IACC public comments were a disgrace

I had the misfortune of sitting through the IACC (Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee) yesterday, July 10, in Washington, DC. I write “misfortune” because it was a meeting in which some things got done, but a lot of others didn’t. I get it. It’s politics. But the really bad part, in my opinion, was the parade of anti-vaccine and anti-science nonsense that was allowed in the public comments section of the meeting.

It is my policy not to write names of people because some, in their delusions of self-grandeur, have Google alerts of their names and will come hunt me for writing anything about them, especially the truth parts. They really don’t like to see themselves in the mirror, from what I gather. However, because the comments were public, and because I took good notes while sitting there, and because some of their statements were all too idiotic, I am going to name them. I apologize if I get their names misspelled.



First up was Ms. Pam Rockwell. She was a treat. She touted some theory that there are “autism-producing antibodies” that are either given to mothers through the use of Rhogam, or were created by mothers of autistic children through immunization. Her reasoning was simple: Children who are born underweight or premature are more likely to receive blood transfusions, or be born to mothers who received Rhogam or blood transfusions, and are also more likely to have a form of autism. (Do I really need to write that correlation does not equal causation?) Ms. Rockwell didn’t have much time for comments, and neither did the rest of the members of the public that showed up, so I guess she didn’t get a chance to give us the “meat” of her argument. By “meat”, I mean evidence.

Next was Ms. Nicole Simon, who got up to speak with some sort of a banner. She spoke about how the hepatitis B vaccine, when given at birth, enters the blood circulation and can damage the brain, causing autism. She also spoke about the clamping of the umbilical cord at birth and how that causes hypoxia (low blood oxygen) at birth, also leading to damage of the blood-brain barrier, allowing toxins to enter the brain and cause autism. She said she had been doing her own research on this, and she charged the committee with investigating the use of umbilical cord clamping at birth, asking that it be stopped.

I wish I was high on acid when I was listening to this. That way, I would have had a good reason to have heard what I heard. But, oh, it got better.

Marc Blaxill, of “Age of Autism” fame, got up and delivered a scathing critique of the committee’s work. He said that the committee had not in the past, and probably wouldn’t now, achieve anything. (I’d like to editorialize and mention that it probably isn’t achieving anything that Mr. Blaxill wants, not necessarily not achieving anything at all.) He said that the committee as it is composed now is worse than previous committees and that he felt like there was an “Orwellian Time Warp” where fantasy was becoming science. He threw out a lot of big words, a lot of destructive criticism.

Next was Jake Crosby, also of “Age of Autism” fame, and someone who has tried to get people he disagrees with (or people who agree with science) in serious trouble at work. He tried to get  friend of this blog Ren Najera fired through a multi-page diatribe of accusations sent to Ren’s employer. So I was sure his public comment would be fact-based and void of innuendo. Right? Well, not quite. Mr. Crosby sounded very angry, raising his tone of voice at times, and he started off by whining about not being on the committee though he had been nominated. He mentioned how, disgustingly in my opinion, he was a student of public health at a university. And then he dove into conspiracy theories. He launched a lot of accusations at members of the committee and members’ friends and colleagues, and I didn’t have time to take down notes on it all. But the gist of his statement was that the committee and its members were corrupt, that nothing was being done to “cure” autism, and that one or two of the members accepted autism instead of combating it.

I wish this all had stopped there. It didn’t.

We then heard from Dawn Laughboro and Katie Wiseman talking up the toxins gambit. Everything in the environment, including mercury, of course, causes autism. It’s a “complex system”, according to one of them, where viruses, bacteria, parasites, and toxins cause autism. Dental amalgams, fish, and some sort of exposure to a mercury-containing drug generations ago are causing autism today. Ms. Laughboro went as far as to request a study in which the viruses and bacteria living in autistic children be studied as causes.

Right.

In my humble opinion, the commenter that took the prize for the “WTF?” category was Ms. Carolyn Rogers. She has, of course, been doing her own research and published something. I forget if it was an ebook or a pamphlet printed in Philadelphia during the British occupation. Anyway, her theory is that children born to women who had fevers during pregnancy are more likely to be autistic. These women also had ultrasounds. So Ms. Rogers theorizes that ultrasounds somehow cause autism. Does it do it by raising the temperature of the unborn fetus? I didn’t follow the line of reasoning from ultrasounds to fever.

The closing commenter was Ms. Mary Holland. She predicted a rise of autism prevalence from 1 in 88 today to 1 in 44 by 2018 if the committee didn’t do what the anti-vaccine, anti-science groups wanted. She mentioned that the nation will be ashamed to hear what the committee does, or doesn’t do, and it will be reminiscent of the bad job FEMA director “Brownie” did during the response to Hurricane Katrina.

I wanted to walk over to Ms. Holland and explain to her that a rise in prevalence is expected even if the “epidemic” is contained because autism is not by itself deadly, and more autistics are living with the diagnosis than ever before. She and her colleagues claim to understand autism, but how can they say that if they don’t understand prevalence? Heck, you’d think the young MPH student would understand prevalence, but he’s a lost cause.

My only comment to the committee is that they make sure they dot all their I’s and cross all their T’s when it comes to the kind of research they will listen to and recommend. They better be on the ball about science and evidence and not give in to any pressures, political or public, that attempt to counter said science and evidence. Because nothing, nothing, nothing will hurt autistic children and adults alike more than going with a “solution” or “cure” that is not based on science and evidence, like so many scams out there. Sadly, I heard no one demand this of the committee during the public comments.
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4 thoughts on “IACC public comments were a disgrace

  1. I found this trying to lookup Pam Rockwell, who spoke just ahead of me at the IACC meeting. I hope I get the chance at some point to discuss her ideas further. I just want to say that having a strict 3-minute time limit imposed is stressful in the extreme. I think all of us hope that a future meeting will allow back and forth conversations with members of the committee, and each other. Those of us dealing with the unhappy condition of autism should be listened to, and not senselessly mocked.I put together my "flyer" to summarize key issues that need much more than half a minute to put out there for discussion: (1) Language should be the most important focus of research. (2) Brain systems involved in learning to speak are just as important. (3) Nuclei in the brainstem auditory pathway have higher blood flow (and aerobic metabolism) than any other area of the brain. (4) Intact auditory function is essential for learning to speak. (5) Toxic substances, toxic metabolites produced in genetic disorders, oxygen insufficiency at birth, and yes toxic vaccine components are more likely to affect the auditory system than any other area of the brain.

  2. I think it's safe to say the IACC, by not allowing stalking whackaloons like Jake Crosby on the committee that they do not feel pressured to pursue these crazy "causation" charges. It is too bad they used up precious committee time to air their petty and fringe grievances but they are going to be heard dammit. And it's only going to get worse as they are viewed as the shrill fringe lunatics they are.

  3. For the quacktivist folks, perhaps the problem is the crazy parents stressing out the kids. That works via… mmm… crazy waves permeating the child's early environment, causing brain damage. .Solution: Clean out the crazy.Quacktivist parents will drink a quart of Miracle Mineral Salt per day, which should fix the intestinal cause of their craziness. MMS is a 100% alternative cure, despised by Big Pharma, MDs, Conventional Science and the LameStream Media, therefore it's certain to be good for you. No questions, I have the answer.

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