Autism quackery: Try, try, try, and never give up

Antivaccine quackery is arguably one of the worst forms of quackery. First, the pseudoscientific beliefs undergirding such quackery are based on the fear and demonization of one of the greatest medical advances in the history of the human race, the result of which are children left unprotected against preventable diseases that routinely used to populate cemeteries with little bodies. Almost as bad, one of those beliefs, namely the scientifically discredited belief that vaccines cause autism, has led to a cottage industry of quack "treatments" based on the idea that autism is a manifestation of "vaccine injury." Thus, the most vulnerable of children, children with neurodevelopmental disorders, are routinely subjected to treatments that range from useless to dangerous treatments like chelation therapy (which can kill), stem cells of dubious provenance sold by Central American clinics and injected into children's spinal columns, and—I kid you notbleach enemas. These "treatments" are promoted at antivaccine quackfests like Autism One in a culture that's coalesced around the belief that autism is treatable and parents can "recover" their "true" child from the demon autism and that vaccines are a major cause of autism. It is a culture that promotes belief and discourage questioning, such that leaving it is akin to apostasy.

A key claim frequently made by the practitioners of these alternative medicine treatments is that they are "individualized" to the parents child. Of course, such claims often disintegrate under the lightest of scrutiny. For instance children who get Miracle Mineral Solution (a.k.a. MMS, a.k.a. bleach) get pretty much the same regimen, and, if you believe Kerri Rivera (the most infamous practitioner promoting MMS as a treatment for autism) every child should get it. Indeed, if you look at many of these quack treatments, they all proceed from a similar idea that vaccines somehow injured the child and the child must be somehow "detoxified" to reverse that injury.

Be that as it may, when you combined a culture in which parents are encouraged never to give up in trying to "recover" their child with a cornucopia of quack treatments that are in essence practitioners making it up as they go along, bad things happen. Unfortunately, it's the autistic child to whom they tend to happen. This is what I was thinking when I saw a new post on the blog of the inappropriately named Thinking Moms' revolution entitled Why I Try “So Many” Protocols in Treating My Son with Autism. Basically, it's a justification of the neverending search for cures described by Jim Laidler. First, read this passage from an article about him:

For several years, on the advice of doctors and parents, the Laidlers treated their children with a wide range of alternative medicine techniques designed to stem or even reverse autistic symptoms. They gave their boys regular supplements of vitamin B12, magnesium, and dimethylglycine. They kept David’s diet free of gluten and casein, heeding the advice of experts who warned that even the smallest bit of gluten would cause severe regression. They administered intravenous infusions of secretin, said to have astonishing therapeutic effects for a high percentage of autistic children.

Using substances known as chelating agents, the Laidlers also worked to rid Ben and David of heavy metals thought to be accumulated through vaccines and environmental pollutants.

Now, look at the TMR article by JuicyFruit:

I refuse to look back in a decade and say “I really wish I had tried that when I first heard about it” or “I really wish I had pushed through that wall of herxing and gotten to the other side.” That is why we have tried so many protocols (and we’ve given them all true trial unless they caused our son to regress) and why I continue to go to conferences to hear new ideas and try new things. This is why I read medical literature over my lunch hour and why I bring new treatment ideas to my naturopath.

How many times have we seen such behavior before: Never give up. Never question. Always keep searching. And, above all, never accept your autistic child for who he is.

Oh, and don't worry about anything resembling plausible biological mechanisms or even if everything you're trying is based on the medical equivalent Mad Libs: Throw together different terms and hope they sound good. It matters not at all if the resulting story has any relationship to actual science or medicine. We get a flavor of this idea from JuicyFruit's post. But first we get an extreme version of "personalization." Basically, there is no cause of autism because pretty much everything causes autism. It's different for every child! Thus, no treatment works for every child! Here's what I mean:

If there is one truth about autism, it is that nothing works for every child with autism. There is no roadmap that says if you do X, your child will do Y. There is no clearly laid out order which all medical professionals agree is appropriate for all children with autism – because there is no one cause of autism. There is no one genetic mutation, and there is no one environmental trigger that cause autism. There are MANY causes.

Now here's the difference between actual "individualization" of treatments as practiced by science-based doctors and "individualization" practiced by quacks. Generally, there will be an understanding of a mechanism or a small number of related mechanisms, and therefore the number of potential treatments to choose from will be similarly constrained. More importantly, there will be a framework to identify which patients should receive which treatments, an algorithm if you will, as in, if test X shows Y, then try treatment Z first. There will also be concrete, generally agreed upon measures to determine if the treatment is working. Simple examples include a decrease in the size of a tumor when treating cancer or a decrease in blood pressure in response to antihypertensive medications. There will also be clinical trial evidence, often evidence from randomized clinical trials, to support the treatment. Yes, there will be variability, and treatments might not work, necessitating trying something else, but there will be limits and evidence-based guidelines overseeing the process. The description above has no guidelines. Basically, because each child is a unique special snowflake, there will only be one treatment or combination of treatments that will work and it won't work the same for any other child.

Of course, what I usually say is that a condition for which there are many, many treatments is almost always a condition for which none of those many, many treatments actually works very well.

And here's the consequences of the idea that every case is different and there are many, many causes of autism:

In my son’s case we know now that, genetically, he has a compound heterozygous MTHFR mutation with multiple other mutations that impair his ability to detoxify. I had amalgams. I had antibiotics while pregnant. I am sure I ate tons of GMOs while pregnant because it wasn’t even on my radar to avoid them. I do not have natural immunity to measles, mumps, or rubella because my generation is the first to be vaccinated for them. (my personal theory is that the vaccines I got as a child have a role in the way I passed down immune function to my son). My son regressed after a virus shortly after his third birthday. Not after a vaccine – we had started them after he turned two and did one at a time. It was an influenza virus that caused his regression.

Sigh. I really do have to do an in-depth post about MTHFR mutations one of these days, because they seem to be the new mitochondrial disorder in the autism world. Remember several years ago, when the Hannah Poling case led every autism quack to declare that autism was due to mitochondrial disorders (in combination with other problems, of course)? MTHFR is a lot like that now, and there's no way that a naturopath has clue one what these tests mean.

But notice all the other "causes" of autism. There are mercury amalgams. There were antibiotics while pregnant. There were GMOs (of course!) and, of course, vaccines. Seriously, so powerfully evil are vaccines in JuicyFruit's mind that her having received them as a child instead of getting the actual diseases themselves to achieve "natural immunity" gave her son autism. Now here's the funny thing. JuicyFruit admits that her son didn't regress after vaccines, but she's still convinced that vaccines were a major cause of her son's autism. How? She invokes the magical view of epigenetics that so many believers in alt-med have:

I’m starting to see parents who have one child on the spectrum already, who knew not to vaccinate further children, wondering why those unvaccinated, 100% GMO-free, breastfed siblings are seeming to regress after being ill, and I cringe because I worry that the answer lies in Mom’s health. In Mom’s childhood vaccines. That those pieces created an in-utero environment that shifted our children’s epigenetics. I worry that we’re de-evolving as a species.

That's right. Those vacines and GMOs are so powerful that they make your children autistic through epigenetics. I say to JuicyFruit what I say to every quack who invokes epigenetics: Epigenetics. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

In fact, vaccines are so bad that JuicyFruit foresees them causing the utter destruction of America. No, I'm not exaggerating, she really predicts that:

I can see a future – led by California – of forced vaccines for all children (unless they have a medical waiver) and all adults. I see a huge rise in kindergartners and seventh graders suddenly regressing into nonverbal, head-banging, feces-smearing vaccine injury because of the total load of shots they are required to have. (It would be interesting to see how the media handles that . . . I am guessing it would be completely ignored.) I see a huge rise in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease in formerly healthy adults because of the sudden need to be caught up on vaccines which contain aluminum and formaldehyde.

I see a future where we don’t have enough healthy adults to run this country – where half the population lives in a care facility and doesn’t work. Where we have no military because there is no one left healthy enough to be in it.

So, even though her child didn't regress after vaccines, but rather after getting a vaccine-preventable disease (influenza), JuicyFruit not only still blames the vaccines she got but thinks that vaccines are so harmful that they will render so much of the population severely autistic due to childhood vaccines and result in so much of the senior citizen population having Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases that they can't care for themselves that the US won't even be able to maintain a military.

Now that's some serious fear mongering. To prevent that possibility, this not-so-Thinking Mom "thinks" that she has to try and publicize every autism quackery under the sun.

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If anyone needs it, Skeptical Raptor wrote a post about MTHFR.

And the power of vaccines across generations is, indeed, amazing. However did anything go wrong before them? Or was everything perfect?

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

This is so very sad. JuicyFruit has to find something to blame. She can't accept that it was just a role of the crap dice due to genes and accept her precious child as he is.

I wish she could meet my cousin, who is watching 2 of her 3 children die of a genetic disease. Cousin would be thrilled to have a child with autism instead of their disease - she would know that child would be able to live a normal life. Talk about regression - her children went from "apparently healthy" and have slowly regressed to non-verbal, wheelchair bound children over the years. She still has plenty of joy in them, but knowing they will in all likelihood die before they reach 30 breaks her heart (and ours).

@Dorit: Everything was perfect, of course. If children died from (now) vaccine preventable diseases, well, then, they just didn't deserve to live, they were obviously weak creatures nature was culling out.

People with autism didn't exist before vaccines. Neither did most mental illnesses, heavy metal toxicity, or mental retardation, because the TMR never saw it. Therefore, they didn't exist. (And don't give them facts or history based on records. Facts, schmacts. They KNOW. They don't need no steenkin' facts.)

Juicy Fruit reads medical literature? From her ideas I get the idea, she mostly reads fiction, perhaps disguised as medical literature, but fiction not-the-less.

I'm glad my parents never experimented on me.

OK so a relatively small percentage of additional people getting vaccinated is going to destroy more than 50% of the population?

Wow those things are really powerful. Not sure how they are convinced that even if they still avoid all vaccinations how a few more people each year getting them are going to give their kids autism, and their parents Parkinsons and/or Alzheimers.

@Renate: "Juicy Fruit"'s definition of medical literature probably differs from what most of us would consider medical literature. I suspect that what she really means is she looks things up in the Google University library.

Then again, she might be telling the truth about reading "medical literature". We've seen several examples from earlier Orac's post of woo-filled articles published in journals. Some of those journals are pay-to-play scams, but unfortunately others appear in journals published by legitimate academic publishers (*cough* Elsevier *cough*) but with lax or even subverted quality control. A layman like Juicy Fruit wouldn't know the difference between that and real research.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

To make matters even worse:

TMR was inaugurated by women who knew each other in RL plus like-minded others they met through facebook. They maintain internet friendships with (supposedly) tens of thousands of others through their website, facebook, twitter and another social network the name of which presently escapes me.

Their books and live presentations ( such as those at Autism One) discuss treatments as a matter of course: they give others advice about "cures", some of which are very unrealistic ( homeopathy, trance channelling dietary woo). Their secondary group, Team TMR, raises money from donations in order to help parents pay for the woo du jour.
They have charity status.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

MI Dawn correctly assesses the situation:

these partisans believe that autism is a new phenomenon because THEY weren't aware of its existence and how people with autism, ID, SMI and other conditions were shut away and forgotten in institutions.

I assume that based on their ages, many contributors at AoA and TMR are old enough to have lived in that era. Ann Dachel is over 70 I believe, John Stone, RFK and Dan Olmsted must not be much younger and many others are around 50. They SHOULD know at least a little about this.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

My uncle has type A hemophilia. I carry a gene for it (mutation is different from his). If Delphinette had been a boy, 50/50 chance she'd be a hemophiliac.

Hemophilia, like autism, is better understood than it was when my uncle was a small boy, 60 odd years ago. My grandparents tried everything to make him well, though the list of what to do was pretty small. But here's the thing: they were under the care of actual physicians. And their son had a potentially fatal illness.

I will never understand the lengths to which these parents go to "cure" their child. The desperate search for something or someone to blame. The terrible things they foist on their own flesh and blood. It makes no sense to me at all.

They administered intravenous infusions of secretin, said to have astonishing therapeutic effects for a high percentage of autistic children.

Who is giving these infusions? Naturopaths? Doctors? I always cringe whenever I hear about alternative treatments given intravenously. Also who said that? Her TMR buddies? It surely wasn't the medical literature she was supposedly reading.

So, even though her child didn’t regress after vaccines, but rather after getting a vaccine-preventable disease (influenza),

To be fair the flu vaccine seems to be a contributing factor. Failure to get one that is.

Renate@4

Juicy Fruit reads medical literature?

I think her idea of medical literature is AoA, NN, GMI, etc. Maybe a biased reading of low quality studies linked to from a
said sites. If she is reading actual peer reviewed studies she's clearly not reading critically at least.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

@ Delphine:

I'm sure you know about the Tsarevich Alexei and how his condition affected his parents in pre-revolutionary Russia.

-btw- we have thin blood ( but not that illness) which might have contributed to my grandfather's death and made my father's later years more complicated.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Eric Lund beat me to it.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

I see a huge rise in kindergartners and seventh graders suddenly regressing into nonverbal, head-banging, feces-smearing vaccine injury

The only high school in our county with 100% vaccine compliance (although the rest of them are pretty high) is the lab school associated with the state university. It's for the whiz kids -- you can't get into that school unless you're pretty gifted academically.

About the TMs theories of causation:
I watched a few of their presentations at Autism One ( 2015) and it's not all vaccines as Orac says.

"Professor" has an unvaccinated child who first became ill after antibiotics, previously MacNeil also held this belief. Others discuss their own problems contributing to autism, like amalgam fillings and vaccines. Non-organic foods, food,additives, GMOs, gluten, caseine all are mentioned by different TMs.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Interesting blog post about the history of autism.

http://epiphanyasd.blogspot.com/2015/08/vienna-and-some-selected-autism…

This paragraph is especially interesting.

Twenty years even before Johns Hopkins Hospital had been founded in Baltimore, children with epilepsy, “autism” and GI problems were being treated in London at Great Ormond Street Hospital, today of Europe's top children's hospitals.

They were using a very early drug to shift the excitatory/inhibitory balance of the neurotransmitter GABA. It was Potassium Bromide, which is still used today in Germany to treat children with epilepsy. Of course back in 1877 they did not know why it was effective.Below is a link to a fascinating chapter of a book.

The book at the link is Autism: A Social and Medical History By Mitzi Waltz,a textbook published in the UK in 2013.From what I read on Google,this looks like a much better,and more objectivie history than Steve Silberman's pop cultured and neurodiversity biased history.Read the whole chapter about Great Ormond.There are incredible,and detailed accounts of two children with low functioning autism,and medical conditions."Ralph",who died very young,perhaps about four years old,may have had mitochondrial disease.

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

I'm pretty sure the reason that all those autism mommies have latched onto the idea of MTHFR is because it sounds so much like motherf**ker. Easy to remember, easy to blame. It's consistent with their lingo, which includes FUA (f**k you autism).

I wonder how their children feel when they hear that term.

By Broken Link (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

"I worry that we’re de-evolving as a species."

JuicyFruit is a sterling example of why we should all be concerned.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

There's an interesting episode of "Steven Universe" where a few characters (Steven, Pearl, and Greg) are trying to build a spaceship. After seemingly hitting a dead ends, Greg admits "sometimes, you've got to know when to bail." But Pearl refuses to give up, works all night scavenging materials from Greg's van, and builds a ship taking herself and Steven into space.

It blew up before it left the atmosphere, as would any hastily-constructed ship made of improvised materials. Pearl and Steven only survived because Steven knew when to bail.

An odd moral for a children's show, but one certain people should consider.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

"'I worry that we’re de-evolving as a species.'"

So do I, JuicyFruit. So do I...

By Dr. Chim Richalds (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

“I really wish I had pushed through that wall of herxing and gotten to the other side.”

This parent is talking about a "treatment" that made her/his child so sick they had to discontinue it. This parent is lamenting that they lacked the fortitude to continue inflicting suffering on their child in exchange for the slimmest glimmer of false hope.

This child was not "herxing*," but rather was suffering needlessly at the hands of her/his caregivers. If this suffering was the result of autism biomed (i.e., "recovery"), then this child was being tortured by her/his parents.

*Herxing is a self-limiting and short-lived side-effect noticed in treatment of some bacterial infections. SCAMers use it to mean anything nonsensical thing they want (e.g., chelation makes you sicker, because it dislodges deposits of metals).

By jsterritt (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Mr. Kulp: "this looks like a much better,and more objectivie history than Steve Silberman’s pop cultured and neurodiversity biased history"

I am curious how you felt about the description of Lovaas methods of treating children, including the starving of the pair of twins to get compliance. And how that encouraged George Rekers to use those methods to deal with "feminine boys." Because it is obvious that those in the LGBTQ community are not real because it might mean there is a "neurodiversity."

By the way, you have never responded where Silberman lied. Do point out the page numbers, and be specific by providing links to the truth.

Now I am become pediatrician, the destroyer of worlds.

(s/o)

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Broken Link:

I’m pretty sure the reason that all those autism mommies have latched onto the idea of MTHFR is because it sounds so much like motherf**ker.

I have to admit that that word was the first thing that popped into my mind when I read MTHFR.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Chris Hickie (#24):
I think you win the Internet for this thread.

By Derek Freyberg (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Dr. Johnson,

Fragrances bother the ever loving ---- out of me (generally as headaches) especially at the proportions people use. So do cleaning supplies in enclosed spaces. I don't claim multiple chemical sensitivities but I also don't think it is something I made up.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

"They administered intravenous infusions of secretin, said to have astonishing therapeutic effects for a high percentage of autistic children."

Actually secretin was studied in over 15 double-blind placebo controlled trials in children with autism and was conclusively found to ineffective. Most of those studies were in 200-2002 timeframe. There's a systematic review (PMID: 22513913), which concluded: "There is no evidence that single or multiple dose intravenous secretin is effective and as such currently it should not be recommended or administered as a treatment for ASD. Further experimental assessment of secretin's effectiveness for ASD can only be justified if there is new high-quality and replicated scientific evidence... ".

So when the writer cites "astonishing therapeutic effects" it is a clear example of ignoring solid negative evidence.

@Not a Troll - I am "scent sensitive" also. I gag when I am near people with too much perfume/aftershave on. If I hug someone wearing *any*, I can smell it on myself for hours after unless I wash/shower. In a room with those oh-so-popular plug in scents, I'm miserable. I open car windows if they have deodorizers hanging.

Not that not all scents bother me (though Lysol gives me a migraine). Light amounts of perfume/aftershave are fine. It's the "marinators" (as I call them - they wash/moisturize, perfume all in one scent) that bother me a lot. And, sad to say, many of my Italian male friends' aftershaves. (I've had to ask a few to please not wear ANY when I see them because they wear a very strong scent)

They administered intravenous infusions of secretin, said to have astonishing therapeutic effects for a high percentage of autistic children.

This quote, flagged by David@29, is from Wired. That's a tech magazine, not a biomedical publication, so it's not surprising if the author is not a medical expert. But the passive voice construction in the second clause buries an important question: who is saying this? I'll stipulate to David's point that medical experts say otherwise. But people who are into autism woo have a tendency to listen to people who are not medical experts. I'd like to know just who was saying that secretin was so effective: one of the usual suspects, somebody new on the scene, or a bona fide MD who has gone over to the dark side? A real journalist would have asked that question. Of course it may have been the editor's decision rather than the author's, but still, bad call on Wired's part.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

#24

So much win.

I’m pretty sure the reason that all those autism mommies have latched onto the idea of MTHFR is because it sounds so much like motherf**ker.

I'll admit that thought crossed my mind, but I thought better of it. I can envision George Carlin's voice saying, "Alright, Sheriff, we're gonna f**k you now. We're gonna f**k you slow."

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

As much as I hate to admit it, she may have a point. Not necessarily about MTHFR, but about a genetic predisposition in general. We don't really have any evidence that these children are not pre-autistic individuals whose immune systems are stressed by vaccines, and the children then develop autistic symptoms. Do we? I'm scanning PubMed as I write this, and mostly just seeing analyses of SNPs associated with cytokine responses following vaccination. (Granted, I'm not reading the papers fully-- I'm an immunology grad student taking a quick internet break to avoid staring at my data for the millionth time.)

By CaitlinEm (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Lead by California? Let's give credit where credit is due, Ms. Juicy Fruit: it is Mississippi and West Virginia that have long had what you call "forced" vaccination regulations.

Could that be because those two states have a higher pecentage of people in poverty, among whom cases of childhood diseases still occurred more lately, so all could see how deadly they are?

Nah, that can't be it.

By Garnetstar (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

If it's the eevuhl mercury that's at the bottom of autism, why aren't the antivax-quacks trying to shut down coal-burning power plants, the biggest mercury polluters anywhere?
Millions of people still living heated their homes with coal furnaces and many still do. Have the quackerati done the obvious epidemiology? Do they have any way of researching the children of 19th Century felters and hatters ? What's the autism rate in Minimata? Have they tried to find out?
It's the usual conspiracist ranting. None of them ever have any first hand evidence, and they never bother to look for any.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Anybody remember that guy who was commenting a while back (years ago, possibly), or maybe it was at SBM, who sword up and down that alt med was the best thing for treating his gout? Gout's horrid. Every time he'd get a flare-up, he'd try various rememdies, until finally something worked and he got better. So he'd try that *first* with his next flare-up. Sadly, nothing ever seemed to work twice; each flare-up needed a different treatment, but he was'nt giving up. He'd just go on trying stuff until he found what worked for that episode.

Mind you, each episode was lasting about as long as untreated gout.

He was really quite convinced that it was working, and he didn't seem like an idiot or a fool; just a genuinely nice guy with a sucky medical condition that he was really determined to treat without resorting to "conventional" medicine. So determined that he couldn't see that really none of the treatments were doing anything at all.

I see the same pattern in some of these parents' refusal to give up on their kids' autism. As a parent of an autistic kid myself, you absolutely must not give up, but you also need to be paying attention. Most of the proposed therapies are worthless for anything; don't waste your kid's valuable time on them. Don't just randomly flail around. And maybe try appreciating your kid as a person sometime, rather than the thing they must endure until the autism goes away. Focus not on "curing" the autism but on helping your child be happier and more successful.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

CaitlinM, you make an interesting point, but:

We don’t really have any evidence that these children are not pre-autistic individuals whose immune systems are stressed by vaccines, and the children then develop autistic symptoms. Do we?

Well, yes we do, actually. Multiple studies looked at the autism rates of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. There was no statistically significant difference. In fact, enough children have been studied for a meta-analysis of literally millions. If vaccines caused even a minority of cases of autism, this effect would have been detected. It wasn't, so we can confidently say that vaccines do not cause autism.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

We don’t really have any evidence that these children are not pre-autistic individuals whose immune systems are stressed by vaccines, and the children then develop autistic symptoms.

That's not how it works. We also don't really have any evidence that these children are not pre-autistic individuals whose immune systems are stressed by organic foods. Just because we don't know the cause doesn't mean we need to prove otherwise, given the epidemiology soundly rejects any association.

An immunology grad student??

Caitlin@34: As a general proposition, we have good reason to think that autism is at least partially caused by genetics. But Juicy Fruit isn't blaming her son's genes, at least not entirely. She is blaming vaccines. Not the vaccines her son got, but the ones she got:

my personal theory is that the vaccines I got as a child have a role in the way I passed down immune function to my son

In fact, she specifically denies that her son's vaccines had anything to do with his symptoms; instead, she correlates it with a bout of flu. (She is probably as guilty as the vaccines-cause-autism crowd of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.) And she later emphasizes her theory that it's the mother's vaccines:

I’m starting to see parents who have one child on the spectrum already, who knew not to vaccinate further children, wondering why those unvaccinated, 100% GMO-free, breastfed siblings are seeming to regress after being ill, and I cringe because I worry that the answer lies in Mom’s health. In Mom’s childhood vaccines.

I haven't heard anybody else espouse that "theory", though maybe somebody better acquainted with the autism crank literature may know of an antecedent. I have no reason to think it's any better than the claims that the child's vaccinations directly cause autism. If anything, it's even harder to establish a causal mechanism.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

I haven’t heard anybody else espouse that “theory”, though maybe somebody better acquainted with the autism crank literature may know of an antecedent.

Stagliano blames her own vaccines for her unvaccinated daughter's (of three) autism, IIRC.

^ Blockquote fail again.

I’m starting to see parents who have one child on the spectrum already, who knew not to vaccinate further children, wondering why those unvaccinated, 100% GMO-free, breastfed siblings are seeming to regress after being ill

These losers really do believe that breastmilk is pretty much the balm for everything, that breastfeeding in and of itself is just so super-worthy-making. The evidence doesn't bear it out in developed countries, but I guess it's not like factoids ever put a halt to their lunacy.

CaitlinEm: "We don’t really have any evidence that these children are not pre-autistic individuals whose immune systems are stressed by vaccines, and the children then develop autistic symptoms."

Then how would these children with those fractured immune systems that make them autistic with the tiny amount of vaccine antigens do when they get the full blown diseases? Why would they do better getting measles than the MMR? Ask one of your professors about this. I really hope one asks you for the mechanism of how a vaccine could autism and, but the wild disease not cause full blown pneumonia nor encephalitis on an oral exam.

“They administered intravenous infusions of secretin, said to have astonishing therapeutic effects for a high percentage of autistic children.”
Actually secretin was studied in over 15 double-blind placebo controlled trials in children with autism and was conclusively found to ineffective. Most of those studies were in 2000-2002 timeframe.
[....]
So when the writer cites “astonishing therapeutic effects” it is a clear example of ignoring solid negative evidence.

Bear in mind that the author is relating events prior to 2002. So at the time the Laidlers were administering secretin, yes, people were claiming "astonishing therapeutic effects", and there was no solid negative evidence.

The column's author could have explained more clearly that these claims were limited to the past tense, but the main point was to show that the Laidlers had some rationale for an intervention which was, at that time, not obviously cranky.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Chris @23:
By the way, [Roger Kulp] have never responded where Silberman lied. Do point out the page numbers, and be specific by providing links to the truth.

I have to say that Silberman misquotes an anecdote from my homeboy Tony Attwood, then misspells Tony's surname when providing the reference. That did not instill me with a great sense of reliability.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Calli Arcale,

Anybody remember that guy who was commenting a while back (years ago, possibly), or maybe it was at SBM, who sword up and down that alt med was the best thing for treating his gout?

I remember him. Homeopathy was his thing, and he was convinced that each bout of gout was subtly different and required a different remedy. He even related that his gout had damaged his toes so badly he required surgery (which conventional treatment could have prevented), yet was simultaneously convinced that homeopathy had helped; extraordinary double-think. I agree that this same phenomena probably explains the biomed autism movement.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Julian Frost@38

If vaccines caused even a minority of cases of autism, this effect would have been detected.

This. It's not like we can't detect rare side effects. Look at the rotavirus vaccine and intussusception. Regarding autism we have both more and higher quality data. CaitlinEm's comment smells suspiciously like a vaccine "skeptic" JAQing off.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Reading this:

[ I do not have natural immunity to measles, mumps, or rubella because my generation is the first to be vaccinated for them. (my personal theory is that the vaccines I got as a child have a role in the way I passed down immune function to my son)]

Caused me to discover that face palming while wearing glasses is painful. My brother would believe this enough to use it as support for his anti-vaccine arguments, which he persists on having while relying on his barely making it out of high school education. While I, as someone who has worked in the immunology field for over 20 years - apparently do not know my science well enough for him to believe a word I say.

People who believe these sort of things have invested so much emotional capital in taking their particular position, they cannot psychologically afford to be wrong. Which is tragic because they are not the ones suffering as a result of their actions.

Orac writes,

...the scientifically discredited belief that vaccines cause autism.

MJD says,

Respectful Insolence (i.e., ScienceBlogs) is intended to discredit a belief while science is the search for truth.

My hope is medical science will continue to do research to determine if there is a vaccine/autism connection.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Well, call it what you will mr orcacle, but let us see you explain the situation.

A small child who is very healthy receives numerous vaccines. Less than 12 hours from that needle stick, said child becomes deathly ill and NEVER recovers from it again. Please explain.

Please explain the numerous deaths and severe side effects from the very unnecessary HPV vaccine. Please explain how an otherwise perfectly healthy girls gets parylized or even dies a few short hours after give this unnecessary vaccine. please ... do tell.

MDK,

Well for some of them, it would basically involve admitting they tormented their children, right?

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Somebody help me on this because I haven't been following the autism literature. The last time I looked, there was the beginning of a story that (at least some cases of) autism result from mutant alleles in some genes that are involved in building synapses in the developing brain. In other words, autism is a developmental condition that is genetic, and is the result of some proteins being inserted that are different from the typical ones.

So my question is as follows: What does the immune system have to do with autism? Is there any reason whatsoever to think that there could be an immune effect involved in the development of autism? I ask because the anti-vaccine people constantly mention the immune system as if it were an established link. I do understand that health food faddists and quacks like to refer to the immune system -- it seems to be this decade's fad -- but is there any information from real science that suggests a link?

My hope is medical science will continue to do research to determine if there is a vaccine/autism connection.

Why? It's been researched to death and no link has been found. What makes you think that "more research" will provide you with the answer you want rather than just more negative studies?

Caro,

A small child who is very healthy receives numerous vaccines. Less than 12 hours from that needle stick, said child becomes deathly ill and NEVER recovers from it again. Please explain.

A small child who is very healthy is driven home from the doctor's office in a car. Less than 12 hours after being in that car, said child becomes deathly ill and NEVER recovers from it again. Please explain.

A small child who is very healthy is driven home from the doctor’s office in a car. Less than 12 hours after being in that car, said child becomes deathly ill and NEVER recovers from it again. Please explain.

Devil's advocate here. The small child has probably been in the same car multiple times without becoming deathly ill.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Please explain how an otherwise perfectly healthy girls gets parylized or even dies a few short hours after give this unnecessary vaccine. please … do tell.

Please provide examples -- with names. If there are so many, you shouldn't have much trouble. Cervical cancer is the 4th most common cancer among women, world-wide; why is a vaccine that prevents the most common types of cervical cancer unnecessary?

The continued, varied, wide-ranging efforts by many of the TM's and ilk for treating or "curing" their children reminded me of a behavioral reinforcement system that mimics that of some gamblers and may be one source of superstitions. It is that of only intermittent and random(?) rewards. Apparently this is one of the stronger and more persistent methods of conditioning. Any sign of improvement in a serial experimenter's "patient" is just encouragement for more, both of the same and anything new. Of course, other things are also at work with these people.

P.S. Anyone more versed in psychology should fee free to criticize, comment, or expound on this speculation without fear of my taking offense. I have not collected all these birthdays without learning of my own ignorance.

A small child who is very healthy receives numerous vaccines. Less than 12 hours from that needle stick, said child becomes deathly ill and NEVER recovers from it again. Please explain.

I was struck by a car immediately following an immunization against yellow fever. Got out of the chair about 30 seconds after the shot and ran outside to put more money in the meter -- my car was fewer than 15 feet away.

I was not struck by a car after I was immunized against typhoid, in the same clinic, in the same room, by the same physician.

Please explain.

I only wish that it were true that scientific studies trump anecdote. It’s very hard for scientific studies, at least in the minds of many parents, to trump anecdote because anecdotes are so powerful, emotional, and personal. It’s very hard to trump that with statistics.

The example that I use is an example which happened to my wife. She came into the office on a weekend day. She was helping the nurse give vaccines. She walked into a room. A mother was sitting with her four month old child waiting alongside of the wall. While my wife was drawing the vaccine through the syringe, the child had a seizure and went on to have the permanent seizure disorder, epilepsy. If my wife had given that vaccine five minutes earlier, I think there are no amount of statistical data in the world that would’ve convinced that mother of anything other than the vaccine caused it. What else could it have been, right? I mean, the child was fine, they got this vaccine, and then they had epilepsy. What else could it have been? Even though, in that particular case, my wife hadn’t given the vaccine yet. -- Dr. Paul Offit

Devil’s advocate here. The small child has probably been in the same car multiple times without becoming deathly ill.

If it weren't that small children have been given the same vaccines even more multiple times without becoming deathly ill, that might work

My hope is medical science will continue to do research to determine if there is a vaccine/autism connection. Yes, please, let's waste even more time, money, energy, bandwidth, resources, in trying to assuage the fears of a cohort of predominantly affluent Western parents. It's not like those resources could be better directed elsewhere.

Devil’s advocate here. The small child has probably been in the same car multiple times without becoming deathly ill.

In that case it was the cumulative effect of too many car rides too soon.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

"If it weren’t that small children have been given the same vaccines even more multiple times without becoming deathly ill, that might work."

But other children aren't their own and their own child is unique - except for their online friend's children who also became deathly ill and the stories of courageous doctors warning of these dangers.

I was not struck by a car after I was immunized against typhoid, in the same clinic, in the same room, by the same physician.

You can see cause and effect quite clearly in this case. No mysteries except for why the driver plowed into you. Drunk or just driving a Toyota whose acceleration went crazy?

I really hope your injuries were mild.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

The driver's car skiddered on the ice. Just a flesh wound. :)

Chris @23
I am writing a reply to you.It may go into moderation as it has more than two links.

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

"My hope is medical science will continue to do research to determine if there is a vaccine/autism connection."

My hope is that science will continue to do research into why babies still come from storks....

Chris @23
If you are talking about Silberman's book,I must admit I have not read the whole thing,only excerpts on the web.I must admit I have my own personal biases against people who see autism as anything but a serious congenital brain disorder that needs cures and treatments.It is not a positive "difference" any more than it is "vaccine damage".You of all people might be able to understand this.This is why I have not read most of Silberman's book.if Silberman's goal is indeed cures and treatments for autism,I would apologize for misunderstanding him.

I have read a good bit of late elsewhere about Ole Ivar Lovass,and his methods.Some of these methods could easily be considered child abuse or torture.Here are some graphic examples I read about:

A 1965 Life magazine piece on Lovass and his methods.
http://neurodiversity.com/library_screams_1965.html

1971 article from Lovass' own journal detailing some of the type of methods Lovass and his colleagues used.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1310693/pdf/jaba00073-0041…

I am aware similar methods were used to "cure" homosexuals.

Lovass was known to dose autistic children up with LSD.
http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/ajp.122.11.1201?journal…

Lovass considered echolalia to be a type of psychosis to be treated with electroshock.We now know echolalia is a way some autistic children learn spoken language.This is not neurodiversity,but neurobiology.

Here is an interesting analysis of Lovass,and his famous patient Noah,from a like minded autistic,and online friend of mine,Johnathan Mitchell

http://autismgadfly.blogspot.com/2009/05/noah-greenfeld-flunked-lovaas…

Like Bruno Bettleheim .Lovass was a product of both a Freudian education,and living under the Nazis.This shaped his beliefs and teachings.

George Alan Rekers is the product of the same type of religious fundamentalism,that produced the likes of John Hagee or Mike Huckabee.His views on gays were shaped were clearly shaped by his strong religious beliefs,and interpretation of the bible.These beliefs drove his research.This is something I completely reject.As my brain function has improved in the last few years,I have become increasingly atheist.

Could Rekers be another Ted Haggard as far as his own sexuality?

I do not believe that being born LGBTQ is the same as being born with a serious neurological disorder like autism.I reject this notion entirely.Being born LGBTQ has many positives,being born autistic does not have any.Being born autistic is,in my opinion,no different than being born with cerebral palsy or something like Hashimoto's encephalopathy.Most brain disorders have a wide spectrum of severity as well.

A like minded autistic,and Facebook friend of mine,suggested the possibility that some parents of seriously disabled autistic children might embrace neurodiversity because they had tried everything to "cure" their child's autism,and nothing worked.I don't know if this is the case with you or not.

Chris,as I have said here before,I have gotten diagnoses of multiple inborn metabolic diseases in the last few years,after living with them over forty years before they were found out,These could not have been diagnosed when I was a child.These disorders caused me both autism that was at least as severe as your son's,and all sorts of equally severe medical problems.

The funny thing is,inborn metabolic disorders can be treated,no matter how old you are.When this is the cause of the autism,as it was for me,the autism can be treated,like the medical problem it is,and drastically improve.For me "behaviors" like head banging and wandering were due treatable seizures.My experiences have convinced me autism is a group of medical brain disorders not an "identity".These disorders may be individually rare,but collectively could account for most of what we call "autism".

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Orac says (#54).

It’s been researched to death and no link has been found.

MJD says,

Atypical immunity, neurological development, protein transcription, enzyme regulation, cytokine expression, lymphocyte expression, NGF expression...

Researching a possible vaccine/autism connection is in its infancy, in my opinion.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

hdb: "I have to say that Silberman misquotes an anecdote from my homeboy Tony Attwood, then misspells Tony’s surname when providing the reference. That did not instill me with a great sense of reliability."

Fair enough. Page number please? (then at least I can check the end notes to see if they match, though I may have to check when I check the book out of library again) And how does that make the entire notion of neurodiversity a "lie"?

I will note that doing a Google on Attwood and Silberman I did come across an article in Wired, which looks like his first bit about the subject:
http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aspergers_pr.html

I am not trying to be contrary, I am sincerely trying to understand. Which is why I cannot accept "Silberman said this, so his whole book is a lie" ploy. I need to know the page, the premise, and where to find the real information. Look at it from my vantage point: a confused parent.

First I gave up being a smart accomplished woman engineer to having a child with a seizure disorder. Then it was a speech disorder, then add in a heart disorder. Along the way between a couple of other kids I am thrown into the LGBTQ issues. Now, finally my oldest has an autism diagnosis (oh, and while he as an adult seems to be "Aspergers", he would have never qualified for that diagnosis due to the fact he could not speak at all when he was three years old... that took ten years of speech therapy).

I read this book that shows a family just like ours who were told their child did not have autism (over a decade after we got the same spiel), and then I see some of same issues we have dealt with over the years. Plus the revelation of one of Lovaas' students, George Rekers, was being a "cureby" for homosexuality.

So I really need real answers to the "lies" of neurodiversity. Why is that my oldest son having autism and another child not being true to their birth gender not a form of neurodiversity, and that they must be changed? Why is it so bad to accept them and accommodate their needs and desires?

Explain this to me, because I am old and not privy to the secret information outside of what I read.

Delphine@43

In the small cerebral folate deficiency community,of which I am a part,there is a lot of controversy if mothers should breast feed,as breast milk makes the CFD worse,and causes further autistic regression.So does camel milk,donkey milk,and any other type of mammal milk the woo-meisters want to push.

This is a condition mothers pass onto babies in the womb.Dr. Ramaekers in Belgium,and others,are looking at possible genes.Once a child is diagnosed with CFD as the cause of their autism,there is a real moral dilemma if mothers want another baby or not.

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

@Chris:

I'm sure hdb can speak for himself, but I don't think he was necessarily painting the notion of neurodiversity as being nothing but a lie, but rather making a slightly pedantic (bimler I loves you!) point about sloppiness in attribution. I have to say that errors like that make me question the scholarship and veracity of a work, too.* Possibly you are conflating his comments with Roger Kulp's to some extent.

First I gave up being a smart accomplished woman engineer to having a child with a seizure disorder.

Psssht, you gave up being a practicing engineer, maybe, but I see no evidence that you ever gave up being "smart" or "accomplished."

Incidentally: if the good herr doktor is any younger than you, I am pretty sure it's not by much. :)

*Like the time I tried to read a Richard Dawkins book once** (something other than The Selfish Gene, which I recall enjoying to some extent as a 7th grader) and he wrote, in the introduction, that the US bans "hate speech." He might have even said something about fire in a crowded theater, I dunno, but fair or not, it didn't incline me favorably toward the book in general. Dawkins himself already struck me as a blowhard by that point anyway, I think.

**I guess I was curious what the "New Atheists" were on about. Never have been terribly impressed, tbh.

@Caro #51

Please explain the numerous deaths and severe side effects from the very unnecessary HPV vaccine. Please explain how an otherwise perfectly healthy girls gets parylized or even dies a few short hours after give this unnecessary vaccine. please … do tell.

This has been adressed multiple times here.
1st thing : where does your information come from ? Personal testimonies, or VAERS ? If that is the case, this isn't sufficient to demonstrate the HPV vaccine had a responsibility. This isn't how it has been proven in the past that some vaccines had to be pulled from the market.

To put things into perspective, we in France have Prescrire, an independant journal, who isn't known for its complacency towards pharmatical companies or government regulatory agencies. (For example, they were among the first to campaign against the Mediator, one of our national scandals).
This is their opinion on the HPV vaccines : http://english.prescrire.org/en/81/168/49937/0/NewsDetails.aspx
> Safety : not alarmed by the pharmacovigilance reports of multiple countries and the epidemiological studies.
> Efficacy : far more careful and skeptical (still not enough data to determine if this will have a real impact on invasive cervical cancer)
> They also repeat that screening must not be forgotten because of this vaccine and that a national screening program would be great.

We can't unfortunately always tell what killed or maimed a seemingly healthy person. However, judging by the absence of difference between vaccinated and non-vaccinated people, it is very unlikely to be the HPV vaccine. All we can do is continue to look elsewhere.

Here is also one of the last and largest safety studies, on auto-immune diseases. It was organized by the ANSM (regulatory agency) and the Assurance Maladie (a part of our national socialized health care ; meaning that if there are side-effects, these guys would very much like to know, since they are the ones paying if people are disabled by vaccines).
The only possible side-effect they found (already known and put in the inserts) was Guillain-Barré syndrom (1-2 out of 100.000 vaccinated).
http://ansm.sante.fr/S-informer/Actualite/Vaccination-contre-les-infect…

MJD:

Respectful Insolence (i.e., ScienceBlogs) is intended to discredit a belief while science is the search for truth.

Do you have any idea about just how foolish you sound, Michael? It was believed that the sun went around the Earth. It was believed that bad air caused diseases (malaria literally means "bad air"). Both these beliefs are scientifically discredited, and so is the belief that vaccines cause autism.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Fair enough. Page number please? (then at least I can check the end notes to see if they match, though I may have to check when I check the book out of library again) And how does that make the entire notion of neurodiversity a “lie”?

I personally have no issue with 'neurodiversity'; that is for Roger Kulp to address. Though the point of 'diversity' is that autism and 'neurotypical' are not the only options, and it irritates me when people look back through history and start retrospectively diagnosing every eccentric genius as 'autistic' simply because they departed from the cognitive norm. Partly because it encourages the whole "all autists are savants" pile of cr@p. Silberman is guilty of this, and tries to shoehorn Alan Turing and Hugo Gernsback into the spectrum (the case for P.A.M. Dirac is marginally stronger).

From what I recall of Silberman's earlier 'Wired' essay, he bought into the 'OH NOES autism EPIDEMIC' hair-on-fire pile of cr@p... it was an overblown story, possibly damaging. Now he seems to have realised the errors in his essay and has tried to redress the by writing a book that's overblown in a different direction.

Anyways, in 2007 Tony Attwood wrote as follows:
"Many years ago, I remember someone mentioning that Hans Asperger had said that adults with autistic personality disorder could become talented in code breaking, and their abilities in mathematics and codes valued by military intelligence. In his paper published in 1938 he advocated against the newly introduced Nazi law for 'the prevention of offspring suffering from hereditary diseases'. It seems he felt by pointing out the skills of those with autistic personality disorder he was emphasizing their potential advantage to the military, thus preventing such children from being taken from their parents and killed. He was certainly a brave man to challenge Nazi doctrine.
'When I met his daughter, Maria, in Zurich several years ago, I asked her if it is true that he made those comments on code breaking and she replied with an emphatic yes."

In Neurotribes the anecdote grows slightly -- rather than a footnote in a paper, Asperger is taking on his superiors, and is talking about children rather than adults:
"At one point, Asperger suggested to his superiors that his little professors would make superior code breakers for the Reich."*

Then in a Vox interview the story evolves further, and Asperger is taking on the Nazi hierarchy directly:
"He at one point suggested to the Nazis that these kids could make great codebreakers for the Reich."

The distortion of meaning from "general defense of autistic trait as something perhaps worth keeping in the genepool" to "attempts to save specific individuals from Aktion-T4" is subtle, but real, and to me paints a picture of Silberman leaving aside the available facts in preference of a narrative he's constructed.

* Alas, the Goofle Book Preview has no pagination, so I can't cite a page number.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Re Turing being autistic: I blogged about "The Imitation Game" and if Alan Turing was autistic. It seems to me that a case can be made that he was.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Link not work, Julian.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 22 Sep 2015 #permalink

Ta.
Bear in mind that the Turing=Autism theory was around before "The Imitation Game", and scriptwriters *had* to portray his character as autistic & humorless & socially-impaired or viewers would have complained that he didn't match their expectations. So the portrayal in the film is not evidential.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

Mr. Dochniak,

I've been engaged on a project primarily involving stunting for the past seven months. Stunting is a rotten tragedy for many reasons. It is frequently generational, and its effects are multiple, profound, and lifelong. Prevalence is estimated at between 5% and 65% in LDCs. Approximately 800M people around the world including 195M children under the age of 5 are stunted as a result of chronic malnutrition and frequent diarrhea.

One of the most horrifying aspects of stunting to me is the affect it can have on the maternal pelvis, causing obstructed labour in childbirth. Do you know what a craniotomy is, Mr. Dochniak? Do look it up.

Why am I writing this? Because I AM SICK TO DEATH of worried well white wealthy Westerners going ON AND FUC*ING ON about something that is categorically untrue. You know what's really sad about stunting? It's wholly preventable and reversible in some cases. But hey, let's go on and on and on about a problem that doesn't exist. Let's keep allocating resources toward something that's been studied up the wazoo, because that's what the children of the world really need.

*effect

MJD

Researching a possible vaccine/autism connection is in its infancy, in my opinion.

As I mentioned in one of my earlier comments:
"If vaccines caused even a minority of cases of autism, this effect would have been detected. It wasn’t, so we can confidently say that vaccines do not cause autism."
Before you can postulate a mechanism as an explanation for something happening, you first have to show that it happens. Vaccines do not cause autism, so your comment is moot.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

@ Chris:

You're NOT old. IIRC we're somewhere around the same age and I'm not old. Case closed.

HOWEVER I am frequently feeling worn down with worry- either from following world economic issues, relatives'/ friends' health concerns and daily management of my assorted duties. And though I have no children, I have others in my care.

Concerning the LGBTQ family issue- try to remember that your kids are coming of age in a world that is very different from that which we experienced when we were university aged. Although there was already awareness ( gay rights, Stonewall, David Bowie, glitter ), the GENERAL culture ( as opposed to edge-y youth) was nowhere close to supporting it Equal marriage was not even spoken about while it is now law across the West.

Next door, I have 3 young gay men and one straight guy who share a huge, posh condo- the 2 youngest are 25 and totally out. It's no big deal. They seem accepted by friends of all orientations and ethnicities who visit them regularly. Moreover, they appear to be COMFORTABLE in their own skins. One exhibits mannerisms which probably might have isolated him as a stereotype even in the '70s but it certainly hasn't today. These guys seem happy and productive with careers.

In addition, you live in a very liberal area so it's not as though they have to fight against entrenched conservative society every day.

AND try to remember that they're not having to hide or having to pretend to be anything other than themselves all of their lives. They're riding the crest of a cultural wave. Hopefully they'll do well and will be happy.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

@ MDK

I do not have natural immunity to measles, mumps, or rubella because my generation is the first to be vaccinated for them.

Caused me to discover that face palming while wearing glasses is painful.

I feel your pain.

This "natural immunity" stupidity is starting to wear me out.
At the time of the injection, granted, there may be some differences between a vaccine and a natural infection. Not as negative as some may think*, but... OK

*aside from the vaccine being much less likely to harm you than the natural infection. Bit of an important difference.

But 20+ years later? The vaccinated would have have some good chance to meet the wild form of the virus a few times in a perfectly natural form, especially if he/she was a "first generation being vaccinated" - plenty of potential carriers around before reaching widespread vaccination.

After repeated exposure to the viruses' wild forms, I fail to see how one's immunity couldn't have become more "natural", or could have failed to acquire whichever benefit it was supposed to get from battling a natural infection instead of a vaccine.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

Wow, no need to be so snarky, AdamG #39. After all, organic foods aren't designed to be injected to elicit an immune response in order to develop memory cells. I'm as pro-vaccine as the next girl, but just to play devil's advocate- how do we know that the autism cases in the non-vaccinated population are not triggered by natural infection and the autism cases in the vaccinated population triggered by the vaccines?

And Chris #44, I said absolutely nothing about how these children should therefore NOT receive vaccines. I believe in vaccines wholeheartedly. Please allow me even a modicum of respect; I've never posted here before, and you don't know my background nor should you have any reason to think I am particularly uneducated about the subject on which I am commenting. I am merely a scientist, analyzing some data. To answer your questions, I am sure those children would probably get quite sick from the disease, and that it would most certainly be worse to get measles versus MMR. If one of my professors were to ask me for a potential mechanism on an oral exam, I'd give them one. However, it is going to involve a lot of pathways and signaling mechanisms, IL-2, IFN-g, probably some IL-21, and so forth. I trust that you'll forgive me for not reciting it here?

By CaitlinEm (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

Delphine says (#82),

I’ve been engaged on a project primarily involving stunting for the past seven months.

MJD says,

Of course we very much appreciate your efforts.

Delphine...thank you!!!

Continuous research on how children may differentially react to infectious organisms and non-infectious proteins (i.e., allergens) continues to be an area of discovery to improve vaccine safety.

Examples, don't give your child a vaccine if they are sick or allergic to any vaccine components.

Finally, future research may provide additional safety precautions in an effort to do no harm.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

CaitlinEm,

We don’t really have any evidence that these children are not pre-autistic individuals whose immune systems are stressed by vaccines, and the children then develop autistic symptoms. Do we?

Other than the many studies that find no correlation (or a negative correlation) between vaccination and autism, the studies that detected signs of autism in children long before they were vaccinated, and the large body of evidence that points strongly to a prenatal origin of autism, you mean?

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

#87 @CaitlinEm

Perhaps you haven't seen the lovely graph with probably the tightest correlation to the the rise in diagnosed people with autism. The near identical rise at the exact same time as the increase in organic food consumption.

That being said.

Do you really think that two completely different mechanisms are causing autism in each population so as to be completely undetectable in numerous studies that have accumulated well over a million individuals?

Fortunately for the unvaccinated the vast majority of them don't get all the diseases as they often can't find someone in their community to infect them (many have to go abroad to get infected with the diseases).

Speculating between the dots can be done for anything but tends not to be useful when thing A and thing B have been shown time and time and time and time again to be independent of each other no matter how many people want that retracted paper with a small n and lots of methodological issues to over-ride all other studies ever done since.

Caitlin: "Please allow me even a modicum of respect; I’ve never posted here before, and you don’t know my background nor should you have any reason to think I am particularly uneducated about the subject on which I am commenting. I am merely a scientist, analyzing some data."

It looks like you have not lurked here much to understand this blog has a kind of culture. Anyone who makes any kind of testable claim like you did above is challenged to come up with the papers to support that claim.

Especially, as Krebiozen has noted: there is plenty of scientific literature that contradicts your claim. Plus it is a common claim among the anti-vax that autistic children have a special sensitivity to vaccines, and that the diseases are not dangerous.

By the way, claiming to be a scientist does not hold much sway around here. What does hold sway here is being able to discuss the issues with evidence, and being able to say "oops I was wrong" or that you can understand someone's personal opinion. Because, while you can have your own opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts.

Mephistopheles @63

You almost threw me with that one. But I did have an answer for you last night. I waited because I thought it might have gone into approval but it looks like I just didn't submit it so, here you go...

That's just crazy talk. Who has ever been known to become gravely ill from too many car rides too soon. It is called "vaccine" court not "car overdose" court.

It's a stretch I know.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

CaitlinEm #47 asks:
"... how do we know that the autism cases in the non-vaccinated population are not triggered by natural infection and the autism cases in the vaccinated population triggered by the vaccines?"

The answer is that nobody knows for sure. But in medicine there is an old adage that says:
" when you hear hoofbeats behind you, think horses, not zebras".
They used to call it Occam's Razor, centuries ago.

By perodatrent (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

pardon: # 87

By perodatrent (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

how do we know that the autism cases in the non-vaccinated population are not triggered by natural infection and the autism cases in the vaccinated population triggered by the vaccines?

How do we know that the autism cases in children who don't eat organic food are not triggered by natural exposure to pathogens and compounds on these foods and the autism cases in the organic-food eating population triggered by exposure to organic foods?

If you can't see that there's the same amount of evidence for both your statement and mine (i.e. none), snark is absolutely warranted.

I am merely a scientist, analyzing some data.

I must have missed the part where you presented your analysis of a dataset that supports 2 different autism mechanisms between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. 'There's more evidence for my hypothesis because vaccines are designed to affect the immune system' is total handwaving.

#88 @Krebiozen, no, I'm sorry, I wasn't aware. Which studies detected signs of autism in children before they were vaccinated? If I remember correctly from my classes, autism diagnoses cannot really be made until about 2 years of age. How were they defining autism?

By CaitlinEm (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

just to play devil’s advocate- how do we know that the autism cases in the non-vaccinated population are not triggered by natural infection and the autism cases in the vaccinated population triggered by the vaccines?

If it were true that both vaccines and infections trigger the onset of autism, then the vaccines become a non-issue. One can safely predict that all children will at some point catch a natural infection. Therefore it becomes likely that all children predisposed to autism would, some day, get an infection that triggers the onset.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

hdb: "The distortion of meaning from “general defense of autistic trait as something perhaps worth keeping in the genepool” to “attempts to save specific individuals from Aktion-T4” is subtle, but real, and to me paints a picture of Silberman leaving aside the available facts in preference of a narrative he’s constructed."

That I can understand. Thank you for clarifying your opinion. I have caught some errors in other books. Like the last one written by Bob Park (which really needed an editor), and I think I saw one in Neurotribes (but is was minor enough I forgot about it). I usually don't let that affect that author's entire piece of work. But it does look like you have read more of Silberman's past work, which gives your opinion more data to stand on.

I am often dismayed when people are diagnosed way after the fact. The one that annoys me the most are the myths surrounding Einstein (some that he and his secretaries helped perpetuate). Also, I remember reading Oliver Sacks explaining one should also not diagnose over time and distance (I think it was in Anthropologist on Mars).

Though on the other hand I know this is not exactly a scholarly book, and it did seem that he is trying to paint a history of how the diagnosis evolved over the years. Including the efforts of Lorna Wing and Uta Frith. I will probably now seek out to read what they have written, without it being filtered through a journalist.

I am not a newby to the literature on disability, since I started scouring the library for clues on what was going on with my kid for over twenty years. There was very little on childhood speech/language disorders, it was mostly about deaf education and culture. Since my son had seizures, I did read books on neurology. So many words, so few were actually helpful.

And what is so weird is that one book I picked up on speech disorders was making the argument that children with "voice disorders" like low pitch for girls and high pitch for boys were signs that they were gendered confused, and that needed to be fixed. I was shocked, and shared this with my son speech therapist who looked at it, and told me to ignore anything on disabilities written five years earlier (and yes, I thought of that book when I was reading about George Rekers).

Firstly CaitlinEm, "signs of autism" is not the same as an autism diagnosis. Although people who show signs of autism often wind up getting diagnosed later. The best example of this is Michelle Cedillo, who was one of the Test Cases in the Omnibus Autism Proceedings. Her parents introduced video of her at 15 months to show she wasn't autistic before getting her MMR. A psychologist who specialised in autism was able to show that Michelle was already showing clear signs of autism, and that her parents were unconsciously adjusting their behaviours to hers.
Chris gave you some very good advice. How long were you lurking before you commented? Around here, it is often the case that someone claims to be "Pro-vaccine" or "pro safe vaccine", only to repeat demonstrable falsities about the dangers of vaccines. That is why you were treated with scepticism.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

Caitlin: "Which studies detected signs of autism in children before they were vaccinated?"

Over the past decade or so there have studies of home video, and other ways to detecting autism. I remember when they were first coming out, and how home movies used in one Autism Omnibus case revealed the child had autistic symptoms before the accused vaccine. So now the PubMeds are too flooded for a search (videos are also used in treatment), but I think this is a review:

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2015 Aug;55:627-35. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2015.06.006. Epub 2015 Jun 17.
Early detection of autism spectrum disorders: From retrospective home video studies to prospective 'high risk' sibling studies.

#94 @AdamG- My apologies. I suggested that maybe a genetic anomaly could lead one child to react differently than another. A few GWAS studies seem to have demonstrated associations between allelic variants and febrile seizures following MMR (PMCID: PMC4244308), IFNg production following MMR (PMCID: PMC4096048), and various cytokines following smallpox vaccination (PMCID: PMC4170585).

These studies certainly don't look at the effects of having caught the disease due to not being immunized, however. I suggested that maybe the same mechanism could take place due to the pathways converging; if you caught some sort of flu or common cold early on in life, you'd stimulate your body to have an immune response and have cytokines flying all over the place. Similarly, a vaccination is designed to do the same thing on a smaller scale. If (and I acknowledge that this is a large "if") autism is associated with a hyper-activation of the immune response, then wouldn't this be relevant? I should think that it wouldn't matter which pathogens the body were exposed to, so long as an immune response was stimulated.

By CaitlinEm (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

If one of my professors were to ask me for a potential mechanism on an oral exam, I’d give them one. However, it is going to involve a lot of pathways and signaling mechanisms, IL-2, IFN-g, probably some IL-21, and so forth. I trust that you’ll forgive me for not reciting it here?

Actually, I'd like to hear it.

I should think that it wouldn’t matter which pathogens the body were exposed to, so long as an immune response was stimulated.

It would matter given how different pathogens provoke different pathways.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

If (and I acknowledge that this is a large “if”) autism is associated with a hyper-activation of the immune response, then wouldn’t this be relevant?

This is begging the question.

Note that the genes with the strongest link to sporadic autism have absolutely nothing to do with hyper-activation of the immune response:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24387789

A few GWAS studies

Sigh, this is a personal pet peeve of mine, like when people say "PIN Number" or "ATM Machine"

CaitlinEm,

#88 @Krebiozen, no, I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware. Which studies detected signs of autism in children before they were vaccinated? If I remember correctly from my classes, autism diagnoses cannot really be made until about 2 years of age. How were they defining autism?

Here's one, there is also the one Chris cites and you can find several others on PubMed. It looks to me as if there are several different separate areas of evidence all pointing to a prenatal origin. That, along with studies like Marsden's MMR study, make me think it is extremely unlikely that vaccines could possibly be a significant cause of ASDs. No one can rule out a small subgroup that are vulnerable to vaccines, but that possibility is becoming steadily smaller and smaller IMO.

BTW, you will no doubt find people claiming that the hepatitis B vaccine given immediately post-natally the US is causing autism, but that doesn't explain the similar autism rates in countries where the hepatitis B vaccine is only given to high risk babies, as the UK for example.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

#98 @Julian Frost, A very good point about the difference between signs of autism vs. a diagnosis. I'll read up on these studies finding signs of autism early on, because it sounds quite interesting. Thanks!

And I have lurked for about 6 months now. Loved this blog. I've never really seen people assume quite so many things about a person before, however. Let me spout vaccine nonsense before you all go off on me as a vaccine nonsense-sayer! :) Actually, the reason I wrote was because I was having a discussion on an anti-vaccine forum. I try to talk to people to find out why they are so against vaccines and correct misinformation they may have. This little tidbit was a stumbling block in my logic, and I thought that the good people here could help me figure out the research and science to get past it. Lo and behold, that same day was an autism post. "Perfect timing!" I thought. I wrote my comment, and hoped someone would say, "Oh, yeah, we thought of that, and x y z, so it's not really an issue." And... now I'm still here, writing to you. ;)

By CaitlinEm (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

who have one child on the spectrum already, who knew not to vaccinate further children, wondering why those unvaccinated, 100% GMO-free, breastfed siblings are seeming to regress after being ill, and I cringe because I worry that the answer lies in Mom’s health

Sheesh. One might wonder why Occam's Razor never occurs to people. The simplest conclusion from this evidence is that none of these things are causing the autism, not that Mom's health state is somehow inducing it by osmosis. Talk preconfirming the conclusion. "Thinking Moms" my ass. The world has enough real problems, why are they wasting so much time inventing new ones??

Question please

Can someone explain the antivax logic of how the vaccines a woman got as a child,can somehow cause autism in her child years,or even decades later.I think I recall reading something somewhere on the web,AoA perhaps (?) about how antis think vaccines can mutate genes? =?

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

Chis @ 98
Another essay from my friend Johnathan.

Bill Gates founded Microsoft, marketed the DOS operating system and developed the top operating system windows. He is now the wealthiest man in the world with a net worth of about 60 billion dollars. Albert Einstein won the Nobel prize in physics and revolutionized the world with the theory of relativity. Thomas Jefferson became the third president of the United States.

Were any of these people autistic? There are some people who insist that the answer is yes or at the very least they had autistic traits. In addition to giving parents hope for their child's future, it could be used to make an autistic person feel better about himself Of course there is the flip-side that it could induce anger and bitterness to the autist who considers himself far less successful than many neurotypicals. I fall into this last category, therefore, I feel that it is of utmost importance that these diagnoses be dissected. I have attempted to do so in this essay.

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

how the vaccines a woman got as a child,can somehow cause autism in her child years,or even decades later.

Because toxins.

Adam G @ 103

You are looking in the wrong place.Please peruse some of the studies my friend Paul Whiteley has blogged about.There are many subtypes of autism.One of these is definitely autoimmune.Autoimmune autism/encephalopathy has been extensively studied.It occurs in families where there is a history of autoimmune disease,and the mother has some type of autoimmune disease herself.This type of autism is passed from mother to child in the womb,like
many other autoimmune diseases.

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

This type of autism is passed from mother to child in the womb,like many other autoimmune diseases.

I'm aware of the subtypes...I was referring to sporadic autism cases. Familial ASD is largely a different beast.

Science Mom@102

Actually, I’d like to hear it.

Same here.

CaitlinEm@101

If (and I acknowledge that this is a large “if”) autism is associated with a hyper-activation of the immune response, then wouldn’t this be relevant?

Step one is prior plausibility. Provide a mechanism, not your credentials.

@105

I’ve never really seen people assume quite so many things about a person before, however.

I've seen it happen to people who deserved it less. I've been guilty of it myself. This has been relatively tame in my opinion.

Let me spout vaccine nonsense before you all go off on me as a vaccine nonsense-sayer!

Please understand that you used many anti-vaccine tropes. Off the top of my head: speshul snowflakes, I'm not anti-vaccine, I'm a scientist, stringing together medical terms without saying anything, postulating a hypothesis and challenging us to disprove instead of providing evidence supporting it. It all smelled like one of anti-vaccine types who craves legitimacy and works very hard to come across as reasonable; hence my comment #48 about JAQing off.

This little tidbit was a stumbling block in my logic, and I thought that the good people here could help me figure out the research and science to get past it.

Please be more specific. My experience has been that flaw in their arguments often lies in the purported mechanism linking the immune system and autism. "Maybe there's a link between immune hyperreactivity and autism" is really to vague to argue against. The best response is exactly what you experienced here: ask for a specific mechanism, point out the lack of epidemiological data linking vaccines and autism, and explain that this is not a reason to avoid vaccines because the diseases themselves provoke a far greater immune response.

Roger Kulp@107

Can someone explain the antivax logic of how the vaccines a woman got as a child,can somehow cause autism in her child years,or even decades later.I think I recall reading something somewhere on the web,AoA perhaps (?) about how antis think vaccines can mutate genes? =?

I believe I've seen it chalked up to passive immunity. For some reason the mother's antibodies from vaccinization are bad, unlike the ones aquired from the disease.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

Delphine says (#82),

I’ve been engaged on a project primarily involving stunting for the past seven months.

MJD says,

Of course we very much appreciate your efforts.

Delphine…thank you!!!

Continuous research on how children may differentially react to infectious organisms and non-infectious proteins (i.e., allergens) continues to be an area of discovery to improve vaccine safety.

Examples, don’t give your child a vaccine if they are sick or allergic to any vaccine components.

Finally, future research may provide additional safety precautions in an effort to do no harm.

1. I don't want or need your thanks. 2. Are you always this disingenuously goal-post shiftingly smarmy, or just on the topic of vaccines?

I suggested that maybe a genetic anomaly could lead one child to react differently than another. A few GWAS studies seem to have demonstrated associations between allelic variants and febrile seizures following MMR (PMCID: PMC4244308), IFNg production following MMR (PMCID: PMC4096048), and various cytokines following smallpox vaccination (PMCID: PMC4170585).

The first two of those studies don't mention any lasting sequelae. One of them explicitly says there aren't any. And I didn't read the third, because small pox.

Also:

It's a little disingenuous of you to retroactively represent your suggestion that autism was triggered by infection and/or vaccination as having been merely about a possible association between a few genetic polymorphisms and immune response.

Maybe more than a little.

Actually, the reason I wrote was because I was having a discussion on an anti-vaccine forum. I try to talk to people to find out why they are so against vaccines and correct misinformation they may have.

Aha. Well. That explains why your second paragraph @101 feels so Hannah-Poling-based.

This little tidbit was a stumbling block in my logic, and I thought that the good people here could help me figure out the research and science to get past it. .

Sure. If your hypothesis is that a child who was seriously immunocompromised by an extremely rare genetic anomaly might be at risk for encephalitis and brain damage when exposed to either vaccination or infection:

Yes. I believe that possibility, though very remote, is among the acknowledged risks of vaccination.

But it has nothing to do with the etiology of autism. There's no reason I know of to think it does. And many not to.

Blockquote fail @#114.

I suggested that maybe a genetic anomaly could lead one child to react differently than another.

As a layman, I find that fairly plausible. If that could be verified and a test created, that might well be a factor that would contraindicate vaccination (as well as being one more group that vaccinating the rest of the population protects).

Until it's proven and a test developed, though, it's just interesting speculation.

Of course, IANADNDIPOOT.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

Including the efforts of Lorna Wing and Uta Frith. I will probably now seek out to read what they have written, without it being filtered through a journalist.

Uta's "Enigma Explained" is very good. Her "central coherence" hypothesis has not really passed the test of time, but it stimulated a lot of useful research, which is often all one can ask for.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

CaitlinEm@101

I suggested that maybe a genetic anomaly could lead one child to react differently than another.

To expand on what I was saying earlier, why bring this up in the context of vaccines? Being a public educator is increasingly an important part of being a scientist. The way you presented this casts doubt on the safety of vaccines. In reality, the lack to a correlation between vaccination means that the affected population is either vanishingly small or balanced out by a proportionally equal population acquiring natural infections.

Maybe the mechanism is immune based and maybe there's a population who could reduce their risk of autism by avoiding vaccination (big maybes) but if that mechanism is true it makes more sense to be concerned with infections causing autism. If you fleshed out your ideas a bit you might make important discoveries about autism's origin and maybe even treatments or preventative measures but the effect on vaccine policy would be minimal to non-existent.

Your presentation seems ill-advised at best and antivax FUD spreading at worst. Frankly given how little you expanded upon them as well as the protestations instead of an evidence supported defense I read it as closer to the latter.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

Delphine says (#113),

I don’t want or need your thanks.

MJD says,

The easiest way to upset a majority of Respectful Insolence bloggers to sincerely give them praise or a thank you. Unless it's clearly presented as a left handed complement

Why is a big wad of JuicyFruit (i.e, abc) like respectful insolence?

They're both hard to swallow.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

So I really need real answers to the “lies” of neurodiversity. Why is that my oldest son having autism and another child not being true to their birth gender not a form of neurodiversity, and that they must be changed? Why is it so bad to accept them and accommodate their needs and desires?

Explain this to me, because I am old and not privy to the secret information outside of what I read.

I am old, and also foolish.

But fwiw, I don't think there's anything bad about loving, and accepting autistic or LGBTQ (or bipolar or schizophrenic or otherwise congenitally "different") people as they are. I also think that everybody's needs and desires should be accommodated to the greatest reasonable degree possible. And I don't see any downside to advocating -- or even agitating -- for that.

I haven't read Silberman's book. But I sometimes feel exactly as Roger Kulp does about him in response to narrative works that aim to champion diversity but overshoot the mark in a way that ends up romanticizing affliction instead.

That happens all the time because it's a very comforting story. The problem is that they tend to be disproportionately comforting to the non-afflicted. And as Roger Kulp says, there is some risk attached to that if it encourages people to think the problem is solved when it hasn't been.

Maybe none of that applies to Neurotribes. But in the abstract, I think there might maybe be more middle ground somewhere in its general vicinity than there appears to be.

Mr. Kulp: "Another essay from my friend Johnathan."

Now I understand. I will regard your opinion in the same manner that I regard Mr. MItchell's opinion. Plus, I will encourage you to actually read the book, and not go by bits and pieces you read on teh internets, with the caveats that hdb brought up.

"George Alan Rekers is the product of the same type of religious fundamentalism,that produced the likes of John Hagee or Mike Huckabee.His views on gays were shaped were clearly shaped by his strong religious beliefs,and interpretation of the bible.These beliefs drove his research."

A couple of papers you missed while Googling:
J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1974 Jun;2(2):99-116.
The behavioral treatment of a "transsexual" preadolescent boy.
Rekers GA, Lovaas OI, Low B.
and:
J Appl Behav Anal. 1974 Summer;7(2):173-90.
Behavioral treatment of deviant sex-role behaviors in a male child.
Rekers GA, Lovaas OI.

"Like Bruno Bettleheim .Lovass was a product of both a Freudian education,and living under the Nazis.This shaped his beliefs and teachings."

Bettelheim only really walked by Freud's office. He did not study psychology, though he did read Freud. Plus as a Jew, he spent time in concentration camps, but was released in 1939 and then moved to the USA as refugee. From the Bettelheim article in the Nov/Dec 2000 issue of Skeptical Inquirer (which I have on DVD):

Although untrained in analysis, Bettelheim was a Freudian fundamentalist. Counselors reported that every trivial incident that occurred in his school, such as a child breaking a dish or unintentionally hitting another child with a rubber ball, was taken by Bettelheim to be an unconscious expression of hostility. He was given to outbursts of anger and frequently slapped children.

To me those who deny there is any kind of neurodiversity are the same that told me that I was not supposed to like math and it was terrible that I was allowed to studied engineering. That was because it was not lady-like. Then there is the news today of a teacher of a four year old child:
Oklahoma teacher says lefties are ‘evil,’ forces 4-year-old boy to use right hand.

Obviously that teacher denies the neurodiversity of those who use the right side of their brain (old joke).

And please don't tell me that the dozen of so kids in my son's special ed. classes were not a diverse bunch. In 1991 there was no "autism" diagnosis for the Individuals with Disability Education Act, but I Google stalked a few of them. Yes, some now have an autism diagnosis, and at least one is fine (his diagnosis then was "hyperlexia")... and one is dead.

hdb: "Uta’s “Enigma Explained” is very good."

Thanks. Unfortunately my city library does not have anything written by her. And the only book by Lorna Wing is in Spanish. I think I shall have to try the county library, or an inter-library loan.

Well. Capnkrunch, I'm ever so sorry that you seem to have confused my genuine question with a challenge to the public forum to disprove something. Of course I would have loved to back up my hypothesis with more data, but if I could it wouldn't be a hypothesis anymore. Do you instantly disregard all genetic studies based on your "speshul snowflake" bias?

Ann, I fail to see anything disingenuous about my original post at all. I explicitly stated that my hypothesis was that genetics could be involved, and that the relevance of vaccines was purely in an immuno-stimulatory capacity.

By CaitlinEm (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

Ann, I fail to see anything disingenuous about my original post at all. I explicitly stated that my hypothesis was that genetics could be involved, and that the relevance of vaccines was purely in an immuno-stimulatory capacity.

Yes. And you originally suggested that your reason for thus hypothesizing was that we have no proof to the contrary.

However, I wasn't speaking of your original post, but rather of your response @#101 to AdamG's (true and justified) observation that we also have no proof that autism is not caused by organic foods.

You know, the one in which you dropped the part about autism like a box of rocks and began instead asserting that you were only suggesting that maybe a genetic anomaly could lead one child to respond differently -- if non-specifically -- to vaccines than another.

That was a little disingenuous. And it still is. The quote above, for example. You somehow seem to have not only completely omitted to mention exactly what you explicitly stated genetics might be involved in, but also how the purely immuno-stimulatory capacity of vaccines was relevant to it.

In light of your response to capnkrunch, "more than a little" is starting to look overly generous, in fact.

the relevance of vaccines was purely in an immuno-stimulatory capacity.

A lot of things stimulate the immune system. Why vaccines?

Of course I would have loved to back up my hypothesis with more data, but if I could it wouldn’t be a hypothesis anymore.

Sure it would, especially since you were only proposing hypothetical mechanisms.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

Can someone explain the antivax logic of how the vaccines a woman got as a child,can somehow cause autism in her child years,or even decades later.

It's the Demon Mercury from the vaccine, lying dormant in her bones, waiting until she is pregnant when it comes out from hiding to ravage the fetal brain.
It's always mercury.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

The way the comment system is set up probably causes a lot of misunderstandings and misreadings. In light of that, please let me clarify my position in one post.
I start by supposing that it is possible to be genetically predisposed to develop autism. For example, this could be due to an increased response to certain cytokines which may then affect brain development. There is already evidence that certain SNPs are associated with changes in cytokine activity, so this is not an unreasonable suggestion.
Consider, then, that autism, or signs of autism, present very young. If the only thing separating these pre-autistic individuals from developing autism is a strong immune stimulus, then the first illness they get or the first vaccine that they receive will be enough to do it. We know that vaccines do not cause autism based on case control studies showing us similar rates of autism in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. However, I suspect that these studies don't check to see if the unvaccinated children also have never had an illness.
The point of this is not to say that vaccines are bad, or that they should not be given. Obviously, these children will develop autism no matter what- it is simply a matter of time. However, I think it could be interesting to consider that maybe these babies hadn't been ill prior to their well-baby visits, and that their vaccination was one of their first strong immune responses.

By CaitlinEm (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

CaitlinEm@123
Apparently you missed every point point I tried to make. You don't need RTC's or anything and that's not what I asked for. You didn't present a testable hypothesis so much as a half formed though. Start with a plausible mechanism. You yourself admitted that an immune role in autism is a big if. You can't just say "maybe autism is caused by abnormal immune response" and expect us to prove otherwise. Right now you hypothesis looks like this:
1. Vaccination
2. Cytokines
3. ????
4. Autism
Before you get all indignant, fill in the blanks.

The other bit was (admittedly no so friendly) advice about communicating science in public forums. Probably less relevant here than elsewhere but there are real public health dangers to casting doubt on the safety of vaccines (which is how your comment came across). If there is a population vulnerable to vaccines it is either vanishingly small or rendered statistically insignificant due to the risk presented by naturally acquired infections.

Your question could have been framed better. Pretty much like what AdamG just said in #126, there's no real reason to single out vaccines. If you want help countering antivax nonsense you probably should have led with that and you still need to be more specific. The defensiveness doesn't help your case. There's been some good things said, try reading past the tone. If you want people to be nicer try making a substantive response.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

capnkrunch@129,
Quite frankly, I'm thinking that the tone expressed by some of the individuals here may be the cause of some of the antivax nonsense.

By CaitlinEm (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

Were any of these people autistic? There are some people who insist that the answer is yes or at the very least they had autistic traits. In addition to giving parents hope for their child’s future, it could be used to make an autistic person feel better about himself Of course there is the flip-side that it could induce anger and bitterness to the autist who considers himself far less successful than many neurotypicals.

Another problem with trying to ret-con every eccentric genius into the spectrum* is that it feeds into the pop-culture "Rainman" trope that all autists are mathematical prodigies or blessed with compensatory savant skills. Some people are not impressed by

the pervasive construction of people with Asperger's as robotic and alien [...] We're not aliens

* Tony Attwood and Simon Baron-Cohen are particularly guilty of this.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

CaitlinEm @130,

From what you write, I can't tell if you are disingenuous or not. But as lurker for ~ six months, you appear to be very clueless about the purpose, views, and interactions here.

What constitutes lurker to you? Have you read more than a couple of articles/threads?

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

CaitlinEm@128
You're still failing to explain the most important part. How does cytokine activity cause autism? See #3 in my previous post.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

Quite frankly, I’m thinking that the tone expressed by some of the individuals here may be the cause of some of the antivax nonsense.

Seriously?! We're big meanie trousers here and thus have caused antivaxxers?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

I start by supposing that it is possible to be genetically predisposed to develop autism.

OK. So far, so good.

For example, this could be due to an increased response to certain cytokines which may then affect brain development.

I don't see how that could possibly manifest in every child at about the age of two, then begin to recede in many a few years later and in most some years after that.

Is there some reason why the cytokines would start so slow and quit so early?

Because if the susceptibility is innate, I would either expect to see an earlier onset and a steady, progressive decline or a dramatic response to an exceptionally acute event that occurred at different ages for different children.

There is already evidence that certain SNPs are associated with changes in cytokine activity, so this is not an unreasonable suggestion.

Unless you can get from "changes in cytokine activity" to "impediment to brain development in toddlers" without "encephalitis or other perceptible insult to brain," yes it is.

I second capnkrunch on that one,

Consider, then, that autism, or signs of autism, present very young. If the only thing separating these pre-autistic individuals from developing autism is a strong immune stimulus, then the first illness they get or the first vaccine that they receive will be enough to do it.

Then why does it take two years?

We know that vaccines do not cause autism based on case control studies showing us similar rates of autism in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. However, I suspect that these studies don’t check to see if the unvaccinated children also have never had an illness.

I also suspect that they don't check to see if they never had wings. Because in both cases, it just doesn't happen.

The point of this is not to say that vaccines are bad, or that they should not be given. Obviously, these children will develop autism no matter what- it is simply a matter of time. However, I think it could be interesting to consider that maybe these babies hadn’t been ill prior to their well-baby visits, and that their vaccination was one of their first strong immune responses.

Again, which well-baby visit? Why doesn't the DTaP get them at two months?

Caitlin: "Quite frankly, I’m thinking that the tone expressed by some of the individuals here may be the cause of some of the antivax nonsense."

Probably it is because of reading the same claim without evidence yet again!

Seriously the notion that some kids are more sensitive to vaccines but would be okay dokay with the disease is an old tired ant-vaccine trope. There is a subset of the antivaccine that believe if a child cannot survive a vaccine preventable disease, they do deserve to live (a recent example).

I am surprised that you as a grad student in immunology had not heard of it, and that you actually thought it could be based on reality. I an also surprised that if you lurked here for six months that we would actually care that you declared you were an actual "scientist".... Have you met Michael Dochniak? He is in the comments here.

Also, dear scientist CaitlinEm, learning about the concept of paragraphs to make your prose more legible might improve your standing on this blog, and perhaps those at your university. Of course this is a mere observation from a former engineer. And mother of someone on the autistic spectrum.

Are you the most thick and arrogant of the human species? or are you big pharma or the illuminati or just insanely evil?

By Juliette Landes (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

I'd say the quacks who subject autistic children to quackery like bleach enemas are the most thick and arrogant of the human species; that, or insanely evil. Or all of the above.

CaitlinEm@123

Well. Capnkrunch, I’m ever so sorry that you seem to have confused my genuine question with a challenge to the public forum to disprove something.

Was this not a request to help you disprove that the immune response caused by vaccines might cause autism?

This little tidbit was a stumbling block in my logic, and I thought that the good people here could help me figure out the research and science to get past it.

Or going back further:

We don’t really have any evidence that these children are not pre-autistic individuals whose immune systems are stressed by vaccines, and the children then develop autistic symptoms. Do we?

This was exactly what I meant by "postulating a hypothesis and challenging us to disprove instead of providing evidence supporting it". We also don't have any evidence that isn't caused by alien abductions it's your job to explain why I should take your hypothesis more seriously than that one. Like I've said at least twice already (not to mention Science Mom and ann) at the very least you need provide a plausible mechanism. You claim it's something you could do if you try but twice you've chosen to complain about how mean I am instead.

Do you instantly disregard all genetic studies based on your “speshul snowflake” bias?

No. And regardless, what you proposed is not a study (in fact I struggle to see how it is even testable). What I do disregard is when the lack of correlation in all the data we have is explained away by of genetic predisposition.

@128

However, I think it could be interesting to consider that maybe these babies hadn’t been ill prior to their well-baby visits, and that their vaccination was one of their first strong immune responses.

Maybe as an acedemic exercise but if there's no difference between the immune response being from vaccination* or infection why bother looking? You wouldn't have learned anything actionable and you would have given more fuel to the antivaccine cause. This is what I was getting at in #129.

*As I said before based on the data we have it's probably fair to say there either is no difference or it exists only in an incredibly small population.

@130

Quite frankly, I’m thinking that the tone expressed by some of the individuals here may be the cause of some of the antivax nonsense.

Quite frankly I'm beginning to think my initial assessment of you was accurate.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

Jesus loves you :)

By Jimmythedude (not verified) on 23 Sep 2015 #permalink

@Jimmythedude - Thanks for the information.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 24 Sep 2015 #permalink

Are you the most thick and arrogant of the human species?

I believe this title is quite hotly contested among Orac's readers. THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 24 Sep 2015 #permalink

at the very least you need provide a plausible mechanism.

There are at least three reasons she can't do that, by my count:

(1) It would involve lots of pathogens and pathways.
(2) She doesn't care for our tone of voice.
(3) Then it wouldn't be a hypothesis anymore.

On reflection, it seems to me inexplicable why such a process wouldn't occur pre-/perinatally, anyway. Or why/how it wouldn't result in detectable structural damage. Seems odd that there isn't more CNS involvement, too.

I don't understand why it wouldn't cause cerebral palsy rather than autism, basically.

In other anti-vax/ autism news:

Today AoA features one of their most bizarre contributors:
Adriana Gamondes.
Rather than a producing her usual 10-part phantasmagorias of free verse and peripherally related images, she presents an *info-graphic* that focuses upon personnel changes in a US governmental agency during the autism "epidemic". Somehow she intermingles images of apes with velociraptors and an Obama-esque Ringwraith.
I suppose that these images and the associated words make sense to her and her fans but I can only discern slapdash pasting of conveniently emotionally repugnant images as if that proved something.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 24 Sep 2015 #permalink

CaitlinEm, I'm going to take at face value your claims about why you posted what you did. I have no interest in intimating ulterior motives on your part. If they are there, I still think it unnecessary to pursue them.

With that said, I am going to voice a few opinions on why what you've been saying has been quite ill-advised and frankly wrong-headed.

Even if it was without meaning to, you blew one of the popular antivaccine dogwhistles. You know that term? When a dog whistle is blown, humans may not hear anything, but the dog hears a lot. When you say "separate but equal", someone perhaps from outside the US hears only a reasonable-sounding strategy for accomodation of some unspecified factor. Anyone familiar with US history, however, must inevitably think of the rationalizations which were thrown up to try and prolong the shameful racist policy of segregation: "we don't have to have those black folks in our nice white schools; we just have to give them accomodations that are 'separate but equal'". You protest that you shouldn't have been looked at with disdain or suspicion for voicing an argument that seems so reasonable on the surface. Well, that's what happens when you use arguments that are more than what they appear on the surface. Not saying that you had any way of knowing that; just saying why some found it hard to believe you weren't trying to blow the dogwhistle.

So of course, the natural question is then "what IS the dogwhistle element of the argument that got voiced? Why was it found so objectionable by so many people?" To be frank, it's because the question, while phrased in the language of science, is not a scientific question to ask.

Why is it not a scientific question? Because science is about trying to explain the evidence. The question you asked, and an infinite number of others you can find on antivaxer pages, are about trying to explain away the evidence. True scientists go where the evidence leads. If the evidence showed that vaccinated children get autism at a higher rate, we would be asking why. But looking for a means by which we can still believe "vaccines cause autism" even though the evidence suggests no such thing? That's not science; that's True Faith trying to impersonate science, and steal the respect that True Faith covets but unlike science has not earned.

Due to lack of time, I can't fully address one wrinkle: the question of whether the timing of autism onset constitutes evidence for a vaccine-autism connection even in the absence of a correlation at the population. Short answer: it could, but it doesn't, because when we investigate all the stories of "oh, he was perfectly fine before the shot, and then he was autistic twenty-four hours later!" we find they simply didn't happen as the parents remember them. Again, we go where the evidence leads. It doesn't lead there.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 24 Sep 2015 #permalink

Ann @135,

Thank you for bearing with me and following my logic. I appreciate your insight and comments! I was thinking that the strong inflammatory response from either a significant infection or a particular vaccination might cause those cytokines to peak and regress so early. However, I cannot think of any reason why these symptoms might regress in children later on-- that is a really good point.

It looks like some substantial research has shown differences in the structure of autistic brains, particularly with regard to white and gray matter. That being said, it DOES seem more reasonable that this potential pathway would cause cerebral palsy over autism. I hadn't thought of that! :)

By CaitlinEm (not verified) on 24 Sep 2015 #permalink

Delphine says (#82),

...I AM SICK TO DEATH of worried well white wealthy Westerners going ON AND FUC*ING ON about something that is categorically untrue.

MJD says,

Your respectful insolence is like my toaster popping up 4-pieces of BURNT home-made bead.

Seriously, we're all humans and when we experience a problem we attempt to fix it. Vaccines have problems.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 24 Sep 2015 #permalink

It looks like some substantial research has shown differences in the structure of autistic brains, particularly with regard to white and gray matter.

Yes. I know. But "difference" is not the same as "damage," particularly wrt the when-where-why-how of etiology.

I believe it looks different on scans, too.

Vaccines have problems.

Causing autism is not one of them.

" 'Are you the most thick and arrogant of the human species?'

I believe this title is quite hotly contested among Orac’s readers. THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE."

If that position is taken I will instead aim to become the most thin and arrogant of the human species. Or of any species.

I’m thinking that the tone expressed by some of the individuals here may be the cause of some of the antivax nonsense.

Right! Parents are definitely choosing not to vaccinate their children because people were harsh to you on the internet.

Maybe you should present your hypothesis to Rahm and see how he feels about it.

Seriously, we’re all humans and when we experience a problem we attempt to fix it.

Seriously, it's not possible to do that without making a rigorous attempt to understand and identify the problem without reference to how it advances the little stories we like to tell ourselves and our other personal quirks and fancies.

Vaccines have problems.

If you're having vaccine problems, I feel bad for you, son. I got 99 problems, but the vax ain't one.

It is not entirely unreasonable to postulate that an immune system defect/dysregulation might have something to do with generating autism in a small subset of children. The "normal" barrage of antigens infants must handle from birth would likely be more suspect than infections and immunizations later in life. Evidence to date supporting this theory is poor. Further, rigorous investigation would of course be welcome.

"I’m thinking that the tone expressed by some of the individuals here may be the cause of some of the antivax nonsense."

One would then have to wonder why hard-core antivax sites (whose "tone" is vastly more offensive than what you'll find here) haven't folded because they drove people to support good science.

Those who find tone a sufficient reason to reject evidence-based positions were extremely unlikely to embrace them in the first place.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 24 Sep 2015 #permalink

I love that Rick Rubin production.

But he's also making the same point as Delphine, as it happens.

Part of the problem is that the anti-vaccine movement seems to consist of people who lived their whole lives thinking they can buy whatever they want: Perfect health, a perfect education, a perfect family. And now, they have a child that isn't perfect, and they're told no amount of money can change that.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 24 Sep 2015 #permalink

The “normal” barrage of antigens infants must handle from birth would likely be more suspect than infections and immunizations later in life.

Even more likely are maternal infections and also auto-antibodies during foetal development.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 24 Sep 2015 #permalink

Vaccines have problems.

What problems would those be, exactly? We could use a better pertussis vaccine which would generate a longer lasting protective titer,, certainly, and it would be great if we were able to more accurately predict which flu strains would be circulating seasonally. Perhaps you're embracing a Nirvana fallacy and believe that unless vaccines are 100% effective and cause zero incidence of any adverse events they're problematic?

Delphine says (#82),

…I AM SICK TO DEATH of worried well white wealthy Westerners going ON AND FUC*ING ON about something that is categorically untrue.

MJD says,

Your respectful insolence is like my toaster popping up 4-pieces of BURNT home-made bead.

Seriously, we’re all humans and when we experience a problem we attempt to fix it. Vaccines have problems.

Michael that's twice you've responded to the same comment, is it getting to you or something? I mean that, are you actually pulling your head out of your entitled butt and taking a good look around? Because there are real problems affecting real kids and vaccines causing autism, as shay and JayZ and ann have pointed out, is not one of them.

I sincerely apologise if you were being sincere with your original reply to me. It came across as condescending but it's probably just my interpretation. I stand by what I said about you moving the goal-posts, though. You know exactly what you're doing in that regard.

I really cannot comprehend the cognitive dissonance being practiced by the sort of people at AoA and TMR. Everything, literally everything that science produces: pharmaceuticals, vaccines, GMO, pesticides; everything can cause autism/parkinson's/alzheimer's. If the evidence says they are harmless, we are either being lied to, or the scientists haven't looked hard enough.

But "natural" treatments? No, those are all fine. No need to even test them.

Today AoA features one of their most bizarre contributors:
Adriana Gamondes.
Rather than a producing her usual 10-part phantasmagorias of free verse and peripherally related images, she presents an *info-graphic* that focuses upon personnel changes in a US governmental agency during the autism “epidemic”.

Even better, the first one is straight from Co$.

JGC says (159),

Perhaps you’re embracing a Nirvana fallacy and believe that unless vaccines are 100% effective and cause zero incidence of any adverse events they’re problematic?

MJD says,

You said that just about perfect my RI friend.

If that isn't the goal for pharmaceutical companies, the CDC, and the FDA then the system needs repair.

Unfortunately because Orac has placed me in the RI penalty box (Oracwellian moderation), I'm unable to speak more freely.

Release me Orac :-(

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 24 Sep 2015 #permalink

Here are some interesting articles for your perusal:

Mice; study with an eight-subject sample by the Center for Chinese Herbal Therapy for Asthma that says nothing about vaccines, infections, or genetics and not much about anything else; mice.

What else do you got?

MJD@163: You seem to not understand the difference between a goal (perfection) and what you actually get (as close to perfect as you can, given the limitations of reality).

If we were to demand that everything be perfect or not exist, then nothing would exist. You have to accept that we do not live in a perfect world.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 24 Sep 2015 #permalink

ann @#164, you don't like mice?

By CaitlinEm (not verified) on 24 Sep 2015 #permalink

They're all right. I mean, I'd prefer not to share my home with them. But it's really rats I'm not crazy about. I saw one on the subway platform the other day just wandering around, mingling. I was not happy about it.

Why do you ask?

CaitlinEm, all of your references point to in-utero abhorrent cytokine levels which may be responsible for the development of a subsequent ASD, if that chicken comes before the egg that is.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 24 Sep 2015 #permalink

P.S. Ann, rats have endured a bad rap for too many centuries and are probably the most unappreciated rodent there is.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 24 Sep 2015 #permalink

P.S. Ann, rats have endured a bad rap for too many centuries and are probably the most unappreciated rodent there is.

Heartily agreed.

Well, the first reference takes C57BL6 littermates and injects one group with IL-6 vector at P 0.5, but I appreciate your concern, Science Mom. Nevertheless, one must analyze all data available to them, utilize preliminary data to form hypotheses, and test those hypotheses in order to discover new things. Would you not agree?

By CaitlinEm (not verified) on 25 Sep 2015 #permalink

Well, the first reference takes C57BL6 littermates and injects one group with IL-6 vector at P 0.5, but I appreciate your concern, Science Mom.

You should also examine what wild-type diseases elicit a strong IL-6 response as opposed to any vaccine given to determine the applicability of your reference to your "hypothesis".

Nevertheless, one must analyze all data available to them, utilize preliminary data to form hypotheses, and test those hypotheses in order to discover new things. Would you not agree?

Yes so what are you waiting for?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 25 Sep 2015 #permalink

Science Mom, I worry that I have offended you and for that I apologize. I completely agree that of course one would also examine the wild-type diseases that elicit a strong IL-6 response. This is wise advice, in addition to tracking in-utero IL-6 levels. I'm sure there are many other sources of IL-6 that should be controlled for in these studies as well.

At the outset, I was merely commenting on an interesting aspect of current research in the autism research field and postulating a hypothetical pathway for the rest of the community to comment on. I (perhaps naively) expected them to comment on it scientifically rather than emotionally and politically, and I will take responsibility for that. However, I am not at all qualified to do the research myself- I even stated at the outset that I didn't have full training!

I think that at some point, we need to admit to ourselves that the autism-based anti-vaccine community is not going away. We have tried very hard to convince people of the efficacy and safety of vaccines, and we have worked very hard to promote a vaccine culture- but we are failing. This is evidenced by outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in various communities. Clearly, our strategies are not working. One of those problems, in my opinion, is that I *do* think that some parents may be driven to the anti-vaccine camps by rhetoric. If I were a scared young mother who wasn't well-versed in basic science, I think that I would turn to the welcoming arms of "we've been there, too" rather than snark-filled vitriol. However, I have found that there are two communities of anti-vaccine blogs: the "crazies," if you will, and the legitimately concerned parents.

Putting aside AoA and the other "crazies," there are an assortment of anti-vaccine scientists who have reached that conclusion based on their research. I disagree with their conclusions; I think that vaccines do far more good than harm, and their harms haven't been proven. However, I think that their theories deserve a greater audience. As Antaeus Feldspar said above, science is about trying to explain the evidence, not explain AWAY the evidence. I'd argue that that is exactly what this group IS doing- they actually just have more up to date evidence than we do.

They've been attacking this issue from the other side- trying to find causes of autism independent of vaccines altogether. We can take vaccines out of the equation entirely, if you'd like. But the fact remains that, in science, we need to be prepared to be wrong.

By CaitlinEm (not verified) on 25 Sep 2015 #permalink

Science Mom, I worry that I have offended you and for that I apologize. I completely agree that of course one would also examine the wild-type diseases that elicit a strong IL-6 response. This is wise advice, in addition to tracking in-utero IL-6 levels. I’m sure there are many other sources of IL-6 that should be controlled for in these studies as well.

I'm not offended, more amused. I encourage you to apply some critical thinking to the cites you are using rather than just dredging up something that looks related and using them as a "gotcha". Don't you think that many of us here could have examined a mountain of studies, discussed some of them and are a little ahead of the curve than you are?

At the outset, I was merely commenting on an interesting aspect of current research in the autism research field and postulating a hypothetical pathway for the rest of the community to comment on. I (perhaps naively) expected them to comment on it scientifically rather than emotionally and politically, and I will take responsibility for that. However, I am not at all qualified to do the research myself- I even stated at the outset that I didn’t have full training!

Passive-aggressive much? As to the rest, it's ludicrous to think that 'we' are in any way responsible for anti-vaxx proclivities and really absurd to even suggest that. These parents you describe aren't even coming here for advice, they have already sought out their like-minded groups. Part of the failure is our educational system and vast entitlement/privilege which leaves people vulnerable to stupid-groupthink and selfish actions. We have a lot of pro-vaxx people who are uncompromisingly polite and civil when engaging anti-vaxxers and they are rewarded with death threats, stalking and harassment at their jobs and even of their spouses.

At the outset, I was merely commenting on an interesting aspect of current research in the autism research field and postulating a hypothetical pathway for the rest of the community to comment on. I (perhaps naively) expected them to comment on it scientifically rather than emotionally and politically, and I will take responsibility for that. However, I am not at all qualified to do the research myself- I even stated at the outset that I didn’t have full training!

Oh really? Then please give an example of this research and 'theories' that deserves more attention.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 25 Sep 2015 #permalink

I’m not offended, more amused.

I'm not amused at what the educational system is spitting out for grad students. Six months at this site and giving lectures to scientists about what science is. Nice doesn't explain that away.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 25 Sep 2015 #permalink

"Nice doesn’t explain that away."

Especially when she used a common anti-vaccine trope that the vaccines cause some kind of abnormal immune response that can cause autism (cue the Dr0ne without pas$ion, and "que+ted" "skeptic").

CaitlinEm:

Putting aside AoA and the other “crazies,” there are an assortment of anti-vaccine scientists who have reached that conclusion based on their research.

False. Invariably, when we look at that "research", it very quickly becomes apparent that it's very badly flawed. Case in point, Andrew Wakefield's "case study" which he was hired to do by lawyers looking to bring suit against MMR manufacturers. Another example is Laura Hewitson's "monkey study" that was riddled with errors and has been completely dismantled.

As Antaeus Feldspar said above, science is about trying to explain the evidence, not explain AWAY the evidence. I’d argue that that is exactly what this group [of anti-vaxxers] IS doing- they actually just have more up to date evidence than we do.

They do not have more up to date evidence than we do. They don't have evidence full stop. Every single one of their hypotheses has been properly investigated and found wanting. What do they do? They double down and come up with other hypotheses. They blamed vaccine components, particularly a preservative named thimerosal, for causing autism. It was removed, and the autism rate went up. They asserted that the vaccine schedule led to "too many too soon". This was looked at and also disproved.
You came in here asking a leading and loaded question. You then advanced a hypothesis and asked us to disprove it. In #130 you engaged in some tone trolling and in #173 you made some claim that I have addressed above.
I hate to be a bromide, but "if the item in question is perambulating like an anatidaeid and vocalising like an anatidaeid, consideration must be given to the possibility that the item in question is an anatidaeid." Your behaviour is taking on a distinctly antivaccine flavour.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 25 Sep 2015 #permalink

Wakefield, Thompson, and the like are so far beyond reasonable that they wouldn't know a statistical analysis if it walked up and introduced itself. These are not the studies, nor the scientists, of whom I speak.

In #130, I admit that I lost my temper somewhat. I apologize for that.

By CaitlinEm (not verified) on 25 Sep 2015 #permalink

Wakefield, Thompson, and the like are so far beyond reasonable that they wouldn’t know a statistical analysis if it walked up and introduced itself. These are not the studies, nor the scientists, of whom I speak.

Well who then and what studies? Part of the problem with how you perceive you are being treated is that you raise the spectre of something and when pressed to provide some substantiation you dodge.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 25 Sep 2015 #permalink

Caitlin, do you have any evidence that vaccination could cause differences in IL-6 concentration of the magnitude observed in the studies you cited?

I think I should inform CaitlinEm, should she be confused, that we aren't dismissive of immune disorders associated with autism or that there isn't a subset of autism that may be precipitated by an errant immune cascade. However, the current body of evidence indicates that they would be in utero occurrences and the question remains, what comes first? The autism or the immune disorder(s)? It would be rather antithetical to sceptical-thought to dismiss good evidence supporting a vaccine causation but there just hasn't been any.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 25 Sep 2015 #permalink

Science Mom is correct:

we react as we do because what Caitlin said sounds uncomfortably close to what we've heard myriad times before from anti-vaxxers-
that is, an insult from vaccines leads to immunological events which culminate in an ASD- whereas research suggests pre-natal origins if any.

We've heard it all, seen it all -
ain't nothing new to us.
Why do you think we're jaded?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 25 Sep 2015 #permalink

At the outset, I was merely commenting on an interesting aspect of current research in the autism research field and postulating a hypothetical pathway for the rest of the community to comment on. I (perhaps naively) expected them to comment on it scientifically rather than emotionally and politically, and I will take responsibility for that.

You poor thing. It's terrible to see the delicate blossom of youthful innocence profaned like that, and you soldiering on so bravely.

It's almost like an Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer summation to the jury.

However, I am not at all qualified to do the research myself- I even stated at the outset that I didn’t have full training!

I think that at some point, we need to admit to ourselves that the autism-based anti-vaccine community is not going away. We have tried very hard to convince people of the efficacy and safety of vaccines, and we have worked very hard to promote b>a vaccine culture-

Yeah. Your slip is showing, CaitlinEm.

@Science Mom and JP --

They're a real problem here. I'm not just being all "Eek!" about it.

ScienceMom @ #179, I thought that the people who were performing the studies that I had cited previously seemed like quite rational people. They sounded like they were starting with basics and working from the ground up.

AdamG @ #180, no, I don't think I have seen any studies showing that. Thank you for pointing that out; that's a pretty significant step that would have to be shown, I guess! :)

To all: you are quite right in that my question was probably not at all appropriate for this forum. It has certainly been illuminating chatting with everyone. All my best to you.

By CaitlinEm (not verified) on 25 Sep 2015 #permalink

ScienceMom @ #179, I thought that the people who were performing the studies that I had cited previously seemed like quite rational people. They sounded like they were starting with basics and working from the ground up.

Provided you don't stick your flounce, in what way did your cited studies have anything to do with vaccines and providing evidence for your claim in #34?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 25 Sep 2015 #permalink

"My hope is medical science will continue to do research to determine if there is a vaccine/autism connection."

And, also to research if eating pancakes really makes people gay

CaitlinEm, you said:

ScienceMom @ #179, I thought that the people who were performing the studies that I had cited previously seemed like quite rational people. They sounded like they were starting with basics and working from the ground up.

ScienceMom responded:

[I]n what way did your cited studies have anything to do with vaccines and providing evidence for your claim in #34?

I opened the three links you gave us, then did a word search on "vaccin" (for "vaccine" and "vaccination") and "immuni" (for "immunise", "immunize", "immunisation" and "immunization"). Nothing was returned.
I thus repeat ScienceMom's question. In what way did your cited studies have anything to do with vaccines and providing evidence for your claim in #34?

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 26 Sep 2015 #permalink

As Antaeus Feldspar said above, science is about trying to explain the evidence, not explain AWAY the evidence. I’d argue that that is exactly what this group IS doing- they actually just have more up to date evidence than we do.

"Up to date" is not actually a criterion that makes evidence any better, in general. If several centuries of evidence have very clearly established that the Earth goes around the Sun, there is little reason to think that someone is going to come along tomorrow and provide evidence which suddenly throws all of heliocentricity into question because... it's "up to date" evidence and that whole other body of established observations is stuffy, old evidence and the "up to date" evidence is superior.

When new evidence changes our thinking, the "new" part is not the important part; it's the part where it points to a better explanation of all that we observe. In the case of the purported scientists who have come to the matter with open minds but who just happen to have been brought by their own research to conclusions indistinguishable from some of the most fervently closed minds the world currently possesses... again, they are not trying to explain the evidence (no difference in autism rates between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated in study after study.) They are trying to find a loophole under which they can cling to a hypothesis that the evidence strongly suggests to be a load of fetid dingo's kidneys.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 26 Sep 2015 #permalink

"...they actually just have more up to date evidence than we do."

Antaeus Feldspar, I appreciate that you addressed the 'up to date' point. I hadn't considered it because I hadn't gotten past trying to figure out who the "we" in that sentence was supposed to mean. I would say obviously the writer and myself. But I can't image she meant Orac or the posters here. If anyone keeps up on this subject it would be those here. A very odd stance for CaitlinEm to take.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 26 Sep 2015 #permalink

I know this post will go into moderation,because it has four links,but I was digging at the flea market today,and I found a paperback book from 1940, of the writings of Dr. John H Tilden (1851-1940).Antivaxer,and germ theory denialist supreme,Tilden blamed all infectious diseases on Toxemia "teh toxins",poor sanitation,and in infants or very young children,the mother's character. This little essay about polio and smallpox is in the book I found.It's a jewel of antiscience lunacy.I am surprised it was on Google Books.Change the language a little,and it could fit right in over at Natural News.Whale.to has a posted number of his screeds.Tilden has only been mentioned once at RI.This in a comment at the January 24,2012 post about Randy Andy.

This little book also has an ad in the back from a group that called itself "Citizens Medical Reference Bureau,Inc.",selling a book called The Facts About Compulsory Vaccination

The ad reads

The Citizens Medical Reference Bureau,Inc. is not opposed to any form of any form of medical treatment.It is opposed to having any examination,vaccine,serum,or other treatment made compulsory.

In other words,I'm not antivaccine,but...

A 1929 edition of the book can be read here.This book is a hoot.Much of the fear mongering about SB277 pops up in this book.Not to mention "vaccine damaged children",and "vaccine shedding".Nothing new under the sun.Much of what they published is up on the web.The founder of this group also <a href="http://www.ssa.gov/history/pdf/s35anderson.pdf&quot; testified before Congress,where he said the same stuff.

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 27 Sep 2015 #permalink

You know what my family blamed my autism on? 2% milk.