3.06.2008

More alarmist news from the autism front

Autism is a terrible disorder, one that causes many families each year quite a bit of trouble (to understate the facts).

However, the following story buries the true news below the fold.

The lede brings us to the conclusion that a girl definitively developed autism from childhood vaccines.

In a move autism family advocates call unprecedented, federal health officials have concluded that childhood vaccines contributed to symptoms of the disorder in a 9-year-old Georgia girl.


Further down, buried as an off-hand reference, is this line:

The language in the document does not establish a clear-cut vaccine-autism link. But it does say the government concluded that vaccines aggravated a rare underlying metabolic condition that resulted in a brain disorder "with features of autism spectrum disorder."


So here we have a case where the girl had an underlying mitochondrial condition, unnamed, perhaps one that should have been tested for, and one that could have perhaps eventually lead to autism on its own. The issue here is that her condition may have been avoidable, and, due to what might be incompetence on the parts of her doctors, caused a secondary condition that appears to be autism.

Even further down, past where most people would read, this is said:

Hannah, who has two older brothers, continues to have mild to moderate symptoms of autism.


Her symptoms are mild to moderate, but she needs one-on-one care? That doesn't seem right. I've known a couple of autistic kids, and beyond the basic "keep an eye on them so they don't hurt themselves or others" situation, I haven't seen an excessive need to watch them. Certainly not one-on-one.

Perhaps NH State of Mind could respond with his opinions. I'm curious about how much care an autistic child needs, and getting an expert's point of view on an article like this is always helpful (yes, he's an expert. When you have a child with a disorder, you become an expert on it by virtue of dealing with it every day of your life).

1 comment:

NH Mind said...

Kathleen,
I'm way behind in my blog reading and just came across your post here. Happy to weigh in, as an expert, not in Autism, but in trying to raise a daughter with autism.

First off, there is a blogging autism expert, Kristina Chew, PhD. Her blog, http://www. autismvox.com is one of my top 3 sources of Autism info and I highly reccomend her blog. She is a "big" brain whereas I remain a teeny weeny brain.

Secondly, neither vaccines nor thimersol (mercury) cause autism. Unfortunately, the vaccine and mercury voices far outnumber the proven science and saner voices, so far too many people have grabbed on to vaccines, mercury, and enviornment as the cause of Autism. Perhaps science will prove some of them right someday, but to date, the science doesn't support their claims. Far worse, too many scarce dollars are channeled into these misinformed organizations,diluting the funds available for legitimate science,investigation and services for those afflicted.
Thirdly, autism is a spectrum disorder that can run the gamut from mild (your kid's a bit different), to completely debilitating (full time care required for life). The need for a one-on-one aide at school is really dependent on where the child is on the spectrum and his/her ability to participate in class independently. My 5 y/o girl attends public school here in NH and has a one-on-one paraprofessional - Olivia is on the milder end of the spectrum, but clearly needs support in communication, self regulation and just overall following directions and interacting. She is fortunately thriving in this enviornment, thanks in great part to the one-on-one aide. Whether or not she will need this level of service throughout her public school years remains to be seen, but there is a formal process to determine this: The IEP (Individualized Education Plan), which the parents, teachers, specialists, and adminsitrators develop to formalize educational goals, identify support requirements (like a one on one)and address other aspects of the child's educational environment. Each child, whether on the mild, moderate or severe range of the spectrum receive an IEP which determines, among many other things, if one-on-one aides are indicated.

So, my long winded thoughts can be summarized thusly: It depends.

April is Autism Awareness Month, so I'll be dedicating my blogging to my autism experiences and thoughts exclusively.

Cheers.

Pete