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The Misbehaviour of Behaviourists - Michelle Dawson

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05:17 PM ET (US)
It's weird how the national economy works here in Britain. Are we bloody Socialist or aren't we?! Will whoever decides these things please make their bloody mind up!

I would do voluntary work definately around the same amount as a normal week's work(35-42 hours) if I could just sign up to benefits and be kept on them. I don't want to earn my own money! It's a hassle to manage.

I'm not asking to be paid for not working, just to be paid for not working for the people paying me. I'm not weird!
02:20 PM ET (US)
Hi Michelle,

I am curious as to what an "assessment" involves. Whether it is a professional diagnoses from a qualified and autism knowledgeable professional, or an evaluation of my skills, abilities and interests for the purpose of getting me a job.

Although I do voluntary work on six days a week, although not 8 hours a day: I am still required to look for paid work to receive Job Seekers Allowance.
02:14 PM ET (US)
Hi Dinah,

Thanks for your appreciation of the links and summaries I post. I am glad you find them interesting and useful.
Michelle Dawson
11:11 PM ET (US)
Re the "Make Me Normal" interviews ( /m1947) on the NAS site (thanks, Philip), I was disappointed that there were only generic questions (the same questions for both the interviewees) and that the dissent against this program was nowhere properly represented. I have limited latitude in what I can do, because I haven't seen the program, but I trust Philip's and Dinah's and Lucas' descriptions. The real issues are avoided in the interviews. In these interviews, everything is wonderful, everyone is happy, etc. The NAS should allow a considered, dissenting view, if they are interested in fairness, rather than being cheerleaders and apologists for this program.

I really wonder about Ms Ragan's ideas, about how she classifies autistics, and her complete certainty about the differences between these "levels" of autism, and that they never change (autistics always remain in the same group), and that it's perfectly evident what should be done with each group.

And thanks, Mike, for those links. Notable, my fanny <plods around in a circle>. And no, I didn't know about Bert. And don't hold your breath, re unifying the comment boards. My own lack of foresight (my assumption that I would write something once or twice a year...) can't necessarily be easily fixed at this point. But your advice has certainly saved us from further proliferation...

Thanks Dinah. I'm hoping to learn something from what happened with the Senators. It just seemed that the situation was beyond redemption. There was too much that had already happened. I needed a team to take this on. My own effort was totally inadequate (I think that can also be seen in my brief).

And Philip, I'm also very happy that you found a responsive, responsible person. Do you want to go through an "assessment"? It was very wise of you to have a note written, to present when you were questioned.
Michelle Dawson
10:40 PM ET (US)
This message is just to address the ongoing RFKJr-driven mercury hysteria. Philip recently provided a link ( /m1947 ) that illustrates the problem. The Diva has kindly posted another of my comments on this issue here http://autismdiva.blogspot.com/2005/06/ide...tics-in-canada.html

I can add some points to what I wrote in that comment. This is about a contradiction existing among the major published arguments of the leaders of the mercury=autism gang.

Robert F Kennedy, Jr has recently posted a pdf http://www.robertfkennedyjr.com/docs/AutismHgPolitics_6_22.pdf on his website. The pdf is called "Tabacco Science and the Thimerosal Scandal".

On page 40, RFKJr writes (the numbers 112 and 113 are footnotes):
"The children who were subjects of the U.K. study (another ginned-up study done at the prompting of and in cahoots with the CDC),112 received 75 micrograms of thimerosal during their first 6 months compared to 187.5 micrograms given to U.S. kids during the same period.113 Furthermore, American children got a giant dose of 62.5 micrograms on a single day, whereas the maximum one-day dose for British kids was 25 micrograms.Dr. Neal Halsey, Director, Institute of Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins University and Chairman of the Committee on Infectious Diseases of the American Academy of Pediatrics told me that it was this giant so-called “bolus dose” that most shocked and frightened him due to its potential to damage a child’s brain."
The British study cited is: Andrews et al.(2004). Thimerosal exposure in infants and developmental disorders: A retrospective cohort study in the United Kingdom does not support a causal association. Pediatrics, 114, 584-591.

The 75 micrograms in the UK is three time 25 micrograms (of mercury, not thimerosal as RFKJr writes) in the DTP vaccine, the only UK vaccine that ever had thimerosal (prior to 2004, when it was scrapped). The doses were given at 2, 3, and 4 months (since 1990; previously at 3, 5, and 8 or possibly 10 months--this is variously according to what the CDC and Andrews et al write about the UK program).

RFKJr is arguing in his paper that the UK and the US situations aren't comparable. The US kids got more thimerosal, as well as more thimerosal within one day. I agree (US kids also got thimerosal earlier, in the Hep B vaccine shortly after birth, so far as I can tell). He should also have noticed that the UK amount had not changed for decades (two decades, per Andrews et al; more than that, according to the NHS, which also claims that the amount went down), whereas the US amount of thimerosal had increased, as new thimerosal-containing vaccines were added to the routine childhood schedule.

RFKJr later cites the work of Marc Blaxill. Mr Blaxill is a big wheel at Safe Minds, a thimerosal-causes-autism group which has apparently earned RFKJr’s respect and support. Mr Blaxill has called autism a "silent holocaust". He recently published a study called "What’s going on? The question of time trends in autism" (2004) Public Health Reports, 119, 536-551. I took that cite from RFKJr's pdf, page 50, footnote #145. It's not considered good practice to cite a study you haven't read, so it’s fair to conclude that RFKJr read this study by Mr Blaxill.

And here it is, Blaxill's published study http://www.safeminds.org/Blaxill%20Paper%2...ealth%20Reports.pdf . From the abstract:

"Comparison of autism rates by year of birth for specific geographies provides the strongest basis for trend assessment. Such comparisons show large recent increases in rates of autism and autistic spectrum disorders in both the U.S. and the U.K. Reported rates of autism in the United States increased from <3 per 10,000 children in the 1970s to >30 per 10,000 children in the 1990s, a 10-fold increase. In the United Kingdom, autism rates rose from <10 per 10,000 in the 1980s to roughly 30 per 10,000 in the 1990s. Reported rates for the full spectrum of autistic disorders rose from the 5 to 10 per 10,000 range to the 50 to 80 per 10,000 range in the two countries."

Note the great similarity between the UK and the US data as they are graphed in this study: the same apparent increase around the same time, resulting in the same current prevalence rates circa 60/10,000 in both countries (across the spectrum). Blaxill writes: “The results of seven U.S. surveys are also shown in Figure 2. These surveys support conclusions similar to those for the U.K.”
Mr Blaxill aside, there is enough epidemiology to show that that UK and the US both underwent a rapid increase in autism diagnoses at about the same time and both now have the infamous 1 in 166 rate (or 60/10,000).

But RFK states with certainty that UK kids got much less thimerosal than US kids, and did not at all have the "bolus" dose which is cited as the most likely suspect. RFK neglects to mention that there was no increase in the UK vaccine schedule re amount of mercury over the years, very much unlike the situation in the US.

For a similar situation re epidemiology to exist in the UK and the US—and such a similar situation is documented by Mr Blaxill—the dosage of thimerosal injected into children in both countries should be similar, and should have undergone similar changes at about the same time. RFKJr denies this entirely. Re children in the UK getting similar doses of mercury compared to children in the US, RFKJr writes (page 40 of his paper), “That is flat-out untrue”.

In short, RFKJr and Mr Blaxill are in contradiction with each other. RFKJr is sure that a dramatic difference between amounts of thimerosal between US and UK vaccination schedules renders irrelevant (to the US) a UK study showing no relationship between mercury and autism. Mr Blaxill “proves” there has been a similar increase in autism in both countries, at about the same time, therefore showing that there is no relationship between dose of mercury and prevalence of autism.

In fact, because there was no conveniently-timed increase in thimerosal in the UK schedule on which the UK’s autism “epidemic” could be blamed, as I wrote chez la Diva, the UK epidemic was blamed on MMR.

Okay, I’ve gotten that out of my system <dusts off hands> Outside of the non-existence of an “epidemic”, this is not my area. And I should not pursue it any more. And anyone who can shoot down my analysis is welcome to.
03:04 PM ET (US)
I won't rest until *all* comment boards link here...glad to influence positive change, if only in a small way.
12:57 PM ET (US)
Philip your message re Michelle's hideous experience sums up everything I felt and wanted to say. Also I've been meaning to say how interesting and useful I usually find the links you've given us, and your summaries. I have quoted your summary of the Make Me Normal horror to people who missed it. Thank you too for reminding us of the glimpse of better possibilities afforded by the Auton case. Lastly, Hooray also re finding a constructive and understanding person at the Jobcentre!

Michelle I really can't put it any better than Philip already has. Too painful to contemplate. I hope the memory of it won't ruin many days and nights to come, but will strengthen your steel...
Michelle Dawson
12:42 PM ET (US)
Just dropping by in the middle of a nap (up all night again)... the Senate brief has been posted, here http://www.sentex.net/~nexus23/naa_sen.html for those interested, and yes, Mike, the "comments" link goes to this board, instead of to yet another one in the collection. I'll be back when I get more sleep...
Edited 06-23-2005 12:42 PM
11:39 AM ET (US)
Because I am unemployed I am required to 'sign on' at my local Jobcentre every two weeks, and declare that I am 'actively seeking work', in order to obtain the Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) payment. When I signed on two weeks ago I was told that if I didn't do more to look for a job and produce evidence of my job search then my JSA would be stopped.

That made me very worried and anxious, and did not motivate me to look for a job. I signed on today with a different official than the usual person. She asked me why I am finding it difficult to get a job, and I gave her a note which I had written that morning stating that I am autistic. She was very kind and understanding; she is related to an autistic person, and is fairly knowledgeable about autism . She told me that she would speak to their Disability Team about me and mentioned that I may get "assessed". I'll know more when I sign on again in two weeks time.

But I am greatly relieved that my JSA has not been stopped, and that my revelation of my autism was received much better than I hoped.

I see that Michelle "I'm the plodder of the autistic community" Dawson is on the list of notable autistics. I do not believe in the elitism of selecting a very few individual autistics for such a list. For my part, I wouldn't care if I were on it.
Edited 06-23-2005 11:51 AM
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