Vaccine induced autism – how Meryl Dorey misled her Woodford audience

Meryl Dorey is shown to have presented material to the audience at Woodford that in two cases argues vaccine induced autism where there is clearly none. In one case the word “autism” has been inserted, additionally, in a descriptive or qualitative fashion on her slide yet it is not present in the court ruling or transcript from where she sourced her text. In another instance there are no cases of autism following, or because of, vaccination. One awaits an explanation from Meryl Wynn Dorey.

There is an awful amount of misinformation on Meryl Dorey’s Woodford slides. Let’s examine the fatally flawed attempt to exhume the “vaccines cause autism” corpse. This is the heading of slide 18:

Meryl Dorey’s Woodford slide number 18

Not much ambiguity there I’d say. But there was seemingly intentional manipulation of a source document providing more misinformation on that slide. Dorey has usurped the case of Bailey Banks.

Bailey was indeed compensated for a vaccine injury. Was it autism, as alleged on Dorey’s slide? No.

The US Court of Federal Claims case file states clearly in it’s opening index: “Non-autistic developmental delay”.

A search of the Claims case file yields a very similar text to that which Dorey provided to her Woodford audience. There is only a one word difference. “[Autism]”. Here is the original text on page 27 of the claims file:

The Court found that Bailey would not have suffered this delay but for the administration of the MMR vaccine, and that this chain of causation was not too remote, but was rather a proximate sequence of cause and effect leading inexorably from vaccination to Pervasive Developmental Delay.

That is all. It seems Meryl Dorey needs to explain this striking addition that quite plainly seeks to falsify the court ruling. The evidence is damning indeed.

On page 2 the fact that compensation is not for autism is stressed implicitly [Bold mine]:

Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) is a ‘subthreshold’ condition in which some – but not all – features of autism or another explicitly identified Pervasive Developmental Disorder are identified. PDD-NOS is often incorrectly referred to as simply “PDD.” The term PDD refers to the class of conditions to which autism belongs. PDD is NOT itself a diagnosis, while PDD-NOS IS a diagnosis. The term Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS; also referred to as “atypical personality development,” “atypical PDD,” or “atypical autism”) is included in DSM-IV to encompass cases where there is marked impairment of social interaction, communication, and/or stereotyped behavior patterns or interest, but when full features for autism or another explicitly defined PDD are not met.
It should be emphasized that this ”subthreshold” category is thus defined implicitly, that is, no specific guidelines for diagnosis are provided. While deficits in peer relations and unusual sensitivities are typically noted, social skills are less impaired than in classical autism.

On page 6 [Bold mine]:

Among the physicians treating Bailey, a neurologist named Dr. Ivan Lopez personally examined Bailey and diagnosed Bailey as follows:

This patient has developmental delay probably secondary to an episode of acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis that he had at 18 months of age after the vaccine. He certainly does not ___ [sic] for autism because over here we can find a specific reason for his condition and this is not just coming up with no reason.

And [Bold mine]:

As Petitioner’s testifying expert witness, Dr. Lopez maintained, reiterated, and elaborated upon this threshhold diagnosis.

Dr. Lopez’s diagnosis appears to conflict with the diagnosis given by Bailey’s pediatrician on 20 May 2004, who saddled Bailey’s condition with the generalized term “autism”; however, that pediatrician later acknowledged that use of the term autism was used merely as a simplification for non-medical school personnel, and that pervasive developmental delay “is the correct [i.e. technical] diagnosis.” Another pediatrician’s diagnosis noted that Bailey’s condition “seems to be a global developmental delay with autistic features as opposed to an actual autistic spectrum disorder.”

A footnote on page 16 reads [Bold mine]:

Respondent seems to have abandoned the earlier argument that Bailey suffered from autism, instead of PDD. The Court notes the various similarities between Bailey’s condition and autism as defined above, but nonetheless rules that PDD better and more precisely describes Bailey’s condition and symptoms than does autism. Respondent’s acknowledgment serves to reaffirm the Court’s conclusion on this point.

So, what does all this mean? The opening text of the ruling informs us that the court accepts that Bailey, “suffered a seizure and Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis” leading to PDD. The court also accepts that compensation should be paid because the court is of the view the seizure and condition would not have occurred without the administration of MMR.

Is the court right? It doesn’t matter. The legal decision must be respected. What we can clearly see is that PDD is considered quite different from autism. Bailey suffered a single traumatic event – not a gradual decline into autism as the customary antivaccination lobby tale goes. Autism is a collection of symptoms with a genetic component. Clearly in this case Bailey does not fit, nor has been found to fit a diagnosis of autism.

This makes his case no less tragic. I can’t stress that enough. What I will stress is that Meryl Dorey sourced her one liner from the same document I have quoted above. She is certain to have read that this child does not have autism and was not compensated for autism brought on by vaccination. She would have read that PDD is not the same as autism. But Meryl Dorey chose to select one line and alter it fallaciously to mislead her audience into believing compensation had been paid for autism brought on by MMR.

Meryl Dorey has again committed plagiarism and fraud in her quest to mislead the Australian public. Her disdain for this young boy is clear. Her disrespect for court proceedings and this ruling is manifest. Her callous disregard for Aussies at Woodford Folk Festival is exposed for all to see.

You may wonder where are all the other Baileys? Well, let’s meet 83 similar cases – an old trick of Meryl’s debunked back in May 2011 and covered here in June 2011. Just like PDD may produce symptoms like autism, so do many other types of brain injury. Add these to autistic children who are vaccinated and the language in VICP case files is easily abused.

Also on Meryl’s slide was this ambiguous claim. I’ve made it kind of easy to spot the semantics. “Associated”? Where is the cause? So, here we are almost 8 months since it was debunked and the best Meryl Dorey can manage is a semantic trick. The URL leads here to a PR Newswire article that has the same heading as on her slide.

It’s a media release. Safe Minds is non scientific and partisan. Led by parents of autistic children they seek to increase research into neurological damage from exposure to mercury in medical products.

I for one find it strange that Dorey was billed as an expert on autism yet was unable to source the original paper I’ve linked to below. Is this because she gets more bang for her buck with the tone of this heading? The article is biased in the extreme. There appears to be little doubt that the Safe Minds media release colours the issue in Dorey’s favour and away from the cautious approach of scientific inquiry.

Just how unreliable is this source from our self appointed vaccine expert? Back on June 7th, 2011 I wrote a piece called The “Groundbreaking” Vaccine-Autism Investigation Release of May 10th 2011. It addresses this caper which can only be described as an insult to her audience.

I focused primarily on the pseudoscience and demonstrably false fear mongering cobbled together under the auspices of “research scholar” Mary Holland. Mary is a vaccine-autism profiteer and co-author of Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed Biased Science and Coercive Government Threaten Our Human rights, Our Health and Our Children.

I also exposed Meryl Dorey’s stupendous deception a full week later on 102.9 KOFM that “hundreds perhaps thousands of families” had been compensated because their children “have become autistic after vaccination”. That it was “a fact” that vaccines cause autism.

There had been ample media prodding in the lead up to May 10th with the word “groundbreaking” popping up quite a lot. The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) had been “quietly” and “secretly” working in the shadows it seemed “paying off” vaccine injured children with autism. On May 10th itself, Meryl Dorey claimed:

You cannot hold the truth back forever. And when that dam breaks, the flood will wash away those who have suppressed these facts to the detriment of our kids. It is time for the piper to be paid.

Oh my!

The “groundbreaking investigation” turned out to be an enormous flop. As promised at high noon on Tuesday May 10th 2011 Holland’s team assembled on the steps of the US Court of Claims at 717 Madison Place in Washington DC. They were presenting a paper of sorts, Unanswered Questions from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: A review of compensated cases of vaccine induced brain injury. By the end of the lengthy live press statement, the caper had been largely dismissed and debunked as wordplay.

As you can read in the post linked above, certain media outlets were contacted by Pace Law School students, using the Pace Law School name. This was of course, news to Pace Law Administration. From Lisa Jo Rudy writing for [bold mine]:

I just heard from a representative from the Public Relations department at Pace University School of Law. She wondered why a press release cited in my earlier blog would say that members of their law school had been involved with the investigation into and presentation of “Unanswered Questions From the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: A Review of Compensated Cases of Vaccine-Induced Brain Injury,” when there was no such involvement in either the investigation or the presentation.

I did respond to Danielle Orsino, who sent out the press release, asking the question:
Were there cases in which the vaccine court awarded a settlement for damage that manifested itself as the symptoms of an autism spectrum disorder? Was the term “autism” ever used to describe the outcome of vaccine damage (eg, “the child suffered from neurological damage resulting in autism”)?
Danielle responded quickly, saying “The study strongly suggests a link between autism and vaccines. The study found that of those who had been compensated for brain damage due to vaccines, a much-higher-than-average number also had autism. The study makes an extremely strong case for the vaccine-autism connection, which is why the study’s authors are urging Congress to investigate the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.”
This response seems to suggest that the simple answer to my question is “no”.

I wrote at the time, Reading the document reveals ample use of terms such as “settled cases suggesting autism”, “language that strongly suggests autistic features”, “published decisions that used terms related to autism”, “payment of vaccine injured children with autism”, and not – as Seth Mnookin pointed out – “because of their autism”. More so, the authors spend some time arguing why there should be no distinction between autism and autism-like symptoms. This is a major concession they award themselves. The paper includes caregiver opinion, parental opinion, phrases from doctors who gave evidence at hearings and provides a case table of “Language suggesting autism or autistic-like symptoms”.

It further emerged that only 21 cases came from the VICP case files. 62 were gathered by phone calls and social communication questionnaires with other compensated families. It went as far as referencing The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine and a Manmade Epidemic [2010] by Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill. There was no ethics approval, and no independent evaluation. Many were children with autism who received a vaccination and reacted. Others were children with mitochondrial enzyme disorders known to lead to encephalopathy. Most were genuine cases of encephalopathy following vaccination at the rate of about 1 in 1 million. That’s up to 1,000 times less than measles induced encephalopathy.

For our purposes, we need to note that Meryl Dorey was claiming “possibly thousands” of compensation cases when only 21 already dismissed cases could be found. Then before heading to Woodford Meryl spoke to Helen on 3CR and, whilst now aware of the sample size, still falsely claimed:

Um, autism is I believe, related very strongly to vaccination… and in the United States they’ve actually paid compensation to at least 83 families who children became autistic after vaccination whilst claiming that vaccines can’t cause autism.

Meryl’s other slide – number 17 – can be dismissed instantly. Her claim on that slide is that diagnoses are rising. This has nothing to do with vaccination and everything to do with diagnostic technique. Her cited South Korean study sampled students in mainstream schools managing 12 hour days six days per week. This is indicative of how wide the spectrum is. The autism rate in Australia is officially 1 in 160. In the UK and USA it is 1 in 100 – 1%. Some research suggests 1% in Australia also.

There are five reasons posed for the rise in autism. None mention vaccination.

  • The actual frequency of autism may have increased, meaning more children have it
  • There is increased case reporting, leading to greater findings, better use of funding and hightened awareness
  • Changes in the DSM-III-R and DSM-IV diagnostic criteria may account for more cases
  • Earlier diagnoses have essentially added a new younger demographic to the the existing demographic of children – ie; it spans more years
  • When we examine rising autism figures we find a corresponding drop in other types of mental disability and retardation, meaning they are now within the autism spectrum

Research using modern diagnostic criteria on adults also finds a 1% rate in adults, suggesting changes in mode of diagnosis play a huge role in perceived “epidemics”. In Brugha’s survey [ doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.38] he found not one adult diagnosed with autism knew they had the condition. This tells us the criteria to diagnose them a generation ago did not exist.

All up it seems Meryl Dorey has a lot of explaining to do. Debunked scams, fraud, a useless “association” and unverified musings. It’s nice to know some things remain predictable.

For Aussies, the news remains good. Vaccines do not cause autism.