Parents of recovered children, and I've met hundreds, all share the same experience of doubters and deniers telling us our child must have never even had autism or that the recovery was simply nature's course. We all know better, and frankly we're too busy helping other parents to really care.
Corner one of the hundreds of doctors who specialize in autism recovery, and they'll tell you stories of dozens of kids in their practice who no longer have autism. Ask them to speak to the press and they'll run for the door. They know better.
Most doctors in our community share a common trait: their own child regressed into autism. They fixed their kid first and knew they'd have to spend their lives helping parents do the same, accepting the loss of "mainstream" status in their field.
Who's afraid of autism recovery? Perhaps it's the diagnosticians and pediatricians who have made a career out of telling parents autism is a hopeless condition.
When I first went public with my son Evan's story, I just planned to talk about the "R" word -- Recovery. But soon I was spending most my time talking about the "V" word -- vaccines.
It's hard to address one without the other because so many of the parents of recovered children I know, myself included, blame vaccines for their child's regression into autism and use vaccine injury as the roadmap to treat their child.
The idea that vaccines are a primary cause of autism is not as crackpot as some might wish. Autism's 60-fold rise in 30 years matches a tripling of the US vaccine schedule.
With so many kids with autism, the environment has to be to blame, and vaccines are an obvious culprit. Almost all kids get vaccines -- injected toxins -- very early in life, and our own government clearly acknowledges vaccines cause brain damage in certain vulnerable kids.
Take those simple facts, along with tens of thousands of parental reports of regression after vaccination, not to mention a growing list of court cases where our government paid claims to children with autism acknowledging vaccines as the trigger, and the case we Moms are making makes sense.
Time magazine's article on the autism debate reports that the experts are certain "vaccines don't cause autism; they don't injure children; they are the pillar of modern public health."
I say, "that's a lie and we're sick of it."
How do you say vaccines don't cause autism when only a single vaccine -- MMR -- has ever been looked at for its relationship to autism? What about the other 10 vaccines our children receive through 36 doses? If Viagra is considered safe, is Vioxx then safe too, or do you need to test both?
Even with the MMR, studies only compare kids who have otherwise been fully vaccinated. Is that really an honest way to evaluate the issue? How come no one has ever looked at unvaccinated kids to compare their autism rates? It could be so easy.
How do you say vaccines don't injure kids, when a government website shows more than 1,000 claims of death and over $1.9 billion paid out in damages for vaccine injury, mostly to children?
Perhaps its better to say vaccines have both benefits and risks? Who's afraid of being honest about the good and the bad of vaccines?
In the recent case of Dr. Andrew Wakefield, why did the press constantly report that his 1998 study said the MMR caused autism when anyone could read the study and know that it didn't? And, why did we never hear that the actual finding of Dr. Wakefield's study -- that children with autism are suffering from bowel disease -- has been replicated many times?
How come the press never interviewed the parents of the 12 children in Dr. Wakefield's study? In a letter they wrote:
All of the investigations [by Dr. Wakefield] were carried out without distress to our children, many of whom made great improvements on treatment so that for the first time in years they were finally pain free...We are appalled that these doctors have been the subject of this protracted enquiry in the absence of any complaint from any parent about any of the children who were reported in the Lancet paper.
There's something wrong with this generation of kids. They aren't healthy. The LA Times just reported that, "more than a quarter of all US children have a chronic health condition [ADHD, autism, asthma]...a significant increase from the rate seen in earlier decades." One quarter of our kids?
Writing for the New York Times last week, Nicholas Kristof asked the question, "Do Toxins Cause Autism?" and went on to say, "suspicions are growing that one culprit may be chemicals in the environment."
Is it possible all these things are related? Could we afford to give fewer shots slightly later and possibly reduce these chronic conditions? How do you go on a hunt for toxins and not consider vaccines?
The parents of children with autism aren't crazy. We're recovering our kids. We're trying to help other parents do the same, and we hope new parents can avoid our fate.
There has to be room for moderation on vaccines, for a recognition that one size does not fit all, for an honest dialogue around risks and benefits, and for a willingness to maybe delay or scale back some vaccines. How come many other countries give their kids one-third as many shots as we do?
Health authorities said autism was caused by cold mothers; parents proved them wrong. They said kids didn't regress into autism; parents proved them wrong. They said kids with autism weren't more sick with gastrointestinal issues; parents proved them wrong. They said autism was genetic and this epidemic wasn't real; parents proved them wrong. Is now the time to bet against the parents?
Who's afraid of the truth? Usually the people it would hurt the most.