Preventing Autism: Most ill-targeted PR pitch on earth? Possibly

This morning, I received the below. I've annotated it in red with my reactions as I read along. But first, I had to throw up. The hatefulness of releasing a book called Preventing Autism on World Autism Awareness Day and what some of us call Autism Acceptance Day surpasses my ability to comprehend. No, I haven't read the book. No, I won't be purchasing a book called Preventing Autism and have that in my house where my autistic son can see it. ETA: As a counterpoint to the cynical nastiness of someone who could write a book like this and release it on this day, please see this post from Shannon Rosa at BlogHer.

PR pitch:
I am working on a book that will hit stores today, April 2 (World Autism Awareness Day hurl), that can help parents aggressively act to prevent autism At this point, I'm so offended and pained as a parent and then affronted as a scientist I could barely read on in their unborn and young children. In order to practice prevention, you have to know the causes AYFKM?

Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP, AYFKM? a prominent pediatrician because, you know, Jenny McCarthy practicing in Santa Monica, California, of course he is. Why would he practice in inner city Chicago? and a UCLA Professor, is the author of Preventing Autism: What You Can Do to Protect Your Children before and after Birth (Wiley, April 2, 2013, Trade Paperback Original, $17.95). Throwing up occurred here. He's a pediatrician. Not a neurodevelopmental expert. And he wants to prevent people like my son. Dr. Gordon? AUTISTIC PEOPLE CAN READ. In following the plan outlined in the book, parents have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Particularly if they don't get suckered in to shit like this. The CDC has suggested that the huge increase in the number of environmental toxins to which young children are exposed might explain why autism numbers have exploded Really? Because they JUST PUBLISHED their study based on survey data that suggested WIDER DIAGNOSTIC CAPTURE.  Dr. Gordon addresses how to avoid these toxins. (He also addresses the "vaccine issue." Oh, I bet he does. How else will he sell his book?)

Dr. Gordon feels he can make a difference (in his bank account).  So do noted child development experts Halle Berry, Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady, Jennifer Grey, and Mariska Hargitay— who combined to write the forward (like the Borg or what?).  Julia Roberts added a blurb. AYFKM?

More info:
·     Of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use today, only 3,000 have been tested for their harmful effects. I use that many chemicals by simply consisting of them. CHEMICALZ!!
·     The rise in autism parallels the rise of the chemical age after World War II not really and the use of untested chemicals they are tested. Data safety sheets exist for them. in manufacturing, our food supply, house cleaning products, and our personal grooming products this one is gonna hit the Hollywood types hard. Oh, and also parallels in increase in consumption of organic foods and increased global warming. Alrighty then.
·     It is no longer a leap to say we can prevent autism No, it's not a leap. It's a lie.  Even mainstream medicine recognizes that the environment affects genetics (Yes, in approximately the early 20th century).  The science of epigenetics—“on top of genes” --studies what changes gene expression or what causes certain genes to turn on or off That's the science of "genetics".  

·     At Stanford University, 192 pairs of identical twins were studied in which one twin was autistic and one was not.  Scientists found that genetics accounted for 38% of the risk of autism and environmental factors 62%.  Prime example of a half truth. What they leave out is what the team concluded were the effective factors involved--the womb. Actually, this is, at most, a quarter truth.
·     Our definition of autism has expanded from a genetic disorder originating in the brain to a possible interaction of immune and neuro-inflammatory disorders with genetics in the brain. Another half truth, as this is hypothesized, possibly, for a subset. Not demonstrated.   Developing nervous and immune systems –before and after birth--are vulnerable to the thousands of toxins that surround us. Because the placentas have just given up, you see. But IF YOU DON'T BUY THIS BOOK AND TRY EVERYTHING IN IT, LADIES, IT'LL BE ALL YOUR FAULT IF YOUR CHILD IS AUTISTIC

·     If you can identify a cause for autism, you can find a preventive treatment current understanding is that autism traces to multiple factors and probably thousands of genes. Good luck with that. And did I mention that autistic people CAN READ?  Preventing Autism explores the known neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors you know what? This is my field. And no one's linked these to autism. But they sure are a nice, sell-y buzzword, ain't they?  and offers a plan for eliminating or reducing their presence before and after your children’s birth. This is wrong physiologically, developmentally, ethically, socially, and in terms of reality.
·     The NIH has begun a $6.5 billion study of a generation—a 21 year long study of 100,000 children to determine how the environment affects development from before birth to adulthood.  We cannot let an entire generation be at risk. Yes, because a study like this means a generation is at risk We have to do something now. Please start by NOT BUYING THIS BOOK.

Please let me know if you're interested in speaking with Dr. Gordon and/or seeing a copy of Preventing AutismAYFKM?


  1. Speechless. And no, I won't be buying a copy thankyouverymuch.
    But you made me laugh with "noted child development experts..."

  2. Oh.
    Really? I am still spending a fair amount of time pointing out that stripper != scientist (jenny mccarthy) and now this douche canoe is firing up the muggles?

    1. While her not being a scientist is probably relevant here, her attire or lack thereof is not.

  3. I absolutely will NOT be purchasing that book!

  4. To be clear at the outset, I enjoyed the "AYFKM?" comments just as much as the next person but having said that...

    You state this:

    > And he wants to prevent people like my son.

    ... which is clearly hyperbolic, and then you follow it up with:


    I don't understand this. You're either suggesting:
    if autistic people couldn't read this would be acceptable...
    OR autistic people should not be made aware that they have an condition where if they didn't have it (or significantly diminished), their life may well be simpler.

    Which is it?

    If said doctor had written "Preventing Anxiety Disorder:...", would you have written "CHRONICALLY ANXIOUS PEOPLE CAN READ."?

    1. The entire thing is hyperbole. It's a rhetorical device. To be clear.

      You're equating a mental disorder with a developmental, neurobiological disorder. But either way, yes, I'd say the same thing about anyone who acted like people in either category simply aren't acceptable to have around. Eugenics much?

    2. Maybe it's just my general ignorance of the book's contents (and author for that matter), but I see nothing that suggests autistics "aren't acceptable to have around". His ideas may be complete horseshit, but your inference doesn't follow from it. What is the justification for drawing that conclusion?

    3. The title? This kind of language: "help parents aggressively act to prevent autism"?

    4. So... You're suggesting the only valid medical interventions regarding ASD are those undertaken after diagnosis? Truly, I don't understand your position here.

      (I should remind you here, I am in no way attempting to validate any crackpot theory this particular book/author might be advancing... merely questioning your reaction to it)

    5. You're putting words into my mouth. I've said what I have to say and don't appreciate "I'm just trying to *understand*" concern trolling.

    6. ???

      Just what the hell do you want me to say to get you to explain a position you've taken? I'm not sure why you're being so evasive about this.

      I understand that you find the wording "prevent autism" offensive, but I don't really quite understand why and when I suggest (what seems to me to be) the only logical alternative to "prevent autism", you accuse me of trolling. WTF?

      If you don't appreciate "I'm just trying to understand..." type questions, perhaps you should stop blogging. Not everybody is here to join the cheerleading squad....

      The stupid part is I am essentially 100% in agreement with your position on this -- except for the part that I called out. And all you've been is snarky, abrasive, and glib.

    7. I thought "I just don't understand"trolling was very well pointed out. It's your right to take position this way on your blog.if a reader agrees but thinks the point is not made in an adequately rhetoric way, he may write his own review , me thinks ?!

    8. I did answer his questions, twice, but the goalposts kept moving, which is tiresome. Yes, it is my blog, and I s'pose if a person finds it inadequate or unsatisfying, said person can take that up elsewhere, certainly.

  5. I had a similar visceral reaction while reading in his latest book how Dr. Peter Breggin apparently cures Autism Spectrum Disorders. Breggin tells us what he said to "Jimmy", a 9-year-old diagnosed (by another psychiatrist) with Asperger's disorder:

    (Breggin): "Jimmy, I know you can control your behavior. I've seen lots of kids who behave like you, and they learn to control their behavior. And of course, they're much, much happier and get along so much better when they stop behaving in childish and weird ways."

    (Breggin, M.D., Peter R. Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal. Springer Publishing Company, 2013, p.247.)

    So, there you have it: Tell your kid to just "stop behaving in childish and weird ways."

    I'm age 48 now, and according to Breggin, nothing but essentially an epic failure at having applied myself adequately to growing up.

    I wish I couldn't read.

  6. Emily,

    Autism is a medical condition with genetic predisposition and environmental triggers. I do not want to "prevent [your] son" and you know that.

    Children and families affected by autism have harder lives because they they don't get adequate respect from the medical community, the government or the insurance industry. Nonetheless, acceptance of a medical condition does not mean that you have to be thrilled to have it. Most parents would choose to know how to avoid autism in their families. They might be right, wrong or judgmental about ASD but they deserve access to information about chemical exposure which may change the incidence of ADHD, ASD and other neurological conditions. Your disdain for this book was expected. I respect what you do but have trouble with your blind spots.


    1. Your book is called 'Preventing Autism.' That speaks for itself. I have zero respect for you and couldn't care less about your level of respect for me.

    2. Where's your scientific evidence Dr. Gordon? Don't tell me it's in a book, which is not peer-reviewed, but is reviewed by editors who want to make lots of money. Where's the peer-reviewed evidence?

      BTW, your neurobiology Ph.D. is from where? Oh, I thought so. If you have any neurology background, I can't seem to find the papers published by you. Please point me to your extensive research background in neurobiology.

      You see, despite your MD degree, your research knowledge ranks no higher than the pseudoscience spouted by ANY science denier. Your fear of chemicals is laughable. Are you going to convince us to eat natural veggies? And plants are made of….chemicals?

      You're a charlatan. Just own up to it.

    3. Please add my disdain for Dr Gordon and his book.

    4. I find Dr. Jay's "You know that" to be creepy. How paternalistic and...ew, just ew.

      He's spewing sewage, pretending it's gold dust, patting himself on the back for it, and expecting others to kiss his boots in gratitude.

  7. Freedom of speech and all that, but shouldn't lying for profit be a criminal act?

    Oh, I get it -- this is covered under "religious freedom" -- in this case, the worship of the evil gods that have chemical names. Satan save us.

  8. Dr Gordon,

    I am autistic, and therefore would imagine there probably are a few gaps in my understanding of social protocols like respect. Still, I feel compelled to challenge your assertion that you respect what Dr. Willingham does.

    Anyone reasonable reader of Dr. Willingham's writings knows that she has made it her life's mission to celebrate the value of real science, consistently independently verifiable data collected and interpreted with impeccable responsibility. Dr. Willingham stands strongly for real science, and resolutely against its natural enemy, pseudo-science, a collection of myths and and half-truths usually collated for the purpose of perpetrating some sort of boondoggle on vulnerable people.

    When you show respect for real science, you show respect for what Dr. Willingham does. When you misrepresent CDC findings or claim that that tested chemicals are untested, two of many unfortunate errors you made in your press release, you show disrespect for real science, which necessarily extends to Dr. Willingham's work and to her as an individual.

    For these reasons, Dr. Gordon, I can only conclude your claim of respect was disingenuous, and to paraphrase part of your post, Dr. Willingham's disdain for your opinion of her was expected.


  9. Let me explain what's wrong with "preventing autism": There is no way to do it without preventing AUTISTIC PEOPLE. It's a condition which affects one's entire way of thinking and one's entire development. That's why it's called PERVASIVE. If I wasn't autistic, I LITERALLY WOULDN'T BE THE SAME PERSON. Got it now?

    It's like talking about "preventing homosexuality," and then explaining that you only want to make people's lives easier. Homosexuality is not a disease, and neither is autism. Talking about how the world would be better without us ONLY MAKES OUR LIVES HARDER, no matter how much you think you're helping.

  10. Also, try reading this:

  11. Regarding the comparison to "Preventing Anxiety Disorder"? I have anxiety. You wanna guess where a good deal of it came from? Having to cope with nonsense like this. Being told that there's something wrong with the way my brain operates my entire life.

  12. Also? "autistic people should not be made aware that they have an condition where if they didn't have it (or significantly diminished), their life may well be simpler."?! We are WELL AWARE that if we didn't have autism our lives would be easier. Just like my gay friends are well aware that their lives would be easier if they were straight. It doesn't make them want to be straight, and it doesn't make me want to be neurotypical. That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt when we read that people would like us to be different.


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