Friday, March 22, 2013


Autism is in the national news again - the new number is 1 in 50.  I'm not going to write about that - I'd rather read what Jim has to say.

Instead, I want to share with y'all things I've come across in my new hobby:  reading and responding to comments on on-line news articles.  If it weren't on-line, I'd cut them out and paste them into a big scrapbook.  On the cover, I'd write "Jon's Big Book of Crazy", and I'd decorate it with moons and stars and pyramids.

 I was going to quote the actual comments, but I'll spare you the venom and just summarize.

 Autism is caused by a "leaky gut".

As Hippocrates said two thousand years ago: "All diseases begin in the gut."  He also said, "A physician without a knowledge of Astrology has no right to call himself a physician."

There's pseudoscience and there's actual peer-reviewed reproducible science.  When real science makes a mistake, it fixes itself and moves on.  Pseudoscience survives because we are desperate and want to do something, even if we don't have any proof that it will be helpful.

I think that if you really have a "cure" for autism, and the "mainstream" establishment western medicine won't accept it, then you have a moral obligation to prove it.  I don't care what it takes...there are ways to prove it, and if you really know you are right, you would be evil not to do so.

"Vaccinations cause autism."

 I want to find the guy who posted this and say, "Who are you, who is so wise in the ways of science?!  If you or someone you love are not sure about this issue of vaccines and autism, please go read "Autism's False Prophets".  It's well-written by a good author.

The autism rate is high because greedy people want to make money off of it.

There are much easier ways to make money than becoming a behavioral/speech/occupational therapist,  developmental pediatrician, psychologist, neurologist, social worker, etc.  A lot of the caregivers we've met are underpaid and work long hours with kids who can be pretty hard to deal with.  I'm pretty sure there's no conspiracy behind the numbers.

Behavioral therapy for autism is expensive, but that's because it requires a lot of dedicated time from a trained therapist.  That's very different from having to use an expensive machine or patented drug.

"We don't know what the cause for autism is, how to treat it, how to cure it, and that's why insurance companies don't want to cover it."

The cause is complex. It's probably a combination of genetics and environmental factors. You don't have to know the cause to be able to treat it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics approves Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) as a treatment - it's been studied extensively and shown to help 90% of kids who get it. About 50% become able to function like a typical kid in school. Some kids also benefit from speech or occupational therapy. Drugs for hyperactivity and anxiety can be helpful for some kids.

People can improve to the point where they lose the autism diagnosis. Their brains still work the same way, but they've been retrained to cope with it to the point that they can function normally.  It's not a "cure", but it doesn't have to be. 

My grandfather lost his leg...he wasn't cured when he got a stump sock and a plastic leg, but he was able to get around pretty well.

Insurance is mandated to cover autism in 30+ states. The insurance companies there have somehow managed to do it and turn a profit.  In fact, they had enough left over to spend 1.8 billion dollars lobbying our government.  They're still lagging behind the pharmaceutical industry...slackers.

Ok, now I sound like yet another internet crank.  Let's end on a different note.

True story:

My grandfather developed Buerger's disease back in the 30's.  Buerger's affects circulation to your extremities, and can lead to gangrene.   Pop's foot died and turned black and he became very ill.  He put himself on the train up to the nearest hospital in Murray, Kentucky where they told him he had enough poison in his system to kill ten men. 

To start with, they took off half a foot.  This was buried.  Later, they took off some fingers and one leg just above the knee.  These too were buried, alongside my grandmother, whom I never met.  He died when I was in eighth grade.  It didn't surprise anyone, really...he always had one foot in the grave.

Ba-doom-cha.  (sorry Mom)

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