Sunday, February 25, 2007


Doesn’t it seem like we’re seeing a whole lot of media coverage over the new CDC numbers, and the slant of these stories is always to buy into (and sell) the absurd notion that the medical profession has just gotten a lot better at diagnosing autism. Apparently, a lot of people would rather spread that one because they can’t ⎯ or won’t ⎯ offer any more logical explanation.

Anne McElroy Dachel has written a new op-ed piece on The Really Big Lie About Autism.
Now it seems that the CDC is on a par with the medical community with the news about this new autism rate. Not only are doctors better at diagnosing, but also CDC officials are better at counting.

Incredibly, the CDC still cannot say with any certainty that autism is actually affecting more children despite all the autistic kids everywhere. The CDC has been studying autism numbers for more than ten years, yet they don't know if it's more prevalent.

Dr. Gerberding explained it this way, “We can't yet tell if there is a true increase in ASDs or if the changes are the result of our better studies.”

The CDC still can’t tell? This agency gets billions of tax dollars each year to run health care in the U.S. They can give us statistics on any other disorder or disease broken down by age, sex, and ethnicity, including changes in the incidence rate--except autism. The study’s lead author, Dr. Catherine Rice, made it clear that nothing in her research can tell us about trends. “We hope these findings will build awareness,” Rice said.
Well, I’m about as aware as I want to be.

Like Ms. Dachel, I’ve had enough of the recent wave of “experts” telling us that we’ve always had this many autistic kids. Yet that point of view doesn’t seem to lack for champions in the media. The recent 20/20 piece didn’t even pretend to offer any objectivity, and turned to kindly Doc Offit for a little wit and wisdom (well, zero out of two ain’t bad, or at least it seems to play in some quarters).

Go here to take a look at the complete piece by Ms. Dachel.


I followed a link at Ballastexistenz that should make everyone angry. For any of you that live in the San Diego area, please read this before you go dining. And for all the rest of you, read it and understand that no matter how any of us feel about “cause,” “cure” or any of the other hot-button issues, this is the crap we all have to fight.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


There’s an old saying New Orleanians use on Mardi Gras: everywhere else, it’s just Tuesday. The reality of that struck home today because for the first time in my life, I had to go to work on Fat Tuesday.

Leaving what was our home for a lifetime was easy in so many ways, and difficult in others. We left behind an environmental mess and substandard services (a prime factor in our decision). We left behind the ingrained laissez faire attitude of a people that manages to be both charming and maddening at the same time.

Most of what we loved, we brought with us: the food, the music (albeit not as readily available), and the cultural difference that defines New Orleans that lives deep within the soul. But dammit, it’s hard to really celebrate Mardi Gras without being on St. Charles Avenue holding our hands up for trinkets that soon get thrown into the attic and forgotten.

We managed to score a little King Cake, but it’s not the same when we’re eating it in a “foreign land,” even one we’ve come to love. I just feel guilty about breaking my diet (not that it stops me any more here than it did in New Orleans).

The fact is, we’ve left New Orleans for good, but New Orleans will never leave us.

All day long, I’ve found myself humming “If Ever I Cease to Love,” the 19th Century novelty song that improbably came to be the official anthem of Mardi Gras. All of a sudden, the song’s lyrics that always seemed insanely silly now make sense.
May the fish get legs and the cows lay eggs
If ever I cease to love
May all dogs wag their tails in front
If ever I cease to love

If ever I cease to love
If ever I cease to love
May the moon be turned to green cream cheese
If ever I cease to love
Sometimes love can be awfully silly, and it makes no logical sense. And anyone who has ever lived in New Orleans can tell you, love for that place won’t cease.

Friday, February 16, 2007


Kim Stagliano is rapidly becoming one of my favorite writers. It’s not just because we agree on a lot of things, although I do. And it’s more than a good, crisp, and clear writing style. I think it’s mainly because she manages to tell so much of the story every time she posts to her blog or to the Huffington Post, where she’s a frequent contributor to the “Fearless Voices” series.

She doesn’t just talk about the problems associated with an autistic child; she captures the whole world ⎯ the pain, anger and the frustration to be sure, but also the humor and the joy.

When she takes on the issues, she makes sense. Take a look at her latest post on the HoffPo: The Expanding Vocabulary of the Autism Mom, wherein she dares to use the word that the media seems to go to great length to avoid: “cause.”

Of course, if you’re the sort that wishes to ignore the obvious and blissfully proclaim that there has been no change in the incidence of diagnosable autism, then Ms. Stagliano is probably not for you. But then, it’s awfully hard to read when your head is buried in sand.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Okay, I've been away from blogging for awhile; life has a nasty way of impeding thing I want to do. I'm working on some posts in the near future, but in the mean time, I thought I'd pass on this news release from the National Autism Association.

National Autism Association Renews Call for CDC to Declare Autism a National Emergency

CDC Study Finds One in 150 Children Now Diagnosed with Autism

NIXA, Mo., Feb. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ ⎯ The National Autism Association (NAA) today is asking again for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to treat the epidemic of autism among children as a national emergency following the release of the agency’s latest study claiming a new diagnosis rate of one in 150.

“While it's nice that the CDC has shared these findings with the public, they must move forward with a plan to treat the children suffering with autism now,” said NAA board chair Claire Bothwell. “This agency has yet to answer the question, ‘Why are so many children sick?’ If this were an epidemic of practically any other disease among the children of this country, they would have long since investigated how it could have happened and made earnest attempts to find treatments.”

Citing the impossibility of an epidemic occurring as a result of genetics alone, the organization is repeating earlier requests for federally-funded research into relevant environmental triggers, including vaccines and the mercury-containing vaccine preservative thimerosal. “After this latest study, the CDC cannot continue to sweep unpopular factors in this epidemic under the rug, including vaccines and thimerosal. The future of a sizeable portion of an entire generation of children is at risk. Without effective treatments, taxpayers will soon bear the burden of care, estimated at over $3 million per individual,” commented Ms. Bothwell.

NAA has been critical of the CDC’s research emphasis on counting affected children, rather than addressing causation. With the passage of the Combating Autism Act in December of last year, Congress has called for research into environmental factors including vaccines and their components. “This latest study underscores the need for this type of research to take top priority. Perhaps this time, the CDC’s own numbers will finally drive the point home that this is an emergency and should be treated as such,” commented Ann Brasher, NAA vice president. “The one in 150 children they counted need research that can help them recover and reach their full potential in life. Time is of the essence.”

For more information, visit