A Touch of Alyricism

Dedicated to the equally fascinating topics of autistic advocacy and the 'sisterly sophistries' of radical gender feminism. Other topics may occasionally crop up. Contactable at alyric@gmail.com

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Polemicist since Grade 8

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Katie Wright:: Autism Speak's Liability

“While large scale studies have not shown a link between vaccines and autism, there are lingering legitimate questions about the safety of vaccines that must be addressed. “

So said Autism Speaks in response to the Autism Omnibus Proceedings decisions by the Special Masters. Of note, they must have completely ignored the actual decisions to make that statement, as did every anti-vaxxer site masquerading as an autism organisation. In all cases the Special Masters spoke eloquently and in considerable detail about the lack of a credible link between vaccines and the development of autism in the individual child. There was nothing large scale about it, so why did AS put in this regrettable performance? Can they now be aligned with all the other anti-vaxxer sites? It would appear so given the anti-science displayed by Geraldine Dawson in her bid for a more collaborative approach to immunisation questions. Her approach to neuroinflammation and immune dysregulation noted in some ASD folk is at decisive odds to the findings of the experts in front of the Omnibus. She wants to give legitimacy to what amounts to parent pandering by giving undue importance to isolated findings. What is questionable at this stage is the legitimacy of parent pandering under the guise of collaboration. It could be well argued that it’s the parents who are entirely responsible for the current fiasco having decided against all professional advice that vaccines are responsible for their children’s autism. Throwing more money at vaccine safety questions is unlikely to persuade them especially in the oh so likely event that vaccines are exonerated from blame. If it’s not the answer they wanted they will ask for yet more research and where does it all stop?

Autism Speaks shift to the anti-vax agenda got a rather large push from the daughter of the founder who was rather vocal in her disapproval of Allison Tepper Singer. Katie Wright is a fervent anti-vaxxer who believes firmly that her son’s autism developed from vaccines. Autism Speaks founders, Bob and Suzanne Wright’s wish to support their daughter’s beliefs may be more than a little shortsighted if it means the derailing of the agenda of a significant research funder. Note that Allison Tepper Singer resigned over the vaccine research agenda. For her it was ‘we know the world is round’ and it’s time to move to more important questions. Katie Wright is still in the picture and the picture is less than rosy with her in it. It may well be that Katie becomes a liability that Autism Speaks can well do without. There are limits to the scientific veneer Geraldine Dawson can maintain with Katie’s contributions in the background.


When Jenny McCarthy wrote her latest, she included Katie Wright as one of her Mother Warriors. Thematic through the entire book was a lack of consistency in accounts. None were more inconsistent than Katie’s. Here’s her opening line:

“ We tried everything: traditional therapies, ABA, speech, OT, everything. We even tried the heavy pharmaceuticals and we were warned over and over again, not to do the diet, that it was very dangerous.”

Note the monumental absurdity that an exclusion diet is ‘very dangerous’ and no mention at all of the very real dangers of heavy duty pharmaceuticals. This is typical Katie Wright, overly florid emotional outpouring untempered by critical thinking skills. Embarassing it may well be but harmless compared to what she is capable of doing in the way of character assassination, most of it the figment of an overly active imagination. The best example to date is her latest for AoA. This is Katie’s reaction to Nancy Minshew and Paul Offit’s response to the Omnibus decisions. The article however is extremely short with Offit rating two small paragraphs and Minshew one.


Brevity notwithstanding, Katie makes the most of it. Offit and Minshew are introduced as “wealthy vaccine profiteer Dr. Paul Offit and Dr. Nancy ( all autism vaccine research is ‘crappola’) Minshew.” who “held a shockingly angry pity fest. “. Where the latter comes from is anybody’s guess. She carries on with “Even when Offit’s side wins, he is still angry, lashing out at grass roots autism organizations”. Here she names two - AS and NAA interspersed with other material she would like to attribute to Offit including that he’s fuming. Here’s how she puts it:

“It would be nice if autism orgs (AS, NAA) actually advocated for children with autism!” he fumes. “Instead they are anti-vaccine organizations (because demanding safety studies = heresy!)…and it is high time that these orgs stopped deluding people…”

Reading the original article it’s amazing the difference between the quite restrained tones of what Offit actually said and what Katie wished he said. No mention in the original of any organisation by name. Her quote is incomplete and there would have been plenty of room to quote the lot if her inaccurate additions had been omitted. This does not look especially like someone fuming:

"It would be nice if autism advocacy organizations actually advocated for children with autism," Dr. Offit said. "Instead, they are anti-vaccine organizations, and the fact of the matter is vaccines have nothing to do with autism and it's high time that these organizations stopped deluding people into thinking that vaccines do have something to do with autism and started focusing on the real causes of autism,"

Her next contribution is informative:

“Wow, is this guy angry, what a freak! Does it infuriate him that AS provides cash grants to communities in need? Or is Offit angry that AS has undertaken a huge campaign to provide insurance re-imbursement for autistic kids? How awful! Maybe Offit is also infuriated by NAA’ s modest research budget investigating how to help sick autistic children as well as their grants to struggling families is need. That is, obviously, really wrong!”

Offit goes to being an angry freak. But he has not mentioned either organisation or a single word about them. Why then the unsubstantiated vitriol, which continues for another paragraph?

Her next foray is against Nancy Minshew:

“Minshew re-iterates for the millionth time “I hope this begins an end to the death threats and character assassination against scientists!”

This she allies to
:
“Naturally Minshew expresses no sympathy or concern for the long suffering Cedillo family or their daughter Michelle, who is so severely physiologically affected.”

There is the rather large question of why Minshew would see the need in this article in this situation. Curiously, Katie asks “what character assassination?” one paragraph further. I think she has perfectly answered her own question. As for how much the autism community dislikes Nancy Minshew, Katie makes the common mistake of assuming her anti vaccination organisations, which use autism to further their anti-vaccination agenda are more than fringe dwellers of the autism community.

Katie concludes that Minshew and Offit are a couple of drama queens because no parent she knows would offer death threats. The FBI would certainly disagree with this piece of historical revisionism.

Katie then goes on to quote Minshew’s comments on death threats in full:

"I also hope this begins to end the death threats and character assassination against scientists and physicians who have tried to convey the science of this to the public."

What Katie objects to is the nature of the science being conveyed. As she puts it:

“Oh, The Science, meaning the science she likes. What about The Science behind the Hannah Polings decision? What about exploring The Science behind the 700% increase in autism over the past decade? What about The Science regarding the dozens toxic adjuvants in infant vaccines? How about researching The Science behind post vaccination regression? Or how about science not paid for by vaccine makers or the CDC?”

I suppose this is a fair summary of Katie’s scientific illiteracy. You don’t get to like some science and not others; it’s not a democracy. The science behind the Poling decision is what exactly? The decision was made on certain grounds but were they scientific ones at all? The science behind the increase in autism says there is no real increase in autism prevalence. There are no dozens of toxic adjuvants in any vaccine. Calling for research not done by CDC or vaccine makers is a typical appeal to conspiracy theories.

Katie naturally concludes that Minshew and Offit are working overtime to stop further research into vaccines and autism links. They both feel that too much money has been wasted already and there are other more profitable avenues for research but neither is working actively to prevent such research. That is in Katie’s head. Unfortunately there are many such notions and Katie has applied these with a broad and inaccurate brush to two quite respectable practitioners of respectively autism research and vaccine expertise. AoA censors all criticism directed at it so Katie could be forgiven for thinking that her style is acceptable. Outside of that protected environment it is not and reflects badly on any organisation with which she is associated. Bob and Suzanne Wright may regret placing their family loyalty above their duty to protect the reputation of their organisation. Currently Katie represents nothing more than a liabilty.

46 Comments:

Blogger Autism Reality NB said...

Did you just feel the need to trash Katie Wright today? Or will any parent of autistic children do? Who will it be tomorrow? Jenny McCarthy? FEAT BC parents, again?

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly with the contents of this post. I (the mother of a 8 year old with ASD) wrote a tersely worded email to Autism Speaks saying that on the matter of vaccines and autism they most certainly did not speak for me.

10:23 PM  
Blogger Alyric said...

Hello Harold. I noted that you've joined the anti-vaxx movement full time through the EOH site. Imagine my surprise when I read your trash of Paul Offit, an entirely respectable and moderate voice, unlike Katie Wright.

Well at least now we can cease regarding you as an autism advocate and frankly that's a relief. So many of your statements have been nauseating.

I'm sure you'll fit right in there with Lenny and Co. Just your sort of people.

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OpenID evilminioin1of1 said...

There's a lot of misinformation out there about the causes of autism and parents will do anything out of desperation to "cure" their child. What they don't want to admit is that there's no silver bullet that will make the autism go away and when someone offers a solution or a scapegoat for the problem, these parents seize upon it and refuse to let it go.

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Blogger Timelord said...

Well said, Evil!

Alyric, I knew Harold was an enemy of the truth from a long time ago. Just thought I'd point that out. He'll fill the gap that a certain JBJ left when Lenny kicked him out a little over a year ago.

As for Katie Wright, the sooner her parents disown her completely the better - even though Bob and Suzanne aren't friends of mine!!

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