the smallest number of new cases of pro- fessionally diagnosed DSM IV
Mental Retardation, Cerebral Palsy, and Epilepsy. The Quarterly Reports
do not include children between the ages of 0 to 3 years old. Children
between 0 and 3 are placed in the Early Start Program and accounted for
in that section of California's developmental services system.
82% of all new autism intakes first enter the system by age 6 years
old, 90% are there by age 10, and 99% have entered by age 15.
California's autism epidemic now
accounts for 57% of all the new intakes, and is the fastest growing
disability in California's system.
At the beginning of 1988, some 17 short years ago,
there were 2,778 cases of autism in California's developmental services
system. Today there are 27,312
Today there are 27,312.
Today, California is adding on average eight new children a day, seven
days a week, with professionally diagnosed DSM IV full syndrome autism
to it's system. 80%, or 8 out of 10, of all persons
with autism in California's
are between the ages
of 3 and 17 years old. The staggering tidal wave of young children is
unique to the autism population and is not evident in any other
eligible disability except autism.
Know Whom To Trust On Vaccinations
By Anne Michaud for the Tribune-Review,
So many parents are worried today about
the side-effects of vaccinations, and many more are likely to be
A book released at the start of this
month, "Evidence of Harm" by David Kirby, raises questions about the
controversial link between autism and mercury in childhood vaccines.
Besides the mercury-autism link, parents
question the benefits of the hepatitis B vaccine, which is administered
three times before the age of 18 months. The risk of an adverse
reaction from the vaccine -- hospitalization or death -- is roughly the
same as the lifetime risk of contracting the disease. Does it seem
right, on balance, to put your child's life at risk when he or she
could be hit by a car long before sharing an infected needle? Some 26
vaccinations are recommended for children before age 2, and while
doctors keep telling us they are safe, more parents (and doctors) are
fighting for the right to decline vaccinations and still
in school, day care centers and summer camps.
The debate reflects our fears of polio
and smallpox receding into history, even while our confidence in
medical professionals and science plummets. What parent believes it's
an acceptable risk that his or her 2-year-old could be brain
damaged by a DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) shot -- as was the
son of the founder of the National Vaccine Information Center, Barbara
Loe Fisher? Has anyone worried about their kid contracting diphtheria
for a good three generations or more? As our fear of these diseases
recedes, as vaccines bring the illnesses under control, what we fear
more are the pharmaceuticals themselves.
Alison Fujito of McCandless, a member of
the parenthood panel, which contributes to this column, has a mild form
of autism known as Asperger's syndrome. She lives with the torment that
a vaccine could have contributed to his condition. The past 40 years
have witnessed a rise in mass-vaccination policy in the United States,
along with a skyrocketing of autism cases to where 1 in 500 children
Alison points out that mercury that was
formerly present in nearly all childhood vaccines -- and can now still
be found in flu and chicken pox shots -- has been proven to
the nervous systems of young children, even babies in the womb.
"Look up acrodynia, a condition written
about in the early 1900s
that sounds exactly like autism and was shown to be caused by teething
powder containing mercury," Alison writes. "The disease disappeared
when the teething powder was taken off the market."
Medical authorities make mistakes. The rotavirus vaccine, to
severe diarrhea, was introduced in August 1998 and withdrawn less than
a year later, when it appeared to cause bowel obstructions. Thimerosal,
a preservative in many vaccines, has been removed because it is
suspected of causing mercury poisoning in infants. Although a link
between thimerosal and autism has been disproved in many studies, other
studies say the link is real, and Congress has held hearings on the
While medical researchers may find a
risk of 1 in 100 acceptable -- or 1 in 1 million -- how can that 1
millionth parent rationalize the risk? Don't the elimination of the
rotavirus vaccine and thimerosal demonstrate that immunization policy
In this environment, I think parents should have a right to
refuse vaccines. Another parenthood panel member, Sue MacDonald of
Cincinnati, a journalist who writes about health issues, says that some
worth having than others. For example, she says, chickenpox
means a week of sickness without the vaccine. With it, a child can be
sick for five to six days.
"Bottom line," Sue writes, "is it's more
income for the drug company and not much health benefit for society."
Another panel member, Donna Wright of
Gibsonia, says that
alternative health professionals are willing to write letters exempting
children from school requirements for vaccines. Presumably, this works
for day care and summer camp as well.
It's a lot to ask of parents that we
second-guess the medical
community. But we have learned to be suspicious. Scientific assessments
of acceptable risk don't play well when your child's life is in your
hands. It's a lot easier to sign a waiver before surgery saying you
know you might die, as an adult, than to sign over that same
responsibility for your child.
A newswire story about the Kirby book
recommended that anyone
with questions visit the Web site www.immunizationinfo.org. So, I did.
It is reassuring, but in such a naïve way that I just had to
site, sponsored by the National Network for Immunization Information,
says it is backed by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the
Pediatric Infectious Diseases
Society and a host
of other mainstream
medical organizations. The naivete of the site is that many of us don't
take mainstream medical advice at face value any more.
Too bad. The
organization's Web site is quite comforting. All that's required is
that we trust the authors.
* * *
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What Not To Feed Your
The bad mood diet of sugary drinks and E-additives
[This information is for our readers'
information only and not intended as a recommendation.]
Hydrogenated and trans fats
May cause: Dyslexia, dyspraxia, learning
Where they are found: Cakes, pastries,
biscuits, bread, margarine, snacks (such as popcorn), commercially
fried foods - including some French fries and hamburgers.
What they do: Unlike the liquid omega-3
fatty acids lacking in most children's diets, these solid man-made fats
have been shown in animal studies to make the brain membrane less fluid
- and there is good evidence that they alter the signalling ability of
neurotransmitters or chemical messengers. Some scientists believe the
wrong kinds of fat in the diet may be a factor in dyslexia, dyspraxia
(the inability to plan and execute actions, including communication),
autism and ADHD - though few studies support this. 'Children are
replacing essential fats that would make their bodies and brains work
properly with ones that are clogging up the machinery,' says Dr Alex
Richardson. Hydrogenated fats often contain trans fats, acknowledged by
the FSA and others to raise 'bad' cholesterol and increase the risk of
heart disease. In 1993, Flora reduced the hydrogenated fat content of
its margarine from 21 per cent to 1 per cent (the label says 'virtually
trans fat free'); others have been slow to follow.
May cause: Irritability, depression,
antisocial behaviour, aggression, low IQ, reduced sense of smell and
taste (affecting appreciation of healthy food).
Where they are found: Products made from
processed white flour (white bread and pasta), cereals, crisps and
What they do: It isn't so much what they
do as what they don't. A diet high in refined carbs is likely to be low
in selenium (a deficiency linked to irritability and depression),
chromium (essential for blood-sugar control), zinc, iron and B
vitamins. Deficiency in the last three was implicated in a 14-year
study concluded last year, examining the links between childhood diet
and antisocial behaviour as teenagers. Compared to those with a healthy
diet, malnourished children showed a 51 per cent rise in aggression at
17. According to Professor Adrian Raine of the University of Southern
California, 'Poor nutrition characterised by zinc, iron, vitamin B and
protein deficiencies leads to low IQ, which leads to later antisocial
behaviour. These are all nutrients linked to brain development.'
Similar conclusions were drawn from a 2002 study
of young offenders at
Aylesbury prison, whose diet was supplemented with vitamins and
essential fatty acids. Antisocial
by 35 per cent. In a
study at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, children who ate
the most refined carbs had IQs 25 points lower than those who ate the
May cause: Mood swings, hyperactivity,
Where they are found: Sugary drinks,
sweets, coated breakfast cereals, chocolate (in which sugar is often
number two in the ingredients, after milk).
What they do: As a fast-acting
carbohydrate, sugar is claimed by some to boost blood-sugar levels and
create a surge of energy and an upbeat mood - though the sugar industry
(see main story) denies any link between sugar and 'hyperactivity or
any other type of "bad behaviour" or learning difficulties.' However,
its 'empty calories' contribute nothing in terms of nutrition. 'If
children slurp cans of surgary drinks on the way to school,' says Dr
Richardson, 'it puts them on an artificial high in terms of brain
function, but that stimulates the release of too much insulin which
causes blood-sugar levels to plummet. In a short time, their
in a fog. They can't concentrate, they're irritable and find it hard to
hold on to stable emotional reactions.' So far, evidence
largely anecdotal: many parents, teachers, nutritionists and some
scientists insist there is a link.
May cause: Hyperactivity, tantrums.
Where they are found: Crisps, snacks,
sweets and drinks, particularly those with an orange or yellow colour.
About 40 per cent of products aimed at children contain chemical
additives, according to the Food Commission (which lobbies for a
healthier diet for children). Among those claimed to influence
behaviour are sunset yellow (E110), carmazoine (E122), ponceau 4R
(E124) and the preservative sodium benzoate (E211). MSG, a flavour
enhancer in snacks, is another. 'Glutamate is a brain stimulant in the
way it's given,' argues nutritionist Patrick Holford, 'because it
enhances sensory perception by making things taste better. Some
children react badly to it.' The FSA, while agreeing to commission more
research, says the evidence 'is inconclusive and remains an area of
What they do: Though described as
'sketchy' by the British Nutrition
Foundation and others, a Southampton University study in 2002 found
that a quarter of three-year-olds consuming E-additives in a drink
showed signs of hyperactivity and
(The study, finally
published in 2004, is described by Dr Alex Richardson as 'sound,
conducted by serious researchers, as impeccably as you could do a study
of that kind'.) On the Food Commission's dedicated website www.foodcomm.org.uk/parentsjury
dozens of parents have since
posted anecdotal evidence of behaviour changes in children who consumed
E-additives. All such additives are tested for safety and approved for
use in Britain.
High-GI (glycemic index)
May cause: Mood swings, lethargy,
Where they are found: Baguettes, bagels,
pizza, instant white rice, fries, instant mashed potato.
What they do: Like sugar, foods at the
top of the glycaemic index (which are broken down quickly and converted
into glucose) create a surge of energy and an elevated mood. When
insulin kicks in to deal with the sugar 'high', the opposite is felt.
High-GI foods are best avoided by diabetics. The link with mood is less
Stimulants May cause: Hyperactivity,
anxiety, cravings, insomnia, tiredness.
Where they are found: Fizzy drinks,
energy drinks, tea, coffee (caffeine).
What they do:
Stimulants alter mood and
- but the jury is out on whether the small amounts in
caffeinated drinks and food affect kids. In 2003, a study of 200 teens
in the US showed that those with a high caffeine intake were less
mentally alert - a claim disputed by the soft drinks industry.
Researchers found the average daily intake of caffeine was 63mg,
equivalent to half a cup of coffee.
* * *
What Your Children
The good mood diet for optimum health
Essential fatty acids
May help: Depression, dyslexia, ADHD,
Where they are found: Oily fish (salmon,
sardines, fresh tuna, mackerel), fish-oil supplements, seeds (flax,
hemp, sunflower, pumpkin) or their cold-pressed oils. Tinned tuna is a
poorer source but 'better than nothing', says Dr Alex Richardson, a
research fellow at the University Laboratory of Physiology, Oxford.
What they do: These are the building
blocks of good brain development, similar to
liquid fats - such as DHA and EPA - of which 65 per
the brain is composed. They keep the membrane flexible and allow brain
cells to signal efficiently. The main group are the omega-3s (found in
fish and seafood) followed by the omega-6s (seeds). 'We already have
too much omega-6 in our diet,' Dr Richardson reveals, 'so with
children, just get loads of omega-3s into them.'
May help: Mood swings, extreme
Where they are found: Porridge oats, oat
cakes, brown rice,
wholegrains (including wholegrain bread and pasta), beans, lentils,
quinoa and most fruit. 'The ideal good-mood cereal is whole oats,' says
nutritional therapist Deborah Colson, 'either as muesli or a porridge
with fresh fruit added for variety. The next best would be wholegrain
toast with an egg or some nut butter - protein food.' What they do:
When broken down by the body, these slow-burn carbohydrates produce an
even dispersal of glucose through the system - without the highs and
lows associated with refined carbohydrates (such as sugar and white
May help: Depression, impulse
low self-esteem, anxiety.
Where it is found: Turkey, chicken,
meat, fish, eggs, nuts
(especially walnuts), bananas, avocados, cottage cheese, beans, peas,
lentils and soya.
What it does: This 'good mood protein'
(an amino acid) is
converted by the body into serotonin, a hormone that elevates mood.
Some say the amounts are too small to have an effect, others that
tryptophan only works on an empty stomach. Eating slow-acting carbs
helps the body absorb tryptophan and convert it.
May help: ADHD, fidgeting,
hyperactivity, violent and antisocial
behaviour, poor attention span, irritability, insomnia, lowered IQ.
Where they are found: Green leafy
vegetables, nuts and
wholegrains for magnesium (ADHD, fidgeting); lean meat, liver, offal
and tinned oily fish for zinc and iron (nervous system, insulin
production); dairy produce, canned bony fish, tofu, egg yolk, pulses
and figs for calcium (nerves, cell membranes, sleep); Brazil nuts,
wheatgerm, molasses, liver, kidney, sunflower seeds, wholewheat bread
for selenium (irritability, depression); unrefined grains, mushrooms,
prunes, raisins, nuts and asparagus for
(blood sugar levels).
What they do: Among other things, they
are linked to healthy
brain development and IQ - which influence behaviour. Last month, the
Government revealed that all 496 schools participating in a national
healthy eating programme - with an emphasis on nutrition - achieved
better results in English, maths and science.
May help: Hyperactivity, aggression,
depression, poor attention, low IQ.
Where they are found: Citrus fruits,
berries and watercress for
vitamin C; fresh raw or cooked Brussels sprouts, asparagus, spinach,
kale, black-eye beans and yeast extract for B vitamins (folates), in
which most school meals are deficient.
What they do: According to the Food and
Mood Project, endorsed by
the mental health charity Mind, vitamins C and B are 'good mood
vitamins' essential for emotional and mental health. Studies have shown
that deficiency in essential vitamins can lead to antisocial behaviour.
May help: Mood swings, hyperactivity,
Where they are found: Oats,
noodles (ideally wholegrain), yams, carrots, baked beans, lentils,
dried apricots and other stoned fruits, fruits from temperate climates
What they do: Like complex
carbohydrates, they release glucose
slowly into the bloodstream and do not exert a yo-yo effect on
* * *
Illinois Bills coincide
with Autism Awareness Month
By Kirsten Singleton for the State
When 6-year-old Jonathan Cellini ran to
play touch football, it was a moment a long time in coming.
"My husband looked at me and said, 'Look
at that, Look at that. My God, look at where we've come,'" recalled
Jonathan's mother, Laura Cellini of Springfield.
Jonathan is autistic.
His mother joined other parents and
their children in lobbying legislators Wednesday for help in the fight
Gov. Rod Blagojevich has named April
Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn and Senate President
Emil Jones, D-Chicago,
both spoke during a morning news conference, backed by a number of
legislators, encouraging parents to keep fighting.
"People united cannot be defeated,"
Speakers made note of several bills they
* Senate Bill 1698 would create a
database of those identified as autistic, which supporters said would
* House Bill 18 would allow a tax
check-off to fund autism research.
* Senate Bill 3 would create the Giant
Steps Autism Center for
Excellence pilot program for the study and evaluation of autism.
* House Bill 1628 is aimed at reducing
the quantity of mercury in
the environment by removing mercury switches from vehicles before they
are scrapped. Proponents say mercury may be a factor in autism.
Chris Kennedy, legislative chairman of
the Autism Society of
Illinois, said autistic children such as his daughter can improve if
they have access to treatment.
"My daughter is able to look in my eyes
and call me 'Daddy,'"
Kennedy said, choking up. "And that is a remarkable thing for a
Brian Rubin has a 24-year-old autistic
son and said there are few services available for autistic adults.
"I'm fortunate enough because I'm vocal,
I'm involved. I can get
services for my kid. And, fortunately, I can afford to pay for those
services," Rubin said. "That's not true for most people in this state.
They don't have the knowledge that services are out there if they can
find them, and then they don't have the funds to pay. ... It's just not
[Thanks to Christopher Kennedy.}
* * *
Autism Bill Passes
Research Bill Passes Unanimously Days After Hundreds Rally in
From an announcement from the Autism
Society of Illinois
April 7, the Illinois Senate unanimously
passed the Autism
Reporting Act, Senate Bill 1698, sponsored by Sen. Terry Link (D-Lake
Bluff). The bill establishes a confidential database for medical
research into the causes and treatments of this complex neurological
disorder. Passage of the bill
just two days after hundreds of
families rallied in the Capitol in Springfield in support of autism
legislation and awareness.
Hundreds of parents, children, and over
a dozen autism
organizations led by the Autism Society of Illinois, held the first
ever Autism Lobby Day this past Wednesday to help raise awareness among
lawmakers of this baffling neurological disorder. Autism rates
skyrocketed in recent years and now affects 1 of every 166 children
born today. Researchers are baffled by the increase and its
"The Autism Reporting Act will help
scientists and researchers
study this complex disorder by pooling medical data on individuals with
autism right here in Illinois. This will focus cutting-edge
on our children and adults with autism, and bring research dollars to
our state," said chief sponsor Senator Terry Link. Doctors who
diagnose the condition and family members who wish to contribute data
will report information to the Department of Public Health, which will
also incorporate existing information from other Illinois departmental
databases. The information will be available only to qualified
researchers and will be kept confidential for all other purposes.
"One of the biggest obstacles to
scientific research into the
for autism is finding and collecting data to
study," said Christopher Kennedy, Legislative Chairman of the Autism
Society of Illinois and a parent of a young girl with autism.
bill will alleviate that problem and help establish Illinois as a
leader in autism research, which will benefit all of our
Kennedy also noted that the bill has the support of the two largest
private autism research foundations in the world, Cure Autism Now and
the National Alliance for Autism Research, and the largest autism
THE SCHAFER AUTISM REPORT
0 Canada's most read autism publication
0 United Kingdom's most read autism
A Calendar of Events makes sense.
0 The United
States' most read autism
* Whew! That's a pretty tall claim. Here are
details: ~200 editions, times 12 pages each, times ~20,000 circulation
48 million electronic pages per year.
in the world, the Autism Society of America.
Autism Lobby Day was organized by
Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn,
Representative Patricia Bellock (R-Westmont) and the Autism Society of
Illinois. Hundreds of families and representatives from over a
autism groups gathered for a press conference and rally in the Capitol.
* * *
Scare Tactics, Preying on
Please do not utilize outdated verified
bunk to prey on the emotional vulnerabilities of young parents, who are
having enough difficulties obtaining proper medical care to begin
with. Look at real statistics, and then try to defend any
position that discourages parents from obtaining vaccines.
I realize your argument is based on
belief systems rather than science, but in the real world, there is no
doubt that vaccinations have outpaced any other developments in
‘modern’ medicine. This frustrates those of us who are trying to
benefit children, rather than use scare tactics to harm them.
This is coming from a pediatrician who maintains healthy doses of
skepticism about medicine in
Just don’t scare poor young parents out
of making a decision
where benefits clearly, unquestionably, and overwhelmingly out weigh
any perceived risks.
- J. M. L.. MD, FAAP, Grosse Pointe
L. S. Responds: I assume the bunk you
are referring to is the
vaccine-mercury-autism connection. If you care to take the time
read David Kirby's Evidence of Harm you might come to appreciate how
the real statistics you refer to are contaminated with manipulation by
those who have sponsored and researched the data, by those who have far
more to protect than the reputations of vaccines -- like their
duplicity and iatrogenic negligence. You might also come to
the cold-hearted disregard government medical scientists and
practitioners such as yourself have for the ravage done to so many of
our children, our families .
I include you in here as
well as your letter says nothing about
autism, just as our public health agencies have done virtually nothing
to find the cause of its epidemic. You talk about scare
There is little
frightening than to see the protectors of our
public health and our private health turn away from the evidence of
harm before them out of self-protection disguised as high moral concern
over loss of herd immunity.
Doctor where is your healthy skepticism
when told by the FDA and
your own AAP that injecting mercury into babies is perfectly
What toxin would it have to be before your skepticism kicked in,
potassium cyanide? plutonium? Where is your concern for the benefit of
our autistic children and their siblings to come in all this?
It appears you may have lost what
you had where you lost your
skepticism. If I were a pediatrician, I would take care not
any more of my patients with vaccines that contain Thimerosal, if only
out of reasonable caution. If I were a heels-dug-in mercury
pediatrician, I would be praying that mercury in medicine is as safe as
my belief system and my pharma pocket protector says it is. The
science is not there. -Lenny Schafer
Dr. L's response, and more
letters, in tomorrow's Report. -ed.
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