Letters to Time Magazine on Their Coverage of Autism
Any time the incidence of a disease rises ten-fold; there is cause for alarm.
When that disease disables hundreds of thousands of children in a silent
holocaust, that sounds more like a national emergency. But autism remains a
footnote in NIH funding of disease research while the CDC cannot be bothered to
count the national incidence. Increases like this must come from somewhere. Why
aren't we more consumed with the search?
The answer is complicated. Most experts are preoccupied with autism's genetic
causes. Not surprising in the age of the genome, but an inquiry of marginal
relevance in the face of such dramatic increases. Most parents prefer straighter
arguments. You mention the vaccine concerns and cite the MMR theory but fail to
mention an even more plausible hypothesis, the increased exposure to mercury via
three different vaccines: DPT, haemophilus influenza B and hepatitis B. All
three contained the preservative Thimerosal (made from 49.6% mercury); the last
two were added to the childhood schedule in October 1990 and November 1991,
When mercury exposure in these vaccines increased, the incidence of autism
went straight up. This could be coincidence, but mercury is a well-known and
potent neurotoxin, especially in the developing brain. Authorities realized in
1999 (oops!) that the cumulative vaccine dose of mercury exceeded EPA
guidelines, particularly in the earliest months of life. Soon after, they halted
new production and suspended the infant birth dose of hep B. No question, the
mercury hypothesis fits the evidence. But there is, as yet, no credible
investigation of the case. Why? Probably because discovering that policies
designed to protect children actually harmed them would be, to say the least,
inconvenient. And autism may be the tip of an iceberg of developmental delay.
But if the shoe fits, we must all wear it: inconvenience should not block
pursuit of the truth, wherever it leads.
Sincerely, Mark F. Blaxill (father of an autistic child and Board member of SafeMinds, Sensible Action for Ending Mercury Induced Neurological Disorders)
There is Still More to Come
Four and a half years ago, I had no idea what autism was. I didn't need to
know, because I never thought that I could be touched by it. As a single mother
of a 2-year-old boy, I was struggling just to learn how to be a good mom. In
January 1998, my life changed forever when I was told why my son Henry didn't
speak. Why he threw violent temper tantrums. Why he seemed so odd.
Finding out that he had autism nearly destroyed me. Finding out that he is part of a horrible trend didn't make it any easier. Today, at age 6 and a half, he still has never called me "mom" and has never uttered a word.
There are too many little boys just like him out there, too many to still come.
Thank you for your autism cover story.
San Antonio, TX
On the morning of April 29th, I picked up the May 6th issue of TIME, and read
every word of the article "The Secrets of Autism" along with the "First Person"
accounts included in the report.
To me, Time's Asia editor Karl Taro Greenfield and Time's head arts reporter
Amy Lennard Goehner in their "First Person" accounts exemplified the
Unconditional Love that is so often felt, within families, for those in the
Autistic spectrum. I learned from what I read, and felt satisfied, that the
population-at-large could be educated in regards to what we as families endure,
living with Autism. As parents of a 3 year old son with the condition, we have
the opportunity to experience life with Autism, living somewhat in a World
Apart, from neighbors and extended families that do not directly experience
Autism on a daily perpetual basis.
I sent a letter to the TIME Editor noting that Autism in the year 2002 does
not experience the same wide level of grassroots public support that benefits
fundraising for research dollars, nor does it extract the same level of public
empathy, for those suffering from AIDS, Breast Cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's
and so many other unfortunate maladies.
Rather, parents who are now just learning that their toddler has autism, are
forced not only to confront the illness and its regressive effects on their
child, but also must now act aggressively with local public health and education
systems in states throughout the US, in order to obtain timely treatments that
have been proven effective. I also stated that while the present system does
recognize the benefits of Early Intervention, it does not effectively enforce
the application of Early Intervention in thousands of cases nationwide.
It is important to increase awareness among others disaffected by Autism, of
Autism's realities. Many are unaware that, regretfully, it is entirely too
common for many parents in our state of New Jersey, to turn towards litigation
to enforce the principles of the IDEA, enabling special needs students the
opportunity to receive an appropriate education that may very well remediate the
symptoms of Autism. Nationwide, school districts routinely oppose parents'
efforts to treat these children by implicitly encouraging less treatment than
medically prescribed, or explicitly pursuing placements in Less Expensive
programs that are themselves appropriate only for a percentage of the students
Having said this, I am sure that TIME's cover story will serve to better
educate the public and hopefully lead to greater compassion for those suffering
from Autism and greater empathy for those families that count autism as a
central component of their lives - if we continue to Advocate for All of those
on the spectrum, not just our loved ones.
Father of Irteza, born 2/11/99
>>> What You Can Do Raise Autism Awareness: <<<
This is an opportunity to build upon the public awareness that is generated
by such prominent coverage, if you think it important. Why is autism awareness
so important? Because your neighbors, the government, the schools cannot help
solve a problem they don't know about.
* WRITE A LETTER - If you haven't already, to Time Magazine and let them know
your appreciation for their coverage: firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure you send a
copy to FEAT: email@example.com
* REVERSE BOYCOTT: BUY THEM UP. Send a message. The magazine is now out on
the stands. Buy as many as you can afford, then pass them around to friends and
neighbors. Brisk sales are a feedback to which they pay attention.
* BECOME A PUBLICITY HOUND. Call up all your local media news departments and
suggest to them there is a local angle to this national hot
subject: your story. Try newspaper editors first. If successful, you will
have an article to send to TV and radio news sources as prove the topic is
newsworthy. Then let us know, too.
* * *
>> DO SOMETHING ABOUT AUTISM NOW <<
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