The Age of Autism is, its editor Dan Olmsted proclaims, “the first daily Web newspaper for the environmental-biomedical community—-those who believe autism is an environmentally induced illness, that it is treatable, and that children can recover.” Those who write for The Age of Autism do not follow “journalistic group-think” and “believe whatever ‘the experts’ tell them”—-The Age of Autism, it is promised, is going to make a “difference.”
So what kind of news do we get from The Age of Autism folks? Pathbreaking discussions of new theories about the causes of autism, or treatments for autistic kids? New suggestions about how to help autistic children learn not to engage in self-injurious behavior without electroshock treatment? Honest accounts of the lack of adequate housing and employment opportunities for autistic adults who will need such supports for their whole lives, and careful explanations of how support staff need to be trained?
There are plenty of posts about vaccines, “vaccine safety,” thimerosal, biomedical treatments requiring cabinets and cocktails of supplements with pseudo-Greek names, what Boyd Haley thinks about the study by Schechter and Grether, etc., etc., etc., etc.. It’s more like the Age of Anything But Autism, unless you, like Generation Rescue founder J.B. Handley, think that autism is really mercury poisoning, that autism is a raging epidemic, and that the government via the CDC is fostering a plot to poison American’s children, etc.., etc., etc., etc..
Anyways—-this is what The Age of Autism considers really big and breaking news that we all need to know:
Roy Richard Grinker is married to Joyce Chung.
Yes, that was the shocking news over at The Age of Autism on January 15th, written up by the above-mentioned J.B. Handley. Handley portrays himself as hot on the trail of a conspiracy and, he tells us, he has the documents to prove it!!!!!!!. These would be a series of emails between Grinker, a professor of anthropology at George Washington University, and Marshalyn Yeargin-Alsopp of the CDC. The emails, obtained (as Handley makes sure we know) by the FOIA, have some mysterious white spaces which most likely contained personal information or mention of others, since third party information and names are not included on FOIA requests—–and Handley is quite tantalized by them. In the grip of his fervid imagination, those white spaces signal that a conspiracy is afoot and Sherlock Handley is here to unmask it. And the January 15th post explains the big secret that our sleuth has uncovered:
In an ARTICLE I wrote last week about Roy Grinker, an autism epidemic-denier funded by Autism Speaks, I included THIS set of emails between Roy Grinker and the CDC which were obtained through a FOIA filing.
One email from Grinker in particular caught the eye of several of our readers where Grinker writes the following to a CDC employee:
“p.s. Did I tell you that ___________ just started working at NIMH as the Autism coordinator (Director’s office) and exec. secretary of IACC?”
Now, the “blank” in the above email where a name should be, was redacted by the CDC, apparently because, according to the CDC’s cover letter, “the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
The blank is Grinker’s wife, Joyce Chung.
Is it private for us to know that Joyce Chung, now the Autism Coordinator at NIMH, is married to Roy Grinker?
Should it matter who Joyce Chung is married to, even if her husband wrote a book stating unequivocally that there is no autism epidemic?
Does Joyce Chung agree with her husband? Did they ask her this question before she took the job?I hope when the IACC meets tomorrow, someone asks her.
I must say, Handley has a nice way with his rhetoric here. Like some modern-day Cicero, he piles on the rhetorical questions and builds to a climax, then—at a moment of resounding tension—-inserts a sentence starting with the first-person pronoun to remind you, dear reader, that this is J.B. Handley, the concerned parent and citizen, out to uproot something secret.
O tempora! O mores! What is this world coming to! (Asks another parent of an autistic child.)
What is it coming to indeed—–why spill so much digital ink fretting about who is married to whom in this “age of autism”? I kind of thought there were more “urgent” things to consider—you know, like getting speech services spelled out in the IEP or figuring out how to make Medicaid pay for housing for autistic adults. But maybe when you spend so much time thinking about mercury instead of dealing with actual autistic persons in the here and now, you start to see things—you start to imagine conspiracies—-as you cobble together a plot for the Great Autism Whodunnit. This makes for (semi-) amusing reading, but I’m afraid it does not really help too much in addressing the really pressing problems that many of us face in getting the school placements our kids need to thrive in, in finding a babysitter so we can attend a school meeting about transitions, in teaching my son Charlie to write “s” so he can write his last name, Fisher. These are topics that I find need to be addressed in this “age of autism.”
As far as the secrets contained in those white spaces in the emails between Roy Richard Grinker and Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp: Why did Dan Olmsted, in his capacity as editor of The Age of Autism and as a journalist, not call Grinker for an interview? Why is a “daily Web newspaper” publishing speculative accounts of real people, and giving the impression that what Handley’s imagination has so, well, imaginatively, cooked up is fact, and not the fiction (of a rather potboiler sort) that it is? And why, in the case of a comment by Katie Wright on Handley’s post, is The Age of Autism seemingly not honoring its own policy about comments? Back in November 2007, I wrote a comment on an Age of Autism post referencing my son and the son of a friend, DJ Savarese. Kim Stagliano wrote:
Note to readers. We’d prefer if you do not bring other people’s children into the conversation in an effort to make your points. It’s not fair play to discuss a child who is not your own. That’s across the board for all readers and comments. You’re welcome to discuss adults of age who can respond for themselves. Not kids.[my emphasis]
This is to protect the children and their parents, from being drawn into discussions without their knowledge.
Posted by: Managing Editor | 11/26/2007 at 08:47 AM
Joyce and Roy are married co-parents of their only child, a daughter with autism. Roy has publicly stated, and written a book and toured the country saying he and his wife believe their daughter is “different” and “quirky”, in essence, autism is not such a bad thing and certainly not a growing problem. I think it is more than fair to assume they are of similar beliefs about autism unless Joyce says otherwise……………………….
Posted by: Katie Wright | 01/16/2008 at 02:23 PM
Well, maybe the comment policies on The Age of Autism have changed since last November or maybe there is a different policy for those who write for The Age of Autism or maybe there’s a double standard or maybe it would be best to see The Age of Autism more as a kind of webzine that offers something of a mix of fact, fiction, various opinions, conspiracy-mongering (with a lot of mention of mercury), with (excuse the expression) kind of quirky graphics (how about The Chelation Kid sometime), instead of a newspaper.
But I really can’t say. Here is a fine mystery, and I am just speculating about the goings-on in this “age of autism.” If I may say so: Elementary, my dear Mr. Handley!