It is with great sadness that Autism Investigated relays the announcement that Dan Olmsted – Age of Autism’s founding editor – has passed away. While I have had my differences with him and the Age of Autism site, I will be forever grateful to him for his friendship, advice and platform for my views. I’ve always respected him as a journalist and have never forgotten the excellent work he has done over the years, and I just had a very friendly exchange with him on the day of the inauguration. I will never stop missing him and offer my sincere condolences to the entire Age of Autism team. Autism Investigated devoted the entire week to posts honoring Dan Olmsted, and is now ending with a proper obituary. May we all honor Dan Olmsted’s life by ending the autism epidemic to make America great again! – Jake Crosby, MPH
How many journalists leave mainstream media to devote the rest of their lives to get to the bottom of the fastest growing neurological disorder among children in the United States? Because I can think of only one, and his name was Dan Olmsted.
“His loss leaves a huge vacuum for people who care about public health and children’s health in this country,” said Robert F. Kennedy Jr. “He’s had as much integrity as any reporter I’ve ever met and more courage than any I’ve ever met. He was willing to walk away from his job for the sake of truth.”
Dan Olmsted passed away unexpectedly on January 23rd, 2016 at the age of 64, and is survived by his spouse Mark Milett and sister Rosamund McDonel Augsburger. The news came as a shock to many who knew him, myself included. That shock was compounded by Dan’s unceasing endurance, writing articles non-stop until two days before his death. He left behind an incredible library of articles and books going back over a decade – most about the autism epidemic, and all related to it in some way. Second only to coping with his loss, the biggest challenge for me was selecting which articles of his to re-post for Autism Investigated’s 7-day tribute to his life. There are just so many!
“Here was a true journalist, not a doctor or a scientist, who did what the medical and scientific communities didn’t do but should have done: investigate the cause of autism,” said exonerated British doctor Andrew Wakefield.
Finding some new insight or lead about the age of autism was never a problem for Dan. When I first met him in 2009, he told me about the time he decided to start writing his Age of Autism column for United Press International. His editor was reportedly concerned that he wouldn’t find enough material to keep the column going.
“Are you kidding me? I can write one every week,” he relayed back to me.
That was all the way back in 2005, but he kept the column going for two years straight until leaving the news agency. His commitment to the cause would only escalate in 2007 when he founded his own news website dedicated to the topic he loved writing about so much: AgeofAutism.com.
It was there that I got my start in 2008 when I first began contributing. While I was a contributing editor, I learned so much from him. It is hard to know where to begin. His ability to investigate, uncover and write was unique and unparalleled, and I always benefited from his advice.
But eventually, a rift grew within our friendship. And one day, that rift grew big enough that it forced me to leave and start my own site – thus marking the beginning of Autism Investigated. We had ceased speaking for awhile, with very little communication in recent years. And despite sometimes citing Age of Autism, Autism Investigated had also been critical of Age of Autism’s coverage at times – particularly during the election cycle.
But despite the mixed signals Age of Autism may have sent about our now-president before the election, Dan Olmsted eventually came around to fully embracing President Trump. On the day of the inauguration just three days before Dan’s death, I was fortunate to have had an extremely friendly email exchange with him where he expressed the same optimism about the new president as he would do the next day in his final “Weekly Wrap” post.
But most encouraging of all was his colorful plea at the very end, one that Autism Investigated hopes will soon become a reality again:
…there is much more common in our cause than anything we might occasionally fight over – that the autism epidemic is real, and excessive vaccinations are the cause.
Rebel Alliance, unite!