Statement in response to Petition to Defend the Dignity of Autistic Citizens
Kathleen Seidel, proprietor of neurodiversity.com, has circulated a Petition to Defend the Dignity of Autistic Citizens that criticizes me for using the term "Mad Child Disease" in my article "Mercury on the Mind." I wish to state that in repeating this term I did not mean to offend Ms. Seidel and people who have signed this petition. More importantly, I do not wish to demean children with autism. Indeed, I have a grandson (who bears a striking resemblance to me) who was recently diagnosed with PDD-NOS.
As the petition notes, by quoting Drs Glueck and Cihak's report of his lecture, Dr. Boyd Haley, professor and chair of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky, coined this term. Their report, titled "Mad Child Disease," was published on NewsMax.com on September 13, 2004. The petition then goes on to say that "Dr. Donald Miller. subsequently jumped on the bandwagon" and repeated Dr. Haley's reference to "Mad Child Disease" in an article posted on the internet on September 29, 2004.
The Petition does not fairly represent my position on this matter. Saying I "jumped on the bandwagon" debases the thought and care I put into "Mercury on the Mind," as a careful reading of it will attest. I began work on this in March, after a visit with my grandson William (he lives on the east coast), who at age 15 months was seen to have delayed speech. Already familiar with Dr. Haley's work on mercury in amalgams and Alzheimer's disease, I researched thimerosal, vaccines, and autism. The idea took form to address the hypothesis that both autism and Alzheimer's disease represent unique types of mercury poisoning. I had hoped to have this article ready to send to LewRockwell.com shortly after hearing Dr. Haley's and Dr. Bernard Rimland's talks at the June Doctors for Disaster Preparedness (DDP) meeting. (The DDP, contrary to what the petition says, is not a "political organization," it is a scientific organization, whose "doctors" consist half of MDs and half PhDs, mainly physicists and environmental scientists.) The press of my work at the University of Washington, however, and the complexity of this subject slowed me down, and I did not complete this article and have it ready for publication until the end of September. By that time I had learned that William had PDD-NOS.
Dr. Haley has worked tirelessly on behalf of victims of mercury poisoning for fifteen years, trying to get mercury removed from vaccines and dental fillings. He meant no disrespect in referring to autism as Mad Child Disease. He wished only to point out that a neurological disease that affects cattle — and can be spread to humans — receives an inordinate amount of media interest and government research funds compared to what has become a far greater disaster, and tragedy — autism.
Most people that have read my article and sent emails about it have thanked me for writing it. Parents and grandparents of autistic children, in particular, applaud it — in emails like this:
And this one:
Thank you for this article. I have been saying for YEARS my autistic child is mercury poisoned....your article is a lucid, clear way for the mainstream public to understand what we are talking about. Now the big question: WHY ISN"T THIS THE PRIME STORY ON THE NIGHTLY NEWS???!
For every email that I have received voicing concern about my bringing up the term "Mad Child Disease," I have had 50 emails like those above. Even so, I agree with the petition. It would be better not to use this term. I will not use it in any further writings or discussions that I might have on this subject and will find a better simile for inadequate funding of autism research.
As one person cautioned me in an email, "Such terms [Mad Child Disease] may seem harmless, but they reinforce stereotypes that have led to fear, segregation, and outright abuse of children and adults with disabilities. Comparisons to animals was a primary rhetorical technique used during the height of the American Eugenics movement in justification of laws permitting involuntary sterilization of thousands of persons with disabilities." He is right. We live in an increasingly regimented society that is likely to grow more intolerant of its disabled citizens and savants.
I hope the net effect of my article, which is being widely read, will be to help stop the madness of putting mercury in vaccines and giving too many vaccines over too short a time to infants and young children whose brains are still developing. I urge people who have signed this Petition, if they haven't already, to read it.
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