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Letters to Time Magazine on Their Coverage of Autism - FEAT

Excerpts from.

FEAT DAILY NEWSLETTER Sacramento, California

and THE AUTISM NETWORK http://www.feat.org

"Healing Autism: No Finer a Cause on the Planet" ________________________________________________________________

May 1, 2002 Autism Database Search www.feat.org/search/news.asp

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, respectively.

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.

Jill Briggs

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 with autism.

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.

Adnan Shamsi

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: daily@timeinc.net. Make sure you send a copy to FEAT: news@feat.org

* 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.

* * *

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>> DO SOMETHING ABOUT AUTISM NOW <<

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