#Vaxxed, reviewed: What happened outside of the movie.

This is part II of our series on the movie “Vaxxed”, which Colin, my sister Julie, and I saw in Kansas City on June 11. In part I, Colin focused on some of the factual inaccuracies of the movie. He talked about how a person attending the movie would have walked away with an extremely distorted understanding of the CDC, a distortion deliberately encouraged by Mr. Wakefield and the makers of the documentary.

Here, I’m going to focus not so much on the documentary itself as on what happened after the documentary: what the “Vaxxed” team said during the Q&A session, how the audience responded, conversations that I had with protestors after the movie, and a conversation that Colin and I had with Mr. Wakefield.

As Colin mentioned, we were uncertain about what his reception was going to be after his interview with Mr. Wakefield on the ConspiraSea Cruise, and so Julie and I sat separately from him. (That turned out not to be an issue, and when we met Mr. Wakefield after the movie he seemed, if anything, amused to see Colin. Evidently two of the more excitable speakers on the ConspiraSea cruise, Leonard Horowitz and Sherri Kane, have been writing enthusiastically and imaginatively about how Colin is (among other things) a “spy and propagandist” and I got the distinct impression that they have been sending Mr. Wakefield (who they greatly admire) numerous screeds about Colin’s “deceptions.”)

The audience, about 150 people, was overwhelmingly anti-vaccine. They grew increasingly agitated throughout the movie. One woman in the front row repeatedly shouted things at the screen, including “DON’T GIVE YOUR KID A VACCINE, PERIOD!” (her outbursts continued through the Q&A, to the point where the theater manager had to warn her that he would ask her to leave if she continued).

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“Vaxxed” audience before the start of the film.

 

My intention in coming to the movie and the Q&A was simply to watch, take notes, and hopefully get the chance to ask Mr. Wakefield which vaccines (if any) he thought were safe and effective, or if he thought that no vaccines were safe. I didn’t want to confront him or argue with him, and I told my sister to do the same. That plan lasted about six seconds into the Q&A when he asked “Has anyone in the audience not changed their minds on this issue after seeing our documentary?” Angry and frustrated, Julie sprang to her feet and proceeded to have rather contentious conversation with him. I was initially irritated—this was explicitly what we’d agreed not to do, and I knew I wouldn’t get the chance to ask my question now—but I couldn’t help but be proud of her for standing up and speaking her mind. The crowd was very hostile to us—shouting things like  “Who’s funding you???” “She’s probably on drugs or possessed by the devil!” What they didn’t know is that Julie is a retired professional MMA fighter, totally at ease being punched in the face in front of thousands of people. She’s completely implacable in the face of hostility, and although scrupulously polite, she refused to back down. After making her views clear to Mr. Wakefield (to which he responded with what we think is a lie about how much money he made from his anti-MMR work in England), she sat down and we spent the rest of the session just listening (and receiving angry glares and a few pointed comments).

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The Q&A showed the extent to which Mr. Wakefield will allow incredibly harmful and irresponsible medical advice to be shared by his colleagues without challenging it [1]. For example, when someone on the panel urged parents to go to chiropractors and naturopaths and to “stay away from pediatricians,” Mr. Wakefield sat in silence and did not disagree with this statement. When a panel member said that GMOs and vaccines damaged her child, but she can “recover” (not cure) him with supplements and correct eating, he did not disagree. When a person in the audience shouted “AIDS was created! So was cancer!” he did not disagree or challenge that statement. When a physician in the audience asked how she could support families and find them exemptions, he said “There are a lot of people here who will be coming to talk to you.” When a parent said “We see this connection (between autism and vaccines), why do they (physicians) not see it?” Mr. Wakefield responded “I think they do.” When a fellow panel member said that “The history (of vaccines) is that we’ve never needed them; sanitation, clean water are enough,” he didn’t disagree.

Strangely, when a parent explained that she didn’t want to give her child a vaccine but didn’t want to lose her pediatrician, and someone in the audience shouted “Forge the records, it’s easy to do!”, Mr. Wakefield did intervene, saying: “No, no, no, guys, you can’t just hide in the shadows anymore. OK? It’s only just dodging [inaudible] the system is fundamentally broken. Do not try and operate within the shadows of a system that is broken, the system has to be broken down completely and rebuilt.” Why did he balk at that but NOT “don’t send your kids to a pediatrician”?

This raises the question of how much of this stuff he actually believes. I can’t possibly believe that he agrees that AIDS was a manufactured disease, or some of the other crazy stuff that was said. However, I believe that he doesn’t want to alienate his audience by saying something they disagree with, and so he sits quietly no matter what is said (unless it’s blatantly illegal). During a conversation after the movie, I did get the chance to ask him if he considers any vaccine to be safe, and he refused to answer me.

I was struck by how angry the crowd was. I’ve never before encountered anything like it. To the scientific and medical community, I urge you to try to understand that these are parents who fervently believe with their entire beings that their children are the victims of a global, sinister conspiracy. This belief is all the more shocking because of its irrationality—they are wrong, but any attempt to reason with them simply drives them further into their beliefs. It was very sobering to watch Dan Kahan’s ideas of cultural cognition actually at work, to see people being driven deeper and deeper into their belief structure. And no wonder—a parent’s love for his or her child trumps all other considerations. They may be utterly, completely wrong about what the cause is, but their passions and fears need to be respected and taken seriously.

Yet at the same time I could see how the conversations of other parents, with other experiences might be effective. A parent with an autistic child whose symptoms showed up before vaccination, a parent of an immunocompromised child who cannot be vaccinated…these, too, are important and emotional stories, and they may resonate where the words of doctors and scientists don’t.

After the Q&A there was a long line in the lobby to see Mr. Wakefield and the other “Vaxxed” panel members. I wandered over to the protesters, who were all members of ASAN, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. They were cheerful, polite, and enthusiastically having very important conversations with audience members and people from the “Vaxxed” team (some of whom were quite aggressive). I estimated that the majority of the protesters were teenagers or in their early- to mid-twenties. In talking with them, I learned that this was their very first protest. I asked several of them why they were here and got the following responses (directed at the producers of the movie):

“It’s (the movie) part of a larger cultural movement that denigrates autistic people and other people with disabilities.”

“You’ve got to (also) listen to our voices.”

“You’re using autism as a threat.”

 

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Protestors from ASAN Kansas City, who gave me permission to use their photos.

I thought that showing up and being present to talk about their experiences—ones which many of us can’t relate to—was extremely effective and very brave. I hoped that the “Vaxxed” team members learned something from their interactions with the protestors, but unfortunately that didn’t prove to be the case. The day after the movie, the “Vaxxed” Facebook page put up a video featuring Mr. Wakefield talking to the protestors with the mocking title: “Protesters stumble over responses when questioned about why they were protesting the film.”  Note that the permission of the protestors was not obtained by the social media team–in fact, they explicitly and repeatedly asked for the cameras to be turned off.

 

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A link to the video can be found (for now at least) on Periscope here.

Sadly, the majority of comments on the “Vaxxed” Facebook page mocked the protestors or questioned their honesty, calling them “stupid”, “freaks”, “sell-outs”, “fools”, and “idiotic.” (I have obscured the names and images of people from whom I was not able to obtain permission to quote).
Facebook comment

Vaxxed comment #2

A few people pointed out that this was wrong.

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 9.55.39 AM

 

The language employed by the “Vaxxed” social media team members and their online fans fit with the rhetoric I noticed in the movie, which was highly emotionally charged and fear-provoking. It included phrases like “lost everything” ,“didn’t ever really wake up”, “scary”, “damaged kid”. I have incredible sympathy for the parents onstage and in the crowd. They were dealing with challenges that I never will, and I can’t comprehend the stress that they’re under on a daily basis. But I have an autistic family member, and she isn’t a “damaged kid” or “scary”–she’s a bright, adorable toddler who loves dogs.  The young people in the lobby weren’t “damaged” or “scary”—they were intelligent, thoughtful, passionate people. I admired them for coming out and sharing their perspectives.

I really do worry about the escalating, dehumanizing the rhetoric being used in this movie and in the anti-vaccine community. To Mr. Wakefield and his fans, please consider that no matter how you feel about the issue, these are people who you are denigrating with your hurtful language. You are damaging your own credibility by mocking them.

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[1] These quotes are from notes that I took during the Q&A and are as close as possible a transcription of what was said.

78 thoughts on “#Vaxxed, reviewed: What happened outside of the movie.

  1. reissd June 13, 2016 / 5:39 pm

    I admire your sister. And thank you for this more detailed description both of the q&A and the protesters.

    • Lisa wright June 13, 2016 / 9:35 pm

      I saw the protestors on periscope and also saw and heard this whole discussion on periscope and believe there was nothing done wrong on behalf of the panel.
      I can tell you from the research that I have done over the last few months this movie is the tip of the iceburg of what is really wrong with the immunizations in general. No have read documents from well respected peditrician’s, researchers, neurosurgeon’s (one of my favourites is Russell Blaylock), homeopaths, teachers, nurses and doctors which have all had something to say about the epidemic we are facing now as parents. If you truly beleive the CDC doesn’t have anything to hide you really need to spend a lot more time reading and researching documentary’s which cover a lot of information to discredit the cdc, Andy Wakefield is just another person giving information about this horrifying injustice that is occurring right under our noses.
      It’s time for people to really take the time to be open to all information regardless of where it takes you.
      Your friends, family and loved ones depends on it 😊

      • reissd June 13, 2016 / 10:02 pm

        I am sorry you feel that way. I see the mocking of the protesters and the aggressiveness displayed towards them as very troubling. Why do you think there was nothing wrong?

        I would be curious what information you think casts any doubt on the scientific consensus that vaccines are safe and effective.

        • helen November 19, 2016 / 12:32 am

          interesting….no one asked them to come and protest….this is a movie exposing pharma concealing vital evidence….not really a movie against autistic people…..so really no need for autistic people to be protesting….says it all really!…just more distraction LET THE TRUTH BE OUT….IT’S BEEN HIDDEN AND LIES HAVE BEEN TOLD FOR FAR TOO LONG. A LOT OF PEOPLE INVOLVED ….. let people watch and make up there own minds…enough with the propaganda and attemted media control of this show.

          • Helena January 4, 2017 / 1:01 am

            Well said.

            • JGC January 10, 2017 / 3:46 pm

              Well, it might have been well said if there were actual evidence demonstrating vital evidence had actually been concealed.

              As things stand, however…

            • ofsteepsandstims January 10, 2017 / 10:41 pm

              Except that there is no evidence linking vaccines to autism, AND, they disparage autistics throughout the movie (I’m not buying into your lies that it doesn’t), which leads to more stigma, which leads to worse life outcomes for autistic people (due to the idea being spread that autistic people aren’t worth it, will lead to less education, worse healthcare, and in every social facet of society). “no one asked them to come and protest”… do you really know anything about protests? Because protests don’t happen just because someone “asked” them to. We came because there was a trash heap of misinformation in this movie that puts autistic people at risk by normalizing abuse and mistreatment against autistic people (everything from fear-mongering, to following a kid around with a camera without his consent and filming his meltdown without his permission… maybe someone should follow you with a camera without your consent, in your worst moments ever, provoke you past your point of what you can take, and spread misinformation about you that causes people to treat you worse), as well as spreads misinformation that keeps vaccine-preventable diseases from being eradicated. This movie isn’t an exposé, and its intent isn’t benign. Stop lying to us and saying it is.

        • helen November 19, 2016 / 1:37 am

          interesting that you are more offended by the protestor business rather than the millions of children damaged by vaccines around the world. I would be interested to know why they chose to go and be confrontational considering the media has already tried to control the showing of the movie and has only given very negative and dishonest reporting on it. Also I am curious to actually see your alleged scientific data.consensus..(in full). don’t suppose you will be posting that anytine soon…probably just keep spewing the pharma heresay….(well they are all scientists arent they – oh paid by big pharma etc lets see the proof and examine it)

          • Chris November 19, 2016 / 12:32 pm

            “interesting that you are more offended by the protestor business rather than the millions of children damaged by vaccines around the world”

            Please provide the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers with verifiable statistics to support that statement.

          • ofsteepsandstims November 20, 2016 / 3:13 am

            ” I would be interested to know why they chose to go and be confrontational considering the media has already tried to control the showing of the movie and has only given very negative and dishonest reporting on it.”

            You say the protesters were confrontational, when let me just remind you that /they/ (the people in charge of vaxxed) were stuffing cameras in our face without consent and rapid-firing questions at us in a deliberate attempt to overstimulate us and then discount us for being too overwhelmed/overstimulated from it, or denounce us as “not real autistics” if we didn’t get overstimulated (I can report to you though, mostly it was the former that happened and somehow a lot of us managed to hang on until we got home and promptly shut down from the mass overstimulation). How about someone shove a camera in your face and badger you with a bunch of propaganda material?

            Also, I have yet to see any so-called “paychecks” from $bigpharma$ considering that people in our group protested because this film is highly stigmatizing and dangerous for autistic people. If there is anyone who is being negative, it’s the vaxxed film with all of their fear mongering against autistic people, and if there’s anyone being dishonest, it’s andy wakefield.

            But, keep saying that we were confrontational when they tried so damned hard to be like a paparazzi chaser crew.

      • Chris June 13, 2016 / 11:01 pm

        “I can tell you from the research that I have done over the last few months this movie is the tip of the iceburg of what is really wrong with the immunizations in general.”

        Yes, please tell us what that research says! Please post the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers that show the present American MMR vaccine that has been used since 1978 causes more issues than measles, mumps and rubella.

        By qualified, I mean those who have studied in the relevant fields of autism, vaccines, immunology etc. Not neurosurgeons, homeopaths, non-medical school teachers, random nurses nor doctors without the specialized fields, journalists, econ professors, computer scientists, etc. By reputable I mean those doctors who have not lost their legal right to practice medicine (Wakefield, the Geiers), those who sell supplements, sell newsletters or are listed on the Encyclopedia of American Loons.

        • Nim June 13, 2016 / 11:25 pm

          If the research was funded by the CDC or the AMA or any big hospital or university that receives money and grants and backing by the pharmaceutical companies, you are not going to find anything that says vaccines can injure your child now or in the future. …………………………………………. If you do not understand or think that MONEY will make people do things that are wrong, there is no point in doing any research. Doctors, and the AMA, and the CDC once told moms to be it was perfectly all right to take a drug called thermaldihide. Babies were born with no arms and no legs! There are billions of dollars to be made, as long as babies keep getting vaccines! Just read what is going into an infant’s body with a vaccine,…….You will know the answer then……

          • shay June 13, 2016 / 11:43 pm

            It’s a good thing that study funded by antivaxx group Safeminds found no link between vaccines and autism, then, isn’t it?

            • helen November 19, 2016 / 12:53 am

              Unbelievable….your kind keep coming the scientific evidence BS….- well you first need to examine your scientific gumf…because that’s what it is. Some of the scientific papers that I am very familiar with…totally disregarded any adverse effects…seizures autism etc and only included unaffected children. other studies weren’t studies at all but statistical number crunching…and other studies were too short term to have any real scientific value what so ever. So your scientific consensus that vaccine are safe and effective….please give copies of the full studies otherwise it is pharma heresay. I know first hand that vaccines have severely damaged children….although vaccines is the main culprit…in uterus also occurs from toxins and ..medical progress is now vaccinating pregnant mums so the baby can be affected before birth….doesnt mean all are born that way.

            • Helena January 4, 2017 / 1:04 am

              Easy to say but where is the evidence?

          • shay June 13, 2016 / 11:45 pm

            Oh, and you might want to read up on the history of thalidomide. It was never approved for use in the US due to the efforts of one of those government scientists you claim was bought and paid for.

            • helen November 19, 2016 / 12:56 am

              so are you saying there were no thalidomide babies in US because there were plenty in the UK and I could have been one of them….my mother was prescribed it when she was carrying me in the 1960s fortunately for me my grandmother in the medical profession threw the tablets on the fire!!

              • Chris November 19, 2016 / 12:36 pm

                There were a few, mostly because the German company distributed the pills without any authorization and some doctors passed a few out.

                You should read about the FDA employee who insisted that the company provide more data before thalidomide was approved for use in the USA. She saved many many families from what happened in Canada and Europe. Read up on her:
                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frances_Oldham_Kelsey

          • Chris June 14, 2016 / 12:08 am

            “you are not going to find anything that says vaccines can injure your child now or in the future. …………………………………………. If you do not understand or think that MONEY will make people do things that are wrong,”

            Are you paid by Really LONG Ellipses?

            “Doctors, and the AMA, and the CDC once told moms to be it was perfectly all right to take a drug called thermaldihide.”

            What in the bloody blue blazes is “thermaldihide”? Is it some kind of thermal protection armor? Massive inability to spell aside, let us address the massive history fallacy: Frances Kelsey, and why this Canadian* was awarded a very big medal from President Kennedy. You might want to do some fact checking, after you do a spellcheck.

            My favorite (and only) ex-Canadian hubby was born on the same island!

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) June 14, 2016 / 2:50 pm

        I’ve been hearing this, that and the other thing is the “tip of the iceberg” for over a decade.

        I’ve been hearing “the truth will be known” for over a decade.

        The truth is known. Vaccines are safe and effective. And the “autism is a vaccine-epidemic” idea is false.

        The thing about waiting for the “truth” is that you have to stop waiting when it comes.

      • ofsteepsandstims June 14, 2016 / 7:02 pm

        Lisa, were you there? Because I /was/. I’m one of the protesters. In fact, if I’m in video or pictures anywhere, I’m the blonde chick with the straw fedora holding the colorful “my neurology isn’t a bogeyman (& still isn’t caused by vaccines)” sign. They’re only showing you what they /want/ to show you (I’ll get to that, that is a very common theme in anti vaccine propaganda). They also absolutely did not ask for permission to film any of us (Basically, Jennifer is right). They just came through and started causing a commotion. They were purposely getting up in our faces with the camera man, who is basically trained to be as obnoxious like a chaser crew paparazzi as possible. They do this fully /knowing/ that most of us are autistic and they are going to cause as many sensory issues as possible to throw us off and disorient us. I find it interesting too how they kept on badgering us for mountains of evidence (all of which was detailed in a two-pager that was passed around the group, but camera man always interrupted our answers regardless). but when you asked the camera man questions about factual information he just kinda “I don’t know”‘ed that crap in a slightly less embarrassing way than Mrs. Peacock from clue. He kept mentioning that the first case of autism was diagnosed the same year as the first vaccine. I believe I was the one who shouted “correlation doesn’t prove causation” while another one of my friends asked him what year that was and he wasn’t even able to answer us. Another common thread here was that they were attempting to invalidate us by saying “well you don’t know, you didn’t see the movie” (when there are people like me who went down the rabbit trail of looking up different studies and their crappy methods involved in them). I think the most amazing thing was when my tall friend (who I believe wasn’t there when Jennifer was but was there earlier) interjected and asked Andy wakefield himself if a person has to read the entirety of Mein Kampf in order to know if they disagree with Hitler’s ideas. That was a pretty golden moment. It stunned him pretty good. Then of course she got a great 30 second video grilling him on his lack of credentials. And until you are a real scientist, looking stuff up on the internet and only paying attention to whatever supports your unscientific view doesn’t count as “research” You internet searched what you wanted to hear, you didn’t research anything. The horrifying injustice is that people are still using this to dehumanize autistics, fear-monger our existence, and derail research dollars away from where it needs to go. I don’t believe in this fake coverup. I mentioned earlier that people only show you what they want you to see. You do also realize that there is such a thing as video editing and audio editing, right? Matt Carey dissected some of William Thompson’s audio recordings that andy wakefield used and Matt was able to find where they had been edited and spliced together in multiple places. It’s time to go learn what makes legitimate science, and I’m never going to be open to things done with horrible ethics (andy wakefield), crap methodology (andy wakefield), someone who refuses to speak out against quack therapies like mms and chelation which are harmful (andy wakefield), and I above all refuse to be open to “information” (distorted lies) that end up increasing stigma against autistic people. That fear-mongering and stigma leads to WORSE life outcomes, not better, like being discriminated against on the job for those of us who are able to work. Also, when people steal research dollars away for this multiple-time-disproven trash, as well as causation, it leads to less research dollars going towards figuring out how to best support autistic people. The latter (supporting autistic people) is directly tied to opportunities and services. You want to keep talking about autistic kids like they’re zombies, less than human? The worst thing EVAR? You know these kids (even nonspeaking ones) can hear you right there dehumanizing their very existence for something they can’t help (their neurology which you are refusing outright to accept) These autistic kids grow into autistic adults, provided their moms don’t filicide them along the way (it’s already been established that andy wakefield was also involved with the spourdalakis family). This fear-mongering actually does NOTHING to help these kids grow up being supported, and also does nothing to help them when they are adults. How do we know? We see it all the time. That’s why. My aunt never did this fear-mongering BS when my autistic ID (intellectually disabled) cousin grew up, and he’s a very happy man I’m sure because of that. It’s time you really take the time to understand scientific information, no matter how you feel about something (science trumps feelings). Everyone in the known existence, especially autistic people depend on you to do so. (I also note how you give zero mention as to how anti-vaccine agendas hurt autistic people, which is erasure. I won’t let you get away with erasure either).

        • reissd June 14, 2016 / 7:07 pm

          Thank you. Jennifer, I wish you would make this comment a post in itself, if the speaker is willing. I think it’s powerful and a wonderful answer to the Vaxxed misleading and offensive treatment of the protesters. Thank you for speaking up and for being there.

          • ofsteepsandstims June 17, 2016 / 12:59 am

            Absolutely fine by me. Eventually I was going to put up a post detailing the protest itself and how that went, but I’m having some hangups right now on organizing all of the details of everything that happened. There’s just so much that happened that night.

        • lizditz June 15, 2016 / 12:35 am

          Thank you OfSteepsandStims and the rest of ASAN-KC for going, and for bravely to standing up in protest.

          • ofsteepsandstims June 17, 2016 / 1:01 am

            Thank you so much.

        • helen November 19, 2016 / 1:08 am

          Lisa, I am sorry you are so wrong you are not a medical professional, but funny how you feel you can descredit medical professionals that have found a causal link with vaccines and autism. However, if you have put this piece together yourself. well done….there are many unfortunate children (that become adults as you say)….that can no longer speak write or communicate and so many that don’t make it past their teenager years because of inflamed guts and severly damaged digestive tracts etc. they suffer a very undignified life and not because of their parents as you put it. you were not invited to protest so if you go to be confrontational at a venue that is trying to shine a light on truth which is being denied with mega bucks spending, then you deserve to get criticism just as you feel you have a right to criticise. This movie is to help the indiividuals whose lives have been changed from healthy babies to damaged children….if you feel your autism is not in this bracket…good for you…go celebrate somewhere else, but don’t try to stop other people from being helped. cheers

          • Chris November 19, 2016 / 12:39 pm

            “…. descredit medical professionals that have found a causal link with vaccines and autism.”

            What medical professionals? Where is Wakefield still legally allowed to practice medicine on this planet?

            The movie is about the MMR vaccine that has been used in the USA since 1978. Please provide the verifiable statistical documentation dated before 1990 that autism increased in the USA during the 1980s coincident to the use of that MMR vaccine.

          • ofsteepsandstims November 20, 2016 / 4:03 am

            Obviously you didn’t read too well considering it took you maybe a half hour to realize that I’m not Lisa (aka, not one of your fellow antivax folk). Also, trying to discount lived experiences upon the premise of “not being a medical professional” doesn’t discredit me. I don’t need to be a medical professional to demand for people to not dehumanize folk with my neurology on a daily basis (seriously, you’re reaching). Still, it is pretty damned clear that my scientific literacy is above yours considering my biology class I took in college is even above your knowledge. (since you’re showing yourself to be pretty unaware at how everything in the scientific process works)

            Andy wakefield doesn’t count as a “medical professional”, as his license to practice has been revoked upon data fabrication and ethical violations. And don’t pat me on the back with this infantilizing “well done” crap.

            You say unfortunate children? They are only unfortunate when people like YOU spread this dehumanizing crap that leads to worse life outcomes via stigma.
            Not all autistics are children, and many are already adults. Way to go at erasing autistic adults, WHILE talking to one. Congratulations, you attempt to communicate with people you don’t believe exist, since you seem to only think that kids can be autistic. What if I told you that a lot of people reached adulthood without a diagnosis and that it’s no “epidemic”?
            Nonspeaking autistics can in fact communicate, providing the people around them are listening to that communication. If a person doesn’t have an AAC (assistive augmentative communication) method learned (like keyboarding, aac talking apps, rapid prompting method, the PECS system, facilitated communication, anything in that category is AAC), a person can still respect their communication by watching their behavior. Behavior is in fact communication. If a person refuses to comply, pushes someone away, spits out food they can’t tolerate while making a yuck face, trust me that they are communicating with you that there is something wrong in their environment, they don’t want to be touched, and there is something they find bad about that food (like texture issues, or they don’t like the taste, or aren’t hungry, and so on). I bet you never thought about that before that people can still communicate nonverbally and it still means something. Whether or not you respect behavior as communication doesn’t mean that they aren’t attempting to communicate. Also: There are nonspeaking autistics who in fact do have blogs. Maybe you would be enlightened to learn about amy sequenzia, or ido kedar, or mel baggs, or even emma zurcher-long.
            many autistic people don’t make it past their teen years because their parents kill them and attempt to get away with it by calling it a mercy killing when it’s really murder. Their parents try to control them while hating them for who they innately are (a person is born autistic, not made autistic by outside environmental factors), and then their parents give them deadly hoax “treatments” like mms bleach enemas and crap like that, and when that doesn’t work, their parents kill them. That’s what happened to alex spourdalakis verbatim (as an example). In fact, on march 1st, the autistic community has a day of mourning vigil every year in many cities, for the giant list of hundreds of names, of autistic and/or disabled people who were killed at the hands of their parents and/or caregivers. You don’t want to know how long that list is, and I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t derail with this “what about those who don’t live past their teen years because (insert thing that actually isn’t autism here)” Gut issues? not autism. Allergies? Not autism. intolerances? not autism. Epilepsy? not autism. a co-occuring condition does not this particular neurologic condition make. Yes, a lot of conditions are common in autistic people. There are some things I really want a fix for, like this disordered sleep I’m dealing with right now (hence why I’m burning incense, watching an old bsb concert special, and drinking this herbal tea, and it’s 3am– and no, that “turn off your computer, and turn off the lights, go to bed earlier, drink warm milk” shite doesn’t help– trust me I’ve tried it all short of sleeping pills). I wish my friends didn’t struggle with epilepsy because that’s deadly. I wish one of my other autistic friends didn’t have to have a large chunk of his bowel removed from his chronic gut conditions.

            But, make no mistake, these conditions aren’t autism itself, and, what makes autistic people suffer because of autism, is because how people like you treat us, not from the condition itself. It’s also because we live in a world that’s set up for neurotypicals, but not people who fall outside of that (that is referred to as the “social model of disability”– it might help for you to know this). (If things were up to autistics, you know every bathroom paper towel holder would be mounted much lower so water doesn’t drip down your sleeves, and there would be no tv adverts and noisy dinging registers in grocery stores, and so on. Living in constant overload does really take a lot out of a person, especially if you can’t help how your brain processes sensory stimuli, where everything is indecipherably muddied together and stuck on level 10.)

            People only suffer an “undignified life” because people believe the things you believe and don’t believe autistic people deserve dignity, privacy, or even basic respect. It’s sad. And again, this is not a feature of autism itself, but how other people treat autistics because of stigma that you are choosing to perpetuate. Also: when you’re complicit with thinking that it’s okay for people to violate autistic people, i.e. by filming their meltdowns and putting it on youtube for the whole world to see (maybe someone should film your worst moments and put it on youtube, because you know, empathy), or worse, film their worst moments and put it in the vaxxed movie (like that boy featured in the movie). I recall something said about how his mom said that he acts apprehensive and acts like he doesn’t want to be filmed. Well, no shit sherlock. Because they are filming him without consent and violating his privacy to where he has none. And what kid can trust their parents when they put their kid’s worst moments on display for the whole world to see. So if you want to talk about autistic people lacking dignity, maybe you should look at how people aren’t affording them that dignity to begin with.

          • ofsteepsandstims November 20, 2016 / 4:17 am

            Also, telling me that our group wasn’t “invited” to protest, it doesn’t sound like you understand protests very well. If every single group that protested anything was silenced by “you weren’t invited to protest”, nothing would change, whether it be ideas, or the policy that ideas shape. I’m not okay with people thinking that my neurology is an epidemic and that autistic people are worth less than human. Even the autistics with the highest support needs deserve better than this dehumanization shit. Erstwhile, what’s the most you have to lose by people protesting vaxxed? Your feelings get hurt? Because nope, that doesn’t override science, nor does it override that autistic people are humans worthy of rights that aren’t being acknowledged nor respected in such a horrible film.

            And it shows that you weren’t there to see what it was like considering you think that /we/ were the “confrontational” ones? Maybe someone should shove a camera in your face and badger you with 1,000 questions trying to provoke you and then tell you that they weren’t being confrontational.

            There is no “truth” being hidden. If there is anything being denied, it’s rights when it comes to autistic people. It’s science that you’re trying desperately deny the existence of. Also, I don’t see how dehumanizing a group of people and denying science is “helping people” except helping them to /hurt/ their children by seeing their kids as less than human. But again, recenter a neurologic condition on every single damned person except the people who have it themselves, like people like you are so known to do. And your whole “bracket” talk? Is just functioning labels by another name. Apparently you failed to read above when I was talking about my intellectually disabled high support needs cousin having a happy existence because my aunt loves him unconditionally and never fear-mongered his existence (unlike virtually everything in that propaganda film, which paints autism as “teh worst EVAR”). If you don’t think autistic people should celebrate their existence, it just shows how much you hate autistic people for celebrating ourselves to be such a radical idea according to you. And I’ll damn well stop anyone if I can stop them from hurting their kid. This film is not helping people, it’s hurting people.

            No cheers, and learn how to not dehumanize people. It makes me feel sorry for any autistic you know, how dehumanizing you must be to think no autistic person deserves dignity.

            • Chris November 20, 2016 / 11:39 pm

              “Also, telling me that our group wasn’t “invited” to protest, it doesn’t sound like you understand protests very well.”

              That was awesome, just like all of the responses you posted to “Helen.” Thank you, you are much more eloquent than myself. I am just a parent trying to find a way to make sure my son survives in this world, stims and all.

              One the biggest accommodations he needs in a work environment is for people to be patient while he speaks. It takes him longer than others, but he can communicate if you give him a chance. And please ignore the hand shaking and the hair messing, it calms him.

              If you are willing to sit patiently for someone who stutters talks (like the brilliant mathematician/computer guy at work did*), you can patiently wait while the young man who could not speak when he was three years old communicates using the skills provided by over a decade of speech therapy.

              If you disagree, then you better be very good at fast Fourier transforms, and be very cognizant of both the time and frequency domains in vibration analysis… which is what I did, and why his digital tool was very important — speech ability has nothing to do with actual intelligence. And as far as I can tell, the written communication skills of “OfSteepsAndStims” are much better than those demonstrated by “Helen.”

              • ofsteepsandstims November 21, 2016 / 11:06 pm

                Thanks Chris. Admittingly, it’s a lot easier for a lot of autistics to communicate through typed text than it is face to face too (which is why it’s so annoying when people do that “not like my child” thing where they compare a 30-something typing on a computer to their kid attempting to communicate in person). From what you’ve shown in this comment thread, I can definitely tell you love him unconditionally and you care to do things right. You know, I was thinking though, about intelligence, and as a construct in of itself it is flawed because a person isn’t measuring intelligence, they’re measuring how a person communicates, and only within a certain social norm and culture.

                • Chris November 23, 2016 / 11:00 pm

                  Thank you so very much.

                  Before he was born I was one of those people who did well in school, and them became an engineer … one of only a couple of women in my class. I was destined to become a “tiger mom.”

                  Then reality got in the way when my firstborn had seizures on his second day of life. I learned that speech/communication was not a “simple thing” to learn. So instead of teaching my kid a second language when he was a toddler and then signing him up for the “college-prep” preschool, I got an education in special education, sign language and navigating hospitals.

                  My two younger kids benefited so much. They were exposed to sign language because I thought it was fun, and an easy way to communicate quietly in noisy places. And they went to play time instead of preschool. They both managed to do well in school. One plans to become a speech therapist (the other sibling thinks it is because of very early exposure, “imprinted”, to oldest child’s speech therapists and their waiting rooms as a baby).

                  I have learned that anxiety is very real, and facing a bunch of people when you are different is not comfortable and can lead to bad things. If I thought being the only person being dressed in a suit that included a skirt was a bad thing… it is quite a different thing to be surrounded by those who think you are “damaged”, “subhuman” and however else the VAXXED crowd think of kids like my oldest child. A young man who worked very very hard to learn to speak, and is quite intelligent (though he can still be quite frustrating).

                  Oh, and on your last sentence: the neurologist actually apologized for the fact the intelligence tests that were used were so dependent on oral communication. I bet that works great on the deaf population (actually it doesn’t, they have their own issues, we knew a few… it was not by coincidence that the deaf/hard of hearing program was next to the one he got into, that one was created in the late 1970s when they got kids who could not speak but could hear).

                  I have hope, and I will try to do more than wear a safety pin.

        • helen November 19, 2016 / 1:22 am

          apologies I addressed my reply to lisa instead meant it for ofsteepsandstims (sorry for any confusion Lisa 🙂 )

      • JGC June 14, 2016 / 10:56 pm

        Simple question, Lisa: what in your opinion is the single most credible and compelling epidemiological study or other piece of scientific evidence supporting the existence of a causal association between routine childhood vaccination and autism spectrum disorders?

  2. janem1276 June 13, 2016 / 6:49 pm

    I find it so interesting that the anti-vaxxers believe everything they hear from their few “experts” that have no scientific basis, yet WE are the sheeple…

    • Nim June 13, 2016 / 11:16 pm

      Actually, I think most intelligent people that love their children want to know exactly what will be injected into their child’s body when it is time for vaccines. So, they read the label of ingredients on the vaccine package. ………………They find it unsettleing when they know what vaccines contain. …………..Then they go to a good book store and start finding books written by pediatricians and immunologists that are against vaccines. ……………..Then they start making phone calls to the Department of Health in their county and ask about cases of polio, or pertussis, and find out there have been none or the child that did get pertussis was fully vaccinated for it.

      ……….Then they start finding out through researching and reading that these are benign childhood diseases that EVERYONE contracted in the 40’s and 50’s and a whole elementary school full of children got chicken pox and measles, etc., and NO ONE DIED!

      ……………And then you find out about the vaccine damaged children and the payouts parents have gotten for their vaccine damaged children. …………….Then, you also find out many anti-vax docs believe there is a connection between ALS, MS, Crohns’s Disease and other young adult disease and childhood vaccines, even cancer,……………and you start to see you decision to not vaccinate is a no brainer! …………………Oh,…..And you also find out that any adult that does not get booster shots evdery 7 to 10 years for all those diseases, is not vaccinated either!

      So, they are not sheeple at all……..Sheeple do not do hours of reading and research!

      • shay June 13, 2016 / 11:48 pm

        I was born in 1955 and had all those childhood diseases. They are not benign.

        But hey, don’t take my word for it, ask my youngest brother about those ‘benign’ measles. Make sure he has his hearing aids in first,

      • Chris June 13, 2016 / 11:52 pm

        “…….Then they start finding out through researching and reading that these are benign childhood diseases that EVERYONE contracted in the 40’s and 50’s and a whole elementary school full of children got chicken pox and measles, etc., and NO ONE DIED!”

        Really? Why should we believe you? From the CDC Pink Book Appendix E on disease rates of incidence and deaths:

        Disease: Measles in the USA
        Year__Cases____Deaths
        1950__319,124__468
        1951__530,118__683
        1952__683,077__618
        1953__449,146__462
        1954__682,720__518
        1955__555,156__345
        1956__611,936__530
        1957__486,799__389
        1958__763,094__552
        1959__406,162__385

        You might want to rethink your statement, because at least several hundred schools had kids die from measles. Also from the same CDC Pink Book Appendix (which I collected a few years ago):

        1950 stats that are available:
        Disease____Cases__Deaths
        Diphtheria__5796_____410
        Tetanus______486_____336
        Pertussis_120718____1118
        Polio______33300____1904
        Measles___319124_____468
        Total_____479424____4236

        I hope you take your children to see The BFG when it comes out this summer. Be sure to read the book to them, and explain why it is dedicated to the memory of Olivia. I am sure your kids would love to know that they can experience the same thing as her!

      • Chris June 14, 2016 / 2:19 am

        No one died? There was 115 thousand measles deaths last year alone…almost exclusively in the unvaccinated areas of the world but don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story

        • helen November 19, 2016 / 1:12 am

          what utter TOSH….you are the one telling stories

          • Chris November 19, 2016 / 12:43 pm

            Really? You are the one that told Ms. Reiss that the autistic protesters are not worthy of your concern. You have made several statements without evidence, so you need to fix that oversight.

            Here is the document I took the information from (which has been updated):
            http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/

            It says:

            In 2015, there were 134 200 measles deaths globally – about 367 deaths every day or 15 deaths every hour

            Now please provide the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers that the MMR vaccine that has been used in the USA since 1978 has caused more deaths than measles, mumps and rubella.

      • Lanhua June 14, 2016 / 9:01 am

        Actually, most intelligent people who read the vaccine inserts and who have an iota of knowledge of how chemistry works don’t find it any trouble at all to inject their kids with so many “chemikills”. You do understand the poison is in the dosage, biologic pathways, and that a compound is not equal to its components in chemical properties?

        You do understand that some food has more of the chemicals a vaccine does, that your body, a babies’ body, produces more quantity and amount of these chemicals than any vaccine, than any thousand vaccines in a single day can hope to jab in a single dosage?

        Since apparently my mother (and now myself) bothered to pay attention in school during biology and chemistry, she had absolutely no problem protecting her precious babies with vaccination.

        The problem is ignorance. Frankly, my third-world-ass is disgusted with your movement of entitlement and privilege. I live in a fairly comfy country (Panama), and yet, in places where vaccines can’t get to because of access, despite actually having access to good healthcare (our health centres are amazing!), kids keep dying of so-called “harmless” childhood diseases. And now mw have an influenza type A H1N1 epidemic, thirteen deaths and counting, and at least 500 people hospitalised. Obviously the government freaked out and there are PSAs and free vaccinations for everyone. I live near one of the people who are dead, so I got my ass to a health centre and got vaccinated.

        I cannot comprehend the degree of paranoia (I would really want to know how Big Pharma owns my country, considering half the stuff they’re able to pull in the US like price gouging is forbidden here, we only buy generics, and so on and so forth), of entitlement, of irresponsibility, of cruelty to make your kids go through these diseases, required to be anti-vaxxer. I hear all this sitting in my country where there is not a single one of you, where vaccinations are mandatory because people are still killed by these diseases, and find myself baffled. I wonder myself if the great United States of America has failed their students by leaving them completely unprepared to understand something as simple as basic biology and chemistry, because I find otherwise their gnorance very troubling—it says a lot about your society. Jesus, I graduated from a public school. In a third world country. For fuck’s sake.

        To me. the problem with the anti-vaccinantion movement is their ignorance. Ignorance of how their own bodies work, ignorance of how substances work, ignorance of the consequences of these diseases, ignorance of the situation of the rest of the world. IGNORANCE.

        • Jennifer Raff June 14, 2016 / 9:13 am

          I think that you’re absolutely correct that there’s a big undercurrent of privilege in this debate. I see it play out when people baldly assert that “hygiene” is the reason we don’t have diseases like polio around today. It’s…disturbing, to say the least.

          As far as science education in the United States, it varies from state to state, but I don’t think that’s the entire problem here. Keep in mind that the percentage of Americans who actually believe in the anti-vaccine rhetoric is quite small–I think that someone in the thread on Colin’s post quoted a figure of 8%, but I haven’t verified that number yet. The vast, VAST majority of American parents vaccinate their children and think this debate is insane. It seems like there are more antivaxxers than there really are, because they are very active on social media and in the comments section of blogs and news articles (and because they have a couple of prominent celebrities who agree with them). But if you participate in the debate for long enough, you tend to see the same names crop up over and over again on antivax hashtags.

          I think ignorance is a huge part of this, but I also think there’s an element of identity, too. People cling to their communities, and that influences how they view topics like this (and GMOs). (That’s what I mean when I was referencing the “cultural cognition” research). There are several different communities that seem to embrace anti-vaccine rhetoric: the “crunchy” liberal parenting community, and the religious/libertarian/anti-government community (and probably others as well). I saw representatives of both at the movie.

          • ofsteepsandstims June 17, 2016 / 1:48 am

            “I think that you’re absolutely correct that there’s a big undercurrent of privilege in this debate.” That’s a great statement right there. Not just in this debate, but at the showing in general. Because even though there are, like you said, people from different political backgrounds, one commonality that I saw with the vaxxed moviegoers when I was protesting, was that the vast majority of them looked pretty affluent, white, and suburban. And, where this theater is located, this makes sense to see that type of crowd (for those unfamiliar with the Kansas City area, Overland Park (which is on the Kansas side) is a pretty uppity suburb. A lot of people used ignorance of being too far removed from the stories of yesteryear when kids contracted so many diseases that are now preventable and all the stories of kids who got paralyzed, went deaf, and the ones who died, and so on. I know I never lived that first-hand, as I’m only 32, but I grew up being told stories from my parents generation about what life was like knowing kids who got polio and rubella and so on.

          • Tim June 21, 2016 / 5:06 pm

            Considering that California have a population of close to 39 millions and that they failed to collect 366, 000 signatures required to force a referendum on Sb277, we can conclude that Antivaxers are a very small but vocal minorities.

        • Chris June 14, 2016 / 10:42 am

          “I live in a fairly comfy country (Panama), and yet, in places where vaccines can’t get to because of access, despite actually having access to good healthcare (our health centres are amazing!),…”

          I lived there as a kid, and remember the people and the countryside as being wonderful. Even with this ten mile wide American colony cutting it in half, where there was institutionalized racism. I witnessed the privilege that you describe, and am ashamed that I was part of that culture.

          Fortunately I was young enough to learn better. Plus, I would have been one of your worst Tiger Mom nightmares if I had not been give a good dose of humility by the medical issues of my oldest child (starting his second day of life).

          I hope to visit it someday and see all the changes. I definitely do not want to do a cruise through the canal, I want to go back and see the places I remember on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides.

      • JGC June 14, 2016 / 10:58 pm

        NIM, your evidence that any of the ingredients present in vaccine fornulations are toxic or otherwise harmful at exposure levels achievable by routine childhood vaccination would be what, exactly?

        I mean, you do actually have some–right?

        • Chris June 14, 2016 / 11:27 pm

          It’s “thermaldihide”! Which is either thermal armor (hide) or very high temperature formaldehyde. We many never know. 😉

  3. Derrick Lee June 13, 2016 / 8:22 pm

    Jennifer,

    William Thompson was exposed 2 years ago, and Vaxxed had been showing for months and had an audience of tens of thousands of people. They had severely attacked the integrity of the CDC and the 3 co-authors.

    Yet the CDC and the 3 co-authors had not released any statement to agree or to deny the affair.

    It is obvious to me that the cover-up is a truth, can’t you see that?

    • Jennifer Raff June 13, 2016 / 8:29 pm

      Would it make a difference to you if the CDC had made a statement in response?

    • reissd June 13, 2016 / 8:31 pm

      William Thompson’s documents that are supposed to show a cover-up don’t. So there really isn’t evidence of one.

      The CDC has released a statement that they are standing behind the 2004 paper: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/autism/cdc2004pediatrics.html

      I don’t know why they haven’t responded to the other allegations. Maybe they think claims that so far mostly go among a small community of believers that already believe there’s a conspiracy aren’t worth countering. As you point out, Vaxxed only has an audience of a few ten thousands, and there is a lot of indication most of them are already among the believers. I wish they would say something.

      But the burden of proof in this case is on those claiming a cover up, not on those they are attacking. And so far, the evidence doesn’t support a cover up. Quite the opposite.

    • Chris June 13, 2016 / 8:43 pm

      “It is obvious to me that the cover-up is a truth, can’t you see that?”

      Looks more like they are ignoring a non-story. Probably because Hooker’s paper was retracted due to him not declaring is conflict of interest and that the statistics were poorly done.

      By the way, even with Hooker’s borked calculations he only found an increase in autism in young black males who were vaccinated after the suggested age. Which is very unusual because autism is diagnose less frequently in the African American population than it is is in others.

      So how would this “revelation” have any bearing on the other large studies done all over the world that so no correlation because any MMR vaccine and autism, including a few by Dr. Brent Taylor who was at the Royal Free Hospital with Wakefield?

      • helen November 19, 2016 / 1:18 am

        Really, you need to go have a look in west africa then….autism was certainly experienced there following the last round of vaccinations….the damage to the children was so obvious that the western medics were kicked out!!

        • Chris November 19, 2016 / 12:45 pm

          You made a statement, therefore you need to provide evidence to support it. It should be from a PubMed indexed study by reputable qualified researchers.

      • Mike June 17, 2016 / 10:45 am

        And Snopes has an article about Thompson where he’s quoted emphasizing that he believes vaccines are both safe and important.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) June 14, 2016 / 2:37 pm

      Actually one of the authors has given interviews. I am aware of two. One was published, the other not. There just wasn’t enough of a story there for a real journalist to take the time to write a story.

    • millennial@gmail.com June 17, 2016 / 10:44 am

      Actually, William Thompson is enraged by the fact that he’s being used by charlatans like Wakefield. Check it out:

      I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.

    • ddpalmer June 20, 2016 / 4:05 am

      You know there are people who claim the Earth is flat and others who claim reptilian aliens in disguise are running the government. And you don’t see scientists and politicians wasting their time denying these claims.

      Some claims are just so blindingly stupid or obviously wrong that it is pointless to waste time refuting them. The people that believe them are so delusional that nothing anyone says has any chance of changing their minds. The CDC and the co-authors have real issues to deal with, like trying to save people’s lives, so they are just a bit too busy to deal with fruitcakes.

  4. Carrie-Anne June 14, 2016 / 12:59 am

    You and your sister were really brave to venture into that madhouse and handle yourselves with such aplomb! I don’t think I could’ve remained so calm and collected when dealing with such angry, hateful, cruel, irrational, anti-scientific cultists, particularly the repugnant Wakefield himself. They act like such bullies and immature little kids, particularly when anyone dares invade their precious little echo chamber and contradict them. I wonder if they were spoilt children used to always getting their way, and grew up not knowing how to handle criticism and different opinions. They also clearly failed science and history.

    I’ll be so upset if either of the two local indie theatres carry this piece of garbage. I’d honestly rather pay to see a big-screen showing of The Birth of a Nation. As difficult as it is to watch the second half, at least that film has deep historical, cultural, and artistic significance, unlike Vaxxed.

    • Jennifer Raff June 14, 2016 / 9:16 am

      Thanks. We knew going in that it was going to be difficult, and I was really dreading going. But I thought it was too important not to show up. I’m really glad I did, because although it was one of the worst evenings I’ve had in a while, I did get to witness some pretty cool acts of bravery, both by my sister and by the young protestors. I don’t want to overstate the hostility of the environment, but I do appreciate how hard it is to stand up and speak your mind when you feel bullied and alone. Small acts of courage, but meaningful.

  5. Sullivan (Matt Carey) June 14, 2016 / 2:28 pm

    ” “stupid”, “freaks”, “sell-outs”, “fools”, and “idiotic.””

    Consider that the VAXXED team portrays themselves as advocates for people with disabilities.

    And allow stigmatizing language about people with disabilities on their FB page.

    Freaks.
    Stupid (i.e. intellectually impaired)
    Idiotic (from idiot, an old term for severe intellectual disability).

    We see this even from parents of autistic kids who are Wakefield followers. Yes, these terms permeate the general public’s conversation, but we should know better. We should be the ones trying to stop stigmatizing language, not perpetuating it.

    Who is the greater failure–the person who is intellectually disabled or the person with intelligence who fails to use it?

  6. Sullivan (Matt Carey) June 14, 2016 / 2:35 pm

    “For example, when someone on the panel urged parents to go to chiropractors and naturopaths and to “stay away from pediatricians,” Mr. Wakefield sat in silence and did not disagree with this statement.”

    This is classic Wakefield. He promotes himself as the brave maverick, suffering all for the children, but he lacks the backbone to speak out against damaging ideas (even beyond those he publicly espouses).

    He is a fixture at autism parent conventions where fake and harmful “treatments” are pitched.

    When people claimed that drinking bleach solutions and twice daily bleach enemas could cure autism, did Wakefield speak out? No.

    When people claimed that chemical castration could cure autism, did Wakefield speak out? No.

    When people claimed that chelation (which may actually cause cognitive deficits when misapplied) could cure autism, did Wakefield speak out? No.

    When a charlatan pitched a novel synthetic compound, untested for safety or efficacy, as an autism cure (while calling it a “supplement), did Wakefield speak out? No.

    He lend his name to these conventions, gives his version of credibility to the proceedings, but sits back quietly so he can cowardly claim he doesn’t support these abusive practices.

    He’s a coward. Plain and simple. Either give your support (and take the just criticism for supporting abusive practices on disabled children) or stand up and make your opposition known.

    But he won’t. He’s gutless.

  7. Egg June 14, 2016 / 6:24 pm

    I am so glad to see that there were asan protestors there, and I’m glad you got the chance to speak with them.
    The way Wakefield approached them, the way those filmers didn’t turn their cameras off, those comments on Facebook, they all disgust me.

    A reason why those autistic people may have had trouble responding: they are autistic. Autism can make it harder to engage in serious conversations against opposition verbally, us autistic people need more time to think over what’s been said, to process and formulate our response. The cameras also would create more pressure, and the fact that this is a topic many autistic take personally charges it with more emotions that also can cloud our thought process, and we have to work through all of that.

    Vaccines do not cause autism, that is my factual statement upheld by science. Even Autism $peaks can no longer officially hold that view (though many members still do) after their 10 year study trying to prove it did the opposite.

    Let’s say they do cause autism though, just for a moment. Let’s pretend that anyone who gets vaccinated will likely be autistic. All those diseases vaccines prevent can kill, young children are especially vulnerable, which is why they get vaccinated.
    So let’s put it this way: would you rather your child die or be in excruciating pain from diseases, or would you rather just let them be autistic? Remember, if you answer this question right here to me, you are answering an autistic person.

    By saying vaccines cause autism, so you won’t vaccinate your kids, you are saying that potentially dying is a better fate than ending up autistic. You are saying that I’d be better off dead from disease than living my life as an autistic person.

    When you say vaccines cause autism, when you don’t vaccinate, you risk your own child’s life, any the lives of others who cannot be vaccinated due to medical problems, because apparently my life is a fucking tragedy and you’d hate for your kids to be like me. Apparently your kids are better off dead than living an autistic life, because “people lIke me” must be suffering from our autism, instead of taking pride in who we are, instead of embracing our differences and trying to get acceptance instead of awareness.

    I am a published author for a short story that won a local award. I aspire to be a renowned author of poetry and fiction. My poetry is generally about my life being autistic. My fiction is YA sci-fi and fantasy where I aim for diversity and plots that aren’t focused on romance. I am going to a community college, my GPA is 3.75 currently, I live with my grandmother. I want to major in communications, specifically the PR field. I may forget to eat sometimes, may not be able to shower every night, and may not be able to do everything I want to in a day, but that’d alright. If society were more accommodating to my needs, that’d be great, but I can get by. My special interests are my passion, my love, I can talk about them for days nonstop because they bring so much joy to my life. My depression and anxiety are caused by society’s rejection of me and a predisposition to them from my mother. Stimming is so much fun and it helps me so much, spinny rings and bracelets and flapping hands and singing and dancing and rocking back and forth on my bed.

    My life is different, not less.

    So when you say that you don’t want your kids to be autistic therefore you won’t vaccinate, remember me. Remember the life of every single autistic person out there that you are invalidating by your speech.

    Remember that when you say that shit, you’re saying you think I’d be better off dead than where I am now.

    • JerryA June 14, 2016 / 7:03 pm

      Thank you, Egg, for saying it so much better than I ever could. And thank you for saying what I cannot, in a way that the anti-vaccine crowd cannot ignore. You are a very talented writer and I hope you continue to be recognized and rewarded for it.

    • Egg June 14, 2016 / 8:27 pm

      Another note: When I say I /can/ get by without accommodations, that doesn’t mean I prefer it that way. I would love it if society could step up it’s game and realize hey, not everyone is white, able-bodied and neurotypical. With accommodations, I wouldn’t have to worry near as much about everything, my life would be easier.

      And just because I can get by, does not mean others can as well as me. There are nonverbal autistic people, yes, I sometimes will become nonverbal if I’m too overstimulated (or when having serious conversations against opposing voices, I would’ve probably turned nonverbal if I’d been a protester, and you can bet none of those anti-vaxxers would’ve accommodated me). Those nonverbal people do still have a voice though. They can still learn to write, they can use alternate forms of communication, many can use sign language, many can get online and talk for themselves. Others will never be able to live alone due to executive dysfunction, or other problems, but that doesn’t mean their life is bad, just different.

      The quality of my life is only decreased when people refuse to acknowledge me for who I am, when they attack me and people like me, for being autistic, taking the value of my voice from me and giving it to themselves, because they think they know what autistic people need better than I do.

      Sorry for the mini-rant that’s kinda unrelated, but I felt I should specify all that, because otherwise it sounds a bit more like “oh nobody needs accommodations really” and I don’t mean that at all.

      • Chris June 16, 2016 / 11:44 am

        “There are nonverbal autistic people, yes, I sometimes will become nonverbal if I’m too overstimulated (or when having serious conversations against opposing voices, I would’ve probably turned nonverbal if I’d been a protester, and you can bet none of those anti-vaxxers would’ve accommodated me).”

        I also appreciate your comments. My son was a non-verbal three year old, and he does speak now after over a decade of speech therapy. But, of course, it is not fluid and is sometimes difficult to understand.

        He did get a community college associate’s degree, so he is literate. One huge obstacle in a job search was the “phone interview.” So that went no where, so we sought help. We are working with the state’s human services to get him supported employment, where the accommodation he mostly needs is people willing to be patient when he speaks, and to not get in his face.

    • Jennifer Raff June 16, 2016 / 11:26 am

      Thank you so much for your eloquent comments. I really appreciate your participation in this discussion!

  8. Anonymous June 16, 2016 / 11:15 am

    The angriest person in the theatre was Julie. Another woman told her we would all be here for her if she were to go through what so many others have. The comments you are saying Dr. Wakefield didn’t respond to were not made by the panel and they were not addressed to the panel. He responded when someone suggested doing something unethical. This is a very biased article, you obviously have an angenda and shouldn’t be taken seriously. Some of us attended the Q&A to ask honest questions and that time was taken up by your sister jumping up and going on a very long tirade.

    • Chris June 16, 2016 / 11:24 am

      Dear brave Anonymous, why should we believe you?

    • Jennifer Raff June 16, 2016 / 11:24 am

      Julie definitely was angry–she was fed up with all the misinformation put out by the movie. But she jumped up when Mr. Wakefield asked her to, and her conversation was in response to him. She sat down when they had finished and didn’t try to disrupt the Q&A after they were done. It may seem like “a long tirade” to you, but I see it differently. And I would quibble with you that she was the “angriest” person in the theater. I thought the woman in the center front row (the one with the son who asked about vaccine ingredients) was much angrier, although she did happen to be in agreement with you and the movie, so perhaps that doesn’t count?

      I think I made it clear in the piece that some of the comments were from the audience, some–like the suggestion not to take one’s children to a pediatrician–were from the panel. He didn’t respond to that one, nor to the suggestion (from the audience) that AIDS and cancer were man-made diseases. I’m glad that he did respond to the suggestion to falsify medical records, but I think that the non-response to the other outrageous comments from the panel and the audience was unethical as well.

      I hope you got the chance to ask Mr. Wakefield your question during the Q&A, or during the meet and greet afterwards in the lobby. I thought he was very generous with his accessibility–I was afraid that I wouldn’t get the chance to ask my question (and I certainly didn’t want to take up time in the Q&A after Julie, so I didn’t), but he did take some time to talk with me.

    • Jennifer Raff June 16, 2016 / 11:33 am

      Also, I’m not pretending to be a journalist. I’m a scientist, and so my perspective on this blog is in alignment with how I interpret the scientific evidence and the scientific consensus.

      For the sake of argument, how ought I write this article to make it unbiased? Do you disagree that the treatment of the protestors in the comments section of the Vaxxed Facebook post was demeaning and cruel?

      Should my article not be taken seriously because it happens to disagree with your perspective?

      And what evidence would convince you to change your mind on this topic? I will take seriously anyone who can articulate that.

    • ofsteepsandstims June 17, 2016 / 2:01 am

      /really/? You come onto this blog with being anonymous, and talk about how “angry” someone was, which is a derailment called tone-policing btw, which I’m more than just sure that Julie’s “anger” was more than justifiable considering how anti-vaccine rhetoric dehumanizes autistic people while putting the general public in danger at the same time. Last I checked, wanting to have rights as a human isn’t a some kind of biased agenda.

      • Torako June 18, 2016 / 3:04 am

        it’s a sad truth that “stop killing autistic kids” is still a controversial thing to say.

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