Steve Silberman’s “NeuroTribes” Is Dangerously Misleading

The ProfessorSteve Silberman, science journalist, contributing editor at Wired since 1999, and winner of the 2010 Science Journalism Award for Magazine Writing, is doing a tremendous disservice to the many people in this country severely affected by autism and their families.

Silberman and his opinions on the history and future of autism are seemingly everywhere at the moment, including Wired, Forbes, the Atlantic, the cover of the New York Times Book Review, and most recently in an interview on NPR with Terry Gross on her program Fresh Airbecause he has a new book to promote, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity. Silberman’s TED talk on the subject called, “The Forgotten History of Autism,” has been viewed more than 800,000 times and translated into 13 languages. NeuroTribes carries a forward by Oliver Sacks, the noted British neurologist and physician depicted in the film Awakenings with Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro who happens to have died just last week.

How could such an eminent journalist with a foreword by the impeccably credentialed Sacks possibly do a disservice to the subject of autism? I’m glad you asked. (This is a response to the NPR interview as I have not yet had a chance to read the book itself.)

neurotribes book coverSilberman’s research has uncovered a great deal of interesting information about the history of autism, specifically the work of Hans Asperger who treated and taught some 200 children in 1930s Vienna who had difficulties with social interaction on what he called a “continuum” that ranged from “chatty professors of astronomy” with a “special passion for numbers” through people who could not speak and might never be able to live independently. Of course, that sounds surprisingly like the current understanding of autism as a “spectrum disorder” ranging from what are sometimes called “low functioning” individuals who, among many other things, may never be able to speak, to “high functioning” individuals who may be brilliant and articulate “self advocates” like Michael John Carley, former Executive Director of GRASP.

In the interview, Silberman doesn’t mention how Asperger’s 200 patients/students were distributed across the continuum, or across ages, which is a shame as that would be pertinent information to have, especially as Silberman argues that psychiatrist Leo Kanner, generally considered to have been the “discoverer” of autism in the United States, deliberately left out 90% of people who were referred to him with difficulties in social interaction in his own definition of “Infantile Autism.”

Kanner, working from a country with a much larger population than Asperger’s Austria, described an extreme form of social deficit that affected only 11 people that he knew of, all of them children at the time, three of whom couldn’t speak at all and the remainder of whom rarely used language. Silberman says Kanner “turned away” “nine out of ten” of the patients who were referred to him for diagnosis without a diagnosis of autism. It is Silberman’s contention that Asperger’s definition was the more “correct” one and that, as Asperger supposedly claimed, autism was “very common.”

Indeed, one of Silberman’s theses seems to be that autism has always been among us in the range and numbers that we see today, and any perceived increase (other than the “small, true increase in autism in recent generations” that he attributes to older fathers who are “carrying more mutations in their sperm”) in the prevalence of autism is an “optical illusion” “brought about by an original sin of diagnostic parsimony,” according to New York Times reviewer Jennifer Senior, who goes on to say, “The implications here are staggering: Had the definition included Asperger’s original, expansive vision, it’s quite possible we wouldn’t have been hunting for environmental causes or pointing our fingers at anxious parents.”

It’s a very attractive  idea: “Hey, there’s nothing new going on here! Just the discovery that some people’s minds work differently, and all they need is understanding and support!” Kind of makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it? But is it true?

In support of this idea, Silberman offers an “incredible convergence of events” that increased autism awareness to such a degree that people only thought there was a huge increase in its incidence. Of course, if that’s so, it’s hard to fathom why a whole month of every year is dedicated to raising “autism awareness.”

Some of the “converging events” Silberman mentions include the work of Lorna Wing, parent of a child with autism, who in the 1970s discovered Asperger’s work and fought for diagnostic criteria that included people who had difficulty making sense of social signals, but otherwise seemed to function in our society rather better than those with “classic autism”; the subsequent widening of that diagnostic criteria; the release in 1988 of the film Rain Man starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise; a certain paper by British gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield (and 12 of his colleagues) in 1998; and the advent of the Internet, which allowed parents to swap stories in a way that had been unprecedented.

Given that these events span more than 30 years, it’s hard for me to think of them as a “convergence of events,” “incredible” or otherwise, but let’s take his claims at face value for now.

Silberman says that Lorna Wing “quietly worked with the DSM” to broaden autism criteria, but “no one explained to parents that the autism of the 1980s was not ‘your grandfather’s autism.’” “No one thought to interview Lorna Wing about the diagnostic criteria.”

But the timeline doesn’t add up. Parents weren’t panicking in the way that Silberman describes until the late 1990s. In 1997, parents like Sallie Bernard of Brick Township, NJ, started noticing that there were many other children around displaying signs of the “rare” disorder their own children had. In addition, those parents have had “broadened diagnostic criteria” “explained to them” ad infinitum. Seriously, bring it up and watch their eyes roll. Their response is often along the lines of an incredulous, “You mean to say there were ‘many’ children like mine in the ‘60s, and we just didn’t notice?”

rain manSilberman highlights the improbability of this – and undercuts his own thesis – by stating the truth about the film Rain Man (again, released in 1988). When the film was released, Silberman says, “most people in the world who had never seen an autistic adult saw one for the first time.” Practically overnight, he contends, parents of autistic children could stop saying, “No, no, no! Our child is not artistic; they’re autistic.”

And he’s right. At that point in time, few people had ever met an adult with autism, at least autism on that kind of level, and that included doctors, teachers, and psychiatrists. Unlike most people, however, I had been “aware” of autism for years. Oddly enough, as a teenager in the ’70s, I read everything my local library had on the subject, and I had certainly never seen or come in contact with an autistic adult or an autistic child. The closest I came was in college. The head of the physics department at Williams, David Park (who didn’t teach any of the classes that I, as a physics major, was required to take), had an adult daughter with autism. His wife, Clara Claiborne Park, an English lecturer, had written a book about their experience called The Siege.

If no one had seen it, doctors had never heard of it, and psychologists couldn’t diagnose it, how could autism possibly be  described as “very common”? Were all those professional people just not noticing the hand flapping, echolalia, fascination with spinning objects, extreme sensory sensitivity, and obsession with routine?

Andrew Wakefield, Silberman contends, “released an instantly controversial paper blaming a certain form of autism that he claimed was novel on the MMR vaccine” sparking a “worldwide panic about vaccines.” He makes a few mistakes right there in the outset with that characterization, however.

Like most media sources, even serious “science journalists,” Silberman implies that Wakefield acted alone when in fact he had twelve co-authors. I understand why he might not want to mention that particular fact. It’s easy to imagine that one person could be corrupt enough to commit “deliberate fraud”; it’s another thing altogether when you realize that you’re accusing the entire gastroenterology department of one of the most eminent hospitals in the U.K. of deliberate fraud. After all, how likely is that twelve other doctors would put their names on a paper they didn’t participate in and agree with?

In addition, Wakefield et al did not “blame” the autism their patients had on the MMR. They merely suggested there might be a relationship that deserved further study (and, indeed it does as we shall see later on when discussing CDC researcher, William Thompson).

Third, Wakefield was a gastroenterologist, as such he did not discuss a novel form of autism; he discussed a novel form of severe bowel disease in young children that happened to be accompanied by autism symptoms.

And lastly, Wakefield et al. could not have sparked a “worldwide panic about vaccines” as the paper mentioned one vaccine – and one vaccine alone – the MMR, each component of which (measles, mumps, and rubella) was then available in single shots – single shots which Wakefield recommended parents use to immunize their children.

the siegeSilberman makes the claim that Wakefield “hijacked” the conversation on autism that the “autism parents movement” had begun in the United States when Ruth Christ Sullivan (like Lorna Wing, a parent of an autistic child) established in 1965 what Silberman calls “The National Autistic Society,” but was really named The National Society for Autistic Children until it was changed to The Autism Society of America, with “a guy named Bernie Rimland.”

“The original autism parents movement,” Silberman says, “was not an effort to cure or prevent autism. It was an effort to build a better world for autistic children and their families, and that was the real story of the autism parents movement until the panic about vaccines began. And then the energy of that movement was diverted into spreading fear and panic about vaccines.”

Except that he leaves out a huge part of the story. Sullivan’s partner in The Autism Society of America, Dr. Bernard Rimland, father of a child with autism and an experimental psychologist, was largely responsible for lifting what Silberman calls the “horrible burden of shame and stigma that psychiatrists had put on” parents of children with autism by publishing his book Infantile Autism: The Syndrome and Its Implications for a Neural Theory of Behavior in 1964, thereby demolishing the prevailing theory that cold mothers caused the disorder. As a psychologist, Rimland had never heard of autism before his own son, Mark, was born, nor had he ever met anyone with the traits his son exhibited. He set out to learn as much as he could.

I think, given the cross-section of dedicated psychology researcher, autism parent, and leader of multiple national autism organizations, Rimland could arguably be considered the pre-eminent “expert” on autism while he was alive. What did Rimland believe? He believed that the incidence of autism had indeed exploded in recent years. And, frankly, I find it hard to believe that anyone can look at the evidence and argue otherwise. Who, in this era, hasn’t seen someone severely affected by autism, or many someones? Who doesn’t know a family that has been economically devastated by the fallout?

Rimland, himself, believed that this explosion was directly attributable to vaccines, specifically vaccines containing the mercury-containing compound Thimerosal.



So, much as Silberman would like to blame Wakefield for “hijacking” the conversation on autism by “blaming it on the MMR,” Dr. Bernard Rimland, leader of the “original autism parents movement” was already talking about the physiological basis of autism, treatments that could reverse it, and vaccines as a primary cause before Wakefield and his twelve colleagues published their paper mentioning the MMR vaccine (which, by the way, as a live-virus vaccine, never contained Thimerosal so was never a part of Rimland’s discussion). (An interesting side note: Rimland was the “autism expert” consulted on the film Rain Man, and his son Mark was the model for Dustin Hoffman’s character, Raymond Babbitt.)

Notably, Dr. Rimland did not share Silberman’s whitewashing sentiments on the subject of what many call “regressive autism” either. Silberman claims “that autism often doesn’t become obvious to both clinicians and parents and teachers and everybody until a child is two or three, which is exactly the age when many children are receiving their vaccinations.” While Rimland maintained that “Late onset autism, (starting in the 2nd year), was almost unheard of  in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s; today such cases outnumber early onset cases 5 to 1, the increase paralleling the increase in required vaccines.”

Mr. Silberman feels that we have spent too much money looking for “causes” of autism and thinks we should “redirect” some of that money toward “things like helping autistic adults live more satisfying, healthier and safer lives, or helping families get the services they need, or helping families get a quicker diagnosis for their kids.”

We at TMR feel that he is at least partly right. There has been too much money – and way too much emphasis – spent on finding genetic causes of autism. Silberman makes the assertion that “We have known since the ’70s that autism is primarily [emphasis mine] genetic,” but laments that the search for an elusive “autism gene” has turned up over a thousand “candidate genes,” each of which appear to be slightly more prevalent in the autism population than the non-autism population – essentially rendering any discussion of autism as a “genetic disorder” meaningless.

Silberman does acknowledge, as have all serious studies on the subject in recent years, that autism has to result from an interaction between genes and “the environment.” While offering a “promising” environmental theory on the one hand (high testosterone levels in the womb – interestingly, Silberman doesn’t seem to wonder why those levels might be high), on the other hand, he dismisses environmental causation research with “everything from antidepressants in the water supply to air pollution has been identified as possibly contributing to autism.” Therefore, in his mind, the discussion is useless and our resources and energy should go elsewhere.

Yes, a wide variety of environmental factors have been posited as contributions to autism, and no doubt each does add slightly to overall risk, but we at TMR would argue that rather than performing credible research to identify major environmental risk factors, these studies have been performed as a smokescreen in order to enable a dismissal of the very sort that Silberman offers.

Consider, for example, the relative risks (“RR”) associated with a number of the factors that “been shown” to “contribute to autism”: older dads, RR=1.4proximity to highway, RR = 1.6obese mothers, RR = 1.7; and ritual circumcision, RR = 2.0. Please keep in mind that a relative risk of two is considered evidence of causation in a court of law, meaning that if something is at least twice as common in an exposed population than an unexposed population, that is evidence that it is “more likely than not” that exposure caused the condition. So the only factor that even comes close to qualifying is circumcision, and as circumcision rates in this country are declining and have been for decades, circumcision can certainly not account for any increase in cases of autism.

Now consider the relative risk that CDC researcher Thomas Verstraeten found in his first two analyses of the data (the ones that made sense) on the health outcomes of children who had high early exposure to Thimerosal in the form of injected vaccines. Autism was 7.6 to 11.4 times more common in children with high early exposure than those with no early exposure. That information didn’t come to light, however, until Freedom of Information Act requests compelled the CDC to produce the four years of emails, etc. on the subject that led up to the 2004 publication of severely whitewashed data arriving at “no conclusion.” (Side note: I almost feel sorry for Verstraeten. Can you imagine how little any researcher wants to spend four years of his life in order to finally arrive at no conclusion?)

In addition, as confessed by another CDC researcher, William Thompson, Thompson and his three co-authors left out – hid, threw away, pick your favorite descriptor of their unethical behavior – data  that indicated a high risk for autism for African-American boys who had had the MMR “on time” (meaning before the age of 36 months) as compared to those who had received it later in a pivotal CDC study published back in 2004. I say pivotal because that study was crucial in making the case for dropping the investigation of vaccines as a trigger for autism. The relative risk for autism in African-American boys who had received the MMR “on time” as calculated by Dr. Brian Hooker using the same CDC datasets was 3.4.

vioxxIronically, Silberman acknowledges that “the notion that Big Pharma could engage in a conspiracy on a global scale to cover up a wave of vaccine injury” is “absolutely” plausible. “Look at what the pharmaceutical industry did with Vioxx,” he says,” where hundreds or even thousands of people died before this drug was taken off the market!”

What Silberman fails to mention is that it wasn’t “the pharmaceutical industry” that covered up the harm being done by Vioxx (and organized smear campaigns against doctors who dared say it was causing harm); it was Merck, the maker of Vioxx; Merck, also the maker of the MMR; and Merck, the company that hired away Julie Gerberding from her job as Director of the Centers for Disease Control – when both the Verstraeten and Thompson studies were performed and published – to head their vaccine division. Bet you’ve never seen that particular combination of facts mentioned in mainstream media before, despite the powerful conflict of interest it implies.

Now don’t get me wrong and think that I, or anyone else at TMR, think that vaccines account for all autism, or that they are the only environmental trigger. Anything that adds to toxic loads or raises stress levels to the point of trauma when a child is in a rapid state of development may be a factor. Those factors may include surgery and the use of general anesthesia, heavy use of antibiotics at birth or to treat ear infections, routine ultrasound, and the heavy presence of glyphosate in our current food supply.

We advocate thorough investigation of all the likely culprits, and the likelihood of their interaction with certain common gene mutations that make detoxification harder. We believe that credible environmental causation research is not just desirable, it is necessary, and to that end we have been actively lobbying Congress to get it funded. As part of the Autism Policy Reform Coalition, we estimate that it has been underfunded (as determined by the strategic plan of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (“IACC”)) to the tune of $30 million per year. The APRC has had a recent major success in our lobbying efforts that I hope to be reporting on shortly.

APRC-logo-rwbOne of the problems I have with Silberman’s presentation of the present and future of autism is the implication that you are either for research into causation or you are for providing help and services for families affected by autism, not both. That’s just absurd.

Parents of deaf children, as well as deaf adults, have long advocated for help and services for deaf people. And they have done a tremendous job of creating a world where deafness is far less of a liability than it used to be. Does that mean that if there were public knowledge about avoidable environmental causes of deafness that parents of deaf children would be against getting or applying that knowledge? I think it’s easy to see how ridiculous that idea is.

Generous parents are usually among the first to try and spare other parents and children their own families’ most difficult experiences. In fact, as parents, it is quite easy to be all for research into how to avoid causing autism, how to ameliorate or reverse the condition once it exists, and the funding of desperately needed services for those who will have the condition all their lives – which, by the way, is not everyone; a recent mainstream study showed that a subset of people with autism diagnoses can lose their diagnosis by adulthood.

We are facing a tsunami of young adults who are profoundly affected, as well as the many, many adults who are less disabled by their autism, and you’d better believe we at TMR support increased funding of services for those young adults. After all, even with treatment, many children with autism won’t lose their diagnoses by adulthood, and we need to support the many, many people affected.

We at TMR also agree with Silberman’s suggestion that more money should go toward helping “autistic adults live healthier, safer and more satisfying lives” and are heartily in favor of allocating more money to strapped families who are in need of services, which is why we set up TEAM TMR to help families defray the considerable monetary costs associated with autism.

We also believe in getting “quicker diagnoses,” which is why we have produced our blog series on “Red Flags” to look for in assessing your child for neurological disorders that may eventually require a diagnosis.

In addition, we are delighted that individuals who are less affected are able to advocate for themselves and others with autism and able to create places where people with autism are more comfortable and feel safer – like the autism retreat mentioned by Mr. Silberman in the interview. But we would caution against letting these individuals define autism for the world when there is a tremendous difference between the needs of “chatty professors of astronomy” with a “special passion for numbers” and non-verbal individuals (which make up approximately one-third of those who currently carry a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder) who “bolt” into dangerous situations at every strong sensory trigger, must wear a helmet to keep from hurting themselves, have multiple seizures per day, and are still in diapers as teenagers or adults.

It may indeed be true that individuals with what we call Asperger syndrome have always been what might be described as “common,” but their disability has obviously been so much less profound than those with classic autism that they did not even have a diagnosis in the United States until the DSM-IV was published in 1994, and many of them would no longer have a diagnosis at all under the new DSM-V criteria for “autism spectrum disorder.”

We agree with NY Times reviewer Senior when she says of NeuroTribes,

Because Silberman is telling a history of the movement, he’s necessarily spotlighting parents who have the means and moxie to rattle cages, which leaves low-income families underrepresented; many of the autistic individuals he profiles also tilt toward the exquisitely articulate, because they’ve helped lead a movement. (They’re also more fun to write about, I suspect.) The consequence is that we don’t see autism in some of its more devastating forms.

On the other hand, we here at TMR see autism in all its forms, some of which are not “fun to write about,” and we know that most forms, perhaps especially the most severe forms, are far more prevalent today than they were in “your grandfather’s day,” and we take issue with those who try and pretend they aren’t.

And, once again, we call upon our society to do everything in its power to reverse that trend before it is too late.

~ Professor

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76 Responses to Steve Silberman’s “NeuroTribes” Is Dangerously Misleading

  1. Bob Wood says:

    I have been following this entire exchange and as a life long, now retired, spectrum person who’s father was most likely spectrum and who has one child and grand child who are spectrum, I would like to contribute my perspective, which is that most of the comments here reflect the common NT intellectual masturbation addiction that the NT world so cherishes.

    Consider that we now have a great many young spectrum individuals entering adulthood and all you geniuses who love to expound on hypotheticals seem to have little interest in the fact that these are human beings with a range of potential that usually unfolds later in life. Call this a “developmental lag” or whatever, but in a context of expanding life expectancy (humans reaching 100 years is up 44% since 2000) that lag is not significant.

    I’d suggest getting your heads out of your books and out of that other place where the sun does not shine, and perhaps begin to address the potential positive aspects of this “disorder” “disease”, ‘epidemic” and diagnosis. The last time spectrum individuals were valued, it was called the Renaissance and that my friends might be the simple point of Silberman’s book.

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      No one is expounding on hypotheticals here. (Edited to say, I reread a lot of the comments and there is a lot of hypothetical stuff in this thread. When you’re talking about increases, it is natural to look at reasons and causes, but I can certainly see why you think a lot of these commenters don’t care about the people involved. There is a lot of dry discussion about causes here. I think if you read other posts on our site, you will find less of that and more of the parental concern that typifies most of our readers.) We’re talking about real human beings whose neurodevelopment has been impaired for some reason or another. That’s fact. It’s also fact that this impairment is rising and rising quickly. Whether or not YOU have a family history of ASD, that should be cause for concern. You yourself note that we have “a great many young spectrum indviduals entering adulthood.” We do indeed, a great many individuals who will face extremely long waitlists for the few available services for people like them.

      The “expounding on hypotheticals” was Silberman’s job. He hypothesized all sorts of things, some of which are impossible to prove and many of which have been thoroughly debunked by the extensive research performed by Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted in preparation for their book Denial.

      And if you can read everyone’s comments here and truly believe that there is “little interest in the fact that these are human beings with a range of potential that usually unfolds later in life,” then you are completely missing so much of what is contained in almost every post. (Edited to say, ignore this paragraph due to edits above.)

      “Lagging” neurodevelopment is an issue when considering the ability to fulfill potential. When reflexes do not emerge and mature in the timeframe that provides for optimum reflex function, neurodevelopment isn’t just delayed it can be thrown off significantly. That’s not just the case in autism, it is also the case in other neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD, apraxia, sensory processing disorders, etc. This can make for sometimes unnecessary lifelong difficulties. And, frankly, for most spectrum individuals it isn’t going to matter how many humans make it to 100 when “People diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, which causes challenges with social skills and communication, die at an average age of just 36, noted the researchers.”

      By all means let us value ALL spectrum individuals. But personally I do not see how we can value someone less by doing what we can to provide them with the opportunity to make up for lags in neurodevelopment and to increase their life expectancy. Nor does it value them less to point out that we should be concerned about the rising percentages of people who will require those sorts of interventions. It does not value people with type 1 diabetes less to note with alarm that diabetes rates are also rising and that we should research ways causes and appropriate interventions to prevent the condition.

      • Bob Wood says:

        There is a lot more to this than the medical model can ever encompass.

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        True, but that doesn’t mean we should leave out or ignore discussion of the medical roots of autism. We cannot get a handle on all the issues involved if we do.

      • Bob Wood says:

        I do not believe anyone is suggesting leaving anything out, but rather encouraging the abandonment of the obsession with pathology.

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        I agree that obsession is not good, especially if it is clouding the person’s view of a child (or adult) in front of them, and I have seen that happen, no question. But simply because someone discusses pathology on a post about rising autism rates doesn’t necessarily mean they are obsessed with it. What someone writes in a comment or series of comments on a blog post about rising autism rates may not begin to reflect the totality of their thoughts on the subject of autism.

        I’m just going to offer a “for instance” here… I’ve been working on a book about autism and reflex integration with Svetlana Masgutova. She is INCREDIBLY knowledgeable about the “pathology” of reflexes and how that can affect behavior, so much so that one might be lulled into assuming she’s “obsessed.” But if you talk to her for even a few minutes, you will understand that she is passionately on the side of the children (and some adults) that she treats and is constantly pushing other therapists to better honor the humanity and untapped capacities of their clients, and to treat them with the love and respect they deserve.

    • Kristin says:

      Thank you Bob!! I swear, if someone tells me all this crap one more time and i have to explain yet again i think i’ll go insane. My child is brilliant and creative and i hope that’s what the world sees when she’s an adult.

  2. AutisticGal says:

    It’s a book. Nobody is going to be able to completely represent a book in an interview. Strangely enough.

    In addition, even people like me who spent all of kindergarten and 1st grade stimming under a desk can get married, reproduce and work.

    The fact is there’s lots of trajectories of autistic life.

  3. Bob Wood says:

    From the NYT Neurotribes quote, “The consequence is that we don’t see autism in some of its more devastating forms.” Yes true, but there is a balance that depends largely on who is defining these “devastating forms”. Neuro Typicals tend to define these disabilities completely in terms of their NT values, education and bias. Until the cultural dominant NTs open up to the principle that NDs have rights regarding their own definition, this will be a conflicted issue.

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      There is definitely some “opening up” required on the part of “NTs.” Adults with autism who can advocate for themselves most definitely deserve to be heard with respect to self definition. But “NDs” need some “opening up” as well. Those “devastating forms” are defined by NTs for one reason: Most severely affected people are either unable to define it for themselves or incapable of communicating their definition. Do NTs tend to define it in terms of their NT values and experience? Certainly, but arguing that inability to communicate, inability to self-regulate, inability to function in the world without sensory buffering, and inability to take care of oneself are NOT severely limiting traits for the affected people and their families that entail drastically different needs from those of most NDs is folly. Because of the narrow black-and-white thinking that is an inherent part of autism, many NDs, despite their talk of “diversity,” absolutely refuse to believe or accept that THEIR version of autism is not the only version out there (while their own version was not even included in the definition of autism until 1994 and may no longer be included under DSM-5 criteria), and that THEIR self-defined needs are by no means the only needs that people with autism may have. I have found that many refuse to believe that autism is not strictly genetic either, despite the VAST amount of science indicating that the majority of autism risk arises from interactions between genetic predispositions and environmental exposures. We have a long way to go before conflicts cease.

      • Bob Wood says:

        “Those “devastating forms” are defined by NTs for one reason: Most severely affected people are either unable to define it for themselves or incapable of communicating their definition.” I read your reply as being very individualistic in its perspective. “… affected people are either unable to define it for themselves or incapable of communicating”, yes on the individual basis but is it the NT culture’s sole right then to define these individuals? Is this the only other option? From what I read, you seem to think so, unless I misunderstand. I fully grasp that the spectrum community is now fragmented, however, it is time that the ND culture/community have a substantial say in these definitions when spectrum individuals are unable.

        I believe this NT definition problem is most damaging in the area of education. In most instances socialization has been almost completely substituted for education in public schools with regard to spectrum students. In education the definitions of functioning, the assumptions of capacity and the concepts of communication are all so narrowly NT defined that no space is thought to exist in which spectrum students could be educated in better accessing their innate processing matrices. I for one would like to see tax payer initiated litigation based on this substitution or no-education that is funded based on essentially fraudulent claims that what happens in schools with spectrum students is education.

        It comes down to a respect vs. condescension question, NT to ND regardless of their worn out NT ideas of “high functioning” or “low functioning”. What we have is unknown functioning but the NT compulsion of defining in their vacuum and their addiction to conformity within”the known” is the primary conflict issue. Any idea that NDs must begin to accommodate the dominant NT definitions in some sort of forward balance (But “NDs” need some “opening up” as well.) is flawed. Oppression has never been overcome by caving in to the oppressor.

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        You will get no argument from me, or pretty much anyone I know, about the rotten failure of most educational programs with regard to ASD students. I think it has less to do with bias toward NT values, though, than with lack of understanding about the way autistic minds work. You and I know that more often than not there are capacities that are not tapped by ordinary educational means, but the average teacher really does not. For instance, when I was growing up nonverbal people were rare, even in special education classrooms. When they started showing up in classrooms in much larger numbers, teachers had no idea how to teach them because most of them had never even encountered one before, much less been in a classroom with one. My ex-husband has a two-year-old who was recently diagnosed with ASD. Her therapists, who really ought to know better, were treating her as if she were stupid simply because she did not speak. I’m sure it was frustrating for all concerned, but especially for her. I think this ignorance stems from the fact that it really is a new phenomenon for teachers to have significant numbers of autistic individuals in their classrooms. Adjustment will take time, unfortunately, time we don’t really have.

        I understand your argument, but is it logical to completely defer “definition” of a condition with a huge spectrum — a condition that frequently comes with black-and-white thinking, difficulty understanding that others are individuals with very different experiences and abilities, and often does not include an ability to see nuance, the essence of a “spectrum” — to the individuals whose lives are least affected by that condition? It is not just respect vs. condescension as you have laid it out (though I do frequently see a lack of respect on both sides, NT and ND). Parents of severely affected children see ND people refusing to acknowledge their children’s very real struggles and are frequently told that their wish to alleviate or mitigate those struggles somehow means they don’t love them. As much as YOU recognize a lack of respect toward NDs and their needs in NT people, these parents recognize a lack of respect toward their children and their needs in some ND people. Those parents are not interested in “oppressing” self-advocates. In fact, most of them are desperately hoping that one day their children may be among them and be able to avail themselves of employment and housing services that NDs rightly advocate for. But those parents deserve the right to provide for their children’s needs as they are now and fight for their futures without being told by people who cannot or will not relate to more than a small part of their experience that by doing so they are “oppressing” their children. These parents (and their children) can most definitely gain a lot from hearing and understanding ND viewpoints, but they are not the only valid viewpoints that exist, and reducing conflict on this topic will come down to respect AND a willingness on BOTH sides to imagine the world from the other’s perspective.

      • Bob Wood says:

        We agree on most everything. I offer one refinement. The parents who are in denial do a great deal of harm to their children. It is heartbreaking to watch, as I am sure you know. From my observations and feelings I have developed a perspective of “tribal self rigorousness”. The NTs are not helpful due to their profound lack of understanding. The parents in denial usually are so diverted by their feelings of disappointment, guilt, false hope and you name it that they cannot effectively help their child. After a great deal of consideration, I think it falls to the “tribe” to contribute effective help in the form of definition and in other ways. We are not yet in a position to do this but it must start somewhere. For this reason, I have evolved a political “persona” to go with the tribal self rigorousness. It’s a work in progress. Suggestions and improvements are welcomed.

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        We are indeed in agreement on a lot. 🙂 I have watched a lot of parents be blinded by their disappointment and guilt, and that is a tremendous shame. They are often caught in their own fight or flight reactions and cannot see the situation objectively. I try as gently as I can to remind them of the wonderful child right in front of them who needs their love and understanding more than anything else in the world. That child needs to feel that THEY are accepted and loved exactly as they are, even if their doctor’s long-term prognosis is not. I cannot agree with the “false hope” aspect though, because there is genuine hope to be had. A mainstream study showed that a significant percentage of children diagnosed with ASD CAN lose the diagnosis. That doesn’t mean that all will, of course.

  4. Tim Lundeen says:

    Olmstead/Blaxill’s book is out: Denial: How Refusing to Face the Facts about Our Autism Epidemic Hurts Children, Families, and Our Future. It provides detailed, comprehensive, compelling evidence that autism is a modern epidemic, that 100 years ago it didn’t exist.

  5. DS says:

    Since you haven’t read the book perhaps you should rename this article Dangerously Misleading Review of Steve Silberman’s “NeuroTribes” Based on a Radio Interview

    Its laughable that you go on to argue with the people pointing that fact out, as if it were irrelevant.

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      It is irrelevant if the man represented his own work accurately. Certainly no one has come here and pointed out any way in which he didn’t. (I notice you don’t either.) If they had, perhaps you would have a point.

    • Kristin says:

      Nailed it. How do you review something you never read??

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        Are you saying that Silberman did not represent his own work properly in an extensive PBS interview? No one else has made that claim to date, but if that’s what you’re saying, I’ll be happy to read the book to see where he got it wrong.

  6. J says:

    Wow. The author mentioned “relative risk” without the total sample size? Statistics 101 please.

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      Yeah, sorry. If I were reporting the results of my own study in a scientific journal, I would mention all relevant parameters, sample size, p value, confidence interval, etc. As this is merely comparing what OTHERS have discovered in THEIR scientific studies (which you are certainly welcome to peruse) in a REVIEW of a book, it is hardly necessary. But nice try.

      • DS says:

        Professor, you are also clearly not a professional in this area of study, trying to judge someone else in their assessment. And you also clearly don’t respect your readers when they point that obvious fact out to you… “But nice try” ?! Seriously, grow up, and learn to take some constructive criticism.

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        I’m “clearly not a professional in this area of study”? And you think Silberman IS? Sorry, but no. If he has any right whatsoever to “assess” the autism epidemic (and he does), I have at least an equal right to assess his assessment. (By the way, you are using a combination of “appeal to authority” and ad hominem here in order to discredit my argument. Those are logical fallacies generally used to distract from the fact that you don’t actually have an argument.) If the criticism actually were constructive, I would be happy to take it. 😉

        If you’re bothered by my assessment of Silberman’s work, you should really read the complete and utter takedown of this book in Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted’s new book, Denial: How Refusing to Face Facts about Our Autism Epidemic Hurts Children, Families, and our Future. Oddly enough, their detailed and rigorous work mirrors my understanding of Silberman’s work to t a “T.”

  7. Barry P. Vining, M.S., CRC says:

    We just heard Steve Silberman’s keynote speech (6/15/16) at Texas Autism Research Conference. He quoted his sources, and presented a well developed historical perspective of ASD. Our problem as Counselors is finding resources for PreETS (14 to 22 yr old) services to remove barriers to employment. If an expert in this field, write to me?

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      He quoted his sources in the NPR interview too, but that doesn’t mean his historical perspective is “well developed.” There are big, gaping holes as mentioned above.

  8. bill hayden says:

    Interesting long article and critique of neuro tribes by someone who states upfront: “This is a response to the NPR interview as I have not yet had a chance to read the book itself.

    Not had a chance to read the book, yet has had what looks like a lot of time to write a critique??

    Seems odd to me. The topic is of utmost importance to many, especially you and your readers.

    Why didnt you find the time i.e. “have a chance” to read it??



    • ProfessorTMR says:

      “A lot of time to write a critique”? How long do you think it takes to write? This took a heck of a lot less time to write than it would have to order and/or go and get the book, read it, and THEN write this piece. Silberman was ALL OVER mainstream media at the time I wrote this. He would have been old news by the time I had done that. As Silberman was getting so much press, a timely response seemed important. And seeing as how I am a single mother with two kids and a life who does this stuff virtually for free, rather than a highly-paid columnist at the New York Times, for instance, who would be sent an advance copy to review, I do the best I can. I would have liked very much to read the book before doing the piece, but alas, the situation did not make it feasible. Silberman gave a LOT of information in this book tour interview. If he significantly misrepresented his book, then that’s his problem.

      • Bill says:

        Silberman misrepresenting his book?? LOL

        It is you that critiques his book without reading it??

        Very odd.

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        I critiqued the thinking in his book based on a very extensive interview HE gave on the book. If I misrepresented ANYTHING he said, feel free to point it out. Otherwise, if it deviates significantly from what he wrote in his book, then HE is the one who misrepresented. There’s nothing odd about that at all.

      • Jennifer Petrillo says:

        I did recently read this book.I am the mother of twins with Asd , and I do not find it dangerous as a matter fact I find a lot of the other things people put their kids through dangerous. I think acceptance is the “cure” for autism. and I don’t believe the vaccinations play any role at least not in our case. I also think the way children were treated in the past might have been why it wasn’t as noticeable . he goes into the book about the physical electric shocks and beatings of children with autism in the past and having come from an extremely abusive household as my husband did I wonder if that’s why lesser autism symptoms were not as noticeable. I believe the severity of my boys autism was caused by their prematurity but even without that they probably would’ve been autistic. I would never be willing to hurt my children in order to cure their autism in any way shape or form. giving them a happy childhood and speech and occupational therapy and a milder form of ABA/play therapy Will give them enough skills to get by. I encourage the Hyperfocus they have for numbers and letters toward science, will hopefully help them as well. I don’t believe that this book is anything but a note to parents on how to help you except your child autism so that you can be there for them instead of grieving for yourself and I wholly support that . if you haven’t read the book read it and see how you feel.

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        If the rate of autism is really rising (and it most certainly is), then the book is dangerous because it can lull people into a false sense of complacency that “it’s always been this way.” It hasn’t. Caren Zucker and John Donvan found records of Samuel Gridley Howe who did a survey and count of Massachusetts’ “idiots” in the 1800s. ( They found records of four people who would probably be considered “autistic” if they were diagnosed now, all of them verbal and fairly high functioning. Even if they represent only a small fraction of the people who really were autistic, it still means that the total number in Massachusetts was vanishingly small compared to today. The reason why Rain Man was such a surprise to people was because very few people knew someone like that. Now there are very few people who DON’T know someone like that.

    • Juanjo says:

      Good comment Mr Hayden. You are right on point. The “professor” did not bother to even read the book but he has a long critique and even “knows” the author of the book “misrepresented” his own book. Damn, he must be a speech writer fo Trump in his free time.

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        Dude, you have serious problems with reading comprehension. Where did I say I “know” that Silberman “misrepresented” his own book?! The entire piece is predicated on the ASSUMPTION that he DIDN’T misrepresent his book, on the assumption that what he said in the interview ABOUT his OWN book DOES represent what is IN the book. *eye roll* You should probably reread everything at least once because I have a strong feeling you’re going around “misrepresenting” a lot of what you read.

  9. ellie says:

    I keep wondering, if the numbers were the same, 1 in 45 with autism back in the 1960’s, wouldn’t we see and notice these 50-60 year olds in society now? I do not see 1 in 45 people in that age group/generation with autism.
    So, did they lose their diagnose?
    If the reason for the lack of diagnosis then was merely a “narrower” definition vs an actual increase in the numbers, we should see this reflected in society, right?
    That’s a problem I have with what he’s saying.

    • nostromo says:

      You should try working as a technical worker in the IT industry like I have for 30 years. There are many older people I have worked with over the years who to put it baldly have undiagnosed Aspergers. Ive had conversations with these people about my son with Autism and they will relate their own anecdotes about “Autism” as it was meant in the classic sense, never realising they would themselves now fall under the same category if diagnosed today.

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        I have worked as an electrical engineer and as a computer programmer, not for 30 years, but starting more than 30 years ago. I would say that I encountered two or three people who may have had what would be diagnosed as Asperger’s today, but they were merely “quirky.” They certainly weren’t in the category of the MANY far more severely affected children I see nearly every day. Something has changed rather drastically.

      • nostromo says:

        We could argue our anecdotal numbers (I would say higher than 1 in 20 in the actual technical workers) but the point is, that those people you yourself encountered would not have had a diagnosis of Autism, yet today as children they would get that diagnosis (at least in western countries) due to the very high awareness we now have of ASD.

        Case in point, my son has a 23yr old care giver with a DX of HFA. Yet on the floor I work at there are three people in their 40’s and 50’s who are quite clearly autistic as per the modern definition – in fact more obviously Autistic than our care giver – but of course they have no DX (mores the pity as they do struggle).
        So from my standpoint Silbermans theory held by many that increased awareness explains a lot of the increased ‘incidence’ of Autism is valid. These higher functioning people have always been there it’s just they didn’t use to officially have ‘Autism’, whereas nowadays they would have.

        Then there’s children like my son who is classically autistic. Before the earlier meaning of Autism came into use (i.e. before it came to encompass Aspergers) they were just labelled mentally defective. So there’s another aspect that explains some of the growth in ‘incidence’ of Autism.

        For me, what is at question is how MUCH of the increase in Autism can be attributed to increased diagnosis alone.

        And no-one actually knows that I don’t think.

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        No one argues that “increased awareness” doesn’t contribute SOME to the numbers, but there have been studies that show that the increase cannot be accounted for by “better diagnosis” alone. Children with classical autism were not just labeled “mentally defective.” Silberman himself makes it clear why that cannot have been the case. Most “experts” — let alone ordinary folks — never encountered anyone with the symptoms of classical autism, which is exactly why Rain Man was such a revelation to most people who saw it. Of course there may have been a few, but they were certainly not in the numbers they are today or we would not be suddenly overwhelming all the available services for adults with autism.

        Those people I encountered might have a diagnosis of Asperger’s today, which would have put them in the “autism spectrum” beforeNow the DSM-V, but they were obviously extremely high functioning and probably would not even qualify under today’s ASD diagnosis. This covers many of the considerations that were true back when autism was 1 in 110 by the CDC’s accounting: Now that it’s 1 in 45, it’s even more applicable. People frequently say that we’re “over diagnosing” children today, but I find that most parents know there is “something wrong” long before they can convince their doctors. Often it’s not until a preschool teacher tells them how far behind their child is that they actually get anywhere near a diagnosis. The “over diagnosis” hypothesis implies that children with no disorder are being diagnosed, and for the most part that’s ridiculous. Children are being diagnosed because they are having tremendous difficulty doing the same things that children had no problem doing 50 years ago: speaking, toilet training, tying their shoes, riding a bike, attending a school assembly, etc., etc., etc. Svetlana Masgutova who treats children with autism with reflex integration has been testing the reflexes of neurotypical children for the last 30 years, and she has noticed that even “neurotypical” children no longer have reflexes that average in the “normal” range. Something is wrong, and pretending that nothing has changed does a tremendous disservice to our children.

      • Jennifer Petrillo says:

        I think prematurity has something to do with the rise in the more severely affected Asd children

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        A new study came out showing that the combination of preterm labor and vaccination makes children more than six times as likely to develop autism.

  10. Peter Good says:

    You really believe Cuba’s insular society (less genetic variation) and the government’s unwillingness to admit more autism can account for our incidence of 1 in 68 versus Cuba’s 1 in 20,000? Sure it’s possible – but is it likely? Isn’t that grasping at straws? Why do you think genetics plays a major role in autism? Martha Herbert wrote without qualification “. . . you cannot have a genetic epidemic.” She also said blaming autism on epigenetics hardly explains anything when our understanding of epigenetics is so minimal. Why doesn’t some brave researcher do the single study that could tell us what’s really going on in autistic brains – the dramatic ‘normalization’ of autistic behavior by infectious fever? It’s been 35 years since Sullivan formally reported the phenomenon. Has everyone forgotten what a critical experiment is?

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      Of course, Martha is right. You cannot have a genetic epidemic, and autism is by no means strictly genetic. If I thought it were I’d probably be right on board with Mr. Silberman. But there IS a genetic component that cannot be avoided. Most studies done in recent years reach a conclusion that genetics and the environment contribute in roughly equal measure. In regressive autism, certain genetic traits have been found to be very common among the susceptible population. The environmental effects are largely toxicological, including that of acetaminophen. In other words, toxins build up in the body to the point where the body cannot eliminate them effectively and they cause lasting harm. There are two ways to make that effect stronger, increase toxic insults (which we are most assuredly doing especially with more and more vaccines injected at younger and younger ages) and decrease ability to detoxify. Some genetic mutations make it far harder to detoxify and they can be switched on or off with the process of methylation, which is the first thing to go with MTHFR mutations.

      IN addition, as an insular society, there are likely to be many environmental confounders as well in Cuba. How much plastic do they use? What pesticides? Do they use ultrasound? How are children treated and taught in the developing years? To me, it sounds like you keep wanting to reduce the complexity of the situation to a simple answer, and that’s just not possible. Autism is not strictly due to acetaminophen any more than it is strictly due to vaccines.

  11. Peter Good says:

    I’m curious why you published my name and email without publishing my first reply. Could it be because the evidence from Cuba challenges your view of the dangers of vaccines?

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      I’m sorry, Peter, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Your name doesn’t get published without the comment being published. And your email doesn’t get published at all. The only people who see it are those with admin access on the site. We’ve published several other comments on other blogs about data from Cuba. We’re not afraid of data that challenges “our view.” We are interested in the whole truth, which includes all the possible co-factors involved in the etiology of neurological disorders. I think it’s probably dangerous to rely on Cuba data for conclusions, though, as there are a significant number of possible confounders there, the first among them being the tendency for Castro to only approve information that makes them look good. (And, yes, I certainly understand that data from the United States cannot automatically be trusted as well.). The next main confounder is that Cuba is a very insular society, with probably significantly less genetic variation than is present in a place like the United States. It is quite possible that without Tylenol and glyphosate and a genetic predisposition that their general population is significantly less susceptible to damage from vaccines. As I said, we have never said, nor will we ever say, that autism is only due to vaccines. There is a complex interplay of genetic susceptibility to toxic insults and the particular insults received.

  12. Peter Good says:

    I have to say, TMR, your review of NeuroTribes is outstanding. A shame I had to see four pages of abject praise for the book listed on Google to find it.

    Your logic is so much better than Silberman’s. He didn’t seem to notice the contradiction between “most people in the world who had never seen an autistic adult saw one for the first time” discussing RainMan, and his conviction autism hasn’t multiplied in recent decades. Also you point out Wakefield had a dozen co-authors on his paper, hardly all part of a fraud.

    However, I must point out what looks like conclusive evidence that vaccines alone are NOT the problem in autism. William Shaw, head of the Great Plains Laboratory, recently published evidence that Cuba’s autism incidence is 1/300th of ours in the U.S. Ours is 1 in 68; Cuba’s is 1 in 20,000! Yet Cuba vaccinates ALL their children, especially against measles. What’s the difference, according to Shaw? Cuba prohibits over-the-counter acetaminophen (Tylenol), and rarely allows acetaminophen prescribed for vaccinations, because acetaminophen is limited by the embargo.

    Considerable evidence supports Shaw’s conclusion, notably Schultz’s original evidence that our epidemic began in 1980, when the CDC warned the American public that aspirin might induce Reye’s syndrome in children, and everyone switched to acetaminophen. For more, see Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and the autism epidemic on Manuel Casanova’s blog Cortical Chauvinism, and Did acetaminophen provoke the autism epidemic at

    btw, Rimland DID implicate the MMR in our autism epidemic, pointing out the CDC began a strong drive in 1978 to vaccinate more children against measles (Rimland B. The autism epidemic, vaccinations, and mercury. J Nutr Environ Med 2000;10:261-266).

    Peter Good
    Autism Studies

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      Hi Peter, Thank you for your information. We’ve never said here at TMR, and will never say, that vaccines alone are responsible for autism. We are aware of a number of cases of unvaccinated children with autism. And acetaminophen is most definitely a part of the problem. As often as we can we tell people NOT to administer Tylenol before or after vaccines, as they most definitely exacerbate reactions, particularly in people who have low levels of glutathione. Antiobiotics are also a common factor in the etiology of autism for many people, particularly if they were taken at the time of vaccinations. More and more research is supporting the link between the balance of gut bacteria and total mental, physical and emotional health.

      • Peter Good says:

        It’s probably no coincidence that the general antibiotic amoxicillin/clavulanate (Augmentin) was introduced in 1981, one year after the CDC’s warning about aspirin. Fallon pointed out the dangers of ammonia used to make Augmentin – also hard on the liver. I’m glad you’re familiar with the evidence that Tylenol depletes glutathione.

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        So many people that I know of with autism have been on Augmentin that it is one of the few things I try VERY HARD to steer people away from. There are other antibiotics that will do damage, yes, but not on the same scale that Augmentin does.

  13. Hans Scholl says:

    When Brian Hooker first presented his findings at Autism One (2014 I think).
    He clearly suggested the MMR was being given on the very day , that statistically was already known to produce the most autistic outcomes . No one ever talks about that , did I imagine the whole thing ?

    If correct , this means the Governments of the West are actively involved in chemical Hg-enocide . They have the know-how , they have the knowledge , Autism is not some unfortunate accident , and in fact the Autism Pandemic is planned . Autism is a cull .

    So you can talk about Glyphosphate , Tylenol , antibiotics etc all you want . I accept it all , and obviously the aluminium adjuvants in vaccines .
    But I say what about the mass fluoridation of the public water supply (the Nazis were the first to do that in the C-camps) . And then the mercury amalgams is a clear crime against humanity (there is no way to disguise or hide that) .

    And we are a month away from the Annual Flu vaccine drive aimed at all age groups , a vaccine year after year , someone somewhere will declare it as absolutely useless , 0% efficacy , but the mercury\themiserol will be doled out . And the seniors will die .
    And then we have the Gardakil vaccine program , that the governments continually promote and push , and it doesn’t matter how much evidence you present to them about the carnage , the maimings , the murders . Then we had the Tetanus KenyaHCG scandal in early 2015 (500,000 African women surreptitiously sterilised) .

    So I guess I’m wrong , its all a big sad unfortunate accident , there is no depopulation conspiracy. “There is no conspiracy folks , just get your damn vaccines”

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      *sigh* Hans, please try to assess each individual piece of information as it comes. No matter what Dr. Hooker may have said about MMR (and I don’t remember that particular piece of information, but I didn’t see EVERYTHING Dr. Hooker said at AutismOne. In any event, I doubt he did say it as the first MMR is “recommended” over a period from 12-15 months and not a particular DAY) that would not have anything to do with “Hg-enocide.” As I’m sure you’re aware, Hg is the atomic symbol for mercury. What you are perhaps NOT aware of is the fact that the MMR does NOT contain mercury and never has.

      There is no need to believe that “Autism is a cull,” in order to believe that vaccines (and glyphosate and Tylenol and antibiotics and general anesthesia and ultrasound and mercury amalgams) all play parts in the meteoric rise in neurological disorders. All it takes is a belief that large corporations will prioritize profits over people, and that those profits can corrupt those who SHOULD be prioritizing people over profits to the point where they will be able to convince themselves that prioritizing profits IS prioritizing people.

      • Hans Scholl says:

        Dr Archie Kalokerinos: My final conclusion after forty years or more in this business is that the unofficial policy of the World Health Organisation and the unofficial policy of ‘Save the Children’s Fund and almost all those organisations is one of murder and genocide. They want to make it appear as if they are saving these kids, but in actual fact they don’t. I am talking of those at the very top. Beneath that level is another level of doctors and health workers, like myself, who don’t really understand what they are doing. But I cannot see any other possible explanation: It is murder and it is genocide. And I tell you what: when the black races really wake up to what we have done to them they are not going to thank us very much. And if you want to see what harm vaccines do, don’t come to Australia or New Zealand or any place, go to Africa and you will see it there . (the preface of his book was written by a scientist considered to have been in the top 20 of all time – before you dismiss this man. I’ll let you find out who)

        & Yes I’m well aware the MMR is live vaccine. thanks though .
        Sigh – back at you ! Mercury’s toxicity is magnified exponentially in the presence of other toxicity (for example aluminium but I suspect there are other agents)
        Please go & recheck the AutismOne talk that Brian Hooker gave , if after that I am wrong , then that is ok .

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        Dr. Hooker gave more than one talk. Yes, mercury’s toxicity is greater in the presence of aluminum, but there is no aluminum in the MMR either. There is no data available (unfortunately) on the synergy between the MMR and mercury.

        And you just quoted one man’s opinion. As I said, I have no doubts about the fact that vaccines alter the immune system in what is a very destructive way for at least a large segment of the population, so I agree (see my blog on Vaccines: A Global Perspective) that the countries we are exporting vaccines to, especially Thimerosal-laced vaccines, will one day wake up and realize that their populations look a lot like undernourished versions of ours, and they won’t be thanking us for that. But that doesn’t mean that it is calculated murder and genocide. It may be, but I have yet to see any credible evidence that it is.

      • Hans Scholl says:

        KenyaHCG 2015 surreptitious sterilisation of at least 500,000 young women. Phillipines 1995 , Mexico 1974 .
        Nicaragua , Sri Lanka , Venezuela , Nigeria the list goes on and on – nssm200

      • Hans Scholl says:

        Top Doctor: The Flu Vaccine is Worthless
        By Sylvia Booth Hubbard | Thursday, 16 Jan 2014 04:33 PM
        Regardless of all the advertising touting the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, it’s worthless, says board-certified family practitioner Dr. David Brownstein. When you cut through the hype and take a good, close look at the facts, you’ll discover that the vaccine just plain doesn’t work, he tells Newsmax Health. What’s more, he says, it can be dangerous.
        Dr. Brownstein recently saw an interview with a well-known physician who was extolling the virtues of the flu vaccine. “I was shocked at what the doctor said,” he says. “She said that the high-dose flu vaccine for seniors aged 65 and older called Fluzone, which is four times as strong as the standard flu dose, was more effective in seniors and was 24 percent more effective at preventing flu than the standard flu shot.”
        That’s just not true, says Dr. Brownstein, editor of the newsletter Dr. David Brownstein’s Natural Way to Health. “There are no good studies showing that the flu vaccine is effective for seniors.”
        The trial referenced in the interview included 32,000 adults aged 65 years or older. Subjects received either the regular flu vaccine or the high-dose version. The rate of flu cases confirmed by laboratory analysis was 1.43 percent among those receiving the high-dose vaccine, and 1.89 percent for those who took the regular vaccine.
        “When I saw those numbers, my first thought was, ‘You gotta be kidding me,'” he says. “The 24 percent improvement with the high-dose vaccine was accurate — 1.43/1.89 equals a 24 percent improvement.” But the more accurate way to interpret the results is the absolute risk deduction, which means it’s .46 percent more effective.
        “Going one step further,” says Dr. Brownstein, “it takes 217 elderly people to receive the high-dose flu vaccine to prevent one case of flu.
        “That means that 216 out of 217 people received the vaccine for naught — it did not help prevent the flu. They paid double the price and were exposed to possible adverse effects.”
        Dr. Brownstein is also outraged that healthcare workers are being forced to take the vaccine or be fired. “There hasn’t been a single good study documenting the effectiveness of the flu vaccine for healthcare workers,” he said.
        Recently, an expectant mom was fired because of her refusal to get the flu vaccine out of fear for her unborn child. “There are zero studies showing that the flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women,” says Dr. Brownstein.
        “I think it is ludicrous to vaccinate a pregnant mother for the flu when the vaccine is not only ineffective, it contains mercury and other toxins,” he continues. “And the pregnant mother who refused the shot? I give her credit. Why would she take an ineffective vaccine that has not been properly studied in pregnancy? Furthermore, who in their right mind would advocate injecting a mercury-toxic vaccine into any living being, much less a pregnant woman?
        Dr. Brownstein isn’t alone in his belief that the vaccine doesn’t work. Johns Hopkins scientist Peter Doshi, Ph.D., says that although the vaccines are being pushed on the public in record numbers, they are less effective and cause more side effects than admitted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
        Neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock also agrees the vaccine is worthless and doesn’t help seniors. “There are three reasons the government tells the elderly why they should get flu shots: secondary pneumonia, hospitalization, and death.” he says. “Yet a study by the Cochrane group studied hundreds of thousands of people and found it offered zero protection for those three things in the general community.”
        The flu vaccine can also cause side effects including severe allergic reactions, Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), and has been liked with narcolepsy in children and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s in seniors.
        If you suspect you are coming down with the flu, follow Dr. Brownstein’s advice: “Keep hydrated, rest, and take increased amounts of vitamins A,C, and D until feeling better.”

  14. Hans Scholl says:

    Here are your filthy vaccines Professor (you seem undecided to me) .
    Perhaps accepting a little extra income elsewhere ?

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      “Undecided”??? On the subject of vaccines??? Seriously??? You musn’t come here much. Usually it’s people who LOVE vaccines who give me sh*t! 😀 😀 😀 😀 Yours just might be the funniest comment I’ve ever seen on this website, and that’s really saying something.

      Take a look at my previous blogs: There’s even one on the HPV vaccine: “The Evidence on Gardasil: Modern Miracle or Dangerous Scam?” Spoiler alert: I came down “Dangerous Scam.”

      How many people do you know who have publicly espoused their “dangerous anti-vaxxer” views on national television? Well, I have. And that “little extra income” comment has me ROFLMAO! I sure could USE some “extra income” at the moment, but I end up essentially volunteering my time here.

      • Hans Scholl says:

        glad to hear ! Very glad to hear .
        To right this wrong , and bring down these criminals is going to take STEEL .

        “Now don’t get me wrong and think that I, or anyone else at TMR, think that vaccines account for all autism, or that they are the only environmental trigger.”

        I disagree with this , Vaccines cause 99% of the current Autism Pandemic . But as long as we are largely on the same page .

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        Nope. It’s not possible. Talked to way too many people who have kids with autism who never vaccinated or were triggered by something else. There is no doubt vaccines play a HUGE part, but they are by no means the only factor. I forgot to mention the use of Tylenol in the piece. Many, many children with autism have a conjunct of vaccines, antibiotics, and Tylenol all at the same time. Any combination of the primary factors could be implicated.

      • Hans Scholl says:

        Meyer Einsenstein RIP , good man , treated smthg like 5000 unvaccinated children in his care , NOT ONE case of AUTISM .

        Vaccines are the cause of children needing to take those antibiotics and pain killers you speak of (that has been my experience) .

        Then another thing I’ve noticed in several instances , unvaccinated children do not get sick (the vaccinated children are always ill – that has been my experience) .

        I too , have met one mother who said she didn’t vaccinate and had an autistic child . She was totally unreliable , scatty . And I know that the doctors , if you still go to them , are not going to allow you to skip vaccines without an intense amount of pressure . I know another mother , who was given the warnings about vaccines and autism (& the father is vehemently against vaccines) , the kid appears to be in a certain amount of trouble , and I think the mother has secretly vaccinated her son without consulting the father and wider family (the child is non-verbal so far after the point at which he should be forming some words.) So there are a lot of lies being told all round.

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        You have met ONE mother who didn’t vaccinate and had a child with autism. I have met MANY. It is insulting and discriminatory to assume that someone is lying because their story is different from yours. That is EXACTLY what mainstream media is doing to the parents of vaccine-injured children.

        My father didn’t smoke a day in his life. You know what’s on his death certificate? Lung cancer. Is that evidence that cigarette smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer? Hell no. But it IS evidence that cigarette smoking doesn’t cause ALL lung cancer.

      • Hans Scholl says:

        I’m not insulting anyone . This is not about emotions and please don’t take it that way . When I said “So there are a lot of lies being told all round.” I specifically meant , in my experience that where vaccines are concerned , there are a lot of lies (for example mumps efficacy or William Thompson)
        The facts are the facts , I mean by that , that the governments do keep the records of vaccinations rcvd by each child .
        So if a child is autistic , it is possible to cross check that condition against vaccines rcvd (there is no need to ask any parent.) I saw my own childs records , they took him for a pin cushion . I ceased vaccination after that , the other children are fine . I’ve seen other parents of autism do the same .

        Liz Birt , a lawyer tried to get access to the VSD records back in 2005 , before it was sold into private hands to prevent it being scrutinized . The answer was in that data .
        The pre mass vaccination rate of autism was 1 in 10000
        Now I believe it to be 1 in 50 (and 1 in 6 for all disabilities)

        Another father I know with an severely autistic son , has absolutely no clue what I am even talking about , “what vaccines , he says ?” He says his son didn’t take any vaccines , but the records are held by the medical authorities . This father does not know what occurred at all . His child was fully vaccinated , he is not distrusting at all , why would he have ever refused them .

        Meyer Einsenstein should have seen 74 cases of autism in his cohort of 5000 (using a rate of 1 in 68)

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        The answer IS in the data, it’s true. (Are you aware of the SEED data? Check out what William Thompson says about it: And I fully expect that it shows a very high correlation with number, timing and combination of vaccines, as well as a high correlation with children who were sick and/or on antibiotics at the time of the vaccination, and children who had Tylenol before and/or after the vaccines, and probably the highest correlation with children who experienced high fever and had the high-pitched inconsolable encephalitic cry afterwards. Like I said, absolutely no doubts about the role vaccines play. And, yes, there are parents who are clueless about their children’s vaccine status. I encountered one who said that vaccines couldn’t have anything to do with it because her child hadn’t had the MMR until AFTER he’d been diagnosed. Well, what about all those Thimerosal-containing vaccines (this was very early 2000s) BEFORE the MMR, including the hepatitis B on the day of his birth? That person was surprised to know that there was a vaccine routinely given at birth. *sigh*

        HOWEVER, there are very credible, very knowledgeable parents (mostly mothers) who say that their children have never had a vaccine and yet still have diagnoses of autism. It is real. And to say that they are lying or don’t know IS an insult, whether you intend it or not. It’s quite possible that for many of them vaccines damaged the parents’ health enough that it was enough to trigger. It’s impossible to really know that without a LOT more investigation.

        Do you not suspect that Meyer Eisenstein’s families were using a lot fewer antibiotics, Tylenol, general anesthesia, etc. than the average doctor’s practice? Probably even fewer interventions in pregnancy and labor, given the kinds of parents who would be likely to seek him out. Vaccines are not likely to be the only significant difference to be found in his practice.

  15. Hans Scholl says:

    “I almost feel sorry for Verstraeten” NEVER . Nor will Gerberding ever deserve any mercy or understanding. They are now mandating VACCINES .
    Gardakil is being mandated too , surreptitiously sterilising young women and maiming and killing others . Parents NEED TO GET TOUGH .
    I’ll not buy this “tripe” of a book . I want to meet Silberman and get in his face .
    His book is another piece of military style mis-information to conceal the biggest crime in all history . Hg-enocide .
    Themiserol is a very poor preservative , but its a wonderful piece of pure toxicity .
    Its been known to be toxic at nanograms (parts per billion) since 1948 , which is astounding . MercuryFree vaccines are still testing positive for MERCURY .
    The mass flu vaccine program contains it and its culling our seniors .
    I want to see criminal charges brought against the Gerberding & the CDC .

  16. Julie says:

    He must also not realize how many kids are autistic that also have other diagnoses. Down Syndrome and other diagnoses come with a large population of autistic kids too. And I have to tell you that I have not seen one family with a dually dx’d child who was high functioning. This is a whole population subset that cannot do the most basic of tasks, who can’t speak, who have a whole host of issues. Silverman does not speak for me or my child or those about whom I am speaking.

  17. nostromo says:

    I’ve mentioned this before here, but I had an Aunt who back in the 50’s was sent to live with the nuns because she “never learnt to speak”. Also by the account told to me she did things like flapped her hands and was “simple”.

    It’s now the 21st century and I have a son who does not speak, who we are still toilet training at 9 and who can’t work out how to open a door without being shown how. Otherwise as healthy as a buck rat; no sleep problems, no digestive problems, pretty chilled out in general but he has a diagnosis of Autism. I do wonder if my Aunt with her similar behaviour had been seen in this day and age if she would have got an Autism DX.

    I also have some uncles who are total un-DXed Aspies, and I also have a cousin who has a boy very much like mine. I don’t know if these things are related (I used to think so, now I’m not so sure). All on one side of the family, not the other.

    So from my own admittedly anecdotal experience there does look to be a genetic factor involved in some way for us. And there are plenty of people in FB groups with children with various Chromosome deletions or duplications who have Autism. Not too mention the new discovery of how the UBE3A Gene is involved in some cases of Autism.

    So I think the juries still out and my best guess is that both genetic and environmental factors play into it. I also think there are multiple different ‘Autisms’, which I have no doubt will one day be revealed to have completely different etymologies. I certainly look forward to the day the propeller heads have the science of this all worked out.

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      I agree that there is SOME genetic factor, and the genetic factor seems much stronger with Asperger’s. There are traits that many families with autism have in common, but nowhere near ALL. And I think you’re right that there are multiple “autisms” as well. I think people with different kinds of exposures have different interactions with their genes and that produces different neurological function. I think of my children’s learning issues as being the “infrared” part of the spectrum.

      • paula says:

        view presentations by Alessio Fasano on Utube where he poses a third component to the cause for ASD: the health of the microbiome–both in the child and in the mother.

      • ProfessorTMR says:

        Oh, we are absolutely convinced of the primary importance of the health of the microbiome. It is crucial to the functioning of the immune system and has a direct effect on neurological function. That’s why the use of antibiotics is important in the etiology of neurological conditions. It’s also the reason that TMR leaped on Dr. Zach Bush when he presented his supplement Restore to us at AutismOne this year. Restore works to repair the tight junctions of the gut that were compromised due to “gut dysbiosis.” When the tight junctions are healed, Dr. Bush claims that proper cell signaling returns (slowly) and a healthy (and important) diversity in intestinal flora is eventually restored to the gut. Thanks, Paula!

  18. Lauren Ayers says:

    I heard him interviewed on NPR (who get a lot of funding from big corporations, including Pharma) and he was rather persuasive that autistic kids are simply identified better now than in the past. I simmered as he described the early years of autism having that name, the role of Dr. Asperger, etc. and thought to myself that only parents who deal with this daily would see how he got it wrong. He thinks he did research, but he’s only got a pile of cliches. And now he will never be able to correct himself.

  19. Tim Lundeen says:

    Re environmental exposures, it is pretty easy to check whether a particular toxin increased at the same rate as autism diagnosis. For example, in the author concludes:

    “Diagnosed autism prevalence has risen dramatically in the U.S over the last several decades and continued to trend upward as of birth year 2005. The increase is mainly real and has occurred mostly since the late 1980s. In contrast, children’s exposure to most of the top ten toxic compounds has remained flat or decreased over this same time frame. Environmental factors with increasing temporal trends can help suggest hypotheses for drivers of autism that merit further investigation.”


    “Among the suspected toxins surveyed, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, aluminum adjuvants, and the herbicide glyphosate have increasing trends that correlate positively to the rise in autism.”

    In other words, eat organic, get rid of all flame-retardants in your environment, and don’t get any vaccines containing aluminum adjuvant. (Actually, though the paper doesn’t draw this conclusion, all vaccines contain substances that can trigger brain/gut inflammation and thus autism.)

  20. Karen Fuller says:

    I have needed to respond to so many people asking if I have heard of his book. Friends, family etc. Well meaning people but still….. I keep this comment handy….

    His view diminishes those who do not function as highly as he does and the media needs to grab onto it so they can ignore the epidemic. The vast majority of those with Autism are not like him! . The dx of Aspergers was recently removed from the DSM as well, leaving those with Aspergers who don’t function well swinging in the wind as well! No good can come from this! The Neurodiverse movement hurts our kids as the public reads about it and then thinks….No big Whoop!!! Autism Speaks has pretty much been taken over by the high functioning as well. Watch their comment stream! I would give anything for Nick to be able to have these kind of thoughts and writing ability! I get notes from family….Have your heard of Temple Grandin? She is Autistic and got a PHD!! It’s hard not to be a Beotch and reply….OMGOsh we must have done so much wrong with Nick! Or tell them…we didn’t get the good Autism here. It’s hard and becoming harder! We know what happened to our boy We watched him regress. Not born with it. Think about Helen Keller. She is one of a kind, but you know there were many more without site and hearing who did not do what she did! No one would ever compare others to her! High functioning do not seem to be able to understand what happened to our kids and why we would want to heal them!

  21. I cured a 17-year-old autistic gal by using human stem cells. She was delivered at 7 months intrauterine time and never fully developed. Now she is engaged to get married and is going to graduate school. I would certainly be interested in doing more cases.

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