AUTHOR’S RESEARCH FOR THIS BOOK:
It was in 1972 that I first heard the word autism. No one knew much about it, and there was no cure. Diagnosis was difficult to get and prognosis was bad news. Later, in 1980, I heard this word again during a psychology documentary at York University, but the theories of childhood schizophrenia and “cold mothers” causation were still in circulation, and in fact, this was the conclusion of the film. Actually, my observation as a journalist and one who was living closely to this disorder told me neither of these theories was true. I thought that the attempt at blaming autism on “cold mothers” was very generalized and irresponsible as there was no empirical evidence. The mothers I had seen were very hand-on mothers who were loving and devoted to their children. Further, believing this prevented further investigation into causation, and this was unfortunate as autism was steadily increasing. I thought too, of the many times faculty members would warn students about making “sweeping generalities” without any empirical evidence, and where autism was concerned this was happening—no one was questioning it. Also, the rise in autism signaled that an investigation was needed—and the government should realize that indeed autism was not a micro problem but a macro issue.
Conversely, the computer became a friend of autism as data were being compiled. In 1997, while researching teratogens such as lead and alcohol on children, I began to see a correlation between environmental toxins and childhood learning and developmental disorders. Yet, correlation does not mean causation and so I continued my research. Intriguingly, a printout that I received from California through York University’s database on March 27, 1981 had an interesting report on agent orange (dioxin) that was sprayed in Base Gagetown in the town of Oromocto, New Brunswick. What literally grabbed my attention was the fact that this defoliant, which was created for the Vietnam war effort so that the foliage would be destroyed and the soldiers could see the Viet Gong guerillas, was sprayed experimentally in 1966 and 1967 the years of my case history’s gestation and birth.—coincidence or causation? I filed the report in my mind and in my files. I wrote letters to microbiologists—but no one listened.
Fast forward to the year 2005, and the media is now saturated with news on autism and autism spectrum disorder. Indeed, autism has reached pandemic proportion—and it is still rising. The present ratio of one in 165 Canadians, and one in 150 Americans can no longer be ignored. Naturally, my research took on more impetus and I decided to publish my findings throughout thirty-five years in this book, Autism: The Teratogen Fallout with the hope that others will move on from here especially as other theories on autism causation have been exhausted.
Autism: The Teratogen Fallout is in two parts. Part one is an academic research study that includes evidence in pictures and documents that have never been published; and Part II tells the story of how one family has been affected by this 20th Century phenomenon—autism.