The End, Again

This brings us to the end of our ScienceBlogs Book Club discussion of Autism's False Prophets.

Thanks to everyone for their participation.

The next Book Club discussion will start in mid-November, and we'll announce the title as soon as we can.

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The link is not to a form

Throughout this blog I have seen a general incredulousness that people do not get it. Vaccines do not cause autism. Allow me to offer some suggestions:

1. Do not resort to ad hominem attacks. Just as it weakens your opponents' arguments, it weakens yours.

2. There are some research errors on the pro-vax side. You would be better off acknowledging them and providing other evidence that proves your point.

3. There has never been a statistical test that compares the autism rate of vaccinated to unvaccinated. This idea gets scoffed by many in the pro-vax community even though it has merit. I suggest that you support it. Being against it makes it look like you don't want to know what the results would be.

4. Do not blame the rise in autism rates on "diagnostics". There are too many people who grew up before the rise in autism. In my generation, we never knew anyone who fit the definition of autism. Now all our children know someone. Also, since genetics plays such a big role in autism, we, the ones with autism in our families would be the ones with brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts with autism. As I said, we never knew anyone with autism when I grew up. Can you see why this argument sounds so hollow?

5. Taking vaccines out as the cause of the autism epidemic leaves a vacuum. To date, the pro-vax community has not found anything to fill it. This is viewed as the reason for the "diagnostics" argument. It is a weakness in the pro-vax argument that the other side plays to.

6. The safe level of thimerosal that the FDA allows for ingested mercury for an adult is lower than that which the medical community has said is safe for injection into a newborn baby. Can you see how this looks like talking out of both sides? This discrepancy is exploited by the anti-vax community. To make your argument stronger, it needs to be resolved - publicly.

7. The medical community needs to come up with a working protocal for autism. Low functioning autistics will never get anywhere without medical intervention and even high functioning autistics need some medical intervention. The false prophets prey on this need.

I hope you found these comments helpful.

8... if you wish to participate in a book discussion, you should actually read the book.

Points 3, 4, 5 and 6 are all addressed in the book. If Ed had read the book, he would know that and address the points made by Dr. Offit. He would be discussing the validity of the international epidemiological studies in Chapter 6... which also has some interesting reading on Kirby and his "Chinese mercury filled plumes" on page 127, and perhaps all of Chapter 11 (ooh, look on page 119 and see what it says about rubella, and the European studies on thalidomide, a drug that was never approved in the USA).

Plus, those with autism and other disabilities (like my son) are better served by educational and social supports, not non-existent "medical intervention" other than those required for real medical diagnoses (like seizures).

Anyway, this has been an interesting couple of weeks. The book brought back lots of memories of my time dealing with my son's disability and the online community, which I joined with our first modem about 14 years ago (which I retreated to since many of those people in "real" life did have the same experience and did not really want to hear about neurology appointments, speech therapy and IEPs).

At first one could discuss the disability and the important issues like insurance and education plans. Then just before 2000 that all changed. At first it was an occasional inquiry asking about vaccines, which were dismissed because many of on the list had kids with seizures, anatomical defects or had been disabled by an actual disease. Then they got stronger and more strident, sometimes even pushing a set agenda.

They would not let us dismiss vaccines, and one tried to get me kicked off the email list for daring to explain that the MMR never contained thimerosal (she told the moderator that I did not know the "science").

Then they were pushing their favorite treatments. Some were okay like additional supplements, and cranial sacral therapy (which is just a very mild head massage). But then there were the ones pushing chelation. Yikes! I got lots of nasty grams for posting an email saying that putting more chemicals in a kid to get rid of other chemicals that may not be in the kid was dangerous, especially with suspicious lab tests (one mom was frightened when the mail order lab test of her kid's hair said her kid had bismuth, I wondered if she spilled Pepto Bismol too close to the kid's head).

It finally got to be too much, and I had to leave the list. Two months later Roy Kerry killed a kid by strapping him down and pushing EDTA into him with an IV. The kid was killed just because he was autistic.

I kept having this feeling that I was alone in how I felt (though every so often someone would email me off list that I did make them feel better for not following the crowd in all the supplements and chelation route). But now I know that there are others who feel like I do about the "false prophets".

Thank you.

Right on, Chris. I was getting ready to respond in much the same way, then I read your post.

Ed -- What Chris says. Go read the book.

My main issue, though, is that the link to the form above leads to a scienceblogs webmail login screen. Is that where it's supposed to go?

The link's been fixed -- or rather, the form embedded here.

Do not blame the rise in autism rates on "diagnostics". There are too many people who grew up before the rise in autism. In my generation, we never knew anyone who fit the definition of autism.

Nonsense. You're saying a perfectly valid explanation should be discarded based on your personal recollection; a recollection that simply suggests you don't know what autism is. It's not possible for a random person to look at someone and say whether they are autistic or not. It's not like Down Syndrome.

If what you say is true, then explain how it is that researchers went to Cambridge University, and out of a pool of about 800 adult students found about 1% to be autistic.

Indeed, I never knew anyone with autism growing up.

Now that I work in a adult autism service, I'm discovering people with autism who are my own age and older (30+), including;

people with a late diagnosis.
people with a previous diagnosis (of childhood mental heath or intellectual disability) who now have a dual-diagnosis.
people who had a autism diagnosis and were kept indoors by their family, or institutionalised.

In the same way that I was amazed that so many of the people I went to school with have a recent adulthood diagnosis of something (dyslexia/dyspraxia etc) that was clearly impacting on them at school, I am amazed how often I have came across an adult with obvious traits of autism (and who has apparently always displayed obvious traits of autism) that totally lack a diagnosis or who have only received one after a young family member got thiers.

The whole 'I never knew any people with autism growing up' arguement only makes sense if you would have known enough about autism, and enough about the people you knew to put two and two togther and work out which ones had autism.