Hee hee!

October 21, 2010

I love Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.  Really and truly I do.

Raise Money for Autism by Laughing!

Night of Too Many Stars – Comedy Central’s Yearly Autism Benefit

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UPDATE:  Another study, released in March 2013, has determined that vaccines DO NOT cause autism. 

So please consult your pediatrician for your concerns, and as long as your child is not one of the very, very small minority who will be injured by vaccines, get your child vaccinated!!!!

____________

I’ve always wanted to know how other countries fare with their vaccines and autism stats.  I came across this special_report_autism2 today from Generation Rescue.

It seems pretty well documented, and I think offers some legitimate concerns as well as the obvious need for more research, research, research.  (It was published in April 2009, and the rates for autism have now increased to 1 in 100 in the United States.)

Hopefully one day we will have some definitive answers.  In the meantime, can’t we vaccinate 99% of our population to provide herd immunity to babies and the elderly, while also protecting the small percentage (1%, maybe) of children who are prone to vaccine injury because of susceptibility to auto-immune disorders, as well as neurological problems?  Why can’t we protect everybody?

Of course it raises many questions (why such a huge variance in the number of Autism rates country by country?)  I’d like to know what Norway and Denmark are doing right.  And why oh why does America’s rates spike so much higher than any other country?  We’re supposed to be the best country in the world!  I just don’t get it.

Country # of Vaccines (under 5 yrs old) Autism Rate Mortality Rates Per 1,000 children under 5 yrs old Mortality Rates Worldwide Ranking (#1 being the fewest deaths)
United States 36 1 in 150 7.8 34
Iceland 11 1 in 1,100 3.9 1
Sweden 11 1 in 862 4.0 2
Japan 11 1 in 475 4.2 4
Norway 13 1 in 2,000 4.4 5
Finland 12 1 in 719 4.7 6
France 17 1 in 613 5.2 11
Israel 11 1 in 1,000 5.7 17
Denmark 12 1 in 2,200 5.8 18

Autism Conference!

September 30, 2010

“Putting the Pieces Together”
Autism conference hosted by Spectrum Academy

November 11 – 12, 2010
9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Utah Cultural Celebration Center
1355 West 3100 South, West Valley City

Click here to register

1 in 100. Yikes.

January 16, 2010

The CDC released its latest autism figures just a few weeks ago (December 18, 2009).  Their current findings indicate that Autism Spectrum Disorders (Autism, Asperger’s and PDD-NOS) now affect 1% of children in the US, or 1 child out of every 100.  This shows an increase of 60% from 2002 – 2006.

Yikes.

David Kirby of the Huffington Post, conducted a phone interview with Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of NIMH and Chair of the IACC (Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee) to interpret the CDC’s findings.

The highlights of his interview are:

1.  Better diagnoses do not explain this huge increase.
2.  The causes are both genetic and environmental.  “There is no question that there is an environmental component here.” – Dr. Insel.
3.  Finding environmental exposures that trigger autism are essential in order to decrease the epidemic.

Let’s hope those in positions of power and science and medicine can figure the solution out.  Soon.

My beef about the blame

June 20, 2008

I just have to vent my beef about the article in Time Magazine on May 21: How Safe Are Vaccines?

Let me state that I believe that both sides of the vaccine debate are actually right.

(Isn’t that true about many things in life – that people’s experiences aren’t black and white, that your experience may be true even though it is completely different than my experience?) It would make sense to me that there are those cases of autism that are purely genetic, where that child would be autistic no matter when in history, or no matter what environmental factors are present. On the other side of the coin, though, I think there are also those cases of autism that are affected or made worse by environmental factors. How else could we have an “epidemic” of a ‘genetic’ disease? Such an “epidemic” is not possible, yet here we are.

Either which way, I don’t believe parents of children with autism are responsible for cases of measles outbreaks! Geesh!

The article states: “it’s possible that once rampant diseases such as measles, mumps and whooping cough will storm back, even in developed nations with robust public-health programs. That is forcing both policymakers and parents to wrestle with a dilemma that goes to the heart of democracy: whether the common welfare should trump the individual’s right to choose.”

First of all, humanity will never be able to eradicate the bacterium or virus that cause the world’s diseases. They will always exist. The best we can do is protect ourselves from them. So, just because a parent with a concern for their child’s ability to handle vaccines doesn’t vaccinate, (whether that be autism or something else), that doesn’t mean that they put in jeopardy the world’s plan for eradicating the disease, because that plan is impossible.

In my opinion, the only people who are in jeopardy from parents who don’t vaccinate are their own non-vaccinated children, because they INDIVIDUALLY are not protected. If you protect your children by vaccinating them, then your children are NOT AT RISK. If there is an outbreak, and you have the vaccine, then you’re fine! When parents sign the dotted line denying a vaccine, then they are assuming the risk that their child may catch the disease. That parent signs acknowledgment that they are putting their children at risk for that disease. They aren’t signing that they put other children at risk, only their own. It’s that simple. I’m not putting other vaccinated people at risk, just my own. I am however putting other non-vaccinated children at risk, but their parents already assumed responsibility for their risk. If an adult is worried that enough children are not getting their vaccines to create adequate herd immunity, well I think that adult should go get the vaccine/booster themselves. A full-grown adult shouldn’t expect a child’s herd immunity to protect him or her. If your child is immune-compromised, too young, or for some reason can’t get vaccinated, well, you would have to be careful about everything that they could catch, and you wouldn’t want to travel the world with them, among other things.

It is wonderful that we have vaccines to protect us from life-threatening diseases. But shouldn’t I have the option to decide whether or not I consent to put anything into my body or my children’s bodies?

The article also then states by the end of 2001 thimerosal was removed. That’s not true. It still exists in trace amounts as indicated on the current CDC website. The Health Advocacy in the Public Interest tested 4 vials of vaccines in 2005 and discovered that that the vaccine manufacturers use thimerosal in the production of the vaccines, and then remove it. But it is not possible to remove all of the thimerosal because mercury binds to the antigenic protein in the vaccine and cannot be filtered out completely.

It bothers me that our culture of fear and blame is perpetuated in articles like this.

And it bothers me that parents who are already dealing with so much struggle in their lives are blamed for outbreaks of measles. Geesh. Of course I don’t want any child to die by any disease, but death by measles is only 2 or 3 per 1,000. Why do we sacrifice between 6 -12 kids per 1,000 to autism to save 2 or 3 children from measles? Let’s save ALL of these children! A safer vaccine schedule is all it would take (except for the child who is predisposed for autism caused 100% by genetics, which throughout history is nothing we can do about).

I’m a Texas girl.

I am! I was born in Ft. Worth in 1970, when my dad was working as an engineer before he started his PhD program in History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University nine months later.

I actually haven’t been back since.

But I married a Texas boy.

Foo was born in Kileen when his dad was serving at the base there. He lived there for only a year also.

He actually hasn’t been back since, either.

Not that there’s anything wrong with Texas (we just haven’t traveled much – hrmpf) . . .except for the study that discovered an increase in autism rates for mercury released from industrial sites. . . oops. . .

Mercury pollution linked to autism risk
Thu, Apr 24, 2008 (HealthDay) — The first study to show a statistical relationship between autism and proximity to industrial sites that release mercury has been published by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Their analysis of data from 1,040 Texas school districts and data from 39 coal-fired power plants and 56 industrial facilities in the state showed that autism rates decreased by one percent to two percent for each 10 miles of distance from a mercury pollution source.

Among the other findings:

• For every 1,000 pounds of mercury released by all industrial sources in Texas in 1998, there was a corresponding 2.6 percent increase in autism rates in Texas school districts in 2002.

• For every 1,000 pounds of mercury released by Texas power plants in 1998, there was a corresponding 3.7 percent increase in autism rates in Texas school districts in 2002.

“This study was not designed to understand which individuals in the population are at risk due to mercury exposure. However, it does suggest generally that there is greater autism risk closer to the polluting source,” lead author Raymond Palmer, associate professor of family and community medicine, said in a prepared statement.

The research appears in the journal Health & Place.

I love you Jon Stewart!

April 15, 2008

Thank you for donating $50K of your own money to Autism Research & Education. Wahoo! You’re awesome for producing the “Night of Too Many Stars” – so freaking hilarious.

My favorite sketch from last year was Jack Black singing his “It’s Autism’s Time to Shine” opening song. This year’s song with Ben Stiller was fun, too: “They didn’t start Autism, but they opened their wallets for Autism education.”

My favorite sketch this year was Tina Fey’s boob holding . . . The hand on your boob, the smile on his face, it was priceless. Foo and I have loved you for years.

Also Gay Stephen Colbert had me rolling on the floor. Omigosh, the crotch shot in the relaxation room – har! Recently becoming a Larry David fan, I loved his tirade about the premiums. And of course Will Ferrell as George W., Steve Carrell eating a whole chocolate cake, 6 gin & tonics & cough syrup, and Fred Armisen as David Paterson – great stuff. And yes, Amy is over-playing Hillary, but it’s still funny. I loved when she was just saying Russian-like words pretending to speak Russian.

My only frustration with the broadcast is that the video clips they showed of children who attend the programs with the New York Center for Autism Charter School mostly seemed examples of children with “stereotypical autism,” or children who maybe had other problems in addition to their autism.

An example: one mother said having her child learn to blow out a candle when he was 7 years old was a huge happy milestone for her. I’m not sure what other problems her child has, or whether his autism is very severe, but Hamhock wanted and learned how to blow out candles when he was 2.

I don’t like that these video clips will continue to perpetrate the myth that to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, you must do “stereotypical” things. While there are many that ARE indeed severe, including being nonverbal for their entire lives, there are also many many stories of children on the spectrum who are recovering from some of the markers of autism. It’s these more subtle signs and symptoms that need to be educated to the general public so that more and more kids will receive early intervention, because parents are more informed.

I’m so glad that the New York Center for Autism is in collaboration with Autism Speaks (and others) to encourage research into the causes and cures for Autism. That said, I’m not sure why the benefit was entitled “. . .for Autism Education.” That sounds to me like it is just for one educational program at the NYCA. Hopefully the website is accurate, that NYCA works with Autism Speaks and other think tanks to further research, which would benefit many more kids than just those attending the school.

So, thank you, Jon, Stephen, Gay Stephen, Steve, Tina, Larry, Fred, Amy, Will, Will et al.

Walk for Autism

April 13, 2008

Well, cool. The first ever Walk for Autism in Utah is being held on Saturday, May 3. Go Autism Speaks! I also love Toys R Us, that they are the 2008 National Walk Sponsor.

Of course, I don’t have enough energy to assemble a team, but Superboy & I will go to Cottonwood High School to support the walk while Hamhock is in his ABA that morning and Foo practices rocking it out with his band.

RDI vs. ABA

April 8, 2008

July 2006, AD (after diagnosis): I did all of my research, weighing in all our options for which therapy route we were going to take. My gut was telling me, actually shouting at me, that 2-3 hours of ST/OT with EI were not addressing the real, underlying issues. The special ed preschool, for only 2 days/week, 3 hours/day, would likewise do nothing (and I knew to get more it would be a fight with the SD the entire way). The local autism school had a wait list over a year long.

We didn’t want to wait.

We got an in-home ABA program up and running within 3 months. The first day of training I knew it would address Isaac’s needs. Within a week his head-banging tantrums stopped. He was more manageable at home. He started slowly learning words – some of his first were “no,” “baby” and “bye.” He started using 2 word sentences six months later. And now, after 18 months, he speaks in full 7, 8, 9 and even 10 word sentences. He answers questions (mostly yes/no – doesn’t quite understand “w” questions yet), he comes up with his own original ideas, he says the funniest things: “I have an idea,” “I want to show you something,” “It can be so beautiful” and more.

But. . .about a year into our program I became VERY depressed. I had tutors who had car problems, stomach ulcers, etc., and so I would be left with days without therapy sessions. What do you do? We’d go to the Children’s Museum, play at parks, outings with friends, but it was all wasted time. In the fall his spot at the local autism school came up (16 month wait list), but its ABA wasn’t what mine was, not as much one-on-one, and he would be the hard to handle aggressive kid in the classroom, and I didn’t like how the tutors I observed couldn’t handle the aggressive kid in the classroom. So, we plugged along with our in-home program.

For the past several weeks, I have been getting that nagging feeling:  “It’s not enough.” The down time with me at home is not helping his development. I need to do more with him. Now his ABA sessions are fraught with aggression, gazing, and stall tactics. It’s not getting to the core of his deficits. It’s helping his behaviors improve, but not to the core of the autism.

Thus enter RDI. I’m thinking of switching our entire program over to RDI. My ABA consultant is almost certified RDI, and from all that I’ve read, it helps address the emotional centers of the brain that ABA doesn’t or can’t dig down into. It addresses the WHYS of behavior, not just the behaviors themselves.

That said, I’m scared to death that I’ll be too tired, depressed, and impatient to do it. But something else needs to be done. I feel it deep down.