Schafer Autism Report


Tuesday, December 23, 2020                                         Vol. 12 No. 179

Tomorrow  -  December 24

 For  January 2009
Autism Events Calendar

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Disney Trip Drowning Victim Was Little Angel
Autistic Boy Among Kids Taken From Filthy Home in KY
Autism is No Barrier To Local Small Business Owner

N.J. Officials Meet With Vaccine Choice Group
Rumors Spark Polio Vaccine Panic In South India

Hope That Blood Taken At Birth Helps Find Cure For Genetic Diseases

Program Will Help Find, Rescue Disabled
United Cerebral Palsy of Southern Arizona Opens Center in Yuma

Dr. Andrew Wakefield on Autism One Radio

Smoke and Mirrors: Dr Richard Horton and the Wakefield Affair


Disney Trip Drowning Victim Was Little Angel


      The five-year-old boy who drowned after he fell into a swimming pool during a dream Christmas trip to Disneyland Paris was last night described as a little angel.
      Staff at the Thomas Cook-owned Explorers Hotel close to the resort have confirmed there was no lifeguard on duty when Colum Canning, from Londonderry, fell into the water after disappearing from his mother's view.
      His parents had taken Colum, his twin brother Kieran and his sister Caitlin (7) on the family holiday to celebrate the boys' birthday on Boxing Day. The devastated Canning family are now preparing to bring his body home on Christmas Eve.
      The family are believed to have been at the Explorers Hotel near the resort for only an hour before the tragedy occurred. He is thought to have been in the water only a few minutes before he was spotted and a Scottish tourist jumped into the pool in a bid to save him.
      Sadly, Colum had lost consciousness and could not be revived. After being on a life support machine for two days, Colum lost his fight for life on Saturday.
      His parents, Martin Bradley and Karen Canning, have decided to donate the boy's organs.
      His aunt, Sophie Martin Canning, said Colum was a lovely five-year-old, who was full of mischief and inseparable from his twin brother, Kieran.
      Residents of the Springtown Road area in Derry were in a state of shock yesterday after news of the tragedy emerged.
      Close family friend, Linda McConnell, said: I'm a close friend of Karen; we would have taken each others children to school.
      This has been devastating news for this time of the year. The whole street has been affected by it and it is very quiet at the moment as everyone is trying to come to terms with what has happened.
      Colum was a very outgoing wee boy but you would never have seen him out on the street without his brother Kieran. They were very close.
      They both have autism but it never stopped them getting on like other children. He was a little angel, he will always be an angel.
      Gerry Cosgrave, the headmaster of the school Colum attended, St Eithne's, said: It's such a terrible tragedy, especially coming so close to Christmas. It's terrible for the family. The staff are totally and utterly shocked and everybody feels for the wee boy and his parents.
      Close family friend and neighbour Donna Grant said: It must be terrible for them. Karen is such an attentive mother, she never ever lets those boys out of her sight. She is so protective of the twins.


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Autistic Boy Among Kids
Taken From Filthy Home in KY


      A call to police on Saturday night from Hamilton County Job and Family Services may have saved two young boys, one of which has autism.
      The officer who went to the house on Rutledge Avenue in Price Hill following the complaint described the living conditions as extremely filthy with flies and nats all over the house, as well as garbage, feces and dirty clothes.
      Fifty-year-old William and 49-year-old Diana Miller are both charged with child endangering.
      A case coordinator discovered the home in disarray and called police.
      Police say the 10-year-old boy has autism. A 12 year-old boy was also found inside the home.
      Authorities assigned the two boys to a temporary home.
      The Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office says an arrest warrant has been issued for Diana Miller.
      William Miller is scheduled to return to court on January 6.

Autism is No Barrier
To Local Small Business Owner

      Cumberland Times-News.

      Because of his autism, 22-year-old Andrew Pegg of Frostburg has not spoken a single word since he was 2 years old. Yet, he owns Andilla Designs & Graphics, a home-based business that personalizes gifts and advertising products.
      The Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services and the Maryland Rehabilitation Association recently presented Pegg with its annual Personal Achievement Award at a statewide conference in Ocean City. Andilla Designs & Graphics is evidence that individuals with severe disabilities can build a future with the right mix of community programs and family support.
      The award honors a former consumer of the Division of Rehabilitation Services who has overcome barriers to reach personal and economic independence.
      Pegg has received assistance from his DORS counselor, Erin Shahan, and his family. Since certain aspects of his business are difficult due to his disabilitymarketing and driving, for examplehe is assisted by Derrick Swandol, a job coach from Spectrum, a local non-profit agency.
      A part of the Maryland State Department of Education, DORS, with initial consultation from its Reach Independence through Self-Employment Program, assisted Pegg with his start-up costs and purchase of the equipment he utilizes to make his creations. He continues to acquire new business from individuals as well as organizations.
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N.J. Officials Meet With Vaccine Choice Group

      By Jennifer Kohlhepp for

      As a follow-up to the recent Vaccination Choice Rally in Trenton, a group of parents who believe their children have been injured by vaccines got a chance to meet with Heather Howard of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS).
      The five parents who are also members of the New Jersey Coalition for Vaccination Choice (NJCVC) were invited Dec. 3 to meet with Howard and seven senior members of her department at the NJDHSS building in Trenton. Gov. Jon Corzine promised in September to hold the meeting, when he was addressing a large group of parents gathered on NJCVC member Louise Habakus' front lawn in Middletown after attending a Democratic National Committee fundraiser for now President-elect Barack Obama.
      Public pressure has been steadily mounting in support of the parental vaccination choice bill currently in the health committees of the Assembly and Senate. A260/S1071 would provide for a conscientious exemption to mandatory vaccinations. Over 10,000 people have signed a petition in support of this bill.
      The NJDHSS publicly opposes the bill in a statement on its Web site. The department contends that broad exemptions to mandatory vaccination weaken the compliance and enforcement structure mandating vaccines for school entry and continued attendance. The department states that if parents can waive vaccination requirements, the dissolution sets precedent for other mandatory health screenings or services to become optional. The department also believes that New Jersey has numerous characteristics that make it particularly vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases, including a large population, a past history of preventable disease outbreaks, a high number of immigrants, and New Jersey's "corridor state" nature. The department believes the highest number of children possible should receive vaccines to protect themselves and others due to these characteristics.
      The NJDHSS states that all vaccines currently licensed in the United State are safe and effective and that New Jersey only mandates vaccines licensed by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other government and professional organizations. The department also contends that many vaccine-treated diseases do not have other effective treatments and that the resurgence of vaccine-prevented diseases would cause economic and human costs related to time lost from work, medical care and public health interventions. Finally, the department believes the more exemptions it allows, the more difficult it would be to prevent vaccine-preventable diseases in the state's communities.
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Rumors Spark Polio Vaccine Panic
In South India  (Reuters Health)

      Bangalore, India (Reuters) - Thousands of parents and their children protested outside hospitals in the southern Indian city of Bangalore following false rumors that children had fallen sick after being given polio drops, police said on Monday.
      Police said nobody had fallen ill from the vaccine and filed a complaint against a local TV station, saying it helped spread panic following the rumors of children contracting fever and vomiting.
      Police used megaphones to cool tempers at a government hospital on Sunday night where more than 3,000 people had gathered, as traffic slowed to a crawl in parts of the infotech city.
      Protesters pushed some doctors and smashed hospital windows, after their children were administered polio drops as part of a government immunization drive launched more than a decade ago.
      "They were all worried and aggressive," Bangalore's assistant commissioner of police, Ashok Kumar, told Reuters. "It was a difficult situation. They left only after doctors and police officials assured them of their children's safety.
      A world effort to beat polio has succeeded in slashing the number of cases by 99 percent over the past two decades, but the disease is still endemic in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
      Suspicions about polio vaccines worsened after a major outbreak in India in 2006, when some Muslims resisted polio drops for their children following rumors that it was part of a Western ploy to sterilize their offspring.
      Polio, which is incurable, leads to irreversible paralysis.
      India has had 535 polio cases in 2008 so far compared to 471 in the same period last year, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO).
See Also: Panicky Mobs Damage Hospitals, from the Times of India.


Hope That Blood Taken At Birth Helps Find Cure For Genetic Diseases

      By Pat Shellenbarger for The Grand Rapids Press.

      Millions of blood-stained cards, one for every baby born in Michigan since 1987, are stored in file cabinets at the state Department of Community Health.
      That's because state law requires each newborn get a poke in the heel so a few drops of blood can be squeezed out and tested for certain diseases. The cards then are filed away, kept for 21 1⁄2 years, then tossed out.
      Researchers at the Van Andel Institute and Michigan State University believe the three million blood-stained cards could hold a wealth of information about genetically linked diseases, including juvenile diabetes, cerebral palsy, autism, asthma and some cancers.
      James Resau, deputy director of special programs at the Van Andel Institute, called them "a vast, underutilized resource.
      By studying the genes in those stains and taking medical histories of the babies -- many now teens and adults -- doctors could predict which future babies are most likely to develop certain diseases and begin treatment before symptoms appear, he said.
      "The potential is, for diseases that have a genetic component, you could test for earlier diagnosis," he said "The earlier you intervene, the better the chances.
      The idea of unlocking the genetic clues in those millions of blood stains came to Resau and MSU researchers two years ago. For years, scientists have been able to extract DNA from dried blood. To do what they were proposing, they would need to detect the ribonucleic acid (RNA) in those tiny blood spots.
      Conventional wisdom said it couldn't be done.
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Program Will Help Find, Rescue Disabled

      By Gina Macris.

      Portsmouth, Rhode Island Under the direction of the Portsmouth Fire Department, the town is the first community in the state to offer Project Lifesaver, through a grant from the National Autism Association, the department announced.
      Project Lifesaver is a nationwide tracking program to locate missing people with cognitive impairments and developmental disabilities. Individuals at risk are given a wristband that emits a radio signal that can be tracked by search personnel. The program has a perfect recovery rate and an average search time of less than 30 minutes, the National Autism Association said.
      Portsmouth was chosen by an anonymous donor who contacted the NAA.
      Our department is thrilled to have received funding from NAA to implement this vital program, Fire Chief Jeffrey Lynch said in a statement. Last year, we were involved in a search-and-rescue effort to locate a man from Prudence Island who suffered from Alzheimers and wandered from his home. We were able to locate him the following day, but he later succumbed to his injuries. Had he been wearing a wristband, we would have found him almost immediately and his tragic death could have been prevented.
      Wristbands are available for eligible Portsmouth residents, including those affected by autism or Alzheimers disease. Families with someone at risk should contact Lynch at (401) 683-1200.
      Parents and caregivers can also find safety tips on the NAAs site at
      The NAAs FOUND Program, which funds Project Lifesaver, relies heavily on donations. Donations can be made by visiting and clicking on Make a donation.

United Cerebral Palsy of Southern Arizona Opens Center in Yuma

      By Darin Fenger for

      Waiting lists and long drives to Tucson are now in the past for clients of United Cerebral Palsy of Southern Arizona, which recently opened its first center in Yuma.
      United Cerebral Palsy of Southern Arizona, which actually covers a handful of disabilities, now offers clients in Yuma services ranging from special therapies to providing in-home visits care providers can enjoy a much-needed break.
      Officials with the nonprofit organization say they are delighted to finally be able to serve the people of Yuma right in their own home town. Prior to the Yuma center's opening in November local clients were forced to travel to Tucson for services.
      "We found that in Yuma there is such a dire need when it comes to services for people with disabilities," said Lupita Cuestas, regional director for United Cerebral Palsy. "One local mother said her son had been on the waiting list for music therapy for 10 years! It absolutely breaks my heart to know that people were going without therapy for such a long time.
     United Cerebral Palsy of Southern Arizona is an affiliate of the national organization, United Cerebral Palsy Association, located in Washington, D.C.
     The organization's Yuma office is located 2451 S. Avenue A, Suite 20. The office can be reached by calling 317-8800.
     In addition to cerebral palsy, the center also provides services for people with autism, epilepsy and clients who are intellectually challenged. Services are provided for both children and adults.
     "A lot of families with children with autism come to us and they benefit from treatments with music therapy," Cuestas said.
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Dr. Andrew Wakefield on Autism One Radio

Tuesday, December 23
      Autism One: A Conversation of Hope 10:00 am ET
      Topic: The Relationship of the Gastrointestinal Tract to Autism as a Whole-Body Condition
       Dr. Andrew Wakefield, MB BS FRCS FRCPath, is an academic gastroenterologist who has published over one hundred thirty original scientific articles, book chapters, and invited scientific commentaries. Dr. Wakefield serves as the Executive Director of Thoughtful House Center for Children in Austin, Texas. Thoughtful House aims to provide a research-oriented, integrated biomedical and educational approach. Teri and Dr. Wakefield will discuss a broad range of topics including immunologic, metabolic, and pathologic changes occurring in inflammatory bowel diseases such as autistic enterocolitis, links between intestinal disease and neurologic injury in children, and the possible relationship of these conditions to environmental causes, such as childhood vaccines. Teri will also ask about how to remediate existing damage and prevent damage in the future. Please visit:

The Real World of Autism with
Chantal Sicile-Kira

1:30 pm ET

      Guest: Dr. Temple Grandin, Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University and author Topic: Autism Life Skills: Pursuing Interests (Having Fun) Join Temple and Chantal as they discuss the importance of allowing children on the spectrum to pursue the interests that they are passionate about. Using these interests to teach other concepts, turning their passion into a moneymaker or job for them, and the importance of mentors are issues Temple feels strongly about. Temple is the author of Thinking in Pictures, Developing Talents, Animals in Translation and The Way I See It.


Smoke and Mirrors: Dr Richard Horton and the Wakefield Affair

      By John Stone on Age of Autism.

      If we knew then what we know now we certainly would not have published the part of the paper which related to MMR, although I do believe there was and remains validity to the connection between bowel disease and autism.
      From the moment Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, spoke these words on the BBC evening news of Friday 20 February 2004 Andrew Wakefields career lay in tatters. For six years Horton and the Lancet had been under pressure over his decision to publish in February 1998 an early report Ileal-lymphoid-nodular-hyperplasia, non-specific colitis and autism in children of which Wakefield - a senior researcher at the Royal Free Hospital in London - was lead author. At publication time Wakefield was already an author of more than a hundred peer review publications, but none before or since attracted the attention of this one. The paper, a series study of 12 consecutively referred cases, related to a sub-group children who had suffered adverse reactions to MMR vaccine, and hypothesised but did not confirm a connection between their symptoms and the vaccination.
      Nevertheless, by implication the study struck at the heart of public health policy: the Royal Free Medical School called a press conference, and there was instant controversy. The British government and medical establishment never forgave Wakefield. They werent that happy with Horton either, and he knew it.
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      Note: The opinions expressed in COMMENTARY are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Schafer Autism Report.

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