Last weekend the Sixth International Meeting for Autism Research took place in Seattle. The meeting claimed to draw the top 900 autism researchers and scientists from around the world. One of the key participants was Dr. Eric Fombonne of Montreal Children's Hospital at McGill University. Dr. Fombonne, a psychiatrist, presented his research on mercury. His work involved testing the blood and hair of 147 children. Roughly half of his subjects were diagnosed with autism and half were considered neurologically typical controls. He found no difference in mercury levels in the patients hair or blood.

The first question one might ask is why a psychiatrist is considered qualified to do toxicological work. Most parents are concerned about the mercury exposure that their children received as newborns and infants from mandatory vaccines. The vaccine schedule in Canada, where Dr. Fombonnes study was done, and the United States were quite different in the 1990's. Dr. Fombonne,s patients were not tested after vaccination. If he had talked to any reputable toxicologist, they would have told him that the ethylmercury from vaccines clears the blood in about seven days. Ethylmercury, a short-chain alkyl mercury compound, is rapidly distributed to the brain, kidneys and other tissue. The hair tested would need to be from a first haircut to show this mercury exposure. Even if this was the case, research has shown that autistic kids do not excrete mercury efficiently. The hair would not contain any measurable amounts of mercury. It's to bad that McGill University does not have any toxicologists who could have explained to Dr. Fombonne that his work was a waste of time and money.

If one was really interested in determining the body burden of mercury they would perform the urinary porphyrin profile analysis (UPPA). Porphyrins are precursors to heme, the oxygen carrying component of blood. Mercury inhibits the conversion of specific porphyrins to heme. This test is backed by decades of published research. Recently it was shown in two published, peer-reviewed studies, that mercury inhibited porphyrins were significantly higher in autistic patients when compared to age matched controls (1)(2). The other way to test for mercury in the body is by using a provoking agent and measuring mercury in the urine.


The organizers of this meeting did not reveal that when Dr. Fombonne isn't conducting epidemiological studies or doing heavy metal analysis, he is appearing on behalf of vaccine manufacturers defending the safety of mercury. Dr. Fombonne refers to the amount of mercury in vaccines as "trace". Again, if he were a toxicologist or chemist, he would realize that the concentration of mercury in a multi-dose vaccine vial is 250 times higher than what the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies as hazardous waste.

References:

(1) Nataf R, Lam A, Lathe R, Skorupka, C. 2006. Porphyrinurea in Childhood Autistic Disorders: Implications for Environmental Toxicity. Toxicol. Appl. Pramacol. 214(2):99-108

(2) Geier M, Geier D, 2006. A prospective assessment of porphyrins in autistic disorders: a potential marker for heavy metal exposure. Neurotox Res. Aug;10(1):57-64

About the Author: Michael Wagnitz has over 20 years experience evaluating materials for toxic metals. He currently works as a chemist in the toxicology section of a public health lab evaluating biological samples for lead and mercury.


Fombonne's Folly

May 11, 2007

Autism in God’s Economy: For All of Us Who Have Failed in Our Duty

There is no offense that you can commit that is outside of that which God will forgive.

Again:

There is no offense that you can commit that is outside of that which God will forgive.

When those of us with autistic people in our lives take a hard, honest look at ourselves, we realize the question is not have we failed them, it is how often and how big have we failed them.

I am in love with Chandler. It is difficult to describe well the feelings that I have for him because they are so powerful. I have changed my whole life around to make his better. Yet I fail him on a daily basis. Ten times a day he asks me for things that I don’t give him because I can’t understand him. Ten times a week he needs something that I don’t give him because I am fried from the 90 things I did give him. At least ten times since his regression I have completely lost my mind and collapsed into a pile of sobs or screams in front of him because I just couldn’t take it any more. Once I even locked myself in the bathroom to get away from him because I knew I was close to loosing it.

What was it that you did, that you know was wrong?

Are you short tempered with your child? Are you a parent who has mentally and emotionally checked out from their child because trying to connect is too painful and too hard? Are you a caregiver who ignores the autistic person entrusted to your care when no one is looking? Have you lied about someone with autism because you knew they couldn’t set the record straight? Are you an employer who is taking advantage of your autistic employee because you know you can get away with it? Are you a private school director who has gotten rid of an autistic student illegally because you knew their family wouldn’t have the resources to sue you? Are you a priest who has sexually assaulted a child who you knew could not tell?

God has seen it all.

What you have done to them, you have done to Jesus Christ himself.

What you have done was not just an offense against that autistic person, that was an offense against God and has earned you a death sentence.

But…

There is no offense that you can commit that is outside of that which God will forgive.

So then, in this black and white issue, where is the line? If failing the Least of These results in goathood, and if even the most well intentioned of us have failed them, then how in the world are any of us ever considered sheep? What is it that will allow those of us who have failed in our duty to gain forgiveness for it?

Repentance.

Good old fashioned repentance.

It is the only thing that stands between receiving God’s mercy and earning God’s justice.

So just what is repentance exactly? You don’t often hear a good definition of what God actually means for us to do in his command for us to “repent”. Is it feeling bad about what you did or didn’t do? Saying you are sorry? Both of those things are part of it, but that is not really what repentance is.

Here is how God defines repentance:

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

"Speak to the sons of Israel, 'When a man or woman commits any of the sins of mankind, acting unfaithfully against the LORD, and that person is guilty,

then he shall confess his sins which he has committed, and he shall make restitution in full for his wrong and add to it one-fifth of it, and give it to him whom he has wronged.

'But if the man has no relative to whom restitution may be made for the wrong, the restitution which is made for the wrong must go to the LORD for the priest, besides the ram of atonement, by which atonement is made for him.”


Repentance requires three things:

1. Guilt.

Internal conviction of legitimate wrong doing. In this, “I’m OK, Your OK” world, guilt has become a bad word. In God’s economy, guilt is a GOOD thing. It means your conscience works correctly. It motivates you to govern yourself appropriately. Guilt over the things you have done wrong is a gift granted to you by God.

If you did something wrong, and you don’t feel bad about it, worry. How did you get to the place that you can mistreat people, shirk your responsibility and feel fine about it? Once you ignore your feelings of guilt long enough, without addressing what you have done wrong, you begin to sere your conscience, and you can commit bigger and bigger offenses and feel no guilt at all.

2. Confession.

Saying out loud, to the person whom you have wronged, “I have wronged you and what I did wrong was _______________. What I should have done was ________________.”

One of the reasons that God requires this is because confession heals. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed”... Confession heals all involved.

Remember a time when someone came to you in humility and finally admitted to treating you badly. Remember how much better you felt when they did?

Remember a time when you went to someone in humility and admitted to treating them badly. Remember how much lighter you felt afterward?

Speaking the truth heals. It frees you from secrets and lies.

3. Restitution.

Clean up your mess.

True conviction brings the desire to set things right. To tell the truth to the people you lied to. To give back the thing you stole. To heal the person that you hurt. To advocate for the person you have ignored.

It changes you from a taker into a giver. It turns you into someone who wants to serve the person you have wronged. It drives you to invest in them.

And restitution done right does not only bring things back for that person to the way they were before you made that selfish decision, it makes it 20% better. It is going over and above what you took!

Repentance that does not cost you, is not repentance.

Repentance that is forced on you is not repentance.

Repentance that requires conditions from the person that was wronged is not repentance.

Repentance that does not free you from guilt is not repentance.

Saying, “If I did anything to upset you, I am sorry,” or ,”Sorry if you are angry”, is not repentance.

If it does not include confession of sin and restitution and it does not heal, it is not repentance.

Repentance will cost you your pride. For some it will also cost you your social standing, your reputation and your friends. For some it will cost a lot of money. For some it will cost you your jobs and even your careers. For some it will cost you your family. For some it will cost you your freedom. For a few it will cost you your lives.

But what does a man profit if he gains the whole world but looses his soul?

So everything in this series leads up to this question:

Will you repent of what you have done to the Least of These... of what you have done to Jesus?

Some of you will not, because you don’t really believe Matthew 25 is true.

But for those of you who do believe:

Go back into the other room to your autistic child, who you don’t even believe can hear you, confess to him how you have wronged him and start to set things right. It does not matter if you think he understands the apology or even the offense.

Find that weird guy from high school that you picked on in the early 1960’s and tell him what you did was wrong and ask how you can make it right. If he can’t figure out a way, you think of something to make restitution. What did you take from him (friends, dignity, self-esteem) and how can you give it back to him?

Stand up in the staff meeting and admit to everyone that the mistake was yours, not the mistake of the geek in the IT department.

Publicly apologize for the rumors that you started to cover your ass.

Call the family that you denied services to and tell them that they had a right to things that you didn’t want to give them. Give them 20% more than they were legally entitled to.

Walk into the school board meeting and tell them that you lied about that child to get them out of that class, and send a written apology to the family. Give that child extra help that they didn’t have before you lied.

Call Child Protective Services, tell them what you did, tell them that you are at the end of your rope and demand help.

When the family in your church is ready to tell everyone about their child's diagnosis, stand in the pulpit and preach Matthew 25 to the flock that God has entrusted to you. Apologize to them failing them in letting them ignore the disabled family in their community. Congratulate them on the chance they have to serve God directly and DARE them to out do each other in serving that family. Challenge the teachers in your congregation to offer them educational services, the lawyers to give them free advocacy, the wealthy to pay for their child's treatment, the patient mothers to give respite care, the neat freaks to clean their house, those with culinary talents to deliver GFCF/SCD meals to them, the woman with the green thumb to cultivate their gardens, the book worm to research treatments for them, and on and on and on... Create competition to serve that child. Don't stop until the families tell you that they don't want any more help. Show up at their house every week, put your hands on that family and pray for them. Bring that church into God's Economy.

Hold a press conference and give the media and the medical community the information that you have been withholding on the environmental causes and possible treatments of autism. No matter the fall out. Announce your plan to properly investigate those avenues, and then raise that budget by 20%.

Walk into a police station, tell them what you have done to disabled children, and tell them you don’t want to do it any more. Tell them who your victims are and demand that they get help.

If you can't find the person that you have wronged to pay it back, repent to God by paying it forward. Find someone like them and give to them what you owe to the person you have wronged.

Repent. Do it no matter how big or how small the offense. Do it no matter how long ago the offense. Do it no matter what it costs you.

And repentance WILL cost you. It is hard. Confession of sin does not free us from the consequences of sin in this world. Often it sets them into high gear.

But true repentance to Christ always results in forgiveness. As a matter of fact repentance and forgiveness are inseparable in God’s economy. They are two sides of the same coin, and you will never find one with out the other.

There is no offense that you can commit that is outside of that which God will forgive.

There is no offense that you can commit that is outside of that which God will forgive.

May 7, 2007

Autism in God’s Economy: Those in Power over Those with Autism

Pilate, Pharisee, Jesus.

For those who hold positions of authority over those with autism and autistic families, Matthew 25 is a wake up call as loud as a siren. I want to take care to re-emphasize this again, it is not empty metaphor. It means the difference between heaven and hell. It is the litmus test of our salvation. It is one of a very small number of questions on our final exam, and getting one answer wrong is enough to fail the test.

If you have taken responsibility for any part of the life of someone with autism, or even if that responsibility has been thrust upon you, take this time to measure yourself. Have you lived up to the responsibilities that you have been given to the innocent and vulnerable lives that Jesus has chosen to represent Him for the purposes of His judgment in his absence?

This is one of the last questions any of us wants to spend much time considering, because if we think long enough about it, we will stumble onto something that we just don’t want to remember that we did or didn’t do. For many, taking any time to ask this question is too upsetting, and some who begin this won’t read this past the first paragraph. But you have made it this far, so decide whether or not you believe Socrates to be right when he said that, “An unexamined life is not worth living,” and take the next step.

If you have decided to examine your life in light of Matthew 25 then, congratulations, you have cleared a hurdle that few people do.

So… if you hold power over an autistic person have you fed, clothed, housed, visited, comforted, educated, and healed them?

If you have power over a family with an autistic child, have you mourned and rejoiced with them? Have you made sure they had everything they need to raise that child to the best of their ability?

Have you advocated for them?

Proverbs 31 was written by King Lemuel. He was not a King of Israel, but believed to be either Egyptian or Babylonian. In it God gives us instructions on how to live, and how to lead. These instructions apply to anyone who considers himself a part of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and are more stringently applied to those in leadership. The higher up in leadership you go, the more strictly you will be judged on this command.

Open your mouth for the mute,
For the rights of all the unfortunate.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.


These verses are meant to apply to the voiceless in society, but they literally and specifically apply to autistic people. People who are literally mute and cannot advocate for themselves, they are afflicted with physical illness and developmental delay, and are needy. “Special Needs” means that they REQUIRE more than the rest of us do in order to get along in this world. In the U.S. and elsewhere, they are given legal rights that the rest of us don’t have.

If you are in a position to dispense services and justice to someone with autism or to their families, do you open your mouth for them, or do you give them the shaft? Because, from your position, there is no middle ground. In this fallen, worldly economy, either you advocate for them, or they will get the shaft.

There was no middle ground for Pontius Pilate. He was the man who had to make the decision as to the life or death of Jesus. Pilate knew that He was not guilty; he knew that Jesus’ rights were being violated, but he did not want to deal with the political pressure being put on him by those who wanted Jesus dead, so he just went with the flow.

If you are in authority over someone with autism, and you just do what is easy, you will end up failing them, because doing the right thing in the life of an autistic person usually difficult in this worldly economy.

They take up too much time and resources and you don’t get a lot for your money, right? The cost-benefit analysis on these people and their families is wholly unfavorable so wouldn’t your resources be better spent elsewhere?

Unless, of course, you love them.

Unless seeing them make an inch of progress thrills you. If him saying a new word, hugging his mom, eating a new food, asking for something, making a friend, going to prom, getting a job, or living on his own brings tears to your eyes and makes your heart burst; if you believe it was worth all the grief and energy it took to bring it to fruition and you can’t wait to be a part of a miracle in another disabled person’s life, then you have the heart of Jesus! You are following the leadership model of Christ.

You live in God’s economy!

Are you a parent that is not living up to your responsibilities to your child? Are you a teacher who just wants the mainstreamed autistic kid out of your class so you can teach the way you want to teach? Are you the head of the PTA that does not want your normal child to have to deal with that needy one? Are you popular middle management who blamed your mistake on the weird guy in the IT department because you knew you could get away with it? Are you the school superintendent who forces families to spend their limited resources on lawyers to sue you for the services that the law says it is their right to have? Are you the head of a government health agency who is not making public all you know about the causes and treatments of autism?

Are you Jimmy?

If you are, be afraid.

God sees it all, even the thing that you think that no one knows. Even the thing you think you got away with. He looks into your heart and knows what motivated you to do it. There is no way to put this nicely… for you, Matthew 25 is a death sentence.

And God does not accept excuses. “But I did the best I could under the circumstances. I was under tremendous pressure. I just didn’t have enough resources to go around. I had to make a judgment call.” does not fly.

You either did the right thing in the life of The Least of These, not matter what it cost you, or you didn’t.

Leaders who go with the flow and lead the way Pilate did have a grim fate awaiting them.

But there are those who face an even worse fate.

When Jesus walked on this earth, there were very few people who had anything to fear from Him. He healed the sick, dined with the humble, taught the unlearned, and forgave the adulterous. But Jesus was not kind to everyone.

Jesus excoriated the Pharisees.

These were men who didn’t just hold social, political and legal authority, these where men who held God’s Authority. They were entrusted with God’s Word and God’s Power and told to use it to serve God’s people.

But instead they used it to serve themselves.

They traded on God’s Authority to serve their fame, their fortune, their desire for control, their ease, their appetites and their pride. They had signed up to carry out the command to “Open their mouths for the mute”, but instead of advocating for the powerless, they ignored their needs and even stole from them.

And the consequences for them were dire. Matthew 23 is the passage of scripture where Jesus lays out most clearly their offenses and the consequences. It ends with Jesus placing the blood of all the martyrs, going back to the first murder of Able by Cain, on their heads. 2 Peter 2 discusses false teachers who claim to serve God, but serve themselves. It tells us that they earn a worse hell than the one they would have gotten if they had never known God at all. The bible is filled with frightening warnings to ministers tread very lightly in the exercise of their duties.

If you are a pastor or priest reading this, it may be one of the most important moments in your life. Taking time to think about how you have treated the most vulnerable lives that God has entrusted to your care, is imperative to the rest of your life here, and to the next life.

If you are a pastor who has ignored or taken advantage of the most vulnerable of God’s sheep, the crippled lambs, then don’t just be afraid of God.

Be terrified.

In your ordination, you took on the mantle of Jesus and told Him that you would be His hands in this world. That you would walk in his steps, speak his words, heal the way he healed, love the way he loved, and sacrifice yourself for the least of these, the way that He sacrificed Himself for the Least of these. You have told God that you will die for his children. Die to your wants, needs and desires. Die to your flesh.

You have committed to consider ALL things in your life loss for the sake of knowing Jesus and doing his will. Your money, your career, your popularity, your reputation, your pride in your accomplishments, everything.

And the proof of your fulfillment of that commitment is what you do in the lives of the Least of These.

In the flock that God has entrusted to you who are “The Least of These.” Do you even know?

It does not matter if you shepherd a church of twenty or twenty thousand. You have taken responsibility for, and will give an account for every single life in it.

Do you have autistic families that you are to be serving? Are you serving them? When is the last time you talked to them? What do they need right now? What are they struggling with? Do you even know?

Couples with an autistic child face an estimated 80% divorce rate. Teens with Asperger‘s Syndrome are a higher risk for suicide. Did you know that?

Here is a test for you.

Go get a piece of paper, right now, and draw a line down the center. First, on the left side, write down the names of the ten most wealthy, powerful, influential, popular people in your care. Next, on the right, list the names of the ten Least of These in your care.

Which list was harder for you to write? Which took longer? Did you have to stop and look up names? Who do you know more about? Make those notes on the page. Which people to you spend more time talking to or thinking about? Which do you spend more money on reaching? Which of these people do you hold the most affection for?

Are you oriented toward the poor like Jesus?

In this exercise, you have just told yourself whose economy you live in. If there are more words on the left side of the paper, be afraid; be terrified, you live in the world’s economy and you just might be a goat.

If there are more words on the right side of the page, if you are loving and defending the least of these, mourning and celebrating with them, then you are likely a sheep who has been given the heart of Jesus Himself.

So how do you pass this leadership test?

Are you a Pilate, who just goes with the flow and does what he wants?

Are you a Pharisees, who trades on the power in the name of Jesus to serve himself?

Or

Are you a Jesus, who serves and defends the autistic, even if it costs you your whole life?



Tomorrow: For All of Us Who Have Failed in Our Duty