Last Thursday afternoon, The General Medical Council in London, England announced its decisions in the disciplinary hearing of Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Professor Simon Murch and Professor John Walker-Smith. The ruling was not in their favor. (You can read the official ruling HERE.)
There will likely be other posts here at HuffPost explaining the legal machinations of the GMC hearings and science behind the original The Lancet paper, now retracted. Be sure to look for David Kirby's post on the topic. If you're interested, you can read an eye witness account of the proceedings from Martin Walker, who has followed the GMC hearing from the start.
To understand the bigger picture, I highly recommend Mark Blaxill's Age of Autism post on the current scientific environment for autism research in general in which he says, "The deep and profound censorship occurring around autism science reaches depths that few casual observers can imagine. I have proof." HERE
I'd like to provide the voice of an autism Mom, hoarse from yelling into the wind for a cumulative total of thirty seven years. You see, I have three daughters with autism, ages 15, 13 and 9. Autism isn't an abstract battle ground to me. I don't write about autism to gather virtual high fives from a like minded community or to protect an industry or my own turf. My family eats, sleeps, breathes and ultimately, will die, with autism overshadowing every move we make.
When did autism go from a rare diagnosis to a disorder that affects 1 in 110 children but still warrants little to no medical care outside of psychiatric drugs and behavioral therapy? An autism diagnosis can erase a person's ability to get solid medical care. If you brought your six year old to a hospital in the throes of a seizure, the neurologists would run tests and look for the cause. When I brought my six year old, I was told, "She has autism. She has different circuitry." And then when I requested tests, I was told, "We're just not that aggressive with autism." My child has a brain and a gut and an immune system just like any other child. Why does her autism negate that?
Fortunately, there are doctors like Andrew Wakefield and others, most of whom prefer to keep a low profile as you can imagine, who can look past the behavioral diagnosis to the thrashing or sobbing child and his haggard Mom, exhausted from cleaning up bathroom accidents or cajoling a grapefruit sized BM from her anguished child every few days.
There is joy all over the Internet, back slapping and "Isn't it grand!" that Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues have been brought down so publicly. At the same time, autism is chewing through our country at breakneck speed. 1 in 250 became 1 in 166 which increased to 1 in 150 and is now 1 in 110 with no signs of abating. Schools and families are bearing the brunt of the battle today. Tomorrow, as the children become young adults and "age out" of school, you, the average Huffington Post reader, will be partially responsible for them via your taxes. The finger pointing in Connecticut, where I live, has already begun. A recent newspaper article began with, "Why is the district being punished for having too many white autistic kids?"
I implore you to consider the patients. Remember the children, young adults and older persons with autism for whom GI disorders and other medical conditions are a very real problem.
We need a thousand doctors like Andrew Wakefield, who are willing to risk their careers and reputations in order to find out what is happening to our children and how to heal them. That's what physician scientists do after all. Help and heal.
You can read more articles about the GMC hearings and the treatment of Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues HERE.