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My Plea For Sense Regarding Vaccines
[A letter written to Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana]
 
By Ms. Bobbie Manning
 
Dear Congressman Burton,

My son, Michael, was born in September of 1995. Always a delightful and affectionate child, his regression began in January of 1996, days after receiving the DPT and Hib vaccinations. While the EPA warns pregnant women not to consume 17 micrograms of mercury from fish, over a period of months, my happy toddler was injected with over 235 micrograms of mercury, courtesy of the childhood immunization schedule. Only eight weeks later he received another DPT vaccination, and another 25 micrograms of mercury. Although his medical records are filled with early indications of mercury exposure -- ranging from fevers, irritability, years of reoccurring red rashes all over his body, constant diarrhea, dragging his right leg as he crawled, to a sudden unexplainable inability to stand or walk on several different occasions, and complete loss of language -- no investigation ever seemed necessary by the pediatricians who treated him. "A virus", seems to be the standard response, "It should be gone in a few days". While the toxic mercury was disintegrating my son's fragile and immature brain, and despite being evaluated by dozens of doctors, not one ever suggested toxic metal testing. After trading in the label of "Pervasive Developmentally Delayed" in 1997, Michael was diagnosed with autism in November, 1998. The excessive mercury levels poisoning my child would continue to go undiscovered until May of 2001, when an allergist ordered the first test. Michael was five and a half and far past the VICA (Vaccine Injury Claim Act) statute of limitations.

Michael's decent into autism was very gradual. For the first year, his round face always seemed to be smiling and he had an enormous laugh for such a little boy. At six months he would sit quietly and listen to his favorite story, Green Eggs and Ham, watch Sesame Street, and play appropriately with his toys. By one year, he splashed happily in the ocean, teased our pet Scottie with cookies, and played hockey on the kitchen floor. He was calling out, "Mama" whenever he wanted anything, would smile for the photographers, wave bye-bye, and danced to the Monday Night Football theme music. Recently, I pulled out Michael's baby book and reviewed old family videos. I had almost forgotten what a happy, engaged baby he was. Without anyone noticing, the invisible intruder snuck past my constantly protecting eyes and crept into the child that I adored more than Life itself. The poisoning accumulated over time and somewhere around 18 months, his small body could take no more. The almost constant chatter and "mamas" stopped and his lips tightened. The delightful giggle was gone and his eyes now looked away, unresponsive to his name or the sound of my voice. By his second birthday, his infectious enthusiasm had vanished, and he had become a different, unhappy and unreachable child, crying constantly and refusing to engage in any of the activities he use to enjoy. Nothing seemed to satisfy him. His uncontrollable, over-stimulated behaviors made it impossible to take him to any public place. He did not play with other children, engaged in odd repetitive behaviors like pacing around a sign, squealing odd sounds, lining up objects, and flapping his arms wildly. I would often drive all over town, searching for an empty playground, just so my little boy could be what he had become without the stares and whispers of other children asking their Mommies, "What's wrong with him?" and without the glares of parents who would pull their children away as if he had something contagious. Michael's development just seemed to be going in reverse. He refused to try anything new, would tantrum with any change in routine or simply for no reason at all. He would eat limited selections of baby food, and despite repeated efforts, he could not be toilet trained. Michael was born with the potential for normal development but for some unexplainable reason, he was a child controlled by the mysterious monster we have come to call Autism -- a disease that had stolen his smile and sweet voice, and seemed to halt his ability to learn and communicate. His disability was so severe that by the age of three he still lacked the skills of a year -old toddler. By the age of four he was so language impaired, he was unable to answer the question, "Do you want a cookie?"…he could no longer ask for his Mommy or Daddy.

The dreams die the moment the diagnosis is made. Initially, the despair of a parent can only be equaled by the hopelessness of the disease itself. In order to help my child, and rescue myself from the abyss of depression, I accepted Michael's autism as God's Decision. For my own preservation, it was necessary to believe this special child was a true Blessing, and I too, was "chosen". Because God recognized I had the ability and inner strength to accept and care for him, fight for him, love and cherish him and never, never give up on him. Despite my acceptance, the impact that Michael's autism has had on our family has been nothing less than devastating.

It was 1998, and although there were some murmurings about vaccines, whenever I inquired about it, I was always told, "ridiculous". I decided to stop wondering why this happened and concentrated on how to help my child. Still only a toddler, he had to work so hard to learn the skills that come naturally to most children. Hour after hour, day after day, seven days a week, every waking moment was spent on Michael's development. We even employed weekend ABA therapy services from one of his classroom aides. In some ways we were lucky. With the support and cooperation of our local school system, Michael was placed in an excellent school with loving and dedicated teachers.

Unfortunately, only six months later, my husband was transferred to the State of Georgia. It was a position he had worked 25 five years to attain. I didn't think anything could be worse than watching your disabled child struggling everyday with autism, but I was wrong. It was here we experienced the cruelty that we read about in the papers and watch on the evening news. It would take pages to detail the battles and hostility we faced when we tried to provide our child with the "free and appropriate" education he is entitled to under law and was receiving only weeks earlier in another state. And while we want to believe that special education teachers are devoted to these vulnerable children, you need only review transcripts of the many due-process hearings to realize that this is not always the reality. Sometimes, there is resentment and retaliation, resulting in outright emotional and physical abuse when school systems and teachers are forced to deal with a disability they don't understand. Restraining chairs, boxes, closets, even handcuffs can be the methods used to control or punish vulnerable, disabled children who lack the ability to tell anyone what is happening to them. How convenient their silence is. Our small, non-verbal, four-year-old Michael was one of many victims physically abused, emotionally tormented, and totally abandoned by the government agencies that should have supported him. This horrendous experience almost destroyed our family and four years later we are still suffering from the consequences of trying to follow the recommendations of ALL of Michael's physicians, therapists, and the majority of autism experts. The recommendations that we were told could mean the difference between a rewarding and functional future for our child, or a lifetime of severe disability requiring almost constant support.

You know all too well what life is like for the families of an autistic child. Like most of these tragic victims, our lives remain in constant crisis. My child will need care and management for the rest of his life. In twenty years Michael will be 27 years old, I will be 70 and his father will be 73. With good health, and if Michael manages to escape the aggressive behaviors that many children develop, we may be able to care for him for a few additional years. Then it will be his older sister who will lovingly and devotedly take over and live the life she has watched her parents suffer. My sweet Mary Beth is another victim of the decades of warnings that went ignored and a federal bureaucracy who failed to "do the calculations" that would indicate the accurate amount of mercury being injected into the bodies of helpless babies. Mary Beth has just turned 22 and is about to finish college. Because she is so devoted to her little brother, every relationship she has is affected by his disease and disabilities. She recently remarked that she will probably never marry. "Who would want to be a part of this", she says without resentment toward us or her brother -- but with anger, because she believes this horror was preventable. Now, Mary Beth believes her college education and the loans incurred for it, were a waste. Before even beginning the prime of her life, she knows how it will end. A sad commentary from a young lady that five years ago was awarded the class "Leadership Award", was captain of her high school cheerleading squad, and was enthusiastically looking forward to the adventures of college and life on her own. Her destiny has been pre-determined. Like it or not, she will be the full-time caregiver for her severely disabled brother and everything in her life will be centered around that. It was not the life either of us envisioned. But nonetheless, it is the life we have been sentenced to.

So you see, autism, not only stole my little boy's life from him, but it took mine, my husband's and our daughter's life too. Every member of our family, especially Mary Beth, suffers under the weight of the endless nightmare that has controlled our lives since our happy little boy disappeared. When I say my prayers at night and cry myself to sleep, it is as much for Mary Beth as it is for Michael. And the tremendous guilt of knowing that she will sacrifice everything she has worked for and deserves and never abandon her brother… tortures me.

As you have heard many times before, the heartbreaking disease of autism isn't just about caring for a difficult, challenging child. It also can mean sacrificing our own and another generation of relationships, careers, and financial security. From the moment the diagnosis was made, and at the expense of ourselves and our other children, everything became about Michael. But we are not alone. Almost all families face the obstacles of finding and providing affordable medical treatment, therapy services, appropriate education and legal representation for these challenging children. The impact of this disease cannot be overstated, nor can the stress and heartache ever be over-emphasized. But just imagine, if the pharmaceutical industry removed had Thimerosal from children's vaccines in 1992, as it did from dog vaccines. Or if at any time, the FDA, CDC, NIH, or the Surgeon General would have said, "Wait a minute . . . this is a toxic poison. How much are we injecting into the tiny fragile bodies and bloodstream of these infants?" Think about the number of children and families that might have been saved from this lifelong horror. If we were to look at only one picture a day, of a child with autism, it would take over 30 years to see all the faces, tortured for their entire lives because everyone in the medical community and federal health agencies "failed to do the calculations". In every way possible, the System has failed these children, and as the collective denial continues within the medical and pharmaceutical industry, new questions will need to be asked.

How many institutions will be built to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of children who will outlive their parents, and who have no loving Mary Beth to care for them? And will these prisons simply become the death chamber, where minimum-wage workers take advantage of the silence of it's inmates and inflict emotional, physical and sexual abuse on the muted victims of society's herd immunization policy? How long will it take, and how many more children and their devastated families must suffer before the medical community, government agencies and our elected leaders say…ENOUGH ???

It was almost two years ago, that we were told of Michael's mercury levels and our eyes were opened to this silent scandal that has remained hidden from the public for so many decades. Since beginning chelation therapy, Michael has made substantial progress ,especially in his ability to communicate. This is something I don't believe would happen if he were truly autistic and had been born with this disease. Before chelation, he could only say about nine words. Today, he can easily say several hundred, but continues to struggle to make a six-word sentence independently. His articulation can be challenging and many people would not easily understand him. But now he can say, "Mommy, I want a orange Popsicle please". And reply, "Thank you, Mommy", when it is given to him. A year ago, he was in an isolated room, receiving one-on-one services and instruction for most of his school day. Although he may always need support, he is now able to spend part of the day in first grade with 18 other children. At night, he struggles to say his prayers, but makes the effort to say, "Bless, Mommy, Poppy, Bradley, Philip, Sissy and Michael". His requests can be difficult to comprehend at times, but it is so much more than I ever hoped for. And last week, he astonished everyone by reciting the entire Pledge of Allegiance. Best of all, he now reads Green Eggs and Ham to me. Given the abilities he has shown with autism, one can only wonder what he could have accomplished without it, or if chelation had been started sooner. He remains a very challenging disabled child, especially verbally and behaviorally. But given his advances with chelation, and the evidence about Thimerosal that has been uncovered, I am convinced that my sweet Michael is not autistic at all. He is simply the long-overlooked victim of severe mercury poisoning resulting in mercury induced autism (MIA - a very appropriate description). My recent review of his records, pictures, family videos, and developmental notes reinforced the sad story of this precious little boy; that our Michael had the opportunity and potential for a wonderful, "normal" life. Instead, like so many other children, he is the collateral damage of decades of willfully-ignored warnings and the depraved indifference of a powerful, profit-driven industry and our government agencies who failed to "do the calculations" to ensure the safety of the products we purchase for the good health of our children. These children were not born autistic . . . they were created. And their "parents" are greed, incompetence and corruption. I truly believe the unconscionable refusal to take responsibility and the continued effort to cover up that which for us is obvious, will eventually be regarded as the biggest and most tragic scandal in medical history. God help those who knew and still sit silently, allowing this horrific epidemic to continue to claim more and more helpless victims.

Submitted with Respect and Admiration,

Bobbie Manning

cc:
Senator Sam Brownback
Senator Pat Roberts
Congressman D. Moore

A quick story: On our way to the airport after the January 8th Washington Rally, we were telling the driver about this controversy. We told him that there was mercury in the vaccines given to our children and that we believe it made them hopelessly disabled. He was from Ethiopia, and looked at us with a shocked expression. "Mercury is bad…in vaccinations you say. Here…here in America this happened", he asked. "This surely cannot happen in America." Yes…that's what we all thought.

Thank you,
Bobbie Manning
bmanning83@adelphia.net

Press Liaison ~ Autism One
www.autismone.org
716-636-1138