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Will Autism Speaks Fire Donald Trump?

12/29/2007 02:30 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Will Autism Speaks "fire" billionaire fundraiser Donald Trump for telling the world he believes vaccinations may be at the heart of the autism? Trump's long running hit "The Apprentice" runs on NBC, and Bob Wright, founder of Autism Speaks is still with GE, which owns the network. Trump could be in trouble! Why? Allow me to explain.

The Donald made a startling pronouncement during a press stop for Autism Speaks at his Mar-A-Lago estate in Florida. One would call his words, "heresy" in some autism circles. He fingered vaccines and referenced the epidemic numbers of kids with autism. Looks like Donald Trump has been paying attention to the news.

The Sun Sentinel reported:

"In an interview, Donald Trump said he thinks the rising prevalence of autism is related to vaccinations of babies and toddlers, a topic that is hotly debated among parents and doctors.
One in 150 children is now diagnosed with autism, with the prevalence higher among boys.
"When I was growing up, autism wasn't really a factor," he said. "And now all of a sudden, it's an epidemic. Everybody has their theory, and my theory is the shots. They're getting these massive injections at one time. I think it's the vaccinations." (Here is the full Sun Sentinel Story.)

"Hotly debated?" Try nuclear. And Autism Speaks has run away from the vaccine/autism debate faster than that NASCAR dude they sponsor can race.

Someone (Pick me! Pick me!) had better show "The Donald" Bob and Suzanne Wright's letter in which they disassociated themselves from their daughter Katie for speaking out about her similar beliefs on autism and vaccinations. (Why look! It's right here!)

Better yet, let's allow The Great Gray Lady to tell The Donald about how the Wrights pitted daughter against dollars. (Hint, the dollars won.) This article from The New York Times described the Wright's treatment of Katie in order to assuage the hurt feelings of fund raisers, volunteers and researchers associated with Autism Speaks. Here's a bit of the article:

So, in early June, Bob and Suzanne Wright repudiated their daughter on the charity's Web site. "Katie Wright is not a spokesperson" for the organization, the Wrights said in a brusque statement. Her "personal views differ from ours." The Wrights also apologized to "valued volunteers" who had been disparaged. Told by friends how cold the rebuke sounded, Mrs. Wright belatedly added a line saying, "Katie is our daughter, and we love her very much."

Now that's cold, isn't it, Donald? The young woman whose child launched a multi-million dollar charity, the founders' own daughter, doesn't represent the ongoing mission of said charity. Makes you and Rosie look like a love fest.

Donald, when Bob and Suzanne Wright fib to you that they are looking at all potential causes of autism, let me tell you about the day back in 2006 when Suzanne Wright promised me in front of hundreds that Autism Speaks was going to study vaccines and autism. Don't be swayed, as I was when she says, "Autism knocked on the wrong door." In reality, it knocked on a bank vault door. (Got time? Pop some popcorn, grab the family and check out the video here.) I've filed her empty promise under "BFL" (big fat lie) and stored it next to my shattered dreams about weapons of mass destruction, compassionate Conservatives and Santa Claus.

How will tread marks look on your Armani suit? Please watch your back, Donald. You might find yourself locked out of Two Park Avenue, unless you own that building. Of course, your cash might insulate you from the drubbing Katie took, unless the Wright's are dining with Bill Gates tonight, in which case his cash, er, trumps your own.

If you do find yourself locked out, you're welcome to pop up to Connecticut to visit my family. You can even wave to Bob and Suzanne who live down Route 95 and waaay on the other side of the tracks from me. You see, we have three children with autism and measure our fortune not in dollars and donations but in dry undies and single word sentences.

Donald, I thank you for stating your opinion in your inimitable way. When your handsome son Baron says, "Hi, Daddy! The market is up today!" and points at the carousel you probably have in your backyard, think about those of us whose kids have never pointed or uttered so much as a word.

I don't want to cause trouble between you and the Wrights (insert eye roll here.) I simply want to get some answers and bona fide treatment research for my girls and the thousands of other kids who make up the epidemic that you have acknowledged. Or perhaps I should say, "Ivana get some answers?"

Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of www.AgeofAutism.com. She's a writer, autism advocate and lives in Connecticut with her husband and their three girls, who have autism. You can read her blog here.