The Autism Community

The preponderance of the ‘autism community’ exists online. Yes in each town there is usually real life support available to some degree but it is very small in comparison to the amount of those affected – individuals, families, those who work with people on the spectrum- that are online. Facebook groups, websites and blogs are dedicated to all things autism. It has helped and connected many that have otherwise felt alone in this battle.

Before it’s even commented on, yes it is a battle. Everyday parents have to meet challenges that others do not, they need to think 5 steps ahead, plan every move, combat every meltdown, constantly watching, constantly on edge and usually with little to no breaks. They need support, they need to listen to those who have been down their road before and they need to know that they are not alone.

The consensus is that most of this is met online. Talking to other parents, individuals and those in the field of ASD’s has helped them more, than what they have available to them where they live.

Aside from that, there is a lot of discussion concerning what causes autism, what is actually happening to those on the autism spectrum, changes in diagnostics, what other symptoms not listed are being experience by more and more and what we are missing. In some groups these topics are deemed untouchable or not worth discussing because it is believed to have already been answered. There are open minded individuals who will look into all sides and those that are sure they already know the answer and refuse to even look at what the other side is saying and may therefore be missing things that are vital.

The most heated topics are touched on at some point by everyone, usually with snarky remarks or very high emphasis on what they believe to be true. Everyday a new study, paper or article comes forth to fan the flames higher, in what is becoming a furious battle between what would appear to be 2 sides.  Although there are many differing groups within the community we’ll just discuss 2 for right now.

On one side are those who believe that vaccines are causing some, perhaps all autism and are pursuing treatments to help those on the spectrum, that also experience physical issues that appear to be directly related to their autism.

On another side are those who believe that autism is due to genetics and/or passed down through the family, that there is no increase and that it is untrue that those on the autism spectrum have other symptoms in relation to autism because autism is strictly neurological and those issues are something else entirely.

While one side claims that these issues need to be looked at, the other says it has been looked at over and over again. So who is right and who is wrong or is it all just a matter of opinion?

I honestly try not to be one sided about things, especially concerning autism, but it is very hard to do so when people are continuously putting up the shields when it comes to certain topics.

Now obviously things have not been looked into if people are still debating about it this much. This day unfortunately won’t bring any answers but instead show some insight into this constant battle amongst ourselves.

The following is from a blog about autism, it is a piece that at first looks to be regarding a new study that just came out . Once again though if you read through you can see how the actual study is barely touched on. It seems to be more of a lash out of one page. I think the set off for this individual was the word debunked. This word is one of the many that gets thrown around all too much online. I am certainly not condoning the page using this term, as I know that one study is not going to change everything and I don’t even wish to discuss the study at this point – haven’t read through it all yet- What I am going to talk about is the obvious lashing out and one sidedness that is occurring more and more.

“Based on this study, of course, many autism groups are announcing that the idea of “autism as a genetic disorder” has been debunked.  Now, they say, we KNOW that it’s all in the environment.  What’s more, they say, we’re finally overturning the holy grail of genetics – the belief that all autism is inherited.”

Well obviously I don’t know where the author has been, but many autism groups are not just now saying this, in fact they’ve been for some time. The author makes it seem like this one study has changed the minds of many, which I think is very inaccurate. People have been claiming that it is not hereditary and that something environmental is in fact to blame, for a very long time – yes even before Wakefield-.

The author continues to talk about an interview with someone who is leaning towards an environmental cause making such comments as “I don’t believe any of this holds much water.” “Earlier  studies, of which there have been quite a few, seem to suggest that autism is an extremely heritable disorder.”-I haven’t looked at the single study the author provided yet either, but at this point I wonder if vaccines or other exposures were looked at.

“…so far as I know, there is no general agreement on the percentage of “real” as opposed to “apparent” rise in autism spectrum disorders.” – obviously the author hasn’t been looking very hard because even last year there were several publishing’s stating that ‘diagnostic changes and better diagnosing can only account for a small percentage in increase and that an environmental cause is most likely.’

“I will be fascinated to see whether the world will hail a sudden decline in autism spectrum incidence as of May, 2013.” – I would be interested, if there is any decrease at all. Most likely though if things stay on the current path, the number will either flat line or continue increasing as usual.

Down to the comment section. . .

“What I don’t understand about the whole “autism is an environmental epidemic” argument is – let’s say that everything in our manmade environment, from cell phones to plastics to coal pollution is causing neurological damage that looks like autism. In addition, let’s suggest that poor maternal nutrition, too little vitamin D for kids, etc. are all culprits.” – the author

Again for an ‘autism expert’ this person is really falling behind on all things autism. No one is stating that all these things could cause autism. In fact the most highly discussed causes are; ingredients found both in vaccines and the environment- with an emphasis on metals – overstimulation of the immune system and/or too many vaccines in one day/schedule and medications and medical procedures during and post pregnancy. Obviously the author is trying to diminish the claims made of an environmental factor for autism, by trying to make it seem like people are blaming everything and that by doing so is foolish. If you listen and keep up you know that there are specifics being questioned and it is not just people trying to find blame for autism.

A good response to this was “If primarily caused by environmental toxins such as air pollution and water pollution, why has the rate of autism increased so much over the past 25 years? Why was the rate so much lower in the 60’s even though some areas had worse pollution than now? This is one reason why many believe that vaccines are really the primary factor. The number of vaccines has increased dramatically during the same time period during which autism has increased.” “ …… if autism were strictly genetic, why are there so many children with autism these days who are the first full blown case of autism in the family? Yeah, maybe Mom or Dad or a grandparents, uncle, or aunt may have a bit of aspie characteristics, but not full blown autism, not nonverbal or stimming etc.”

A comment about the rise in autism in line with the rise in vaccines spurred this response from the author

“But that reality, combined with an increased vaccine schedule, is not really a helpful way to determine whether, to what degree, and why there may be an autism epidemic.” – actually, looking at correlations – increased vaccines, increased autism- would be very helpful. Completely dismissing the claim without further investigation is not helpful to anyone.

Then the author goes on again to try and dismiss vaccines as a viable cause by trying to make it sound like anything could be to blame and that by looking into it is foolish   “Maybe the issue was prenatal exposure to pesticides. Or multiple ultrasounds. Or pitocin. Or anti-depressants. Or maybe dad’s sperm was older and had mutated DNA. Or maybe mom’s use of cell phones was the issue. Or someone ate too much tuna fish. Or not enough folic acid. Or too little vitamin D. Or too many foods with chemical additives. Or contrails. Or rain. Or cable TV. Or pet shampoo. Or plastics. Or microwaved containers.”

Another good comment “I don’t think anyone is denying a strong genetic susceptibility, but as the epidemic moves along, it’s picking up more and more victims, which suggests the genetic influence may well be “just being human” one day. Certainly we don’t see the yards and fields along our same polluted highways littered with spinning cows, or rocking dogs!”

Is met with this response from the author. . . please note that these are not necessarily true, but are just the beliefs of the author. “Here are some of the things that HAVE been suggested:

1. we’re not in the middle of an epidemic at all; rather we have moved the goal posts in the middle of the game, resulting in a significant change in “scoring” for autism.
2. we’re seeing a rise in autism due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors
3. we’re beginning to better understand how inborn differences in brain structure and function impact behavior and communication
4. we’re better understanding how genetic mutation can impact issues like behavior and communication
5. autism is highly heritable
6. we’re zeroing in on some specific causes of autism, along with associations with things like parental age, specific drugs, etc.”

Not touching on all of these points but I must note that the studies showing that parental age is a factor is simply . . . a load of crap. . .

And on and on the debate rages, each side not budging and no one getting anywhere. With people constantly dismissing vaccines as a factor, studies that should have been done by now are looking like they never will be.

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