Sunday, June 1, 2008

Autism News Articles May 24-31 2008

Autism News Articles
Alliance for families with autism
May 22nd – May 31st 2008

to read archived mail

we endeavour to post messages relevant to Ontario and Canada but also we post mail about our American partners from time to time

From a listmate
Click the oac website for video
Alex Barton, is a five-year-old boy in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Wendy Portillo, Alex’s kindergarten teacher recently humiliated him by have the other students in the class take turns telling Alex “what they don’t like about him.” She followed this up by having the students vote on whether Alex should stay in the class or not. Alex was kicked out, by a 14-2 margin.
The OAC’s Laura Kirby-McIntosh created an online petition to have Wendy Portillo fired,


AWARES Conference

Just to let you know that there has been a slight change in the date of the Awares online seminar with Phil Christie. This event will now open at 12.01am British time on Thursday, June 5, 2008, and not June 6. However, I will almost certainly be extending the seminar for a second day, until June 6, in any case to allow as many people as possible to take part.

Just a reminder that Phil Christie is a leading British educationalist in the field of autism. He is presenting a paper on early education at the seminar but is happy to answer questions about many different aspects of educating autistic individuals.

Phil is Director of Sutherland House Children's Services, part of NORSACA (a regional autism charity). This includes retaining an advisory and strategic role for Sutherland House School, of which he was Principal for more than 20 years. Sutherland House is a non-maintained special school for 84 pupils and students with autism between the ages of 3 and 19. The school has recently been awarded specialist status and was judged to be outstanding by OFSTED in 2007.

Phil is closely involved with the diagnosis of children with disorders of communication and development at the Elizabeth Newson Centre, where he leads a team of Consultant Child Psychologists. The centre has a particular specialism in Pathological Demand Avoidance syndrome, a condition first described by Elizabeth Newson and increasingly being recognised as a sub-group within the autism spectrum.

The centre carries out a range of other activities such as training and research, which included an action research project on early diagnosis and intervention with 2-3 year olds with autism. This project refined an approach known as 'Frameworks for Communication', which prompted the development of the Early Communication and Autism Partnership, a multi-agency service in Nottinghamshire.

For a number of years, Phil was a team leader on the Autism Services Accreditation Programme, reviewing the quality of services for children with autism throughout the UK. He was one of the two the founding Chairs of the Confederation for Service Providers for People with Autism and held this position in the school's section from 1990-95. Phil is an Associate Editor of 'Good Autism Practice' and previously undertook the same role for 'Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice'. Phil has been involved in training sessions and presentations on a range of topics related to autism across the UK and also in South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Holland, Finland, Belgium and Greece.

The seminar will open at 12.01am British time on June5, 2008, to allow delegates from overseas to enter their questions. Phil will be available to respond to questions from 1pm GMT on June 5 and the seminar will run until 11.59pm GMT that day.

Don't miss this unprecedented opportunity to put your questions to Phil Christie on June 5, 2008.

You can register right now for this exciting event at

Best wishes,

Adam Feinstein

from taline


Dear Friends and Fellow Members in the Autism Community,

We are writing to give you a brief update on the ongoing Autism Class Action Lawsuit, in which five families are fighting the Ontario government and school boards for full and timely access to effective treatment and education for children with autism province-wide.

On the afternoon of Friday, May 23, the Court of Appeal for Ontario released its decision on its February 11, 2008 hearing in the case. This complex decision was a mixed one for us. The court rejected some of our arguments and allowed that others could be resubmitted in a modified form, should we choose to continue the case. We have 60 days within which to decide whether or not to appeal the decision.

The families and our legal counsel are now in the process of reviewing the decision in order to determine our best course of action at this point. As we’re sure you can appreciate, there isn't much we can say about our internal discussions on our legal position while these discussions are ongoing.

This said, we want to be clear that our belief in the class action and in the justness of the cause we are fighting for remains firm. The current situation, in which parents face the impossible choice between an unresponsive school system and hugely expensive segregated private therapy programs, must not continue.

We're grateful for the interest and support we've received from the public and media to date, and look forward to keeping you posted as events continue to unfold.

The Plaintiffs in the Autism Class Action Lawsuit

From North Bay Autism Ontario

See attached

After three years of waiting, 10-year-old Shane Manuel has a dog of his very own, a two-year-old golden retriever name Cordy.
"He's part of him now, already," said his mother, Marsha.
For any boy, this would be an exciting time, but for the Manuels' this dog is particularly important. Their son Shane has severe autism.
When Shane was seven his parents, Marsha and Marcel applied to the National Service Dogs in Cambridge Ontario, the only organization in Canada to specifically train dogs for autism.
The dogs are trained to protect the child as well as keep them calm. They also provide companionship.
Two weeks ago, they brought home Cordy. Trainer Janine Walters came to the Manuels' place to give them some pointers last week, but she said they are already doing well.
"While some [autistic children] will touch the dog right away, others don't even want to be in the same room with the animal," said Walters.
Marsha said Shane is petting the dog and even sleeps with it at night.
The benefits
But the thing that has impressed Marsha the most is how quickly her family's quality of life has changed.
One thing Marsha always wanted to do with her family is take a walk at French Fort Cove.
"He did really good. Normally when we go we are either pushing Shane in a stroller or his dad's giving him a piggy back ride. This time he walked with the family."
The reason was Cordy. It's the dog's job to keep Shane safe and stop him from bolting from his parents.
Shane wears a belt around his waist that attaches to the dog's jacket.
"When the child tries to run and bolt or wander off or run in to traffic, then the parent can command the dog to stay. The dog will stay as long as the child tugs and until the parent can get the child back and get them walking again," said Walters.
Marsha says what regular people take for granted they are now going to be able to do as a family.
"Most families when we meet them, they've given up on family vacations and eating out at restaurants, because its too chaotic," explained Walters.
Things are already changing for the Manuels.
"On Thursday night it was Shane's first night with me in a Tim Hortons. Instead of going through the drive thru we went in and ordered a donut and sat down. And Shane didn't fuss and Cordy was licking his fingers."
Another change Walters expects the family to see is the public's reaction to their son.
"Part of the benefit of a dog is that autism is not something you would immediately recognize," she said. "You look at these children and you think they look like any other child. So when your out in public and you have a child at 12 and 13 who is getting agitated people get annoyed or they make rude comments to parents. ‘Get your child under control,'."
But when a dog in a vest is in the picture, she says it gives the public a chance to realize their is something else going on and are less likely to be rude.
"A lot of parents have said later on that that's something they like."
Walters says the key to a good service dog is to have one who can stay relaxed in chaotic circumstances.
"They are put in a volunteer homes as puppies and taken out in all kinds of situations, groceries stores, doctors offices, baseball games, to get them socialized."
At a year and a half they go back to the advanced training program and spend four to six months with National Service Dogs.
"For the autism, we train them for the safety of the child."
But Marsha and Marcel were trained too.
"They taught us how to handle him in public places like in parks, with other dogs coming at us, squirrels, ducks, geese...stopping at lights and with lots of people around."
Right now Shane's parents are the only ones who handle the dog because the dog is still young and could become confused by too many people giving out orders.
As Shane becomes more bonded and comfortable with Cordy a third person can then be introduced as a leader. For Cordy, this would be Shane's teacher assistant at school.
Even the Manuel's other two sons Noah and Jacob will not even be able to handle Cordy.
Walters explained a dog is more likely to go to someone who is more animated. So they have to make sure he bonds with Shane before spending time with the other boys.
Matching families
Still, it is important to take the entire family into account when deciding which child will get which dog.
"Do they live in the city or country, how many kids do they have, what kind famly activities they like to do. There's lots to consider," said Walters.
A home interview was done before Marcel and Marsha travelled to Ontario for their four days of intensive training. The couple were given time with several dogs.
"The parent handles every dog. Our matches aren't set. This is different than most organizations, but we wanted to make sure there would be a connection."
"But we had an idea we liked Cordy for the family."
Walters remained mum on how exactly they choose a dog for a family, but she did say Cordy was very calm and patient which worked for this particular family.
Community awareness
As the Manuel's get used to this new member of their family, they want everyone else to get used to seeing the dog too.
"It would be better for Cordy and all of us for the public to know that there is a National Service Dog here," said Marcel. "People are all used to blind dogs. But we haven't had an actual service dog around here. When we go to malls and restaurants we don't want to be refused at the door."
One incident has already arisen in which a store employee did not want to let the dog in.
"Its stressful on the dog, and the parents trying to expain," said Marsha.
At the same time they say they do want people to come over and talk to them and greet the dog and talk to Shane.
"That would be better for everybody. Because this is all new. Cordy is a part of who Shane is now. And whether its autism, or he can't see or he's in a wheel chair, he shouldn't have to explain his condition to anybody or be refused to enter because he has a dog with him and people don't understand."
Walters told the family it is a legal matter. Stores have to let the dog in with Shane. She thinks it will just take a little getting used to for people.
"Sometimes people don't see the jacket, they just see the head or the tail."
But even with the little hiccups along the way, Marcel and Marsha say it is nothing compared to the benefits for their son.
"To have the dog with him is a comfort zone for him. He can be with someone he feels is a true friend," said Marcel.
"He won't be able to bolt, and I honestly don't think he's going to want to," added Marsha. "[It's] because he's going to be petting his dog. He's going to be with his best friend and we're going to relax."
From the OAC
Please distribute far and wide!

All story headings begin with three asterisks (***) so you can use your
find function to jump ahead...

1. Voting an Aspie off the Kindergarten Island

2. MCYS spring 2008 newsletter

***Voting an Aspie off the Kindergarten Island

We've always kept the focus of these mailings on issues in Ontario. I'm
departing from that policy because this story is so offensive that
neither Laura nor I could sit still.

The short version is that a Kindergarten teacher in Port St. Lucie
Florida allowed the class to "vote out" a five-year-old boy who has
Asperger's Syndrome.

I know there's always more than one side to the story. I know you never
get the whole thing through the media. In this case, however, I think
I've really heard enough:

And now, I suggest you weigh in here:

***MCYS spring 2008 newsletter

For those of you who haven't already read the ministry autism
newsletter for spring 2008, you can find it at this link:


Community Partners for ASD is sponsoring the Geneva Centre to present Level 1 and Level 2 of the Autism Intervener Course in North Bay. The details are included – below information/registration forms.
Thanks for your support
See below

Participants will gain a thorough understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and an overview of current intervention techniques. Content will include diagnostic characteristics, current theories regarding causation, neuro-biological research, learning styles, communication needs, sensory processing and accommodations, behavioural considerations, anxiety and relaxation techniques, social skills difficulties and Asperger’s Syndrome. Intervention strategies for all areas will be discussed.
Participants will be required to write a post- test as part of the final session. There will be assignments throughout the course. This course is designed for individuals who currently support someone with ASD. The assignments are practical in nature and it is essential to have real examples to use when writing them.
Upon successful completion of assignments and the post-test, combined with regular attendance, participants will receive a certificate indicating that they have received Autism Intervener Certificate – Level 1 from the Geneva Centre for Autism.
Presenter: Suzanne Murphy, Resource Consultant Training Institute Geneva Centre for Autism
Location: St. Joseph’s Motherhouse
2025 Main Street West, North Bay
Dates: Four day course, 9:00 til 3:00 each day:
Wednesday August 13th
Thursday August 14th
Monday August 25th
Tuesday August 26th
Fee: $400.00 (Non-refundable)
Cheque payable to Community Partners for ASD
Forward registration and payment to:
M. Kelly 62 Shallot Crescent, North Bay Ontario P1A 3X3
For further information or Kelly (705) 475-0598
Registration August 2008
Autism Intervener Certificate Training Program Level 1




Phone:________________________ E-Mail:________________________________


Using the Principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis to Understand Behaviour and Teach New Skills


Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is an effective, evidence-based approach that provides a framework for understanding and changing behaviour and for teaching new skills. The principles of ABA are applicable to all people but have proven to be particularly beneficial for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
This course will build on the skills learned in the Autism Intervener Certificate Course – Level 1. Through article and video reviews, small and large group activities and discussions, practice, lecture and weekly assignments, participants will gain a thorough understanding of the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis as they relate to teaching new skills and behaviours. This course will provide an in-depth examination of task analysis, modeling, shaping, prompting, reinforcement and generalization. In addition, participants will gain a fuller understanding of data collection including how to collect and review data as well as the role data plays in programming decisions.
*To register in this Level 2 course, participants must have received an AIC Level 1 Certificate from Geneva Centre for Autism and currently work or live with an individual with an ASD.*

Presenter: Suzanne Murphy, Resource Consultant Training Institute Geneva Centre for Autism
Location: Infant & Child Development Services
457 Main Street West, North Bay
Dates: Three day course, 9:00 til 3:00 each day:
Saturday, September 13th
Saturday, October 4th
Saturday, October 18th
Fee: $400.00 (Non-refundable)
Cheque payable to Community Partners for ASD
Forward registration and payment to:
Lindsay McLean, 945 Stockdale Road, North Bay, ON, P1B 9S5

For further information: or
Lindsay (705) 476-5437 ext. 3841
Registration September/October 2008
Autism Intervener Certificate Training Program Level 2




Phone:________________________ E-Mail:________________________________

Sudbury Ontario
Out of Home Respite – activities
Child care resources
The process

Children must be registered through Children’s Community Network(CCN) in order to have a referral made to the OHR program. Once a referral has been made, then I will contact parents/guardians to explain the program and provide information about
camps and outings. CCN can be contacted at 705-566-3416 and they are
located at 319 Lasalle Blvd. Children are not able to access the OHR
program while on the waitlist for an intake with a case manager at CCN.
Children must be referred to the program before participation can begin.
Parents/guardians must register children with me for both outings and
camps to ensure we are able to meet each child's needs, as well as
ensure adequate staffing. Also, camps and outings have limited number
of participants.

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.


Kerri Robichaud
Out of Home Respite Coordinator
Child Care Resources/Ressources sur la garde d'enfants
662 Falconbridge Rd.
Sudbury, ON
P3A 4S4
Tel: (705) 525-0055 ext./poste 2635
Fax: (705) 525-0068

See attached

Free autism videos

Concept Media is proud to announce the greatly anticipated arrival of Autism Spectrum Disorders (206), a three-part series on Autism.

Available in CD-ROM and DVD, the complete Autism Spectrum Disorders(206) Series explores the causes of the disorder, the signs and symptoms seen, tests performed confirm the diagnosis, and interventions used in its treatment. Each of the syndromes under the umbrella known as Autism Spectrum Disorders: Classic Autism, Asperger's Disorder; Rett's Disorder; Childhood Disintegrative Disorder; and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified are also described in detail in the following programs:
The Many Faces of Autism (206.1)
Autism: The Diagnostic Process (206.2)
Treating Individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (206.3)

To watch a quick trailer of the 3 Autism programs, please visit our YouTube page at

Or to preview the full programs online, please visit our website at: Concept Media

Autism Spectrum Disorders (206) Series is an excellent resource for physicians, nurses, developmental specialists, therapists, early childhood educators and teachers.

Please call me today at (800) 233-7078 ext. 17 to obtain this series at 25% OFF!

Best Regards,

Tim Clarke
Account Executive
Concept Media
2493 Du Bridge, Ave
Irvine, CA 92606 • Concept Media


From Taline.

CITATION: Sagharian v. Ontario (Education), 2008 ONCA 411
DATE: 20080523
DOCKET: C47003
CHRISTOPHER SAGHARIAN, a minor by his Litigation Guardian, Taline Sagharian, ANDREW CESARIO, a minor by his Litigation Guardian, Patricia Cesario, JOSHUA MARTINI, a minor by his Litigation Guardian, Anna Martini, NOAH MARTINI, a minor by his Litigation Guardian, Anna Martini, BRANDON ROBINSON, a minor by his Litigation Guardian, Karen Robinson, ADAM SHANE by his Litigation Guardian, Lynn Shane, TALINE SAGHARIAN and HAROUT SAGHARIAN, PATRICIA CESARIO AND PASQUALE CESARIO, ANNA MARTINI and UMBERTO MARTINI, KAREN ROBINSON and LESTER ROBINSON, LYNN SHANE and DAVID SHANE
Plaintiffs (Appellants/Respondents on Cross-Appeal)
Defendant (Respondent/Appellant on Cross-Appeal)
Defendants (Respondents/Appellants on Cross-Appeal)
David Baker and Faisal Bhabha for the appellants/respondents by cross-appeal
Robert E. Charney, Sophie Nunnelley and Bruce Ellis for the respondent/appellant by cross-appeal, Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario
Michael J. Peerless for the respondents/appellant by cross-appeal, York Region District School Board, York Catholic District School Board, Peel District School Board, Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, Toronto District School Board, Toronto Catholic District School Board, and Durham District School Board
Heard: February 11, 2008
On appeal from the order of Justice Maurice Cullity of the Superior Court of Justice dated March 12, 2007.
[1] This is an appeal from a pleadings motion to strike the appellants’ statement of claim in a proposed class proceeding that challenges the provision of autism and education services to children with autism. The appellants (respondents in the cross-appeal) initiated the claim on behalf of all children with autism in Ontario and their parents and guardians. The respondents (appellants in the cross-appeal) are Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario ( Ontario) and seven named school boards (the school boards).
[2] The motion judge, Cullity J., struck a number of the appellants’ causes of action. The appeal relates only to the striking of the claims for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of s. 7, and the claim for Charter damages. The appellants also argue that their claims against the school boards should not have been struck because the school boards only sought to strike certain paragraphs in the statement of claim and not the claims against them in their entirety. Ontario cross-appeals the motion judge’s refusal to strike the s. 15(1) Charter claims.
[3] The appellants do not appeal the striking of their claim, with leave to amend, regarding “the arbitrary age for the commencement of receiving educational services and the under-inclusiveness of pre-school education for children with disabilities”, which was struck because they lacked sufficient clarity and precision.
[4] For the reasons that follow, I would allow the appeal in part. I would strike the appellants’ age-based discrimination claim. While I agree with the motion judge that certain aspects of the s. 15(1) claim based on disability discrimination may be sustainable in law, at least at the pleadings stage, those aspects of the statement of claim do not currently constitute a concise pleading as required by rule 25.06 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 194. Accordingly, I would strike the disability discrimination claim with leave to amend. I would grant the appellants leave to amend their negligence claim against the school boards regarding operational aspects of the programs. Finally, I would grant the appellants leave to amend their claim for Charter damages based on alleged negligent Charter breaches. I would otherwise dismiss both the appeal and cross-appeal.
[5] Three acronyms are used to describe autism-directed services. Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), which is the broadest of the terms, is an autism treatment based on behaviour modification. It includes Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI). The Intensive Early Intervention Program (IEIP) is a program that reflects IBI treatment, but it is specifically designed by Ontario for two to five-year-old children. While the appellants’ statement of claim addresses the IEIP, it also refers to ABA and IBI. This makes it difficult to know what the appellants are actually seeking.
[6] The task faced by the motion judge was further complicated by the content and structure of the appellants’ statement of claim. In part, the motion judge attributed the difficulties with the pleading to its layered amendments, which attempted to respond to the release of decisions from this court such as Wynberg v. Ontario (2006), 82 O.R. (3d) 561, leave to appeal refused, [2006] S.C.C.A. No. 441, Eliopoulos v. Ontario (2006), 82 O.R. (3d) 321, leave to appeal refused, [2006] S.C.C.A. No. 514, and A.L. v. Ontario (2006), 83 O.R. (3d) 512, leave to appeal refused, [2007] S.C.C.A. No. 36. However, the motion judge accurately observed at para. 7 that the amended amended statement of claim amounted to an “attempt to simultaneously bombard all targets from all angles with every available piece of ammunition”. The problem is exacerbated on appeal because the appellants advised that they would further amend the pleading to delete all paragraphs relevant to the public misfeasance claim that was struck by the motion judge. Since they have not yet done so, it continues to be difficult to correlate the appellants’ allegations of fact with their proposed causes of action. This was, and remains, a major problem affecting any determination of the viability of the appellants’ claims.
[7] However, the appellants’ claims appear to focus on alleged deficiencies in the respondents’ provision of services for school-age children with autism, including the provision of, or denial of, ABA by Ontario and, in particular, the respondents refusal to provide ABA in public schools. The appellants do not define with any clarity what they mean by ABA. They argue that a refusal to provide the appellants with ABA in public schools amounts to a “policy of mutual exclusivity”, which they say means that the representative children, who are eligible for both the IEIP and public education, are not being accommodated in a manner that allows them to take advantage of their entitlement to public education. The appellants also challenge the historical restriction of the IEIP to children under age six, although that age restriction was lifted in 2005. They also challenge the IEIP’s limited budget and its waiting list.
[8] The motion judge’s decision, striking out some claims and allowing others to proceed, primarily rested on his interpretation of Wynberg. In that case, this court dismissed an action brought by other parents of children with autism. The action against Ontario included a claim of age-based discrimination on the basis that the IEIP was not provided to children aged six and over, in public school or otherwise, even though it was provided to the comparator group of younger children two to five years of age. It also included a disability discrimination claim under s. 15(1) of the Charter based on the argument that Ontario failed to provide a special education program or service consistent with the IEIP contrary to s. 8(3) of the Education Act. Thus, the issue in Wynberg was whether any differential treatment constituted discrimination on the basis of age and disability in violation of the Charter. This court allowed an appeal from the trial judge’s decision and dismissed the Wynberg claim in its entirety.
[9] In doing so, the decision in Wynberg concluded that the IEIP could not be harmonized with the public education system. It observed that “important features of the IEIP” - such as the number of hours required, the segregated settings, the variety of delivery sites, and the range of skilled personnel needed - did not suit the school environment (paras. 59, 76, 123-126). It also concluded that the evidence did not support a finding that the IEIP was the only appropriate program for students with autism or a finding that appropriate programs had been made available to comparable groups of students with other disabilities (paras. 128-144). Moreover, the court determined that the IEIP program for younger children was a targeted ameliorative program that did not demean the human dignity of the older children. Consequently, this court concluded that a s. 15(1) breach had not been proven and dismissed the claim.
[10] The question before the motion judge was whether the decision in Wynberg disposed of the issues advanced by the appellants in their proposed class proceeding.
[11] With this context in mind, I will deal with each of the issues raised in the appeal and cross-appeal.
Section 15(1)
[12] The s. 15(1) equality claim was the primary focus of oral argument on appeal. The two challenged bases of the claim related to discrimination on the basis of age and discrimination on the basis of disability.
[13] Ontario argues that the motion judge erred in failing to strike the appellants’ s. 15(1) claims, primarily because they cannot be distinguished from the s. 15(1) claims struck in Wynberg.
(a) Age-based discrimination
[14] In Wynberg, this court determined that the government did not violate the s. 15(1) rights of children with autism on the basis of the age limit for the IEIP. It concluded that, while there was differential treatment of children with autism aged six and over, the evidence did not support a finding that this constituted discrimination (paras. 35-80). In any event, based on evidence about the age-targeted nature of the IEIP and the allocation of scarce resources, this court held that the age cut-off was a reasonable limit under s. 1 of the Charter (paras. 147-190).
[15] In this case, the motion judge determined that the appellants pled sufficiently different facts to support a s. 15(1) infringement on the basis of age discrimination. I do not agree. In my view, for the reasons that follow, the application of the principle of stare decisis precludes the appellants’ age discrimination claim.[1]
[16] The motion judge understood the thrust of the appellants’ submission to be that the Wynberg decision was based on findings of fact “inconsistent with the facts that have been pleaded in this case.” In particular, the decision in Wynberg was premised on evidence that younger children were best able to benefit from the IEIP and that the intensive nature of the IEIP did “not fit well” for older children in full-time attendance at school. The appellants argued, however, that the factual allegations in their pleadings, if proven, could satisfy the four contextual factors identified in Law v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration), [1999] 1 S.C.R. 497 even if the proven facts in Wynberg could not. Specifically, the appellants argued that their pleading alleges pre-existing vulnerability and stereotyping of older children with autism by the perception that those children could not benefit from ABA; that the denial of publicly-funded ABA to older children does not correspond to any distinction in their needs; that the nature of the IEIP for younger children could not be considered ameliorative because it was based on a misconception about the older children’s ability to benefit from ABA, and the denial of ABA would deprive the older children of skills they need for full membership in the community.
[17] The problem is that these arguments were all finally disposed of by Wynberg, which concluded that the IEIP for younger children with autism did not discriminate on the basis of age. Specifically, the court in Wynberg concluded that all children with autism suffer disadvantage from stereotyping, but that stereotyping was based on the characteristic of their autism, rather than on the age of the children. Thus, the failure to implement the IEIP in schools did not reinforce age-based discrimination. Rather, the IEIP was an ameliorative program designed to meet the specific needs of the younger children in a manner that did not demean the older children. Wynberg also determined that the intensive nature of the IEIP program could not fit with full-time attendance at school.
[18] In my view, the appellants in this case cannot challenge the result in Wynberg by simply pleading that an undefined form of ABA, as a subset of IEIP, is feasible for children in full-time school. This imprecise nuance is insufficient to overcome the binding decision in Wynberg, which was released less than a year before the motion judge’s decision in this case.
[19] Moreover, there was no “evidentiary gap” in Wynberg relevant to the finding regarding age-discrimination. In addition, the appellants plead no new facts in this action that were not before the court in Wynberg. The additional “new” facts identified by the motion judge are really conclusions of fact, the same ones that were already rejected in Wynberg. For example, while the court in Wynberg held that autistic children aged six and over have not been subject to historical disadvantage and stereotyping on account of their age, the appellants simply plead that children over six have been subject to such historical disadvantage, without providing any supporting facts. Accordingly, the appellants are asking for a different conclusion based on the same facts that were before the court in Wynberg. The conclusions that were rejected in Wynberg, and that the appellants seek to prove in this case, are based on social and legislative fact evidence, not on facts relevant to the particular parties before the court. The appellants’ claim that they will call different evidence does not amount to the compelling circumstances necessary to revisit the issue and depart from the principle of stare decisis.
[20] In any event, Wynberg also held that any s. 15(1) age discrimination was justified under s. 1. There is nothing in the statement of claim that would change this legal conclusion. Finally, the age limit was removed in 2005, as pleaded in the statement of claim, making the age-limit discrimination issue moot.
[21] For these reasons, in my view, the age-discrimination claim has no chance of success and should have been struck from the appellants’ pleading in its entirety without leave to amend.
(b) Disability discrimination
[22] The motion judge found that the statement of claim alleged a s. 15(1) breach by the respondents based on their failure to provide children with autism aged six and over with special education programs and services appropriate to their needs when such programs or services are provided to children with other disabilities and a failure to permit children with autism to receive ABA treatment in publicly funded schools. On these claims, the motion judge correctly recognized that, absent different factual allegations, the Wynberg determination that a s. 15(1) disability discrimination claim had not been established was binding. However, the motion judge concluded that the allegations by the appellants in this case were substantially different from those in Wynberg. In this case, the appellants pled that the representative children were entitled to a harmonized form of ABA and education in the public school system. They pled, or could plead, that a form of ABA, not amounting to the IEIP, could be available for this purpose and that the respondents have developed analogous programs for children in the comparator group of children with communication difficulties.
[23] In addition and importantly, the appellants base their equality claim on a duty to accommodate, rather than on the Wynberg basis that the respondents breached their statutory duty to provide the IEIP to school-age children. As well, the appellants’ argument is not about eligibility for the IEIP, as was the case in Wynberg because, in this case, the representative children are already IEIP-eligible. Accordingly, the appellants argue that this case is not about the denial of the IEIP, but about the denial by Ontario and the school boards to accommodate simultaneous access to both ABA and public education. In addition, this case is different from Wynberg because the school boards are parties; they were not in Wynberg. On this basis, the motion judge concluded, at this early pleadings stage, that the claims in this case are different from and require a different analysis than in Wynberg.
[24] In my view, the motion judge read the appellants’ statement of claim extremely generously; it is far from clear that the appellants can plead a disability claim that is compellingly different from that already determined in Wynberg.
[25] However, it is possible that the appellants can plead a claim based upon the respondents’ duty to accommodate and a denial of that duty. That denial would be based on the comparator group of other children with disabilities in the communication category, including children who are deaf, blind or deaf/blind. Wynberg specifically found an evidentiary gap regarding the availability of accommodation to the comparator group.
[26] To succeed in creating a viable claim, the appellants would have to plead that the claimed and defined benefit is an appropriate accommodation and that it could be delivered in the public school system. It would be necessary to demonstrate that children with autism do not receive appropriate accommodation for their education and that the claimed benefit is an appropriate accommodation for school-age children with autism. See Wynberg, paras. 122-137. In addition, the appellants must prove that the comparator group does receive appropriate accommodation that is available to all members of the group. It may be that the appellants can plead, for example, that all persons in the comparator group have a process available to determine their accommodation, while the appellants do not have such a process available because the respondents have effectively denied them the benefit they are seeking.
[27] This leads to Ontario’s argument that the appellants’ disability discrimination claim must be struck because the “benefit” they are claiming is not pleaded with the necessary precision. Ontario relies on para. 127 from Wynberg, which commented on the importance of precision:
It may be that, with changes, intensive behavioural intervention using a number of elements of the IEIP could be provided within the public school system. However that possibility presents a moving target and would depart from both the benefit claimed and the trial judge's order. Precision is important if the comparative analysis required by s. 15(1) is to be properly carried out. It is the benefit as claimed and ordered that we must evaluate.
[28] While this extract could be read as an observation regarding the plaintiffs’ change in position about the proposed benefit from that initially claimed and set out in the trial judge’s order, it is nevertheless essential that the appellants plead the benefit with precision. The absence of precision will be fatal to the appellants’ claim.
[29] Here, the appellants have variously described the benefit as ABA, or some form of ABA, access to IBI, appropriate educational services or by ill-defined expressions such as, education services from which they can benefit to the same extent as can children without disabilities. This language not only lacks the necessary precision to allow the respondents to craft a defence, it is inadequate for the purposes of defining the remedy sought.
[30] In my view, the pleadings in this case require substantial redrafting if they are to meet the requirements for pleading generally, and particularly for a constitutional remedy. Otherwise the appellants are unlikely to avoid the conclusion that their cause of action is precluded on the basis of stare decisis in light of this court’s decision in Wynberg. Accordingly, I would strike the entirety of the appellants’ s. 15(1) claim, with leave to amend. In this manner, once the appellants have concisely delineated their claims, the respondents will be in a position to respond to the allegations of fact relevant to the causes of action that have been allowed to proceed and can bring any appropriate motions.
Section 1
[31] If the appellants are able to successfully restructure their s. 15(1) discrimination claim, it may well also be necessary to restructure their s. 1 claim, which argues that the s. 15(1) breaches are not reasonable and justifiable limits within the context of a s. 1 analysis. The sufficiency of this aspect of the pleading can only be determined after the appellants amend their s. 15(1) claim. Accordingly, I would also strike the s. 1 claim, with leave to amend.
[32] The appellants claim damages on the basis that they were required to buy private autism services because the government did not make public services available. The motion judge correctly noted the principle that damages are not available in conjunction with a declaration of constitutional invalidity, absent improper purposes. This court in Wynberg affirmed that this principle is not limited to cases where a statute is declared unconstitutional; it also applies to other government action (para. 194). I would not give effect to the appellants’ argument distinguishing between government legislative action and government bureaucratic action. In any event, their statement of claim fails to articulate the bureaucratic conduct at issue.
[33] The appellants do not appeal the striking of their allegations of improper purpose, such as bad faith or an intention to harm, which were struck because they failed to particularize those allegations as required by rule 25.06(8). However, the appellants argue that damages may still be available for negligent breach of the Charter.
[34] A number of cases have referred to negligence by government as a potential basis for awarding Charter damages. In Guimond v. Quebec, [1996] 3 S.C.R. 347 at para. 17, Gonthier J. referred to the decision of the Divisional Court of Ontario in Crown Trust Co. v. The Queen in right of Ontario (1986), 54 O.R. (2d) 79. In that case, the Divisional Court held that no cause of action for Charter damages existed against governmental officials acting within their legislative authority, absent allegations of wrongful conduct, bad faith, negligence or collateral purpose. In Mackin v. New Brunswick, [2002] 1 S.C.R. 405 at para. 82, the majority of the Supreme Court held that the respondents were not entitled to damages merely because the enactment of the legislation at issue was unconstitutional, finding no evidence that the government acted negligently, abusively, or in bad faith. Finally, in Wynberg, this court held at para. 202 that “[a]bsent bad faith, abuse of power, negligence or willful blindness in respect of its constitutional obligations, damages are not available as a remedy in conjunction with a declaration of unconstitutionality.” [Emphasis added.]
[35] In addition, in Euteneier v. Lee (2005), 77 O.R. (3d) 621 ( C.A. ), leave to appeal refused, [2005] S.C.C.A. No. 516, this court commented that there may be instances where remedial compensation is available under s. 24(1) of the Charter even though a claim in tort negligence has been dismissed.
[36] It follows that striking the appellants’ negligence claim in tort does not necessarily mean that a claim for damages for negligent breach of the Charter has no chance of success. Since it is not plain and obvious that the allegation of a negligent Charter breach cannot be pleaded in the appellants’ statement of claim, I would allow that claim to proceed. However, like the appellants’ s. 15(1) claim, the Charter damages claim is not pleaded with the necessary concision. It also requires amendment. I would strike that claim with leave to amend.
[37] I would add that, since the Supreme Court has set out the approach for determining whether damages can be claimed in conjunction with a declaration of constitutional invalidity, as discussed above, I reject the appellants’ submission that Charter damages should be available in order to achieve coherence with human rights legislation that does provide for damage claims.
[38] The parties agree that the government is exempt from liability in tort for negligence in making policy decisions. The motion judge struck the appellants’ negligence claim on the basis that the pleadings did not disclose that Ontario’s decision about the provision of ABA was anything other than a policy decision. I agree.
[39] Nonetheless, when a policy decision is implemented, a private law duty of care may arise regarding its operation: see Just v. British Columbia, [1989] 2 S.C.R. 1228. In attempting to characterize the government action here as operational, the appellants pled that both Ontario and the school boards “created, implemented and operated” a system that denied the benefits of free public education to children receiving ABA. As well, the appellants pled that Ontario and the school boards permitted “incompetent or insufficiently qualified” persons to design, implement and administer the programs and failed to adequately staff, administer and monitor the programs. The appellants also argued that the respondents’ failure to harmonize ABA and public education was an operational decision.
[40] In regard to the claim against Ontario, I agree with the motion judge’s conclusion that “[i]f decisions to provide ABA and other educational programs are policy decisions that do not give rise to a duty of care, a decision as to the appropriate harmonisation of such programs cannot, in my judgment, sensibly be characterised otherwise.” This issue was specifically addressed in Wynberg at para. 255, where this court dismissed similar claims as relating not to operational failures, but rather to “government decision-making about the scope of the IEIP and the services to be provided within the special education system”.
[41] I also agree with the motion judge’s assessment that the allegations against Ontario regarding staffing and monitoring of the programs relate to policy decisions and not operational decisions. As found in Wynberg, these challenges relate essentially to the scope of the programs, rather than to their operation.
[42] Accordingly, I agree with the motion judge that the negligence claim against Ontario must be struck without leave to amend.
[43] The appellants made similar allegations against the school boards. I agree with the motion judge that the pleadings as they stand do not delineate any separate operational decisions by the school boards. Therefore, the allegations against the school boards must fail for the same reason. However, bearing in mind that the school boards did not seek to strike this claim, I would give the appellants leave to amend their claim regarding operational decisions taken by the school boards. I would not rule at this stage that the appellants will be unable to fashion a pleading regarding school board negligence based on the operational aspects of the challenged programs.
Fiduciary Duty
[44] The appellants appeal the motion judge’s finding regarding alleged breaches of fiduciary duties by the respondents. The motion judge found that, even assuming the existence of a fiduciary relationship, any duties arising from the respondents’ discretionary powers are owed to the public at large and not to the appellants. In essence, the motion judge concluded that the appellants’ fiduciary duty claim, set out in four paragraphs of their statement of claim, failed for the same reason that the negligence claim failed - because the alleged acts and omissions stemmed from an immune policy decision regarding the programs at issue.
[45] On appeal, the appellants analogize the respondents’ relationship with these children to the circumstances in Authorson (Litigation Administrator of) v. Canada (2002), 58 O.R. (3d) 417 ( C.A. ), reversed on other grounds, [2003] 2 S.C.R. 40 (see also: Authorson (Litigation Administrator of) v. Canada (2007), 86 O.R. (3d) 321 ( C.A. )). Authorson was a class action on behalf of veterans whose pensions and allowances were administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. However, this is not a case where the respondents were charged with administering the appellants’ funds. Rather, it is a case about the allocation of general revenues for the education of children, all of whom are vulnerable and many of whom have disabilities analogous to those of the appellant children.
[46] Fiduciary relationships are marked by the following three characteristics:
i. The fiduciary is able to exercise some discretion or power;
ii. That power or discretion can be exercised unilaterally so as to affect the beneficiary's legal or practical interests; and,
iii. The beneficiary is particularly vulnerable to the exercise of that discretion or power.
See Frame v. Smith, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 99 at 136, Lac Minerals Ltd. v. International Corona Resources Ltd., [1989] 2 S.C.R. 574 at 599, and Hodgkinson v. Simms, [1994] 3 S.C.R. 377 at 408.
[47] Where the government has duties to multiple interests, the government is likely not in a fiduciary relationship, but rather is exercising a public authority governed by a relevant statute: see Guerin v. The Queen, [1984] 2 S.C.R. 335 at 385, Gorecki v. Canada (2006), 265 D.L.R. (4th) 206 at para. 6 (Ont. C.A. ). By contrast, the government may be in a fiduciary relationship where there is legislative instruction requiring the government to act in an individual’s interest, or where there is an assumption of responsibility on the part of the government: see the Authorson decisions.
[48] At paras. 256-257, the court in Wynberg examined the nature of the duties imposed under s. 7(1)(a) of the Child and Family Services Act, R.S.O. 1990 c. C.11 and s. 8(3) of the Education Act. The former provision provides the Minister of Community and Social Services with the discretion to establish the IEIP, whereas the latter provision sets out the scope of the Minister of Education’s responsibilities in relation to special education services. This court concluded that duties created by these sections are owed to the public as a whole, rather than to individual users.
[49] In my opinion, the alleged fiduciary duties that the appellants claim are owed to children with autism and their families (listed at para. 187 of their statement of claim) in fact relate to the statutory duties discussed in Wynberg. As the court in Wynberg concluded, these statutory duties are owed to the public as a whole and involve balancing multiple interests, including the allocation of limited public funds.
[50] The appellants have failed to delineate legal or practical interests that differentiate them from other vulnerable groups who also have claims for similar programs and services. I agree with the motion judge that the fiduciary duty claim against the respondents fails for essentially the same reasons as the negligence claim. The appellants have not pled any facts other than the appellant children’s vulnerability and Ontario’s policy decision to ground their claim for fiduciary duty. They have also not pled any facts to ground a separate claim against the school boards apart from their implementation of Ontario’s policy decision. Therefore, this ground of appeal cannot succeed.
Section 7
[51] The motion judge struck the appellants’ s. 7 claim. I reject the appellants’ arguments that both the waiting times for ABA and the alleged policy of mutual exclusivity infringe their s. 7 Charter rights to security of the person, their rights not to be subjected to arbitrary laws and their rights not to be subjected to discriminatory laws.
[52] The appellants plead that their rights to security of the person were infringed because wait lists and the alleged policy of mutual exclusivity created unreasonable obstacles hindering their use of ABA and educational services. The motion judge concluded that the court in Wynberg determined this issue when it held that the security of the person is affected only where an individual suffers a deprivation on account of government action. In Auton (Guardian ad litem of) v. British Columbia, [2004] 3 S.C.R. 657 at paras. 64-67, the Supreme Court of Canada also rejected a comparable argument that British Columbia’s refusal to fund any IBI services violated s. 7. Government action in not providing specific programs to the appellants cannot be said to deprive the appellants of constitutionally protected rights.
[53] The appellants argue that the motion judge also erred by characterizing their s. 7 claim as being about “access” to services, which was the claim advanced in Wynberg. They argue that their claim is different because it is about the “use” of services. This distinction is problematic for two reasons. First, the appellants did not plead any facts about “using” the services, but rather specifically pleaded that the wait lists constituted an obstacle “for access to the IEIP” and that other obstacles prevented children from “accessing” the services. Second, the distinction between the ability to use a service, as opposed to the ability to access the service, is not sufficiently delineated to distinguish the appellants’ claims from Wynberg.
[54] Regarding arbitrariness, the appellants argue that Ontario failed to provide a justifiable rationale for waiting lists and the alleged policy of mutual exclusivity. In Chaoulli v. Quebec, [2005] 1 S.C.R. 791 at para. 130, McLachlin C.J. and Major J. explained that a law is arbitrary where “it bears no relation to, or is inconsistent with, [its] objective”. Regardless of whether the wait lists or the alleged policy of mutual exclusivity qualify as “laws”, Wynberg determined that one of Ontario’s pressing and substantial objectives was to allocate limited resources in a manner that optimizes the benefits of autism treatment. Accordingly, limitations on the availability of autism programs cannot be said to bear no relation to Ontario’s objective.
[55] Finally, the appellants argue that wait lists and the alleged policy of mutual exclusivity amount to “discriminatory” laws because they offend the fundamental principle of equality. This point is addressed in R. v. Cornell, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 461 at 478, where the Supreme Court of Canada held that it would be redundant, in light of s. 15(1) of the Charter, to base equality claims on s. 7.
Claims against the school boards
[56] The appellants argue that the motion judge erred in striking claims against the school boards when that relief was not sought by the school boards except in terms of the standard basket provision asking the court for such relief as the court deems just. However, in my view, when the motion judge struck claims against Ontario, it was open to him to strike the identical claims against the school boards where there was nothing to distinguish the impugned actions of the boards from those of Ontario.
[57] In the result, I would dismiss the appeal, subject to varying the order below to strike the appellants’ age-based discrimination claim without leave to amend. I would also strike the s. 15(1) and s. 1 claims based on disability discrimination in their entirety with leave to amend. The claim for Charter damages based on government negligence should also be struck with leave to amend to plead concisely the basis for the remedy sought. I would also give the appellants leave to amend their claim in negligence against the school boards regarding the operation of the programs. The claims as amended may, of course, be subject to further challenge.
[58] I assume that, as below, the appropriate disposition is to make no order as to costs. If the parties take a different position, they may make brief written submissions within thirty days of the release of these reasons.
RELEASED: May 23, 2008
“S.E. Lang J.A.”
“I agree J. MacFarland J.A.”
“I agree Paul Rouleau J.A.”

Nancy morrison’s email list
We are less than 2 weeks away from the Autism Speaks Toronto Walk for Autism Research at Nathan Phillips Square. Teams are building daily - please pre-register so that your donors can make on line donations, and it will be a speedier registration time on Walk day.

We have a need for some more volunteers, specifically people to work in pairs along the parade route, so that everyone safely follows the route. We need about 20-30 more volunteers. This is a great opportunity for all our high school students who need to build on those community hours.

We also need some more volunteers who can stay back about 2 hours to help us with taking down all of the stuff we put up for the walk. Again, a great job for those high school students who want to build up their community hours!!!!

We will provide you with letters for your volunteer hours on walk day!! Please call the office to sign up to volunteer 1-888-362-6227

Here is the direct link to the Toronto Walk Page to register a team and walkers or to find a walker to make a donation:

And thank you to all of those that have made contributions to the Morrison's Movers - your support for our team is very much appreciated!!!!

Hope to see each and everyone of you on June 8th.


For those living in the York Region area, I will be on Insights on Rogers Cable 10 tonight (Monday, May 26th) from 9:00 - 10:00 talking about autism issues, and about the Autism Speaks Walk on June 8th. It will be rebroadcast a few times over the next two days if you miss it this evening.


From CTV:

Parents of autistic kids must re-evaluate lawsuit
Updated: Fri May. 23 2008 3:10:07 PM

The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Ontario's Court of Appeal has told a group of parents of autistic children they will have to rework their claim if they hope to succeed in a lawsuit against the province and seven school boards.
The court said the claims as they stand could not succeed.
Five families are hoping to sue the Ontario government and the school boards for negligence and damages.
They argue the province and boards failed to provide their autistic children with expensive therapies in schools.
The therapies can cost between $30,000 to $80,000 a year for each child.
A lawyer for the families says it's still too early to decide whether to go ahead with the lawsuit.

From Kirkland Lakes Northern News Newspaper:

Father of autistic child ends hunger strike
Posted By Antonella Artuso
Posted 3 hours ago
A Toronto father who went on a hunger strike to draw attention to the lack of services for his autistic son has called off the protest.
Stefan Marinoiu went 15 days without solid food before ending the hunger strike Monday night amid fears his health was failing.
Reached at his home last week, Marinoiu said he received a letter from Children and Youth Services Minister Deb Matthews in which she assures him that she's aware that more needs to be done for autistic children and their families.
Matthews called for a national autism strategy and also promised that she was working on providing his son with the services that he requires.
"It gives me lots of hope," Marinoiu said.
His son Simon spent many years on a waiting list for intensive behavioural intervention (IBI) without receiving the service. Now 15, Simon is large and difficult to control physically.


A letter from the Fredericton Newspaper:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Letters to the editor

Parties urged to take autism stand

Over a year and a half ago, the House passed a motion for the creation
of a National Autism Strategy.

As a parent of a child with autism I wonder what will happen when my
wife and I are gone.

As a member of the Forces, I wonder why, should a member get posted,
there is not the same level of treatment, service and support

As a voter I wonder when a party will take a public stand on autism
and move forward the issues facing individuals, families and society.


This article came from a US source, a periodical called Christian Today. I am sharing it here, as there are many of us that this could effect, many could be in this mothers shoes, and perhaps this is a global issue that we should all be a part of advocating for:

Pope urged to act on autism after Minnesota church ban
Posted: Monday, May 26, 2008, 12:24 (BST)

Autism campaigners are calling on Pope Bendict to act on autism in the wake of a church ban on a 13-year-old boy with autism in Bertha, Minnesota in the US.
Adam Race, who has severe autism, and his mother Carol have worshipped for a number of years at the Roman Catholic Church of St Joseph in Bertha.
Last week, controversy erupted when Rev Daniel Walz of the Church of St Joseph obtained a restraining order against the mother and autistic boy on the grounds of 'disruptive behaviour,' out of "a growing concern for the safety of parishioners".
According to Autism Awareness Campaign UK, the church alleged that Adam had urinated in the church, had bumped into parishoners, and had also made sounds during the service.
The Sheriff of Todd County had told Carol Race that if she took her son to Mass and entered the church, they would be arrested. The controversy has stirred debate in light of the 60 million people with autism around the world.
Around 1 in 150 children is on the autism spectrum in the US, whilst in the UK 1 in 100 children has autism - over 500,000 people are on the spectrum, says Autism Awareness.
"Numbers are rising all the time, probarbly due to better diagnosis so many children and young people with autism will be entering churches," the charity said.
"Autism is a 24 hour job and it is a daily struggle for parents and carers. Some have to fight for public services for their children. Others are desperate for access to education, health, specialist speech therapy and respite care," it added.
Recently the United Nations General Assembly in New York launched the first ever United Nations World Autism Awareness Day. The UN hopes to highlight the complex needs of parents, carers, children and adults with autism and Asperger's syndrome.
At the time, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the need to build enabling environments for children with disabilities so they can prosper as future members of their communities, citizens of their countries and as fully-fledged members of the global community.
Autism campaigners are now calling on Pope Bendeict to issue guidelines to Roman Catholic churches on how to deal with children and adults with disabilities like autism and Asperger's Syndrome. Other Church leaders around the world have been urged to do the same.
No pope has ever talked publicly over autism and Pope Benedict has been asked to address this issue in the wake of the controversy in Minnesota.
Churches are being asked to understand the complex needs of children and adults with autism.
The Autism Awareness Campaign UK is urging churches in the UK to have sensory rooms or a quiet area for 'time out' if things get too much for a child or adult with autism, training for clergy and staff on autism, the use of a communication system like PECs (Picture Exchange Communication systems) in churches and other resources for autism.
Above all, campaigners are calling for a partnership between religious organisations and parents and carers in order to address issues that may arise.

And this is from a US resource also, however, it's a topic that many on the list want to know more about, so I am sharing this article:

MMR: The debate that won't go away

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 26/05/2008
Page 1 of 3

It seemed the MMR controversy had been resolved, but does new research point to another possible connection between autism and vaccinations? Cassandra Jardine reports
Four years ago, it seemed as if the agonising over autism and the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) triple vaccine had finally been consigned to history. Several large-scale epidemiological studies concluded there was no evidence of a link between the two.
Taking just one of these studies - involving 4,500 children in Denmark - Sir David King, chief scientific adviser to the Government until the end of 2007, said: "If anything, there was more autism found among the children who weren't vaccinated."
Parents who had claimed that their children had regressed mentally and physically following the MMR vaccination were told it was probably a coincidence. Meanwhile, Dr Andrew Wakefield, the gastroenterologist whose research had triggered the scare, with a study in 1998 of 12 such cases, is currently defending himself in front of the General Medical Council against charges of gross professional misconduct.
So how is it now that the debate has been reignited in the US, with growing concern that an apparent increase in the number of children with autism may have an environmental cause (including MMR and other childhood vaccinations)?
All three presidential candidates have referred to what Republican Senator John McCain calls the "autism epidemic", pledging substantial sums of money for research.
Then, earlier this month, Dr Bernardine Healy, former head of the National Institutes of Health, America's medical research agency, told CBS News: "I think that the public health officials have been too quick to dismiss the [autism link to vaccination] hypothesis as irrational." She called for detailed studies of children whose parents believe they have been affected. "I have not seen major studies that focus on 300 kids who got autistic symptoms within a period of a few weeks of the vaccines," she said.
Healy's comments are significant because she's the first figure from the mainstream medical establishment not to dismiss the link.
Next month David Kirby, author of the award-winning book Evidence of Harm, will be in London giving a public lecture and addressing the House of Lords about the causes of regressive autism (as opposed to classic autism, which does not involve a sudden loss of speech and other functions).
The focus of his attention is not MMR but thiomersal, a preservative containing mercury (a known neurotoxin) that is used in some vaccines, including those for flu. (The Department of Health is keen to stress that no children's vaccine in this country has contained thiomersal for the past four years, and when it was formerly used in childhood vaccines it was at levels that were lower than those in the US.)
"A convergence of events," Kirby says, "has highlighted the importance of research, treatment and identifying the minority of children who may be susceptible to vaccine damage."
Chief among these convergent events is the case of Hannah Poling, the nine-year-old daughter of neurologist Jon Poling, from Georgia. In July 2000, aged 19 months, she received five different vaccinations, against a total of nine diseases, in one day. Her mother Terry says that when she entered the surgery, she was a bright - even precocious - child. Within 48 hours, she had stopped eating, ceased to respond to speech and become prone to episodes of screaming and fever.
Hannah Poling's case is part of the Omnibus Autism Proceeding - 5,000 cases of regressive autism being looked at by the US Vaccines Court, a body funded by a 75 cent levy on every vaccine given in the US. In February, the US government agreed compensation for her disabilities, having conceded, out of court, that her condition had been "significantly aggravated" by vaccination.
Initially, her case didn't appear to be of widespread significance because she was found to have a dysfunction of the mitochondria, the "batteries" in our cells that produce energy essential for normal functioning. This abnormality made her an unsuitable test case in any legal proceedings.
But then the next child under consideration as a test case was found to have a similar weakness, raising the possibility that a small minority of children may, because of a genetic predisposition, be more susceptible to the damaging side-effects of vaccination.
"It now looks as if 20 per cent of children with regressive autism may have this weakness; some are saying 65 per cent," says Kirby. "The cause of this weakness could be genetic or environmental."
The last point is crucial. Jon Poling, Hannah's father, believes two triggers are needed before a child becomes severely ill: possibly, an early vaccination which might compromise a child's metabolic system, then a later one which results in symptoms. There are various theories why this might be so. According to David Kirby, even trace elements of mercury and aluminium (also used in vaccines) might damage the mitochondria and could be passed from mother to foetus.
The actor Jim Carrey and his wife Jenny McCarthy believe that McCarthy's son, Evan, was "vaccine-damaged" four years ago, aged two. "In the Eighties. children received only 10 vaccines by age five, whereas today they are given 36 immunisations, most of them by age two," says McCarthy. "With billions of pharmaceutical dollars, could it be possible that the vaccine programme is becoming more of a profit engine then a means of prevention?" On June 4 they will be leading a march in Washington DC, waving banners saying "Too many. Too soon."
To date there has been no successful legal challenge to MMR in the UK. There is a Vaccine Damage Payments Unit which was set up in 1979, following concerns that the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine could cause brain damage (the vaccine has since been changed).
However, compensation is capped at £120,000 (including legal costs) and disability thresholds are high. Only two out of 53 claims were successful in the year to April 2008 - neither of them for autism.
"Under the US system, a person may receive an award if they can prove the vaccine caused an existing condition to get worse," explains a spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions. "This provision doesn't exist in the UK system, where… payments are made when it can be shown that it was more probable than not that someone became severely disabled as a result of vaccination."
In the civil courts, more than 1,000 cases were being prepared for a group MMR action until, in September 2003, legal aid was withdrawn. No reason was given. Following the success of the Poling case in the US, Peter Todd of London solicitors Hodge, Jones & Allen, has 200 clients who want to reapply for legal aid. He believes vaccines could be linked to a whole range of neurological and auto-immune disorders - epilepsy, childhood diabetes, arthritis, and even attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
"Vaccines are designed not to infect but to stimulate the immune system into making a response, so it would not be surprising if they were implicated in auto-immune disorders," Todd says. "Even if the condition was underlying, vaccines may have materially affected its onset."
The vaccine hypothesis was bolstered recently by a five-year study in monkeys who were given the same vaccinations that American children are routinely given. Last week, Dr Laura Hewitson, a specialist in obstetrics, gynaecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, told the International Meeting for Autism Research in London that in the double-blind placebo-controlled study, 13 vaccinated animals showed increased aggression, impaired cognitive skills and developmental delay. The three unvaccinated animals in the study developed normally.
"There was a significant difference between the two groups," said Hewitson. "The vaccinated group had trouble developing reflexes?… They also became more insular and more aggressive. There was an increase in aggressive behaviour after they had their MMR vaccines, and they stopped exploring their surroundings as much."
Abnormal brain activity was found in the monkeys, and higher sensitivity to a naturally occurring brain chemical linked to sleeplessness, hallucinations, lack of social skills and a high pain threshold - all symptoms found in children on the autistic spectrum. The monkeys also exhibited abnormalities of the amygdala, the part of the brain which regulates emotions.
"We can't conclude that vaccines cause autism from this study," said Hewitson, "What we can conclude is that the vaccinated monkeys showed significant negative behavioural differences before and after the MMR."
Certainly autism appears to have increased dramatically. In the early Nineties prevalence in the UK was put at four or five per 10,000. In 2006, The Lancet put it at one in 86 and, last year, Cambridge University's Autism Research Centre estimated that some 210,000 children - one in 58 - suffer from an autistic spectrum disorder.
Few people believe that vaccination programmes should cease. The vast majority of children benefit from being protected against a range of diseases, but there are concerns that some may be paying a high price for immunity. Already there is a sense of panic coming from Government circles about the future of the immunisation programme.
Earlier this month Labour MP, Mary Creagh, proposed that children should not be allowed to attend school if they haven't had all their jabs; last week it emerged that doctors in the south-east of England were giving children two doses of MMR in a three-month interval (the usual regime is at 13 months and then aged 3) to prevent a measles outbreak spreading beyond the capital.
Of course further research is needed into the early identification of autism and its causes. However the new evidence from the US suggests that screening children for mitochondrial dysfunction (there are "markers" in the blood of affected children) may also be beneficial.
Delays in vaccinating children who display asthma, eczema, food allergies and other signs of a compromised immune system should also be considered, as well as a ban on "catching up" - children who have missed immunisation being given vaccines in a shorter time period - which could overload a young system.
Many parents believe that provision of single vaccines on the NHS would allay concern further and that some vaccinations should be scheduled for later in childhood when immune systems are stronger. The alternative may be another panic.
Additional reporting by Sally Beck David Kirby is giving a free public lecture on Wednesday 4th June, 6.30-10pm at Regent Hall, 275 Oxford Street, London W1.

A petition from a listmate
To: Canadian Parliament (House of Commons)
We, the undersigned citizens of Canada, draw the attention of the
House to the following:

Whereas children suffering from an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are
among the weakest and most vulnerable sector of Canadian society;
and whereas, in Canada the rate of children being diagnosed with ASD
is high and increasing at an alarming rate (currently approximately 1
child in 195);
and whereas, until the cause and cure of autism are found, children
suffering from autism can benefit from the provision of Intensive
Behavioural Intervention (IBI) therapy treatment based on the
principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA);
and whereas, for a variety of reasons including lack of assigned
resources, unconscionable waiting lists, and delegation to Ministries
with little or no expertise, the provision of IBI/ABA therapy
treatment to children with autism is woefully inadequate;
Therefore, your petitioners call upon Parliament to
1) amend the Canada Health Act and corresponding Regulations to
include IBI/ABA therapy for children with autism as a medically
necessary treatment and require that all Provinces provide or fund
this essential treatment for autism; and
2) contribute to the creation of academic chairs at a university in
each province to teach IBI/ABA treatment at the undergraduate and
doctoral level so that Canadians professionals will no longer be
forced to leave the country to receive academic training in this
field and so that Canada will
be able to develop the capacity to provide every Canadian with autism
with the best IBI/ABA treatment available.

Please follow this link to sign the petition:

http://www.petition andap1/

Nancy morrison’s email list
From yesterday's Toronto Star, a nice family photo can be seen on the on-line version

Autism lawsuit needs more work, court says
Five families in fight over therapy in schools
May 24, 2008
Parents fighting to have their autistic children receive expensive, specialized therapies within the public education system were tossed a thin lifeline by Ontario's highest court yesterday.
In a unanimous ruling, the Ontario Court of Appeal essentially handed back the parents some of their claims against the Ontario government and seven school boards, saying they need to be substantially reworked if they are to have any hope of succeeding in their lawsuit.
"I would say it's a mixed outcome," said David Baker, the lawyer representing the parents.
The five families are trying to sue the government and the seven boards for negligence and damages, accusing them of failing to provide or properly fund the specialized autism therapies – known as intensive behavioural intervention (IBI) and applied behaviour analysis (ABA) – in schools.
The therapies for autism, a poorly understood neurological condition that causes developmental disability and behaviour problems, can cost between $30,000 and $80,000 a year per child.
The parents, who say they are forced to go to financial "extremes," filed a $1.25 billion lawsuit in 2004. They argued their children were victims of discrimination because other kids with special needs get therapy and an education within the publicly funded school system.
"The crucial issue is the issue of discrimination," Baker said. "The reason why children with autism are out of school is that they are not being accommodated by being provided with ABA support while in school."
The court ruled the argument needs "substantial redrafting," noting lack of clarity "makes it difficult to know" what the parents want.
"The decision is not a complete shutdown. It is a mixed result," said Taline Sagharian, whose son Christopher, 11, has autism. The Richmond Hill mother said she and her husband Harout are dedicated to the case and will not quit.
With files from Tracy Huffman


Linday Moir writes a very good article last week:

Ask Lindsay Moir:
Disadvantaged parents receive less services for their children
Friday, May 23, 2008
I am an in-school resource teacher with a large board of education. As a person involved with the families of exceptional students in an indirect way I have come to identify what I believe is a serious problem.
Most of the parents seem to fall into two very distinct categories:
Those who are very articulate and confident and have the skills and resources to advocate effectively for their child.
• they often have only one parent working, and the other "works" full time advocating and managing services for their exceptional child
• they are often well-connected into parent associations and have made a point of being well-informed of legislation and litigation
The other group consists of parents from "disadvantaged" homes.
• they often have difficulty in dealling with forms and documentation in English (or French) because it is not their first language
• often both parents work long hours at low-paying jobs and therefore have little time or energy left to advocate for their child.
• they find it hard to connect with parents groups or associations who typically function in English.
• many of the resources and much of the documentation that the first group uses effectively are overwhelming, if you do not have a strong command of English. Even among agencies in our community ( Health, Social Services, etc) services are delivered in English.
• I observe that the attitude of educators and community agencies often appears to be much more "aggressive" towards these families.
This is not fair! What can be done about it?
Unfortunately, I also see this inequity.
It extends beyond the families you note above. "Single Moms on Welfare" often tell me that they are treated differently by the system! So do recent immigrants who are professional people.
Whether there is real tangible evidence of this treatment or not, the fact is that many people FEEL that they are being patronized or belittled by the community which exists to serve them — PERCEPTION IS THEIR REALITY!
The Toronto school boards have invested heavily in translation and interpreters — I have been told that over 103 different languages and dialects are covered by this program. But despite this, the actual number of documents translated and the number of interpreters available, is still very limited. Boards and communities outside of Toronto do not often purchase these services or materials for their families.
I have found that community-based resources such as churches, mosques or cultural centres are often better sources of "informal" interpretation and translation / explanation of materials, than the limited "formal" resources in many communities. The formal services are often consumed by the courts or the medical community.
I know of one southwestern Ontario community that uses the 2nd generation high school students ( the children of immigrants), to assist the more-recent immigrants with a school system and language barriers that often impede parental participation. This is done through the local high school as a club, and the students get community service credit for this work. The students are usually "bi-lingual" and receive training in ethics and confidentiality as part of their club.
As community professionals, we should be aware of the inadvertent barriers that exist for "disadvantaged" families in our community — we need to understand that failure to participate is often NOT apathy or disinterest on the parents part. It is OUR FAILURE to provide the tools that would help these parents to become active and informed participants.
Locally, one school principal does Parents Meetings in the local Polish Church (with an interpreter) twice per year. This meeting is open to all parents in his school (and since the ladies of the parish cater wonderfully?), it is well attended by the broader community.
He recognizes that fact that the 20 per cent of his families whose first language is Polish now feel that he is trying to meet their needs. He is sending a message of inclusion! He is also developing a network of community resources that can be utilized in other situations.
A similar program used to exist in a school that served a significant number of children from a local First Nation.
We need to find ways to reach out to these "disadvantaged" groups.


For those living in York Region, if your child tends to be a runner, I highly recommend you checking into Project Life Saver. Hopefully this initiative spreads to more areas. This article is from the King Sentinel Newspaper:

York Regional Police have effective search and rescue unit
By Jon Yaneff

Ryan Sheridan, of the York Regional Police's search and rescue unit, participates in the annual requalification training, which took place last week at Cold Creek. Selected members of York Regional Police are trained in All-train vehicle (ATV) operations such as the one Sheridan is riding. Photo by Jon Yaneff

Since anything can happen at any time, police have to be prepared.
The York Regional Police search and rescue unit (SRU) has worked to become one of the largest and best-trained police search and rescue units in North America since it was formed in 2000.
SRU is comprised of 125 to 150 trained ground search officers, 12 search commanders/ team leaders who mentor officers, which are directed on search missions by six experienced search commanders.
The annual requalification for SRU recently took place at the Coldcreek Conservation Area (on the 11th Concession in King), as various media had the chance to participate.
Officers took part in a skills competition consisting of teams moving through six stations where they were tested on evidence gathering, navigation, first aid, Project Lifesaver, team building and search procedures. This annual requalification is similar to the SAR (search and rescue) games, in which York Regional Police competed three years ago in Gatineau, QC.
"What we did is took a similar platform and established a number of different sites where officers have to transition and are tested through the various stations, as they are graded on their performance as well as time," said Sgt. John Loughry. "The teams are presented with a missing person scenario and they have to formulate a plan, execute it through the course of the day."
Each station had a different test. Such as station 1 had a written exam, station 2 involved navigation, station 3 was first aid test, Project Lifesaver was station 4, station 5 was an evidence search and station 6 was a team building exercise.
Project Lifesaver is a program for vulnerable people, be it children with autism or Alzheimer's patients suffering from dementia who wouldn't have the ability to recover from being lost or would have the tendency to wander.
"One of the things we see with Alzheimer's is the need and compulsion to leave their residence," stated Loughry. "It's certainly unexplained, but it poses as a significant hazard because the person is incapable of returning to safety, so those people would enter the program. These people are screened for the program and they're equipped with a radio transmitter, which transmits on a set frequency."
"In the event they would go missing, police are contacted and we can activate our Project Lifesaver antennae and then utilize that to track that person and return them to safety," he added.
During the Project Lifesaver station scenario there would be four different frequencies, which in the real world would represent four different people. The officers would have to assemble the antennae, formulate a plan then respond to find those four different spots.
The first aid scenario required a medical response under the scrutiny of York Region EMS, as the officers would attend to a mannequin and deliver first aid. They made sure the EMS had the proper foundation. They also received a written exam, which went over basic first aid.
Evidence search is a coordinated event with a team leader, as items or clues have to be found that are part of an investigation.
"The teams would organize their strategy, graded on how well they recover the items then they transition to navigation where they travel on a certain bearing for a certain distance," said Loughry. "They are expected to find a marker and it's on the course of 600 metres, so it's not GPS driven."
The team building operation opened the lines of communication, as the team leader has to give specific directions and the officers within the group have to complete the task successfully.
SRU uses emergency supply trucks and trailer that act as a home base for their training operations.
"These provide ground searchers with water and food the opportunity to recharge and keep the portable radios recharged as well," said Loughry. "You never know what kind of equipment you're going to need during a search operation, where it be a medical stretcher, ropes, flashlights or lanterns. We are also starting to utilize all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) more, though not necessarily in a traditional search application, but to transfer resources in and around the search area and also to clear gravel roads and ditches."
There was also training in ice rescue, advanced wilderness/ tactical medical training, as well as GPS.


Time Magazine's Cover Story:,8816,1808438,00.html

Wednesday, May. 21, 2008
How Safe Are Vaccines?
By Alice Park
Life, if you're a bacterium or virus, boils down to this: finding a pristine human home to provide for your every need, from food and nutrients to shelter against biological storms. As a microbial drifter, you can literally travel the world, hopping from host to host when the opportunity presents itself or when conditions at your temporary residence start heading south. There's no worry about taking along life's necessities either—viruses in particular are adept at traveling light; incapable of reproducing on their own, they think nothing of co-opting the reproductive machinery of their cellular sponsors to help them spawn generation after generation of freeloading progeny.
But ever since Edward Jenner, a country doctor in England, inoculated his son and a handful of other children against smallpox in 1796 by exposing them to cowpox pus, things have been tougher on humans' most unwelcome intruders. In the past century, vaccines against diphtheria, polio, pertussis, measles, mumps and rubella, not to mention the more recent additions of hepatitis B and chicken pox, have wired humans with powerful immune sentries to ward off uninvited invasions. And thanks to state laws requiring vaccinations for youngsters enrolling in kindergarten, the U.S. currently enjoys the highest immunization rate ever; 77% of children embarking on the first day of school are completely up to date on their recommended doses and most of the remaining children are missing just a few shots.
Yet simmering beneath these national numbers is a trend that's working in the microbes' favor—and against ours. Spurred by claims that vaccinations can be linked to autism, increasing numbers of parents are raising questions about whether vaccines, far from panaceas, are actually harmful to children. When the immune system of a baby or young child is just coming online, is it such a good idea to challenge it with antigens to so many bugs? Have the safety, efficacy and side effects of this flood of inoculations really been worked through? Just last month the U.S. government, which has always stood by the safety of vaccines, acknowledged that a 9-year-old Georgia girl with a preexisting cellular disease had been made worse by inoculations she had received as an infant, which "significantly aggravated" the condition, resulting in a brain disorder with autism-like symptoms.
Though the government stressed that the case was an exceptional one, it provided exactly the smoking gun that vaccine detractors had been looking for and vaccine proponents had been dreading. More and more, all this wrangling over risks and benefits is leading confused parents simply to opt out of vaccines altogether. Despite the rules requiring students to be vaccinated, doctors can issue waivers to kids whose compromised immune system might make vaccines risky. Additionally, all but two states allow waivers for children whose parents object to vaccines on religious grounds; 20 allow parents to opt out on philosophical grounds. Currently, nearly one-half of 1% of kids enrolled in school are unvaccinated under a medical waiver; 2% to 3% have a nonmedical one, and the numbers appear to be rising.
Parents of these unimmunized kids know that as long as nearly all the other children get their shots, there should not be enough pathogen around to sicken anyone. But that's a fragile shield. Infectious-disease bugs continue to travel the globe, always ready to launch the next big public-health threat. Pockets of intentionally unvaccinated children provide a perfect place for a disease to squat, leading to outbreaks that spread to other unprotected kids, infants and the elderly. Ongoing measles outbreaks in four states are centered in such communities; one originated with an unimmunized boy from San Diego who contracted the virus while traveling in Europe—where the bug was thriving among intentionally unimmunized people in Switzerland. Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says, "We are seeing more outbreaks that look different, concentrated among intentionally unimmunized people. I hope they are not the beginning of a worse trend."
If they are, it's possible that once rampant diseases such as measles, mumps and whooping cough will storm back, even in developed nations with robust public-health programs. That is forcing both policymakers and parents to wrestle with a dilemma that goes to the heart of democracy: whether the common welfare should trump the individual's right to choose. Parents torn between what's good for the world and what's good for their child will—no surprise—choose the child. But even then, they wonder if that means to opt for the vaccines and face the potential perils of errant chemistry or to decline the vaccines and face the dangers of the bugs. There is, as yet, no simple solution, but answers are emerging.
The Autism Riddle
More than any other issue, the question of autism has fueled the battle over vaccines. Since the 1980s, the number of vaccinations children receive has doubled, and in that same time, autism diagnoses have soared threefold. In 1998, British gastroenterologist Dr. Andrew Wakefield of London's Royal Free Hospital published a paper in the journal the Lancet in which he reported on a dozen young patients who were suffering from both autism-like developmental disorders and intestinal symptoms that included inflammation, pain and bloating. Eight of the kids began exhibiting signs of autism days after receiving the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella. While Wakefield and his co-authors were careful not to suggest that these cases proved a connection between vaccines and autism, they did imply, provocatively, that exposure to the measles virus could be a contributing factor to the children's autism. Wakefield later went on to speculate that virus from the vaccine led to inflammation in the gut that affected the brain development of the children.
Like the initial tremor that triggers a massive earthquake, Wakefield's theories resonated throughout the autism community, where vaccines had been regarded with suspicion for another reason as well. Ever since the 1930s, a mercury compound known as thimerosal had been included in some vaccines—though not the measles inoculation—as a preservative to keep them free of fungi and bacteria. Thimerosal can do serious damage to brain tissue, especially in children, whose brains are still developing. It was perhaps inevitable that parents would make a connection between the chemical and autism, since symptoms typically appear around age 2, by which time babies have already received a fair number of vaccines. That link could be merely temporal, of course; babies also get their first teeth after they get their first vaccines, but that doesn't mean one causes the other.
In 2001, however, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration study revealed that a 6-month-old receiving the recommended complement of childhood vaccinations was exposed to total levels of vaccine-based mercury twice as high as the amount the epa considers safe in a diet that includes fish. By the end of that year, thimerosal-free formulations of the five inoculations that included it—hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis and some versions of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)—had replaced the older versions. The result was a drop in mercury exposure in fully immunized 6-month-old babies from 187.5 micrograms to just trace amounts still found in some flu vaccines. Yet there's been no effect on autism rates. In the seven years since the cleaned-up vaccines were introduced, new cases of autism continue to climb, reaching a rate of 1 in every 150 8-year-olds today. That trend suggests that other factors, including heightened awareness of the condition and possible genetic anomalies or environmental exposures, are behind the climbing rates. What's more, in the decade since Wakefield's watershed paper, 10 of its 13 authors have retracted their hypothesis, admitting that the study did not produce solid enough evidence to support a connection between the measles virus in the MMR vaccine and autism.
But the damage had been done. Parents, already uneasy about immunizations, now felt betrayed by government health authorities and a vaccine industry that simply kept the shots coming, with today's kids receiving up to 28 injections for 14 diseases, more than double the number of shots required in the 1970s. "There is no doubt in my mind that my child's first cause of autism is the mercury in vaccines," says Ginny DeLeo, a New York science teacher whose son Evan, born in 1993, was developing normally until he was a year old. The day the boy received his fourth dose of Hib vaccine, DeLeo had to rush him to the hospital with tremors and a 104 deg F (40 deg C) fever, which later led to seizures. Evan recovered, and several months later he received the first of two MMR shots. Within months, he stopped talking, and autism was diagnosed.
So, is there a link? In 2003, a 15-person committee impaneled by the CDC and the National Institutes of Health analyzed the available studies on thimerosal and its possible connections to autism and concluded that there was no scientific evidence to support the link. In a further show of confidence, the committee noted that it did "not consider a significant investment in studies of the theoretical vaccine-autism connection to be useful." Instead, the panel recommended that studies focus on less explored genetic or biological explanations for the disease.
There is also little evidence to support the claim made by antivaccine activists that the battery of shots kids receive can damage the immune system rather than strengthen it. Experts stress that it's not the number of inoculations that matters but the number of immune-stimulating antigens—or proteins—in them. Thanks to a better understanding of which viral or bacterial proteins are best at activating the immune system, that number has plummeted. The original smallpox injection alone packed 200 different immune-alerting antigens in a single shot. Today there are only 150 antigens in all 15 or so shots babies get before they are 6 months old. "The notion that too many vaccines can overwhelm the immune system is just not based on good science," says Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia.
My Child, My Choice
If the push-back against vaccines were only about the science, doctors might have an easier time making their case. But there's more going on than that. Parents object to the mandatory nature of the shots—and the fact that their child's access to education hinges on compliance with the immunization regulations. There's also the simple reality that the illnesses kids are being inoculated against are rarely seen anymore. When diseases like polio ran free in the early 1900s, the clamor was less about why we needed vaccines than about why there weren't more of them. Once you've seen your neighbor's toddler become paralyzed, you're a lot more likely to worry that the same thing will happen to yours. "The fact is," says Offit, "young mothers today never grew up with the disease."
What worries him and others is that young mothers of tomorrow will—and that could be disastrous. CDC officials estimate that fully vaccinating all U.S. children born in a given year from birth to adolescence saves 33,000 lives, prevents 14 million infections and saves $10 billion in medical costs. Part of the reason is that the vaccinations protect not only the kids who receive the shots but also those who can't receive them—such as newborns and cancer patients with suppressed immune systems. These vulnerable folks depend on riding the so-called herd-immunity effect. The higher the immunization rate in any population, the less likely that a pathogen will penetrate the group and find a susceptible person inside. As immunization rates drop, that protection grows thinner. That's what happened in the current measles outbreaks in the western U.S., and that's what happened in Nigeria in 2001, when religious and political leaders convinced parents that polio vaccines were dangerous and their kids should not receive them. Over the next six years, not only did Nigerian infection rates increase 30-fold, but the disease also broke free and ranged out to 10 other countries, many of which had previously been polio-free.
As long ago as 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the power of the herd and ruled that states have the right to mandate immunizations, not for the individual's health but for the community's. That principle, say vaccine proponents, should still apply. "The decision to vaccinate is a decision for your child," says Dr. Jane Seward, deputy director of viral diseases at the CDC, "but also a decision for society."
Some parents have taken to cherry-picking vaccines, leaving out only the shots they believe their children don't need—such as those for chicken pox and hepatitis B—and keeping up with what they see as the life-or-death ones. But that can be a high-stakes game, as Kelly Lacek, a Pennsylvania mother of three, learned. She stopped vaccinating her 2-month-old son Matthew when her chiropractor raised questions about mercury in the shots. Three years later, she came home to find the little boy feverish and gasping for breath. Emergency-room doctors couldn't find the cause—until one experienced physician finally asked the right question. "He took one look at Matthew and asked me if he was fully vaccinated," says Lacek. "I said no." It turned out Matthew had been infected with Hib, a virus that causes meningitis, swelling of the airway and, in severe cases, swelling of the brain tissue. After relying on a breathing tube for several days, Matthew recovered without any neurological effects, and a grateful Lacek immediately got him and his siblings up to date on their immunizations. "I am angry that people are promoting not getting vaccinated and messing with people's lives like that," she now says.
Health officials are angry too. Encouraged in part by the government report that seemed to clear vaccines of the autism charges, they are beginning to take a harder line with parents who submit vaccine exemptions for nonmedical reasons. In Maryland, where unvaccinated students are not permitted in school, officials last November threatened to take parents to court for truancy violations if their kids did not get all their shots so that they could be cleared for class. On Long Island, N.Y., vaccine objectors are called in for what some parents call "sincerity" interviews with school officials and school-board attorneys to determine how genuinely the vaccines conflict with religious convictions.
Even in cities where such interviews are not required, the tensions are palpable. Says Sue Collins, a New Jersey mother who has not had either of her two sons vaccinated: "Things are getting so nasty. People are calling us bad parents, saying it's child abuse if we don't vaccinate our children." In an effort to avoid potential conflicts, some parents are bypassing the school system altogether, preferring to homeschool their kids so they won't be forced to vaccinate them.
Common Ground
That still leaves the broader community at risk. So, is there room between public health and personal choice? Science may eventually provide a way out. Most people agree that there may be kids with genetic predispositions or other underlying conditions that make them susceptible to being harmed by vaccines. The Georgia girl in the recent vaccine case is the first such documented child, but her story suggests there could be others. Though CDC director Julie Gerberding was quick to insist that the case should not be considered an admission that vaccines can cause autism, some parents will surely take it as just that. "In rare instances, there could be some gene-vs.-exposure interaction that in theory could lead from the vaccine to autism," says Dr. Tracy Lieu, director of the center for child-health-care studies at Harvard Medical School. "The future of vaccine-safety research lies in trying to answer questions of genomic contributions to responses to vaccines." Screening for genetic profiles that are most commonly associated with immune disorders, for example, would be a good place to start.
Whether tests like these, combined with detailed family histories, will make a difference in the rates of developmental disorders like autism isn't yet clear. But such a strategy could reveal new avenues of research and lead to safer inoculations overall. Parents concerned about vaccine safety would then have stronger answers to their questions about how their child might be affected by the shots. Vaccines may be a medical marvel, but they are only one salvo in our fight against disease-causing bugs. It's worth remembering that viruses and bacteria have had millions of years to perfect their host-finding skills; our abilities to rebuff them are only two centuries old. And in that journey, both parents and public-health officials want the same thing—to protect future generations from harm.
An Old Scourge Returns.
Measles cases are on the rise as growing numbers of families forgo immunization
In the first four months of this year, 64 confirmed cases of measles were reported in the U.S., scattered across 11 hot spots. This is the most by this date for any year since 2001; 54 cases had links to other countries, and only one of the 64 patients had been vaccinated. The outbreaks in Arizona and San Diego can be traced to travel to and from Switzerland, where many people choose not to be vaccinated.


From The Edmonton Sun:

May 25, 2008
Autistic author tackles disability
In most respects, Alexandre Lynch is every bit a normal kid. He's fond of his dog, loves to snowboard and shows a little shyness around adults.
But such normalcy hides something remarkable.
The 11-year-old has recently become one of Edmonton's youngest published authors - a feat obtained despite his daily struggle with Asberger's syndrome, a mild form of autism that can sometimes make school and socializing difficult.
My Goldfish Ate My Cat, a short children's tale about a fish who yearns to season and devour a feline, was officially released April 19 at NAIT's annual Literacy and Learning Day. Since then, the book has sold 80 copies, with some of those going to buyers from the U.S., New Zealand and Germany. In the process, the bilingual Alexandre has become a sort of minor celebrity, appearing on CBC's Le Telejournal and Radio-Canada.
"It's pretty cool," he said, a smile spreading across his face.
The book originally started as a school project last year when Alexandre was asked to write a story about something weird.
Choosing to invert the traditional cat-mouse relationship because it made him laugh, he completed the story in one sitting with the help of an assistant.
Once done, the finished work greatly impressed Chantal Lynch, Alexandre's mom and also an author.
"When she saw what I had written, she thought it would be good and we could turn it into a book," said Alexandre.
But getting the story published turned out to be a bit more work than writing it. Chantal and her son had to line up an editor, track down an illustrator and get hold of a reasonably cheap printer. All told, the first run of 1,000 books cost over $3,000.
Though Chantal would like to get her money back, a certain amount of benevolence lies at the heart of the project - $1 from each copy sold will be donated to the Edmonton Autism Society.
Because he has Asberger's syndrome, Alexandre has had frequent dealings with the group.
"It can make you disabled with things," he said of his condition. "For me, writing is very hard and reading and math are easy."

and when I found this article, I thought it very interesting for our older kids, my daughter has already expressed concerns for her brother's ability to marry and have a family when he grows up.... with organizations like this, it will all be possible. This was in the Globe this week:

Niche websites help people with special needs find love
May 22, 2008
With scores of dating websites catering to the bold and the beautiful, a growing number of niche sites are emerging for less fortunate lonely hearts, those struggling with mental or physical problems.
Australian matchmaker Sara Fantauzzo created to unite people with special needs after watching her autistic brother struggle to make friends.
"I've grown up with a brother with a very mild disability and I've seen him very low and very depressed as a direct result of rejections," said Ms. Fantauzzo, who created the website with her husband, Otis, nearly a year ago.
"I got sick of seeing Marc at home on a Saturday night or having him come along with my friends because he never had anyone to go out with himself."
Ms. Fantauzzo came up with the idea after noticing her brother joining community groups that included people with different disabilities. These groups were far more accepting of a wide range of problems.
In the United States, Ricky Durham set up, which matches people suffering from a list of health conditions, after realizing how difficult it was for his brother Keith, who had Crohn's disease, to meet someone.
"It was hard for him to disclose his disease to anyone, but it was really hard for him to tell someone he had a colostomy bag," Mr. Durham said.
"I thought if he met someone [on] a website where everyone had the same condition there would be nothing to disclose."
His brother died in 2004, aged 41, as the website was being developed, but Atlanta-based Mr. Durham pushed ahead.
The site launched two years ago and now has about 5,300 members from the United States, Australia, Britain, Canada and Israel who suffer from more than 50 types of illnesses and disorders, including multiple sclerosis, hepatitis, lupus, Tourette syndrome, sexually transmitted diseases and obesity.
"The ex gave me the gift that keeps on giving ... herpes," wrote one member. "What I'm looking for is someone who understands why I am on this site and is still willing to live our lives to the fullest and not let this 'problem' stop us."
Analysis company Hitwise estimates there are more than 1,350 dating sites in the United States alone, up from 876 three years ago, with 44 per cent catering to niche groups.
Hannah Schwartz, general manager of, said niche sites are becoming increasingly popular.
"Niche sites cater to things like religion, sexual preference, ethnicity, lifestyle, hobbies and dietary needs," she said.

Court tells parents of autistic kids they can try again to sue Ontario, schools
at 15:24 on May 23, 2008, EDT.
TORONTO - Ontario's Court of Appeal has told a group of parents of autistic children they will have to rework their claim if they hope to succeed in a lawsuit against the province and seven school boards.
The court said the claims as they stand could not succeed.
Five families are hoping to sue the Ontario government and the school boards for negligence and damages.
They argue the province and boards failed to provide their autistic children with expensive therapies in schools.
The therapies can cost between $30,000 to $80,000 a year for each child.
A lawyer for the families says it's still too early to decide whether to go ahead with the lawsuit.
From Taline

Autism lawsuit needs more work, court says
Five families in fight over therapy in schools
May 24, 2008
Parents fighting to have their autistic children receive expensive, specialized therapies within the public education system were tossed a thin lifeline by Ontario's highest court yesterday.
In a unanimous ruling, the Ontario Court of Appeal essentially handed back the parents some of their claims against the Ontario government and seven school boards, saying they need to be substantially reworked if they are to have any hope of succeeding in their lawsuit.
"I would say it's a mixed outcome," said David Baker, the lawyer representing the parents.
The five families are trying to sue the government and the seven boards for negligence and damages, accusing them of failing to provide or properly fund the specialized autism therapies – known as intensive behavioural intervention (IBI) and applied behaviour analysis (ABA) – in schools.
The therapies for autism, a poorly understood neurological condition that causes developmental disability and behaviour problems, can cost between $30,000 and $80,000 a year per child.
The parents, who say they are forced to go to financial "extremes," filed a $1.25 billion lawsuit in 2004. They argued their children were victims of discrimination because other kids with special needs get therapy and an education within the publicly funded school system.
"The crucial issue is the issue of discrimination," Baker said. "The reason why children with autism are out of school is that they are not being accommodated by being provided with ABA support while in school."
The court ruled the argument needs "substantial redrafting," noting lack of clarity "makes it difficult to know" what the parents want.
"The decision is not a complete shutdown. It is a mixed result," said Taline Sagharian, whose son Christopher, 11, has autism. The Richmond Hill mother said she and her husband Harout are dedicated to the case and will not quit.
With files from Tracy Huffman

From Ted to China
Musings from a week filled with lies, sex change and fear
That was the week that was. In the United States, politicians of all stripes told lies on call as it was announced that Ted Kennedy was gravely ill and likely will succumb to a brain tumour.
He will be missed, they announced, and is a statesman of integrity and skill.
No. He is the one who drove a car off a bridge and left a young female campaign worker and "friend" to drown in what must have been despair and agony. He waited until the following day to report the incident, but received only a suspended two-month sentence. A coward, a fraud and a very lucky man indeed.
But then just being a Kennedy makes one lucky. JFK the president was a repeat adulterer with probable ties to organized crime. He used women like slices of meat, but got away with it because the liberal media -- meaning most of the media -- loves a Kennedy.
The Kennedy clan's father, Joseph, was a bootlegger and vulgar anti-Semite who as U.S. ambassador to London relished telling his superiors that Hitler would beat the British.
Closer to home, the Toronto District School Board issued a press release in reaction to school violence. The one-page document contained a spelling error and more socialist cliches than an NDP annual conference. No problem -- it was paid for by tax dollars so nobody will be reprimanded.
"The Leadership Action Team identified major themes and actions that could be taken to affect real change in each area" it said. "Those six themes are: Equity, gender-based violence, partnerships/integrated services, support for marginalized youth, silence and safety."
Much as it may please a kid being beaten half to death to know that his attacker is marginalized or may not enjoy full equity, the solution to gang violence, murderous teenagers and the mass decay of inner city public education is, for a start, to dismantle school boards that issue absurd and pointless press releases.
More importantly, punish rather than reward irresponsible behaviour. Just as an example, cut off welfare payments to women who have several children by several men before they've reached 20 years of age. Expel kids with knives and guns immediately, admit that it's not empty stomachs but empty homes that lead to bad behaviour and stop pretending that poverty has anything to do with thuggery -- that's an insult to the poor.
Also in Ontario the Health Ministry decided to restore full funding for sex change surgery, after having not fulfilled its election promise to finance special and crucial education to autistic children. If only those annoying autistic youngsters could prove that they were born in a body of the wrong gender!
At a national level no Canadian labour union or left-wing church called for a boycott of either China or Iran, after it was exposed that these two countries alone account for the vast majority of the world's executions and torture.
In fact there was an eerie silence surrounding the figures.
Those of us who believe that these two authoritarian and corrupt regimes should indeed be boycotted have come up with a foolproof way of producing action from said unions and liberal churches. From now on both Iran and China will be known as Israel. Motions of boycott and condemnation are being written as we speak. Yes, that certainly was the week that was.
The Sarnia Observer
Non-profit cannibalism; charities compete for resources
Posted 10 days ago
Sarnia-Lambton's charities and non-profit agencies are "cannibalizing" each other by competing for scarce resources and need to form new alliances to deliver services.
So says CEO Kevin Smith of Goodwill Industries, whose organization marks the first anniversary of a pilot partnership with Autism Ontario's Sarnia-Lambton Chapter.
Goodwill came to the rescue of the smaller non-profit last spring after it lost its home and couldn't afford to rent new space. One year later, both groups are thriving.
"Sarnia is such a small community (and) all of the non-profits are fighting for the same dollars," Smith said. "We're cannibalizing one another. Sometimes, you have five or six (charity) walks going on on the same day."
For agencies to survive, they need to find common ground, he said. Goodwill and the Autism Ontario chapter each shoulder some administrative costs and use their community contacts to upgrade the shared office space on Palmerston Street.
"It's a win-win situation," said Cheryl Dart, Autism Ontario's local program services director. "It's helped us save money on administrative costs. We can then put more of that cash towards services."
Money saved has helped create a new program that subsidizes visits by a family consultant. The worker provides strategies to help the autistic child and family cope with the brain disorder.
"Many of our families are in crisis and this is an important program," Dart said.
Smaller charities might be fearful of being swallowed by larger partners, Smith said.
"It's very important that all groups involved have their own identities. All we're asking is to share common costs. The concept is about the bricks and mortar."
Smith pointed to the Dow Centre planned to house Rebound, Big Brothers and Big Sisters as a workable model. He envisions a centre that would house "five or six like-minded groups" with an adult social services bent.
"I just think we should look at the possibilities and see if there is the will to make it happen," Smith said.
Copyright © 2008 The Sarnia Observer
Crown asks for lengthy jail term in death of autistic woman
2008-05-20 16:51:32.000
A 33-year-old Mississauga woman who starved her autistic sister to death should be sent to jail for at least 10 years, a Crown prosecutor told Brampton court today.
In finding Allison Cox guilty earlier this year of manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessities of life, Justice Joseph Fragomeni ruled that the woman "neglected her duties to care" for her adopted sister, Tiffany Pinckney, 23.
"The evidence clearly indicates that Allison Cox did not provide Tiffany Pinckney with the necessities of life, including adequate food, water and medical attention to sustain her life," Fragomeni said.
Today at Cox's sentencing hearing, Crown prosecutor John Raftery asked that a jail sentence of between 10 and 12 years be handed down.
"To the end, Allison Cox has shown no remorse — she disputes the facts of this case," Raftery told court. "Allison Cox shed no tears for Tiffany. Her only tears came from her own self-pity."
Cox's lawyer, Craig Bottomley, asked for two years less a day in jail plus three years probation for his client.
Fragomeni will make his ruling June 19.
Cox's husband, Orlando Klass, 33, admitted during trial that Pinckney "may not have been properly cared for and may not have been receiving proper nourishment."
The judge agreed, and ruled Pinckney died of malnutrition from a lack of food.
"Her weight loss didn't happen in one to two days. It was a chronic weight loss," Fragomeni said in February. "Allison Cox had a duty and responsibility to care for her..."
Klass was placed under house arrest last year for two years less a day after pleading guilty to criminal negligence causing the death of Pinckney, who weighed just over 84 pounds when police discovered her body on April 2, 2005 in the basement of a Fairwind Dr. home. She had once weighed close to 200 pounds. Her body was covered in fecal matter, as were areas of her living quarters, court heard.
Fragomeni described the conditions in which Pinckney lived as "appalling."
He said Pinckney had not been seen by a doctor in five years prior to her death.
"The only medical practitioner she saw in the last five years of her life was a coroner," Raftery told court during trial.
Dr. Timothy Feltis, who performed the autopsy, determined Pinckney died from malnutrition. He testified earlier that Pinckney was "basically skin and bones" when the autopsy was performed.
Death scene photos presented in court showed obvious signs of malnutrition, court heard. In one photo, rib and pelvic bones were prominent on Pinckney's naked body, clearly showing how thin she was, said Dr. Michael Pollanen, Ontario's chief pathologist.
Kimberly Kucherawy, a teaching assistant at Applewood School, a school for students with developmental disabilities, said Pinckney had the mentality of a three-year-old and often attended class hungry, sick and unkempt.
"People treat their pets better than Tiffany was treated," Raftery said. "Even a child knows their goldfish will die if it isn't fed. Her care, or more precisely the neglect, she received, wasn't suitable for a human being."
Police said Cox and her husband were made Pinckney’s legal guardians when her mother died in 1998.
Fragomeni said Pinckney was neglected despite the fact social service agencies contacted Cox on several occasions to let her know of services available for her sister.
Raftery alleged Cox deliberately starved her sister to death over several months because she stood to gain financially from their late mother's will.

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Ontario Appeal Court tosses ailing autism lawsuit thin lifeline
May 23, 2008
Parents fighting to have their autistic children receive expensive, specialized therapies within the public education system were tossed a thin lifeline by Ontario's highest court Friday.
In a unanimous ruling, the Ontario Court of Appeal essentially handed back the parents some of their claims against the Ontario government and seven school boards, saying they need to be substantially reworked if they are to have any hope of succeeding in their lawsuit.
"I would say it's a mixed outcome," said David Baker, the lawyer representing the parents.
"The issue of charter damages and the issue of negligence (was) reopened - to a degree."
Baker said it was still too soon to say whether the group would now go back to the lower courts to try again on those issues.
The five families are trying to sue the Ontario government and the school boards for negligence and damages, accusing them of failing to provide or properly fund the specialized autism therapies - known as intensive behavioural intervention (IBI) and applied behaviour analysis (ABA) - in schools.
The therapies for autism, a poorly understood neurological condition that causes developmental disability and behaviour problems, can cost between $30,000 to $80,000 a year for each child.
The parents, who say they are forced to go to financial "extremes," filed a $1.25-billion lawsuit in 2004. They argued their children were victims of discrimination because other kids with special needs get therapy and an education within the publicly funded school system.
"The crucial issue is the issue of discrimination," Baker said.
"The reason why children with autism are out of school is that they are not being accommodated by being provided with ABA support while in school."
The court said that argument remains alive, if barely, but will require "substantial redrafting."
In its written ruling, the court was critical of the various claims for their fuzziness, at one point lamenting that the lack of clarity "makes it difficult to know" what the parents want.
"It continues to be difficult to correlate the appellants' allegations of fact with their proposed causes of action," Justice Susan Lang wrote on behalf of the three-member appeal panel.
The plaintiffs were also hoping to be allowed to sue for damages if their class action is eventually certified.
As with several of the other claims, the court ruled they could try again "with the necessary concision."
Taline Sagharian of Richmond Hill, Ont., whose 11-year-old son Christopher has autism, said the court had at least not shut the door entirely on their claims, but the decision needs further study.
"It's a little bit confusing," Sagharian said.
"But we're dedicated to the case, we're dedicated to the cause."
In March last year, Ontario Superior Court Justice Maurice Cullity sided with the provincial government in striking down several of the key claims, including negligence and damages.
The Appeal Court rejected the parents' negligence claims against the Ontario government, but left open the possibility that the school boards might yet be on the hook for how they ran programs aimed at accommodating children with special needs.
The court also tossed out a claim based on age discrimination related to Ontario's now-rescinded decision to pay for ABA for children only until age six.
Toronto Sun updated on the Hunger Strike in today's paper:

Dad ends 15-day hunger strike
A Toronto father who went on a hunger strike to draw attention to the lack of services for his autistic son has called off the protest.
Stefan Marinoiu went 15 days without solid food before ending the strike Monday night amid fears his health was failing.
Reached at his home yesterday, Marinoiu said he received a letter from Children and Youth Services Minister Deb Matthews assuring him that she's aware that more needs to be done for autistic children and their families.
Matthews called for a national autism strategy and promised that she was working on providing his son with the services that he requires.
"It gives me lots of hope," Marinoiu said.

His son Simon spent many years on a waiting list for intensive behavioural intervention (IBI) without receiving the service.
Now 15, Simon is large and difficult to control physically.
Marinoiu, who is the only one in his family large enough to handle Simon, said he was warned by his doctor that extending the strike could damage his health permanently.
"I realize there's no point in going on," he said. "You can easily get into irreversible internal organ damage."
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