BNFF10 REVIEW: Autism: Made in the U.S.A. [2010]

“The worst parts of human nature gone awry”

The debate about whether or not vaccinations are attributing to Autism in children has been raging for a while now. High profile celebrities have gotten involved—the most vocal being Jenny McCarthy whose own son was diagnosed with the disorder—and producer Gary Null has created a documentary to make the message spread even wider. Autism: Made in the U.S.A. is an intriguing look at the two sides of the argument through both medical evidence and firsthand accounts from parents who not only saw their children get diagnosed, but some who watched as a normal child suddenly devolved overnight, no longer able to speak the words from a day before. It is a touchy subject because of the amount of money put towards political campaigns on behalf of pharmaceutical companies, so no one in a place of power is looking too close at staging an overhaul that could cost billions of dollars. But as one professional in the film says, if 1 in 6 kids were being kidnapped, the government would be compelled to step in. So why won’t they when that ratio is being trapped inside by neural disorders, the worst being a completely non-verbal Autistic?

Autism is like most documentaries of this kind, namely a series of talking heads explaining studies taken and recovery methods experienced. No matter what is said, however, any film depicting cause and effect for the means of reform is looking at the side it agrees with. Sure, one can blame the CDC and other government organizations for refusing to contribute their views on the subject to the filmmakers, but at the end of the day each viewer must make up their own mind. I do believe that this film is a great launching pad for getting your feet wet with the subject, though. Being born in the early 80s myself, I can clearly see a paradigm change in the new generation being educated today. My own school district has recently made it necessary for a second teacher to be instituted in each classroom for extra help towards the special needs kids, so hearing the statistics coming from the pediatricians onscreen hit home. Yes, some of the increase of cases, (ADHD and other ‘mild’ forms included), can be attributed to the number of parents having their children tested and also the number willing to take the medicated way out and just accept their child’s fate. But the trend of mercury-based vaccines cannot be ignored.

The people involved here aren’t trying to posit that America’s vaccine schedule is the lone culprit, but it also doesn’t turn a blind eye to the problem. Containing Thimerosal, the vaccines included in the newly formed timetable of the 90s are literally injecting trace amounts of mercury into newborns’ systems. Not only was the product untested on children so young—some straight out of the womb—but the combination of so many cultures in the body at once also wasn’t. How anyone can expect a small child with a developing immune system to process all those diseases at once is a valid question. Looking at the classrooms I was involved with through primary and secondary school shows that we did alright with the few vaccines given to us, so why the huge increase? Understandably, MMR seems to be central to the issue at hand, one given to us as well, so perhaps the new Thimerosal concoctions are to blame. At least it looks like the preservative is now currently being phased out because watching through a microscope at what mercury can do to the nerves of the brain was quite the eye opener, not to mention the evidence of a closed door meeting on behalf of key players that had evidence it would do just that.

But the issue of pharmacology is much broader than just with the subject of Autism. I think a great anecdote told here—although admittedly secondhand—concerns the founding father of the CDC and his desire to publicly state how not only would he and his wife never take a flu shot, but that the influenza vaccine itself was a sham. Fired for this viewpoint and the risk of losing tons of money since the flu shot is the one vaccine repeatedly used each and every year, he jokingly asked why else anyone thought he was now teaching at a university instead of heading up the organization. As a result, the film does focus a lot of energy on the financial gain those in power have at stake, as well as how many studies clearing dangerous products were not only funded by companies with a direct involvement to the product but also conducted them. It’s a disgraceful thing to think about, especially now at a time where the government is seizing more and more control over our healthcare. For all we know New Jersey—coincidentally the state with the highest increase of Autism in the past couple decades—won’t be the only state mandating all these vaccines to be taken in the near future.

Through all the facts, figures, and overabundant use of a motif featuring a child’s photo fading to black, it’s the accounts by parents of Autistic children that hit home hardest. Seeing the devastation on their faces is enough to make you stop and listen, whether you end up agreeing or not. Thankfully, some parents decided to take matters into their own hands, creating organizations to help others like them cope and to help diagnosed children recover from the disorder. Yes, these parents, above all else, want you to be aware that recovery is not only a possibility but within their grasp. By instilling a dairy-free, gluten-free diet, as well as cutting fast foods, and going as organic as one can, Autistic children have shown amazing strides of improvement. As one doctor says, being labeled as an alternative medicine provider despite her classically trained background is ok if it gets the job done. Another, who explains how hospitals will label recovery cases as ‘spontaneous remissions’ without looking at how many are a direct result of his work, says they can call it whatever they like. Diet and nutrition isn’t something pharmaceutical companies can put advertising dollars towards to turn a profit, so if they have to disregard proven theories and methods, so be it. At least there are still some pediatricians willing to accept the blame for blind allegiance and work towards correcting the mistake rather than burying their heads in the sand, unwilling to accept they might have unwittingly helped in handicapping a generation.

Autism: Made in the U.S.A. 8/10 | ★ ★ ★

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