Autistic children are like chimps and dogs, don’t you know?

If you need any more proof of the kind of stupidity being thrown around by anti-vaccine loons, look no further than this video:

(Someone stored the whole video on Google Drive since these things tend to disappear.)

In the video, Del Bigtree is sitting at a table with some anti-vaccine luminaries talking about autistic children. Suddenly, he begins talking about autistics as dogs, chimps, and other animals. While he acknowledges that “it sounds wrong,” he keeps on going. And the others on the table just laugh and go along with it.

Del Bigtree is the producer behind Andrew Jeremy Wakefield’s high school A/V club project, by the way. He’s the guy trying to sell us the idea that autism is a catastrophe. He seems to now want to sell the idea that autistics are like dogs and chimps in their mental capacity or in their ability to communicate.

Jerk. I hope the money is worth it, Del.

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The Kid lets his true colors show

We haven’t talked a lot about The Kid lately. This was partly because he’s not worth the time and partly because he hasn’t had a whole hell of a lot of interesting things to say. But something caught our attention the other day, something that may very well earn The Kid a nomination for this year’s Douchebag of The Year award. In a blog post titled “Neurodiversity Is Social Justice Cancer,” The Kid shows us his true colors. He managed to be racist, elitist, and ableist at the same time.

Before we move into the meat of what The Kid wrote, let’s look at the term “Social Justice Warrior.” From Wikipedia:

“‘Social justice warrior’ (commonly abbreviated SJW) is a pejorative term for an individual promoting socially progressive views; including feminism, civil rights, multiculturalism, political correctness, and identity politics. The accusation of being an SJW carries implications of pursuing personal validation rather than any deep-seated conviction, and being engaged in disingenuous social justice arguments or activism to raise personal reputation.”

In other words, a Social Justice Warrior (SJW) is a hypocrite. It’s someone who goes on and on about a subject but is not really wanting to act on it. Kind of like The Kid, who writes and writes about being wronged by being vaccinated and, in his world, developing autism from those vaccines. And yet, he hasn’t put together any kind of significant (or coherent) evidence for a vaccine-autism link. Now, in desperately trying to tie together SJW and neurodiversity proponents, The Kid reveals some interesting aspects about his personality. He begins:

“Today’s political and academic climate is tainted by a new wave of “Social Justice Warriors” (SJWs) – far-left activists who shirk facts for emotion and who bully people they disagree with. Their weapon of choice? Political correctness.

There are third-wave feminists who exaggerate sexual assault statistics, who fabricate claims that men have higher wages than women and who advocate the killing of all white men. There is the Black Lives Matter movement which has proven itself to be a form of social justice cancer similar to feminism – advocating racially segregated dormitories and the murder of police officers (two of whom were actually murdered in New York City by a BLM supporter). But there is yet another incarnation of so-called “social justice” that has proven itself quite destructive despite catering to a smaller community: Neurodiversity.”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, sexual assaults don’t happen as often as they do because of feminists. Feminists also exaggerate that there is a wage gap between genders. And the Black Lives Matter folks? Why they are racists and cop-killers. And thrown into the bunch are the growing number of scientists and autism advocates who are discovering and supporting the idea of neurodiversity. Everyone’s a liar or a hypocrite on these things, it seems.

To support his assertions about feminists and Black Lives Matter, The Kid links to some racist, elitists, and misogynistic blog posts and web sites, naturally. (He is yet to support any of his assertions with something that disagrees with his world view. Or, if he has, I’ve missed it.) Then he goes hard after Ari Ne’eman and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network:

“Recently, people in Ari Ne’eman’s group protested a screening of the documentary film Vaxxed despite never having seen it and had the nerve to argue that people hosting the venue did not have a right to film them protesting. They further dismissed the film’s director on the basis that he has no medical license, yet members of ASAN can join and consider themselves “autistic” even if they have no real diagnosis – merely if they “self-identify” as such.

While ASAN and neurodiversity claim in principle that having autism as as inevitable as being black, in practice being “autistic” to them is essentially a choice. Not only does ASAN hardly represent the autism community, some of them do not represent it at all. Moreover, many neurodiversity “autistic” self-advocates appear to be disproportionately women – especially strange considering that there are far more men and boys diagnosed with autism than there are women and girls. These folks – Ari Ne’eman included – also identify as feminists. It is hardly surprising then that neurodiversity is intimately linked with other contemporary social justice cancers that are using political correctness to advance their destructive goals.”

This is not the first time that The Kid has lost his marbles over Mr. Ne’eman. A few years ago, he went after Mr. Ne’eman on a blog post on Age of Autism because President Obama appointed Mr. Ne’eman to the National Council on Disability:

“Well President Obama, this “fine individual,” Ari Ne’eman, who you are nominating to a position on a disability council, was quoted as indicating that autism is not a disability. In an essay he wrote about autism, Ari concludes by saying, “Difference is not disability.” Furthermore, he told Newsweek that autism is not a medical mystery that needs solving, he said on Good Morning America last year that being anti-cure is not anti-progress, speaking above a superimposed caption that read, “There’s nothing wrong with us! Autistic and proud!”

Ari has called the vaccine-autism link “pseudoscience,” an assertion with no basis in science other than phony reports put out by phony scientists with drug ties to protect their employers from litigation. He has also descended further into espousing belief in outright epidemic denialism, citing an earlier diagnosis of his with ADHD as misguided proof that the tremendous growth in autism, is merely due to “better diagnosing. This does not explain an increase from 3 in 10,000 with autism spectrum disorders twenty years ago to 100 in 10,000 with autism spectrum disorders today.

Not only does he impose his views onto others based on his limited experience, but even on no experience. Ari Ne’eman has made comments about employment, speaking before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, despite having no work experience of his own whatsoever. (This was confirmed in an email from him to Jonathan Mitchell.) Ari stated that social pleasantry should be eliminated from the workplace. As a person with an autism spectrum disorder who has job experience and suffered as a result of having a very abusive boss, I take great objection to what he said, given his non-existent work experience.

Is this the kind of person we want serving in the new presidential administration? Do we want him on a council on disability policy when he does not even see autism as a disability, at least not in the classic sense of the word?”

See, for The Kid and so many others in the anti-vaccine cult, the fact that people like Ari Ne’eman and others want autistics to be accepted is some sort of an unforgivable sin. I guess that, in their view, if society accepts a person with autism as a person, then they lose any kind of ability to call autism a “tragedy” (or worse). They can’t say that their children are “lost” or “dead” due to autism. And they’ll probably have to come to terms with the fact that autism cannot be cured… And preventing it is akin to wanting to prevent someone from existing because of the way they were created/conceived/born.

But the clincher for us on why The Kid is an elitist racist misogynist is his closing paragraph on his “neurodiversity is cancer” post:

“It is shameful to think that politicians are catering to these groups. Fortunately, one presidential candidate – presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump – does not give in to such nonsense. Autism Investigated wants an honest president who speaks his mind, who slams Crooked Hillary Clinton and her shameless abuse of the woman card, who rebukes Black Lives Matter by emphasizing that all lives matter and who acknowledges that autism is an epidemic caused by vaccination instead of taking autism policy advice from the likes of Ari Ne’eman. If elected, Donald Trump will be that president who will acknowledge these harmful social justice movements – whether they be feminists, Black Lives Matter or neurodiversity – for what they are:

Cancer.”

Yes, to The Kid, people who want gender equality, civil rights protections, and acknowledgement of autistics as people and not broken things, to him all these people are cancer. To him, Donald Trump is a savior. Think about that for a second, because this is the same kid who is working on a doctoral degree in epidemiology at the University of Texas (where his uncle is on the board of regents). If the fact that someone like The Kid is getting a PhD in epidemiology doesn’t give you pause, I don’t know what will.

God help us all.

Sincerely,

The Poxes

(See what we did there?)

 

There’s nothing normal about anti-vaccine cyberbullies

You probably would not be surprised if I told you that the debate about vaccines and their association with a myriad of things (backed up only by loony, religious-like beliefs without any science) can get a little bit rough. I’ve told you about our Douchebag Emerti-ass Dr. Bob Sears and his crazy band of Facebook followers. Or weirdo John Stone from Age of Autism who for a while was intent on finding out who I really was (maybe going as far as to call a certain health department in a certain capital city of a certain country and whining about me not being an epidemiologist). I’ve told you about Joe Gooding and his band of “Passive Agressive Ravens” who take work published in other media and don’t link to it but just copy it verbatim onto their site, changing the headline to blame vaccines for whatever the issue is. (More on them in a minute.)

Listen, there is no shortage of evil people out there who just want to watch the world burn. They have theirs, so you shouldn’t have yours. They’ve been protected by herd immunity and their own vaccinations, so children the world over should not be vaccinated anymore. They are living fat and happy in the United States, so children in Somalia should get measles because it’s their fault they don’t have proper sanitation (or some bullshit like that). Most recently, they’ve taken to social media to find the profiles of people who are trying to promote the best public health intervention we have, and they are attacking those people relentlessly.

Joe Gooding and his child-like friends, for example, have started to post personal information and photographs on social media of people they dislike:

“Since early last summer, when Renee began advocating publicly for childhood vaccination, a dedicated clique of Twitter trolls has hounded her every tweet. They’ve filmed nasty videos, defamed her to colleagues — even posted photos that suggest they’ve followed her on the street. But Renee was particularly irked when some of her stalkers began posting photos of her, and her toddler, that they’d lifted from her private Facebook account. She filed several several harassment reports to Twitter, but the photos weren’t taken down.”

Because nothing settles vaccine safety science like these vile tactics.

Not to be outdone, Joe and his men-baby friends quickly posted a screed about free speech and whatnot, natch. Because free speech allows you and I, apparently, to lie about people and make them feel unsafe. It allows you, according to these kids, to relentlessly attack and smear at all costs.

Losers.

What’s funny is that I and others have been accused of bullying and making fun of “autism parents” by simply stating to them, time and time again, that vaccines do not cause autism and that autism is not something you cure. When we tell them that they are doing a disservice to their children by calling those children “lost” or “missing” or “gone,” these “autism parents” say that we’re being abusive. Have they taken a good look at what they’re doing? How do they think the children will feel when being talked about like that?

Of course, no one does abuse of autistics quite like Andrew Wakefield has. His latest high-school AV club-quality “documentary” is full of the usual lies, including the lie that there is a “CDC Whistleblower” who is going to make the whole vaccine program fall. The program won’t fall. The “whistleblower” is not whistling anything. There is nothing in any of the documents he’s provided. As usual, Andrew Wakefield has made a mountain out of a mole hill.

To make matters worse, when a group of autistic advocates went to protest Andrew Wakefield and his anti-autism documentary, the protestors were abused relentlessly. So proud of their abuse of these autistic people were wakefield and friends that they posted a video of it on Facebook. (Be warned, it contains some pretty abusive people being horrible to autistics who have a hard enough time as it is to communicate without being harassed.)

Here’s the video: https://www.periscope.tv/w/1RDxlOANgqmJL

On the Facebook page, people are absolutely happy that these autism advocates were harassed so much:

But this shouldn’t surprise you if you’ve been reading this blog, or Orac’s, or Todd W’s, or Liz Ditz’s, or Skeptical Raptor, etc. This is what anti-vaccine cultists do. They can’t fight the science with any kind of evidence, so they resort to name-calling, conspiracy theories, and libelous claims about anyone who debunks them. It can get so bad that they try to bully and dox a 12-year-old child.

So why pay attention to them? Why continue to point out to you the stupidity with which they handle being opposed? Because it’s fun? No. The reason we (here at The Poxes, and I don’t claim to speak for anyone else) keep covering them is because their actions need to be brought out of the echo chamber they inhabit on social media and blogs, and we need to explain to bystanders that this is not normal behavior. It is simply not normal to say that an autistic child is broken, or stupid, or missing, or dead. It is not normal to say that a mother killing her autistic child is preferable to the mother caring for the child. And it is not normal to so vigorously oppose vaccination without a shred of evidence that is causes injuries in the numbers and intensity that they propose.

There’s nothing normal in being afraid of autism being “normalized.” As if that’s a bad thing.

Just(in) asking questions

This is probably the last post I’ll write about Justin Kanew. The first post is here, and the second is here. In the first post, I explained to you how Mr. Kanew was slowly descending into anti-vaccine world. In the second, the conversion was nearly complete. So complete, in fact, that Andrew Wakefield was given a wide and full-of-praise interview by Mr. Kanew. To hide the fact that Wakefield was the main part of the show, Mr. Kanew made it seem like he was interviewing Brian Deer. But Brian Deer get the minority of air time.

It was an anti-vaccine show, is what I’m saying.

What does Brian Deer think of Mr. Kanew?

Wow.

Anyway, if there was any doubt that Justin’s conversion is complete, he decided to write yet another blog post on the notorious, anti-Semitic, vile anti-vaccine blog: Age of Autism. In it, he states that he can take the criticism he’s receiving:

“I should also say that in the 2 days since the first interview posted, I’ve found myself the target of ire from both sides. Anti-vaxxers are angry that my wife and I still plan to try to find a safe way to vaccinate our baby girl, while pro-vaxxers are angry that by doing these interviews I’m giving a platform to the makers of Vaxxed and like-minded anti-vaxxers.

It’s been heated, but it’s ok. I can take it. I’m a big boy. I knew this was a contentious comment, and I expected to hear a lot of what i’m hearing. It didn’t at all seem to be a reason not to talk about it, and if I’m being honest I sort of hoped to help facilitate a calmer conversation about it in however small a way, naive as that may have been.”

The “big boy” has been such a “big boy” about it that he has blocked multiple people who have attempted to reason with him. They have told him about the “vaccine court,” but he refuses to listen. They have told him that it’s not just the government and “big pharma” that does research on vaccine safety, but he refuses to listen. Plenty has been shared with him on why Ginger Taylor’s list of papers proving a link between vaccines and autism is just plain wrong. (Frankly, I doubt even The Ginge has read it.)

Justin Kanew is not a big boy. He’s a tool for the anti-vaccine forces now. He will regurgitate whatever they tell him, and he will pass it on to his friends in Hollywood. They will regurgitate it again. Wakefield et al will hit him up for cash, and he will oblige. And so it will go. Because he’s not “just asking questions”. He’s listening now only for the wrong and misguided answers.

Which is it, Mr. Handley?

For the uninitiated, JB Handley may not be a familiar name. It certainly wasn’t for me up until about seven years ago. Mr. Handley is one of many people behind “Age of Autism” and “Generation Rescue.” Both anti-vaccine groups who seek to link vaccines to an innumerable number of conditions. They also seek to link vaccines to autism.

Mr. Handley’s story of how he became such an ardent anti-vaccine activist varies depending on who you ask. Heck, it varies depending on what he feels like writing about it. For example, in the Generation Rescue page I linked above, the story is this:

“When Lisa and JB Handley’s son was diagnosed with autism in 2004, they simply did not believe it would be [child]’s lifelong destiny.  They committed themselves to healing their son.

Lisa and JB pursued all of the theories and avenues they could find, educating themselves as fully as possible as they reached the most likely conclusion:  the combination of antibiotics and vaccines administered to [child] in his first 18 months of life had overwhelmed his system and triggered his body into a state of being that we currently call autism.”

Note the key component of the story: It was “the combination of antibiotics and vaccines” given to their child “in his first 18 months of life.”

In February, 2015, JB Handley penned an article titled “An Angry Father’s Guide To The Measles Vaccine” where he wrote:

“Be informed. Please. I wish I had, 10 years ago, and my life and my family’s life would be much different today.”

Okay, so 2004 and 2005 are close. Maybe it was 10 years ago (2005) and not eleven (2004). I’m splitting hairs. But then there’s this:

“Man, did I get played by the CDC. It was the winter of 2003. You couldn’t turn on the T.V. without reading about another child dying from the flu: it’s a particularly bad strain, children are at high risk, flu shot supply is strained, get your child vaccinated while you still can!

And, we were listening closely. For my oldest son, turning 4 and healthy, we weren’t too worried. But for my younger son, our baby [child], at 15 months old, we were very concerned. He was sick all the time. This could be a real problem for him. They are talking about death here, and [child] seems to qualify as high risk.”

So now it’s 2003, and the child is 15 months old. Okay, it jives with the narrative. Then this:

“The first shot was in December. Our Christmas videos that year show a very normal [child] — excited about Santa’s arrival and closely tied to his older brother. The booster was in January.

By March, [child] was gone.”

Gone where? Ah, yes, gone nowhere. JB Handley seems to be the kind of person who sees children with special needs as “gone” or “missing” or “dead.” None of which is true. Those children are still alive and there, and many reach milestones which allow them to look back on their parent’s statements about them, something that saddens me as a child should never be referred that way by someone who loves them. But I digress.

Note that this article is about the measles vaccine. JB Handley, an angry father by his own description, wants to warn us about the measles vaccine, but here he is plainly telling us that is was the influenza vaccine in the winter of 2003-2004 that made his child be “gone.”

JB Handley spends the rest of the article using misinformation and intellectual dishonesty to tell us how vaccines don’t work, how they’re dangerous, blah, blah, blah. Typical anti-vaccine stuff. But note that his son was “sick all the time” and that this is why he and his wife opted to have the child vaccinated.

Now read this from an interview he gave in 2005:

“A Lafayette couple, certain that chelation therapy has helped their autistic son, stepped squarely into the controversy surrounding the causes of autism and its treatment Tuesday as they joined 150 other parents in launching an international support group that will aggressively promote the treatment.

[Child] was a happy, healthy baby who reached all his developmental milestones until he turned 18 months, his parents said. Then, he started spinning in circles and standing on his toes and no longer responded to his name. They were eventually told he was autistic — one of an increasing number of children over the last decade to be diagnosed with the disorder, which severely impairs a child’s ability to interact with others.”

So which is it? Was he sick all the time at age 15 months and that’s why he was vaccinated against influenza, or was he happy and healthy until 18 months? Remember, this is 2005, a little over a year has gone by. Recall bias may be at play, but it’s only a little over a year. (The child is said to be three years old at the time of the interview.)

By the way, the article is horrible. It claims that JB Handley’s child “returned” from autism in 2005. (Remember that part.)

In 2010, JB Handley wrote this in a post for AoA:

“More commonly, I hear from parents about a chronic slide into autism with a progression of health issues accompanying the slide. This was certainly true for my son. The eczema and bad bowels came immediately after the 2 month visit and his twelve month vaccine appointment (MMR, Varicella, Hep B, and Hib in his case) was what really seemed to push him over the edge, but it was a full year before we got a formal diagnosis. From 2 months forward, it was just a slow motion loss of everything.”

So now it’s a story that the child was sick starting at two months and got worse from there. But he was healthy and happy until 18 months according to JB Handley in 2005. This doesn’t make sense!

The thing that bothers me most about this is that many of the people at Age of Autism make a big deal when anyone writes about their children, but then they use their own parenting experiences and anecdotes as definitive proof that vaccines cause autism. For Kim Stagliano, one of the editors of AoA, even her unvaccinated daughter has autism because of vaccines: Because of the vaccines that Ms. Stagliano received before her daughter was born.

I would very much like it if children did not become entangled in this whole mess because those children will one day reach a place in their lives where their names will be associated with some pretty “interesting” conspiracy theories. (Nothing stays hidden on the web.) Many, too many, of those children will read that they were “lost” or “dead” because they were born autistic, even if their parents swear up and down that vaccines caused their autism. And many, too many, children will be the target of unproven, unscientific, sometimes unethical treatments for something that cannot be “cured.”

I truly wish JB Handley and others stuck to the evidence and left their children out of it. But, as you can see, their desire to use anecdotes only helps to show the inconsistency and lack of reliability to eye witness accounts and the necessity for objective, science-based evidence of what is really going on.

Perhaps not the best anti-vaccine argument you should use

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 11.21.50 AM

In a Facebook discussion about vaccines, “Kitti St. John” decided that she was going to display her bigoted views of autistics. While trying to convince people that vaccines are bad, she linked vaccines to autism and then compared an autistic child to “an agro chimpanzee.” She then goes on a rant about diets and nature and how vaccines have torn us all apart or something. She even believes that people, healthy people, “do not catch contagious disease.”

Kitti is just one of thousands of anti-vaccine activists who take their misinformed views of vaccines a step too far and demonize autistics of every age. It’s not just the comparison of children with learning disabilities to animals like Kitti just did. It’s also the whitewashing of murders of autistic children. Calling a mother and a caregiver who brutally killed Alex Spourdalakis the victims rather than the murderers that they confessed to be is just one more step in the anti-vaccine playbook of people like Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, people without a shred of evidence that vaccines cause autism but yet want to paint autism as a horrible “disease” that is preventable, avoidable, or curable.

Autism is not preventable, avoidable, nor curable. In fact, one of the biggest signs of quackery is someone who wants to sell you an autism cure or an autism preventative. That’s when you know you’re dealing with loonies, with fraudsters.

I’d like to ask the Andrew Wakefields of the world what they’re doing to ensure that autistic children and adults get all the help they can to live a long and fruitful life. Because, whatever Wakefield did to “help” Alex Spourdalakis failed phenomenally and no one should trust him in any way with their autistic child, ever.

If you want to argue that vaccines are part of some big plot, go ahead. If you want to say that they cause more harm than good, go ahead. All your points are easily refutable. What you shouldn’t do is denigrate autistics to the point that you endanger them and, by extension, endanger all of us. Because failing to protect the weakest among us is a sign that we’re on a downward spiral as a society. We’re circling the drain, so to speak.

A blood test for prenatal autism? What could possibly go wrong?

(UPDATE 1-20-15: The reporter from the San Diego Union-Tribune has contacted us to point out that, “contrary to the original article, the reporter has corrected the story to reflect that the test is not being promoted for use during pregnancy” as was previously attributed to the CEO of the company, Ms. D’Alvise. See his comment below or click here.)

Back in 2013, the UC Davis MIND institute put out some research into maternal antibodies and their association with autism:

“UC Davis MIND Institute researchers have identified the specific antibodies that target fetal brain proteins in the blood of a subset of women whose children are diagnosed with autism. The finding is the first to pinpoint a specific risk factor for a significant subset of autism cases, as well as a biomarker for drug development and early diagnosis. The researchers have named autism related to these antibodies “Maternal Autoantibody-Related,” or MAR autism.

The study found that the mothers of children with autism were more than 21 times as likely to have the specific MAR antibodies in their systems that reacted with fetal brain proteins, or antigens, than were the mothers of children who did not have autism. In fact, specific combinations of MAR antibodies were not found in the blood of mothers whose children were typically developing.”

From that research — or some variation of it — comes word of a new blood test that expectant mothers can take to find out if they’re at an increased risk of having an autistic child:

“A blood test for one of the most common forms of autism is due to be launched in the third quarter of 2015, San Diego’s Pediatric Bioscience said Wednesday.

The test identifies maternal antibodies that interfere with prenatal brain development, the company says. These antibodies are implicated in a form of autism spectrum disorder representing 23 percent of all cases. The test can help with early diagnosis or steer potential mothers toward alternatives such as surrogate pregnancy.

The antibody test delivers a false positive response just 1.3 percent of the time, making it highly predictive, said Jan D’Alvise, president and chief executive of privately held Pediatric Bioscience. D’Alvise spoke at the Biotech Showcase conference in San Francisco, an annual meeting of biotech investors and companies held concurrently with the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference.”

If I were an unethical son of a bitch, I would invest heavily in this company because that test is going to sell like hotcakes at Pamela’s on a cold Pittsburgh morning.

I say unethical because the research looking into the maternal autoantibodies and autism didn’t come up with any causal association between the antibodies and the children’s autism. It’s an interesting theory that boils down to, “We found these antibodies in a lot of the women who had autistic children. Not all of them, but a lot of them. These antibodies seem to target the unborn fetus’ brain, so it stands to reason that they may cause some sort of damage that leads to autism.” It’s not their words, but it’s something that I’m hearing in my mind as I read their paper. It’s something I’m sure a reasonable person might interpret as a test that can predict autism. I feel it would be unethical for me to profit off of something so seemingly unnecessary.

This is troubling to me because autism is so often referred to as a “disease” or as “brain damage” by many people claiming to know more about autism than they do. It is also troubling because the research doesn’t seem to show any prediction for how “severe” or socially impairing the autism will be. The mother with the positive test has a higher-than-expected chance of having an autistic child, but the test will in no way predict the degree to which the child will be able to be part of society. There is the very real possibility that mothers (and fathers, but it’s the mother’s decision) will want to terminate the pregnancy out of fear of having a “brain damaged” child.

(I can feel my blood pressure rising at the thought of ignorant fools calling autistics “brain damaged.”)

The test only really tells a person that they have these antibodies. It doesn’t say whether or not the antibodies cause the autism. That’s why the researchers call them autism related antibodies, not autism causing antibodies. I don’t think from the research that they can make that claim. A similar argument could be made that autism is genetic, and that those genes are present in the mother and causing those autoantibodies to be produced by the mother. The genes are then passed on to the child and the child develops autism. In short, there is way too much that we don’t know about autism.

One thing we do know is that vaccines don’t cause autism, of course.

Here’s the weirdest part of it all: From Pediatric Bioscience, the makers of the test, we learn the recommended reasons for having the test done:

“The MAR antibody test should be ordered on three types of “at risk” women : 1) Women of child-bearing age who have already had a child with autism, 2) Mothers of young children in need of a diagnosis for their child’s perceived developmental delay, and 3) Women over the age of 30 who are at least 2 times more likely to give birth to an autistic child. Specifically, women in this group who are considering In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to become pregnant may want to consider taking the test before they proceed with the procedure. The MAR test is not intended for pregnant women or women who think that they may be pregnant.”

Read that last sentence and marvel at the contradiction from what Jan D’Alvise, president of the company marketing the test, said to the San Diego Union-Tribune:

“If a pregnant women gets a positive diagnosis, preparations can begin before birth to get the child into therapy if needed, D’Alvise said. Or a baby showing delays in development can be diagnosed faster if the mother tests positive.”

Which is it? Either the test is not to be done on pregnant women or it is. It is very possible that Ms. D’Alvise didn’t know that their website states that the test is not intended for pregnant women or that the website is outdated and their test is now to be used on pregnant women who think their unborn child may be autistic. Either way, the message is fuzzy on whether or not this test will be able to tell with 100% certainty that the unborn child (or any future children) will be autistic.

(UPDATE 1-20-15: The reporter from the San Diego Union-Tribune has contacted us to point out that, “contrary to the original article, the reporter has corrected the story to reflect that the test is not being promoted for use during pregnancy” as was previously attributed to the CEO of the company, Ms. D’Alvise. See his comment below or click here.)

The test is said to cost $1,000. No word on whether or not health insurance will pay for it, or what additional steps should be taken for a positive test. There is also no word on what the FDA has to say about this test. We’ll be on the lookout for their opinion. In the meantime, there’s a little something we need to talk about next time.