Elizabeth "Liz" Ann Birt (August 10, 1956, Kansas City, Missouri – December 28, 2005) was a corporate, tax and health care attorney and lobbyist. She was a co-founder of the Coalition for Safe Minds, the founder of Medical Interventions for Autism, a founding board member of the National Autism Association, a co-founder and board member of A-CHAMP, and a principal author of Mercury in Medicine, the 2003 staff report released by the House Government Reform Committee which claimed that the mercury used to preserve vaccines was toxic.
Education and early career
In 1992, Birt graduated from DePaul University School of Law and worked for years as an insurance underwriter. She began her legal career as an assistant general counsel to Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, where she specialized in health care tax litigation and contract disputes.
In 1996, Birt's son Matthew was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, which is generally ascribed to children with autism spectrum disorders that do not meet all of the criteria for autism. Within seven blocks of her suburban Chicago home in Wilmette, Illinois, five other children also were afflicted by what Birt believed is an emerging autism epidemic. "It's just rampant," Birt said.
She subsequently dedicated her life to discovering the cause of his disorder, and used her skills as a lawyer to advocate for children with autism and to help provide improved care for Matthew and the millions of other children that have now been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Birt often spent 60 hours or more in a week researching autism or lobbying for more resources to fight developmental disabilities.
According to Birt, Matthew developed normally until he was about 15 months old, when he could count to ten and say about 30 words. Then he gradually developed autistic symptoms, which Birt attributed, like many other parents of children with autism, to two vaccinations her son received on the same day. In the following months, he began to act deaf, stopped talking, and instead spun in circles, stared at lights and ignored his family.
Birt became an active board member of Safe Minds (Sensible Action For Ending Mercury-Induced Neurological Disorders), founded in 2000 and led by the parents of autistic children, a non-profit organization dedicated to investigating the risks of exposure to mercury from medical products.
David Kirby's book, Evidence of Harm profiled her life and work. While serving on the House Committee on Government Reform, she co-wrote the report, "Mercury in Medicines--Taking Unnecessary Risks," published in the Congressional Record in 2003.
Birt became involved in the creation of Thoughtful House, a research and clinical center for the treatment of autism and other developmental disabilities, located in Austin, Texas. The principal medical investigator at the center is physician Andrew Wakefield.
The Elizabeth Ann Birt Memorial Fund for Truth and Love has been established at Thoughtful House to fund autism research and to help the many families who need assistance with the care and treatment of their affected children.
- ↑ Colson, John. "Wreck kills woman on Highway 82; Two others injured", Aspen Times, December 29, 2005. Retrieved on 2007-11-15. )
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Uncovering autism's mysteries: Is there more autism? Or just a new definition?'. CNN (March 2, 2003). Retrieved on 2007-11-15.
- ↑ Birt, Liz (November/December, 2002). Fighting for Matthew: A Parent's Activism. Mothering. Retrieved on 2007-11-15.
- ↑ Colson, John. "Accident victim was an advocate for autistic kids", Aspen Times, December 30, 2005. Retrieved on 2007-11-15.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Sadovi, Carlos. "Elizabeth Birt 1956-2005: Advocate for autistic kids", Chicago Tribune, December 31, 2005.
- ↑ Autism Projects in Memory of Liz Birt. Schafer Autism Report. Retrieved on 2007-11-15.
There is no pharmaceutical or device industry support for this site and we need your viewer supported Donations | Editorial Board | Governance | Licensing | Disclaimers | Avoid Plagiarism | Policies