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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bullying

I ran across this article, and it's disturbing me on so many levels. That poor child. He was 11. Eleven for Pete's sake! It breaks my heart, and it scares the hell out of me. 

He was bullied by being called gay. I don't know if he actually was gay, and it doesn't matter. What matters is that his mom and the school were aware of the problem, and it still continued. It continued to the point that a fifth grader killed himself. 

All of us with kids on the spectrum need to look out for this. Bullying is a huge problem for Autists, and it's ironically worse the more "high functioning" you are. I have a colleague with Asperger's who tells me he was beat up daily. Daily. He didn't understand why. Well, hell, I didn't understand why people picked on me, and I've got a bit of a leg up on understanding social behavior. 

Friday, April 24, 2009

Jim Carrey Talks Out of His Ass

Yeah, remember this scene?



It's being reenacted over at the Huffpo, only not as intelligently. 

Jim Carry decided to weigh in on the whole vaccine issue, since he's such a huge expert. Now, I've heard from other parents who are confused as to why I call this anti-vaccine, so I'll explain. Jim Carry's technique is what's known as concern trolling.  

He pretends to be on the side of vaccines with concerns, but the intent is really to get people to stop using vaccines. Some of his concerns are hyperbole. Some of them are outright fabrications.  No matter how many times he and Jenny McCarthy and their ilk say they're "not anti-vaccine," it's a lie. Repeating the phrase doesn't make it true.  

Apparently back in February, CNN commentator Campbell Brown said:







"As a mother, with a second child on the way, I believe this is vital to the safety of our children and must be said. The verdict is in. There is no connection between vaccines and autism. And it is time that all of us get our children vaccinated."

Seems a reasonable enough statement to me. But what do I know, I'm just a highly educated mother. It's not like I'm some famous Canadian actor or something.  

Carry's take on it:

But with all due respect to Ms. Brown, a ruling against causation in three cases out of more than 5000 hardly proves that other children won't be adversely affected by the MMR, let alone that all vaccines are safe. This is a huge leap of logic by anyone's standards. Not everyone gets cancer from smoking, but cigarettes do cause cancer. After 100 years and many rulings in favor of the tobacco companies, we finally figured that out.

Firstly, calling the Omnibus decision a "ruling against causation in three cases out of more than 5000" is disingenuous. What actually happened is that the lawyers representing all those claims found their three best cases, their three most clear-cut slam-dunk cases to represent the three most popular theories on how vaccines could cause autism. The three theories were:  thimerosal-containing vaccines cause autism, the MMR vaccine causes autism, or that the MMR vaccine causes GI problems (ie Wakefield's leaky gut theory.)

Not only did they present their three best cases, they didn't have nearly as much of a burden of proof as they would to scientifically prove MMR causes autism. They only had to show "50% plus a feather," meaning it was possible that the MMR could cause autism in the way they outlined, not that it was probable, not that it was the best theory around. They failed. The courts ruled that none of the three theories were at all plausible, and in fact “The evidence was overwhelmingly contrary to the petitioners’ contentions.”

So, Mr Carry, put a fork in it. It's done. Campbell Brown is right. 

But no, he goes on to claim that "no one without a vested interest in the profitability of vaccines has studied all 36 of them in depth." That's  a cruel thing to say to researchers who work to try and save the lives of children. If profit were the only motive, we'd have fewer vaccines. Medicines to try and treat infections are far more profitable.
 
Anyway, he goes on to smear anyone who works for the CDC and the AAP along with anyone who ever took research money from a pharmaceutical company.  And, of course Dr Paul Offit, because he once worked on a Rotavirus vaccine, which means he's tainted for life and unable to articulate any opinion on vaccine safety. 

Not only did I forget to wear my tinfoil hat, which I think is a requirement to truly understand this vast government conspiracy to vaccine injure children, but it overlooks the obvious and clear profit motives of vaccine opponents. Seriously. Wakefield anyone?  Geier?  
  
Carry also moves the goal posts and throws ADHD into the mix with autism as something that vaccines supposedly cause. That's handy, because if you add enough conditions in there, you'll eventually find a few that haven't had vast amounts of research done showing there's no connection to vaccines. 

Carry keeps up with the "too many too soon" argument, confusing children with dogs and some condition they supposedly get, claiming that since the US gives children more vaccines we must somehow be injuring them. (Except that we don't have a higher rate of autism than countries that vaccinate less often.)  Too many too soon is still an anti-vaccine argument, especially when you don't define which are too many and how often is too soon. The net effect is that parents will vaccinate less "until we know the answers,"  and we'll lose herd immunity on all vaccines. 

Then he tries for the "vaccines are full of poison" argument. He contends that vaccines are full of "aluminum, mercury, ether, formaldehyde and anti-freeze." Ugh. 

Ok, ethyl mercury has been removed from all vaccines except for the flu shot and trace amounts from manufacturing.  Aluminum? I really don't get tired of this one. Hello, you get exposed to so much more aluminum just from eating food. Opponents argue that "yeah, but you don't inject it into your body!" The aluminum in breast milk goes straight into a baby's blood stream from their natural open gut system. Formaldehyde is in our bodies, too. It's in the food we eat. It's everywhere. 

Ok, and ether and antifreeze? Please! There is not antifreeze and ether in vaccines. This part is straight Ace Ventura ass talking. 

For the love of  children, Mr Carry, please go back to making movies. You really are miscast when you try to play Dr Carry, Concern Troll.  Orac is so right when he calls him Fire Marshal Bill. You should his post on this, btw. It's brilliant. 

Fixating on vaccines as cause harms our children. It takes away from real research and it encourages parents to not vaccinate, which increases the risk that all of us will be exposed to vaccine preventable illness. 

Friday, April 17, 2009

Anniversary

One year ago today, my son was diagnosed with autism. It wasn't really as surprise at that point, since the appointment with the specialists had a six month waiting list, and by that time I knew what they'd say. 

Anyway, I thought I'd highlight some of the things that have happened in the last year:

My son can now:

Communicate in two or even three word sentences
Say words that are understood without signs and gestures to back them up
Repeat things after me
Pull his pants up and down by himself
Say "diaper" and pay attention to his toileting needs at all (still not toilet trained, but that will happen eventually)
Sing songs
Put together Legos
Zip up his own jacket
Sit in chair in class without constant prompting
Name members of his family and teachers
Sound out words
Clean up after himself

I know he can do much, much more. But those are a few things he can do. He's so much bigger this year than he was last year, and I'm sure next year he'll be leaps and bounds ahead of where he is now. Yay progress! 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Eating Opposites

It cracks me up sometimes how opposite my kids are in terms of eating habits. King loves food and will try a variety of items. Miss Sugar Plum Princess, on the other hand, prefers her carbs straight up. She'll tolerate a bit of veggie, but only if it's so covered in cheese that she can't tell its there, such as spinach artichoke dip. 

Went to the relatives for Easter, and the boy ate small portions of salad, deviled eggs, fruit, raisin bread, chicken noodles, green beans, etc. (and then probably snuck some M&Ms or something else with dairy in it, or so his diaper seemed to indicate yesterday, ugh.) And a few Peeps. 

The girl, on the other hand, had biscuits, bread, and candy, including most of the Peeps. Yeah. I suppose I might have gotten some cheese covered carb in the form of au gratin potatoes into her, but by the time the meal actually started, she'd filled up on biscuits. 

I have a friend who puts jars of baby food veggies in the spaghetti sauce to get some veggies into her picky eater. Anyone else have any picky eating strategies to share?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Words Are Awesome

Quick note for some continued progress with King and talking. The other day we went out to dinner with friends, and he said hi to the waitress and thank you when she gave him a lollypop. Totally unprompted. I was impressed.  

When he was done eating,  he said "all done," and then he wanted to "wash hands." Yay. 

When we went home, my friend pulled out a camera. He stepped in front of the camera and said, "Say cheese!" He pointed out the "doggies" when the neighbor let hers loose in her yard, and we talked about the fire and how it was hot. 

He's really be echoing back new words when he encounters new things and using words appropriately. This is such huge progress. I don't know how his communication will look as an adult. He may still need some form of AAC for times of high stress, but I'm comforted to know he'll be able to use his voice some of the time.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happiness

Today's thought brought to you by a radio interview about something entirely different. Listening to an Indian immigrant tell her story of coming out to her parents today, and something she said struck a cord with me. 

To paraphrase, all parents want their children to be happy. And they think the things that will make their children happy are the things that made them happy. Sometimes that isn't the case, and you just have to accept that your children may have very different needs entirely.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Allergy Testing?

Yeah, no surprise here, those blood allergy tests totally over-diagnose allergies.  I know people who have them done and then end up with these gigantically long lists of foods - wheat, rice, beef, corn, soy, chicken, celery, apples, cheese (but not milk,) etc, etc.  And then they have to make all their food from scratch and carry it with them wherever they go. This is on top of the people who try GFCF diets. 

I'm reminded of this, because my son is allergic to dairy. When we first eliminated it from his diet, it just seemed like he was reacting to any amount of dairy, no matter how small. So we got rid of it all, and his symptoms (foul gas, foul poop) went away. Now we're getting to the point where we can challenge them a little to see exactly how far we have to go. 

So far, it appears that baked goods containing small amounts of dairy are ok.  Yay for hot dog buns. Yay for cookies. 

The other day we tried cheese. Gave him a slice of cheese pizza. Ok, I can definitely say that we won't be doing that again anytime soon. We changed foul pizza diapers the whole next day.  We might challenge him with lactase at some point. We'll see.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

And Then I Cried

The other day I was at a meeting for a committee I'm on. We have a member who is mentally ill. It's not autism, and he is under the regular care of mental health services. He's mostly harmless, but he has some behavior issues. 

When it was my turn to say something, I started crying. I just suddenly saw my son as a grownup with a room full of people deciding how to delicately avoid his less socially acceptable behaviors without rejecting him from the club.  I really don't have the answers. 


Friday, April 3, 2009

Why Jenny Pisses Me Off

First off, she gives an interview to Time which is full of the stupid. She now thinks it's mercury (which her son didn't receive) aluminum (can of soda pop anyone?) and the viruses in vaccines (oooh, you get those when you don't have the vaccine) that cause autism.

Next up?

If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f___ing measles.
Uh, no. No. I'd rather my son have the autism, thanks. It won't kill him. Plus it's a false choice since, you know, vaccines don't cause autism.

She also thinks that autism is on the rise because schoolteachers (in her opinion) haven't seen so much of it. My autistic cousin got all the way to high school before his MR diagnosis shifted to autism. Perhaps we're just diagnosing differently? Nah, couldn't be. It's not like the rate of kids in special ed has remained relatively constant during this massive "epidemic." Oh wait, it is.

Oh, and she refers to autistic children as shadows. You know, because they don't actually exist as full people? Wha? That's almost as offensive as her co-author's reference to them being soulless and sucking the marrow out of family members. Quit calling my kid a non-being.

But the real cherry on the sundae is her acceptance of diseased and dying children as collateral damage in her war for "safe vaccines."
I do believe sadly it's going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe. If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it's their f___ing fault that the diseases are coming back. They're making a product that's s___. If you give us a safe vaccine, we'll use it. It shouldn't be polio versus autism.
It isn't polio versus autism. It's your stupidity versus polio! And there isn't a thing you could do to vaccines that would make them safe in an anti-vaxxer's mind. Not a thing. If you get rid of the mercury (which was done before her son was born), it must be aluminum. Or it must be the frequency. Or it must be the viruses in the vaccines. And if you show them study after study, they'll find a way to refute them as being "biased by big Pharma" or the CDC (since the government is in on the conspiracy.)

In other words, it's an irrational fear that the stabby thing that made my baby cry must also have damaged him in some other way.

I've heard people claim that McCarthy is "getting the word out" or "doing a lot for autism awareness." No. No she isn't. She's doing a lot for autism fear. There's a big difference.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Jenny @#%$@#$#@ ing McCarthy

Gah. So pissed off at her.  She's promoting her latest book, and apparently she thinks it's just fine and dandy that children will die from not being vaccinated. What an awesome attitude. 

It's late, but I feel some T-shirts coming on. 

It's that time of year again...

Time to be "aware" of autism. I'm aware of it a bit more often than once a year. I'd love to move beyond awareness and toward understanding. And services. 

Peter Bell said Autism Speaks was pulling some stunt in Central Park. I hope it doesn't involve vaccines. I really don't want the take home message about autism to be that parents are loonies.