THE CAN IS OPENED
When the guest line up for the show was announced, it became clear that the episode was not going to focus on cause or controversial treatments, but rather on the challenges of raising autistic children; in other words, it was to be yet another attempt at raising “awareness.” But one of the guests was to be Katie Wright-Hildebrand, which fueled speculation that something just might get uttered that is usually missing from mainstream media: the “v” word.
As most of us are aware, Katie (who has just about become a one-namer in autism circles) is the daughter of former NBC head, Bob Wright. After Katie’s son, Christian, was diagnosed with autism Bob and Suzanne Wright founded Autism Speaks, which has rapidly become the Pac Man of autism organizations, swallowing up other organizations in its path. Although it would be nice to have a single organization that would have a broad-enough outlook to be a clearinghouse, many of us feel that AS does not speak for us. Indeed, mistrust of AS seems to be one of the only views held in common by members of the neurodiversity and biomedical communities.
In any event, it has been the most open of secrets that Katie and her husband, Andreas Hildebrand, believe that vaccinations may have helped trigger their son’s autism, and that they were utilizing biomedical treatments to treat him. Those views do not seem to fit in neatly with the official AS party line, and Katie did not say much about the issue when making any appearances. Lately, however, there were a few rumblings that came close to being public pronouncements. Then came word that Katie was joining the boards of both the National Autism Association and SafeMinds, two organizations that generally share Katie’s opinions on vaccine damage and effective treatments. Those developments fueled anticipation of Katie’s appearance on Oprah, and one question hovered all over the net: would she say it.
I got the call at work. My wife happened to be home and was able to watch the show. My wife was nearly in tears with excitement as her words came over the phone: “She said it!”
It almost didn’t get said. And as we later learned, it would not have been said if the producers had their way. But in the front of the audience, being used as a resource, was Dr. Anshu Batra, and Oprak asked her about causation. While the doctor (reluctantly it appeared) agreed that “environmental” causes may play a role in causation, she flat-out stated that science “has refuted” any connection with vaccines. Dr. Batra didn’t say that “official” reports (fatally flawed reports at that) failed to find a connection, which would have been more accurate but les dramatic; she said it in away to create the impression the connection had been disproved.
And the rest, as they say, is history. Katie asked, and Oprah let her “open the can.” See for yourself the video showing how it all happened here. The go here to Ginger’s blog to read what was said that didn’t make it onto the air.