Testimony of Rick Rollens
Before The House Committee on Government Reform
August 3, 1999Mr. Chairman and Members:
My name is Rick Rollens. I currently reside in Granite Bay, California which is located 30 miles east of Sacramento with my wife of 23 years, Janna, and my two sons, Matthew,13, and Russell, 8. It is a pleasure to appear before you today. For me, this is somewhat of a homecoming. In 1973 I had the privilege of serving on the Washington staff of former Representative Jerome Waldie of California. Following my service to the house, I embarked upon a 23-year career of public service with the California State Senate. Working through the ranks and reaching the pinacle of the Senate staff.... being elected by the Members of the State Senate to serve as the Secretary of the Senate.
I resigned my position as Secretary of the Senate in 1996 in order to further dedicate myself to the pursuit of effective treatments and a cure for my beloved son, Russell. I am here today to share with you the story of my sons case of vaccine induced autism and to report on the growing autism epidemic in California, and the pandemic of autism sweeping across this Country.
Russell began his life as a normal, healthy, and robust child, meeting all his age appropriate milestones. At seven months old, after receiving his third DPT and first HIB vaccine, Russell began the slow and insidious process of slipping into the world of autism. After seven months in this world, Russells life had changed forever, and the lives of all who know and love him were changed forever as well. Within days after his first MMR vaccination Russell began his final journey into the abyss of autism - losing most of his remaining skills, developing severe sleep disruption, chronic gastrointestinal problems, worsening of his already disturbing behaviors, and suffering pain exhibited by those harrowing days of endless crying. Russell was officially diagnosed with autism six months later. After many months of medical investigation of Russells condition, including state-of-the-art brain scans, immunological and neurological work-ups, we consulted a noted pediatric neurologist who thoroughly examined Russell and reviewed all of Russells medical history. He advised us that in part, Russells brain dysfunction had very likely occurred as a result of some form of encephalitis resulting in bilateral hypometabolism in the temporal lobes of his brain. Based on the years of extensive medical investigation that had been done on my son, along with the strong temporal relationship between the timing of the vaccinations he received and the onset of the symptoms of his condition, as well as the scientifically based knowledge that one of the many serious adverse effects of certain vaccines is brain swelling and encephalitis I believe that Russell is a victim of vaccine induced autism. My story is not unique. I would challenge each of you to talk to many of your own constituents who are the rapidly growing number of parents of children with autism. I can assure you that you will hear first hand accounts from a disturbing number of these parents of a normally developing child, the introduction and reaction to a vaccine or multiple vaccines, the timing of their childrens regression and vaccination, and the onset of the multitude of other medical conditions and complications that accompany this acquired autistic condition.
A child born today in California will have received his first vaccination between six to eight HOURS old. By the time that child is 18 months old he will have received 16 vaccinations, and by the age of 5 years old, 35 vaccinations. Additionally in California, it is likely this child before age 18 months will be receiving two additional vaccines or series of vaccinations for Chicken Pox and Hepatitis A as well.
Vaccines contain numerous active agents such as live viruses, bacterial agents, preservatives, and toxic chemicals including formaldehyde and mercury, as well as human, animal, and plant RNA. Not a single safety study has ever been done on the short term or long term effects of the interaction of this potent cocktail of numerous multiple active agents on the developing brain and immune systems of our children. I must ask the public health community: where is the science? Even the published so-called safety studies of individual vaccines which range from a few days of surveillance to a couple of weeks are woefully inadequate, as well as the ludicrous response of the CDC to reports from parents and inquiries from the press about the relationship of the onset of autism after MMR and other vaccinations that, according to the CDC, can only be explained to be a "rare chance occurrence". CDC: Show me the science. I must ask this committee, is it appropriate to continue to entrust the CDC, the public health community, and the indemnified vaccine manufacturers with the responsibility of guaranteeing the parents of this country that these potent class four poisons we know as vaccines will NOT cause autism ,when these same groups have a vested interest as the most aggressive promoters of vaccines and of the "new vaccine a week" policy ? I liken the situation to charging the tobacco industry to undertake independent scientific study to ascertain if there is any relationship between lung cancer and smoking.The science on the safety of vaccines and their relationship to the cause or contribution to the development of autism is simply not there. Not there, because the pleas of parents have been ignored. Many of us have suffered the ultimate betrayal of trust by blindly allowing our children to be injected with a multitude of vaccines....trusting that those responsible for vaccine safety have made sure that my child could not become autistic after his vaccinations.
Responding to the outcry of parents, professionals, and educators over the concern of the increasing number of children with autism and autism spectrum disorders, the California Legislature and two Governors of different political parties responded, and within the past year mandated the first objective report on the increase of autism in California which documented a growing epidemic of autism, $5 million was appropriated for independant research, development, and to fund the first ever fully independent epidemiological study looking into all factors, including vaccines, that have been implicated as contributing to the growing autism epidemic, and lastly, enacted legislation establishing the M. I.N.D. Institute (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) at University of California, Davis to aggressively pursue through good science research the causes of autism and other neurological disorders.
Last year under the leadership of former State Senator, now U.S. Representative Mike Thompson, the Legislature required the Department of Developmental Services to report on the increase of autism in California from 1987-1998. The report was released earlier this year and documents a 273% increase in the number of new children with autism entering the developmental services system. Mental retardation and several other disorders also increased but at a predictable population adjusted rate. Last year alone, 1685 new children with autism were added to the system while, according to California population figures along with DSM IV incidence rates, there should have been an expected 105 to 263 new cases.
The release of the Report led the Los Angeles Times to declare that the state has an epidemic of autistic children. An epidemic of autism? Isnt that an oxymoron? For we all know, there is no such thing as a genetic disease epidemic. Clearly, there must be other factors involved.
Since the California Autism Report was released in April, we now know from the Department that during the first six months of this year, 1,027 new children, like the others before them professionally diagnosed with autism, were added to the system.. during this latest six month period from January 6 to July 7 we added on average six new children a day seven days a week ..or ONE NEW CHILD EVERY FOUR HOURS. As with the thousands of autistic children already in the system, these 1,027 new children are, according to the Department, going to cost the taxpayers of California and the country at least $ 2 million each for a lifetime of care.
Surely any intelligent, thoughtful person cannot with a straight face suggest that its all genetics, or better recognition - of one of the most recognizable of all childhood disorders in which any of you who spend five minutes with an autistic child will there after be able to recognize autism from across an airport, or somehow subtle changes in the diagnostic criteria that had occurred 10 years AFTER the massive increase in autism had already begun; can in anyway be viewed as major contributing factors responsible for explaining away the current autism epidemic. (Show charts)
Earlier this year, the national and local media extensively covered the story of the observations by parents in Brick Township, New Jersey that there were a lot of kids with autism in their community. In fact, the CDC publicly announced that they had discovered a cluster of autism in Brick, that the CDC did not know why there are so many children in Brick with autism or what was responsible for this cluster but when they found out what was causing it they pledged to remove the cause or causes from the community.
The CDC was right to be extremely concerned, because they found the prevalence of autism in a population of roughly six thousand children to be 1 in 150 children ( no surprise here, but those numbers have since increased). A prevalence rate 12 times higher than the established, published prevalence rate for autism.
My family and I reside in a community approximately three thousand miles from Brick Township, a community that is ALMOST in everyway as different from Brick as two communities in our Country can be. Where we live, our young children are served by a single public elementary school district. The prevalence of autism in our elementary school district of less than 3000 students is 1 in 132 children. Mr. Chairman and Members, Brick Township New Jersey and Granite Bay California are not clusters of autism but snapshots of what is occurring in your districts and throughout this Country. Seek and you shall find.
Vaccine policy has always been a cost-benefit proposition. I am here to tell you that the numerically rare sacrificial lambs that society has been willing to tolerate for the good of the whole, could now, very likely before our eyes be turning into a herd of casualties of the most precious resource we have- our children and grandchildren. We must act quickly by investing in good, independent research and science to ascertain all the facts surrounding the role of vaccines and autism.
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