All of us at the National Autism Association are deeply saddened by the loss of our co-founder, Joanne Pike. Jo’s work in forming the first national autism organization willing to speak the truth about what happened to a generation of innocent children in this country has advanced our understanding of autism. Her refusal to accept that autism is a mysterious and unavoidable condition proved to be visionary.
Many of us met Jo for the first time in 2003, on a frigid January day in Washington, DC. Organized to protest the Homeland Security Act rider protecting Eli Lilly from liability for injuries caused by mercury-containing vaccines, it was the first of many rallies by parents fighting for the rights of their vaccine-injured children. The major victory received when the Lilly rider was repealed was due in large part to Jo’s drive in bringing these parents together to speak as one.
Jo often referred to these first rally participants as her “rag tag group of parents” but knew that for every person present at that first event in 2003, there were hundreds more they represented, and that there was strength in numbers. This knowledge and Jo’s dedication to bringing parents together led to the formation of the National Autism Association and with that, real help became available to families affected by autism.
Jo’s compassion for all in the autism community knew no bounds. Her door was always open to help those trying to find answers for their loved ones affected by autism, and as countless parents and grandparents around the world know, Jo’s friendship was unwavering.
Our community has lost this faithful friend, but her spirit lives on through the work of NAA and through the thousands of parents she inspired to seek the very best for their vaccine-injured children. For not only was Jo an advocate for other families, she was most of all a devoted mother to her own children who she loved so much. To her children and to all of Jo’s family and friends, please know that Jo will live forever in our hearts. We will always do our best to see that Jo’s mission is carried out as she intended, working together with hope for the future of our children.
National Autism Association Officers and Board Members