Thursday, August 11, 2005

READER RESPONSE -- Thanks for ruining my summer Craig Westover!

Posted by Craig Westover | 3:05 PM |  

I have to admit, that title on an email I received yesterday made me more than a little nervous, but after I read it, well, it made my day.
Dear Mr. Westover,

Yes in fact, you have ruined my summer, but I am thanking you for it. I was looking forward to a relaxing Minnesota summer with my 3 kids until I read your June column "Don't allow partisanship to muddy autism discussion". From that day on, my life has changed. One of my children is a 4-year-old boy with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). I'd heard of the thimerosal-autism link before, but always dismissed it because I believed the FDA/CDC. After all, they are scientists and I am a scientist. Before I decided to stay home with my children, I worked with FDA regulations for medical devices and I have degrees in biology and chemistry. So when I saw your column, speaking to the "science" of the thimerosal issue, a spark was lit. I started reading and haven't stopped.

I read the RFK Jr. article "Deadly Immunity", David Kirby's book "Evidence of Harm, Lisa Lewis's book "Special Diets for Special Kids", Karyn Seroussi's book "Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Development Disorders", Jaquelyn McCandless book, "Children with Starving Brains" and probably a hundred related articles. Daily, I'm on several yahoo message boards including Evidence of Harm. I have quickly become educated on the topic.

Reason being, my son had been in traditional therapy for the past 2 years without much progress. His main issue is speech delay and since he was 2 years old, he was consistently 18 months behind in speech. He also had Sensory Integration Disorder, and several characteristics of autism and ADHD. He was born and continued to struggle with gastrointestinal issues. This all changed this summer thanks to you Mr. Westover!

Shortly after I began studying the thimerosal-autism theory, I located Dr. Mayfield, a DAN! (Defeat Autism Now!) doctor in Bloomington. He is a Chiropractor Physician and Certified Clinical Nutritionist who has been treating children nutritionally with this disorder for many years. He thought my son had a good chance for improvement because I received several thimerosal containing Rhogam shots while pregnant with my son and my son's vaccinations contained thimerosal (he was born in June 2001 and I have documented proof). He first started a gluten (wheat plus) free and casein (dairy) free diet and then started on 11 over the counter nutritional supplements. My husband and I immediately noticed a positive change in our son. So did all of the other people who know him. His gastrointestinal issues disappeared, he was immediately potty trained, he was less hyperactive, he was much less sensitive to sensory over-stimulation, his attention span dramatically increased and his verbal communication drastically changed. I could go on and on.

His private speech therapist was shocked at how quickly our son changed. After a month on the diet and supplements, his speech was reevaluated and our son was just 13 months behind in speech! His therapist said he would no longer classify him as ASD, but rather having an articulation problem and very energetic. We plan to pursue chelation therapy with Dr. Mayfield and are optimistic we will continue to see positive results in our son.

I use most every opportunity I have to "educate" family, friends, neighbors and even strangers on the thimerosal-autism theory and use my son as evidence. I also carry also articles to share with anyone interested. People in the Twin Cities have mixed reactions to my "we are doing biomedical treatments with my son to removed the mercury he received in his childhood vaccinations and are seeing big improvements". Some people are shocked and want to learn more because they know someone with an ASD child and some people try to refute with the FDA/CDC's findings. I think the more these people see and hear proof of the theory, the more they will believe. After all, I didn't believe it until I spent 15 minutes looking into it.

I read your "Thimerosal and autism" blog and "Thimerosal issue hit the radar screen" column and want to thank you for being such a clear thinker and excellent writer with this issue. Your talents reach out to many people, myself included.

Heather O'Brien
Heather defies characterization as a “desperate, anti-vaccine” parent. Despite having a child on the autism spectrum, she was skeptical of the thimerosal-autism connection. She is a scientist. She has ties to the FDA. So when a person like Heather looks at the evidence and sees harm, it’s worth taking note. One wonders how many other children might be helped if government more forthrightly addressed the issue.

You see, there’s also a dark side of Heather’s email. In addition to people like Heather with the knowledge and the time, the will and the resources to do the in-depth research and find reputable help for their children as she did, there are other, truly desperate parents, that for lack of knowledge are potential prey for medical charlatans and even well-intentioned but ill-informed pediatricians and family doctors. And they are out there.

That’s why this story is so important. That’s why it is necessary for government health agencies to not simply insist there is no evidence of harm; it is necessary for government to investigate the plausibility and growing body of evidence of harm caused by mercury in vaccines. Protecting citizens, not protecting itself, is the primary function of government.

My thanks to Heather for not just making my day, but also for sharing an experience that might “ruin” some other parent’s fall or winter.

[For those interested in DAN -- Defeat Autism Now -- biomedical approaches to treating children diagnosed with autistic symptoms, background information is available here. A free web cast of presentations from DAN conference speakers is found here. I have viewed many, but not all of these presentations.

Based on that and other research and conversations with parents having more association with DAN than I have, I consider the organization a reliable source of information. However, be advised -- biomedical treatment of autism, whether dietary or chelation (removal of heavy metals from body tissue), is controversial. It can also be an extremely difficult, time-consuming and physically trying treatment. There are risks. Biomedical treatment is not something to be considered lightly, experimented with based on simply doing Internet research or even taken on if one is not 100 percent confident in one’s physician. Again, that’s why there is a need for government health agencies to become actively involved in evaluation of biomedical approaches to diagnosed cases of autism.]

Update: Brief, but well-balanced news report on biomedical treatment of autism.