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Friday, September 24, 2010

I am a PERSON, not a PUZZLE, and it would be very dangerous for Jenny McCarthy to come within ten feet of me!

 I apologize for not posting in the past couple of days.  I've had extensive dental surgery recently, my two first root canals within less than a week!  I thank my skillful and talented cousin, Dr. Elizabeth (Lisa) Caruana Vella, for her excellent work.  But I've needed a lot of rest!

 Now, there's one issue that has brought me out of my slumber.  I'm motivated, and pissed off, simultaneously!

 Admittedly, Celebitchy is one of my favourite celebrity gossip blogs, and I visit the site quite frequently.  The coverage and opinion provided by Celebitchy and Kaiser is usually excellent.  Unfortunately, Celebitchy and Celebitchy's commentors show much ignorance about Autistic Rights and Neurodiversity in this one post from today about Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey's possible reconciliation: .

 If you don't want to visit that link, basically the post speculates whether of not Mr. Carrey and Ms. McCarthy are back together.  CB calls McCarthy an 'autism advocate', and THAT'S what got my blood boiling.  

  I'll gladly provide my readers a bit of background.

 I'm on the autistic spectrum.  I'm a 26 year old woman with Asperger's Syndrome.  I was diagnosed relatively late, at age 19.  If you don't know what AS is, it's basically a neurological condition that makes people 'nerdy'.  People with AS are supposed to be weak in social skills, but make up for that lack with an ability to be really fascinated by a few areas that interest them.  Those areas differ from person to person, but are often technology or trivia related.  Usually, people with AS can go on and on about their favourite subjects whether or not other people are interested.  Quite often, people with AS have an incredible knack for technology.  Bill Gates has AS, that is all but confirmed by him and his people.  Bram Cohen, the inventor of BitTorrent, is officially out of the closet as an 'aspie'.  As for me, I'm excelling in my IT studies at George Brown College, I can code in HTML, CSS and JavaScript in my sleep (I'm a web designer, please go to if you haven't already), and I can usually kick serious ass while watching Jeopardy! with others.  Aside from weak social skills and high technical skills, AS is also associated with sensory sensitivities and 'stimming'.

  Now, I don't fit stereotypes of 'aspies' and autistic people that well.  First of all, I'm tremendously affectionate with the people I love, physically and verbally.   Secondly, I read body language, tone of voice and sarcasm very well, and I use all three myself.  Thirdly, I show obvious empathy toward the people I love, people with AS are supposed to have difficulty with empathy.  Contrary to popular belief, aspies don't lack empathy, they just tend to have difficulty expressing it in a way neurotypicals can recognize.  In my case, though, I DO express empathy in a way that neurotypicals recognize, and quite frequently.  I suppose I'm not a typical anything.

  To people who meet me, I'm some sort of a strange hybrid between neurotypical Penny and her nerdy pals on The Big Bang Theory.   

  Now, on to Jenny McCarthy.  Gosh, even typing her name makes me angry!

 In a nutsell, Jenny's young son was diagnosed with autism.  Jenny is convinced, contrary to extensive scientific evidence, that her son's MMR vaccine 'caused' his autism.  Her promotion of her dangerous beliefs on Oprah and in her propagandistic books, has caused many parents to dangerously avoid getting their children vaccinated, and that has already caused many deaths, see  In addition to her dangerous anti-vaccine crusade, she also describes autism in horribly offensive terms.  Ms. McCarthy, autism doesn't 'steal' children.  Autism isn't a 'tragedy'.   Yes, indeed, it can be tremendously challenging to be on the spectrum, and to have a child on the spectrum.  But autism offers plenty of gifts and advantages, as well.  Eliminating autism from the human race would have dire consequences.  People on the spectrum and their families need counselling (but not ABA!) and support, but most autistic people can learn to be happy and productive members of society, given the proper supports and encouragement.  

  Another very dangerous idea that she promotes is chelation 'therapy'.  Follow that link for more information. It's something that's very dangerous and offers no benefits at all.  And, although there is a minority of people who should avoid dairy and/or gluten for digestive reasons, there is no real link between dietary intolerance and autism, and putting autistics on a restricted diet is no 'cure', either.  

Why are Curebies Dangerous?
The main reason that curebies are dangerous is because they're usually willing to take any steps possible to convert their child to a normal one - even if there's risk to the child's health, longevity or mental state.

Curebie therapies are often quite nasty and many (most) of the doctors who support cure movements tend to fall into the "quack" category. In some cases, the curebie medical profession seems very similar to internet scams with the main aims being more monetary that social.


 Some great articles about the advantages of autism and Asperger's Syndrome:

 In addition, here are some excellent pro-neurodiversity resources online:

  From Mike Stanton's blog:

Vaccines, autism and actresses.

Jenny versus Jennifer

How would you describe an actress and a mother who makes public statements about the nation’s vaccination programme?
Brainwashed simpleton?
That is a bit strong, even when applied to Jenny McCarthy. But this is the EOHarm email list passing judgement on a different actress, Jennifer Garner whose crime was to speak up in favour of vaccines, namely the flu vccination programme in the United States. Another letter described her as,
Just another Hollywood uninformed propagandist?
This without a hint of irony from members of a group that has nothing but praise for their ownHollywood uninformed propagandist, the aforementioned Jenny MCarthy! Another letter suggests that Jenny McCarthy might want to pop round to Jennifer Garner’s house for coffee and presumably put her right on the vaccine issue at the same time.
I feel she would get short shrift. Jennifer Garner will have been ably briefed by the American Lung Association. She knows that with an annual death toll of 36,000 from influenza and its complications, this is the number eight killer in the USA with 2.7% of all deaths. It used to be 4% which suggests that the vaccine is having a positive impact. EOHarm takes its inspiration from “Evidence of Harm,”  a book that purports to be a balanced investigation of the alleged connection between the mercury content in childhood vaccines and the growth in the prevalence of autism, but ends up providing uncritical support for the belief that we are in the midst of an autism epidemic caused by mercury poisoning.

Original Biomedical Theory

Once upon a time biomedical explanations and interventions for autism revolved around diets, anti fungals and vitamin supplements. I have a book, “Biological treatments for autism and PDD” by William Shaw dated 1997 which even contains a recommendation for parents to vaccinate their children against Streptococcus Pneumoniae. 
The closest it comes to implicating vaccines is the author’s belief that adverse reactions to vaccines may be one of the factors contributing to recurrent infections that require antibiotics. It is the antibiotics that are supposed to do the real damage, destroying the natural flora in the gut.  Consequently fungal infections damage the gut and allow poorly digested peptides to enter the blood stream. If these get into the brain they attach to opioid receptors and cause the symptoms we diagnose as autism. Three years later Karen Seroussi wrote “Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder” [Simon and Schuster 2000] which repeated Shaw’s basic hypothesis. Vaccines, typically MMR but also DPT, were again accorded a supporting role in exacerbating a pre-existing difficulty coping with infections. Mercury, heavy metal poisoning and chelation therapy did not get a mention.

Mercury Rises

There was a problem with this “Opioid Excess” theory of causation. [apart from the obvious one that even today it remains a tentative theory with little hard science to support it.] It had originally been expounded  in 1979 [Panksepp J. A Neurochemical Theory of Autism] Even if the MMR was an added factor, it too had been around since the 1970s. But the dramatic increase in reported cases of autism in children suggested that something else was happening. There were perfectly good reasons not to believe in an epidemic. But for those parents already primed to blame MMR, the growth in autism led them to look for vaccine-related causes. During the 1990s the number of mandatory vaccines for children in the USA grew steadily alongside the autism figures. In some cases children could have received in excess of the stringent safety limits for mercury exposure if they had receieved all  their vaccine shots. A paper pointing to supposed similarities between mercury poisoning and autism was published in a fringe journal. Information supporting the mercury hypothesis was widely disseminated amongst parents via the internet. David Kirby wrote his book, “Evidence of Harm” and the rest, as it were, is history.  

Blame all Vaccines

Now that mercury has been removed from all mandatory childhood vaccines and autism shows no signs of decreasing you would think that people would move on and look for other explanantions for autism prevalence. Perhaps this article in Time Magazine or this interview with Dr Gernsbacher and Dr Neuschaffer could offer a less catastrophic interpretation of the figures.
But parents who have invested so much intellectual and emotional capital into their belief in vaccine damaged kids as a source of autism are increasingly blaming the vaccines themselves. The real vaccine/autism scare began with the MMR fiasco in the UK. That resonated in the USA where Dr Andrew Wakefield is a popular figure at Defeat Autism Now events. As I understand it, in one variation on a theme, the mercury in vaccines was supposed to weaken the immune system and the measles component of the MMR subsequently overwhelmed it. IF you believe this and IF you also buy into the conspiracy theory that the US government [in the form of the FDA and the CDC]  and the big drug companies knew about this and are now engaged in a cover-up, it is a short step to believing that all vaccines are dangerous and everything that the government tells us about vaccine safety and efficacy is a lie.
For the true believers 36,000 preventable deaths from influenza [and that is in the USA alone, never mind the rest of the world] are as nothing compared to the hypothetical possibility that vaccines cause autism. Brainwashed Simpletons? No,  more like sadly deluded.


 So, Celebitchy, I usually love your site, but calling Jenny McCarthy an 'autism advocate' is like calling Mel Gibson a 'women's rights advocate'.  Same goes for Holly Robinson-Peete, she's also very dangerous for autistic people!

 Autism Speaks is also EXTREMELY dangerous and evil:


 I swear, if I came within ten feet of Ms. McCarthy, she would not be safe.  I usually have excellent self-control, but at the very least I would scream at her and stand up for my rights and the rights of people on the spectrum everywhere!

 I leave my dear readers these videos:

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