No, autism doesn’t justify murdering your child

The title of this post may suggest I’m making a point that’s beyond obvious. But sometimes the obvious needs to be stated, especially when it comes to the anti-vaccine movement. I was appalled after watching this clip from CBS news about Alex Spourdalakis, a 14-year old boy with severe autism who was brutally murdered by his mother and caregiver. The clip involves CBS journalist Sharyl Attkisson who is demonstrably anti-vaccine. So what does a well-known anti-vaccine journalist have to do with the brutal filicide of a 14-year old autistic boy?

In the clip, Attkisson shows clips from a documentary that was being filmed by the Autism Media Channel (more on this in a moment) in the months prior to Spourdalakis’s murder. There are some very disturbing scenes, including Alex fighting 4-point restraints. To me, the clips assembled by Attkisson paints a very sympathetic picture of the mother – focusing more on her “tireless struggles” and her claims that Alex’s medical needs went unaddressed and unheeded, so she could help him “recover”.  The clip doesn’t even mention that the mother and the caregiver carefully planned the murder, which started with giving him an overdose of his prescription drugs. When that didn’t kill him, Alex’s mother stabbed him in the heart four times, and then cut his wrist, nearly severing his hand. After he died, they then killed the family cat and both took an overdose of drugs themselves, but failed to kill themselves. Both have been charged with first degree murder.
What’s not mentioned in the clip is that Alex’s case had been taken up by the “autism biomed” movement, and Alex was held up as a victim of vaccine harms. Help had been offered, and it had been refused by the mother. Alex and his mother had been visited by (disgraced and stripped of his medical licence) Andrew Wakefield, who used his case to make an appeal for money. Wakefield, perhaps not surprisingly, he’s one of the Directors of the Autism Media Channel. So also not surprisingly, Alex’s mother believed that vaccines caused her son’s autism. In her words, before his death:

Vaccines have maimed too many already and there are many more to come. The CDC’s latest stats confirm that. We are not going away, nor are we giving up. My son Alex is just one of millions of children and adults who no longer will be silenced.  We as a group have been deceived and lied to long enough. Our children have paid and are continuing to pay the ultimate price because of greed. The health care system has failed terribly. It is our responsibility to continue to bring about change.

These types of delusions about vaccines are sadly quite prevalent among  a small but very vocal segment of the autism community, who view autism as an avoidable disease, that can potentially be “recovered” from. Hence they reject “conventional” medical treatments because they don’t confirm to the beliefs about the cause of the disease. Hence the appeal of the “autism biomed” movement that espouses bizarre treatments (like bleach enemas) with the intent of “curing” autism. As David Gorski noted last week:

The entire narrative of the autism biomed movement is that autism “stole” the parents’ “real child” away from them. Since the idea that vaccines cause autism is basically holy writ for the autism biomed movement, that means vaccines “stole” the real child away by making him autistic. Parents who try to “recover” that “real” child are thus viewed as heroic, rather than abusive, because they’re willing to do whatever it takes to defeat the scourge of autism (and vaccines) in order to rescue the “real” child within. One can’t help but wonder whether what was really happening was that DFCS was going to put Alex into a conventional long term care facility because his mother clearly couldn’t handle him anymore and was treating him with autism biomed. Unfortunately, it appears from what we know right now that Alex’s mother seems to have thought that he would be better-off dead than not being given access to what she viewed as “curative” treatments for autism. Events and evidence from the investigation and trial might prove that initial assessment incorrect, but for now it seems to fit with what we know.

It’s horrifying when a parent murders a child. It’s unbelievable when an anti-vaccine journalist paints the story in a sympathetic light. Even Age of Autism, the notorious anti-vaccine blog, is thrilled with the coverage and with Sharyl Attkisson. The only sensible voice in the clip comes from Ari Ne’eman of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network:

I think an ideology, a dangerous ideology that preaches that people are better off dead than disabled is what led to Alex Spourdalakis’ murder.

Your child having autism doesn’t give you the right to murder him.  Yet some anti-vaccinationists, and CBS, seem to be strongly sympathetic to the idea.

Other Coverage; Skeptical Raptor, The Poxes Blog, Left Brain-Right Brain

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16 thoughts on “No, autism doesn’t justify murdering your child

  1. While vaccinations have certainly prevented acute manifestations of severe disease we KNOW in veterinary medicine that overvaccination has also been linked to some very serious chronic diseases in companion animals including autoimmune disorders of practically every organ system. The SCIENCE is there, and it is time to look at some of these models in sadly what has also happened to autistic children. The late Bernard Rimland, founder of the Autism Institute in San Diego California understood that.

    • Unless this hypothesis has been tested in multiple types of high quality trials, repeated, published and synthesised, the science is not there.

  2. Nobody in their right mind will accept murder and this murder must rank as the very worst kind.

    But worse than murder is GENOCIDE and if the vaccines are responsible for some of the sudden infant deaths that now come to over one million then that must outclass even the most horrific murder of one teenager by his own flesh and blood.

    Dont you think this is the message from what you emotively call the anti-vaccinators rather than those that BELIEVE in the science of hundreds of scientists (all scientists even?) and thousands of research papers that have shown ANAPHYLAXIS as the normal unwanted reaction to repeat vaccines?

      • Did you not read correctly there is that magic word IF.

        If it was proved that those SIDS were all or part due to vaccines then action might be taken IF regulators, industry and governments were honest.

        IF you look at current international events you will see how honest governments tend to be!

        I can give you one statistic that of HARRY CLARK vaccinated at 4.30pm and dead by 10.30pm and of course checked to be 100 per cent fit and healthy at the time of his vaccination.

        The result was no investigation or ecognition of any vaccine harm except that the vaccine made it LESS likely the baby would die.

        So this statistic is completely dead and buried (like HARRY) and one million other SIMILAR case stories.

      • Mr.Fryer, sids has been around before vaccinations.

        So hypothetically you believe that if no children are vaccinated, then ergo no child will have autism and no child will ever be murdered by a parent.

        I suppose you’ll need to figure out why it is that in Denmark the frequency of autism is the same regardless of vaccinations or lack thereof.

  3. IF you know the history of vaccinations you will be aware of Portier watching in disbelief as Richet gave a dog a second and much smaller amount of an injection and watching over the next half an hour the dog die when previously a larger amount had protected him?

    And the best part is that Richet told his assistant that death would follow and his assistant was totally disbelieving.

    Rather like you and the possibility of prsent day vaccines killing lots of babies perhaps?

    Let me know!

    • Mr. Fryer, I do believe you are providing testimonials that we have no method of confirming the veracity of. In comparison to your testimonial evidence, here is some evidence suggesting no increased risk of SIDS with DTP.
      I’ll help you out with how to Reference your posts:
      N Engl J Med. 1988 Sep 8;319(10):618-23.
      Risk of sudden infant death syndrome after immunization with the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine.
      Griffin MR, Ray WA, Livengood JR, Schaffner W.

  4. As this sad story tells us when we dealing with lots of cases (your ref) deaths can be hidden but if we look at individual cases we can help or see possible causes one by one. Eg vaccines or drugs used etc. All hidden from view in population studies.

    Most of us will agree the proper use of vaccines is one of the greatest ways of having a healthy population. But there are a dozen others including ones specifically for infections eg use of serums, antibiotics, antivirals, isolation etc etc.

    But the million or so that are dead (for no known reason) represent the 1 in 2 000 or so that for some reason did not get to the age where vaccines were much good for them except possibly to help them to an early grave possibly.

    I have already given the case history of Harry Clark. We are talking of those that died not those that lived. And for Harry Clark the link is crystal clear now but at the time nobody wanted to know. Although the heredity link has always been a postulate and the reason for genetic research today which takes the lions share of research budgets.

    How can a population study show anything except that in the first 6 months of life we get three or now four lots of vaccines and in this period nearly all of the SIDS occurs. Again DNA research is essentially looking at individuals not populations.

    That reference you gave gives very valuable information of the incidence of SIDS and the incidence of vaccines but cant find if there is a link or not. The suggestion of no link is an example of clear chances for a FASLE NEGATIVE?

    Common sense would tell the average person to give vaccines a miss until 6 months which is what I did for my daughter and she had her worst illness and worst skin eruptions ever in her life for the five years following this one 6 month vaccine. From the age of five (the time to shake off what the doctor called an infectious and contagious condition which affected nobody else in the family or anyone else) she has now had nearly 40 years of excellent health.

    How are you going to prove or disprove anything when this one case (my daughter) spreads over such a long time period?

    Hence my view of this research to prove or disprove the cause of SIDS is faulty to the level of fraud.

    This faulty logic is the cause of moving from not knowing causes of SIDS (1 million) to not knowing the cause of autism (10 million) and the heart rending destruction and damage to families (already broken up before this horrific murder).

    And I note that in 1988 the vaccine had many many antigens and was changed for more modern and more safe vaccines for the same illnesses. Why change if it was safe in 1988 and why do even the entire vaccine industry admit the 2013 vaccine is a darn more safer than this one you refer to?

    I agree totally that vaccines are designed to be as safe as humans can make them. The problem is vaccines are UNAVOIDABLY UNSAFE.

  5. Mr. Fryer,
    with all due respect, your failure to support your hypothetical claims on SIDS and vaccination shows how little you understand about cause and effect associations.

    In order to figure out if an intervention (i.e. vaccines) MIGHT be linked to adverse outcome (i.e.: SIDS), we first have to do a retrospective analysis of two cohorts who vary only in having been exposed or not to the intervention (vaccinated kids vs. unvaccinated) and calculate wether a larger percentage of vaccinated kids developed SIDS compared to unvaccinated.

    BUT, since nearly all children are vaccinated (thus it is impossible to find a large comparable group of unvaccinated kids for comparison), the authors of the NEJM referenced by Foster decided to do an equally valid analysis in trying to find a TEMPORAL association from the time of vaccination (30 days post vaccination vs. +30 days) in order to find if the intervention is linked to the adverse outcome.

    What this study tells us is the out of 130 000 kids included, about 100 died from SIDS. But those deaths were not occurring more often within 30 days of vaccination than they were occurring 30 days or more after vaccination. If vaccines (specifically DTP, in this study) were truly causing SIDS, this perfectly valid study would have found an increased rate of SIDS around the time of vaccination.

    This is the only scientific purpose of case reports (aka anecdotes): you look at reports, see if it has plausibility and do a fair test to see if the intervention suspected in the report is probably linked (cause and effect) to the adverse outcome, or at least to see if is linked to it in a temporal way. To imply that anecdotes are valid for cause and effect is the equivalent of saying that Elvis is truly alive and Bigfoot is a real animal.

    If you don’t provide studies – anything other than anecdotes really – your arguments are to be seen as scientifically relevant as those of a Bigfoot “researcher”. ALOT of studies have been done on “possible” vaccination harms, yet there’s no smoking gun. Although I am open to evidence to the contrary, that evidence HAS to be a true test of cause and effect or temporal association, not simply anecdotes.

    • Hi Nic

      You assume and the authors assume that vaccine harm comes right after vaccines and while this is generally true there are cases where your 30 day time frame is stupid.

      Karen Wetterhahn spilled a drop of toxic material on herself effectively by a vaccine route and was perfectly well for 5 months but died ten months after the spill. So the use of temporal association in cases like hers would be doomed to failure.

      Further they state the link is not there when deaths from SIDS were VERY LOW.

      With the benefit of hindsight the rate of SIDS doubled or trebled indicating that it was going against the trend of better health for USA, UK etc.

      And presumably we would still get the same nul result that all is OK.

      I would just ask is it ok that in 1968 deaths from SIDS were small in numbet.

      In 1982 the SIDS was just getting going.

      But peaked at a much higher level.

      And fell partly due to splititng the diagnosis into other categories such as UNASCERTAINED et al.

    • Hi Nic,

      I didnt know Elvis Presley was alive

      And I am not sure how this concerns adverse effects from vaccines?

      You are being influenced by propaganda as observation has been the cornerstone of science while burying ones head is the cornerstone of bigotry.

      Galileo didnt look at all the heavens to disprove that the earth was the centre of the universe for that was proof for man for thousands of years.

      He proved the earth was not at the centre of the universe by looking at just one planet out of trillions that exist.

      A study of one thing trumped a thousand years global or cosmos study of thousands of stars, planets, comets et al.

      One French lady proved aluminium in vaccines was toxic by consideration of very few people and investigating carefully these people. Her conclusion is not anecdote but fact and could never be found by global studies.

      We have no clue to SIDS from such global studies so individual studies focus on individiual causes. And SIDS is due to lots of different things so again global studies will never prove very much unless one cause is so massive it swamps the others.

      And the actual harm from vaccinations has been know for a long time see Richet

      And the mechanisms also for example H H DALE.

  6. Sadly it’s not just caregivers who are anti-vaccination quacks who are being given sympathetic treatment for murdering their dependents lately.

    It seems to me that the whole carers ‘movement’ has gone pretty toxic with all the pissing contests over who is suffering the most and is therefore worthy of the most help. It’s now gotten to the stage where the murder of the disabled is not greeted with horror but rather with ‘See, I told you so’.

    And of course with increasing cuts to social services a lot of those carers are under steadily increasing financial and emotional stress with no end in sight.

    Add that to all the ‘better dead than a burden’ propaganda coming out of the euthanasia legalisation lobby and I predict we are seeing the start of a very unsavoury trend.

    It seems ‘life unworthy of life’ is with us again.

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