Friday, September 10, 2010

The Hannah Poling Decision, and Hilarity Ensues.

There’s been quite a bit of buzz around the interwebz about a certain decision concerning a beautiful little redhead and the money she’s been paid by the government for her vaccine injury.

Now, many of the autism sites are talking about it. Most of them agree that the payout was substantial and just. $1.5 million dollars, and, according to some sources, about $500,000 a year (I’m not saying they are incorrect, but I would like to see where it says so). This is a good thing! It’s about time the government got their thumbs out of their asses and helped an autistic child. I am truly happy for Hannah and her family, and I fervently hope that they can use that money to get Hannah the help she needs. Bravo, Poling family!

But, I’m not here to talk just about that. I’m actually here to talk about what some of the people are saying about this decision.

It’s interesting to see some of the reactions. Take this comment left by the utterly clueless Mark Probert on Sharyl Attkinson's CBS Blog for example:

“What is weird about the award, though, is the "pain and suffering". I know a lot of autistic kids and none of them are in pain, and none of them are suffering.”

Then he obviously has never met a child like my son. He probably knows lots of higher functioning autistic children, so he has no clue that the lower spectrum children tend to have gastro-intestinal problems, very painful ones! And then, he obviously is unaware that many children like my son and Hannah are unable to speak and lack the ability to convey their wants and needs in a way that people can understand. This tends to frustrate them, and they suffer from a lack of communication. And, on top of that, he's using an anecdote as data. Ah...such hypocrisy from someone who claims to be "science and evidence based."

Here’s another comment from the same idiot in response to a person posting the vaccination schedule today compared to 20 years ago:

“It is not the number of vaccines, but the number of antigens, which is way down to a small fraction. Check it out.
Note the AoA mouthpiece does not mention this. They never do. If they did, they would have a lot of explaining to do.”

No, idiot. It’s not the number of antigens, but the number of adjuvants, which is up a considerable fraction. Adjuvants, I might add, that the manufacturers have admitted knowing little about. Check it out. Note that the Scientist poseur does not mention this. They never do. If they did, they would have a lot of explaining to do.

And a third:

“No, both sides are not right and wrong. One side is right. Vaccines do not cause autism. There is no evidence what-so-ever that shows that "combining" vaccines causes any problems. Not all of us know that vaccines can cause an allergic reaction since there is no proof of that. As for the imagined increase in autism, it is just that: imagined. The change in vaccine schedule over the years also parallels the widespread use of Wi-Fi, flourescent bulbs and more frequent space shuttle fights. Correation is not proof of causation.”

Let’s pick this apart.

“Vaccines do not cause autism.”

Such a definitive statement is unscientific when all of the evidence is not present. He cannot so definitively make this claim without knowing what CAUSES autism. Such extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof. Besides, Probert, aka DuhProbe, aka FreeSqueaker, is not a scientist, not a doctor.

“There is no evidence what-so-ever that shows that "combining" vaccines causes any problems.”

That’s the point, you frikkin’ moron! There is not science proving otherwise! And if you’re going to continue increasing the vaccination schedule, then clinical follow-ups on this would be necessary. Are there any? No!

“Not all of us know that vaccines can cause an allergic reaction since there is no proof of that.”

Ah, so using this logic, that means that everyone can eat peanuts and not have an allergic reaction. Good thing we have Mark “Not a Doctor, Not a Scientist” Probert easing our fears. At least he pointed out to another commenter that the "idiot parents" of Hannah Poling are Doctors (well, one of them is; the other is a Nurse and Lawyer). Maybe he hasn't been completely assimilated into the Oraccolyte collective.

Now onto other sites. Here’s an interesting comment left over on LeftBrain/RightBrain:

“No. Hannah had a mitochondrial disorder, not autism.”

This was actually said several times in the comments. She doesn’t have autism, according to these clowns. Just “features” of autism.

And this is the meat of what I wanted to talk about.

To understand what autism is, we must first define it. This includes how it is diagnosed, and what behaviors, or features, it entails.

Let us start with the DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria:

(I) A total of six (or more) items from (A), (B), and (C), with at least two from (A), and one each from (B) and (C)
    (A) qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
      1. marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction 2. failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level 3. a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people, (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people) 4. lack of social or emotional reciprocity ( note: in the description, it gives the following as examples: not actively participating in simple social play or games, preferring solitary activities, or involving others in activities only as tools or "mechanical" aids )
    (B) qualitative impairments in communication as manifested by at least one of the following:
      1. delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication such as gesture or mime) 2. in individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others 3. stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language 4. lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level
    (C) restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by at least two of the following:
      1. encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus 2. apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals 3. stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements) 4. persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
(II) Delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas, with onset prior to age 3 years:
    (A) social interaction (B) language as used in social communication (C) symbolic or imaginative play
(III) The disturbance is not better accounted for by Rett's Disorder or Childhood Disintegrative Disorder

The key item here is the first sentence. To be diagnosed with Autism, a person must meet a minimum of 6 criteria from all 3 groupings, with at least 2 criteria from the first group and at least 1 each from group 2 and group 3. If they meet those criteria, they are given a diagnosis of Autism.

According to Hannah Poling’s father, a Doctor, Neurologist, and Scientist, she meets those criteria. Therefore, SHE’S AUTISTIC!

So, if an encephalitis causes brain damage, and the brain damage causes behaviors that fit into the above criteria, then the person with the brain damage IS AUTISTIC!

Autism is ONLY defined by behaviors, or features. If a person has those behaviors or features, then they are autistic.

Let me repeat that for clarity. If a person has those behaviors or features, then they are AUTISTIC!

Dr. Poling made an excellent analogy on the Huffington Post last year in response to moron supreme.

“Let me give you an example we commonly encounter. Let's say, hypothetically, that a year ago you recovered from a gunshot wound (GSW) to the head that only damaged your right frontal lobe. You made a full recovery except for some unusual behavior, like going to conferences and secretly recording others’ conversations, and maybe some weird perseverating commentary on blogs.
However, tonight you have a grand mal epileptic seizure and go the ER. At the same time a 20 year old student also goes to the ER with her first epileptic seizure, likely from genetically inherited epilepsy. I get called and treat you both with Dilantin. Both of you do fine and your seizures stop if you remember to take your medicine.
So Ken, do you have epilepsy? Both of you exhibited the same type of seizure behavior. No, in actuality you have a seizure disorder secondary to your frontal lobe GSW. Hold on, since epilepsy is genetic, GSWs to the head don’t cause epilepsy. This is the same type of circular reasoning you espouse on the autism issue and its pure nonsense.”

Well said, Dr. Poling. Well said.

So, since autism is only defined by behaviors, we can now understand why children with Down’s Syndrome are also diagnosed with autism. And, honestly, I can see why the increase in autism diagnoses are confusing the scientific poseurs so much. I think that the first thing we need to do is investigate how many cases of idiopathic autism there are. We do know that the increase is real and not explainable by the tired old, “It’s better diagnosis” screed.

This Orwellian double-speak from the Scientific Poseurs got old a long, LONG time ago. Is it any wonder why so many people are distrustful of them and their dogmatic adherence to a false religion?


  1. The 500,000 a year comes from point 4 (page 3) on the award document where it talks about an amount sufficient to purchase an annuity contract for the amounts listed in the table starting on page 12. The yearly annuity amounts are over 500,000 a year for about 54 years.

    The amount required to purchase such an annuity would be less than the raw face value but would still be about 10 to 20 million, depending on the specific terms of the annuity.

  2. Craig,

    Isn't that the Mark Probert of Quackbusters fame? He's clearly just a troll. No pain? Did he not read about Hannah's case study?

    "Within 48 hours after immunizations to diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis; Haemophilus influenzae B; measles, mumps, and rubella; polio; and varicella (Varivax), the patient developed a fever to 38.9°C, inconsolable crying, irritability, and lethargy and refused to walk. Four days later, the patient was waking up multiple times in the night, having episodes of opisthotonus, and could no longer normally climb stairs."

    No pain indeed.

    The reaction that I find most amusing from the spin masters over at LBRB is the myth that she was awarded for a table injury - encephalopathy from MMR. If you read the details of both the concession and the award, there is no mention whatsoever that this was considered a table injury.

    "The government awarded $1.5M—plus an annuity which is likely to cost $10M or more—for a table MMR encephalopathy."

    I suspect this is just their desperate attempt to maintain their self-delusion on this matter. They want to find any reason to blame the Polings for doing the wrong thing or to somehow pretend this has nothing to do with Autism.

    The last thing that amuses me about Sully's desperate arguments is this:

    "The government did not "seal" the case—it is standard procedure to keep this information confidential until the settlement is completed."

    They seem to have an obsession over there with pinning the Poling's with trying to keep things secret. Given that the standard procedure was written by the government, they did indeed attempt to "seal" the case. In fact, the Polings attempted through their lawyer to allow full disclosure of the case, but the government fought that motion for many months. Eventually, the Polings withdrew the request because the pending ruling would clearly have been to honour the government's position of non-disclosure. Somehow, the denialists over at LBRB still believe the government wanted full disclosure and the Poling's fought it. They continue to propagate this myth as well.

    But then -- as Kev said in response to me pointing out a factual error in a post -- they never claimed to be scientists over there, and apparently, not logical thinkers either.

  3. Craig, Are you sure it is okay for your mental health for you to read those dudes? You sound just slightly upset. Just a dab.

  4. The picture of your son is that if a caring child who is nether in pain from his autism nor is he suffering. I suspect that if you took a picture of him when you are "treating" him (a/k/a using him as a lab rat) , the picture would be quite different. There is no real evidence that there is a direct connection between autism and GI symptoms. Maybe it is the idiot diets you people force feed. The additives you whine about are found naturally. Aluminum is ubiquitous. And, only real assgoles play the "outing" game.


  5. First off, Mark, I appreciate the compliment to my son. I mean that sincerely.

    Secondly, you are making a broad-based generalization about what treatments I give my son. That is not very scientific of you, is it. Especially since you claim to be science and evidence based. The only treatments I give my son are diet, ABA, PT and OT. And the reason he looks so happy in the above picture is because his stomach isn't hurting. You see, he is allergic to wheat and milk, so I have him on the GFCF diet to help him with that. So, are you saying my treatments are illegitimate?

    "And, only real assgoles play the "outing" game."

    I don't know about assgoles...never heard of one, personally. I've heard of assholes, though.


    And what? You're one of them? I tend to agree, especially considering your tone with those you disagree with. If you can't take it, Mark, then don't dish it out.

    Now, despite the tone of my comment to you, I want to reiterate my appreciation of the compliment to my son. Thanks for commenting. If you're polite, then I have no issues with you continuing to do so.

  6. You know what, Free Speaker? I think I do owe you an apology. I understand, now, why some of you choose do go by an anonymous pseudonym, and that is to avoid stalkers. Since I now have a creepy nutjob stalking me, it was callous of me to call you out that way.

    Please accept my apologies.

  7. MJ:
    Thanks for the link. I'll read through it when I have time.

    Indeed. I find it amusing to see all of the venom spewed at Dr. Poling for the concession. As if its his fault that vaccines injured his child...

    Not at all. I'm just treating them as they treat those they disagree with. Nothing more. And you can't say it isn't deserved, can you?

  8. Craig,
    I'll concede that you are, indeed, returning them their own manure.

    I agree that it is amusing to see the venom directed at the Polings. Especially all the horror at the parents allowing their child to have so many vaccines in one day. Have any of those dorks had a look at the CDC recommended schedule lately?