Tuesday, April 01, 2008

QUICK Sergei, Hide the Arugula!


PART THE FIRST

By Cornelia Read


I greatly admire people who are lifelong political activists, especially when they dedicate themselves to changing the world in terms of a single specific wavelength. I don't have the stamina, or the moral fiber, or the whatever, to keep up a head of steam for that long.



As I said in the comments trail of last week's post on the possible connection between the mercury-based preservative thimerosal and the huge spike in the population of kids with autism:

God, this is all making me want to grind my teeth down to stubs, you know? I don't think I'd make a very good full-time activist for ANYTHING--I start thinking about it all and I get so wound up that I want to invade dinner parties around Berkeley and start lecturing people.



Kind of scary, really. "Look out! It's Autism-is-Caused-By-the-Government Lady!! QUICK, Sergei, hide the arugula!!"



I'm much more suited to writing mysteries--I get to pick some total bad guys, show them LOOKING like total bad guys, and then shoot their heads off and/or blow them up in helicopters. If I didn't have fiction, I'd probably turn into Ted Kaczynski.



And it was no doubt celestial serendipity that I went to the Northern California Mystery Writers of America luncheon last Saturday at San Francisco's John's Grill (dining home of Sam Spade, complete with a replica Maltese Falcon, if lacking a replica Bogart)


to hear former FBI Agent Donald Max Noel describe the Federal Government's near-20-year odyssey of tracking down the man they called "Unabom," because I was on the verge of becoming a tree-sitting delusional anarchist myself, by noon Saturday.



Seriously--I indulged in an hour-long Anti-Julie-Gerberding rant at my sister's house Wednesday night, lectured two very nice women on the board of a local shelter over coffee about same yesterday morning,




then talked with my writing buddy Kira for another half hour just now, and traded emails with about two hundred pretty intense people on both sides of the debate in the meantime.



A week of that has nearly convinced me I'm the long lost secret twin of these guys:




Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the Brothers Freak, but it takes a lot of dedication to live the Fabulous Furry lifestyle, full time, you know? Either that or a lot of pharmaceutical-grade cocaine, and/or uppers generally.



I think I'm more in need of some mental floss:


With several of these as a chaser--served "filthy," à la Joshilyn Jackson:



Or, hell, even this:


Ideally drunk from a chilled and frosted one of these:

I am deeply honored that so many people took an interest in my "A Shot in the Dark" post last week. It was reproduced on Kim Stagliano's blog, the Age of Autism website, and linked to from several dozen other blogs--including our pal Fran's-- and parenting forums around the world.



So far, the post has received nigh on 10,000 hits, and 130 people have left comments here on Naked Authors--leading to a pretty lively back-blog debate--with many more opining offsite.



When you write a blog, you get comfortable with the idea that only your regular commenters bother reading it, with the occasional stray few hundred people in Bahrain and Saudia Arabia and Dubai dropping in after misguided searches for naked stewardesses/sixteen-year-old girls/ stepmothers/high schools/bunnies.



Last week proved me wrong on that, and it's very moving to know that a lot of people thought I did some good, putting together the questions about the possible derivation of autism that most haunt me, as a parent.



That being said, I literally am not able to continue blogging on the topic of autism every week. I just can't think about it that much, you know?



It's exhausting enough trying to keep an eye on my daughter--who had a merry time crushing CDs



and taking a spatula to the living room wall tongue-and-groove paneling



and decomposing two chairs



and shaking my last eightball of Chanel loose face powder out onto the floor


and pouring the shampoo



and soy sauce



down the kitchen sink



and attempting to crack two legs off the dining-room table


and melting the soles of her sneakers into the heating grate



while I was fielding emails and trying to be an artist and stuff.



She's a great kid, but she is also the lightning rod for entropy in the universe...


... but hey, it's not like we're being strafed by Jap Zeros in a rice-paddy in Biafra, or anything.


We have much to be grateful for.

And with that parting thought, please keep in mind that April is--contrary to T.S. Eliot, and most alliteratively besides--Autism Awareness Month.



I hope the debate and the conversation and the research forge on, throughout this month and long after.

For parents concerned about the effect of the current CDC-recommended vaccination schedule on their infants and young children, here's an excellent resource with a lot of good information and links.

So, Crazy Autism-is-Caused-by-the-Government Lady would like to thank you all...


... each and every one--for your concern and your passion and your open-mindedness.



Peace out, and pass the arugula

21 comments:

  1. For Cornelia's loyal readers...

    CNN is devoting today to numerous reports on autism. Research. Causes. Treatment.

    At least, the cable network is doing that during those hours when Lou Dobbs is not screaming about illegal aliens.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know what you mean about activism and how hard it is to keep up and not have people crossing the street to avoid you.

    In the 80's I bored hundreds of people, one and two at a time, with my outrage over our policies in Central America. I had to stop.

    I'm not surprised so many people responded to your post about autism and vaccines. Something there isn't right and I'm sure it feels like no one cares. But as you can see, a lot of people do care and that, by itself, should give us some hope.

    You hang in there, sweetie. And don't worry about bending ears. We all love a woman with passion.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Cornelia, you rock.

    ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. patty smiley4/02/2008 8:28 AM

    As always...brilliant.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "speedball of chanel powder" - ah sugar you sure do write dreamy :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks, you guys!

    Paul, I think they're doing pieces all week on CNN. I'm glad/sad I don't have cable, I guess.

    David, the '80s was a time for a LOT of people to lay low. Used to piss me right off. I remember major screaming matches about whether or not Oliver North was a "patriot," the skeevy little weasel.

    Rae, YOU rock!

    Aw, Patty... thank you.

    And Sophie we are so bent that that READS dreamy to us. :>)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I only just caught up on the posts on the NA website, and came to the conclusion that Miss C, you're simply awesome! The way you describe life with an autistic kid is incredible, but then again I suspect you could write about paint drying and still make it riveting! Don't ever change. And for fuck's sake don't you dare to doubt your talent or inner strength.

    ReplyDelete
  8. These inter-web thingies are funny beasts. Neither rhyme nor reason seems common in explaining the whys and wherefores of how posts and comments propagate across the cyber-ether. What will truly give an atomic wedgie to your ego is when some friend one day cites a blog comment as being "among the most offensive things he's seen" and doesn;t have a clue that YOU were the original author of the line being cited.

    On the one hand, "yay! I was cited!"

    On the other, well, there's probably an other hand, but it eludes me at the moment.

    Bourbon is good.

    I'm a veg, Corn.
    .
    .
    .
    B

    ReplyDelete
  9. OH-- and at the rick of seeming sadly pragmatic, when the hell are you swinging back by H-town to do a book-pimpage thing? Whenever it is, I'm 92% likely to be occupied elsewhere, but efforts will be made -- that much I can insincerely promise.
    .
    .
    .
    B

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dude, Brett... I join you in veg-hood. Or actually, I was there already. I think.

    Bourbon IS good, I hear... I think I will try to drink it when I grow up. To date I have only graduated to dark rum--all else still smells like nail polish, to me.

    ReplyDelete
  11. You know Brett, it's funny how much fewer (many lesser? less fewer?) signing gigs my publisher wants to send me to, if I'm not riding Lee C's coattails... I would love to come to Houston again, that was truly a fine time.

    I am going to be in Dallas overnight on April 17th, but I realize this is like telling someone in Berkeley "hey, I'm coming to Seattle, wanna stop by for drinks?"

    ReplyDelete
  12. So just kid-nap Child (get it? kid? child? eeehhh...) and haul him around on your junket as a sort of good luck hostage. He's small, English, and seems the sort one could fold into a carry-on bag if injurious leverage were efficaciously applied.

    Or have an affair with the governor of New York. That seems worth some quick pub.

    As always, glad to help, and my invoice is already in the mail. Your prompt and unquestioning attention is most appreciated, yadda yadda yadda.
    .
    .
    .
    B

    PS-- Dallas? No, that's no good for me. LEAVING Dallas is great fun. Traveling TO Dallas? Not so much.

    ReplyDelete
  13. James O. Born4/02/2008 3:02 PM

    Cornelia,
    I think you are an activist and sell yourself short on stamina.

    I'm impressed.

    Jim

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh my, parenting is exhausting no matter what, and you're doing seriously amazing parenting, Sweet C. You're a hero to me, and I'm not being the least bit facetious. On stressful days, I think of you and that amazing smile of yours. If you can smile, so can I.

    And I hear you about being the pushy broad, except my little soapbox is gay rights. And domestic violence. Go figure.

    Well, those and reading authors outside people's comfort zones. Don't read just the popular crowd! Expand your horizons! But on that topic in this company, I'm preachin' to the choir.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Those are damn fine soapboxes to be on, Fran. I'm with you.

    It's not so much a problem of being "the pushy broad," to me. It's just that so much of my life is autism, and I'd rather think about other stuff, whenever I get the chance. The loss is too big to look in the face full-time, I guess.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Cornelia,just saw this on cnn.com:
    By Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey
    Special to CNN
    (CNN) -- In light of the recent Hannah Poling decision, in which the federal court conceded that vaccines could have contributed to her autism, we think the tide is finally turning in the direction of parents like us who have been shouting concerns from our rooftops for years.

    Autism is a debilitating disorder, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is suffered by 1 in 150 kids, making it more common than childhood cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined.

    Recently, England and Ireland reported that autism is affecting one in 58 individuals.

    Is it any wonder that autism has become many new parents' No. 1 fear?

    We've met some of the most amazing moms and dads who are forging their own path to prevention and recovery. When our son, Evan, was diagnosed with autism we were lucky enough to benefit from their knowledge and experience. Evan has been healed to a great extent by many breakthroughs that, while perhaps not scientifically proven, have definitely helped Evan and many other children who are recovering from autism. Parents vs. scientists: Watch the latest test case »

    There are some who wonder what we mean when we say "recovering" from autism. They confuse the word recover with cure. While you may not be able to cure an injury caused in a terrible car accident, you can recover; you can regain many skills that you once lost. In the case of autism, we think there are treatments that often bring about such healing, so that the observable symptoms of the condition no longer exist. Even though we may no longer see any symptoms of autism, we can't say a child is "cured" because we do not know what they would have been like had they never been injured.

    We believe what helped Evan recover was starting a gluten-free, casein-free diet, vitamin supplementation, detox of metals, and anti-fungals for yeast overgrowth that plagued his intestines. Once Evan's neurological function was recovered through these medical treatments, speech therapy and applied behavior analysis helped him quickly learn the skills he could not learn while he was frozen in autism. After we implemented these therapies for one year, the state re-evaluated Evan for further services. They spent five minutes with Evan and said, "What happened? We've never seen a recovery like this."

    Evan is now 5 years old and what might surprise a lot of you is that we've never been contacted by a single member of the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, or any other health authority to evaluate and understand how Evan recovered from autism. When Evan meets doctors and neurologists, to this day they tell us he was misdiagnosed -- that he never had autism to begin with. It's as if they are wired to believe that children can't recover from autism. Watch CDC chief on vaccines, autism »

    So where's the cavalry? Where are all the doctors beating down our door to take a closer look at Evan? We think we know why they haven't arrived. Most of the parents we've met who have recovered their child from autism as we did (and we have met many) blame vaccines for their child's autism.

    We think our health authorities don't want to open this can of worms, so they don't even look or listen. While there is strong debate on this topic, many parents of recovered children will tell you they didn't treat their child for autism; they treated them for vaccine injury. Read about latest fight over vaccines and autism

    Many people aren't aware that in the 1980s our children received only 10 vaccines by age 5, whereas today they are given 36 immunizations, most of them by age 2. With billions of pharmaceutical dollars, could it be possible that the vaccine program is becoming more of a profit engine then a means of prevention?

    Don't Miss
    Vaccine-autism link divides parents and scientists
    iReport.com: Living with Autism
    In Depth: Unraveling autism's mystery
    CDC: Autism information center
    We believe autism is an environmental illness. Vaccines are not the only environmental trigger, but we do think they play a major role. If we are going to solve this problem and finally start to reverse the rate of autism, we need to consider changing the vaccine schedule, reducing the number of shots given and removing certain ingredients that could be toxic to some children.

    We take into account that some children have reactions to medicines like penicillin, for example, yet when it comes to vaccines we are operating as if our kids have a universal tolerance for them. We are acting like ONE SIZE FITS ALL. That is, at the very least, a huge improbability.

    Even if the CDC is not convinced of a link between vaccines and autism, changing the vaccine schedule should be seriously considered as a precautionary measure. (If you would like to see some ideas for alternative schedules, check out http://generationrescue.org.)


    We wish to state, very clearly, that we are not against all vaccines, but we do believe there is strong evidence to suggest that some of the ingredients may be hazardous and that our children are being given too many, too soon!

    The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writers

    ReplyDelete
  17. Cornelia,just saw this on cnn.com:
    By Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey
    Special to CNN
    (CNN) -- In light of the recent Hannah Poling decision, in which the federal court conceded that vaccines could have contributed to her autism, we think the tide is finally turning in the direction of parents like us who have been shouting concerns from our rooftops for years.

    Autism is a debilitating disorder, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is suffered by 1 in 150 kids, making it more common than childhood cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined.

    Recently, England and Ireland reported that autism is affecting one in 58 individuals.

    Is it any wonder that autism has become many new parents' No. 1 fear?

    We've met some of the most amazing moms and dads who are forging their own path to prevention and recovery. When our son, Evan, was diagnosed with autism we were lucky enough to benefit from their knowledge and experience. Evan has been healed to a great extent by many breakthroughs that, while perhaps not scientifically proven, have definitely helped Evan and many other children who are recovering from autism. Parents vs. scientists: Watch the latest test case »

    There are some who wonder what we mean when we say "recovering" from autism. They confuse the word recover with cure. While you may not be able to cure an injury caused in a terrible car accident, you can recover; you can regain many skills that you once lost. In the case of autism, we think there are treatments that often bring about such healing, so that the observable symptoms of the condition no longer exist. Even though we may no longer see any symptoms of autism, we can't say a child is "cured" because we do not know what they would have been like had they never been injured.

    We believe what helped Evan recover was starting a gluten-free, casein-free diet, vitamin supplementation, detox of metals, and anti-fungals for yeast overgrowth that plagued his intestines. Once Evan's neurological function was recovered through these medical treatments, speech therapy and applied behavior analysis helped him quickly learn the skills he could not learn while he was frozen in autism. After we implemented these therapies for one year, the state re-evaluated Evan for further services. They spent five minutes with Evan and said, "What happened? We've never seen a recovery like this."

    Evan is now 5 years old and what might surprise a lot of you is that we've never been contacted by a single member of the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, or any other health authority to evaluate and understand how Evan recovered from autism. When Evan meets doctors and neurologists, to this day they tell us he was misdiagnosed -- that he never had autism to begin with. It's as if they are wired to believe that children can't recover from autism. Watch CDC chief on vaccines, autism »

    So where's the cavalry? Where are all the doctors beating down our door to take a closer look at Evan? We think we know why they haven't arrived. Most of the parents we've met who have recovered their child from autism as we did (and we have met many) blame vaccines for their child's autism.

    We think our health authorities don't want to open this can of worms, so they don't even look or listen. While there is strong debate on this topic, many parents of recovered children will tell you they didn't treat their child for autism; they treated them for vaccine injury. Read about latest fight over vaccines and autism

    Many people aren't aware that in the 1980s our children received only 10 vaccines by age 5, whereas today they are given 36 immunizations, most of them by age 2. With billions of pharmaceutical dollars, could it be possible that the vaccine program is becoming more of a profit engine then a means of prevention?

    Don't Miss
    Vaccine-autism link divides parents and scientists
    iReport.com: Living with Autism
    In Depth: Unraveling autism's mystery
    CDC: Autism information center
    We believe autism is an environmental illness. Vaccines are not the only environmental trigger, but we do think they play a major role. If we are going to solve this problem and finally start to reverse the rate of autism, we need to consider changing the vaccine schedule, reducing the number of shots given and removing certain ingredients that could be toxic to some children.

    We take into account that some children have reactions to medicines like penicillin, for example, yet when it comes to vaccines we are operating as if our kids have a universal tolerance for them. We are acting like ONE SIZE FITS ALL. That is, at the very least, a huge improbability.

    Even if the CDC is not convinced of a link between vaccines and autism, changing the vaccine schedule should be seriously considered as a precautionary measure. (If you would like to see some ideas for alternative schedules, check out http://generationrescue.org.)


    We wish to state, very clearly, that we are not against all vaccines, but we do believe there is strong evidence to suggest that some of the ingredients may be hazardous and that our children are being given too many, too soon!

    The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writers

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks so much for posting this--these two are doing a great job bringing much-needed focus to autism. Good to see people with such a BIG soapbox putting it to such very fine use.

    ReplyDelete
  19. thanks for the opp to learn and read. How do you all relate to
    one another? just fellow writers?

    sarah

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks for your kind comment on my article on this subject. Not sure if you saw the version that ran on the newspaper's blogsite that brought out the crazy paranoid government haters on both sides of the issue. Yowza. I'm still not sure what some of their rants were about. Of course, I live out here in Eric Rudolph country, so no big surprises there.

    That said, I'll be writing more about this subject because it's piqued my interest and passion.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Cornelia-
    Thanks for all your recent posts about autism-they are wonderful.
    I just read both Field of Darkness and The Crazy School. Both of them blew me away. I know you made your movie list, but I'll make mine:

    Madeline: Ellen Page (have to agree with you there)
    Dean: Jared Padalecki
    Ellis: Alexis Bledel
    Dean's dad: James Rehborn
    Dean's mom: Bess Armstrong
    Wimpy: Giovanni Ribsi
    Madeline's mom: Jennifer Saunders
    Bonwit: Edward Hermann
    Egon: Klaus Maria Brandauer
    Uncle Weasel: Bruce Dern (have to agree with you here)
    Binty: Christine Ebersole
    Kit: Anthony Andrews
    Lapthorne: Steve Zahn
    Kenny: Billy Bob Thornton
    Schinder: Bruce Davidson
    Vomit Girl: Rachel Griffiths
    Farmer Johnson: Christopher Walken
    Simon: Oliver Pratt
    Wilt: Omar Sharif (I agree with you here as well)
    Jerky Boss Guy: (sorry I forgot the character's name) Paul McCrane

    And for Crazy School:
    David: Rob Reiner
    Dhumavati: Cherry Jones
    Mindy: Amy Sedaris
    Gerald: Chad Lowe
    Fay: Blake Lively
    That's all I can think of for now.

    ReplyDelete