Autismum

By day: mum of an autistic tot. By night: mum of an autistic tot.

Born This Way

First and foremost, let me wish you all a very happy Autism Awareness day.

Many people, without autism close to their everyday lives, seem to have only a very basic understanding of what autism is and how it affects the lives of those with the condition and their family, friends and even employer. I think the fact that very many autistic individuals can and do work,  do pay taxes and make a positive contribution to society may be news to a few people. This day isn’t just about awareness but acceptance.

The latest figures released in the USA suggest that the prevalence of autism to be 1 in 88. Some groups have latched on to the data to, as Orac perfectly states it, “resurrect the zombie of the autism epidemic.” I object to the portrayal of my son’s nature as a disease and am offended deeply that there are some who will use his condition to scare parents into cheating their own children out of vaccines that can prevent disabling and potentially fatal  disease not just in one child but in a community.

Various groups have taken hold of this story to imply that there is no way that 1 in 88 children could possibly be born with autism. There’s no such thing as a genetic epidemic, they claim. Well, actually as one poster at Respectful Insolence elegantly points out:

“Genes do not change that quickly”??? This person seems to be unaware of the concept of recessive genes, which is the same fallacy underlying the usual “no genetic epidemic” line. I find it ironic that, in the process, anti-vaxxers miss a rather disturbing implication of Mendelian genetics: Even a FATAL recessive trait could survive and even spread in the gene pool indefinitely, until and unless large numbers of carriers start having offspring with each other. Then a “genetic epidemic” is exactly what happens.

Ok, so there can, in a sense, be genetic epidemics but is this really what we’re seeing with autism? It’s doubtful to say the least. Prevalence is highest in countries with greatest awareness and, taking the United States in isolation, a study carried out by the CDC noted that autism prevalence to be at its highest  in states with the best autism health and support services, such as Arizona and Missouri (121 in 10,000) and lowest in states with fewer services  such as Alabama (60 in 10,000) and Florida (42 in 10,000).

“Autism Mothers” have started a “not born with autism” thing. Not sure it ranks as a campaign as yet. There are pics of happy, smiling babies from the days before autism stole their souls. Oh please! Autism is not an event. Autism is a human difference that, perhaps, 1 in 88 people in the USA exhibit. In response, I, with the expert back up of autism self advocate Zoey Roberts, have launched a new facebook group: Born This Way Autism.

Autism is not an injury. Autism is part of the intrinsic make up of a proportion of human beings on this planet. This group believes that people with autism are born that way.

Within a couple of hours we were up to nearly 500 members. Please join us even if it’s only to look at the happy, smiling faces of autists from all over the world. People who, just like my adorable Pwdin, were born that way.

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13 comments on “Born This Way

  1. Pingback: Presidential Proclamation — World Autism Awareness Day, 2012 | The White House « macmamachronicles

  2. LOIS
    3 April, 2012

    I THINKS ITS SOO SAD I CANT BELEVIE

  3. macmamava
    3 April, 2012

    Thank you for sharing!

  4. Pingback: World Autism Day and Just Plain Awe-tism Day « rAZmatAZ

  5. Lovemysontoo
    12 May, 2012

    happy you accept your son but with all due respect there is no way 1 in 88 children or 1 in 54 boys were “born this way” my son included

    • Autismum
      12 May, 2012

      Why “no way”?

      • Lovemysontoo
        17 May, 2012

        Genetics alone (if you are attributing it to such) does not work that way. You would not see such as steep increase over a relatively short period or clusters of a genetic condition if environmental triggers were not involved. Autism clusters have been reported by UC Davis researchers in CA and in Minneapolis, MN where 1 in 28 US Born Somali children has severe autism. In Utah the autism rate in boys is 1 in 32. In New Jersey the autism rate in boys is reported to be 1 in 29. (see links below

        Environmental factors must be playing a role. I strongly urge you to listen to this webcast where experts from US EPA, NIEHS and UC Davis MIND Institute who testified before a US Senate subcommittee that chemicals in the environment are playing a significiant role in the autism increase. Could we be dealing with a sensitive population? yes but that is not the whole story.

        The link below is to a webcast of that hearing.

        Subcommittee on Children’s Health hearing entitled, “State of Research on Potential Environmental Health Factors with Autism and Related Neurodevelopment Disorders.”
        Tuesday, August 3, 2010
        10:00 AM EDT

        http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_ID=1ab3cf42-802a-23ad-4a3a-686da83bf6d0

        ————————————————————–

        Majority Statements
        Barbara Boxer

        Minority Statements
        James M. Inhofe
        ——————————————————————————–

        Testimony from the following Witnesses:

        Opening Remarks

        Panel 1

        Dr. Paul Anastas
        Assistant Administrator, Office of Research and Development
        United States Environmental Protection Agency

        Dr. Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., A.T.S.
        Director, National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program
        National Institutes of Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services

        Panel 2

        Issac N. Pessah Ph.D.
        Professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Director, UC Davis Children’s Center for Environmental Health and Disease Prevention
        University of California, Davis, Department of Molecular Biosciences

        Bruce P. Lanphear MD, MPH
        Senior Scientist, Child & Family Research Institute, Professor, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC, Adjunct Professor, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

        Mary Moen
        Parent

        More links:

        “Utah’s Alarming Autism Rate” -Salt Lake Tribune, April 7, 2012

        http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/opinion/53862628-82/autism-utah-autistic-environmental.html.csp

        Autism Clusters in CA:

        “UC Davis researchers find California autism clusters, but the cause is a bit of a surprise”- LA Times report

        http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2010/01/uc-davis-researchers-find-california-autism-clusters-but-the-cause-is-a-bit-of-a-surprise.html

        Why Is Autism Rate So High For Somalis In Minn?

        Autism in New Jersey: 1 in 49 childrena and 1 in 29 boys

        http://www.autismnj.org/Aboutthenewsroom.aspx

      • Nathan
        19 May, 2012

        Lovemysontoo:

        “Genetics alone (if you are attributing it to such) does not work that way. You would not see such as steep increase over a relatively short period or clusters of a genetic condition if environmental triggers were not involved.”

        You would, if the the vast majority of the increase was from an overhaul in diagnostic criteria coupled with initiatives to increase awareness and surveillance. Which seems to be the case, according to numerous studies. Autistic adults appear to exist at rates close to autistic children.

        “Autism clusters have been reported by UC Davis researchers in CA and in Minneapolis, MN where 1 in 28 US Born Somali children has severe autism. In Utah the autism rate in boys is 1 in 32. In New Jersey the autism rate in boys is reported to be 1 in 29.

        Again, this speaks to the influence of surveillance. What environmental factor do you think hits Minnesotan Somalis, Utahns, and New Jerseyans more than anyone else?

        (I’m guessing on the word “Utahns” there.)

        “Environmental factors must be playing a role. I strongly urge you to listen to this webcast where experts from US EPA, NIEHS and UC Davis MIND Institute who testified before a US Senate subcommittee that chemicals in the environment are playing a significiant role in the autism increase.”

        It’s over two hours long. Got a transcript so that we can more easily verify that you are accurately portraying their statements? Or perhaps a time marker?

        Few people deny the *possibility* of an environmental influence, but all the evidence indicates that such an influence, if it exists, is small. And, it is most likely an early in utero influence, as the differences that are seen in the brains of autistic children arise in the first trimester, and known causes of autism (like wild rubella disease) cause it in the first trimester.

        An environmental influence does not negate being “born this way.”

  6. Catherina
    17 May, 2012

    *Environmental factors must be playing a role.*

    Yes – environmental factors like “access to experts who diagnose” for example, like Autismum posted?

    • Alit
      17 May, 2012

      I think you nailed it. Where I live we do not have so many experts, we do not have services to access with a diagnosis. We have no idea what the autism rates here really are. Is it increasing? Who knows.

    • That has certainly been my experience. A couple of years back, we lived in a small school district with limited resources. When my son (who had been diagnosed at 3) was being evaluated for kindergarten, the district decided to declassify him and put him in general ed. That didn’t fly with me, so I home schooled him for a year until we moved to the neighboring district, which has a huge special ed program. He was re-evaluated and given the same diagnosis he previously had, and was placed in a small, self-contained class and given a plethora of services.

      Obviously it’s anecdotal, but it’s almost comical that moving 4 miles down the street could make such a difference; one district considered him a typical student with behavioral problems, while the other classifies him as ASD.

  7. Catherina
    19 May, 2012

    *Obviously it’s anecdotal, but it’s almost comical that moving 4 miles down the street could make such a difference; one district considered him a typical student with behavioral problems, while the other classifies him as ASD.*

    ^^ That! ^^

  8. Autismum
    19 May, 2012

    @lovemysontoo, you make the assumption that I attribute autism to “genetics alone.” Nowhere in this blog or on other forums have I stated that as my belief. Indeed, there is ample evidence that exposure to thalidomide early in gestation, some anti-convulsants medications and rubella results can result in autism/autism-like characteristics (the debate of course rages as to whether or not there is a difference and would be a digression here). However, there is a lack of credible evidence that any post natal “insult” can change a neurotypical child into an autist. So the wonderful people with autism I know and love and the many millions more I do not know were, in fact, born autistic.

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This entry was posted on 2 April, 2012 by in Autism.

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