When NYU Law School professor, Mary Holland’s child became autistic shortly after vaccinations, she, like the tens of thousands of other parents in a similar situation, became intensely interested in the issue of causality: did the vaccines cause her child’s autism?
She was also very perplexed by the language used by representatives of the HRSA (a parent agency of the vaccine court) saying that, though it has compensated several high profile brain injury cases (Hannah Poling and Baily Banks) that were also diagnosed as autistic, that the compensation was not for autism per se, but for brain-damage. The court continues to maintain that “vaccinations do not cause autism.” Furthermore, he advised that the HRSA does not track autism and has no information about whether these brain damaged cases are autistic.
Due to Mary Holland’s profession as a lawyer, and her position as a faculty member at NYU School of Law, she was in a position to look into the matter carefully with the assistance of Law Students which she enlisted for this project. Her article in the Pace Environmental Law Review summarizes the process by which vaccine injured parents seek compensation from the VICP “vaccine court” generally, and then more specifically, how the court has been handling cases of severe brain damage resulting from vaccinations.
On the one hand, the Vaccine Court and the CDC steadfastly and firmly deny that vaccines cause autism. Yet, the same court has been quietly compensating families of brain damage children with encephalopathy, ADEM (Acute Demyelinating Encephalomyelitis), residual seizure disorder and pervasive developmental delay. Some of these children also carry an unmentioned diagnosis of “autism” though this term rarely appears in the court documents. So their question is:
Are these vaccine induced “autism-like syndromes” being compensated by the vaccine court actually different from “autism” which the court denies is a possible vaccine injury?
One co-author of the paper, Robert Krakow, filed a FOIA request with the HHS asking for information about compensated vaccine injury claims for brain damage. HHS responded that such a request would take 4-5 years and would cost $750,000.
The authors then began an alternate approach as a research project with Pace Law School students to locate and analyze the VICP cases of compensated vaccine-induce brain damage, including autism, while perhaps not using the term “autism” specifically. ….. Using the Federal Public Access to Court Electronic Records (“PACER”) database of federal court dockets, the authors examined cases filed with VICP that were settled without a hearing. Cases for brain injury were located, addresses and phone numbers of families located, and telephone and written interviews with parents performed.
Parents were also asked to fill out a symptom questionnaire used to screen for autism.
Using this end run approach, the researchers located at least 83 cases compensated for vaccine-induced brain injury that would correctly be diagnosed as “autistic.” The court has been compensating brain injured autistic children since its inception while publically maintaining the stance that “vaccine do not cause autism.”
In the discussion, Holland notes that petitioners at the vaccine court have come to understand how the system works: To gain compensation, they must not mention the hot button term “autism.” Terms that ARE acceptable include vaccine-induced encephalopathy, severe language delay, disturbed social interaction, lack of eye contact, loss of capacity for speech, limpaired social interactions, severe language impairment, self harm behaviors, pervasive developmental delay (PDD) and residual seizure disorder. Though these characteristics make up the DSM-IV criteria for autism, they cannot use the term “autism” or their case will be flatly denied.
Vaccines do not cause autism.
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