Thursday, November 29, 2012

More Mush from the Wimps: Autism Speaks, CDC and Capitol Hill Hearings

Today is another set of Autism Hearings. And while he hope that reality will kick in regarding the skyrocketing numbers of sick kids while billions were raised and spent without even an agreement that the numbers have actually gone up (feel free to swing a dead cat) we remain skeptical.  Blue is the new pink.  We ran this post last April  on Age of Autism after the hearing on autism statistics. It gives you a feel for the clustercluck of "high-charity" and government while those with the disease/diagnosis are forgotten.

Autism_speaksBy Dan Olmsted Cdclogo
After attending Wednesday’s congressional briefing on the latest autism statistics, I found myself with three questions, despite having asked several at the briefing. They are variations on the same theme, and not exactly new, but seem more pressing after more than an hour of listening: Why is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still in charge of monitoring and explaining the rise in autism? Why are the CDC and Autism Speaks cozying up to each other in such a public way at this particular moment? And why was the Congressional host heaping praise on the agency when it covered up the first signs of the epidemic -- and in his home district in New Jersey, of all places?

The event was co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) and billed as “a Congressional Briefing on the Centers for Disease Control's recent announcement that autism now affects 1 in 88 American children.”

Rep. Smith began the proceedings, which drew probably 30 people to a room in the Rayburn House Office Building. Congressmen often try to make news at these kind of events, and before he started speaking an aide passed out a statement by Smith headlined, “Global Autism: ‘A Developmental Disability Pandemic’ – 67 Million People Affected According to Autism Speaks.” Then I realized the statement was from May 31, 2011. Nothing new to say, I guess.

Smith began by describing the CDC’s Brick Township study, which started after a parent reached out to the congressman in 1997 (he’s been around for 16 terms, as he pointed out). The parent was concerned about “an apparent prevalence spike” in autism. The CDC investigated, Smith said, and “did an expert study that was extraordinary … and all of a sudden it became clear that it wasn’t just Brick. It seemed as if there was some game changer somewhere in the population causing this huge new increase in autism.”
Well, not exactly. In fact, not at all. The CDC did find a rate of 1 in 150 children in Brick Township Pablum2 – the highest ever reported anywhere in the world to that point – but said no conclusions could be drawn from the data about whether there was an actual increase. (That refrain has become familiar, repeated time and again by the CDC at Wednesday’s briefing. Some things never change.)

In our book, The Age of Autism – Mercury, Medicine, and a Man-made Epidemic, Mark Blaxill and I took a look at the actual data the CDC used in its Brick Township study, which the group SafeMinds had obtained from the CDC. In fact, the autism rate in Brick Township was actually zero in 1989, the start of the study period. Not one kid had autism.

As we wrote, “Once you have the real trend data, you can figure out how hard the CDC had to work in order to report a result that said there was no trend. … If this wasn’t a cover-up, it’s hard to think of a polite synonym.”

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dan Olmsted: Outside Autism But Inside our Hearts

My colleague at Age of Autism wrote this post. He began writing about autism in 2003 when he was with UPI. So many "outsiders" write about our families with false superiority, high and mighty proclamations, even barely disguised disdain. Not Dan - he has the heart, compassion and logic to see first hand the walk we walk.

Keep Calm Write OnBy Dan Olmsted
I try not to comment on the choices and difficulties faced by families dealing with autism -- mainly, because mine is not one. But after nearly a decade (yes, I first edited an investigation of the CDC and vaccine conflicts in 2003), I will venture to say this: The holidays are not always "the most wonderful time of the year" promised in song, advertisements and cultural come-on of all kinds.
There are multiple reasons for this, I think, including the simple inability to gather the way many would wish, due to logistics and occasionally resistance, implied or fully expressed, from other family members. And it can be a bit hard to identify exactly what it is one ought -- ought, never a good word -- to be thankful for. But there's more to it than that, as witnessed in this e-mail exchange I was part of earlier this week, about a child who "ages out" this year right between Thanksgiving and Christmas:

"I'm rather a wreck over it -- haven't brought her paperwork from probate court to town hall.  I just haven't had the heart or courage. It has cast a pall over the entire holiday season. -- so I'm just looking to January to start the year and do the same stuff all over again -- I'm pretty tired right now, and you know how that goes."
Well, I don't know how that goes, personally. Cheap, teary empathy is already too much in vogue. To the extent that I have any insight at all, it mostly comes from talking to, visiting, staying with many families over the years and reading their accounts right here, on AOA. But the other person on this e-mail had plenty of experience.

"We are at a bumpy road and really have been for a while," said this mom, whose daughter is about the same age. "It is so hard, all of it, and I wonder how we do it."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Kim Stagliano's Mad Men Thanksgiving

I asked a question on Facebook - how did I manage to have a perfectly clean stove top (yeah, yeah, cook top but stove sounds more retro) when we hadn't eaten the turkey yet - it was still roasting. "Turkey about to come out if the oven. How is my cook top this clean? Where are the side dishes? No I did not buy them premade. Vowels in name remember? The pans are all cleaned and put away. What is my secret? Stay tuned."   Here's the answer:

We might think we have it "easy" in 2012 - so many conveniences. But 1969 is where it's at Chez Stag today, Thanksgiving. (Happy TG, BTW.) I made all of my side dishes early this afternoon. And then I took them and placed them on my Salton HotTray from the mid 1960s - a purchase I gleefully made this summer in the Cerebral Palsy Thrift shop where my kids go to speech therapy.  For about $25 I think. $125 on ebay - suckers!

Oh yes, Don Draper lives on in my heart even if he is off the air until Spring. The Salton HotTray would be verboten in 2012. "Too dangerous! Too hot! The children!!!" Meanwhile, your kids with cool fingers and no burn marks are online with Freddie, Jason and Elmo and God knows who else at any time of day or night. (Not YOUR children, of course. THEIR children - the bad ones.) The entire surface of this rolling tea cart of retro deliciousness gets HOT - really hot. It even has a circular area for a coffee pot. Yeah, perk me up! So my side dishes have been happily staying steaming hot while I completed the turkey and gravy.

In other news, my children might not be my own. They will NOT drink champagne! I cracked open a bottle of bubbly for dinner and Bella pushed a taste away after half a sip, Gianna ran away and Mia turned away.  Our Sound of Music Moment ends in a flop. More for Mom - who was drinking the hard stuff in 6th grade - but you know that if you've read my book.

So - Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Here's to hot food and lots of it.  Off to feed my Rat Pack.

Love, KIM

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Sandy hits

Lost the shed as winds pick up.

Use It Or Lose It.

My awesome dad is 90. So quit yer bitchin'.....