Sunday, March 9, 2008

Autism Everywhere

This is something that has been heavy on my heart the last few weeks and I thought it was time to put it out there as some food for thought and to get suggestions.

In the last couple of years, I hear about autism everywhere. SEVERAL of my friends children are autistic and to be honest, I don't know much about it. It's not that I don't want to know, but sometimes I just feel weird asking these moms questions about autism when I know that they probably are so sick of talking about it.

It really began to make my heart heavy when I watched some special on TV about living with autism. Not only did it amaze me, but it made me think about what challenges my friends are facing in a world that is not autistic friendly.

Then I watched the first episode of Eli Stone a few weeks ago and the episode was about a woman whose little boy was autistic and she felt that a vaccination had caused the autism. Honestly, that was the first I had heard of the possibility of a vaccination causing autism. Now I know that Eli Stone is a fictional tv show, but was their truth at the heart of the theme for this show. I asked my friend Bethany and she said there was!

To be honest, it got me thinking....could a medicine be causing autism? I don't know and I want to know. I can tell you this...I am going to be doing some research the next few weeks and at this point, I plan to slow down Mary Elizabeth's vaccinations. That might sound radical, but 4 shots for a 6 month old who should only technically be 3 1/2 months old is a lot.

I want to hear some feedback and I want the people to read this blog to seach out a parent of an autistic child and pray for them. Pray for patience, understanding, rest, and wisdom. PRAY!


Amy said...

Hey Brea....First, I am NOT an expert on this topic. So, I will just write what I have been told by my Pediatrician (Dr. Tim Eidson, Rivergate Ped.) The "link" to vaccinations came from a study MANY years ago and has since been refuted. There is no definitive evidence either way.....that vaccines DO or DO NOT have any impact on the development of autism. (In fact, I think one of Dr. Eidson's children is on the autism spectrum....very mild. Again....I can't remember that for a fact.) He still VERY strongly encourages vaccines. As with any medicine or medical procedure....there are risks and benefits that must be weighed. He feels very confident that the benefits FAR outweigh the risks of vaccinations. I don't what you feel is best for your sweet girl. Research it...then follow your heart.

Karen said...

Hey Brea!
You know with our Little Man we wonder about a lot of these things. I think with future shots we will probably stretch them out. Like Amy said (I heard the same thing from Dr. Eidson at MOPS) the benefits greatly out weigh the risks. Talk to you ped about stretching the schedule out and getting fewer at a time.
There is also a great discussion over at Music City Moms

Chris and Gretchen said...

I don't know if I have left a comment on your blog before or not, but hello. :) We chose to delay vaxing our son until he is at least 2 years old. I have done extensive reading on this topic but still find myself confused and not knowing the real answer. Dr Sears just came out with a book explaining the risks, benefits, and ingredients in vaxes. It was very interesting and not as biased as I expected it to be. I could go on about this topic forever. If you would like to email me to talk more

Another good book is Vaccinations, A Thoughtful Parent's Guide by Aviva Jill Romm.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding this topic. Personally, there have not been enough studies to really know for sure what the link is between autism and vaccinations. By the way I am a registered nurse.

jeanine said...

We too, have many friends with autistic children. Ava plays closely with them at school and these are moms I talk to everyday. I DO feel that that is some correlation between vaccines and the sheer AMOUNT of autistic children, but like many others, by no means consider myself an expert (or even educated person) on the matter. As a parent to a child with ADHD and to babies with slight developmental delays, I've begun to learn that we, as parents, need to educate ourselves on many things we take for granted - vaccines; dietary needs/supplements, etc. I am learning that they all have an impact on our children. Call me when things slow down and we'll brainstorm.

Rachel Wilson said...

Amen Jeanine! Thanks to you Brea for posting this. This from a woman crying at a consignment sale becaue I found an abundance of cotton shorts! I had not put much thought into Wesleys sjots causing his autism (and still not sure). until recently. Like I said on my blog we have just been in survival mode. Then one day as I thumbed through his health records i saw how 3 days after his 1year shots is when all the rocking and flapping started. HMMMMMMMMMMM! well i do think that these special kids do have something that probably lies dormant in their bodies and is possibly activated by vaccinations. If vaccines weren't dangerous there wouldnt be a billion dollar fund to pay off families of children injured by vaccines!

Jennifer B said...

I seem to keep running across information on this topic lately, too. The reading I've done seems to suggest that the autism trigger (if there is one) may not be the vaccines themselves, but the mercury-based preservative that was formerly used in them. It's called Thimerisol, and supposedly it was phased out of vaccines beginning in 1998, but it's been recently found to still be in some vaccines. I read that it's very common for flu shots, for example, to STILL be made with Thimerisol or another mercury-based preservative!! More evidence for this is that after they started phasing out Thimerisol-laden vaccine doses, the U.S. ended up exporting a lot of its supply to other countries, namely China. And, since we started doing that, autism has skyrocketed in China. Another point: Amish kids don't get vaccines, and there is NO autism among the Amish. Literally, none.

I did fully vaccinate my 3 kids, and thankfully, they had no bad effects. But honestly, if I had known then what I know now... I don't know what I would have done.

There are a lot of eye-opening articles on this topic on my favorite natural health website: Do a search at that site for articles on autism and vaccines.

I'm so bummed I couldn't come up on Friday night, BTW. My sweet husband had me convinced I might get stuck and not make it all the way back to Bellevue. Glad to hear it all went well despite the snow!

Alison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alison said...


I have been thinking about this post since you did it. It is very powerful. I teach lots of children with autism and it is an amazingly complicated issue to discuss. I believe that you are so spot on when you say seek out a mother and pray.

Their daily struggles are unbelievable...I just pray that as an educator, I am touching all children and making impact on their lives in one way or another.

Thank you for your post.
I love you,

Chris and Gretchen said...

I happened upon this and thought you might like to read it. I missed the Larry King show they refer to, sounds interesting.

Erin Morgan said...

Brea... This is a topic that I try not to let consume me. Especially because there is no definite answer. Oh... so many angles and so many unanswered questions... I'll just keep praying for guidance about our son!

Shai said...

Hi Brea! I am Shai, Alison's sister-in-law and I am also a pediatric nurse practitioner. This issue is really an important one and I think it is so great that parents are researching and wanting to know what is going on with their children. I also feel for the children and their parents living with Autism...hopefully we will find a link/cure in the near future!

With that being said,
unfortunately there is a lot of "misinformation" to be found out there. Amy was correct when she said that the study that linked Autism with vaccinations was done along time ago, it was also done in Europe with only about 30 kids, and they have now published data that the man who conducted the study hand-picked children for the study with autistic tendencies. So really that study should not even be taken into account when speaking about this issue. Also, the mercury-based preservative is NO LONGER in vaccinations(it was never actually linked to Autism anyway, but they took it our just in case) In fact all doctor's offices have to expend a lot of money and energy to preserve and cool all vaccines because the preservatives have been removed. Also, any and every reaction gets immediately reported to the they are constantly doing research to make the vaccines and the time frames in which they are given the safest possible. In recent studies they have found a genetic link in about 1% of the Autistic children studied...that doesn't sound like much but it is a good start. I would encourage anyone who has a child with a diagnosis of Autism to get genetic testing...they probably will not find anything but it helps with future research.

And as for Autism being so prevalent in our culture... it has only been in the last 10 years that we have had a definitive diagnosis Autism, so children that were once called "eccentric" or "weird" or "anti-social" now have a label. Autism is diagnosed on a spectrum, which means that now a large range of kids will have this label. This is a good thing because we also have medications for aggression specifically tailored to certain types of Autism. So parents, teachers, doctors, etc can all be on the same page and give special attention to the precious little ones. I am not an Amish expert, by any means, but I would assume that they do not subscribe to modern practices in medicine. Which would mean they have less reported cases (maybe just one possible explanation).

Most importantly, we must remember that vaccines, like anything we put into our/our children's bodies have measure of risk involved. But, they are designed to protect our children from DEADLY diseases. I have seen children critically ill and even die from preventable diseases and I certainly don't want mine or anyone else's children to be in this position. One Doc I worked for would always say to parents considering not vaccinating "Animals live by natural selection, NOT humans." We have eradicated so many deadly childhood diseases, but they will come back if we continue on this anti-vaccination trend, which can harm us and our children! The excuse that "nobody get rubella, etc anymore" is really a scary one, because people are taking advantage of the "heard immunity" and it will NOT last!

Sorry this is so long but I thought I might put my Vanderbilt education to good use! :) I really commend everyone for taking the time to educate themselves about these issues. That is exactly what spurs change and discovery!