Robert De Niro, Wakefield, and the autism conversation


I hope that all of my Christian readers are enjoying their Easter holiday.

De Niro and the facts behind the Wakefield Drama

By now most if not all in the autism community have heard about Robert De Niro’s thwarted plan to screen and therefore give some credibility to Andrew Wakefield’s “documentary” VAXXED. He defended his initial decision saying:

“Grace and I have a child with autism,” he wrote, referring to his wife, Grace Hightower De Niro, “and we believe it is critical that all of the issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined. In the 15 years since the Tribeca Film Festival was founded, I have never asked for a film to be screened or gotten involved in the programming. However this is very personal to me and my family and I want there to be a discussion, which is why we will be screening VAXXED.”

Not long after this statement he screened the film with festival organizers and “scientists”and then pulled the film stating:

“We do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for.”

I’m glad he took a second look and had a second thought.

A Matter of Opinion

What irks me most about De Niro’s statement is that he thought having an autistic kid factored into the rightness or his decision. I’m quite certain the matter is a personal one to him,


Robert De Niro could have fifteen autistic kids and the diagnoses himself and it doesn’t make the previous decision any less irresponsible.

I think that giving validity to a disproved theory and the conspiracy theories it generates is dangerous and does not contribute to any discussion that benefits persons on the spectrum nor the public as a whole.

Yet I don’t want people  take my opinion as gospel because we happen to have diagnoses and so our own experiences with the condition.

The facts speak to the reality of and fallout from Wakefield’s “work.”

The facts of the circumstances, the scientifically proven (or disproved as the case may be) information is always  better than the anecdote, opinion, or other individual experience regardless of who is sharing it.

At time perspectives can help us understand ourselves, other parents, and our children better but they don’t beat facts.

Should we still be having This conversation?

As for the  “conversation” De Niro wants to have,  it’s been sidetracked by Wakefield’s nonsense and endless cause/cure theories far too long.

Let’s look at some more facts:

Can we have a conversation about any of that?

Better yet


How about shifting from focusing on cause and cure to SUPPORT of  the 68 million (CDC) people on this planet diagnosed with autism?

April is autism charity “awareness” money beg month.

Money that is spent primarily in research with little going to actual support.

Can we try for something better?


















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