The willing participants

As I tried to comment on Dr. Bob Sears’ Facebook post last night, I encountered a group of people that very much worry me, for lack of a better term. They worry me because they have come to view the world in a certain way based solely on their experiences with autism. They don’t question what they feel, what they see, what others tell them, or what they intuitively agree with. They do question anything that doesn’t jive with how they feel or how they see the world.

For example, we have this woman:

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That’s it. She doesn’t need any more evidence than what is in front of her in the form of 5 nephews. It doesn’t matter if the autistic kids share something between them that they don’t share with the non-autistic kids. It’s the vaccines that did that to them.

Then there is this person:

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Studies on unvaccinated children versus vaccinated have been done retrospectively (because prospective studies that would randomize children into vaccinated and unvaccinated groups would be unethical). There is no difference between autistic children and non-autistic children when it comes to immunizations. None. They both got them, and they both got them in similar doses and concentrations.

But then I ventured to this article on Time.com and read those comments… And I read a very chilling one:

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She wrote, “We lost my son after that, and he became extremely ill.” Another commenter said that he was sorry for the death of her child, but I don’t think the child died. She wrote that they “lost” her son and then he became ill. If you follow that sequence, then you see yet another comment in which the development or recognition of autism in a child is seen as a tragedy or a disaster. And it is something I see more and more as I make the rounds in anti-vaccine places online: Parents who see their autistic children as “lost” and/or “helpless” and express some feeling of despair, guilt, and a willingness to find those responsible for that “loss” and bring them to justice.

All these folks, and many more with similar willingness to ignore the evidence and follow the gurus (aka “Autism’s False Prophets“) are willing participants in a series of events that is spreading misinformation, pseudo-science, quackery, and outright lies around the world faster than we, the scientists, can catch up with them. We try. We go and comment and get called pharma shills or threatened with losing our jobs or worse. Or we spend countless hours at school and at work, trying to understand immunology, neurology, and all those bits of science that will bring better living to people on any end of any spectrum.

By God, we try.

But it’s so scary and so unnerving to know that there are people who are so sold on the idea that vaccines cause autism and that there is a massive plot to give autism to children the world over. It’s scary because herd immunity against serious threats is waning. If we have a severe flu pandemic, less than half of the population will get vaccinated. There are children dying of measles in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Measles! A vaccine-preventable disease that was almost wiped out up until some British jerk of a doctor decided to publish a fraudulent case series claiming autism was caused by the MMR vaccine.

It is also unnerving because we have willing participants in the anti-vaccine movement who pray that the world ends in order to end their own suffering. Or they pray, literally, that those who oppose the anti-vaccine groups be utterly destroyed. Think I’m kidding? Just read this post (warning, it’s at an anti-vaccine blog). In it, the author writes such things as:

“And yet, as thankful as I am for an understanding of what has happened to my child and so many others, my heart is heavy.  The Dark Forces which in the past have destroyed the careers of those who have found clues to the afflictions of our children and other disease communities are once again on the move.”

Dark forces? And:

“I often find myself pondering such questions of faith.  What is it I’m meant to do?  I want to rush the barricades, but to what effect?  It was with such thoughts in my mind I went to our local bookstore, picked up a Bible, opened it to a random page, and with my eyes closed, put my finger down.

This was the passage my finger landed on.”

He then goes on to quote Psalm 94 from the Old Testament. That Psalm is all about an angry God bringing death and destruction to the people who have wronged and abused the writer of the Psalm. It reads in part: “He will repay them for their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord God will wipe them out.”

The author of that post concludes with this:

“If you’re listening God, and it meets with Your approval, this week would be an excellent time to deal with them.”

Dear God, indeed… Especially knowing what the author of that post put his daughter through.

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10 thoughts on “The willing participants

  1. You are very critical, but that’s ok, you come from a very different perspective. God is in charge of us all. God bless you, and thanks for posting my thoughts. I’m just a regular person trying to make my way through the storm.

    • Then don’t blame doctors or ‘Big Pharma” …blame god!

      BLOG ADMIN COMMENT: Daniel, this is your first warning. Please refer to the Commenting Policy and keep it civil. Thank you.

  2. I absolutely love your blog, and share your opinions about vaccinations, the false anti-vaxx prophets and the dangerous, erroneous perspective of the other people who have replied. I am an active online pro-vaxxer, but I dislike public debate. I hope that you will message me on Facebook or email me, Reuben. I would like to speak to you in depth about this issue. I am a health professional.

  3. I am in a unique position. My mother had polio, and still has a limp from it. Thank you God for the polio vaccine. I also have a 20+year old son, autistic with grand mal seizures. We will care for him as long as we can. So, while I appreciate vaccines, I think we should proceed with caution, space them out and not be herded in for multiple vaccines on one day. While they are blessing, they are big money, and no liability for the rx companies. I think that is where the mistrust comes in, love of money being the root of all evil. If I could go back, I would space out the vaccines and I don’t care what my doctor would say. We have options, and there are conflicts of interest, new vaccines marketed in the media every day. As long as scientists prodded by big money tout how safe the vaccines are, I think people are going to doubt. There is an epidemic already, autism. I’m praying for a cure and prevention when my daughter has children. I don’t know where the answers are, but they will be found somewhere somehow. God is working on our behalf. We are the 1 in 50 struggling every day to make it through the day.

    • Thank you for your comments, AMPitS. (The acronym reads funny, by the way.) It is patently untrue that there is no liability for the pharmaceutical companies. There is, it’s just that you’re not allowed to sue for billions of dollars for things known not to be caused by vaccines. If they are, there is a simple process, easier than a civil or criminal trial, to get remuneration.

      Tread lightly, because you’re falling into the anti-vaccine trap of blaming “Big Pharma” when many vaccines have come out of academia (e.g. university researchers) and are free or very low cost to the public. You’re also falling in to the trap that there is an epidemic. Epidemics are not measured in prevalence, and all the evidence is that there is no epidemic. There is better recognition of cases. There is better surveillance. There is more acceptance of people with autism, so kids are not thrown away into institutions where they will never be counted or treated appropriately.

      Finally, I’m sorry to tell you, but there is no cure. There is treatment. There is acceptance. There are programs to help autistics be as productive and lead as normal lives as they can. But there is no cure. There is no more a cure for autism as there is for having green eyes. Autism is a variation of normal, and I know it’s not something comforting for someone who struggles with it.

    • Autism Mom: I realize that you are doing a great job caring for your child with special needs, but you shouldn’t be concerned that any of the vaccines he received caused his autism.

      My son who died peacefully in his sleep at age 28, eight years ago, was born with a rare genetic disorder that caused profound and multiple physical and intellectual impairments. He also was medically fragile and his grand mal seizures were partially controlled by anti-convulsant medicines. He also had “autistic-like” behaviors. I was trained in “behavior modification” theory and techniques (the forerunner of ABA) and it did ameliorate his self-stimming and self-injurious behaviors. He was a delightful child and I miss his sweet smiles, his giggles and his presence.

      There are so many bloggers “out there” who have autistic children, who have science backgrounds and the ability to decipher studies about autism.

      There is this website for easy to read and “reliable” information for parents about vaccines:

      http://www.vaccinateyourbaby.org/resources/organizations.cfm

      • Thank you for your input and God bless you in your grief. I’m so sorry for your son. I’ll be sure and check out these links. Thanks again.

  4. The mother in question about “losing” her son followed-up her reply, Reuben. She wrote:

    “My son became sick and lost in his own world. He did not speak anymore. He does not understand anymore. He began to throw up every meal he ate. He had diarrhea until his bottom bled. His immune system was shot…we have five years of standard medical labs showing this. He had a duodenal ulcer at age three that he was in so much pain from he would lean over objects to keep pressure on his belly. For treatment of his gastrointestinal problems he was on steroids….each time he began to speak, even correctly labeling the letters of the alphabet. When the steroids were weaned the speech went also.
    We are fortunate that my husband does well because we were refused medical care due to the diagnosis of autism. We have had to pay out of pocket for medical evaluations and treatment. 400,000 to date. And I am not speaking of some quack type of medicine….we had to pay for mainstream evaluations….some paid back when we fought the insurance company because they could not deny the profound disease process going on with him.
    You know? What science believes to be true changes with time when we gather more understanding. I saw standard of practice change in the time I practiced as a nurse because of new evidence. I am very concerned with people who are only able to parrot back what they read without diving in and digesting both sides of an argument. Read the research from science today….the immune system is involved in a large percentage of these children. It is also wildly accepted that there is some environmental trigger. I say that can be vaccines in some cases. I don’t believe it was the whole story for my son, but I believe it hugely exacerbated the problem. It is not okay to keep throwing gas on the fire with a treatment some children can’t handle.”

    • See? I knew she wasn’t talking about literally losing the child, but she sure could’ve fooled me!

      I’m glad her child is alive. I’m not glad he’s sick. But to endanger the rest of us, to take us back to the dark ages of science and disease? I’m not glad about that.

      • Thanks Reuben and Epi Ren for the link to registered nurse’s posts at Time.com
        I’ve been busy *engaging* her. She *claims* she was never taught to screen patients for medical contraindications before she administered vaccines.

        I linked her to the ACIP General Recommendations. I’m sure she won’t be reading it.

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