Posted by: Jenny | January 7, 2011

Some things do take a village

Thursday morning we awoke to a another news story about the fraud of the infamous Wakefield study, which was used as a basis for many claims of a link between vaccines and autism.  It seems like this study was debunked a year ago, but the story keeps getting recycled.  I don’t know or care to find out why.  I find the vaccine debate in the autism community utterly depressing and infuriating.  I’ve already spent far too many days depressed and infuriated over autism, no more.  But for the record, here is where I stand on it:  I dunno.  Wakefield seems like a crook, but one crook doesn’t convince me that all the parents that have taken “normal” children in for vaccines, and within a day “saw the lights go out” or saw their child start to have seizures or other severe, undeniable, unexplained physical symptoms are crazy or lying or stupid.  (By the way, these seizures that some autistics experience can, indeed, be fatal).  I find it personally offensive when the experts whose livelihood is built around “helping” them blatantly mock them.  But other than giving the experts the electronic finger, that isn’t my battlefront.

I am concerned with stopping, or at least understanding, the epidemic of autism we face today.  To do that we need to find the cause or causes.  Unfortunately, I’m not too hopeful.  Everyone charged with finding a cause or explanation, even the best intentioned people on both sides of vaccine-gate, have a personal agenda related to their egos and/or pocketbooks that comes long before helping families like mine.  I understand that, but I can’t accept it.  I’ve already accepted plenty.

We talk in circles.  Tiny, needle puncture sized circles.  As I write this, the homepage at Autism Speaks states that 1 in 110 children are affected by autism (meaning they fall somewhere on the spectrum), for boys the statistics are 1 in 70.  This is where all Americans, particularly libertarians and republicans come in.  I’m afraid the right’s principles of personal responsibility leave conservatives thinking issues like this aren’t their problem.  Most of them sincerely care, but at the end of the day don’t realize how they are affected.  Right now, they’re not.

But they will be, and if the numbers don’t slow down it could be a huge problem.  Right now, that 1 little boy out of 70 is an angelic faced child you see in the grocery store acting weird once in awhile.  But most of the time he is isolated at home with his parents that are doing their best to understand(and finance) the unknown.  Even if the numbers stopped growing, in fifteen years we are going to have 1 out of every 70 18-year-old men becoming adults with autism.  Just think about how that will affect our military alone.  I joke that my brilliant, yet socially disabled son will someday build a bomb that’ll save the world, but he’ll never be fit for combat.  I don’t even know if he’ll be able to live on his own or be able to hold down a traditional  job.  Even right now, my son has to have someone dedicated to walking him through each step of his school day.  On the taxpayer dime.  No tax break will every make that something my husband and I could pay for out of pocket.  That’s but one way this is everyone’s problem.

I’ve heard other conservatives dismiss the epidemic as an over-diagnosis.  Like these children are just a little odd.  No big deal.  In that case, we’ve changed the definition of odd to mean jumping out of windows, banging heads against the wall to the point where the sheetrock breaks out of frustration that they can’t communicate and chronic diarrhea if they don’t adhere to a special diet.  That’s just at my house.  If you think autism isn’t real or is an over-diagnosis you’re the village idiot.  Get lost.

We need to take the conversation about autism beyond a yelling match about vaccines, to what the epidemic really means for the day to day lives of the children suffering from it today and how society as a whole may suffer from it later.  This will require meaningful awareness (not rubber bracelets) and money, public and private  To start, Holly Robinson Peete has 8 autism-related issues the media overlooks.  Yes, it’s at HuffPo.  I’d rather link a right-leaning site here, but as far as I know none of them cover this stuff.

My point?  If you have a heart you’ll want to help for my son’s sake.  If you have a brain you’ll want to help for your own.

(BTW, I highly recommend  Peete’s children’s book, My Brother Charlie, for siblings of autistic children.  I could write another 1000 words on how this has affected my daughter, and will her entire life.)

Note: Fellow conservative and autism advocate,  Tim Welsh,  makes a case for Dr. Wakefield.

My reaction to the Dr. Wakefield story… well, it is mainly why? And what is new? The why is we have an impotent mainstream medical community that does not have the tools to deal with questions about autism and vaccine injury. They continue to push a one size fits all program in a society that knows, expects and demands informed consent. We have had too many mine accidents, recalls, food poisonings, oil spills, and no explanation for autism to continue a program of trust me I wear a white coat. As a conservative Christian business owner, I say it is time for the pharmaceutical company to be responsible for the expenses occurred by reckless use of mercury and hiding in thud skirts of government.
What is new? Nothing, this is a smoke screen. A story that was overplayed by media in 1998. Dr Wakefield simply asked the question. The medical community has yet to answer. What are the causes and solutions for autism?
“TannersDad”  Tim Welsh
autism and vaccine safety advocate
Director Mason Allen Medlam Foundation for Autism Safety

Over the last 2 years I’ve grown to see Welsh as a sensible and knowledgeable source on autism.  If you’re getting all your autism information from Dr. Greg Gutfeld (and a lot of you are), then at least get the other side from someone for whom the issue is more than a punchline.

crossposted at Pundit League

UPDATE: Melissa Clouthier (aka MelissaTweets) has weighed in. I wanted to ask her what she thought about this when it broke, but I knew she was on the road.  She’s much more knowledgeable about the science and explains it so much better than I did, and agrees that the persecution of parents has to stop.

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