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Daniel - Poker Journal

Talk About Curing Autism

24 Oct 2007

There is so much I didn’t know about the disease and I suspect that a lot of you are probably in the same boat. I heard some staggering statistics and spoke to several families who shared their stories with me. Here are just a couple stats to chew on:

*80% of the autistic population is aged 15 years old and younger.
*80% of couples with autistic children end in divorce.
*Boys outnumber girls by a ration of 4:1.
*Over the last 20 years or so, the number of vaccines given to young children has increased from about 10 to 42.
*1 in every 150 kids are diagnosed with autism compared to 1 in 10,000 not too many years ago.

With each of these figures there could, and likely are other circumstances that affect these numbers. For example the increase in children being diagnosed with autism likely has a little something to do with the high percentage of young people being diagnosed.

I also should mention before I put my foot in my mouth, that TACA is NOT anti-vaccines at all. In fact, they believe that more research needs to be done to understand whether or not the two are linked. Some experts say yes, other experts say no way.

The link between autism and vaccines was born out of the idea that mercury in vaccines could cause autism in children who may be susceptible to it. I’m no doctor and have no clue what, if any vaccines could cause autism, but what I’m not sure I understand is why there seems to be a need to use over 40 different vaccines on children at such a young age? When I was a kid, I was exposed to chicken pox, measles, rubella, mumps, and all kinds of things you only get once. I got rid of all of that when I was a baby and never needed a vaccine. Today they vaccinate for chicken pox? Why? It seems silly to me, but again, I ain’t no doctor.

A lot of this stuff I already knew from watching the news and shows like 60 Minutes and 20/20, but what I didn’t know was that these kids are in physical pain. It’s always been seen as a purely behavioral issue, at least that’s what I thought, but these kids suffer physical pain from major gut problems. They also have depleted immune systems so they are sick on a regular basis. The thing is, most doctors, after diagnosing a child with autism will simply tell you, “Sorry about your luck, nothing you can do about it,” and they don’t treat the biological symptoms of the disease.

Well, in talking with several of the families they told me, and I don’t see why they’d want to make this up, by the way, that when they focused on healing the child’s body and treat the symptoms… the behavior improved immensely! Big shocker, huh? Imagine how cranky you’d be if you were constantly feeling sick? I might throw a temper tantrum or two myself.

Anyway, that’s the key thing I learned most about these kids. It’s not just erratic behavior they have to deal with, not just emotional pain… but physical pain. That strikes me as really sad and something the government should spend more money focusing on, especially with it becoming such a common problem. 1 in 150 kids. 1 in 150 kids diagnosed with this disease. That’s a lot of kids, no?

(For more information on the TACA organization and autism in general please checkout their website at www.talkaboutcuringautism.org )


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The event was a blast. They raised a substantial amount of money and I was honored to be associated with the event. I met Jenny McCarthy there and she has been instrumental in bringing in media attention for the cause. Jim Everett, former NFL QB was also there and he sat right next to me in the charity tournament.

I flew in the day of the event, but since I had to be back in Vegas really early in the morning I planned on getting a limo back home so I could sleep in the back seat. I ended up staying till the bitter end, talking with some of the families. It was awesome conversation and my brain felt like a sponge just trying to soak in as much information as possible.

One of the fathers gave me one of the biggest compliments I think I’ve ever received. It blew me away actually. He teaches 5th graders and told me that he has shown the kids video of me playing n the WSOP. I couldn’t figure out why he’d do that, but then he told me that he showed his class the tapes to teach them sportsmanship. I seriously didn’t even know what to say? What do you say to something like that? It felt so good I can’t even put it into words.

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I haven’t blogged in a while, but I have a video blog up at www.fullcontactpoker.com about my experience playing in Bill Russell’s fantasy basketball camp as well as a bunch of other topics including Poker After Dark which is where I filmed it.

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PokerVT work has been going really well and I was super excited about the content we added today. I’ve been working really hard on this project and today we really started to get into the nitty gritty stuff that you should all benefit from when it’s finished. For those curious, PokerVT stands for Poker Virtual Training.

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Golf. I almost quit! I went from my best round to my worst round. By the way, remind me never to play tennis again, it messes with my backswing. Anyway, I haven’t been able to get my 3-wood in the air at all so I decided to get a lesson from the head pro at TPC Summerlin. We started with the basics and he helped me with my alignment, my posture and my weight transfer. I was able to hit my irons well, but I’d already been doing that. He wasn’t able to help me get the 3-wood in the air, but I decided to grind away on the range until I figured it out.

After hitting ball after ball… I totally gave up. I went back into the pro shop and was about ready to donate my clubs to someone. Then I just started talking to the guys about what “I” think the problem is and showed them what I meant. I explained to them that I can “feel” when my shoulder turn is not correct even before I bring the club forward.

I’d always been told that my swing was “too flat” and I guess I’d been trying to correct that by bringing the club back straight and then not turning my shoulders at all so I could keep the club from going behind my body. I showed them what “felt” comfortable to me and they were like, “That works for me. It should work.”

So I head back out to the range and… BOOM! High arcing, long, straight bombs with the 3-wood. All the while I was trying to avoid a swing plane that was most comfortable to me and that was the swing plane that was right all along.

Now I understand that when I take the club back I keep it on a straight line, but AFTER that it’s ok to tuck that shoulder under my chin, bring the club back a little flat (I have a one plane swing) and then come through the ball…. Now let’s just hope I can still hit my irons! Golf is so awesome, yet so annoying!

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Tomorrow I’m going to play a fun little 8-man tournament at TPC Summerlin with handicaps. Me, E-DOG, Peter Feldman, Gavin Smith, Martin de Knijff, Ted Park, Sam Siharath, and Tyson Lee. Everyone has a different “par” and depending how you do against your own par, that is your score. For example, Sam’s par is 90 so if he shot 88 he’d be -2. Gavin’s par is 85 so if he shot 88 he’d be +3. We did this once before. I made the handicaps and they were TOTALLY fair. I won, of course, but it was only by one stroke J

After golf I need to go to the studio to do more work on the PokerVT stuff, and then next morning I’m flying back to Toronto… with my golf clubs.

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