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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Writer/Curator/Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project. Contributing Author to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, and Concepts of Normality by Wendy Lawson, and soon to be published Gravity Pulls You In. Writing my own book. Lecturer on autism and the media and parenting. Current graduate student Critical Disability Studies and most importantly, mother of Adam -- a new and emerging writer.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.” -- Baruch Spinoza

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Problems with the Vaccine/Autism Hypothesis

Everyone is aware of the vaccine/autism court ruling in Atlanta. Autism Vox gives a good summary of the recent events here.

Tonight, Adam and I will be on Global National News to say a few words about the fallacy of normalcy and the vaccine hype -- that belief that one day one's child was developing just fine until blamo -- a vaccine was given and their child was "lost" to autism.

Ah hem. We are autistic in this family and proud of it. We are not "wrong" or "abnormal" and just because some organizaton (like TACA, Cure Autism Now, DAN! and the like) says you are, doesn't make it so. Skills dissonance and inconsistency is very common in autism, and it can happen at any age.

Camille Clark made a wonderful comment on Kristina Chew's blog and I'm inclined to agree:

When Hannah was 6 months old, as the family came to grips with the likelihood that she was autistic, …”

But my question is, how much did their conversion to DAN!-ism in the months following Hannah’s apparent regression contaminate their memories of what she was like before and after the vaccines. Somewhere in the year after the set of vaccines in question, daddy began to consider becoming a DAN! doctor himself and both parents had attended DAN! conventions and they started exposing the girl to the typical quack and/or controversial treatments of that time, knowing full well, apparently that she had a mitochondrial disorder caused by a “point mutation” on a gene controlling mitochondrial function.

Then there are conflicting accounts about the timing and cause of Hannah’s diarrhea. I wonder if they tried to reconstruct a more serious sounding vaccine-implicating scenario after having contacted Shoemaker and after having been in touch with other DAN! parents for a few months. Considering that daddy was thinking about being a DAN! doctor they might have been considered celebs at DAN! conferences, etc way back in 2001.

Hannah might be as autistic as any other child, and maybe vaccines changed her by causing a fever, but her mother admits that it’s possible the same thing would have happened to Hannah without any vaccine, with exposure to virus.

And one has to wonder if mom is talking about taking the money to pay for quack DAN! therapies. If so that would be sad.

I would also be interested if we could discuss on these blogs, the difference between legal evidence -- the burden of proof, balance of probability -- versus scientific evidence. It seems that it in this court case at least, the lack of scientific evidence didn't matter.

It's about finding something to blame when you want to find something wrong. What about ditching that idea for a while and just keep growing, living and learning -- with autism?


Blogger Casdok said...

To your last paragraph - I couldnt agree more.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous isles said...

It is not at all inconsistent from a legal standpoint that Hannah Poling gets compensated AND vaccines don't cause autism.

The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is designed to provide money to anyone with a plausible claim. It's supposed to be lenient and not require claimants to prove too much.

So it is not surprising that when it became apparent that Hannah Poling had this mitochondrial dysfunction that would have predisposed her to react badly to any kind of stress, it became plausible that getting her catch-up vaccines could have created a fever which constituted that stress. Not unreasonable to hand out money for those facts under the generous mission of the VICP.

Scientifically, though, I don't think anyone could authoritatively say this boils down to "vaccines cause autism." No one can say from a single case report that her vaccines had anything to do with the symptoms she developed. For that, population studies would be necessary (and difficult to do, since mitochondrial disorders of this type are apparently very rare).

3:20 PM  
Blogger Jeni said...

My granddaughter, age 4, has autism; her brother, who will be 2 next month has as many, if not a few more, markers and developmental delays than his sister had and it appears he will no doubt be diagnosed with autism too in the near future. There was something about my granddaughter that grabbed me the first time I saw her, held her, in the hospital and the first night home from the hospital, her voice, which erupted when my daughter went to take her up to bed that night with a wail that was more like a shrill shriek -ear piercing it was -and those things today seem to me to be markers in their own right of the autism. I dunno if that's true or right, if it could be that way, but I knew there was something different there, in an intuitive way and yet, I don't consider myself to be "intuitive" as a rule.
The granddaughter is doing very well -goes to a preschool program with six other children in her age range, each being somewhere on the spectrum. My grandkids are not "normal" in the sense many people view normal but what the hell is "normal" anyway? Really? I look at the autism factors here much the same as I would had either or both of these beautiful children been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes or some other illness except that to my knowledge, autism doesn't have the same potential to be a killer, to cause us to possibly lose them forever. They are beautiful, bright, and yes, loving and very much loved -actually, adored -little people who simply learn things, sometimes do things a bit differently than others do. So I suppose in that sense then they are "abnormal" to some folks but to us, they are who they are and just need different tools to allow them to reach their full potential in life. And I am very optimistic too that with time, patience, education for them -and for us, the rest of the family -they will accomplish that. I won't go so far as to say that I wouldn't change a thing about them if I could because I would much prefer them NOT to have to struggle with somethings but I wouldn't trade a minute of their being either as hard as it is at times, it's still a joyous, wonderful trip with them here!

3:42 PM  
Blogger kristina said...

What a relief to know that a voice of sense will on the airwaves---curious to know what you said. (And Adam, too, of course.)

10:27 PM  
Blogger iportion said...

People think expensive equals good care and lot of these mothers and fathers good people but the media has not really been honest

12:15 AM  

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