Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Who is Responsible for Autism?

The November/December 2007 edition of The Skeptical Inquirer contains 3 excellent articles that talk common sense about autism. The central article, from my point of view, is by my favorite blogger who is also a professor, neurologist, podcaster, and president of the New England Skeptical Society...Steven Novella.
His point is that there is strong evidence AGAINST the hypothesis that thimerosal or the vaccinations that contain them are responsible for the prevelance of autism. Of all the diseases....Autism has perhaps the most bizarre claims of etiology in the last 65 years.

I first will refer Dr. Bruno Bettleheim who, in the 70's perpetrated faked research and fraudulant cures for autism. He expounded upon Leo Kanner's 1940's idea of cool, unfeeling mothers from whom children withdraw and never return to the world. He went wild with anger over the Lovaas/UCLA methodology that ended up having about a 50% success rate in getting youngsters who were exhaustively trained into elementary schools without any labels. [Note: that was a huge step forward as all those youngsters were probably going to be labeled with autism which, at that time, was considered a form of schizophrenia.]

But, over time, the Lovaas method [called ABA after the field of Applied Behavior Analysis from which the tools and methodologies emerged] has won the day. And it was thought by one of my professors [whose expertise was autism] that parents were clamoring for an "autism" diagnosis for their children because the ABA methodology gave them extra hope that their children could be substantially helped. Many have.

With the same "timing" logic as Kanner's hypothesis, the MMR vaccination became suspect. It's not a bad reason to suspect something. But, you've got to give it up when the evidence shows no causation. And, indeed, that's what has been repeatedly shown.

The heart wrenching whining must stop before it inflicts harm upon the vaccination producing companies. This would be a great harm to all of us because it is only through overwhelming percentages of vaccinated people that regular plagues of polio, whooping cough, tetnus, mumps, rubella, and so on that we lower our exposure to these contagious germs.

Children show signs of autism from earlier ages though the behavioral reversals of the 18 month olds are usually the attention grabber that gets the motivation for finding a diagnosis.

Behavior of parents is not causal for autism. Nothing in the vaccination is causal. How many lives Bettleheim destroyed nobody knows. But his victims' stories have been documented and his tragic effect upon them is public record. It is important to keep the anti-vaccinators from destroying the lives of our families and decendants by unnecessarily exposing them to danger.

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