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Autism, Mercury, Vaccinations

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Aromatherapy and autism:  an account of an experience
Taken from
By Jane Ellwood

How autism affects sensory perception is a very complex issue.  In fact,
some authors describe autism as a disorder of the senses rather than a
social dysfunction, where each sense operates in isolation, the brain
unable to organize the stimuli in any meaningful way (Hatch-Rasmussen 1995, p1). The brain relies on information gathered by various sensory receptors such
as touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight in order to make sense of our
environment. The disruption caused by a sensory disorder as to how the
information is organised in the brain can have a devastating effect on how
a situation is perceived and understood (Siegel 1996, p79).  The author Donna
Williams, herself diagnosed autistic, makes many references to what she
calls sensory shutdown, which occurs when an autistic individual is
subjected to too much sensory stimuli and the brain cannot cope (Williams
1996, p126).  Many people with autism will experience hypersensitivity to
certain stimuli resulting in actual physical pain of sensory over-load
(Waterhouse 1995, p19).  This is why I undertook with great trepidation
some aromatherapy sessions with a small group of autistic children attending a
special school in Bristol.

I decided not to use aromatherapy in the traditional healing sense, but to
use some of the safe oils (chamomile, lavender, peppermint, geranium) to
stimulate the sense of smell, and to use foot and hand massage techniques
to explore the relationship of touch as an aid to developing trust and
communication.  Initially I expected the children to be resistant, or even
hostile to such a new activity.  However, I was surprised at their interest
and some of the unexpected responses to the experiences of smell, touch,
and massage, hot and cold.  Immediately obvious was their enjoyment of a new
and interesting activity.  As the sessions progressed, the opportunities for
interaction became more frequent, leading to valuable opportunities to
communicate with some very difficult children.

The group was a small class of 6 junior aged children, all severely
autistic  and non-verbal.  The class comprised of a mixture of learning styles:
one child being mono-sensory, only able to use one sense at a time; 2 very

tactile defensive children, resistant to any form of contact; one severely
hyperactive child with obvious attention deficit, unable to sit still for
longer than 3-4 seconds at a time; another child being a kinesthetical
learner and very inquisitive: the remaining child solely a functional
learner, motivated only by the constant need to self-stimulate - but often
self-stimulation would include smell and tactile fixations.

Very aware that many individuals affected by autism can be hypersensitive
to strong smells, I was surprised to see positive responses in all but one of
the children to a dilute peppermint essential oil solution being sprayed
near their arms and into the air.  3 of the children were obviously
interested and indicated for me to repeat the experience.  One child in
particular kept smelling his hands and laughing, unable to smell and look
at his hands at the same time.  Normally he found the process of having to
suddenly switch off one sense in order to use another quite difficult,
which would result in much frustration.  During the smelling sessions he soon
learnt to shut his eyes while he sniffed at his hands.

More surprisingly was the interest shown by one of the tactile defensive
children in a small pillowcase filled with dried cracked wheat impregnated
with chamomile oil, heated in the microwave until quite warm.  The bag was
floppy and heavy and the child immediately placed it on the back of his
neck, remaining motionless for the rest of the session.  This child was
usually quite fidgety, always trying to place himself in a particular
position in order to feel safe and comfortable.

A further session of hand massage with grapeseed oil was enjoyed by most of
the children - particularly the functional learner whose need to
self-stimulate included spitting on his hands and 'rubbing it in'.  By
allowing him to indulge, but in an acceptable and reciprocal way, he
remained calm and interested in what was going on around him, even able to
indicate preferences for which hand to be massaged and when to use more
oil.   More startlingly, after several sessions, he would sit at the table
unprompted and patiently wait his turn, something he would not do very

The more able and inquisitive child began to massage the hands of another
child - an enormous step forward for both children, particularly as the
receiver was touch defensive.  The other child normally resistant to touch
continued to be more interested in the heat cushion until I gave him an ice
pack (the type normally used for sports injuries), this then immediately
took preference.  Again he placed it carefully on the back of his neck.
While the ice pack was in place, he was totally passive to staff who were
able to put their hands on his shoulder and massage his hands. Normally he
would have screamed and moved away.

The only session the hyperactive child chose to participate in was foot
massage.  I used neutral carrier oil to massage his feet.  Initially he
resisted, but after about 5 seconds of perseverance, he lay on his back
his hands behind his head and placed both feet in my lap.  He then lay
still; enjoying a 5-minute foot massage which was the longest staff had
ever known him to be still.

Aware of the often-negative effects of excessive sensory stimulation to
those affected by autism, I was not prepared for the positive way in which
the aromatherapy sessions were received.  The children I had expected to
react adversely to the massage and sensations of heat and cold (the tactile
defensive ones) were the most accepting - as if the extreme sensory
experience enabled them to satisfy an internal need, enabling them to
become  more focused and receptive, (or perhaps the sensation of the heat and ice pack was so overwhelming; they were oblivious to things that would normally  make them feel very uncomfortable).  The child whom I thought would most resist the new smells was the most fascinated and amused by the experience.

Because of his obvious enjoyment, he was highly motivated to find ways to
regulate incoming sensory stimulation by switching off one sense while
receiving another, a skill that could be adapted for use in other
situations - a skill that is also pursued in Sensory Integration Theory
(Hatch-Rasmussen 1995, p1).

For the most difficult and aggressive child, the sessions were a legitimate
way to satisfy a constant need to self stimulate, yet still being able to
practice the valuable social skills of sitting in a group and turn-taking
without feeling the need to become aggressive or disruptive.

 For all of the children, the experience of aromatherapy has led to new
 opportunities for interaction and communication. The sessions have given
 staff new ideas for interacting with some very isolated and difficult
 children.  I would welcome information and comments from anyone who has
 found this article interesting or has been working with similar ideas in
 autism or severe learning disabilities.

Autism, Mercury, Vaccinations

Note: forwarded message attached.
   karin schumacher <>
 Organization: -   vaccine information and awareness

Attached please find a letter from Lyn Redwood a mother of a 5 year old child who believes  himerosal in vaccines may have caused her son's autism. Mercury is the third  most toxic element on the face of the earth. Thimerosal which contains 49% Mercury is injected with vaccine in the children. After Thimerosal gets injected in the body it will transform to organic mercury called, ethylmercury.  This component is extremely poisonous for the brain especially it is especially devastating to the brain of a child.  It easily penetrates through the Blood Brain Barrier and slowly disintegrates to billions of molecules of ionic mercury.

Based in one calculation, the 23 micro gram of ethylmercury will be transformed in the brain to approximately 10 billion ionic mercury.  The Ionic mercury then will penetrate selectively in different sections of the brain and start disturbing the neuron function. Approximately, 1 out of 500 will be effected with mercury poisoning. Surprisingly, ionic mercury will penetrate selectively in the area of the brain  which is identical to the damaged area of the brain for a child with autism.

This is so alarming that CDC has taken the largest spin control in their history. There are more than 78 documents in their website with a lots of questions and answers to calm the public. The FDA which had approved Thimerosal to be added to vaccine has 40 documents on this subject on their website.

One of the NAAR's researchers has been contacted to investigate the mercury and autism connection. NAAR organization is also actively looking to fund pilot studies on this issue. Please read this letter very carefully.  Here is Lyn's letter.

Albert Enayati
Health & Wellness Resources
254 Trickum Creek Rd.
Tyrone, Georgia  30290
Phone 770-631-9380
Fax 770-631-9272

December 30, 1999
Dr. Neal A. Halsey
Division of Disease Control
Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene & Public Health
615 North Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD. 21205

Dear Dr. Halsey:
I have been following the issue of Thimerosal in vaccines very closely over the past few months.  First and foremost, I want to thank you for your proactive stance concerning the issue of potential toxicity from excessive mercury exposure in vaccines and your efforts to decrease this unnecessary source of neurotoxicity for our children.  You were correct in your opinion that CBER's findings were worthy of alarm.  What is disturbing to me is that in many of the recent articles I have reviewed there is a consistent theme that there is "no evidence of harm having occurred from Thimerosal vaccine administration" following the ACIP guidelines.  No evidence of harm does not equate with no harm having occurred!  As you stated in the Hepatitis Control Report Summer 1999 interview "we can say there is no evidence of harm, but the truth is no one has looked."

Our son's pre and post natal history was unremarkable and he easily met all his early developmental landmarks until shortly after his first birthday.  It was at that time that he began to slip away from us.  He lost speech and eye contact, developed a very limited diet and experienced intermittent bouts of diarrhea.  After a series of tests and evaluations, he was ultimately diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a form of Autism.  The most profound abnormality was his global receptive and expressive speech delay. (It is interesting to note a case report of a 44 year old gentleman who received excessive Thimerosal in a BIG preparation and his first symptoms of mercury toxicity were speech difficulties).

When the concerns with Thimerosal surfaced this summer, I reviewed my son's vaccine record to find that all his early vaccines contained Thimerosal and he had received 187.5 mcg of mercury in his vaccines given the first six months of life.  At each visit, two, four, and six, he received a total of 62.5 mcg of mercury.  These levels exceeded EPA's allowable daily exposure of 0.1 mcg per kilogram at two months 125 fold.  Since the half life of mercury in the blood is only 50 to 70 days before moving into this tissue, there would be no way to detect his level of exposure now that he is five years old without a provocative agent. Fortunately I had kept a lock of his hair from his first haircut.  Analysis of this sample revealed 4.8 PPM mercury and 40.2 PPM aluminum, both present in his vaccines.  These levels represent a fourfold increase above reference ranges.  Please note that my son has never eaten fish or had amalgam dental fillings.

It is documented that children with PDD/Autism have been found to have mercury toxicity which previously had been thought to be attributed to environmental exposure.  At a recent national conference on Autism I was shocked to find many other parents who also reported mercury toxicity in their autistic children.  I do not think this is a chance occurrence.Nor do I think that the documented epidemic of Autism beginning in the early 1990's, which coincides with the addition of multiple vaccines the first six months of life, is a coincidence.  The recently described clusters of autism in Brick Township, New Jersey and in California where incidence rates are 1 in 150 or less are occurring in every state.  The state of Maryland just released their Special Education Census Data. While the overall population increased only 7% from 1990 to 1998, Autism increased 513% from 1993 to 1998, while mental retardation increased 13%.  A cursory review of those children in our county who carry a diagnosis of Autism with overall enrollment in kindergarten puts our incidence at 1 in 125.  Just in our town, there were 55 children born in 1994, two of which are now diagnosed with Autism, a 1 in 23 incidence. Another sobering statistic is that out of a total enrollment of 18,476 children in our school system, approximately 2,100 were served in special education programs during the 1997-1998 school year, including 125 preschool three and four year olds.  This equates to approximately 1 in 9 children receive some form of special education.  Could it be that a lesser degree of mercury exposure could be expressed as speech and language impairment or ADD/ ADHD?

According to your recent JAMA editorial, data from two recent studies examining the relationship between methylmercury exposure and neuropsychological outcome in children suggest that intermittent large exposures (which our children have received with immunizations) may pose more risk than small daily doses.  I feel it is more accurate to view these exposures as a bolus dose occurring on one given day verses calculating this exposure over six month period as Dr. Ball presented.  This only serves to falsely minimize this toxic exposure.  If you look at the mercury from a daily dose perspective, then no one vaccine containing Thimerosal would be able to meet EPA's limit of 0.1 mcg per KG/Day guidelines the first six months of life.  You have obviously identified a problem asexpressed in the CBER data.  My question is why is this being allowed to continue?!  Delaying Hepatitis vaccine until six months does little to address this problem.

Thimerosal containing Hepatitis vaccine only contribute 12.5 mcg of mercury per dose, whereas the majority of mercury exposure comes from DPT and HIB vaccines, each with 25 mcg of mercury per dose. The American Academy of Pediatrics position statement that "Infants and children who have received Thimerosal containing vaccine do not need to have blood, urine or hair tested for mercury since the concentrations of mercury would be quite low and would not require treatment" was obviously not the case for our son.  I ask, is this statement based on scientific evidence or speculation?  What is of upmost importance is that any child who presents with neurological impairment who has received mercury in excess of Federal Guidelines receive prompt evaluation for mercury toxicity. With appropriate early intervention and mercury detoxification many of these children have made significant neurological improvement. There is currently almost an entire decade of children who have been exposed to levels of mercury in vaccines that exceeded Federal Guidelines for total mercury exposure.  The reality is these numbers will only continue to increase until all Thimerosal is withdrawn from vaccines.  Not being  forthright with this information will only serve to further compromise the integrity of vaccine programs.  In the recent JAMA editorial you expressed your personal preference that Thimerosal free vaccine preference should be extended to HiB and DTaP vaccines, not just hepatitis vaccine.  The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the CDC's decision not to give preference for Thimerosal-free vaccine is a grave injustice to the health of our children that borders on medicalnegligence.  It appears that the "Vaccine Program" itself has taken priority over the children that it is responsible for protecting.  We must first remember to "do no harm."

In the Summer 1999 issue of Hepatitis Control Report, you were quoted as saying "pediatricians who continue to administer Thimerosal containing vaccines could face a flurry of lawsuits, perhaps claiming that children had acquired learning disabilities from mercury exposure." This statement may well be predictive of the future unless something is done now.  You are now aware of evidence of harm having occurred from excessive Thimerosal exposure from vaccines in our son and others.  What I would like to know is your recommendations concerning this serious issue.  Who will be responsible for investigating reports of neurotoxicity from Thimerosal?  Who will be responsible for uncovering the truth that no one has investigated?  I do hope this task will be accomplished by physicians and not attorneys.  I look forward to your response to our inquiry.

Lyn Redwood, RN, MSN, CRNP
William T. Redwood, MD
U.S. Surgeon General
U.S. Public Health Service
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Academy of Family Medicine
CDC National Immunization Program
Rep. Dan Burton, Indiana
Rep. Frank Pallone, New Jersey
National Vaccine Information
Autism Research International
Autism Society of America
Cure Autism Now


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