Welcome to the word of chemical poisoning

Yesterday’s essay on the fate of our children struck a chord with many of you, but I noticed something interesting - you are quiet. In the past sixteen hours, almost 1,000 people read the previous post, but only six left a comment. That's the lowest rate of commentation I've yet seen on the blog. It's OK to just look and read, but I do wonder why you're less vocal?

I want to thank those who called and emailed me today. The dark side is that your conversations reminded me of my own poison troubles – something I had put out of my mind long ago. Some of you told me about infants who acted normal until receiving vaccinations. Many of those moms blame the mercury in the vaccine for their kid’s troubles. Others told of lead poisoning, and other scary things. I realized I am not just an observer. I’m involved, as they say.

Did you chew on lead sinkers, the kind we used for fishing? I did. And my mother used lead to make stained glass. I’d take the lead channel and ply with it. I was fascinated by its smooth supple feel, its weight, and the fact that it was a metal I could chew. My brother says I ate paint too, but I don’t remember that.

Did you ever break open a thermometer and roll the mercury in your hand? I did that, too, on several occasions. I can remember my father and me, gazing in wonder at the mercury balls in my little hand.

Did you ever wash your hands with methylene chloride or tolulene? Don’t recognize those names? How about lacquer thinner? I did that too, more times than I can remember.

I used to paint cars and breathe the fumes. I’d work till I was too dizzy, air out in the yard, and go back in. That was about the time my asthma starting sending me to the emergency room. Obvious as the connection seems now, it escaped me then.

At least I didn’t smoke. But does that count for anything? When I was 18, the bands I was with spent 7 nights a week in smoke filled bars. Some nights, the smoke was so thick that the overhead lights looked like columns.

Listening to some of your stories, it’s a miracle I’m alive, let alone able to think.

I’m going to have my blood tested, and I’m going to see how much metal and other stuff remains in me. Then I’ll work to get it out, and I’ll monitor the changes.

Before I go, I'd like to share another thought with you, thanks to Roy Powers of Afton, Ohio . .

Those of you who are 40+ . . . think about your parents as young people. And remember their friends. If you are like me, those adults from back then are, well, more robust. More rugged. And that's despite the fact that they smoked like chimmneys, drank hard liquor, ate fried food, and never saw a gym.

And yet, they say people today are healthier. But go back in time, 200 years. Read how people lived in 1807. How many of us could survive, let alone thrive, under the conditions under which many lived their lives back then?

Sure, many died at age 50, but most of us - I'd bet - would die by day 7 under the same conditions.

And meanwhile, back in the present, I remain a reasonably functional Aspergian and I'm glad to be part of a community where I learn new things every day.


Anonymous said…
Wow. You are the fastest learner ever. Wow.
Kanani said…
but I do wonder why you're less vocal?
I don't come here every day. And you never comment on my site. Nor Matty's. In fact, Matty and I shouldn't even be speaking to you.
Nuff said.
Over and out.
Anonymous said…
Good questions to be asking. I had some of the same toxic exposures you did as a child. In fact, my health problems (severe memory problems, vision problems when I previously had 20/20 vision, thyroid problems, exhaustion, muscle loss, etc.) began instantly when I had vaccine boosters and amalgams placed w/in a few weeks of each other, I have never been the same since. I now have two ASD children. When I began to look into ways to help them, I realized that I could improve my own health. I have been detoxing and am feeling better and thinking more clearly these days. I am convinced that if I had the exposures our children do today, I would be very much ASD...
Anonymous said…
You're so right about our parents being more robust when they were young. I'm 42 now and it seems like I get every cold that comes down the pike, and they linger. I have arthritis, reflux, asthma and a killer cough from post nasal drip. I don't smoke, drink only rarely, and try and watch what I eat.
Polly said…
Years ago when I was 19 I worked for four days in a factory that was filled with paint fumes, smelting fumes, and all sorts of other toxic crap. There were no fans and there was no ventilation. It is a famous company that you all have heard of and their catalog has been in all of your homes at one time or another. It was a major employer in the town and many of the employees' children grew up to also work there. I really needed the money, a piddly minimum wage, and I had no education and unemplyment was at an all-time high, but there was this little problem. I kept passing out. Damn, I said to myself, why can't I be strong like the other people who work here? Some of them had been there for twenty years. After four days I had to quit and the manager was nice enough to arrange for me to collect unemployment. Now I am glad that my body was healthy enough to keep passing out. It was definitely telling me something and thankfully I listened. I wonder how many of my fellow co-workers are still alive today? And of those who are alive, how many have emphesema and other lung diseases, or brain damage? I worked there for four days and it took me months to recover, and I was a smoker at the time.

Do people live longer than we used to? Yes. Does that mean we are healthier? No. We have merely found ways to keep our bodies alive longer. Most of us could never survive the food, weather and disease conditions we faced even 100 years ago.

John, I grew up near you, in Great Barrington. I am close to your age. When we were kids we put $1 in our pockets in the morning and then rode our horses backback all over the Berkshires all day long, coming home only in time for dinner at 5 or 6. We wore no shoes or socks, only shorts and sleeveless tops, and the thought of sunglasses would have been ridiculous. But think about this: We never wore sunscreen. Back then we only had suntan oil, which was to enhance the effects of the sun, not block it. Heck, sunscreen hadn't even been invented yet. And we never got burned. We got a gorgeous healthy glow, period. Sunscreen is an invention made necessary in the past twenty five years due to global warming. Today no smart parent would ever let their little ones, not to mention themselves, leave the house in the summer without sunscreen. Without it we're setting ourselves up for skin cancer, and we'd be fried like crisp little Fritos.
karanoelle said…
I can't wait to read your book!
mcewen said…
It would appear that we enjoyed a similarly 'mis-spent' youth, doing things with things that no-one considered 'experimentation.' How else were you supposed to get the oil paint off your hands and clothes unless it was with a gallon or two of turps splashed around!
Best wishes
Chumplet said…
My parents smoked like chimneys on long car rides with the windows rolled up. My sister had a touch of asthma, but I dodged that bullet.

My dad quit smoking earlier than my mom and he practices a healthy lifestyle in B.C., drinks his buttermilk every night (ew) and golfs every morning at 5am. He turned 70 this year.

One of his great-great something grandfathers lived to eleventy one! And that was about 150 years ago.

At the opposite end of Canada is my mom. She has COPD and must wear an oxygen tube all day and night, arthritis in both knees, she's about a hundred pounds overweight and has high blood pressure. Her parents died of heart attacks in their sixties, and she lost three brothers to heart disease, too.

I love you, Mom, but I hope I turn out like Dad. I just have to look both ways before crossing the road.
It is great to hear you give voice to these issues. I am sorry that the 1000+ viewers aren't all chiming with agreement but I am thrilled that they are here to read your words and ponder your questions.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of questions. We have been exploring these questions with our son and I am happy to say he has made lots of gains. He is a happy boy but thankfully he is getting closer and closer to being a healthy happy boy!

Good luck with your search and thank you for being open and honest and furthering this discussion!
Anonymous said…
I just came across your blog and am so excited to see you are coming out with a book!! I work with autistic children and have read all of your brother's books and I love them. Every time he would mention you in a book, I would wonder...."what is he up to these days" I am so happy to see that you lead such a successful life!!! Keep up the great writing, it is very interesting and insightful! ~ Megan
Anonymous said…
I never heard of you before I got a link to your blog on my Autism Listserve in Washington state. I have only read your last two posts.
A quiet bunch you say... I wonder if it is because at every turn when we who know for a certainty that our children can recover from Autism or at the least have their lives significantly improved via Biomedical treatment we are looked at as if we're lunatics? Or if it's because those who attempt such things are publicly ridiculed or defamed openly?
Or, perhaps what I have heard via blog and email commentaries, it is true that on Television shows such as The View, or Oprah people who show up who publicly take the stand that Autism is "curable" and that vaccinations, and in my sons case, even antibiotics, are to blame for pushing our children over the edge into a regressive state of Autism, are actually, genuinely, literally threatened that if they brng up their views their stories will be cut from the show or they will be escorted out of the studio.
I hear that most of the press about Autism on television shows these days is paid for by pharmaceutical companies.
Quiet... we don't necessarily try to be, but we can't afford to pay for our own corner of the market on media.
Speaking about paying for things. We, who have one of the 1 in 150, have to pay for virtually every attempt at recovering our Autistic children "Out of pocket." Code it Autism and insurance won't pay, in MOST cases. Or the treatment is concidered experimental (again, therefor, not paid for).
Our attempts to recover our son averages us $500 per month out of pocket. Mind you, we're average Americans with an average income of apx. $45,000 per year. One parent works for a living and the other works full time at home with three kids. We're among the lucky ones. Way too many Autistic children only have one parent because one of them can't handle the Autistic condition and they bail!
Back to recovery. In SO many cases it boils down to a few things: No Glutathione production in the Autistic individual (and everyone says, "Gluta-what?"). Heavy metal intoxication (everyone asks from what? - try our baby bottles and our plastic containers), and Gastrointestinal disorders (why? Because of all the food allergies these kids have!) But there isn't a Pediatrician out there who will check for those things. Thanks be to God there is a whole network of "DAN!" doctors who address that which needs to be. Just type in DAN! on your search engine. You can watch videos of RECOVERED children! Yet, we are ignored, discredited, threatened, deemed unfit parents.
Then everyone wants us to give our children one more dose of vaccine.

If you are famous and have backbone, stick with your new found cause for Autism. It can only help.
Did someone say conspiracy? Oh, it's only the BIG DOLLAR pharmacutical companies who managed to get a law passed in the 70's absolving them from EVER being liable for damage done to anyone from vaccinations. That's not conspiracy, it's pure greed.
And now they have the money and the media to keep pulling the wool over everyone's eyes.

Well, thanks for the opportunity to speak out just a little.

Mother to an awesome Autistic son.
Anonymous said…
oh yes, playing with the mercury on the bathroom floor, see how it balls up! see how you can cut it with your finger and make even tinier balls! then see how we throw it away and go downstairs to dinner without so much as a quick wash of the hands. fast forward 20 years and the hospital research lab where i worked is evacuated as the team in tyvec with their bright orange biohazard bags comes sweeps in to clean the mercury spill. hmm....

for the toxins? try a pee test after taking a chelating agent (there are safe, mild ones) or you may not get a good read.

sometimes i think about the fillings in my teeth and all the many years fluffy nursed, that and the rhogam shots i had early in my pregnancy. but what i mostly feel is that autism is a combination of genetic and exposure to toxins in our environment and the inability to filter them out. in fact, i think fluffy's lacks filters in many areas and so he gets bombarded by sensory input and by his own streaming thoughts.
Sarah, Liam and Ryan's Mama said…
As a young mother of three, two of whom have Asperger Syndrome, I may be in the minority here, but I don't feel my sons' conditions are environmentally related, unless you count the environment of our family biology. I have five year old boy/girl twins and a one year old little boy. My daughter is as typical as typical can be, while both my boys are dealing with the usual suspects regarding ASD behavior and development.

We come from the perspective that it's more due to genetics rather than anything. My youngest son began regressing far before he even received his MMR, and I have seen no difference in his behavior since he received the vaccine.

I honestly feel it's more due to the family history from which a child arrives. My husband's family is full of scientists and engineers while mine is an enigma due to my adoption, but I am quite particular and intense and honestly think that the boys are a magnified representation of the union of our genes.

The scary fact right now is that there is no known cause, and that's frightening to anyone who just got the news that their child has autism. You want to question what you did or were exposed to when pregnant. What did I handle? What did I eat? I was twenty four and twenty nine when I had my children, so I knew my age and that of my spouse wasn't a factor. You want an explanation and spend hours picking over every detail of the pregnancy, delivery, and fragile first few months of your new baby's life, even if they were idyllic and flawless. There's a great deal of mistrust of the medical profession right now, and no one likes to think these things just happen without a real rhyme or reason.

But I feel my boys were meant to be born the way they are, and I don't want to risk their personal health on a hunch. If I'm proved wrong, then I'll be happy for a definitive cause with unbiased and internationally recognized research to back it up, but opting out of vaccinations on speculation doesn't make sense to me.

I don't want to cure my children. I love them for who they are and want only to manage their behavior and help them be happy and productive members of society. The cure can be just as uncertain as the cause and I have yet to see concrete evidence that can't also be linked to plain old maturity.

Just my two or three cents.
Anonymous said…
SLR Mama, can you children use the toilet? Do they know that if they cross the street they must look both ways? Can they eat ice cream or a sandwich on white bread and not end up in agony? Can they read? Can they tell you when they need something? Can they talk? Those of us whose autistic kids can not do any of these things surely do want a "cure" if that's what you choose to call it.
Matty said…

Great stuff. You have an amazing readership on the bLog. For those thathave been mentioning the book and wanting to read it. I had an advanced copy. (perks of knowing the auhor). Much fun, very inspiring and heart warming.

I JUST cae across an article in Scientific America Mind about autism and the ever expanding 'epidemic'. The author makes a case for the oppoiste of my conjectures. The classification of mental illness and autism habvedramatically changed in the last 20 yeas and sources of info that are not 'qualified' seem to also be part of the 'epidemic' like rise to the numbers of children with autism. At least this is the case presented. I will get youthe magazine on Friday for your review.

I helped my father re-coat bowling pins in our back garage for bowling centers all throughout the northeast and canada. I was about 4-10 years old. Laquer thinner and epoxy like urethane manually dipped and hung to drip on rack and racks of pins. That I can even talk and understand you is a miracle.

PS. How do I get to check stats on my site?
Sarah said…
No, they can't do most of those things without constant supervision and/or tantrums. My one year old isn't even crawling, talking, or looking into my eyes. He just started reaching for me a week ago, and he's thirteen months of age. This is our life and I won't get into a contest of who's life is more difficult as a parent with an autistic child. We all have gone through the grieving process of not having the "ideal" child we hoped for, and personal attacks and venting anger over our unhappiness toward someone with a different view is unproductive to say the least.

I am fortunate enough to have a very supportive husband, but I've been battling the local school system for two years for my older son and watching my baby drop further and further off the developmental charts.

Am I angry? Of course. Do I claim to know why this has happened? No, because there is no known absolute cause. Do I get upset at other parents of autistic children who don't share my views? Of course I don't.

I wish I could send my older child to the bathroom alone. I can not. I wish I could give him a strawberry to eat and he wouldn't shriek and wet himself because he's so terrified of fruits, veggies, and other unfamiliar foods. I wish I could trust him out of my sight (and since I'm legally blind, that's quite limited) for more than a few moments, but I can't. And most of all, I wish I could let him hold his baby brother without fear that he might hurt him, but I'm not able.

My pain is as real as yours. I just don't claim to know the absolute source of that pain.

If we hope for any progress at all, we have to stop all the arguing amongst each other as parents and channel that energy into behavioral modification programs and research. United we stand, divided we fall. Since we can't all agree on the cause, we can at least agree that more action needs to be taken. Support through insurance, more spending for special ed programs in school, and research into detecting and modifying early behaviors soon enough to give our children the best outcome possible would all be wonderful and are sorely needed, no matter your view on the cause of these disorders.
irene said…
Hi John!

Kim sent me! (She said to be sure and mention that.) I am thankful for yours and Kim's and the many others who have the gift of writing; writing that is engaging and thought-provoking (and hopefully action-producing). You are the voice of and for many.
Anonymous said…
Kim sent me too! Here's what people need to understand. If you speak out against the vaccination policies of today (even as simple as a revised schedule) ... Consider yourself a leper. Consider yourself a moron. Consider yourself a conspiracy freak. Consider yourself all that and consider yourself INFORMED.

Follow the truth no matter where it leads.

A concerned Leper, moron and conspiracy freak.
Matty said…
Conspiracy Freak? HMmmm.
John, Where have you heard that term before. Seems that your old buddy Matt has more in common with the masses then previously thought. No? I have constantly said to John that I am a conspiracy theorist. It may be that the 'intentions' of corporate heads do not have an actual pre-meditated 'collusion' with other industries, political organization, or associations BUT....I cannot be the sartest person in the world and the only one to see how one corporate or industry behavior helps another.

So now we are left with the idea that social responsibility is turned on it's head for the sake of profit.

an example may be

Food industries working to make better tasting, less nutritious foods that are more addicting all at prices that asure profits to shareholders.

HMmmmmm....doesn't this play into drug companies desire to sell more drugs to patients? Obesity has seen more medicines enter the mainstream society then ever before.

Diabetes Meds
Hypertension meds
Depression meds
Sleep aid meds
Pain relief meds

are just a few of the STAPLES that I deal with in the Dr's office I work at. All of these,surely most, could be alleviated by being at an optimmal BMI.

So now we see a correlation but no one is juming up and down to radically change the system.

How about mandating that food needs to be healthy for starters. We COULD all do without ring dings and coke a cola.

Imagine the uproar!! But within a generation no one would miss it.

I also admit that my mutual funds invest in lord only knows what and I am part of the problem as are many of us. I SHOULD invest in socially responsible funds ONLY. But I admit to investing also in funds that return and return well. Deciding to stand on the side line and shout is still a decision to not help the cuase. I think e all start by changing where our money goes. Anyone with me???
Anonymous said…
Wow, you are a super fast learner! As a mom of a child who was probably genetically predisposed to injuries from vaccines and other environmental toxins and who then vaccinated and exposed to our toxic world generally, I want to thank you for speaking up! While those of us who believe in vaccine injury and other toxic insults harming out children are still largely treated like "outcasts" (and conspiracy freaks) more and more people are catching on and voices like yours speaking up help educate others. (oh yeah, Kim sent me too!)
Laura said…
I'm here thanks to Kim, as well!

I'm toxic, and know I gave a great deal of my junk to my older son during my pregnancy. My younger son appears to have only gotten some of the junk, but has been able to rid his body of it with no problems. In addition to the "cool toys" we all seem to have played with in the 70s (wow! This mercury is so neat! The lead is so soft and malleable!) I realized a few years ago that my contact lens solutions were packaged in bottles with the label, "Now, Thimerosal free!" So, when I got contacts at age 12, and cleaned them conscientiously every day for the first 15 years, I was probably doing so with the NOT thimerosal free solution. (And Thimerosal is just a fancy term for mercury preservative.) That, plus my flu shots seem to have done it for me, and my older son got that, plus his own vaccines toxins.

In addition to chelation, I'm doing some liver flushes to help detox. They're pretty new-agey natural and all, but simple to do and help that oh-so-important toxin removal organ that is way overtaxed in my case!
I guess I sent myself! said…
Matty, wow. Food, clothing (covered w/ flame retardants and Teflon) carpet (Teflon), baby food and sippy cups and bottles (all in plastic) toys, car seats, swings, bouncy seats, exersaucers (all plastic) furniture (formaldhyde laden particle board) and on the list goes. Gone are the days of home cooking from scratch, playing outdoors and getting "dirty" (Oh, the antibacterial craze is recent too, yes?) and just being a kid. Sigh.....
LeiselB said…
I once accidently put mercury on my lips because my little brother put mercury he'd collected from a thermometer in a carmex container. It was an interesting conversation with poison control...

That said-- your post just points out how remarkable it is that more of us aren't dead.
Trish Ryan said…
I typically don't comment on posts about situations that seem inexplicable and mysterious and threatening (although your writing was, as always, compelling) because my take on these things is more spiritual than practical. When my alternatives are to mention the hope I find in the crazy miracles of Jesus, or to agree that we're stuck in a world that makes no sense and has little hope, it sometimes seems wiser to just lay low :)
Holly Kennedy said…
John, I find the issues you post thought provoking, upsetting, compelling -- all these things and more. I read them every day, but sadly don't always have time to comment, which could often be the case for others.

Right now I'm promoting book 2, trying to get book 3 delivered to NY by June 20 and WISH I could pass on both and spend more time blogging *sigh* but it can be Hoover-like in the time it takes away from my writing, especially because I'm on a tight deadline.

I'm not sure about everyone else, but my activity level blogging fluctuates all over the place month by month :(

P.S. I also played with those toxic led sinkers as a kid. Ouch! This explains a ton
ORION said…
Hey John remember I'm in Norway for three weeks!
I have an excuse! My fingers are nearly frozen off! I am having trouble typing!
It is interesting to note that although this country (Norway) has been settled for thousands of years the countryside is pristine! I am meeting family members who are active and in their ninties.
I don't see the kind of pollution that we have in the US...it would be interesting to see what the rate of autism is here...
something to think about.
Michelle O'Neil said…
You are the perfect person to look at this issue.

Looking forward to following what you come up with!
I do not buy the thimerosol argument at all. There's too much evidence (and more emerging) to support that there is no connection between autism and vaccines. (see: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070518/hl_nm/thimerosal_autism_dc) Indeed, the risks to your kids that arise from NOT vaccinating (i.e., dying of preventable childhood disease) far outweigh any as-yet-unproven thimerosal connection to autism. (and thimerosol is now banned from vaccines, so any kids getting vaccinated today are not getting that exposure).

I really think the so-called increase in cases is caused by more kids being diagnosed with something that just wasn't diagnosed years ago, coupled with overzealous doctors filling kids up with damaging (and untested) psychoactive drugs that just make their so-called "behavior problems" worse. I think that our society is also becoming too intolerant of individualism and being "different", as most autistic kids are. Let the kids develop in their own way, leave them alone!

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