Sunday, April 7, 2013

Autism-Vaccine War Reaches New Height of Stupidity

Can the vaccine-autism wars on the Internet get any more absurd?

Dan Olmsted - "Non-believers are Nazi sympathizers" -
The report goes on to quote the DeStefano/CDC study about how the antigens in vaccines don't correlate with a risk for autism. Even in the self-protective annals of the CDC, this study is a stinker. 
But putting that aside, the fact that Jalen fell off a developmental cliff TWO OR THREE DAYS after vaccination ought to make somebody in the editing room at that TV station, or some mainstream outlet somewhere, sit up and take notice. 
This happens all the damn time, people! These kinds of parental accounts, combined with the $2 billion plus awarded in vaccine court, including to Hannah Poling; the known properties of vaccination, and the concommitant rise of mercury and vaccines with the autism epidemic, are far more than enough to start asking tough questions. 
It's not going to be very PC to say this, but one of the most vivid images from the end of World War II is the Allies making local villagers walk through a newly liberated concentration camp. The message was -- how can you say you did not know?
Orac, aka David Gorksi - "You hate your children" -
It’s very clear that many antivaccinationists hate autistic children. The language they use to describe them makes that very clear. Such children are “damaged” (by vaccines, of course); the parents’ real children were “stolen” from them (by vaccines); they are “toxic” (from vaccines); the “light left their eyes” (due to vaccines). Autism is an “epidemic,” a “tsunami,” even a “holocaust,” with “denial” of that “holocaust” being equivalent to Holocaust denial. All of this likens autism to a horror on par with these calamities, and paints vaccines as the instrument of annihilation of antivaccinationists” “real” children.
Both arguments are full of it.

Any possible connection between vaccines and autism is not straightforward and obvious.  Yes, there have been some high profile cases of vaccines being implicated in autism but no one has been able to document a larger or more widespread relationship.  Just because the average doctor, parent, or journalist follows the lead of the experts in the field - experts who have served them well - does not mean that they are akin to Nazi sympathizers.

And on the flip side, the idea that talking about perceived damage to your children means that you hate them?  I don't think I quite have the words to describe how utterly stupid that argument is.  I'm not quite sure what sort of person hears a parent say that they think their child was injured and turns around and tells them that they must not love their child.

I think this comic from SMBC sums up the current state of the autism-vaccine wars quite well and, if the above exchange is any guide, we might be close to the optimal solution in the final frame-

Monday, April 1, 2013

For Sale : Extra Autism Awareness

Today, April 1st, I am holding a sale on autism awareness.  As you might know, tomorrow, April 2nd, is the sixth annual autism awareness day.  I find myself with some extra autism awareness, having accumulated the equivalent of over 50,000 days of autism awareness in just a few short years, so if anyone finds themselves a little short, I am willing to part with some awareness.

If you are interested in some of my accumulated extra awareness, you will have the chance to experience, by proxy, the purely happy, wonderful little girls that are my children.  You will be in awe of what they can do in spite of facing significant challenges from autism and how hard they are willing to work to get past their limitations.

You will get to experience the joy when they manage to break through one of the limitations that autism has placed on them and be able to get to know them in a whole new way.  You will have the chance to know that they are not defined by their autism and that they are their own individuals, whole and complete, even if they cannot always show it.

You will have to look far and wide to find awareness of sweeter, more lovely, or affectionate little girls.  Everyone who has ever worked with or known any of the three has quite literally fallen in love with them, for good reason, and you will too.

However, there are a few disclaimers that I am obligated to include as well.

You will come to know and love the slogan "sleep is for the weak".  If you enjoy actually getting a solid eight hours of sleep a night or having the opportunity to have uninterrupted sleep more than once a week, this is not the awareness for you.

If you are the sort of person who is unable to put aside your affection and love for your child and do what is in their best interest, then this is not the awareness for you.  You will have to experience the emotional consequences for acting in a way that will best help your child while not wanting to do it at the same time.  Remember, it isn't about you, it is about the children.

You if would like to grow old gradually or gracefully and not start looking old before your time, then this is not the awareness for you.  Seriously, when you get your hair cut the white hair will make it look like it is snowing.

Most importantly, if you have dreams of there ever being a time when you don't have to worry about the future or having a time when the awareness can fade, then this might not be the awareness for you.  I don't have any way of knowing what the future might bring or what the outcome will be, but there is a very real possibility that this awareness and the constant worry for the future will be with you from now until your last day.

But don't let those few disclaimers get in the way of stocking up on extra autism awareness in time for tomorrow's awareness day.  After all, the chance to get to know these wonderful children is well worth the the extra cost.  All of the fashionable people will be sporting extra awareness and you should too.


Hmm, you still here reading?  Since this post is going to be up on autism awareness day, I guess there should be a serious point rather being rather flippant about the whole thing.  OK, here is the little bit of the serious that I hinted at above, but I don't think it is going to be a popular point.

There is a lot of talk in the autism community about how autism advocacy should be entirely about the people who have autism.  After all, they are the ones who get to experience the joy of autism first hand.  But the one idea that gets lost in all of the rhetoric of "nothing about us without us" and other feel good slogans such as "I shouldn't have to change" is the cost of autism to entire extended family.

For every one person with autism there are typically going to be at least three, four, or many more other people who are going to be profoundly impacted by that person's autism as well.  So, as unpopular as this idea is going to be, autism advocacy shouldn't be completely about just the people who have autism.

Don't misunderstand, this isn't some woe is me rant from yet another parent.  I am not saying that autism has ruined my life or any other such tale of misery.  I actually like my children and enjoy spending time with them; as I said above, they are truly great little girls and I wouldn't give them up for the world.  I may wish that they didn't struggle with autism but I certainly wouldn't trade them for other "normal" children.

But, at the same time, living with autism - even if you don't experience it first hand - extracts a high professional, social, personal, and health cost and these costs are not limited to the immediate family.  Everybody who is involved feels some of the impact of autism whether it be the parents who bear the brunt of the dealing with the joy of autism on a daily basis to grandparents to other family members and friends who try to help out.

Anyway, that is the serious bit of awareness - the cost of autism to people other than those who have autism.  So, if you happen to know a family whose children have autism (and given how common it is now, you probably do) try to be nice to them.  They are dealing with a lot and can use any help you can provide.