Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Great Divide: Trying to figure out the Neurodiversity Movement

Thomas Armstrong in his essay Special Education and the Concept of Neurodiversity states that the “basic premise [of neurodiversity] is that atypical neurological wiring is part of the normal spectrum of human differences and is to be tolerated and respected like any other human difference such as race, gender, sexual preference, or cultural background.”

He goes on to say, “Consider the issue of inclusion in education. Regular classroom teachers are far more likely to want a "rare and beautiful flower" or "an interesting and strange orchid" included in their classroom than a "broken" or "damaged" child. The use of ecological metaphors suggests an approach to teaching as well. Individual species of flowers have specific environmental needs regarding sun, water, soil conditions, and so forth. Similarly, neurodiverse children will be seen as having their own differing ecological thriving factors, and it will be a key role for a neurodiversity specialist to understand each child's unique needs for optimal growth. The goal will not be to try and "cure" "fix" "repair" "remediate" or even "ameliorate" a child's "disability." In this old model, such kids are made either to approximate the norm (especially for national accountability tests), or helped to cope with their disabilities as best they can (the phrase "she can learn to have a successful and productive life despite her disability" comes to mind here).”

The term Neurodiversity was coined by Judy Singer in 1998 and some proponents hold the “view that autism is a unique way of being, rather than a disease to be cured. Such parents say they value their children's individuality and want to allow their children to develop naturally. According to proponents, autistics may need therapies only to cure [co-morbid conditions], or to develop useful skills. Forcing autistics to act as desired, or trying get rid of autistic neurological wiring is condemned. The proponents think that if autistics face more difficulties in life, the source[s] are the society's institutions and habits, not autism itself.”

Further they believe that society is prejudiced against people with neurological differences.  This is apparent in: “attempts to cure, medicate, institutionalize or force behavioral changes in autistics either against their will or without knowing their will.”  They are concerned with references to “damage or abnormalities,” intolerance, discrimination, lack of accommodation, belief an individual with autism is inferior, that autism should be cured, institutionalized barriers, or barriers caused by social awkwardness.

Readings on Neurodiversity:

The Neurodiversity movement is generally made up of people with Asperger’s and parents of children with autism although the movement has spread to people with other disabilities.

Common Ground:

Anyone who has a child or sibling with any kind of special need whether it is severe or mild wants that child to succeed to the best of their ability, be embraced by society, to be happy, safe and to live a fulfilling life.  Parents of these children work to improve the quality of life of their children.

Does, as Thomas Armstrong asserts, calling a child a "rare and beautiful flower" rather than "broken" or "damaged" translate into a better outcome or more respectful treatment of that child?  I believe that labels matter and that individuals with disabilities should be valued for their accomplishments, should be autonomous to the extent they are capable and should be treated respectfully.

Is society not accepting and inclusive enough to individuals with disabilities?  Is it prejudicial against those individuals?  I think both sides agree that there are many ways society should and hopefully will improve.  However, I reluctantly add that social skills are important to success in relationships and in all aspects of life.  And regardless of how accepting society becomes, the reality is recognizing and responding to social cues facilitates and strengthens relationships.

Conflict over Cure

Whether autism is purely genetic or environmental triggered is one of the great conflicts within the autistic community and this conflict is central to the debate over neurodiversity.

The premise inherent within the neurodiversity movement is that that “atypical neurological wiring” for autistic people is and should be accepted as part of the normal human spectrum and that any attempt to cure them is disrespectful and prejudicial.  It is also apparent that proponents of neurodiversity believe autism is genetic and not environmentally triggered.  If one believes that something in the environment triggered the development of autism the premise that “atypical neurological wiring is part of the normal spectrum of human differences” doesn’t relate to that individual.  Because if that individual was developing normally but an environmental insult damaged their neurological wiring and caused the development of a disability, that disability should not be regarded as part of the naturally occurring spectrum of human differences.  Rather it should be classified the same way any disability caused by disease, toxin, accident or other environmental factor.

If one believes that autism was caused by an environmental insult any successful attempt to help that individual regain their initial developmental trajectory is cause to celebrate.

The Value of an Individual

Did the neurodiversity movement start as a reaction to society’s devaluation of individuals with disabilities?  Perhaps.  Proponents can come across as defensive and self-righteous.  But their demands for tolerance and acceptance for individuals with disabilities is a worthy aim.  My son has value because he exists, because he is a person and a child of God.  He isn’t more or less inherently valuable because he has autism.  His intrinsic worth would not increase if he was typical, though he would have a greater capacity to interact with society.

I’m confused about the hostility directed at parents who want to cure their child’s autism.  We are sometimes accused of not accepting them for who they are and of loving them less because of our desire to cure them.  Why is autism considered part of a child’s personality?  Is autism the equivalent of being born deaf, blind or with some other disability?  Perhaps there are similarities between how neurodiversity proponents regard trying to cure autism and how cochlear implants are regarded by the deaf community.

Perhaps it’s different for me because my children had recognizable personalities, abilities and cognitive changes when they regressed into autism.  I knew them before they became autistic thus I can measure them against themselves.  William, even with intensive therapy, has not recovered the attention span and sociability he had at 16 months.  Is it fair to say that I do not accept him for who he is?  Is who he is defined by autism?  Or should he be defined by who he was and his potential at 16 months?  Every parent defines their child however they want.  But the self-congratulatory “I’m a better person than you because I accept my child and his disability” statements are self-serving.

Individuals with autism or Asperger’s are like square pegs trying to fit into the round holes in society.  Is it kinder to try to metaphorically sand off their corners, or is it disrespectful?  It matters more for the higher functioning individuals.  This debate is pointless for William, if he says please and thank you without prompting I’ll be thrilled by his social skills!  But for the rest – social skills matter even with very kind people.

People from both sides recognize that “normal” encompasses a wide range of social skills, intelligence, innate abilities as so on.  We agree that society needs to do a better job of valuing and including people who fall within or outside the realms of what society deems normal.  Ironically, people with “atypical neurological wiring” are likely to find the most acceptance from people like me and my children.  Someone in our family has autism.  We love him and believe that he has as much intrinsic value as any other human.  While we recognize that he won’t contribute to society economically, he contributes in other ways by encouraging compassion, and acceptance.

Our family values individuals with disabilities.  My middle school daughter and her friends visited peers in the sub-separate classroom during lunch.  Parents of children with disabilities have told me that the teacher recommends my popular second grader as a potential friend and peer model.  She willingly plays with a boy that she describes as “just like” her severely autistic brother.  And we are not any different than other families in the same situation.  Two of Jacob’s kindest friends have siblings with disabilities.  And I had a friend, whose brother has Down syndrome, who during college volunteered to feed disabled children lunch at a local elementary school.  I think the most powerful way we can help society become more accepting is through our example.  I saw two developmentally disabled adults struggling to buy drinks from a vending machine. I, like any of you, went over to help.  I bought them both a drink and sat back down.  I didn’t realize they wanted more.  Another woman then went over to help.  I think she cared as much as I did but didn’t know what to do until she had an example.  When we make our children and others with disabilities accessible and part of the community others start to see them as valuable individuals rather than retarded or an economic drain.  I think our example is the most effective way to spread tolerance and acceptance of people with disabilities.

Note:  I started writing this about a month ago when I became more interested in the neurodiversity movement.  I read an interesting exchange at countering age of autism.  Clearly, there are offshoots from the original movement and different interpretations of neurodiversity.

Update:  July 2011  The Neurodiversity Movement is anti-cure.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

18 Endless Years

My mom called me last week to remind me that my anniversary was coming up.  I think it’s become a running gag in my family that someone needs to call and remind me what day it is because I forgot about it twice.  My advanced age, I’m sure, is to blame.  People are occasionally amazed that I’m still on my “starter husband” but since I picked a good one, he’s stuck with me forever.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Skipping CD

Yesterday at church Will was a little more disruptive than normal.  By which I mean he talked for an hour non-stop.  At one point he had an open hymnal in his lap, he would bang on it with his knuckles and say “The moose going by.”  After about ten minutes of that my husband bumped me and asked if I could fast forward the CD.
I thought about the best way to do that.  I tried flipping forward about fifty pages in the hymnal.  Will looked at me, turned back to the original pages and said, “Quick feet, quick feet, quick feet, quick feet, quick feet, quick feet.”  He then surprised me with a “We eat turkey.”  I have no idea where that came from.  Will spent the next twenty minutes saying, “The moose going by, quick feet” and an occasional “we eat turkey.”

I’m not sure I made it better.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas 2009

Yesterday we invited my husband’s cousin and her husband over for dinner.  The kids love having people over so it was fun.  They brought a gingerbread house to build and decorate which was a great idea.  I think we will have to do that in the future.  It will be a fun tradition.  Unfortunately, they left all the candy as well, darn them!

Late last night I walked downstairs to get the Christmas presents but Bri was sitting next to her dad on the couch watching TV.  I growled, “Go to bed!”  She immediately did.  I guess she properly interpreted the growl as an “I’m really tired and if I don’t put out the presents now; I’m going to bed and they’ll get the presents tomorrow after I wake up” kind of growl.

This morning at 7:00am I heard little Lizzy feet run down the hallway to the living room.  Jake came in a couple of times to get us up but I said we weren’t getting up until everyone was up.  I eventually got up but Will was back in bed muttering “So exciting” over and over before switching to “Toy Story 1 and Toy Story 2.”  We got him up but he wasn’t interested in any presents – because after all, why would he be?  We got him to open a couple but then he walked downstairs to watch TV, or maybe, just to get away from us.

I almost messed up Lizzy’s presents but fortunately didn’t.  She wanted the Indiana Jones number 2 set but I bought her number 4.  But she decided 4 was better.  My response was, “huh?  Oh, there is more than one set.”  I think the kids were happy with what they got but I know I have a Harry Potter DVD somewhere.  So, I have no idea what else I have hidden from myself.  I inevitably find things I’ve bought for Christmas months later. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I’m Not Going To Get Up Today

I went in Will’s room to wake him up.  I pulled his blanket off him and said that it was time to get up.  Will pulled the blanket over his head and rolled over.  “I love you,” I whispered next to his blanket covered ear.  He made a kissing sound.  “I love you.”  He kissed again. 

We repeated this a few times then he responded with an “all done.”

“Will it’s time to get up.”

He said, “I’m not going to get up today.”  I started to giggle.  And he followed that up with “PBS”

Monday, December 21, 2009

If They Only Took Credit Cards This Wouldn't Be A Problem!

I thought I was done with my Christmas shopping this year.  I’m not.  Each of my husband's siblings gives another sibling’s family a gift because he has eight siblings and 430 nieces and nephews.  (Ok, I’m kidding about the nieces and nephews, but there are 30 and that’s far too many kids to buy for!)    Last night my husband told me I had bought a present for the wrong family.  In my defense, I could only say that it was his family’s fault for being so huge!

Unfortunately, now I have to come up with another gift and mail it to Nevada.  I think it will be late.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

That’s just the way we do it.

I invited myself over to Marcy’s house to watch her light a Menorah on Friday.  It was pretty cool.  I liked all the candles.  Although, Marcy pointed out it was pretty ironic for Lizzy to light a Menorah while wearing a Santa hat.  The kids then went for a double dipping of ironic by watching the end of a Christmas movie in the family room.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Getting Old

Shopping with friends when you’re almost forty is different than shopping with friends in your twenties.  Today we went to BJs and Stop and Shop.

Wait … on the other hand, maybe that says more about me than anyone else -- after all the same friend asked me to go the mall on Wednesday.  I am clearly all about a stocked pantry.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Taming my “Wild Thing”

I took Will to a sensory friendly movie a couple of months ago for the first time in years.  He protested loudly and energetically, but I persevered.  I took him to another movie two weeks ago and he was even better.  Then on Saturday our town’s sped-pac sponsored a showing of The Child King and since my husband was out of town and I wanted Bri to see it I decided to take Will even though I couldn’t bring any snacks to distract him.  I brought a couple books instead.  He was surprising good.  I was going to take him out at one point but we sat on the last row instead and he was really interested in the last part of the movie.  It’s very exciting to have a new activity for him.

I am also very excited because one of Will’s teachers at MyGym is going to take him swimming on Fridays.  This is a wonderful because I signed the other kids up for ski lessons on Friday afternoons and I wasn’t looking forward to dragging Will to the lodge with me!

Monday, December 14, 2009

This will pay off in a couple of years

I know I cooked more than Bri does when I was thirteen, perhaps because I didn’t spend all my time texting or on facebook.  Last week she “taught” Jake how to make chocolate chip cookies.  They were yummy but they made them backwards.  I asked her yesterday if she wanted to learn how to make peach cobbler.  She didn’t.  So, I decided to teach Jake.  He is more interested than Bri is in cooking and is more likely to say yes if I ask him.  He agreed to help even though he doesn’t like cobbler.  Since we were on a roll I taught him how to make spaghetti, too.
Bonus:  Jake tried the cobbler and liked it.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Last week we took everyone to Bri’s middle school play.  Sometimes we trade off nights.  That way we can leave Will home because he doesn’t always like to go to things and is disruptive.  But I had a Ladies Night Out dinner I wanted to go to on Friday so I decided the whole family could see Bri’s play on Saturday.  I brought Will’s iPod and a couple of Dr. Seuss books for him.  We sat on the balcony where there were fewer people and Will did really well.  He took off his shoes, refused to listen to his music and started eating his books.  He clapped and “whooed” loudly at the end (and as much as I’d like to say it was because of Bri's superb acting I think it was probably because the play ended).

My husband took all the other kids home while I waited for Bri.  On the way home we talked about the characters in the play.  I told her that Hector had been my book boyfriend since I’d read the Iliad in high school.  I would have named one of my sons Hector if it sounded ok.  (It didn’t and neither did Henry.)  Bri said that a lot her friends’ book boyfriends were Edward or Jacob.  She said wanted a monster book boyfriend too.  I said that I'd rather have a heroic, human book boyfriend.  She said humans are boring.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

. . . And Then My Brain Fell Out

I pulled out all the stuff to decorate the Christmas tree a couple of days ago.  I hoped that my kids would decorate it all and I wouldn’t have to do anything but that still hasn’t happened.  Maybe next year.  The kids put the lights on the tree and we plugged it in.  Only to see that half the lights didn’t work so we halted work on the tree and left four boxes of Christmas crap in the living room for two days while I meant to go to the store and buy lights.

Yesterday, I gave up and asked Bri to take the lights off the tree and put on the multi-colored lights we had, while I went to an autism nutrition thing.  It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be and that’s a couple of hours I won’t get back.  Moving on.  I came home and half a strand of lights was on the tree.

Today I went to the store and bought lights.  I was a little perturbed to see they were double the price I thought they were but standing in the line for 10 minutes for three pairs of gloves alone wouldn’t be worth it and I bought them anyway.  I returned home and started unwinding the multi-colored lights.  I opened the first box to see white wiring!  Yes, white!  I was so frustrated.  I was about to put them on the tree anyway; however, upon examination of the boxes (perhaps, I should have done that in the store – but it’s actually Jane’s fault because I was talking to her on the phone) I noticed they were icicle lights.  This is technically the point when my brain fell out of my head.

So, I put the half working strand of white lights back on the tree.  Unfortunately, Jake stepped on some of the lights, at which point they started blinking.  So, I have a tree with working lights going around twice and wide swath of darkness and then the top half of the tree is blinking.  Yea, seriously.

We decorated the tree.  I started packing up the boxes and at the bottom of one I hadn’t looked through yet, I found three unopened boxes of white lights. 

That sound you just heard was karma slapping my face.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

To whom it may concern

"To whom it may concern: 

"If this letter has been opened and is being read, it is because I have been seriously injured or killed by my son, Sky Walker. I love Sky with my whole heart and soul and do not believe he has intentionally injured me. I have tried my best to get help for him and to end the pattern of violence that has developed in this home. I believe my best has not been good enough. That is my fault, not Sky's. Numerous people know about the violence and many have witnessed it. We have all failed Sky. I do not want him to be punished for actions for which he is not responsible. 

I’ve thought, possibly obsessed, about Will’s future for years.  At a dinner, with three other moms last week, the topic came up.  One mother said that she thinks about her son’s future daily.  As do I.  Another mom said she doesn’t think about yet.  The elephant in the room was aggression.  All of our boys are pre-puberty although it’s getting closer and some of the boys are aggressive to varying degrees.  And from what I’ve heard puberty can bring on aggression.  I wouldn’t classify Will as aggressive necessarily; but he pinches and occasionally bites and disturbingly, he is starting to use his size and strength to make his way to things he wants.  He’s only ten but he’s a big ten and I think he takes after my side of the family.  I think he’ll be over 6 feet tall and I can already see that he’ll weigh more than 200 lbs.  I realized this day was coming quickly last summer when I tried and failed for the first time to put medicine in Will’s eye by myself.  He still sits on my lap and wants me to give him a piggy back ride down the stairs.  I don’t think either of us are quite ready to give that up but he’s huge and it’s absurd when he sits on my lap as thankfully my lap isn’t really large enough for him.

I remember judging other parents, when Will was an adorable three year-old, for putting their children in residential care.  I decided that Will would live with me until I died.  But I’ve learned a few things in the ensuing years.  I don’t judge anyone anymore for making those kind of choices.  I have a friend who is occasionally frightened of her son and I know someone whose daughter had to move to a group home after she broke her mother’s leg, back and ribs.  I can’t imagine Will turning into someone dangerous but what if my other children were threatened?  There is no easy solution.

I changed my plan for Will’s future.  I’m going to set up a group home for him; one where I can choose who works there and one that he will never have to move from.  I can’t put him in the position of losing a parent and losing his home at the same time.  If placement ever becomes a crisis compromises are often made.

Will is like the sun in our family.  Everyone orbits him.  Most of what we do is for his benefit.  We live here because it’s better for him.  My husband has sacrificed aspects of his career for Will.  Where we vacation, our activities, most of what we do takes Will’s needs in consideration.

He’s worth it, of course.  He’s funny and lovable.  Bri and I often exchange delighted looks over his head.  But I can’t parent him the way I want and it’s really hard for me to wrap my head around that.  I encourage independence early on.  Bri started making her own lunches when she was in first grade, Jake in kindergarten, Lizzy, well, Lizzy is so slow in the morning I make half of her lunch; hopefully eventually she’ll do it herself!  And Will will make his own lunch eventually as well, even if it takes me years to teach him.

My heart breaks for Sky Walker and all the future Sky Walkers.  They are out there.  I’ve followed his story and I’m frightened about all the potential pitfalls in Will’s future.  Imagine a huge man having a temper tantrum in public or pushing his way past crowds.  Most policemen don’t know how to interact with children or adults with autism.  Some people with autism can be aggressive and violent without understanding they can really hurt someone.  Will’s infrequent temper tantrums are a little funny because I think he’s trying to get a reaction from me.  The first time he threw himself down on the ground he carefully started banging his head on the floor.  He’s become a little more enthusiastic about it now.  What would I do if he was seriously trying to hurt himself?  I don’t know.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

“I love my phone! It’s immortal!”

That’s a direct quote from Bri.  She lost it on Friday on the way to the bus stop.  It’s too bad that she didn’t lose it the same day she left her violin at the bus stop because a kid that rides her bus brought the violin home when he got off the bus that afternoon.

She came home from school today and said that while walking to the bus stop this morning she found her phone and was surprised that it still worked after she chipped the ice off it.  It snowed on Saturday.

* I wrote immoral instead of immortal.  That's definitely not what Bri said! 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It’s Better Than Christmas

My husband went to the library on Saturday and brought me home a stack of books.  I have admittedly lowbrow tastes and enjoy a daily murder mystery with the occasional decent book thrown in.  I figure, I read enough that even if I don’t count most of what I read, I still read more than the average person.

My husband is pretty much a non-fiction reader and he has a talent for finding interesting books.  I passed on Kant but I’m very interested in A Saint on Death Row, Living in the Age of Entitlement:  The Narcissism Epidemic, Three Generations, No Imbeciles, and Our Lot:  How Real Estate Came To Own Us.  I started reading Born to Run last night and it’s interesting!  Interesting enough that I briefly considered running for pleasure; naturally that idea passed quickly but I give credit to the book that it influenced me to think running could be enjoyable.

My running history is painful.  My dad liked to jog and I remember our family running together.  I would try to keep up with my older sisters and would get horrible side aches.  My dad told me to belly breathe.  (Note: that never worked!)  Well, about five years ago I found out why jogging was so unpleasant for me.  I was trying to keep up with my older sister who was trying to keep up with our dad!  Basically, a nine year old was trying to keep pace with a man in his 30s.  There was no way that was going to end well.  And it gave me a lasting hatred for jogging.

Friday, December 4, 2009


My husband likes this clip.  I think he's going back to his roots because prior to being a sexy business consultant my husband was a nerdy formulations chemist.  And when he graduated from college he was actually presented with a tie that had Beaker hand painted on it.  (Which he still owns!  He also still has his lab coat and a couple of safety glasses floating around.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

And You Think This Is My Fault?

“And you think this is my fault?”  Every time I turn around Jacob seems to say this to me.  Usually in aggrieved tones but sometimes angrily or as if offended.  If I tell him that Will is writing on the back of his homework, or that something he did or didn't do caused something else to happen "and you think this is my fault" is his usual response.

I try to be matter of fact when responding but occasionally a “yes, I think it’s your fault” slips out. Then I exchange a glance with my husband and try not to laugh.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Will’s Play Date

My friend’s son came over yesterday.  I got both boys off the bus and brought them into the house.  An “autistic” play date is a little different than the ones my other children have.  Different because I took them to the bathroom and different because they don’t actually play together or even stay in the same room, and they don’t talk to each other.  But they had the same snack:  apple slices and popcorn and perhaps that’s good enough.  I think Will liked having Pete over though, because that night at their MyGym class I noticed he touched Pete gently on the cheek.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Safe Vaccine Movement

Someone brilliant decided that by labeling parents who assert that vaccines damaged their children “Anti-Vaccine” he could divert the argument away from the issue of vaccine safety to the question of whether vaccines are beneficial. He did this because that’s an easier argument to win. The US government, pharmaceutical companies and doctors concede that all drugs, including vaccines, have side effects and that there is a threshold of damage beyond which a drug cannot be approved for use. But often side effects are not identified in small trial studies and within a short time frame.

Part of the debate over vaccine safety involves public relations and we have allowed ourselves to be labeled “anti-vaccine” rather than defining what we are actually advocating for. It’s inaccurate and polarizing to accept the label of “Anti-Vaccine.”

Is it anti-vaccine to call for safer vaccines?

Is it anti-vaccine to say that your child has been injured by one?

Is it anti-vaccine to ask the government to further test products, they mandate children receive, if questions about safety are raised?

Is it anti-vaccine to analyze the risks verses the benefits when deciding to vaccinate?

Is it anti-vaccine to point out America is a first-world country and thus risk factors are different here than they are in third-world countries?

If a vaccine causes severe life-long damage in a previously healthy, normal child, is it anti-vaccine to be angry and consider the “cure” more damaging than the disease you tried to prevent?

Is it anti-vaccine to point out that no one has studied the safety of giving multiple vaccines (polio, DTaP, Hep B, MMR) at the same time?

Is it anti-vaccine to notice that medical professionals rarely link adverse events to vaccines even if they occur within minutes or hours of the shot?

Is it anti-vaccine to notice that vaccines sometimes cause side effects? Or, is it just anti-vaccine to talk about them?

Inherent in the argument it is “anti-vaccine” to mention vaccines have side effects, or that some diseases are more dangerous than others or that risk factors differ between people is the premise that people are too stupid, ill-informed or irrational to make their own decisions and need to be told what to do. I disagree. I think people are smart enough to see value in vaccines. We deserve to be told the truth, especially the risks because ultimately, we as parents bear the responsibility of taking care of the child damaged by a vaccine.

I’ve noticed that parents who demand access to VAERS data, who question accepted “knowledge”, and parents or doctors who mention dangerous additives or bring up common reactions, become the enemy. The medical professions’ reaction is to metaphorically circle the wagons. They mention that the numbers of pharmaceutical companies are dwindling, implying that the shrinkage is due to the lack of profit in the manufacture of vaccines rather than to buyouts and mergers. They assert that making vaccines are unprofitable; well, yes, if one considers a product that is used only a few times in a lifetime to be less profitable than a drug that is used daily. The reality is vaccines are profitable for both pharmaceutical companies and doctors. The proponents of vaccinating at any cost combine first world disease statistics with third world statistics even though the risk factors are dramatically different. In the US, if a child contracted a disease such as measles their risk of serious injury or death is much less than a child who contracts measles in Sub-Saharan Africa. Thus the cost-benefit analysis is different. That’s reality. It’s intellectually dishonest, irrational, or ill-informed to imply differently!

The CDC seems to fear that a change in the vaccination schedule, a recall of a vaccine or an admission that further studies are warranted will lead to wide spread rejection of vaccinations. I don’t believe it will. Quite frankly, most people do not pay a lot of attention to vaccines. Many parents trust their child’s pediatrician. And people understand that drugs have side-effects.

The Safe Vaccine Movement believes that it is reasonable to consider risk factors when vaccinating and that size-one-fits-all strategies can be dangerous to individuals. When the medical profession chooses the “herd” over an individual child, parents have an obligation to their child to put their child’s individual needs first. We believe that when questions of additional risks or potential problems are raised the government and medical profession have an obligation to objectively study the safety of the products they recommend and require to be used.

Vaccines are not such a weak product that a problem with a few or the potential to trigger autism in a susceptible population will lead to the abandonment of vaccines as preventative medicine. Parents want to protect their children. We’d rather they receive a vaccine and have immunity from a disease then have them suffer from the disease, but not at any cost.

Penicillin has saved many lives since it was discovered but some people are allergic to it. It is still widely used despite its adverse effects on some people. Vaccines, like the antibiotic penicillin, would continue to be used even if the government and pharmaceutical companies concede that vaccines can trigger autism in a susceptible group.

The common reactions of denying there is a problem, covering up potential problems with faulty data and refusing to fund studies into environmental triggers have only led to acrimony and distrust. We have become increasingly effective at convincing our friends and family that vaccines are one of the environmental triggers for autism and, sadly, more families join our ranks daily. We raise our voices in alarm because the number of children developing autism has risen dramatically. We feel an obligation to warn others and protect children. And that is why you can’t shut us up.

And you can’t label us any longer either; well, at least not “anti-vaccine.” The time is past for us to choose our own label. A label that is coherent with what we are advocating for – and make no mistake, we are advocating for safer vaccines!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

On My Toes

Sometimes it almost seems deliberate, almost as if Will is trying to confuse me. My husband scrambled up four eggs to put in Pad Thai a couple of days ago. Will ate half of them before dinner was ready. I was so excited because I’ve tried to get Will to eat scrambled eggs for a couple of years. I use a first/then approach. First he eats a small bit of scrambled egg then he eats a preferred food. Occasionally, he throws up when I force him to eat too much of a non-preferred food. So, naturally I was thrilled and thought, “Hurray, I have something else to make him for breakfast!”

Well, I made him an egg this morning -- he didn’t want it. I made him eat it anyway because that’s the kind of mother I am. And fortunately, it didn’t take a lot of his peanut butter cereal to encourage him to eat it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Today's Soundtrack

I'm having a great day! I taught some adorable 2 to 3 year-olds at the Y. There is something adorable about that age and I wish I could fold them up and put them in my pocket to pull out when I need to see something wonderful! I have people coming tomorrow for thanksgiving. And to top it off on the way home from the store this song came on the radio. And I love this song!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I just got a flu vaccine and haven’t become autistic yet!

I read versions of this comment on a couple “pro-vaccine” blogs in both comments and the body of the post. My first reaction was to mention that my grandma had Alzheimer's. My grandpa died from cancer. I’m allergic to bees and that my nephew died from a brain aneurysm a week after his thirteenth birthday; just in case they needed something else to mock.

I just got the flu vaccine and still not autistic.

The casual viciousness of it took my breath away and brought back memories of William’s regression. When Jacob regressed I didn’t understand what was happening. I just thought he wasn’t talking anymore and was channeling Mr. Hyde. I didn’t know he was autistic until more than a year later.

I just got the flu vaccine and still not autistic.

But William … William was normal, I didn’t have to worry about him; I was reassured less than two months before his regression. Then in the beginning of November 2000, he lost his eye contact. I knew what that meant but was helpless to stop it. I started working on improving his eye contact as if that would stop his regression. I forced him to sit on my lap and play peek-a-boo with me until he had better eye contact than my normal five year old. But I was helpless to stop the loss of babbling, language, sociability, and the cognitive loss of eight months of development. For the first time in my life I understood that heartache could actually be felt. I actually felt my heart breaking.

I just got the flu vaccine and still not autistic.

No one who has ever watched a child regress into autism would ever make a joke of it. Imagine watching your child being hurt and unable to stop it. Watching William become autistic was far more heartbreaking than Jacob being diagnosed. I watched him lose skill after skill helplessly. By the end of November, William had disappeared and I was left with a shell that was too impaired to even request a drink of water. The child that had sat on my lap and would listen to book after book a month sooner fought to leave after two pages. The child that a month sooner had to be in the middle of any activity left the room when other people were there. And my potentially brightest child regressed to the cognitive level of a nine month-old.

I just got the flu vaccine and still not autistic.

The deliberate cruelty of the statement floored me. Perhaps that’s what passes as humor for people who look forward to their child’s first date, prom, college, eventual marriage and future grandchildren. I look forward anxiously to a group home and hopefully a community center. They can hope that their children will become doctors. I worry that I won’t find a doctor that will accept adults with autism. And I worry that my son will be left to the mercy of their children.

I just got the flu vaccine and still not autistic.

Anyone who writes that or allows that comment on their blog without note has never watched someone they love disappear into the abyss of autism and the best part of me hopes they never do.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Dark Side of the Internet

Recently I’ve looked at a few different blogs from the opposite side of the safe vaccine debate. Some post thoughtful and thought provoking insights. Some post vitriolic self congratulatory diatribes. Some post fluff tied up with a bow and presented as if it actually contained something more than lint. Some blogs reminded me, to some extent, of rabid partisan political websites I’ve read that were filled with twisted and massaged facts if not outward lies. I remember reading something horrible that was going around the internet about Sarah Palin’s son Trig. I don’t understand the mentality that would justify attacking a child because you don’t like his mother. And the comments, oh the comments were filled with objectionable things written about her son by people I could only assume were adults.

The dark side of the internet is the anonymity that gives people the freedom to spew ugliness because they don’t have to stand behind what they say up with their name. I understand people have reasons to blog anonymously; after all I do it myself. But I never say anything I haven’t said before and wouldn’t be willing to say to my friends and family. And I have a built in censor – my family. They read my blog.

What is it about the internet that brings out incivility? Is it that we are communicating with people we don’t know and thus have nothing personally to lose? It seems that with anything controversial people from both sides of the aisle seem to feel free to say anything they want, in any tone that they want as if with the assumption that vulgarity will overcome their enemy with “shock and awe” rather than winning over someone with rationality, thoughtfulness and logic.

I understand that someone from the opposite side of the vaccine debate could quote my first five sentences back to me with equal honestly. Ultimately, there are many issues that one side will not win over the other with logic, rationality or thoughtfulness. Politics and religion top that list. But surely in everything, even religion, politics and vaccine safety we can find common ground or at least agree to disagree with respect.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mouse Soup

I forced Will to sit with me on the couch. I wanted to read him a book. I opened the cover and saw my name carefully printed inside in green marker. I started reading. Will wasn’t really excited and tried talking over me. I had him read a couple of pages but he said, “No more reading.” He began wondering if the book was ever going to end. “So, the end,” he said hopefully. I kept reading. “So, the end,” he repeated. He was happy when I finished. And I saw my name again on the back cover. I guess to remind anyone reading the book that it was mine.

Friday, November 20, 2009


After I commented on an article in Wired I was listed as a proponent of “safe vaccines” on a blog. It seemed to be dedicated to collecting links to bloggers who hate people like me and like to write objectionable things about anyone who dares question the safety of vaccines.

The whole wretched tale begins at I just called out Dr. Parikh! The comments led me on a road of personal discovery -- Embarking on a New Career and finally to Comments About My Email.

During this process I thought a lot about the irony of the “defenders of the herd’s” objections to name calling when directed towards the wrong side (do I even need to state that it appears to be applauded when directed towards the safe vaccine side). So, I wrote Unfortunately, the “Pro-Vaccine” Movement Regards Shrillness as More Effective than a Rational and Civil Discussion. Then I thought about branding. Why have we allowed ourselves to be labeled “anti-vaccine?” It doesn’t accurately reflect our position and the label allows our position to be marginalized.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oh, the Potential

In a lot of ways I’m really lucky! William, though severely autistic, is pretty easy to take care of. I don’t mean easy in a normal sense, of course. Rather easy in the autistic sense. He’s ten now and still not toilet trained; but he doesn’t wet the bed every night and he doesn’t have what my husband calls “crapisodes” frequently. The nights that I’d wake up with fear in my heart at 3:30 in the morning because his light was on and I’d spend the next several hours cleaning up are, thankfully for the most part, years in the past.

He started talking when he was seven. I remember the excitement I felt when he said one, then ten, TEN words in one day! Now he says hundreds, maybe thousands a day. Of course, most of them are verbal scripting and I can quote episodes of Blue’s Clues along with him; but he can talk! And he told me his head hurt in May.

He’s never been self-injurious. In fact, I remember him at his most impaired three year-old self standing at the top of the stairs, holding a boogie board, weighing the risks of sliding down. His older sister and brother had sent him down the day before into a pile of blankets and pillows. He’d liked it so much that he’d tried alone and had plowed head first into the wall at the bottom of the stairs leaving a dent. I watched him standing at the top of the stairs, deciding what to do. He eventually wandered away.

Many of our battles with the school district are behind us. Will is in a good school and has improved enough to share his teacher with another student. Now, I hope for the possibility of success in a three-to-one.

Will teaches me a lot about people. Most he scares off immediately. Others look at me with pity and tell me, “You’re such a great mother!” Which use to piss me off because they didn’t know me. They didn’t know what kind of mother I was! And I knew they were just mentally down on their knees thanking God that they weren’t me. Now it doesn’t bother me. I understand that they want to be supportive, but don’t know what to say. And frankly I wish it wasn’t me either.

He brings out the best in people or the worst. We were at a park in July he walked through an extended family’s picnic, swiped someone’s partially eaten ice cream cone and started walking away. I grabbed the cone, threw an apology over my shoulder and walked him away. I heard a man say, “He can have one.” I ignored him and kept walking. The man followed me to the playground to offer again.

Three days later, at a different park he walked up to someone and grabbed a handful of fries and shoved them in his mouth; she was much nicer about it than the owner of blow up fins when he picked them up and put them around his neck. Neither had any warning but had very different reactions.

He brings out the best and the worst in me as well. I’m still working on making it be the best.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I am blessed with a thirty something year-old who lives in my thirteen year-old’s body. She acts less like a typical teenager than my seven year-old; however, occasionally a teenager surfaces. Today when I picked her up from school she was annoyed that she didn’t get to ride the bus home.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I deserve a Greek Chorus

My life, or at least my ego, cries out for a Greek chorus. Events would finally get the emphasis that they deserve. When Jake comes into my room in the early hours of the morning to inform me that William has wreaked havoc or created a mess that will take me hours to clean up. My response of shaking my fists in the air and crying out “Why?” would become even more dramatic! And even the simple things – things like running out of milk or William eating gluten would appropriately be responded too.

However, I’m concerned about logistics. Would I have to drive my Greek chorus around with me or would they come with their own cars? Would I be responsible for room and board? Frankly, trying to clean up after my own kids is exhausting (I don’t have a cleaner). I really don’t have the room for extra people to live here and if I had to pay for extra plane tickets on vacations I think we’d all be forced to hitchhike across the country. Would the chorus baby-sit? And how much would it cost? I don't think my husband would feel that it was the best use of our money as opposed to, well, spending it on anything else.

So, I figure that unless the chorus is free, and appears and disappears on demand; I’m pretty much out of luck. Dang it!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

N1H1 Statistics Update Week 43 US and Worldwide

2009-2010 Influenza Season Week 43 ending October 31, 2009


During week 43 (October 25-31, 2009), influenza activity remained elevated in the U.S.

  • 5,258 (37.2%) specimens tested by U.S. World Health Organization (WHO) and National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) collaborating laboratories and reported to CDC/Influenza Division were positive for influenza.
  • Over 99% of all subtyped influenza A viruses being reported to CDC were 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the epidemic threshold.
  • Eighteen influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported. Fifteen of these deaths were associated with 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus infection and three were associated with an influenza A virus for which the subtype was undetermined.
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was above the national baseline. All 10 regions reported ILI above region-specific baseline levels.
  • Forty-eight states reported geographically widespread influenza activity, two states reported regional influenza activity, the District of Columbia reported local influenza activity; Puerto Rico and Guam reported sporadic influenza activity, and the U.S. Virgin Islands did not report.

The vaccine for the 2009-2010 seasonal influenza contains:

  • an A/Brisbane/59/2007 (H1N1)-like virus
  • an A/Brisbane/10/2007 (H3N2)-like virus
  • a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus

U.S. Virologic Surveillance:

WHO and NREVSS collaborating laboratories located in all 50 states and Washington D.C., report to CDC the number of respiratory specimens tested for influenza and the number positive by influenza type and subtype. The results of tests performed during the current week are summarized in the table below.

Week 43

No. of specimens tested


No. of positive specimens (%)

5,258 (37.2%)

Positive specimens by type/subtype

Influenza A

5,244 (99.7%)

A (2009 H1N1)

3,889 (74.2%)

A (subtyping not performed)

1,310 (25.0%)

A (unable to subtype)

41 (0.8%)

A (H3)

2 (0.0%)

A (H1)

2 (0.0%)

Influenza B

14 (0.3%)

During week 43, seasonal influenza A (H1), A (H3), and B viruses co-circulated at low levels with 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses. Over 99% of all subtyped influenza A viruses reported to CDC this week were 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses.

View WHO-NREVSS Regional Bar Charts| View Chart Data | View Full Screen

I don’t think the CDC should include the Influenza A (subtype not preformed) with the H1N1 confirmed cases (view full screen). It makes the numbers inaccurate. Week 43 deaths are roughly 100.

Pneumonia and Influenza Hospitalization and Death Tracking:

This new system was implemented on August 30, 2009, and replaces the weekly report of laboratory confirmed 2009 H1N1-related hospitalizations and deaths that began in April 2009. Jurisdictions can now report to CDC either laboratory confirmed or pneumonia and influenza syndromic-based counts of hospitalizations and deaths resulting from all types or subtypes of influenza, not just those from 2009 H1N1 influenza virus. To allow jurisdictions to implement the new case definition, counts were reset to zero on August 30, 2009. From August 30 – October 10, 2009, 4,958 laboratory-confirmed influenza associated hospitalizations, 292 laboratory-confirmed influenza associated deaths, 15,696 pneumonia and influenza syndrome-based hospitalizations, and 2,029 pneumonia and influenza syndrome-based deaths, were reported to CDC. CDC will continue to use its traditional surveillance systems to track the progress of the 2009-10 influenza season.

*I’m very concerned that changing the tracking system and all the cases not tested will lead to faulty numbers. CBS already reported the CDC’s numbers were off. This will probably make it worse.

Canada’s H1N1 numbers can be found at FluWatch.

WHO: Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 - update 73

Weekly update

As of 1 November 2009, worldwide more than 199 countries and overseas territories/communities have reported laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009, including over 6000 deaths.

Basic Statistics:

* U S population over 304,059,724 (July 2008)

* World Population
6,706,993,152 (estimated July 2008)

*US Census Bureau: The total number of children under age 5 was 21 million in 2008, or 6.9 percent of the total population, compared with 19.2 million and 6.8 percent in 2000.

*Consider pediatric deaths from H1N1 in the US out of a population of 21,000,000.

*Over 6,000 reported deaths worldwide out a population of over 6,700,000,000.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Where Men Win Glory

I just read Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer. Krakauer tells the story of Pat Tillman who gave up a lucrative career as a football player in the NFL to join the army. Krakauer examines who Pat Tillman was, what he cared about and how he thought. Tillman filled notebook with his thoughts. He destroyed my stereotype of a football player. He was thoughtful and patriotic, though by no means perfect.

Pat Tillman and his family were betrayed by the US government, the army and by Tillman’s superiors who conspired together to cover-up the reality that Tillman’s death was due to friendly fire. Pat Tillman had not allowed the Bush Administration to use his service to promote the war when he was alive. Once he was dead, they did under the direction of Jim Wilkinson. Wilkinson had also created the myth of Jessica Lynch.

Only because his family, particularly his mother, was determined to find out the truth did it emerge. Tillman was needlessly killed by members of his own platoon as they engaged themselves after superiors in the army ordered them to split into two groups. The greatest betrayal was of his brother Kevin. His sergeant had been ordered to not tell Kevin the truth about who had killed Pat. So, Kevin continued to serve, eat and live with the soldiers who had shot his brother. He had another year on his army contract. Many soldiers knew the truth and were angry they were ordered to lie. When Kevin was finally told the truth he felt betrayed. “He’d just spent the morning working alongside the soldiers responsible for his brother’s death, and they had all acted like everything was fine.” (p. 306)

The actions of the army and Bush administration were disgraceful! This book is well crafted, interesting and compelling. It is well worth the time it takes to read.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Unfortunately, the “Pro-Vaccine” Movement Regards Shrillness as More Effective than a Rational and Civil Discussion.

Anti-vaccine, anti-vaxx, anti-science, anti-vaxx denialism, fear mongering, unreasonable, irrational, panicked, crusaders who tell long debunked lies, they kill children. You don’t have to search long on the internet or in the newspaper to find these labels among other unprintable ones.

At this point, I’m surprised that they still call us “anti-vaccine.” We seem only one small step away from the label – “pro-baby killers.”

People on both sides of this debate are guilty of calling people on the other side names, but only one side seems surprised by it. My question to the “pro-science” side is really? After you throw mud at someone you are surprised and complain that a “panicked parent” picked it up and threw it back?

I understand that name calling can be effective and secretly satisfying, if admittedly childish. So, if you do it – own it! Many “anti-anti-vaccine” proponents like to wrap themselves in the false security of the label “science and rationality” while flinging insults. But is an argument ever that simple? Do you win over anyone by calling them stupid?

I was surprised to find myself in the periphery of the recent Amy Wallace fray. I’d commented on Dr. Parikh’s article, The Ugliness of the Anti-Vaccine Movement. The next thing I knew I was listed as an anti-vaccine writer on the I Speak of Dreams blog. I decided to take a look at other bloggers’ writing.

What I found on the “pro-science” blogs didn’t surprise me.

Isis the Scientist’s wisdom includes calling J.B. Handley a “Colossal cockweaseldouchemonkey, genuine asshat, and founder of the ultimate denialist's association,” and accuses him of illegal and immoral acts [sic]. (Warning: her post is disturbing, nasty and inappropriate for viewing at work!)

Pal MD says, in his post The anti-vaccination movement is morally bankrupt, that “Fear and intimidation is the enemy of science. But the anti-vax crowd doesn't care about dialog; since they have no science to support their delusions, all they are left with vitriolic spittle. The anti-vaxxers are fundamentally immoral. They, like many fundamentalists, want us all to suffer for their faith, and heretics and apostates must burn.”

The Tethered Swimming blog article titled How To Kill Children Legally (Even Your Own) claims “not vaccinating your kids is like patrolling your neighborhood for panel vans while Cousin Steve, the thrice convicted child molester, stays home to babysit. Except it’s actually worse than that because every child that isn’t vaccinated raises the risk that other kids will become sick. So Cousin Steve isn’t just watching your kid, the whole play group is under his tender care.”

So, if I understand the arguments of some of the “pro-science” proponents: it’s really bad to call people names, I’m an immoral fundamentalist who is delusional and has a spitting problem, and I’m the equivalent of a procurer of victims for child molesters.

The pedestal upon which the “pro-science” movement is standing doesn’t seem very elevated, does it? But it’s very loud. It’s full of uninformed and ill-informed people who think vaccines are all that’s standing between us and death. They accept the government’s propaganda without critical thought or research. I understand this person all too well because I used to be one of them. I drank the Kool-Aid.

The “pro-vaccine” proponents are engaged in a purposeful and selective distortion of the “anti-vaccine” proponents’ argument.

Common tactics examined:

Label someone into irrelevance: Words have power. Labels matter. Witness the differences between the labels: pro-life, pro-choice and anti-choice extremists. This tactic also has the benefit of sometimes sidetracking the whole discussion to a label.

One of the anti-anti-vaxxers’ most effective arguments is that if someone questions the safety or necessity of any vaccine they are anti-vaccine. Many of us believe that vaccines are among the environmental triggers of autism. We question the safety of additives and preservatives in vaccines and propose spreading out the vaccine schedule. We believe some children are genetically predisposed to developing autism and we want the link between autism and vaccines studied. Somehow what they hear seems to be “vaccines are evil.” I don’t understand why the “pro-science” movement seems willing to believe half of what we say (when we question the safety) yet unwilling to believe the other half (we want them studied, so we can safely give them to our children). Anyone who claims vaccines triggered autism in their child obviously saw enough value in vaccines to vaccinate in the first place!

Another effective argument from the “zealots of one size fits all medicine” is: the anti-vaxx movement is anti-science.” They claim that science has closed the door on any link between vaccines and autism. “Asked and answered!” They say, sandwiched between sentences calling us stupid and immoral. But science doesn’t actually work like that. Just ask any pure scientist. (They wax on poetically while you regret asking them anything.) The history of science is littered with accepted “facts” that actually were later proven false by other scientists. Our knowledge of the physical world builds upon itself. As more information is gathered and tested, established “facts” are discarded and new facts emerge.

Dr. Bernadine Healy the former head of the National Institutes of Health has publicly stated that she found credible published, peer-reviewed scientific studies that support the idea of an association between vaccines and autism. And she said in a interview with CBS that a memo went around the NIH in 2004 saying, “Do not pursue susceptibility groups. Don’t look for those patients, those children, who may be vulnerable.” If our public health organizations are actively avoiding doing this research, it is not our side that is anti-science!

The “anti-safe vaccine” movement seems to believe that since vaccines are good and save lives, it is inexcusable to say anything bad about them. This leads to convoluted arguments such as a mercury containing compound can be safely injected in babies. How do I even respond to that? If someone claims mercury isn’t harmful they’ve chosen irrational, selective ignorance over science.

Autism is 100% genetic. Then why are the numbers increasing and why don’t both of all identical twins have it? The hidden horde doesn’t exist. “Desperate mothers” do believe that autism has a strong genetic component – that’s why many of us don’t have more children. But it is not possible to have a genetic epidemic – period.

We’re the experts! The “anti-vaxx” movement is full of hysterical parents who don’t know anything. This is colloquially known as “shut up and sit down.” This approach is used when “anti-safe vaccine” proponents claim that we don’t understand: herd immunity, correlation does not imply causation, diseases kill people, and so on. The experts also told us that refrigerator mothers caused their children to develop autism and that the only cure for autism was psychotherapy. Then they told us that autism was lifelong and to institutionalize our children. It was a parent that debunked that idea. All good science is based on observation. Parents, untrained as they are, spend countless hours observing their children from necessity. To dismiss this observational data set is arrogant and anti-science.

The medical profession castigates us for trying alternative medicine. Using that as proof that we are ignorant of science and irrational dupes who unknowingly harm our children. Well, conventional medicine has failed our children. They seem to only offer our children drugs. Then more drugs to combat the side effects caused by the first drug. They say that we’re desperate, willing to try anything regardless of harm. There is no doubt that many of us are willing to try wild sounding treatments. I learned to be more open-minded after putting my son on the gluten and casein free diet. The behavior improvement caused by a dietary change shut me up and opened my mind to other alternative treatments. A gluten and casein free diet is far less risky than powerful anti-psychotic drugs!

The “weak must perish to protect the herd” movement likes to play with statistics. At first they claimed that the number of children diagnosed with autism wasn’t increasing, it was due to a change in diagnostic criteria or to misdiagnosis. They admit a few people are injured by vaccines, but won’t release VAERS data for independent replication of the analysis. Figures don't lie, but liars figure. - Samuel Clemens

“Jab them all Darwinian warriors" state that side-effects are unfortunate and wholly unpredictable. Medical professionals know that some people shouldn’t be vaccinated including those with: immune deficiencies, seizure disorders, neurological problems, certain food allergies and drug sensitivities. We argue that our children have genetic predispositions to developing autism and that vaccines are one environmental trigger. Thus it is predictable that vaccines trigger autism in a susceptible population.

The “anti-parental choice” movement links the “anti-vaccine movement” to pseudo-sciences such as “reincarnation, channeling, and extraterrestrials.” Brilliant redirection! Thus mentioning that vaccines have side effects becomes equated with alien abduction.

And my favorite “Darwinian Fundamentalist” argument: Jenny McCarthy posed for playboy! Alright, I concede! She did. The “pro-vaxx” movement felt compelled to get their modesty impaired “spokesmodel” to compete -- Amanda Peet. Who looks better naked has no bearing on the issue!

“Champions of the herd,” when you’ve run out of arguments you can always ask the children who’ve been injured by vaccines to speak up for themselves.

Note: The labels are used to make a satirical point, not to widen the divide or offend anyone.

Lifeasthemotherof4 unknowingly embarked on a new career as an “anti-vaccine writer.” In my spare time I search for UFOs and spit on science. I can be sarcastic but usually try to be respectful of others. I'm calling for a civil and label-free discussion.

Monday, November 9, 2009


When I look up numbers in my cell phone I skip past my grandma’s phone number. I even thought about calling it the other day. But I doubt that anyone would answer and what would I say if they did? After all I don’t want to talk to them. I like having her number in my phone more than I would like deleting it. So, for now it stays.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I want a driver!

My friend’s son slept over last night so I planned to drop off and pick up Lizzy and him from school. But Friday morning, Bri reminded me I needed to drop her off early for Jazz band. I asked my husband to get Will on the bus while I took Bri. No problem.

When I returned home the kids still had a couple minutes to play before we needed to leave. Then I asked her friend to put on his shoes. We couldn’t find them. I looked some more. Still couldn’t find them -- but Will’s shoes were right by the front door. I went upstairs and asked my husband, “What shoes did you put on Will this morning?”

“His shoes,” was the response, “the ones with Velcro.”

Will doesn’t have shoes with Velcro.

It took Lizzy’s friend a couple of minutes to understand that no, his shoes were actually missing and that yes, he needed to wear Lizzy’s. I know he was thinking, “This never happened at Auntie Susie’s house!”

Sweetie, I’m sure it didn’t.

I called Will’s school on the way to school. “How are his feet?” I asked.

“He keeps taking off his shoes,” was the answer. I wasn’t surprised. They were at least two sizes too small. I’m actually impressed that my husband managed to get them on Will’s feet! I dropped off Will’s shoes after dropping off the kids. But I stressed that those shoes needed to come home in Will’s backpack because they didn’t belong to us.

I went back to Lizzy’s school to be the mystery reader for library. Then I took Lizzy and her friend back home. I checked Will’s backpack immediately. The shoes weren’t there. I called the school and told them I’d be right over to pick them up. I picked up the shoes then Will and I drove to Jake’s school to pick him up from play practice.

I went to all four kids' schools today -- William’s twice; even though they all have buses. But what could I say to Tiffanie? "Really, you want his shoes?"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

N1H1 Statistics Update Week 42 US and Worldwide

2009-2010 Influenza Season Week 42 ending October 24, 2009


During week 42 (October 18-24, 2009), influenza activity increased in the U.S.

  • 8,268 (42.1%) specimens tested by U.S. World Health Organization (WHO) and National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) collaborating laboratories and reported to CDC/Influenza Division were positive for influenza.
  • All subtyped influenza A viruses being reported to CDC were 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses.
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the epidemic threshold.
  • Twenty-two influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported. Nineteen of these deaths were associated with 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus infection and three were associated with an influenza A virus for which the subtype was undetermined.
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was above the national baseline. All 10 regions reported ILI above region-specific baseline levels.
  • Forty-eight states reported geographically widespread influenza activity, Guam and two states reported regional influenza activity, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico reported local influenza activity, and the U.S. Virgin Islands did not report.

World Health Organization Situation updates - Pandemic (H1N1) 2009

WHO Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 - update 72

“As of 25 October 2009, worldwide there have been more than 440,000 laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009 and over 5700 deaths reported to WHO.

As many countries have stopped counting individual cases, particularly of milder illness, the case count is likely to be significantly lower than the actual number of cases that have occurred.”

Because the southern hemisphere has its’ winter in July and August their flu season is winding up. Check out the map.

Here is a map of confirmed deaths

You can find the cumulative total for regions at the bottom of Update 72

Overview of the current Pandemic H1N1 2009 situation

This pandemic is currently referred to as of “moderate” severity, with the overwhelming majority of patients recovering, even without medical treatment, within a week of the onset of symptoms. However, the virus has also caused severe illness and deaths.

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