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Congressional Hearing on Autism—From the Awesome to the Ignorance and Outright Lies

Dr. Alan Guttmacher, from the National Institute of Health, attempts to minimize the role vaccines play in autism during a congressional hearing.

I had originally planned to attend the congressional hearing on autism that was held November 29, 2012. At the last minute, something came up, and I wasn’t able to go. I was so disappointed, I couldn’t think about it without crying. But I ended up watching it live on www.c-span.org, which turned out to be a great experience. As I posted my thoughts on Facebook, I felt like I was at the hearing—only I was able to “chat” nonstop with all my friends in the autism community the entire time. We shared quotes, opinions, and plenty of emotion. We were outraged, in pain, and ecstatic.

I took notes throughout, jotting down a slew of unbelievable ignorance and outright lies combined with words of passion, brilliance, and truth. All amidst eye rolling and head shaking from Katie Wright and others in the audience.

There are already dozens of incredible articles on the Internet covering the hearing, so I won’t give a blow-by-blow account with specific quotes. I’ll just provide the gist of things—from the awesome to the ignorance and outright lies. (I apologize if I use exact quotes without giving credit—I’m writing from my notes.)

THE AWESOME

Congress

The first panel consisted of the Members of Congress. They were prepared and had clearly done their homework. Their questions and persistence and compassion were amazing. They asked tough questions that needed to be answered. They demanded that proof be submitted to the permanent record. Here are some of their questions:

Mercury is a toxin. Why has it never been tested?

If pregnant women are told not to eat fish with mercury, how can it be safe to inject it into the mom and/or the baby?

What is the cumulative effect of the mercury in all those shots?

The FDA has admitted that there’s no conclusive evidence that mercury causes neurological damage. Since that means there is some doubt, why not err on the side of safety and remove it from all vaccines?

Why is mercury still in multiple-vial shots? Why can’t single vials be used?

If mercury is so safe, why was it taken out of all but a few vaccines?

Why so many shots in one day? Sometimes 9 at a time. Kids used to get 3, if that. Why are there more than 40 now?

Why not spread out the shots, giving only one at a time, until more evidence is in?

Why not test the safety of giving multiple shots in the same day?

How about comparing families who have children with autism with families who don’t?

Where is the study of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children?

Is anyone looking at the geographic disparities?

What about finding treatments that are effective?

Where’s the accountability for the autism epidemic?

What about the “integrity” of Dr. Poul Thorsen, who was involved in 21 of the CDC’s 24 vaccine studies?

Where did the law shielding vaccine manufacturers from lawsuits originate?

What will it take to develop a comprehensive national strategy to make things better?

What about improved coordination among federal agencies?

Why are things getting worse and worse in spite of everything that’s being done?

How do we effectively and efficiently use our energy and our passion to get something done? We’re looking into causes, etc., but the people in this room need help right now.

Why aren’t you listening to the families and focusing on what they are telling you and what they need? There is too much parental evidence of the same story over and over—my child was normal and healthy, then got vaccines and changed overnight.

Autism is a public health crisis. Why isn’t it on the front burner of the CDC every day?

We’ve been at this for more than a decade. We’ve spent huge amounts of money. The 1 in 88 number is terrible. From 1 in 10,000 [in the 1960s] to 1 in 88 today. We don’t want to hear about better detection. It can’t account for these numbers. It’s common sense—our kids are overvaccinated.

Advocates

The second panel, with representatives from groups like SafeMinds and the Autism Society, were outspoken and also persistent. And they were just plain right. Truth and personal experience were on their side.

Autism is very serious. It’s a public health crisis of historic proportions that is devastating an entire generation of children and their families.

Autism must be a priority.

Stop wasting money on the autism gene hunt.

The increase is not about better diagnosis. The increase is about more autism. Just a few years ago, adults with autism rarely existed. No one can find them, although they have looked. On the other hand, you don’t have to look far to find a child with autism.

Let’s look at the great unmentionables—vaccines and mercury—to find a plausible explanation for the increase in autism.

How about studying the total health outcomes of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children?

The CDC uses statistical trickery in their studies. They cover up what they don’t want us to know.

People with autism need more services. Children need, among other things, ABA therapy in their homes and better educational strategies. Adults who age out of the system must have help preparing for the rest of their lives, to improve their quality of life and their opportunities for employment, schooling, and housing.

Medical professionals need continuing education.

This country must have a national strategic plan, including an autism advisory committee and an IACC that won’t miss the mark.

We need accountability for the NIH and CDC as well as the Combating Autism Act funding. The failures, waste, and fraud need to be rooted out.

THE IGNORANCE AND OUTRIGHT LIES

The two federal representatives—Coleen Boyle from the CDC and Alan Guttmacher from the NIH—left me speechless at times, screaming at others. Unlike Congress and the advocates, they were completely unprepared and uninformed. They went on and on about better diagnosis and early detection and ridiculous potential causes. Worse, they were evasive and lied under oath. How the families sat there with their mouths shut, I’ll never know.

Basically, here’s what Dr. Boyle and Dr. Guttmacher said:

We’ve come a long way in the field of autism.

It’s a national health priority.

The numbers have increased due to better diagnosis and increased recognition.

There have been numerous studies—and there are others in progress—to determine what accounts for the increase.

Surveillance tracking has been done in 12 states.

A lot of money has been spent for things like early detection in babies as young as 6 months old.

We’re working on a 5-minute questionnaire that will diagnosis autism as early as 1 year of age.

No one knows the cause, although car emissions and the age of the mother when pregnant could be to blame.

More research is needed before, during, and after pregnancy.

We don’t know how to prevent it, so we should focus on a cure.

The IACC has tools in place to identify best practices and risk factors and improve the lives of those with autism.

Lives—not to mention money—have been saved because of vaccines.

Mercury was removed from all vaccines in 2001.

Since mercury is safe, we don’t know why it was removed from most shots, but we’ll look into it and get back to you.

We don’t know how many multi-vial vaccines still contain mercury.

The reason so many shots are given at the same time is to make sure all kids get them. They use the opportunity to make sure it happens.

Forty is a little high for the number of shots. I don’t think children get that many.

All the vaccines and the schedule have been perfectly thought out by experts.

There is a body of evidence that shows no relation between vaccines and autism.

Vaccines have been proven safe in study after study.

It’s a puzzle—we’re putting the pieces together.

NOW WHAT?

We know that the NIH and CDC have fallen way short in recognizing, let alone fixing, this autism epidemic. They’ve proven that time and time again. But Congress is listening. They understand that autism is an emergency, that it’s not genetic, that something is terribly wrong. Most important, something must be done. At the hearing, they didn’t let Boyle and Guttmacher drop the ball. They demanded answers. For the first time, they talked about vaccines.

Call the congressmen on the panel and express your appreciation. Thank you, Christine Zichittella-Heeren, for compiling a list of their names and phone numbers and allowing me to share it.

Rep. Darrell E. Issa (CA-49) Chairman (202) 225-3906
Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD-7) Ranking Member (202) 225-4741
Rep. Dan Burton (IN-05) (202) 225-2276
Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ-1) (202) 225-2315
Rep. Pat Meehan (PA-7) (202) 225-2011
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14) (202) 225-7944
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) (202) 225-8050
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH-10) (202) 225-5871
Rep. John Tierney (MA-6) (202) 225-8020
Rep. Danny Davis (IL-7) (202) 225-5006
Rep. John Yarmuth (KY-3) (202) 225-5401
Rep. Jim Matheson (UT-2) (202) 225-3011
Rep. Vern Buchanan (FL-13) (202) 225-5015
Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-4) (202) 225-3765
Rep. Bill Posey (FL-15) (202) 225-3671
Rep. Mike Kelly (PA-3) (202) 225-5406

Ask them to stay on this issue. To make a change before things get any worse. Here are some ideas.

Help for victims. Talk to parents and advocacy groups who know better than anyone the challenges families of children with autism face. Parents who watched their children change after a vaccine, who KNOW what caused the autism, who know what their kids need and what treatments are working. These families need insurance coverage for successful therapies and, if they have no insurance, they need affordable or free therapies. They need respite services. The children need better treatments and educational accommodations. Adults with autism who have already aged out of the system, or soon will, desperately need help with schooling, employment, and housing.

Unbiased scientific studies. Stop the studies on gene research. Start looking for the environmental causes of autism, including vaccines. Studies of every ingredient in each vaccine as well as the combination of ingredients and multiple vaccines. Their side effects. Their success and failure rates. Their necessity. The vaccine schedule. Vaccinated versus unvaccinated children. Studies of biomedical and other treatments for autism. Make sure the people doing the studies don’t have a financial interest in the outcome. That rules out vaccine manufacturers or anyone else associated with Big Pharma. We need studies conducted by those who will report the truth and not skew the statistics to their advantage.

Agency accountability and objectivity. When Obama ran for president 4 years ago, he called himself the Autism President. He promised all kinds of things, including insurance coverage for therapies, a federal government position responsible for autism policy, and increased funding. He hasn’t kept those promises. During this year’s campaign, he said, “Autism is an enormous issue and I have a plan.” What plan? Things are worse now than they were 4 years ago. President Obama needs to be held accountable. The NIH and CDC, as well as all agencies involved with autism, also need to be accountable. They have failed our children and their families. They are uneducated about autism. These groups need a complete overhaul. Their members cannot have a financial interest in vaccines. This means no Dr. Offit on the IOM. It means the IACC can’t have members who are connected to the AAP or CDC, are former pharmaceutical company employees, or are members of an autism organization funded by vaccine manufacturers. [I don’t think these last few points were raised at the hearing, but they should have been.]

Injury compensation. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program needs to do what it was intended to do, and that is to compensate families who have vaccine-injured children. Make the process simpler and more accessible. Make it work. And stop protecting vaccine manufacturers from liability. They know what they’re doing. They’re making big bucks off their products. They owe our children and their families for the damage they have caused.

Civil rights protection. All states must have school vaccine exemptions (medical, religious, and philosophical). Parents need to be informed of their right to say no to vaccines and not be made to jump through hoops to make choices to protect their children.

Education. It’s clear that federal agencies such as the NIH and CDC are ignorant when it comes to vaccines. The same can be said for pediatricians and other medical professionals. Whether willfully or blindly, they are ignorant. They need to be taught how to dissect “studies” claiming vaccine safety. They need to follow the money, as parents who have concerns about vaccines do. The VAERS is available. It needs to be used. It’s estimated that only about 1% of reactions are reported. Doctors must be required to not only recognize adverse reactions to vaccines but to REPORT them. And this must be taken a step further. The information in VAERS should be analyzed and the results published. Parents, too, need education. As with other pharmaceuticals, they should know every possible side effect of every vaccine that is injected into their children. In other words, informed consent.

Vaccine restrictions. Today’s children receive 49 doses of vaccines before kindergarten, with some getting 9 doses in one doctor’s visit. As the hearing participants pointed out, there is no reason why the shots can’t be spread out and given in single-vial doses. A committee of true vaccine experts could determine which vaccines—if any—are necessary and safe and the safest way—if there is one—to administer them. At this moment, more than 300 new vaccines are in development. The money and time spent on most of these is a waste and should be stopped immediately.

Media. An investigation into financial donations to various media outlets needs to be conducted. It will no doubt expose large contributions from both Big Pharma as well as the political arena, which will explain the lack of coverage on what should be breaking news when it comes to autism. For instance, with the exception of C-SPAN, Fox 5, and The Examiner, who else covered the congressional hearing?

Consequences. Are there consequences for knowingly, willingly pushing toxin-filled vaccines that have no objective, scientific safety studies behind them? Who is going to be forced to pay for the damage? What is the consequence for fraud? For the cover-up? For lying under oath before Congress? The guilty should face criminal charges and be punished for their part in this country’s deplorable vaccine program.

LET’S KEEP THE MOMENTUM GOING

The congressional hearing on autism was a historic event. We deserve to bask in that knowledge. But let’s not stop talking and writing and demanding change. We still have a lot of work to do.

If you missed the hearing, you can watch it at www.c-span.org/Events/Lawmakers-Look-into-Federal-Response-to-Rising-Rates-of-Autism/10737436113-1/. And pass the link onto your family, friends, coworkers, and anyone who will listen. They need to hear the truth as it’s never been told before with such magnitude.

 

 

Jennifer Hutchinson
 

Jennifer Hutchinson is a freelance editor and writer. She has devoted the last few years to helping Jake recover, researching autism and vaccines, and sharing what she knows with others. She lives in Winchester, Virginia, with Ann and Jake.