While most Americans last week were discussing the weight of the turkeys they cooked and the number of pies they baked, many others were trying to survive the holiday and cope with a child with autism.
Three friends of mine in New Jersey, Chicago and Arizona will not have fond memories of this Thanksgiving “holiday.”
My New Jersey friend and his wife traveled to Delaware on Nov. 22 to bring their 20-year-old, 6’2″, 170-pound, very strong son with severe autism, home for the holiday from the residential school where he lives. He had not been home since his birthday on Jan. 17. On the way back, on a cold, rainy and dreary night, a simple flat tire turned the family’s trip into a hellish nightmare on the New Jersey Turnpike. Dad had to pull over and call for help. The young man, unable to comprehend why their van (with its autism awareness magnetic sticker) was stopped, while hundreds of cars and huge noisy trucks zipped by at high speed, decided to have a major and violent meltdown. With his mother sitting beside him, trying to calm him down, he started biting, head-butting, kicking, scratching and pulling her hair.
The following day, my friend in Chicago, who weighs about 105 pounds noticed that her 11-year-old son, who weighs five pounds more, was having a pre-convulsive aura, while standing in the tub getting ready to take a shower. She was able to control his fall so he did not hit his head on the edge of the tub, but then stood helplessly watching him in a major grand mal seizure – hoping and praying that it would stop.
By coincidence, a third friend in Arizona called me the same day, concerned because months had passed and her daughter’s fractured leg bone had not healed. This only child, who was 11 in August, has severe regressive autism with major gastrointestinal and joint difficulties. She had sustained an open fracture of her leg after falling during a convulsive seizure, her bones having been weakened by the corticosteroids (steroid osteopenia) she needed for her swollen painful joints.
The MMR vaccine and my three friends
These three children and their mothers have much in common. The children had developed normally in the first year of life and suddenly stopped acquiring speech and social skills after they received their MMR vaccination. They later regressed into typical and severe autism and their regression was well documented. They also all had thorough and comprehensive workups in top-notch medical facilities.
All three mothers had received either a rubella vaccine or an MMR vaccine booster as adults, two of them during the postpartum period.
The young man from New Jersey has had two endoscopies/colonoscopies (New Jersey and New York) with documented colon findings similar to those described by Andrew Wakefield, the physician who first suggested, in 1998, a link between MMR, autism and bowel disease.
Unfortunately, the 20-year-old’s tissue sample was not satisfactory when it reached the special study laboratory in Dublin. He had abnormal immune studies and tested positive for myelin basic protein autoantibodies. His serum measles antibody titer was the highest ever recorded in one of the two reputed research laboratories where it was tested.
The boy from Chicago had his endoscopy-colonoscopy at the Royal Free Hospital in London, where typical findings of autistic entero-colitis were documented with evidence of measles virus genomic RNA in the gut wall. Later in the United States, examination of his cerebrospinal fluid also revealed the presence of measles virus genomic RNA. In 2004, he needed a repeat endoscopy, which revealed extensive esophageal pathology with ulcerations and he was started on 6-MP. His associated seizures have been difficult to control in spite of large doses of anti-epileptic medications. Another MRI of the brain has been scheduled.
The 11-year-old girl from Arizona had her endoscopy and colonoscopy in New York and is known to have a severely ulcerated esophagus, in addition to entero-colitis with aphthous ulceration. Her intestinal biopsy was positive for measles virus genomic RNA. She has IBD-associated arthritis (with hind-foot deformities) and uveitis. A year ago, she developed a severe pancreatitis and started having seizures. She has had a gastrostomy and is tube-fed by continuous drip because her caloric intake by mouth remains inadequate.
These three children have incontestable scientific evidence linking their regression to their MMR vaccination. Their parents have no doubt that their affected children regressed after they were vaccinated. It is testimony such as theirs that needs to be heard – not that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.K. Department of Health, and drug company-financed epidemiologists. These children, though a minority, were victims of our vaccination programs.