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  QUESTION: Getting together to lower the incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorder, 23 Feb 2005, Canada


I have a daughter who was poisoned by ingesting lead paint chips falling off a wall in a hospital. It was exposed and admitted in Court. So, this is not based on opinion.

In 1982 we found out about Agent Orange. My daughter was born in Oromocto, New Brunswick in 1967 where the defoliant Agent Orange was sprayed in 1966 and 1967. This is also documented.

We did not know about Agent Orange at the time but we knew something was not quite right with my daughter when she was a toddler as she had no speech and flipped her hands (and other autistic behaviours. This is the reason she went to the hospital for research on her speech/behavioural problems. Instead of getting help however, she ingested lead based paint chips there and spent 9 years being chelated from the lead in her system. This lead poisoning was superimposed on whatever her initial problem was (from the exposure to Agent Orange).

In the 1970's autism was a new word--today it is epidemic. In 1970 not many had heard of Agent Orange. It has been a long battle with many odds against us because we dared to expose the hospital. But 4 family members, including me, were working in mainstream media at the time, and felt we had to do this not just for our family member but for other children. It was the only thing that impressed the authorities enough to "clean up their act." So, in a way, we had no choice but to go public.

It is a long story. However, there is hope now because of the amount of people that have already been afflicted with Autism. In Canada, we call it Autism Spectrum Disorder because of the varying degrees. Autism has been like a mushroom cloud from an atom bomb. In 1960 basically no one knew the word autism, today it is affecting one in every 167 Canadians.

Your website made me hope that if we all got together we could change things faster.

I have several degrees including 2 doctorates and psychology, and English from York University here in Canada. I am presently involved in the sociology of disability there--a brand new course--and about time.

Needless to say, I have a large file with authentic documentation through the years--so I would be able to contribute in a meaningful way.

Do contact me

ANSWER: 01 Jun 2005

Dear Sir,

I am so sorry that I have not responded to your heart-wrenching email before today. We had a change-over of email programs and many emails have been lost in the system til now. I would be very interested to hear your ideas on lowering the incidence of ASD but I'm sure that all the other parents who have joined the Plumbism and Autism Network (PAN) that I set up, would be interested too and would be able to contribute from their own experiences. What did you have in mind? One of the PAN members, Leslie Embersits, has started running workshops for parents and health providers in Sydney and if you join PAN you will be able to see the kind of messages going out through that forum.

Again I apologise for the delay in responding but I do look forward to hearing from you again soon. To join PAN you simply have to go to and apply.

Best regards and thanks for emailing.
Yours Sincerely
Elizabeth O'Brien

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