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Friday, February 20, 2009

Eggs and the power of no

I've been doing a lot of choices by asking twenty questions. Sometimes King knows the words, and sometimes it's a matter of finding the thing he doesn't say no to. 

This morning for breakfast. 

He followed me into the kitchen and said what sounded like "cup,"  but he said no to all the cups I offered. I lifted him up and he picked out a plate. I asked him what he wanted on the plate, but he couldn't say. Finally I pulled out a pan and asked if he wanted eggs. Yes. He wanted eggs.  He practiced saying and signing eggs while we cooked them.   

It's as if he's finally hit that "language explosion" that most kids get at around age two. He knows what language is. He knows he needs to learn it, and he's taking lots of notes. Sometimes literally. He's taken to writing "BINGO" on his magnadoodle lately to get us to sing along. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

This Question Has Been Asked and Answered

Ok, I love her. Well, for this anyway. She made a controversial comment on that whole Autism Every Day video that I had a lot of problems with, but on this? She's totally right.

Alison Singer says she left Autism Speaks because they kept using their limited resources on vaccine research instead of focusing on things that actually had some potential. I've had this frustration, too. It's dead, Jim!

Here's another story. A few weeks ago, Jodie went to the pediatrician. She had Tdap [tetanus-diptheria-pertussis] vaccine, a flu shot and a vaccine against meningitis. The next day her teacher remarked to me that Jodie was much more attentive and participated in class much more than usual. Her gym teacher said that for the fist time Jodie was able to compete in an obstacle course. Should I start pontificating that vaccines are a great treatment for autism? Of course not, that's not science. That's called coincidence. Here's the full Newsweek article.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sewing anxiety

Princess is good at sewing. I mean, she's seven, so she's not making prom dresses or anything yet, but she's very good at sewing for her age. She stopped sewing for a while, and she kept telling me that "sewing was boring." She'd get exited about wanting to sew something, but would most likely not start the project, would ask me to do it, or would declare it to be "boring" the first time she ran into any snags. 

Yesterday we finally got over some of that hump. Really what was going on was that she was worrying too much about making mistakes or poking herself with a pin, and it would distract her to the point where she couldn't actually do any work. I also suspect she's like her mom and gets bothered when the project seems overwhelmingly big. 

Anyway, she wanted to sew a fairy dress for a book report. I traced off the simplest pattern I could - basically  a long T-shirt, so there were only four pieces to sew, and I hemmed the collar for her. She struggled with it at first, but when she finally got into sewing, she decided that "sewing makes my brain calm down!"  When she'd start to worry about the next step, she decided that "my brain is too worried - I need to sew to make my brain calm down." And she did. And she finished her project and asked if she could sew some more tonight. 


King is in a total no phase, which is mildly annoying in two year olds and a big relief in four year olds that previously weren't talking. He's even stopped his scripted response to "Are you all done?"  

It used to be that we'd ask him if he was all done, he'd automatically say "yes" and then get upset that his things were taken away. Then he moved towards saying yes and then shoving you away to keep working on whatever it was. Now he says no and runs back to the table to continue with his activity. 

Last night he pointed at a patch of blue wallpaper and clearly labeled it as blue. Yay for colors. Well, one of them, heh. And then he said Blue's Clues, so he's associating the word Blue with something besides one specific shade of blue, so good there. When I try with other colors, he's associating them with fruit and doesn't label the color, except for orange, heh.

And then earlier he wanted to sing Bingo, so he brought out the magna-doodle. I pretended to not understand his intent and wrote "CAT" on it. I swear he said, "Stupid, no, stop!"  Wow. Ok, then. Back to writing BINGO. 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Kirby also needs to go away

Ok, here's the story. Olbermann does his "worst person in the world" stick. 

It's Wakefield! For forging data. And deservedly so. 

But noooo, that's so not fair, since according to David Kirby, (a man with a huge financial interest in maintaining vaccine paranoia) Brian Deer, the reporter who broke the Times story, was the original complainant in the medical review of Wakefield and this fact was not disclosed in the article.  

Which prompted Olbermann to name Deer the next day:

Well, aside from the fact that I wouldn't be bothered by a reporter calling the police on a criminal and then later reporting more about the bad deeds of the criminal, it turns out that the accusation was flat out not true.  Deer didn't make the complaint. As is easily shown with the power of a bit of Google-fu. Sheeesh. 

And Kirby wrote Evidence of Harm, one of the reasons vaccine paranoia jumped to the US.  I didn't see Kirby post this conflict of interest over at Huffpo. I just saw links to his book. 

Oh, and in case you're not tired of Kirby and Olbermann smackdown, here's some more

Wakefield Needs to Go Away

Andrew Wakefield has pissed me off for years. Why? He's responsible for the whole vaccines-cause-autism paranoia. 

Once upon a time, a researcher named Wakefield got paid by a legal team to help them in their case against the MMR vaccine. At the same time, and quite probably for the same reason, he decided to do a study on his hypothesis that autism was caused by measles lingering in the "leaky gut" of a subset of kids. He took 12 kids, some or all of whom had parents involved in the lawsuit by the legal team, and put them in his "study."  

"Why that would be unethical" you might say. Why yes, it would be. It would be even more unethical to give these children, ages 3-10, unnecessary medical procedures such as MRIs, colonoscopies, and spinal taps, now wouldn't it? Especially if you didn't quite actually have ethical approval for this study.  

And then it would be even more unethical if you were to not disclose your relationship with these children and the full source of all your funding and then publish your paper in the Lancet. And yet, that's exactly what he did. 

Oh, it gets better. He claims to have found measles in 8 out of 12 of those kids. His assistant didn't see it, but maybe his assistant just didn't want to believe as much as he did.  That's the sort of behavior that gets you brought up on charges of professional misconduct. Which he was.

Recently he's been brought into the spotlight again by accusations that he also outright falsified his data

But, oh, the poor Wakefield. Why won't Brian Deer leave him alone? Maybe because Wakefield's theories are totally bogus?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Seeing the Good in the Meltdown

So yesterday was a bit of an up and down day. King's been ill, and I think he's still a bit cranky. We had some kettle corn earlier in the day, which he loved, and he kept asking for more "pop." 

The last time around, he comes over and asks, clear as day, for "more popcorn." I would have loved to have rewarded him, but we'd all just finished the bag. I told him we were all out of popcorn. Instant meltdown. 

I suppose I could be bummed, but I'm not. Not only did he ask clearly for something, he understood me when I told him we were out. He wasn't sad because he wasn't communicating. He was sad because we didn't have any popcorn. 

That's big progress. 

BTW, he had a bowl of Cheerios later on, and that turned out to be a just fine substitute snack for him. 

Friday, February 6, 2009

Allergy tests...

I asked a friend of mine who is an ND about those allergy tests I keep hearing other moms talk about. They always end up with really weird results like, cheese but not milk or chicken, celery, apples, and rice. Inevitably they end up having to prepare every single dish at home and do this whole rotating food thing and get an already picky eater to accept an even more restricted diet. 

There would have to be a whole slew of very concrete results for me to accept such a thing. 

Anyway, from what I've read, there isn't any sort of large double blind, peer reviewed study that backs the finding of these tests. There is some sort of reaction for some people when you mix their blood and certain food items, but they don't have proof that this actually indicates an allergy. I mean, some people have different colors of eyes but that doesn't have a thing to do with how well you see. 

Anyway, I asked my friend, and he confirmed that. No studies. They don't actually know. They're just guessing that this indicates an allergy. He says this just gives them a direction to go and really they should pay attention to their children and how they react. 

Compare and contrast that with the parents. They seem to think a blood test is all scientific like and wow isn't it awesome that they get instant results without having to do all that guesswork and elimination diets to find hidden allergies! 

Next time I see him, I'll ask him about the food sources. I get that they can test against pure casseins, but how do they test against chicken? Do they raise the chickens in a lab? What if the allergy is to the feed, not the animal? Or celery - how do they remove possible outside  contaminates?  Just too many questions. Plus, if it really was this easy, why doesn't the average pediatrician offer allergy testing as part of their standard services? 


So King was singing something in the car and making some interesting pointy hand gestures. I figured out he was singing B-I-N-G-O. It makes perfect sense that that would be an instant hit with him. It involves letters. 

At home I drew out BINGO for him, and he sang it for me. He got really into the clapping part and stomped his feet to the rythm in excitement. Clap-Clap EnGo! Clap-Clap EnGo! 

It was the most adorable thing, ever. 

Today we're selling the boy to science again. They're coming in for a third attempt at finishing the assesment they haven't been able to get all the way through and they're going to video our interactions for the study.  

I'm thinking the longer it takes them to finish up deciding he's qualified, the less likely he'll qualify. Which is a pity, since I'd love for him to fit into their data as a kid that spontaneously starts talking without the extra intervention.  ;-P

They're here. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Yes and No

A big sign of progress with the boy is that we're finally getting some yes and no answers out of him. This is huge.  We used to have to play a lot of guessing games at what he wanted. Now he's starting to use actual words to tell us, and he's letting us know when we guess right or wrong. Yay! 

He doesn't do it consistently, and sometimes it's more that he melts down or shoves things away for no, but it's starting to happen. Seriously, if I had to pick only two words he could say and consistently use, these would be the two. 

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Decade of Torture

Ok, so last Thursday I went to this presentation, against my better judgement.  
It was just as bad as I thought it would be. And in many ways it was worse. 

They started out with a mom getting up to speak about her experiences with "natural healing" and autism. She talked about how she avoided most pharmaceuticals, and yes, she pronounced the word with derisive italics. She started out by showing a picture of her kid at age two, miserable.  Sensory overload, not having a good time of life, cranky kid.  

She then started treating her for yeast, put her on a casein/gluten free diet, gave her every trendy supplement under the sun including B6 injections. She had alternating diarrhea and constipation, so she got treatments for each extreme. She got chelated for a year. At one point they had her scoped to check for H pylori from some supposed specialist they had to fly to, even though this is something they can check for locally (and much less invasively I might add). And on and on.  

She got a bit teary eyed as she admitted that her now 12 year old was still not "recovered" but don't give up hope! Her 12 year old was not going to sleepovers and making lots of friends, but she was smiling, talking and obsessing about airplanes, probably, as she put it "because she's been on so many of them to see all these specialists." As proof, she presented a picture of her 12 year old smiling. 

The whole thing just pissed me off. What I saw was probably different than what the rest of the audience saw, but what I saw was that this woman had tortured her daughter for ten years with invasive and unnecessary medical procedures. That poor girl. And I'm willing to bet any benefits she thinks she got out of it were just from the passage of time. I'm sure I could find a whole gallery of autistic, miserable 2 year olds that smiled and talked at the age of 12.

And yet, here she was, totally enthusiastic about how awesome naturopathic medicine was. This wasn't an evil woman, and I know she thought she was doing things for the best interest of her child. She clearly spent a lot of money trying to "fix" her, but she's never going to get the results she thinks she wants this way. 

Ok, and I'm not necessarily anti naturopathic medicine. In fact, I have good friends who are naturopaths. I just think you have to really step back and evaluate whether or not you're doing something that even makes sense, or you're going to end up riding the crazy wagon and torturing your kid instead of enjoying them.