Autism by Any Other Name and the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
By TLB Contributors: Louis Conte & Wayne Rohde
This article is the 3rd installment in a series investigating the NVICP
The Associated Press recently released a series of articles about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) that focused on the delays in case processing, petitioner’s difficulties in proving claims and concerns that attorneys “churn cases” to increase billing. On 12/22/14 the New York Times ran one of the articles where the authors, Justin Pritchard, Mitch Weiss and Troy Thibodeaux, touched on the curious reasoning in decisions involving autism in children who also suffered encephalopathy, or brain injury. The authors accepted the NVICP narrative that a vaccine injury might cause severe brain damage but never autism.
Despite the use of verbal camouflage regarding autism in the NVICP, there are times when the truth leaks out. The following is from the case record of the US Government’s concession that vaccines triggered autism in the case of Child Doe 77 (aka: Hannah P.):
“Medical personnel at the Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation, Department of Health and Human Services (DVIC) have reviewed the facts of this case, as presented by the petition, medical records, and affidavits. After a thorough review, DVIC has concluded that compensation is appropriate in this case.
In sum, DVIC has concluded that the facts of this case meet the statutory criteria for demonstrating that the vaccinations CHILD received on July 19, 2000, significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder, which predisposed her to deficits in cellular energy metabolism, and manifested as a regressive encephalopathy with features of autism spectrum disorder. Therefore, respondent recommends that compensation be awarded to petitioners in accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 300aa-11(c) (1) (C) (ii).”
That doesn’t mean that a government official can’t deny it anyway.
“Let me be very clear that the government has made absolutely no statement indicating that vaccines are a cause of autism,” Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday.” 
Child Doe 77 has an autism diagnosis and Gerbeding’s statement glosses over the fact that the government conceded that vaccines caused it. The case was filed in the Omnibus Autism Proceedings (OAP) and was supposed to be a test case for one of the theories that Special Masters (Judges do not decide cases in the “Vaccine Court”) were to consider. Gerbeding’s verbal gymnastics received support from industry representatives:
“Gerberding’s biggest challenge was defining the term “autism.” Because autism is a clinical diagnosis, children are labeled as autistic on the basis of a collection of clinical features…Indeed, features reminiscent of autism are evident in all children with profound impairments in cognition; but these similarities are superficial, and their causal mechanisms and genetic influences are different from those of classic autism.” Paul A. Offit, M.D. 
The same industry spokesman re-emerged when it was revealed that the NVICP regularly compensated cases of vaccine-induced brain damage featuring autism in the years before Child Doe 77. Here Dr. Offit responds to the finding of 83 NVICP compensated cases involving autism in the peer reviewed Unanswered Questions from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: A Review of Compensated Cases of Vaccine-Induced Brain Injury, 28 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 480 (2011) 
“Dr. Offit said the study authors reach erroneous conclusions due to an erroneous definition of autism. A child with measles encephalopathy, he said, may have severe cognitive deficits that fall into the autism spectrum, but such symptoms themselves do not necessarily translate into a diagnosis of autism. A spokesperson for HRSA mounted the same defense — shared symptoms do not make 2 different conditions identical — in an email to Medscape Medical News. The spokesperson affirmed that while the US Court of Federal Claims has granted awards for encephalopathy, it has never granted awards for autism per se.” 
Pritchard, Weiss and Thibodeaux facilitate the re-writing of the history of autism in the NVICP, as we see here:
“On March 6, 2008, the parents of 7-year-old Hannah Poling revealed that the government had agreed to compensate their claim. Though the government never conceded that a vaccine caused Hannah’s autism, that was the implication during a family news conference highlighted on cable TV and the evening news.
The court ultimately dismissed any link between vaccines and autism.
The court in December 2012 compensated two cases filed years earlier as autism claims. In both, Special Master Patricia Campbell-Smith ruled that vaccines injured the children’s brains — but did not cause autism — and awarded their families more than a million dollars each in compensation.” 
Once again, the government conceded that the vaccines that Child Doe 77 received triggered a regression that left the child with brain damage and autism. Yet we are led to believe that none of that happened, none of this is true and that the link between vaccines and autism has been disproven.
It is remarkable that the distortion of parlance can work so well. It is remarkable that a Special Master can go on record saying that vaccines caused a child’s brain damage but, stunningly, didn’t cause the same child’s autism. It is even more stunning when previous NVICP case decisions said exactly that:
“As a sequela to the encephalopathy, Kleinert suffered complications for more than six months after the administration of the DPT vaccine, and he continues to suffer from these complications, which have developed into a residual seizure disorder and autistic tendencies.” 
It is bewildering that Dr. Paul Offit can declare “shared symptoms do not make 2 different conditions identical” when autism is defined by its symptoms in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Psychiatry.
When it comes to vaccine injury and autism, government and public health officials are like eels swimming in a murky pool of convoluted phraseology. The child with vaccine induced brain damage didn’t have autism just “autism-like behaviors.” The child compensated for vaccine injury didn’t have autism just “features of autism.” The vaccine didn’t cause the child’s autism it just “resulted in autism.” And besides all that, the child didn’t have “classic autism”, whatever that is, as Offit claims.
The NVICP is a place of dissembling language, denial and injustice. People who work in and around the program admit that a child can suffer a vaccine injury that leaves them with impaired language, social skills and developmental delays. If the child now walks on their toes, hand flaps, obsesses over objects and will require care for the rest of their lives, the NVICP will go with that because brain damage, or encephalopathy, is on the Vaccine Injury Table that the program uses.
But if you say that a child who suffered vaccine induced brain damage has autism, you get the Offiterian logic that if a vaccine caused it, then it’s not autism.
It is remarkable that the AP’s journalists accept this nonsense and repeat it in their articles. To be fair, they are simply the latest in a long line of investigative journalists who seem unable to ask the next question and actually investigate this controversy as Anne Dachel points out in her book The Big Autism Cover-Up: How and Why the Media Is Lying to the American Public.
The AP concludes that attorney billing is the biggest problem in the program. Attorney billing may or may not be an issue, but the greater issue is that the “Vaccine Court” has failed the fundamental test of what Americans expect of any justice venue; that it be a place of truth.
The NVICP is a black box, a legal netherworld, kept in the shadows so that no one working there has to answer this one horrible question: What does a vaccine injured child look like?
Do such children often have “Autism” or Paul Offit’s “Nautism”?
And Special Master Campbell-Smith, if you believe that a vaccine could cause brain damage but not cause that same child’s autism, then it is completely obvious that you believe nothing could. The 5,000 families who filed claims alleging their children developed autism due to vaccination never had a shot against this kind of thinking. The treatment they received at the hands of Special Masters in the NVICP’s Omnibus Autism Proceedings represents one of the saddest chapters in the history of American justice.
The Special Masters, the Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation and the rest of the players in the NVICP have denied reality, suppressed truth and enabled the autism epidemic to rage on. The NVICP was supposed to shed light on vaccine injuries to make vaccines safer. Instead, it has allowed more children to be injured from vaccine induced brain damage – by whatever name you give it.
Louis Conte was a co-author of Unanswered Questions from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: A Review of Compensated Cases of Vaccine-Induced Brain Injury, author of a novel, The Autism War and, along with Tony Lyons, author of Vaccine Injuries: Documented Adverse Reactions to Vaccines.
Wayne Rohde is the author of The Vaccine Court: The Dark Truth of America’s Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
 Gardiner Harris – New York Times (3/8/08)
 Perspective – Vaccines and Autism Revisited — The Hannah Poling Case. N Engl J Med 2008; 358:2089-2091, 5/15/08
 Medscape, 5/10/11.
 AP Article in the New York Times, 12/22/14