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Dr. Oz: Looking for parents afraid of autism?

If there’s a single TV show out there that has the widest reach when it abuses science-based medicine, there is no doubt that it’s Oprah Winfrey’s show. If there’s a show that has the second-widest reach when it abuses science-based medicine, arguably it’s Dr. Mehmet Oz’s show. Whether it be his recent show featuring quackmaster supreme, Joseph Mercola, or his upcoming show featuring a faith healer, I fear that Dr. Oz has given up whatever claim he once had to promoting science-based medicine. Yes, it’s true that he has had a soft spot for reiki for a long time, but other than that he’s generally remained mostly science-based; that is, until recently. For instance, last year he admitted that his children had not been vaccinated for H1N1 and showed a bit too much credulity to potential claims of vaccine injury than the actual evidence demonstrate. Then, a mere two weeks ago, he featured Joe Mercola on his show–defended him, even–and his unfounded claims, ignoring Mercola’s long history of support for the rankest quackery. Next week, assuming the schedule hasn’t changed, Dr. Oz will feature Issam Nemeh, a faith healer:

Dr Issam Nemeh is called a Faith Healer, but is he (or anyone for that matter) really a Faith Healer? Is there such a thing? A Faith Healer is said to be a person who helps to cure people of medical issues or other trouble through prayer and faith. Dr Oz’s segment will show two people who Dr Nemeh has “cured,” including one woman who Dr Nemeh cured of Lung Cancer. If you were one of the lucky people to already see this episode of Dr Oz, please leave a comment below to fill us in on what was said and if you believe that Dr Neme is really a Faith Healer or not!

As you probably figured out, this does not sound good at all. I might have to blog it.

It might be getting even worse, though. Bubbling up through the underground, I’ve gotten wind of an e-mail showing up on various anti-vaccine discussion forums, being passed around from parent to parent, from discussion group to discussion group. I’ve had it forwarded to me from at least three different sources now, and I’ve now seen it on at least two anti-vaccine groups, one an autism biomed group and another a more general group. Most recently, I saw it being forwarded by anti-vaccine homeopathy Sherri Nakken. For a show that will be taped on February 8, the producers of The Dr. Oz Show are apparently going to be doing a show about autism:

Hi Amy,

Sorry for the random email, however I work at The Dr. Oz Show, and we are having an Autism Town Hall on Tuesday, February 8th afternoon show, and I was hoping you would help us out by either posting this information for your moms or by sending it out to them via email. Our studio is located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.

We are looking for parents-to-be, parents of children up to 4 years old, that are worried their child may be diagnosed with Autism, to ask questions on air and be a part of our audience. If this is something you think any of your members might be interested in, please have them email us ASAP, no later than Tuesday, February 1st to: [email protected] with:

  • Your first and last name:
  • Daytime telephone number:
  • Age of your child:
  • Your fear of having your child diagnosed as Autistic.

Thank you for your help and consideration.

Have a great day!
Rosanna
The Dr. Oz Show Audience Services Department

When I first saw this, I was suspicious. However, a bit of investigation leads me to believe that it’s probably legit, not the least of which is this link I found at the Dr Oz website:

For the Tuesday, February 8 afternoon show, arrival time is 1:30 p.m.; “The Dr. Oz Show” will be hosting a town-hall discussion for parents of children 0-12 months that are worried their children may be diagnosed with autism, as well as parents of children with autism.

OK, OK, I know. This could just be a show about autism. However, other sources have brought some rather ugly rumors my way that lead me to think that, at best, this will be a “tell both sides” episode about vaccines. Let’s just say that, if the rumors are true, at least one Age of Autism blogger will be on the show. I’m sure we’ll see in the next few days if that’s true, because you know that AoA will pepper us with gloating blog entries about it just as soon as the producers of the Dr. Oz Show say it’s OK–perhaps even sooner. Apparently there will be one segment with parents and another segment with doctors. I haven’t been able to find out yet who the doctors will be.

Could I be wrong about this? Of course. Perhaps it will be a perfectly science-based show that seeks to assuage parents’ fears that vaccines cause autism. I certainly hope so. However, recall what Dr. Oz said a year ago during the H1N1 scare when asked, “What do you think about this controversy that`s going around about vaccinations and autism and other little things that happens to kids?” Dr. Oz replied:

I think kids like the canary and the coal mine. That they are more susceptible to some of the toxins maybe our generation was able to overcome. That`s why we have a lot more allergies now. Perhaps one of the reason why we have more autism. But I don`t think it`s just the vaccine.

Later in that same interview, Dr. Oz said:

We got exposed to ten vaccines when we were kids. Children today are now getting closer to 30. So there`s a big difference between the exposure amounts and, plus, we have a much purer environment that we grew up in and compared to what kids are exposed to today.

Color me not particularly optimistic that Dr. Oz will be forceful in pointing out that the scientific evidence does not support the idea that vaccines cause autism. True, Dr. Oz even said that we have no evidence that vaccines cause autism. However, his equivocating does not inspire confidence that he will take a roundly science-based approach in doing this show. Most likely, at the very best, he’ll have the AoA guest argue the point with real scientists. I wouldn’t even put it past him to have Jenny McCarthy on the show.

In the meantime, if there are any parents who favor science-based medicine and do not accept the fear mongering about vaccines that the anti-vaccine movement is so good at, maybe they could take this opportunity to contact Rosanna and tell her their story. In particular, I’d be interested in hearing what sort of response, if any, you get. It might even be rather interesting to see what sort of response Dr. Oz’s producers would have if neurodiversity advocates were to contact them. Somehow, though, I don’t get the feeling that that’s what they want to hear.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

162 replies on “Dr. Oz: Looking for parents afraid of autism?”

I can’t believe, in light of all of the debunking of the “vaccine-autism myth” that Dr. Oz would have the temerity to run something like this – god forbid he even invite Wakefield on his show.

Of course, it could just be about Autism & diagnosing the early signs (the earlier the diagnosis, the better the overall outcomes can be), but that’s not what will grab ratings.

I was recently at my doctor’s and because the Wakefield stuff was so recent, was asking her whether or not it had had any effect on what patients were saying with regard to vaccinations. She said that, for the most part, her patients followed her recommendations, and she had never had anyone really argue with her about vaccines.

Good, so far.

Then she volunteered that she thought kids *were* getting too many vaccines too soon these days, and said that if her (now grown) children (who, to be fair, got all their recommended vaccines when they were small) were young now, she would not give them the full arsenal. She must have noticed my look, because she started justifying particular vaccines, noting that her children were not terribly likely to be exposed to X, Y, or Z under most circumstances. Fortunately, she was knowledgeable enough to understand my two word counter-argument: Herd immunity. As a physician and a mom, she *does* care about other people than just her own children; she just had to be reminded.

It bothers me, though, that the public discussion has moved to the place where my doctor was so quick to dismiss the research, and fall back on the scare claims.

Then she volunteered that she thought kids *were* getting too many vaccines too soon these days, and said that if her (now grown) children (who, to be fair, got all their recommended vaccines when they were small) were young now, she would not give them the full arsenal. She must have noticed my look, because she started justifying particular vaccines, noting that her children were not terribly likely to be exposed to X, Y, or Z under most circumstances. Fortunately, she was knowledgeable enough to understand my two word counter-argument: Herd immunity. As a physician and a mom, she *does* care about other people than just her own children; she just had to be reminded.

It bothers me, though, that the public discussion has moved to the place where my doctor was so quick to dismiss the research, and fall back on the scare claims.

There are plenty of other reasons why you should vaccinate your kids that actually run counter to this argument. Someone should be able to back me up on this but doesn’t the science point that stuff like allergies are possibly a result of not being exposed to enough virus and bacteria at an early age.

noting that her children were not terribly likely to be exposed to X, Y, or Z under most circumstances.

noting that her children were not terribly likely to be exposed to X, Y, or Z under most circumstances.

Ooo god. I know exactly what she was refering to and she is an ignorant idiot in that regard. Every time I have heard that argument its in reference to Hep B. Hep B is a nasty thing to get as a child to the point where you kids life will be signficantly shortened if they get it. Also, not every single case of Hep B is associated with the risk factors.

@Adam_Y

Yeah, just because it’s called a sexually transmitted infection doesn’t mean it *only* transmits through having sex.

Wakefield thing is over. Was like 10 min or so, I think.

It was pretty light. Sounded like a standard big pharma are out ta get me/martyrdom spiel. They just had him on because they’d had Mnookin (Panic Virus) on a while earlier, and various Wakefield defenders had written in to protest their hero’s depiction therein.

Wakefield just has diaheara of the mouth – he doesn’t know when to shut up.

As far as too many, too fast – the combined vaccines that are given now as part of the normal schedule contain less antigens than the older schedule with fewer vaccines. The manufacturing process has also improved over time – so our vaccines today are definitely safer than the ones that were made twenty – thirty or even forty years ago, just from basic improvements in the technology used in the process.

In today’s world, where international travel is more than commonplace & vaccination levels/disease vectors vary wildly from place to place, plus the mass migration of individuals (either refugees or just immigarants) means that the opportunity for exposure is actually greater today than it was in the past – you could have a new family move into your neighborhood tomorrow or run into them at the doctor’s office, where they might just have come from an area of the world where they don’t receive the routine vaccinations.

Quite a number of recent outbreaks, including the large measles outbreak in CA resulted from a family that travelled to Switzerland & had their 7 year old (unvaccinated) exposed and brought the disease back home. Of course, they took their kid to the doctor’s office, where many other children, some too young for the MMR, were exposed as well.

This is all common sense, people. One by one, the anti-vaccine tent posts have been knocked down, but the hard core believers won’t even begin to re-evaluate their stances, even with all the evidence in the world staring them in the face.

If you were one of the lucky people to already see this episode of Dr Oz, please leave a comment below to fill us in on what was said and if you believe that Dr Neme is really a Faith Healer or not!

Pet peeve here. I’m tired of shows talking about a subject that requires a certain level of knowledge (in science, for e.g.), and then asking for listeners to contact them with their [useless] opinion.

Right. I really need to hear the beliefs on a science topic from someone who has never even opened a science magazine in their life. Sure, someone with knowledge might leave a comment, but mostly it is noise made up of the Dunning-Kruger afflicted.

This week our news program asked people to comment on a court case they would know absolutely nothing about due to a media blackout. Who the f*** cares! Stop asking people to write in about something they can’t possibly know. Stop with the man in the street interviews on topics requiring specific knowledge.

If they want comments, ask how x has affected them personally, not how do you fix x.

Related pet peeve are the dumb questions asked–what do you think of the recession/triple murder/disaster?

[/pet peeve, frothing at mouth]
siighhhh.
-dan

I get really annoyed when people who should know better say things like “oh, kids are exposed to so many more toxins today”

Really? I’m 41. I’m old enough to remember leaded gas, acid rain, high VOC paint, diazanon sprayed on the roses by my mom, public smoking EVERYWHERE, etc., etc..

I’m not denying that there are “toxins” out there now that weren’t even dreamed of when I was a babe, but still…our air and water and soil are cleaner now than they were 40 years ago…when did we live in the toxin-free utopia Dr Oz is thinking of??

Sorry for the rant, but I had just been reading through my online edition of Nature. One of the most prestigious science journals in the world allows comments from any primate that can operate a keyboard, and judging by the comments, they do–pretty sure the Bonobos at the Heartland Institute have a Pavlovian reaction any time an email alert feeds them key-phrases from a headline, allowing them to regurgitate nonsense without even reading the article.

Ugh. Dr. Oz is so popular. When he says something loony I have a heck of a time convincing family it’s not true. Some relatives look at me like I’m a Dalek or something when I criticise stuff he says. This will be bad.

As more details about Mr. Wakefield’s “project” spill out into the mainstream media, anti-vax views have become less attractive ( e.g. CNN’s various offerings featuring Jenny & Co.) so Oz is merely taking up the slack and the *ratings*( he hopes). The lower woo-esphere is abuzz with tales about Andy being unfairly treated, how Brian Deer is a representative of the nefarious “Medical Industrial Complex”( or is it *Pharmaceutical*I.A.?), and how “most science is corrupt” anyway.( So there!)Oz must get mail and sees a potential audience to cultivate.

Prepare for push-back from the woo-entranced crowd who blame the messengers who delivered the news rather than their beloved Andy, whose value as a figurehead may extend *beyond* the anti-vax movement to other alt-med proponents. In the last six months or so, I have witnessed our esteemed host’s nym/name, blogs/ blogging venues, and specific titles of his posts mentioned in several puddles of woo: AoA, NaturalNews, and the Gary Null Show. I wouldn’t be shocked if the above companies’ reps infiltrate comments( perhaps looking for material for a suit**). Or so my spies tell me.

** “Come see, come sue”- a favorite old movie line.

“I get really annoyed when people who should know better say things like “oh, kids are exposed to so many more toxins today”

Really? I’m 41. I’m old enough to remember leaded gas, acid rain, high VOC paint, diazanon sprayed on the roses by my mom, public smoking EVERYWHERE, etc., etc..”

And for those who believe that we lived in a golden toxin-free age in the early 20th century or previously, consider such healthful things as arsenic compounds used as pesticides, unrestrained industrial pollution of air and water, radium watch dials and parents relying on hazardous patent medicines in the days before the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Or just read “The Jungle” to get an idea what goodies were winding up in the food people ate.

Of course, lots of children were dying of diphtheria, measles and other infectious diseases in those days, but at least they remained unsullied by The Toxins in vaccines.

AJ Milne:

Wakefield just denied, in response to Tremonti’s (interviewer) question on the subject, that he was developing an alternate vaccine.

Well, he wasn’t developing a vaccine. He was developing an immune therapy to treat and prevent measles.

*rolls eyes*

Wakefield was profiting directly off of lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers, and had prepared a prospectus pertaining to his “transfer factor” that would profit off of both people wanting to avoid measles and people who have actually caught the measles; he wanted the measles rate to go UP, in other words, so that he could profit off of it. The vaccine was clearly an impediment to that.

Why are you so surprised that Dr. Oz decided to not vaccinate his kids for H1N1? Evidence-based medicine shows flu shots to be not very effective (though I believe adults were looked at) and the increase in seizures noted in Australian children is worrying.
You honestly would probably be better off spending your time advocating for better vaccine safety research ( including support for a primate study) rather than drumming up people to contact all these shows to dissuade them to air their views. It kind of reminds me of the little boy plugging his finger in the dam. You can do better than that.

Jen – when has anyone here every said that we weren’t in favor of continued research into vaccine safety? As a matter of course, research is done on a daily basis to improve the manufacturing process and increase the overall safety of the vaccine supply – plus find better and improved vaccines as well.

Vaccine research (or just research in general) never stops – at any one time there are tens of thousands of studies going on, related to every branch of medicine you can think of – antivaxxers seem to think that nothing has changed over the last fifty years, when things have changed quite a bit – including the fact that the total number of antigens in the current vaccine schedule is lower than twenty years ago when we gave fewer vaccines.

People complain the drug approval process takes too long – and then complain again when things are rushed & there ends up being a problem. You can’t have it both ways.

As the mother of a child with chronic Hep B, the anti-Hep b vaccine attitudes make me crazy. I know I don’t have to disclose my child’s health status to anyone, but knowing SO many parents who choose not to give their children this vaccine (and are discouraged from doing so by their doctors, or at least not actively encouraged) makes preschool and daycare and playdates very stressful. My family should not have to worry about this on top of worrying about my child’s own health.

Jen:

Why are you so surprised that Dr. Oz decided to not vaccinate his kids for H1N1? Evidence-based medicine shows flu shots to be not very effective (though I believe adults were looked at) and the increase in seizures noted in Australian children is worrying.

Context is important. Flu shots in general are not as effective as one would like largely because it’s a bit of a crapshoot as to whether or not the immunity achieved will actually be useful. Studies of whether or not they produce the desired immune response have shown them to be very effective — over 90%. The problem is that influenza mutates very rapidly, so the strain that you vaccinate against may be extinct before the next flu season, rendering the immunity effective but pointless. Over all, statistically it’s something like 60% effective. On bad years, it’s bupkis. On good years, it’s over 80%.

Last season was an exceptionally good one, at least for one flu vaccine: the H1N1 vaccine. The trivalent seasonal flu vaccine in 2009 turned out to be almost worthless; there were some cases of influenzas that it protected against, but very very few. The overwhelmingly most common strain in the 2009/2010 season was 2009 H1N1. And by a stroke of luck, that new strain was discovered in just barely enough time to cook up vaccines against it. The 2009 H1N1 vaccines were consequently among the most effective flu vaccines ever.

For a physician to express concerns specifically about that flu vaccine and not others is for that physician to demonstrate that he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about. That’s what concerns me about Dr Oz’s claim.

Does anyone else think it’s a little odd that the invitation to parents is to “tell us about your FEARS that your child MIGHT be diagnosed with autism”. I’m thinking this isn’t about autism (as diagnosed by medical professionals) at all. Jenny McCarthy’s kid may not have ever had autism, and look where she’s got with her books and treatments and mommy warrior crap.

It seems they are trying to move away from Wakefield and move to a much bigger venue.

“We got exposed to ten vaccines when we were kids. Children today are now getting closer to 30. So there`s a big difference between the exposure amounts and, plus, we have a much purer environment that we grew up in and compared to what kids are exposed to today.”

First, I have a problem with Dr. Oz’s statement that kids lived in a much purer environment in the past. Is there any evidence to support this? In the past there were no limits on lead, mercury, or other things that we know are harmful. Also, we were much more likely to grow up in a household with smokers than kids today.

Also, I thought the vaccines we got as kids had a lot more “stuff” (for lack of a better word) that anti-vaccine people worry about. (“Toxins”, metals, antigens, etc.) Just because we get a higher number of vaccines doesn’t necessarily mean we are exposed to more potentially harmful substances.

@Pascale

Agreed. It would seem they’re trying to stack the audience/guests with people who are, if not outright anti-vaxers, sympathetic to anti-vax misinformation.

Does anyone else think it’s a little odd that the invitation to parents is to “tell us about your FEARS that your child MIGHT be diagnosed with autism”. I’m thinking this isn’t about autism (as diagnosed by medical professionals) at all.

I think this is asinine. Oz’s website says they are looking for parents of children from 0-12 months, it’s putting the cart before the horse. It’s fear-mongering, I don’t see how there could be information of value in talking to parents who are worried that their child might be diagnosed.

It is another case of putting a parent’s intuition above evidence. If they are so worried they should be seeking a developmental expert, not going on tv. Worrying about it does no good and giving a stage to that worry only makes more parents fearful.

Plus, I hate how the media makes it sound as if having an autistic child is just the worst fate a parent could possibly face.

@ VT Mom. I grieve for you and all parents of children with chronic diseases and I thank you for your pro-vaccine advocacy on behalf children.

In addition to sites that I and other posters on this site recommend for vaccine-preventable diseases information… I wonder if you are aware of the “PKIDS” (Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases) site? The site’s pages devoted to children chronically infected with Hepatitis B is the portal to all facets of the disease, including parent support blogs, legal issues and development of anti-viral treatments.

Plus, I hate how the media makes it sound as if having an autistic child is just the worst fate a parent could possibly face.

It’s been mentioned before, but the way the anti-vax movement dehumanizes children with autism and ASDs is disgusting.

stuff like allergies are possibly a result of not being exposed to enough virus and bacteria at an early age.

You may be thinking of the helminthic theory, in which our immune systems expect a certain amount of exposure to worms & other parasites and go off the rails if that fails to happen:

The central thrust of the theory is, therefore, that correct development of T regulator cells in individuals may depend on exposure to organisms such as lactobacilli, various mycobacterium, and helminths.

I sent in a note to the effect that I hope this show will be a positive one for concerned parents, educating them about ASDs and communicating the message that the fears of mythical ‘toxins’ in vaccines contributing to autism have no factual basis.

However, since Oz had that idiot Mercola on his show, I’m not optimistic. He’s opened up his mind past the brain-loss tipping point.

Speaking of the CBC, this report was on The National last night. Other than the underlying assumption that chiropractors are ‘health professionals’, it was a pretty decent piece. What, with the CBC also going after homeopathy, they’ve been doing some good work recently

Oz kills me. I find his show to be inflammatory as well as blatantly hawking products that people probably don’t need. My favorite example was the high heel addiction show.
AFRAID of Autism. Fear sells.
Don’t solve people’s problems – that’s too hard. Instead, make them afraid of it and tell them who to blame for it…Works every time. (Autism scary. big pharma…) The formula works rather well here.

http://statgirlskewer.blogspot.com/2010/12/back-from-breakdr-oz-made-me-throw-my.html

@Kristen, #25

Thanks for your astute addition to my comment. At first I thought you were saying my comment was asinine and was alarmed, but a second reading resolved the problem.

And yes, what on earth can be the purpose in seeking such a narrowly defined group of people other than to do a show on people’s FEARS of autism (read, vaccinations)? I think it is clear what they have in mind. They are going to “listen to the mommies”.

@lilady #26 — Yes, I love PKIDS. They do amazing work and have great resources. Thanks for your kind words :).

They need to have a show with autistic ADULTS to show that even if your child is diagnosed they aren’t always going to end up hideously handicapped, and a lot of us managed to grow up as contributing members of society even without quacky therapy. I think that’s behind a lot of this nonsense, equating autism with this supposed terrible future the kid is doomed to.

I would just like to add my voice to the vast numbers of adult autistics and parents of autistic kids who find INEXCUSABLE the antivax movement’s demonization of me and my child and people like us. It’s phrases like this, in the email from the Oz staffer:

“We are looking for parents-to-be, parents of children up to 4 years old, that are worried their child may be diagnosed with Autism”

Look at the pandering, baseless prejudice. It drips with contempt for the Other. They bully and they stigmatize, they HARM us, and they don’t even notice.

Melissa- “demonizing?” “Drips with contempt for the other?” Somebody is being dramatic. What about parents really being worried that autism is being diagnosed more? What about parents hearing of tragic stories of children with autism getting lost and drowning etc.?

Jen, if someone insults something you are, like your race or your brain chemistry or something else that’s an integral part of who you are, over which you have no control, is that “being dramatic” to you?

Wow.

O.k. Now I’m just angry. You say a show about parents worried about autism is “demonizing” autism. Well how about -have you ever worked in a school for severe and complex needs? Schools that have the highest staff teacher ratio possible due to behavioural problems and nurses for the many attendant health concerns. Oh yeah, you just pissed me off- by neglecting all those people who live THIS kind of autism. That’s right, missy. Not the “my kids a little quirky” kind but severe autism. And you want to know what? In this school, sure there are some kids with Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy but there are also lots of kids diagnosed with autism (sever and complex). So save your “demonizing” crap because many kids with autism are struggling for real. Your whole “insults something you are” characterization is your hang up not Dr. Oz’s.

You have no idea of my life experience, Jen.

I have worked for many years with exactly the kids you describe– the severely autistic, those with Down syndrome, and many many other crippling disabilities– and I have loved each and every one of them. Of these children and adults, I have learned their complex individual needs, both physical and emotional. I have learned to pick up their physical communication cues where other educators missed them. You say I neglect them in my thinking? On the contrary, I have worked hard for them since my teen years and I have gotten to know many faces of disability.

You know what? They are all human.

Now I ask you– do you not see that in your very words you are characterizing them as less than human?

You say you’re angry. Well, so am I.

Oh my. Warning ahead about the length of this ramble. We are definitely in the category of “parents-to-be afraid of autism,” as spectrum tendencies are so common in my family that we think of them not as being markers of “a little bit odd” but as being “definitely a blood relation.” I’ve told my fiance about this tendency in my family, a couple months ago, my mom was reaching out to all of the extended-extended family, to determine the frequency in it, after one of my cousins that she is the guardian of was diagnosed with full-fledged autism. That’s when the fiance told me he is officially “la-la-la, gonna-stick-my-fingers-in-my-ears,” on the subject. We’re both terrified of having a truly special needs child, but based on both of our families, if we had a kid that didn’t show some spectrum tendencies, we wouldn’t know how to relate to that, either.

So, um, I would love to volunteer as someone who is afraid of having a kid with her fiance, as much as we both want to breed, together, even, because we have such strong genetic risk, esp. on my side. But, my beloved is so afraid of it that it would upset him too much to even consider it, even if it meant we could go visit our friends and family we’ve been meaning to see in NYC.

Did I mention that my extended family has a history of religious exemption for vaccination, though this obviously goes well back into the family tree far enough that it’s clearly irrelevant, since Great Grand-Uncle Cecil was the way he was long before the polio vaccine was invented. My mom had us all fully vaccinated, but I’m sure it’s only 50/50 in my cousin set, so yeah, unless he’s suddenly on the “genetics plus aging of parents” train, I don’t think Dr. Oz’s crew would be interested. I feel that our fear is rational, even though women in my family routinely have kids well into their 40s that aren’t any more odd than the older siblings. There’s enough full-fledged autism in the under-40 mother cousins to be wary.

I believe the experts that don’t know for certain that it’s genetic, but I swear, anyone who wouldn’t make an outsider wonder if the person in question had undiagnosed Aspergers, my family would be wondering if they were switched at birth. Kinda like how brown eyes are recessive to the green that most of us have, in our family, it’s definitely genetic, as it’s over many generations, multiple states, and even very different countries. We’re honestly terrified of having a full-autism child, to the point that I tend to fret we might be better off adopting, esp. as I have blood-clotting issues that make pregnancy extra dangerous to me. If my specialists weren’t all on board that it’s totally ok for me to get pregnant since my problem is known and the likely cause has been determined, folic acid metabolism gene thing, just have to take some extra and my clotting looks normal, and pre/pregnant women are supposed to take extra folic acid, anyway, right?

So, yeah, we’re afraid of autism. But, nothing makes someone more nervous than the fear of having something go wrong with their pregnancy/kid, other than maybe that of there being the possibility of a pregnancy before it’s desired. But I seriously doubt anyone as prone to the woo-side as Oz’s crew would want us anywhere near a camera, even if it wouldn’t so strongly bother my love.

Jen:

What about parents hearing of tragic stories of children with autism getting lost and drowning etc.?

Most normal people react the same to that situation as they would to any child who gets lost, drowns, is in an auto accident, or succumbs to an illness.

Today I was gardening and my new neighbor stopped to talk to me. As we were talking a helicopter circled around us at a fairly low altitude, and then landed nearby. Her face fell with sadness, just like mine does, when I told her that the helicopter was transporting a gravely ill child to the children’s hospital* less than ten blocks away.

There is often an increase in helicopter flights overhead in the summer due to drownings.

* The blood mobile was there yesterday, and I walked over to donate blood. My route passes by the Ronald McDonald House, a place where immune compromised children and their families stay during long term treatments. I guess their health is not important to you, since the young cancer patients depend on herd immunity. Something you are fighting hard to erode.

Melissa, I stand with what I said. Fear is fear. Demonizing is demonizing.
No Djinna, don’t bother with the show. You more than clearly believe there is a genetic basis in your family. Has anyone bothered to participate in the many genetic studies happening? Why not?

Jen:

Has anyone bothered to participate in the many genetic studies happening? Why not?

Jen, you just made a claim that you need to prove! Show us that families are refusing to participate in genetic studies.

@ Melissa
Dr Oz show…”We are looking for parents-to-be, parents of children up to 4 years old, that are worried their child may be diagnosed with Autism”

Melissa…’Look at the pandering, baseless prejudice. It drips with contempt for the Other. They bully and they stigmatize, they HARM us, and they don’t even notice.’

I dont feel contempt from the statement. I think any new parent is worried about anything their child could be diagnosed with. It doesnt harm me. As a parent I think you worry about every single thing, but that doesnt mean you demonize those things. If I had a choice ahead of time, would I choose a diagnosis that could make my child’s life harder, possibly even have severe health problems. Nobody would choose that, but after it happens you adapt because the love is the same. That part doesnt change, but the whole plan of what you thought your life would be may change. I think most parents never stop worrying. Dont let it feel like a stigma or like harm from someone else. I remember the fears I used to have and now, the diagnosis just adds many more. Take care.

@antro

Thanks for your astute addition to my comment. At first I thought you were saying my comment was asinine and was alarmed, but a second reading resolved the problem.

Thank you for re-reading. It is hard for me to get my point across sometimes. I have difficulty expressing in words what I am thinking.

I just get sick of all the distractions. There is real research being done, and real questions being answered. This kind of crap does nothing to improve awareness or improve education.

Perhaps Dr. Oz could do a show about the deplorable state of special education in this country, or about the difficulty of making sure ones autistic child isn’t institutionalized after they die or the daily struggle to get people to understand and accept our children.

He’s sold his integrity for fame and I lost my respect for him some time ago.

Chris, stay the hell out of it. Save your helicopter, blood mobile and Ronald McDonald House stories, too. Guess what? News flash. You aren’t the only caring human in the world.
I asked Djinna a logical question about seeking genetic testing when she states that she has such a strong genetic risk. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t need you to answer for her.

jen, you are so far out of line. Your lack of empathy for Melissa is difficult to fathom. I say this as a mother of a child who is Autistic.
Secondly the flu killed three children in 2 weeks where I live In Western Australia a few years back. That is why health authorities take it so seriously.

Why isn’t Dr. Oz seeking to talk to adults with autism? (As much as I admire Ari Ne’eman and Temple Grandin, I would exclude them from this group — they aren’t the only adults with autism).

Why isn’t Dr. Oz seeking to talk to parents of children with autism, who do not blame vaccines? (As much as I admire Ken Riebel, Kristina Chew, and Shannon Rosa, I would exclude them from this group as they aren’t the only parents who do not blame vaccines).

Jen, I can tell you that I have and do spend much of my free time working with the most severely autistic children. It is not my career, nor do I receive any kind of compensation aside from helping to aid these neurodiverse children into teens. I have seen some advance far enough to move off of the spectrum. I have not been doing it long enough to see any turn into full-fledged adults yet, but I will say that I share my actual name with one young man who reacts almost violently to any touch, cannot meet his mother’s eyes, and who at the age of 22 has never spoken an actual word.

It is this experience, along with my own exposure to the progress of autism research, that makes me so unspeakably, hand-shakingly enraged at people like you. There is literally nothing redeeming about your anti-vaccine crusade. There are legitimate issues to be raised with certain vaccines, and few here would disagree, but rather than do the difficult work of discovering these weaknesses and pushing to address the reality of the medicine, you continue to attack them baselessly.

Your actions have manifold consequences, none of which are good, starting with the fact you and your ilk are responsible for an increase in brutal diseases and their disfiguring consequences. Children are quite seriously dead because of your misinformed, baseless slander of vaccines. A minimum of seven in California, dead from pertussis. What is ironic is that infection with rubella is actually one thing that has been conclusively shown to be linked to an increase in autism, thus by your activism you are actually aiding the very disease you claim to despise.

Secondly, you are forcing the diversion of millions of dollars of research money that could be going to finding the actual cause of or treatments for autism. The one thing that has been conclusively studied and ruled out as a cause is your raison d’etre. Why?

Thirdly, and perhaps most damning in the long-term, your groups’ rantings about vaccines and autism creates an environment where parents or groups trying to bring attention to legitimate vaccine problems are forced into an uphill battle for credibility, meaning that if there really are problems that require intervention the damage continues for far longer than necessary.

I wish I could believe you have rational, reasonable answers here, but overall I believe I spent the last ten minutes writing into a howling void.

“It might even be rather interesting to see what sort of response Dr. Oz’s producers would have if neurodiversity advocates were to contact them.”

Orac, are you promoting the neurodiversity ideology which says that autism is not a medical disorder that should be cured?

@Harold: Yes, I do believe that Orac is aware that autism is not a medical disorder. It is a condition of DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY (as you have been told many, many times before). It is not a medical disorder, it is most probably a genetics issue.

It cannot be cured. You can’t cure Down’s Syndrome, and it ranges from very mild to severe. You can’t cure Rett’s Syndrome and it, too, ranges from very mild to severe.

Go away, Harold. You don’t understand true neurodiversity.

Left a long comment that the system is waiting for release. Short version: Harold, you’re not intelligent. (I won’t insult the idiots and morons, which had specific medical meaning.)

O.k. Now I’m just angry.

Angry and stupid is no way to go through life.

Link to the CBC program segment of Wakefield’s interview. Good thing I haven’t had breakfast yet, because I’d be tossing it.

If Simon Singh can be charged with libel for calling chiropractic ‘bogus’, there ought to be a lot of actionable statements in Wakefield’s response. Overall, I’d say the interview was OK but not hard hitting.

Brad

Triskelethecat thank you for my daily chuckle.

The Pervasive Development DISORDERS are all listed in the DSM-IV and will soon all be catergorized as Autism Spectrum DISORDER in the DSM-5.

DSM, in case you were unaware, is the short form for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

The autism that ND promotes, and that Orac appears to embrace, with the comment I quoted, is in fact a Mental Disorder.

Sorry to have to break the news to you.

Is it true that there was a time when homosexuality was listed as a mental disorder?

@Harold: I’m so sorry to disappoint you. I’m well aware of the DSM, having used it since back when it was DSM-II changing over to DSM-III. I am also aware, unlike you apparently are, that many things are listed in the DSM that are not true mental disorders.

Perhaps, though, you consider alcoholism, cigarette addiction, ADHD, homosexuality and other things mental disorders? How about bereavement? They are/were all part of the DSM. Many of those things have no cure. They may have treatments but few of them are ever “cured”. (Tell someone who has lost their loved one that you can cure their grief. Time eases it, but it is never “cured”.)

The DSM is not static, and changes as we learn more. If you had a bit more medical knowledge you would understand these things.

@Gray Falcon: yes. IIRC, it wasn’t until the DSM-IIIR came out that homosexuality was removed from the DSM.

Damien, I am not responsible for discovering weaknesses in certain vaccines, and I have every right as a citizen to be outraged that more hasn’t been done to ensure vaccine safety for our children. Baseless, my ass.
Funny, Njinna, who seemed so interested in the genetic explanation for autism never answered my question.

@Gray Falcon: yes. IIRC, it wasn’t until the DSM-IIIR came out that homosexuality was removed from the DSM.

Sorry for the massive postings. They would not go through- and then they did in droves.

@ Gray Falcon : it was listed *and* my gay and lesbian classmates in grad school never let any. single. one. of us EVER forget it!(of course, they were right).

Damien – peace and thanks for your work.

Harold – bitchslapped as usual. Go back under your rock of hatred. I used to feel sorry for you, now you’re just a distraction from adults having a conversation.

Jen – some tylenol will help with your headache.

The autism that ND promotes, and that Orac appears to embrace, with the comment I quoted, is in fact a Mental Disorder.

So what if it is? Does that make the people who have it any less human or any less deserving of the same social support you and I take for granted?

Orac’s point (and the point of neurodiversity) is not that autism is something to be embraced but that it is an essential part of who some people are. Some people have diabetes. Some people have asthma. Some people have porphyria. And some people have autism. These are all lifelong conditions which are not generally curable and which can greatly affect a person’s life. The best that can usually be done is to manage them, preferably without drugs, but with drugs if necessary.

You don’t have to embrace autism, any more than you have to embrace lactose intolerance (which is an odd thing to call a disease, given that the majority of humans have some degree of it — lactose tolerance seems to be the abnormal condition.) What ND proponents want is for you to embrace autistic *people*. There’s a difference.

“Angry and stupid is no way to go through life.”

Angry, ignorant and confused is the altie trifecta.

CanadianChick, that’s a great point you make. Has anyone seen a good blog or any research that actually compares the amount of ‘toxins’ during the 20th century, from one decade to another? Lead, DDT, aerosols, caustic cleaning agents–am thinking of all the things that were common when I was a kid. But what’s the actual evidence on ‘toxic load’. Would like to know more to help counter this common conception. Any references?

CanadianChick, that’s a great point you make. Has anyone seen a good blog or any research that actually compares the amount of ‘toxins’ during the 20th century, from one decade to another? Lead, DDT, aerosols, caustic cleaning agents–am thinking of all the things that were common when I was a kid. But what’s the actual evidence on ‘toxic load’. Would like to know more to help counter this common conception. Any references?

On a side note, back to our friend Wakefield, anyone spotted this yet?

http://www.naturalnews.com/031116_Dr_Andrew_Wakefield_British_Medical_Journal.html

http://www.naturalnews.com/031117_BMJ_Dr_Andrew_Wakefield.html

Apparently, some months after the GMC hearings ended, all of a sudden another study has come to light that Walker-Sith had done with 7 of the children, 14 months before the MMR paper, with 7 of the same children, which chronicles their reaction to the MMR jab and diagnosis with autism.

Leaving aside all the problems — like, Walker-Smith should have remembered the existence of this paper during the hearings, maybe, or that it contradicts the timelines of how and when the children were contacted anyway — Wakefield is using it as “proof” that he is innocent and is (according to NaturalNews, our bastion of accurate medical info :-/) demanding that the BMJ retract its accusations of fraud.

THIS should be fun to watch, except that it really is turning into the undead zombie “controversy” from hell. I have to wonder how Wakefield sleeps at night.

Triskelethecat The words Mental DISORDERS mean what they say.

The CDC fact sheet says:

What are autism spectrum disorders?
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities CAUSED BY A PROBLEM WITH THE BRAIN [caps added]. Scientists do not know yet exactly what causes this problem. ASDs can impact a person’s functioning at different levels, from very mildly to severely….The thinking and learning abilities of people with ASDs can vary – from gifted to severely challenged

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/pdf/parents_pdfs/AutismFactSheet.pdf

Ditto to Damien. Especially by ending with:

I wish I could believe you have rational, reasonable answers here, but overall I believe I spent the last ten minutes writing into a howling void.

Because this Jen, who thinks she cares so much told me:

Chris, stay the hell out of it.

Is what I get for reminding that other children drown, and that there are other hazards to children other than autism.

Too bad for her that this is not AoA where voices like mine are deleted immediately. Nor her responses.

Which is something I

Harold,

There is a major difference between “This is a disorder” and “This child would be better off dead” or “This person has nothing to contribute to society” (though both of those are all too commonly said, and thought, of people with all sorts of disabilities).

Maybe neither you nor anyone you’re close to has any sort of brain disorder: nobody with chronic depression, OCD, or any other mental illness, nobody with an autism spectrum disorder, epilepsy, or multiple sclerosis, no stroke survivors, nobody with brain damage from multiple concussions.

That’s possible, certainly. It’s even possible by random chance. But there are a lot of people in those categories, and they are people. Yes, it would be great to cure a lot of those things. (Asperger’s may or may not be a disorder, but the people with MS, epilepsy, severe depression, and brain damage from strokes and car crashes would like those problems cured.) But in the meantime, would you tell the person with a seizure disorder, not that he shouldn’t drive a car, but that he shouldn’t be part of society at all? Do you think the stroke survivor shouldn’t be calling the paratransit people to get him to a concert, because he should be hidden away in a nursing home somewhere, and listen to music only on the radio or maybe his iPod?

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