Wednesday, February 25, 2009


By Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

On February 12, the federal "Vaccine Court" in Washington issued a sweeping ruling in three highly touted "test cases" against families who claimed that their childrens' autism had been caused by vaccines.
The Special Masters in those three cases found that Petitioners failed to establish causation between MMR vaccines, the mercury-laced vaccine preservative thimerosal, and autism (the court decision, which is
under appeal, deferred any finding on a thimerosal-only theory of causation). The rulings could have a significant precedential impact on some 5,000 families who opted to bring their cases in the Omnibus
Autism Proceedings (OAP) hoping that the vaccine court would officially hold that the MMR vaccine or thimerosal had caused autism in their children.

The New York Times joined the government Health Agency (HRSA) and its big pharma allies hailing the decisions as proof that the scientific doubts about vaccine safety had finally been "demolished." The US
Department of Health and Human services said the rulings should "help reassure parents that vaccines do not cause autism." The Times, which has made itself a blind mouthpiece for HRSA and a leading defender of
vaccine safety, joined crowing government and vaccine industry flacks applauding the decisions like giddy cheerleaders, rooting for the same court that many of these same voices viscously derided just one year
ago, after Hannah Poling won compensation for her vaccine induced autism.

But last week, the parents of yet another child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were awarded a lump sum of more than $810,000 (plus an estimated $30-40,000 per year for autism services and care) in
compensation by the Court, which ruled that the measels-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine had caused acute brain damage that led to his autism spectrum disorder.

The family of 10-year-old Bailey Banks won their case quietly and without fanfare in June of 2007, but the ruling has only now come to public attention. In the remarkably clear and eloquent decision,
Special Master Richard Abell ruled that the Banks had successfully demonstrated that "the MMR vaccine at issue actually caused the conditions from which Bailey suffered and continues to suffer."

Bailey's diagnosis is Pervasive Developmental Disorder -- Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) which has been recognized as an autism spectrum disorder by CDC, HRSA and the other federal health agencies
since at least the 1990s.

In his conclusion, Special Master Abell ruled that Petitioners had proven that the MMR had directly caused a brain inflammation illness called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) which, in turn, had
caused the autism spectrum disorder PDD-NOS in the child:

The Court found that Bailey's ADEM was both caused-in-fact and proximately caused by his vaccination. It is well-understood that the vaccination at issue can cause ADEM, and the Court found, based upon a
full reading and hearing of the pertinent facts in this case, that it did actually cause the ADEM. Furthermore, Bailey's ADEM was severe enough to cause lasting, residual damage, and retarded his developmental progress, which fits under the generalized heading of Pervasive Developmental Delay, or PDD .
The Court found that Bailey would not have suffered this delay but for the administration of the MMR vaccine, and that this chain of causation was... a proximate sequence of cause and effect leading
inexorably from vaccination to Pervasive Developmental Delay. The Bailey decision is not an isolated ruling. We now know of at least two other successful ADEM cases argued in Vaccine Court. More significantly, an explosive investigation by CBS News has found that since 1988, the vaccine court has awarded money judgments, often in the millions of dollars, to thirteen hundred and twenty two families whose children suffered brain damage from vaccines. In many of these cases, the government paid out awards following a judicial finding that vaccine injury lead to the child's autism spectrum disorder. In each of these cases, the plaintiffs' attorneys made the same tactical decision made by Bailey Bank's lawyer, electing to opt out of the
highly charged Omnibus Autism Proceedings and argue their autism cases in the regular vaccine court. In many other successful cases, attorneys elected to steer clear of the hot button autism issue
altogether and seek recovery instead for the underlying brain damage that caused their client's autism.

Medical records associated with these proceedings clearly tell the tale. In perhaps hundreds of these cases, the children have all the classic symptoms of regressive autism; following vaccination a perfectly healthy child experiences high fever, seizures, and other illnesses, then gradually, over about three months, loses language, the ability to make eye contact, becomes "over-focused" and engages in stereotypical head banging and screaming and then suffers developmental delays characteristic of autism. Many of these children
had received the autism diagnosis. Yet the radioactive word "autism" appears nowhere in the decision.

Instead the vaccine court Special Masters rest their judgments on their finding that the vaccines caused some generalized brain injury, mainly Encephalopathy/encephalitis (brain inflammation) or "seizure disorders" -- conditions known to cause autism-like symptoms. A large number of the children who have won these judgments have been separately diagnosed with autism. HRSA acknowledged this fact in a recent letter, but told us it does not keep data on how many of these children were autistic.

The Vaccine Court, in other words, seems quite willing to award millions of dollars in taxpayer funded compensation to vaccine-injured autistic children, so long as they don't have to call the injury by
the loaded term "autism." That hazard is particularly acute for vaccine victims who appear before the Omnibus Autism Proceedings (OAP). Since that body's decisions are closely watched, published and
accorded the weight of precedent, many lawyers consider the burden of proof for petitioners to be impossibly high before the OAP Panel. It was for this reason that Bailey's attorney, Mark McLaren, elected to
opt out of the OAP and try his case separately, even though Bailey has been receiving autism-related services in his home state and was eligible to file a case in the Court's Omnibus Autism Proceedings

McLaren told us he wanted to avoid the added burden facing petitioners under the media glare and precedential weight attending OAP panel trials. "We considered because is on the autistic spectrum of disorders, but we thought we could try it separately and apart from the Omnibus, and not as a test case,"
explained McLaren. "We thought we'd have a better chance if we tried to on its own merit, away from the spotlights and the precedent setting pressures that attend these OAP test cases - and it worked."

Bob Krakow, a leading attorney for vaccine damaged children told that many lawyers are now convinced that filing a claim in the OAP is a losing proposition. "There's a growing conviction that if you have a
autistic client who has also been diagnosed with encephalopathy/encephalitis or seizure disorder, you are better off not mentioning the word "autism" if you want to win the case." He recommended instead filing a non autism claim like "mental retardation with seizure disorder" for an autistic client.

Although the vaccine court is mandated to fairly serve the victims of vaccine injuries, their primary purpose and raison d'etre is to protect the vaccine program and vaccine makers. Damages are doled out
from a 75-cent tax on every vaccine sold and not from the vaccine makers. "You can understand why special masters, burdened with their duty to protect vaccine programs, might be unwilling to make the
direct causal link between autism and vaccines," Krakow observed. "If you ask the big question and answer it in the affirmative, there is a sense that it will damage the vaccine program irreparably."

Vaccine Court judges are equipped with a draconian armory of weapons deployable against plaintiffs intent on proving the causal connection between vaccines and autism. Jury trials are prohibited. Damages are
capped; awards for pain and suffering are strictly limited and punitive damages banned altogether. Vaccine defenders have an army of Department of Justice attorneys with virtually unlimited resources for
expert witnesses and other litigation costs. Plaintiffs, in contrast, must fund the up front costs for experts on their own. In a cultural choice that clearly favors defendants, vaccine court gives overwhelming weight to written medical records which are often inaccurate -- over all other forms of testimony and evidence.
Observations by parents and other caretakers are given little weight.

Worst of all -- plaintiffs have no right to discovery either against the pharmaceutical industry or the government. Since autism is a behavioral affliction rather than a precisely defined biological injury -- epidemiological studies are critical to establishing its causation. But the greatest source of epidemiological data is the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) -- the government maintained medical records of hundreds of thousands of vaccinated children -- which HHS has gone to great lengths to keep out of the hands of plaintiffs'
attorneys and independent scientists. Unfortunately the vaccine court has judicially anointed this corrupt concealment by consistently denying every motion by petitioners to view the VSD. The raw data
collected in the VSD would undoubtedly provide the epidemiological evidence needed to understand the relationship between vaccines and autism. The absence of such studies makes it easy for judges to say to
plaintiffs they have not met their burden of proving causation.

Meanwhile, CDC has actively, openly and systematically suppressed and defunded epidemiological studies that might establish a causal link. CDC has ignored repeated pleadings that it fund peer reviewed studies
of unvaccinated American cohorts like the Amish and home-schooled children. At the same time the agency has worked overtime ginning up a series of fatally-flawed European studies purporting to dispute the
link. Even a cursory critical examination reveals that the oft-cited Danish, English, and Italian studies are rank tobacco science. Many of them were funded by CDC, a badly compromised agency, performed by
vaccine industry scientists, and published in miserably conflicted journals.

Needless to say, the existence of these phony studies, combined with the deliberate dearth of epidemiological evidence makes it easy for the special masters to dodge a politically explosive finding by holding that there is "insufficient evidence."

And, speaking of tobacco, it's worth recalling that for sixty years the tobacco industry successfully defended a product that was killing one out of every five of its customers against thousands of legal actions brought by its victims and their families. Tobacco lawyers protected the cigarette companies by arguing that there was no proven link between tobacco and lung cancer. Bob Krakow sees many parallels. Big tobacco uses the same tactic of manufacturing research that seems to dispute the connection to exploit the burdens on plaintiffs to
prove causation. Big tobacco prevailed for six decades even without the help of supportive government agencies deliberately suppressing real science and research. In that sense vaccine victims must leap a
much higher hurdle.

Despite the perilous odds stacked against them in vaccine court, the evidence of a vaccine/autism link is so strong that vaccine court judges and government agencies have now recognized at least two theories of how vaccines cause autism: the Vaccine-to-ADEM-to-ASD link in Bailey Banks' case, and vaccine-induced aggravation of an underlying mitochondrial dysfunction that caused full-blown autism in the Hannah Poling case. Both theories are different from those rejected in the three cases last week.

Perhaps, these new disclosures will prompt The Times, with all its influence, to actually make prudent journalistic inquiries into the phony science CDC uses to defend its claims of "vaccine safety." If it
does, the paper will realize it has once again been ill used by government agencies in a tragic campaign of public deceit. The Times should make the reasonable demand that the government health agencies
finally release the Vaccine Safety Datalink for independent scientific research and that CDC and HRSA lift their opposition to genuine epidemiological studies that might finally provide real scientific answers to this debate.



By David Kirby

A ruling from Federal Vaccine Court -- that MMR vaccine caused an autism spectrum disorder in a young boy named Bailey Banks -- flies directly in the face of the triple-play decision against a
vaccine-autism link issued by the Court on February 12.

The Special Masters in those three cases inferred that the vaccine-autism theory was the stuff of Alice in Wonderland fantasy, and virtually accused the childrens' physicians of medical malpractice. (CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta called the Court's language "snide," and we agree).

Meanwhile, the US Department of Health and Human services said the rulings should "help reassure parents that vaccines do not cause autism." But why should parents feel reassured when two out of five
autism cases (40%) - that we know of - have won taxpayer-funded compensation in Vaccine Court?

The Ruling

In his decision, Special Master Abell ruled that the MMR vaccine produced a side effect in Bailey called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM). ADEM is a neurological disorder characterized by inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. The disorder results in damage to the myelin sheath, a fatty coating that
insulates nerve fibers in the brain. ADEM can be caused by natural infections, especially from the measles virus. But it also is a recognized post-vaccination injury, especially from vaccines for rabies, pertussis, influenza, and MMR.

Evidence presented to support an MMR-ADEM link was compelling. It included a 1994 report from the Institute of Medicine that said it was biologically plausible for a vaccine to "induce... an autoimmune
response... by nonspecific activation of the T cells directed against myelin proteins."

In fact, both parties in the Banks case agreed "that the IOM has cited demonstrative evidence of a biologically plausible relation between the measles vaccine and demyelinating diseases such as ADEM,"
the Court wrote.

Most cases of ADEM (80%) are in children. Symptoms usually appear within a few days to a couple of weeks. They include: headache, delirium, lethargy, seizures, stiff neck, fever, ataxia (incoordination), optic nerve damage, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, irritability and changes in mental status.

I know of thousands of parents who witnessed many of these same symptoms afflict their children shortly after vaccination, most typically the MMR. Did these children with autism also suffer initially from ADEM or some subclinical version of the disorder? We may never know (physical signs like myelin damage are transitory).

Bailey Banks was given an MRI when his parents brought him to the hospital 16 days after his MMR vaccine, and that helped confirm his diagnosis. The children I know who were brought in with similar
symptoms were instead given Tylenol and told to go home.

(Interestingly, Tylenol can affect production of glutathione, an essential antioxidant and detoxifier. A preliminary study from UC San Diego showed that children who were given Tylenol after their MMR
vaccine were several times more likely to develop autism than other children. "Tylenol and MMR was significantly associated with autistic disorder," the authors wrote. "More research needs to be completed to
confirm the results of this preliminary study.")

Is vaccine-induced ADEM (and similar disorders) a neurological gateway for a subset of children to go on and develop an ASD? That question will now become subject to debate. Thousands of parents have
reported similar reactions and symptoms following vaccination, yet they lack radiological proof of ADEM or related disorders in the form of an MRI. Meanwhile, most children with autism do not present with
myelin damage, but many do test positive for antibodies to myelin basic protein (MBP).

Also worth noting is that ADEM causes an inflammatory response in the brain, primarily in the microglial cells. It is also associated with abnormal cytokine levels in the brain, and with autoimmunity. Autism,
meanwhile, has been linked to brain inflammation, microglial cell activation, cytokine imbalances, and autoimmunity.

In most cases, symptoms of ADEM disappear within a few weeks or so, and the disorder may be treated with IV cortisone to help reduce inflammation. But none of the children with autism that I know were
ever examined or treated for a possible case of ADEM or other acute cases of encephalitis/demyelinating disorder. By now, their myelin damage may have repaired itself, yet the damaging agents, (MBP
antibodies), persist.

ADEM is said to be rare, but the disorder may be grossly under-diagnosed (or misdiagnosed). Even the government's chief witness against Bailey's case testified that he sees patients with ADEM "on a
fairly regular basis." What's more, Bailey's was the third successful vaccine-ADEM case argued in Vaccine Court (that we know of) so far.


Special Master Abell had no trouble linking MMR to ADEM in Bailey Banks' case. But linking his ADEM to PDD/ASD was more difficult.

There is no medical literature to support an ADEM-PDD link. The government's expert witness, Dr. John MacDonald, testified that "all the medical literature is negative in that regard." Instead, he proposed an alternative hypothesis for Bailey's PDD (he suggested it was caused by glucose transporter 1 deficiency).

But Special Master Abell berated the government's witness in much the same way that Hastings et al. had criticized witnesses for the families in their three cases.

"This (glucose) hypothesis, which (MacDonald) declined to incorporate as a plausible, probable theory of explanation, was used by Respondent to blunt Petitioner's theory of ADEM," Abell wrote. "This hypothesis
was not given to a reasonable degree of medical probability or certainty, and Respondent's expert admitted that it was merely 'a possible, not necessarily a probable diagnosis.'"

Abell also chided MacDonald for his assertion that "all the medical literature is negative" in regards to an ADEM-PDD link. "However, soon thereafter, he corrected this statement by clarifying, 'I can find no
literature relating ADEM to autism or ,'" Abell wrote. "It may be that Respondent's research reveals a dearth of evidence linking ADEM to PDD, but that is not the same as positive proof that the two are unrelated, something Respondent was unable to produce. Therefore, the statement that 'all the medical literature is negative' is incorrect."

The Court also took MacDonald to task for insisting that Bailey's initial symptoms were not 100% consistent with the signs of ADEM. "His distinction seems one of degree, not of type, and strikes as a trifle
semantic," Abell sniffed. He also noted that McDonald was having a hard time determining Bailey's current diagnosis. "He ultimately concluded that 'Bailey falls into the large group of children with autism/PDD in which by our current evidence-based medicine we rarely can make a specific diagnosis.'"

Special Master Abell seemed to lend more credence to witnesses for the Banks family.

Chief among them was Dr. Ivan Lopez, a neurologist and psychiatrist. Dr. Lopez testified that "the majority of patients with ADEM improve significantly," but added that "the exception to this rule is when
patients have been exposed to measles, just like in the case of MMR vaccine," in which case subsequent brain damage "may occur in up to 50 percent of patients." He said such events include "mental syndromes
such as PDD and others," and opined that "up to 50 percent of patients...who have had ADEM will show (PDD) as a consequence."

Dr. Lopez, a member of the US Military, gave his testimony by phone from Mobile, AL where, the next day, he was to ship out for a tour of duty in Iraq.

In his conclusion, Special Master Abell wrote:

The Court found that Bailey's ADEM was both caused-in-fact and proximately caused by his vaccination. It is well-understood that the vaccination at issue can cause ADEM, and the Court found, based upon a
full reading and hearing of the pertinent facts in this case, that it did actually cause the ADEM. Furthermore, Bailey's ADEM was severe enough to cause lasting, residual damage, and retarded his developmental progress, which fits under the generalized heading of Pervasive Developmental Delay, or PDD. The Court found that Bailey would not have suffered this delay but for the administration of the MMR vaccine, and that this chain of causation was not too remote, but was rather a proximate sequence of cause and effect leading inexorably from vaccination to Pervasive Developmental Delay. And he added this:

Petitioner's theory of PDD caused by vaccine-related ADEM causally connects the vaccination and the ultimate injury, and does so by explaining a logical sequence of cause and effect showing that the
vaccination was the ultimate reason for the injury. Does Bailey Banks Have Autism?

Bailey Banks does not have "classic" or full-blown autism. But he has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS, which is squarely on the autism spectrum of disorders. There was quite a bit of back-and-forth on Bailey's
diagnosis in the ruling, whose heading included the term "Non-autistic developmental delay." At several points in the proceedings, witnesses took great pains to say that Bailey does not have "autism" which,
technical speaking, is true.

On the other hand, Special Master Abell included notations declaring that "Pervasive Developmental Delay describes a class of conditions, and it is apparent from the record that the parties and the medical
records are referring to Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)."

Even so, some will argue that Bailey does not have an ASD. They are simply wrong. The diagnosis of PDD-NOS was added to the list of autism spectrum disorders in the 1980s. It was precisely from the inclusion
of these "milder" cases into the total number, that the CDC came up with the estimate of 1-in-150 US children with some form of "autism/ASD."

So, if Bailey does not have ASD, then the number of "autism" cases is well below the 1-in-150 mark and needs to be revised downward (the CDC once estimated that 40% of ASD cases were "non-autistic" in the
classic sense).

What's more, Bailey does not have a "mild" form of ASD -- he struggles every day with endless challenges. He receives autism services in his home state and attends a special school for children with autism. Bailey was also completely eligible to file a case in the Court's Omnibus Autism Proceedings (OAP), along with 5,000 other claims.

And besides, if the government chooses after-the-fact to argue that Banks simply has another form of brain damage but not, specifically "autism," is that really any comfort?

This particular theory of causation -- Vaccine-to-ADEM-to-ASD -- is different from the three cases that lost, and different than the theory in the Hannah Poling case (vaccine-induced aggravation of an underlying mitochondrial dysfunction caused full-blown autism).

So we now have two novel theories of how vaccines might contribute to ASD -- both ADEM and mitochondrial dysfunction are recognized by the Court as contributing factors.

And yet the government insists it has never made an award for vaccine induced ASD, just vaccine related ASD.

"The government has never compensated, nor has it ever been ordered to compensate, any case based on a determination that autism was actually caused by vaccines," said David Bowman, a spokesman for HHS's
Health Resources and Services Administration. "We have compensated cases in which children exhibited an encephalopathy, or general brain disease. Encephalopathy may be accompanied by a medical progression of
an array of symptoms including autistic behavior, autism, or seizures."

"Some children who have been compensated for vaccine injuries may have shown signs of autism before the decision to compensate," he added, "or may ultimately end up with autism or autistic symptoms, but
we do not track cases on this basis.

Unfortunately, the track record on vaccines is cloudy in this particular Court: Three out of four ADEM cases have been successful; and (at least) two out of five ASD cases have also won.

People will argue that ADEM is rare; that vaccines "only" caused PDD in Bailey; and that this was a legal and not scientific decision. The problem is we don't know how prevalent ADEM is because we never
looked; while "PDD" is interchangeable with "ASD" in the language of public health. And, the three cases that lost were also "legal" decisions.

Robert Kennedy, Jr. and I would love nothing more than to reassure parents that the nation's current vaccine program is 100% safe for all kids, and that zero credible evidence has been presented to link
vaccines with autism. But that simply isn't true -- as at least two court cases have found.

If you do not wish to receive future e-mails or newsletters, please reply to this message with 'Remove' in the subject line.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I just saw it on Vaccines didn't cause autism, court rules  
Powered by  
 * Please note, the sender's email address has not been verified.
You have received the following link from  
  Click the following to access the sent link:
Vaccines didn't cause autism, court rules -*
Get your EMAIL THIS Browser Button and use it to email content from any Web site. Click here for more information.
  *This article can also be accessed if you copy and paste the entire address below into your web browser.

Trouble With Social Skills? Try Watching Yourself On TV

Kylee Byron often was frustrated when playing games. The first-grader at South Park Elementary Center has autism and until recently had a problem waiting her turn when playing "Go Fish." That is, until she watched a DVD of herself waiting for a classmate to ask her if she had any sevens.
"She saw herself sitting down and taking turns," said Dawn Byron, Kylee's mom, of Carroll, Washington County. "Whether it's because of the experience or maturity, she is able to sit down for longer periods of time and only needs prompted occasionally. It's wonderful."
The South Park School District was one of two in the Allegheny Intermediate Unit to try a new technique last fall called video self-modeling, designed to improve social behavior in autistic children. The trial, which also included elementary schools in Woodland Hills, helped all participating students, though each improved at different speeds
The number of public-school students diagnosed with autism increased 510 percent between the 1997-98 and 2007-08 school years. The average cost to educate an autistic student is $18,790, at least $8,000 more than a student without a disability, according to the American Institute of Research.
The cost of video self-modeling is minimal, experts say. Teachers need to be trained in the technique and how to use the equipment, but they can use existing video cameras and editing software.
Allegheny County was a good place to test the technique. The county has 1,292 public-school students with autism, the most in the state, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
"They pull this off, they reduce the costs of bringing in some of the other therapies," Torisky said. "This is a gentle intervention, and entertaining for the kids."
The concept is simple — record an autistic child prompted to perform a social skill properly, edit out the prompts and show the child footage of himself or herself performing the skill appropriately.
"This is a great technique," said Ann Huang, assistant professor in the Department of Counseling, Psychology and Special Education at Duquesne University's School of Education. "It's a very, very effective way of teaching children with autism the appropriate behaviors. We should be promoting this technique more in classrooms."
In January, Michelle Luvetsky and Erin Peterson, educational consultants with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit who headed the project, presented their findings at the Technology Reading and Learning Diversity conference in San Francisco. In November, the Allegheny Intermediate Unit hosted training on video self-modeling for special-education teachers throughout the county's 42 suburban school districts.
Autistic children respond best to visual information, Huang said. The edited video eliminates distractions — other students talking, noise from a heating vent or a flickering light bulb, for example — and allows students with autism to focus on their behavior as they watch it, Luvetsky said. The medium is one they already use for entertainment.
What makes video self-modeling workable in the classroom is the easy availability of necessary technology, Luvetsky said. During the training session, teachers were shown how to use a small handheld video camera the size of an iPod and use video editing software for both Apple and Microsoft platforms.
Bethel Park School District officials attended the training and are checking the feasibility of implementing the technique next year.
"This is a way for (autistic children) to learn how to respond in social situations," said Lori Sutton, Bethel Park's assistant director of special education. "It catches them being appropriate and gives them time to look at their own self and remember the steps in a process. It actually takes it to the students themselves."
Woodland Hills plans to continue using video self-modeling in the next school year, said Leslie Roberts, autistic support teacher at Edgewood Primary. South Park hopes to expand its program.
"I think it had a good effect on the students," Roberts said. "Viewing themselves on the computer, it leaves an impression. We aren't taking the teaching piece out, but just add this in. My vote is yes for the video model."
Daveen Rae Kurutz can be reached at or 412-380-5627.

If you do not wish to receive future e-mails or newsletters, please reply to this message with 'Remove' in the subject line.

Vaccine Awakening on Gardasil Death & Brain Damage: A National Tragedy

One less Managing Editor's Note:  One year ago on February 22, a beautiful young woman by the name of Jessica Ericzon died after having received a Gardasil vaccination. The photo on the left is her mother's Jeep.  Note the license plate. "One Less." As in daughter. One less daughter.  The people being injured by vaccines are not statistics or epidemiological "dots" on a map. They are not expendable characters in a mythical battle against disease. They are daughters like Jessica, infant sons like Ian Gromowski. They are our children.  Thank you to Lisa, Jessica's Mom for allowing us to use her photo. Lisa is a Mother Warrior. Kim

By Barbara Loe Fisher
The tragic story of Gardasil vaccine is one that is playing out real time in the homes of trusting parents, who thought they were doing the right thing to try to make their daughters "one less," and in the 21st century cyberspace forum of public opinion as well as on television. On Feb. 6, CBS-TV Evening News released NVIC's new report on Gardasil vaccine risks.

Click HERE to read the full entry at the Vaccine Awakening site.
Barbara Loe Fisher is the President of the National Vaccine Injury Center. 


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Discipline and Disability: Determining When a Child's Misbehavior in School is Related to Their Disability

Posted by randychapman on February 4, 2009

Readers I originally posted this article in October 2007. I have added some additional content and links to the IDEA Regulations in this new version.

As a parent, Maria had a long rope but she was quickly nearing the end of it. The principal had just called and asked her to come to school and pick up her son, Jeremy, because the teacher said he was "out of control." Jeremy hadn't finished his work during class time and when the teacher told him he had to stay in during recess he had thrown his book at the chalkboard. Maria knew Jeremy could sometimes be a handful. He was in special education and had some emotional/behavioral issues, but this was the fourth time this fall that she'd been called and Jeremy had now missed ten days of school. This time the principal said he was suspended for another ten days and might be expelled or moved to a different school because his behavior was so disruptive.

While Maria knew that Jeremy's behavior was not acceptable, she believed it was related to his disability, and that there might be better ways to deal with it than withholding recess. Jeremy struggled to sit still through class and recess was a much-needed break. It didn't seem fair that he might be expelled for "misbehavior" that was not Jeremy's fault. Hadn't she heard that students with disabilities could not be punished for behavior that was a manifestation of their disability? Didn't the law require that, as a child with a disability, Jeremy was entitled to appropriate educational services?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides that all children with disabilities have a right to a free appropriate public education, including children who are suspended or expelled. The IDEA has specific procedures for school administrators to follow when disciplining children with disabilities. These procedures balance the need to keep schools safe with the right of children with disabilities to receive a free appropriate public education. There is a process to determine if a student's misconduct is a manifestation of the student's disability, and prevents children from being punished for "misbehavior" that is related to the child's disability. Unfortunately, the IDEA's procedures can be confusing. Here are some questions and answers regarding the manifestation determination process that should make the process clearer.

1. Why are there "special rules for disciplining children with disabilities?

When Congress first enacted the Education for All Handicapped Children Act in 1975, it noted that children with disabilities were often suspended, expelled, or otherwise excluded from public education in our country merely because they had behavior problems. School officials had often unilaterally excluded children with disabilities from school without parent input or an opportunity to appeal. Congress wanted to ensure that all children with disabilities had access to a free appropriate public education. Moreover, Congress wanted to protect children with disabilities from the unilateral, speculative, and subjective decisions by school officials that had often caused them to be removed from school for behavior related to their disability.

2. Who makes the Manifestation Determination?

The manifestation determination is made by a group that includes the child's parent and the relevant members of the child's Individualized Educational Program (IEP) team. The parent and school administrators decide which IEP team members will be included in the meeting.

3. When must a Manifestation Determination be made?

Whenever school officials make a disciplinary "change in placement" there must be a manifestation determination. A change in placement occurs whenever the school decides to remove or suspend a student with a disability from the student's educational placement for more than 10 school days. The 10 school days may be consecutively or over the course of a school year.

There must also be a manifestation determination if the student has been subjected to a series of removals that constitute a pattern. A pattern is determined if the (a) the student is removed for more than 10 days in the school year (b) the student's behavior is substantially similar to his behavior in previous incidents and (c) considering the length of each removal, the total amount of time the student has been removed, and the proximity of the removals to one another, there appears to be a pattern of removing the student.

4. How does the group decide if the student's misconduct is a manifestation of the student's disability?

First, the group will review all of the relevant information in the student's file including any information included from the IEP, teacher observations, and information provided by the student's parents. Based on that review, the group will determine whether:

(1) The student's misconduct was caused by or was directly or substantially related to the student's disability; or
(2) The misconduct was the direct result of the school district not implementing the student's IEP.

If the group determines that the misconduct was related to the student's disability or was the direct result of the IEP not being implemented, then the team will determine that the misconduct was a manifestation of the student's disability.

5. If the student knows right from wrong and understands it is wrong to violate the student code of conduct, doesn't that mean their misconduct was not a manifestation of their disability?

No, the student may know their behavior is wrong but the misconduct might still be directly related to their disability. For example, the student's disability may limit their ability to control the behavior. Or, perhaps IEP services, such as counseling, were never provided, causing the student's behavior to escalate beyond the student's control.

6. What happens if the student's misconduct is determined to be a manifestation of the student's disability?

The student's IEP team will meet and unless there are special circumstances or the IEP team changes the student's educational placement, the student will return to the school program they were in before the suspension. The IEP team will also conduct a Functional Behavioral Assessment and will implement a behavior intervention plan for the student. A Functional Behavior Assessment gathers information about the student's behavior to determine what function the student's behavior serves for the student. The behavior intervention plan is the plan to provide support to the student to intervene with the behavior.

7. What are special circumstances?

In disciplinary situations involving possession of weapons, illegal drugs, or the student has caused a serious injury; the school may remove the student for up to 45 school days, even if the misconduct is a manifestation of the student's disability. The student must receive appropriate educational services after the first 10 school days that the student is removed.

8. What if the group determines that the misconduct is NOT a manifestation of the student's disability?

If the students misconduct is not a manifestation of the student's disability then the student may be disciplined the same as a student without a disability. But if expelled, the student is still entitled to receive a free appropriate public education. In many cases the student's behavior is determined to be a manifestation of the student's disability. But, parents have the right to appeal a decision that their child's behavior is not related to their child's disability. Hearings to resolve disagreements in the disciplinary process are expedited. That means the hearing must be held within 20 school days after it is requested and the decision must be made within 10 school days after the hearing is completed.

Some school administrators pride themselves on a no-nonsense zero tolerance approach to discipline in their schools. In such an environment normal childhood mischief can be mistaken for serious misconduct. For children with disabilities, disability related behavior can be confused with misconduct requiring discipline. Being aware and making sure your child's school is aware of the discipline procedures under the IDEA will ensure your child's success and happiness in their education.

Vaccine Court: Hepatitis B Shot Caused MS

Ms By David Kirby
All eyes are on Vaccine Court this week, as people await rulings in the autism "test cases" on MMR and thimerosal. But another omnibus proceeding involving Hepatitis B vaccine and autoimmune disorders in adults, including MS, has already been quietly ruling in favor of several petitioners. (HERE)
The most recent case was announced about a week ago. In it, the Court ruled that the victim, an adult female, had contracted a form of demyelinating disease and MS, and eventually died, after receiving the Hepatitis B vaccine series. It was just the most recent case in a rash of rulings in the omnibus proceeding dealing with hepatitis B vaccine and "demyelinating diseases such as transverse myelitis (TM), Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease (CIDP), and multiple sclerosis (MS)," according to court papers.
"Petitioner has prevailed on the issue of entitlement. The medical records during decedent's final hospitalization reflect that she died from demyelinating disease. Not only did decedent have a vaccine injury, but also her death was vaccine-related," wrote the Special Master in the case.
Interestingly, the US government chose not to present any expert witnesses, nor to contest the case any further.
But the family of the deceased woman had presented testimony from an expert witness who stated that, "It is biologically plausible for hepatitis B to cause demyelination because vaccines are composed of organic compounds of viral or bacterial origin, whether recombinant or otherwise, whose purpose is to initiate an immune response in the recipient,: the Court noted in the ruling. "But if any of the vaccine antigens shares a homology with the recipient's antigens, the host's immune response will attack both the vaccine antigens and the host's antigens, resulting in an autoimmune response. This concept is also known as molecular mimicry and is well-established in immunology."
In the last few years, it turns out, the Federal Vaccine Court has issued a number of rulings in favor of petitioners seeking compensation for Hepatitis B vaccine-related demyelinating diseases, especially MS.
What is also notable about all the Hep B rulings is that they fly in the face of the reasoned opinion of an IOM panel that looked into the matter in 2002. That committee determined that "the epidemiological evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between the hepatitis B vaccine in adults and multiple sclerosis." Likewise, the panel said that it "does not recommend that national and federal vaccine advisory bodies review the hepatitis B vaccine on the basis of concerns about demyelinating disorders."
Apparently, Vaccine Court Special Masters are willing to make their rulings independent of what the IOM has decreed (and given the IOM's spotty track record on the etiology of illnesses such as Agent Orange and Gulf War Syndrome, perhaps there is a solid legal underpinning for that).
So, what does any of this have to do with the autism cases? Perhaps nothing. But, if the autism Special Masters suggest that more research is needed, one area that scientists may want to explore is demyelination in autism and its many potential causes.
Myelin is the fatty acid sheath that protects and insulates nerve cells and the brain. Some people with autoimmune disorders, including MS, present with damage to myelin in the brain.
Myelin damage has long been suspected in autism, though the jury is still out on this question. One thing that does seem to be certain is that children with ASD appear to have unusually high levels of antibodies to myelin basic protein, or MBP. That would suggest they might have myelin damage as well. Some studies have also shown highly elevated levels (up to 90%) of MBP antibodies in ASD children who received the MMR vaccine. The development of MBP antibodies could possibly be caused by a reaction to the live measles virus in the vaccine, because the virus may mimic the molecular structure of MBP. (The finding of antibodies to MBP is also associated with MS, which is a demyelinating disorder).
This vaccine-myelin association was also supported by a study in the October, 2008 issue of the journal Neurology. It reported that exposure to Hep B vaccine in children was associated with a 50% increased risk for CNS inflammatory demyelination of 50 percent (OR: 1.50; 0.93–2.43). This was especially true for children who got GlaxoSmithKline's Engerix B vaccine, in which case the risk was elevated by 74% (1.74; 1.03–2.95). Among ASD children with confirmed multiple sclerosis, the risk increased by 177% (2.77; 1.23–6.24).
"Hepatitis B vaccination does not generally increase the risk of CNS inflammatory demyelination in childhood," the authors concluded. "However, the Engerix B vaccine appears to increase this risk, particularly for confirmed multiple sclerosis, in the longer term. Our results require confirmation in future studies."
Of course more studies are needed, but it is becoming more difficult these days to argue that there is no active immune/inflammatory response going on in the brains of autistic individuals, and even harder to contest that MBP is associated with at least one aspect of that response, although there are likely others. The MBP findings are not 100% concordant, but there is a fair amount of supportive evidence.
Equally intriguing, along these lines, is a new study published in the Journal of Child Neurology. That paper reported that "anti-myelin-associated glycoprotein positivity" was found in a stunning 62.5% of the autistic children studied. And, a family history of autoimmunity was five times more common in ASD children (50%) than controls (9.4%).
"Anti-myelin-associated glycoprotein serum levels were significantly higher in autistic children than those without such history," the authors wrote. "Autism could be, in part, one of the pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders. Further studies are warranted to shed light on the etiopathogenic role of anti-myelin-associated glycoprotein antibodies and the role of immunotherapy in autism."
This information is tantalizing, to say the least. And it could provide new avenues of research into the role of vaccines, demyelinating diseases, "autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders," and autism.
If the HepB series can destroy myelin in some kids and adults, and cause full-blown MS in adults, then is it really that "fringe" to investigate the plausibility of a biological mechanism whereby some vaccines (including MMR) in a subset of susceptible infants might produce symptoms that are characteristic of autism and/or other neuro-developmental disorders?
For years, the US Government and the IOM have insisted that Hepatitis B vaccine does not and can not cause MS. But the Federal Vaccine Court has now, essentially, overturned that opinion. Will the Court now do the same for vaccines and autism? I don't think so – not this week. But it just might keep that door slightly ajar for the future.

David Kirby is author of Evidence of Harm and a contributor to Age of Autism.








Join us at Pump It Up: The Inflatable Party Zone for an autism-friendly birthday party

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Registartion deadline is Feburary 17th

Kids of all ages will love ...Bouncing ...Sliding ... Climbing and ...Tumbling on Pump It Up's giant inflatable play areas.

Would you like your child(ren) with autism to receive a birthday party invitation? Please give contact information when you register your child(ren) and we will send a personal invitation to attend that party. If you child has a birthday that falls within the quarter of the party, s/he will be one of the children who will celebrated. Just let us know when you register.


LOCATION: Pump It Up of Fort Collins

1420 Riverside Avenue, Ste 114

Fort Collins, Co 80524

February 24, 2009 (birthdays January 09 - April 09)


Space is limited. Pre-registration required: call (970) 377-9640 or email


Birthday Cake will be available.


*Important Note* - Childcare will not be available at this event. A parent/guardian/adult support person must attend this party with your child(ren). A parent/guardian must sign a Pump It Up Waiver form for each child. Waiver forms are available at:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Living with autism
See full size imageAre you or is someone you love living with autism? We want to hear your story. How does this condition affect your life, as well your family's? Share what life is like on a typical day. Turn on your camera and record video of yourself speaking about your experiences, and give us a glimpse of your daily routine. Have you found any unexpected silver linings? Send photos and videos that help tell the story of what it's like to have autism.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dr. David Wallinga responds to FAQs about high fructose corn syrup and mercury: