In his post today, Dr. Offit raises the point that is at the heart of the matter for me.
A couple of bloggers praised the book for its tone, that I never appeared to get angry at the false prophets described in the book. The reason for that is that I’m not the father of a child with autism. If I were, I would have been quite angry. Angry because I think that the anti-vaccine forces have taken the autism story hostage.
I’m angry. I’m damn angry. I don’t want to blog about vaccines. I don’t want to blog about the frighteningly casual way serious medical interventions are tested on autistic children like they are so many Guinea Pigs.
But I have to. I have to because the people who believe this crap and the people who push these utterly untested ‘treatments’ are vocal and not going away. There are over 20 Yahoo Groups dedicated to the idea of medically treating autism, based on the idea that they have been made autistic due to vaccines and/or other sources of toxins. To give you a flavour of what these parents do to their children, here is a post I made a week or so ago. I’ll quote a piece for you here from four different parents:
It just takes time. My twins (almost 8 now) have been doing IV CaEDTA roughly every 2 weeks for over 3 years (71 and 78 IVs). The first half-dozen or so were really traumatic, then the kids started realizing it really wasn’t so bad after all and got to the point where they didn’t need to be held anymore, then they didn’t cry anymore, etc.
My son is 6 and I have to hold him down for the IVs – we’ve done 10. Today he got poked 3 times and has purple hands from blowing veins.
My 15 month old son had a porphyns test by Phillipe Auguste labs that showed very high lead and mercury that spiked off the page, so our DAN is starting him on DMSA suppositories
I started chelating my son at 13 months of age w/ IVs. Dr Bradstreet’s office chelates little kids. It was actually easier to give him the IVs before he turned 2. My DAN, Scott Smith, says that kids under 3 chelate much faster and it is a good idea to start early.
This is what autistic children are dealing with at the hands of their parents. This is what anti-vaccine quackery has led directly to.
So that is what is going on for these poor kids, right now. What about what they do need?
Autistic kids need education to become autistic adults. The reality is that there is no cure and to be perfectly frank with you, I don’t care about a cure one way or another. What matters to me and I strongly suspect to the vast majority of parents of autistic kids is that their kids get helped with the things that really do help. Speech therapy. Appropriate, autistic specialist learning environments. These will help.
And lets not forget something here – there are a vast multitude of both diagnosed and undiagnosed adult people on the spectrum. They need help too. They need living arrangements. They need education-to-work programs. They need doctorswho ‘get’ autism.
Dr. Offit is absolutely right to say that the biggest barrier to both young and old autistic people getting the help they need is the continuing unscientific idiocy that the autism/anti-vaccine zealots continue to spew. The media eats it up. If you think I’m exaggerating, ask someone you know who’s not involved with autism what they think of when you say the word ‘autism’. If they don’t say ‘vaccines’ 9 times out of 10 I’ll eat my hat.
So please ScienceBlog readers and scientists of the future – remember that we are here and that we need you. Please learn about autism by talking with autistic people. Learn what they consider to be their needs. In the meantime, I’ll do my bit by continuing to blog about vaccines and quacks.