Monday, April 10, 2006

Danger, danger, warning Will Robinson

God, I loved that show. Used to watch it in the afternoons after school. I'd sit curled up over the heat vent eating Capn Crunch while watching bad television all afternoon. Those were the days!

Now, I'm the mom. The mean mom who doesn't let her kids watch bad television all afternoon. The mom of an autistic kid. And we've got two pieces of news today related to autism. First, more research out about how the brains of people with autism work. My Aspergery guy's brain just doesn't perk up at all when he looks at faces, while my neurotypical daughter's brain waves make all sorts of noise when she does. So faces, people, just aren't as interesting to him as they are to her.

Good to have research that confirms what we observe in real life. Jonathan is interested, as a rule, only in topics, not people. If a person shares a topic of interest, then Jon is interested in them. Sort of. He also doesn't recognize people, even those he's met numerous times.

Lately, I've had him writing essays on both the advantages and disadvantages of autism. His personal viewpoint is that autism is a great gift. Well, geez. What's he supposed to say? Autism sucks and so do I? Particularly since he's King of Hyperbole, Mr. Black and White, autism must be the greatest thing ever to happen to him.

And it is, in some ways. He loves his obsessions. So he loves being obsessed. The fact that he doesn't get social stuff doesn't concern him. Because he doesn't love social stuff. Not interested. Boring. Why bother, when you can obsess about things you truly care about, like D and D or video games or There Is No God?

The newest research doesn't shed any light, of course, on what causes this brain difference. Mercury as in thimerosal in vaccines? Don't know. Despite some research to the contrary, though, many parents of autistic kids believe that thimerosal truly is something we should be warning every Will Robinson about.

Whether you believe mercury in the form of thimerosal causes autism or not, doesn't it seem logical that people shouldn't be injected with mercury, a proven toxin? And that, of all people who shouldn't be injected with it, infants shouldn't receive a relatively huge dose of it at developmentally sensitive times--like throughout their early childhood?

Well, you'd think it would be logical. But an article in the LA Times shows that logic apparently isn't strong in the American Academy of Pediatrics or the CDC, either. Even though the AAP objects to other types of mercury exposure, inexplicable it is against state legislation in California banning thimerosal from vaccines. Despite the fact that its policy on mercury is "Mercury in all of its forms is toxic to the fetus and children, and efforts should be made to reduce exposure to the extent possible to pregnant women and children as well as the general population." Huh?

Part of their argument stems from concern that folks like me will stop vaccinating their babies if people get all concerned about mercury. Hmm. Perhaps another solution would work to placate people like me. Like maybe BANNING thimerosal-based vaccines. That would make me feel a lot better about it.

Another argument posed is that the World Health Organization relies on thimerosal-based vaccines around the world. Guess it would look bad if we banned it here, but allowed it overseas. Again. Hmm. Perhaps another solution would work to placate those concerned?

Not surprising to most of us that money is involved here. AAP receives more than a million dollars from vaccine companies. Another organization that is key in the fight against banning thimerosal, the Immunization Action Coalition, receives large quantities of money from the CDC and vaccine companies.

Why are vaccine makers so wedded to thimerosal? Because it saves money for vaccine makers. Makes it easier to make multi dose vials, which are cheaper than single dose vials. What a surprise that business would want to keep using it, even if it might cause problems for babies.

And what about that research that claims autism isn't caused by the increase in vaccine expose to thimerosal? LA Times says "But parent activists and some scientists criticized the report — contending, among other things, that the institute had given too much weight to research in countries where thimerosal exposures had been lower than in the U.S. Either way, the report considered only autism and not potential risks of subtler developmental effects."

Again. I don't care whether or not we can prove autism is caused, in part or whole, by thimerosal exposure. It defies common sense to inject babies, and bigger people, with a known toxin. Danger!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Published anaonymously since I don't have a login

From yesterday's NYT Science page, in reponse to an article on the how siblings of individuals with disabilities fare:

To the Editor:

Re "Siblings of Disabled Have Their Own Troubles" (April 4): It's often been said that "less bad" doesn't necessarily equal "good." Such can be said about your article on siblings of those with developmental disabilities.

I am autistic. I have "typically developing" siblings. And I have news for you: all y'all aren't that easy to live with, either. Neurotypicals are loud, impulsive, manipulative, too easily embarrassed and unpredictable. They have friends who are loud, impulsive, manipulative, too easily embarrassed, mean to us and unpredictable. Many an autistic child has been bullied by a group that includes his or her own brother or sister (who often claims not to be related).

But no one ever asks us. Maybe it's time to start, instead of assuming we don't have thoughts and feelings, and should be grateful just to have families that put up with us, at least sort of.

Maybe next time, someone should ask us. It's time that people with disabilities had equal time in the "griping about siblings nationally" arena.

Kassiane A. Sibley
Missoula, Mont.

8:26 AM  

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