Friday, June 29, 2007


Two posts in one day... hey I reserve the right to be a complete on-line blabbermouth. But in all actuality - there is a good reason for my bi-posting.

I went to the grocery store today and picked up a copy of the recent PEOPLE magazine. For those of you not aware of this, I'm a PEOPLE junkie. Not mostly for celeb reasons - but I like the human interest stories. Obviously my being a total people person and psychoanalytical by nature - I gravitate towards these types of things. Beats the heck of reading psychology and sociology journals (hey I had my fill of that in university thank you very much!).

I found myself reading a story about parents who are involved in one of the first legal fights against immunization's link to autism. They are claiming that their daughter developed autism after her MMR shots. For those of you that aren't on the up and up of the whole vaccine/autism theory - it is believed by some that the preservative thermasil is the reason why children become autistic. Thermasil is a mercury derivative.

Now I have to be honest. I feel for these parents. I too know what it is like to watch your perfect little one transform into a child that is barely recognizable. It is a painful thing to go through, especially when there is no logical explanation for it. It is unfair, and it is undiscriminating. However, I'm not a believer in the vaccine/autism link. I'd go so far as to say that the only correlation is that the onset of autism is roughly the same time that a MMR vaccine is admitted. There has also been enough research to show that the brain of an autistic child is hard-wired much differently than that of a typical child. Different lobes of the brain are working in ways that they normally shouldn't. In fact, brains of children who are autistic tend to be larger than their peers (from birth: this is true of Kierra as well). Looking back, I could see the early earmarks of autism in Kierra BEFORE she was ever administered a vaccine (ie: arching her back, not holding on, not recognizing her name).

I understand how hard it is not knowing where to lay the finger of blame when it is your child afflicted with this disorder. It is hard not to know why YOUR child. I think that placing the blame on vaccines where there is no evidence to really support it though, is doing more harm than good. Using scare tactics to keep new parents from not vaccinating their children is a disservice. Even though autism is a relatively "new" disorder (it was only 20 years ago that it was being identified by the DSM); who is to say a lot of the children long ago weren't autistic and no one knew what it was? Odd Uncle Ed may not have been eccentric - he might have been autistic. Mutes could have been children that were non-verbal autistics as well. Also, it was far more common to institutionalize people that were thought to be "mentally-retarded" or a "black cloud" in the family. There definitely isn't a thorough history of autism. Also, it would not explain why the rate of children affected with autism is climbing. MMR's have been around for a long time. Why the sudden influx?

I'm not so brazen to say I know why the autistic mind develops the way I do. I go by the scientific facts they have already established. It is a malfunction of the brain so it's neurological (rather than psychological - although it does have psychological factors involved). They know that the brain does not develop in the way it should (as I mentioned larger brains FYI: Kierra is five and has the brain size of a 15 year old girl). They have also identified DNA markers for autism, which suggests two things. It could be genetic (there are higher rates of autism in families with one child already diagnosed) and that it is something that probably starts to occur in the fetal brain). They have done studies in Europe with autism affected mice, and have actually developed a vaccine of sorts that have CURED the mice of their autistic traits. If this was a simply case of brain damage caused by mercury, how could such a thing happen?

As I have said - I know the heartbreak of autism. I don't wish it upon anyone. And I too seek the answer as to why my child is the way she is. I want to know if it was something I exposed her to, or if it was just dumb luck so to speak. Of course any parent who thinks along of the immunization cause theory is more than welcome to believe this. I think we are all entitled to our opinions and my thoughts aren't written in stone as being the "more correct." Far from it. I just wanted to throw out my thoughts on the subject and let you come to your own conclusion. But I think the one thing we would all agree on is we all want to know the reason WHY.


Maria said...

I agree with your beliefs about autism and yeah, I've read all the research too.

You have such a success story with all of this. I think that many parents just sort of internally crash when they get the news that their child is autistic. You refused to cave, got back on your feet and set about dealing with the child you have and loving her as is. She is fortunate. So are you.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit this is how I came across your blog. I was searching blogs about autism. I had the honor of working with a few students with autism this last school year and one I would shadow and I miss him terribly. His parents are firm believers that it was not the MMR that made him this way. But as you said I am not here to debate yay or nay about it just voicing an opinion from another parent.

Steffie B. said...

Just found your blog...beautiful daughters!

Lizzie said...

Thankfully another parent of an autistic child that thinks the same way I do!

I've been loathe to make known my opinions on the supposed MMR-autism link because I'm the type of person who lets people make up their own minds. If you want to believe something, then who am I to try to sway you, know what I mean? But I agree with you - I don't believe the MMR is connected. I disbelieve it so much that even after I heard the stories I still went ahead and had my second and third children immunised.

There is definitely a genetic component. A friend of mine has had five children, of which three, possibly four, were on the spectrum. Coincidence? Not on your nelly.

I found this on a site:

"In the case of autism, the likelihood that the sibling of an affected child also would be affected is between three and six percent. This number is small enough that family doctors probably would never see enough cases of two affected siblings in the same family to suspect a genetic influence. Nonetheless, this incidence is about 100 times greater than the rate at which autism affects unrelated people in the population."


100 x greater risk? Of course there's a genetic component! LOL.

My personal believe is that autism is something that starts at conception, through a variety of factors but predominantly genetics. Hence the child is 'affected' from birth. A lot of the time, however, the coincidental timeframe of the MMR administering and the time of diagnosis makes parents panic. It's at around that time that certain milestones *should* be occuring and you are only made aware that something isn't right because they're NOT developing on the schedule they should. It was that way with Master J - our first real inkling was that he still had no real speech at the age of 2. But with the benefit of hindsight, we can see other signposts. He had trouble nursing (lots of autistic children have increased 'oral issues' and find it hard to develop the suck reflex) and we have a video of him at 6mo that I only saw again recently that just screamed 'autism!' to me - the loose jaw, the low muscle tone, the not looking directly at you, the fascination with toys in groups. When he was one, he did the classic 'lining up' of books and toys. This was well before the MMR. So yeah, I prefer to take that particular theory with the proverbial grain of salt (*smile*)


Slick said...

I'm the wrong person to ask for thoughts...I've came to the conclusion that just having to sit down to urinate isn't "right".

Elle, I think you're a fantastic mother and I can see where you're not one to quickly place blame on something without having the proof right before your eyes. Some people are too quick to judge.

Jenny said...

Now I know I like you--I am a PEOPLE junkie too! That was my mother's day gift this year from my hubby.

Thank you for putting your opinion out there regarding austism. I have a friend whose son is currently going through various therapy and she is daily struggling, but working hard to keep her son and her family strong. I greatly admire her for it. When I was a teacher, I had two autistic students my last year. One was never told that he was autistic, and didn't understand why he was different. Parents refused to tell him. I didn't agree, but it wasn't my place. He was a sweet young man with a genuine heart. When I was pregnant, he ran in to my classroom one morning shoving a package in my face. He was so thrilled to have found a copy of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" for 25 cents and bought it for me. He proudly told me the entire story. I will never forget that child.

Thanks for posting on my blog to introduce me to yours. I'll be sure to try to keep up!

Catwoman said...

Wow. That is truly one of the best posts about autism you've posted.

I'll be honest with you. I'd heard the potential link between vaccines and autism. And, unlike you, I didn't do all the research. I just felt in my gut that I needed to protect my child through vaccinations and that the autism rate would be even higher if there was such a link.

But to hear from you what your thoughts on autism are, well, I'll tell you what, girl. To me, you're a much more believable source of information than the midwives at the birth center! :) Thanks for the fantastic information!

Twisted Cinderella said...

I wasn't sure about the link between autism and MMR so I decided to delay her MMR. I figured it was better to be safe than sorry and to make sure I could get all the info I could.