My friend Ren told me about a mother who started blogging about autism up in the town where he lives. I told him that it wouldn’t take long for her to go the anti-vaccine route, given how angry she seemed in all of her “rants” and “raves” about autism. I even confronted her on it in one of her first blog posts:
“Mrs. [redacted], I really, truly hope that you’re not going to turn this blog into yet another anti-vaccine “rant” blog like AgeofAutism.com, “Adventures In Autism”, and many others. If there is one thing that is very much settled, it is that vaccines do not cause autism. The Wakefield “study” was not a study, it was a case series, it was flawed, it was fraudulent, and it didn’t make any scientific sense. Time after time, case control studies looking at neurotypical children versus autistic children have failed to find any difference in the odds of being vaccinated between those two groups.
As for the increase in prevalence (and not incidence), it has been explained as consisting of increased awareness, diagnoses, diagnostic tools, and systematic reviews of the data. An increase in prevalence does not indicate an increase in incidence. For example, the number of new cases of HIV/AIDS is declining, but the number of existing people with HIV/AIDS is increasing. The former was incidence, and the latter was prevalence.”
That explanation of mine seems to have fallen on deaf ears. She recently wrote this (with my emphasis in bold):
“Just recently, someone asked me what the autism rates in Pennsylvania were and I told them I had no idea, but would look into it and get back with them. Unfortunately, the information I found was very discouraging. According to anarticle by the Associated Press, Pennsylvania autism rates are 1 in 75; the national average was 1 in 88. However, according to a new article by medicalnewstoday.com, the CDC is now reporting 1 in 50 kids in the U.S. have autism. But wait, it gets even better; according to vaxtruth.org, this “1 in 50″ is actually “1 in 29″ and that “…the CDC failed to make it clear that the numbers they reported on March 29, 2012 were from data collected in 2008. The numbers are four years old. ””
That’s right. She went to an anti-vaccine site to validate her suspicions, it seems. Confirmation bias, much? She goes on:
“The “vaccination debate” seems to really cause an uproar similar to that of gun control. My son had 25 vaccinations in the first year of his life. 25 vaccinations? Wow, I think my mom said I had 4 in my first year. Does anyone think maybe, just maybe, 25 shots is a “bit much” for an 8-15 lb baby in their first year? Again, the vaccination theory, is just my opinion, not trying to force my opinion on anyone else.”
“Don’t look at me, I’m not anti-vaccine. It’s just an opinion,” she seems to say. It’s not an opinion. You’re writing it as a fact, a fact you think is validated by that anti-vaccine site.
To make matters worse, she later goes on a rant about who the “real” autism experts are. Shockingly, it’s not the people with advanced degrees in behavioral health, neurobiology, etc. No. It’s the parents of children with autism. Yet another play from the anti-vaccine book, where no one knows children like their parents and anecdotal information given by parents must be taken as gospel by anyone else, especially anyone who doesn’t have to “go through the hell” that parents of children with autism go through.