Thursday, June 25, 2009

Autism's False Prophets: A look at the role of bad science and good intentions

Autism's False Prophets: Bad science, risky medicine, and the search for a cure, explores the role of social forces in shaping what we perceive as "science" and "truth." Through great research, author Paul A. Offit debunks the idea that vaccines or mercury cause autism, or that biomedical "alternative" treatments will cure it. He aims to give voice to parents who do NOT buy into this idea, and resent the diversion of research and resources spent to prove or disprove causation and miracle cures rather than interventions and family support.

That would be me. Hear Offit's own words here.

Offit's book features a few parents who have publicized their beliefs, at times at the peril of their own family's safety from zealots. Camille Clark, the woman behind the Autism Diva blog, has been harassed by phone and e-mail; it looks like the blog is no longer active but the archives are fascinating.

Kathleen Seidel is an activist who started She has had her share of vocal detractors as well, many other parents of children with autism. Her web site/blog has a great Health Fraud section.  Kathleen and I are on the "wrong"side when it comes to conspiracy theories about "Big Pharma" (the pharmacy industry) being in cahoots with the government to cover-up harm done by vaccines. We're not buying it.

Neither are we buying the promise of alternative "cures." Says Kathleen, in the book, "When I read about a doctor who suggests to a parent that they take out a second mortgage on their house so they can buy a home Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Chamber, I want to cry." (230).

I encourage readers to check out these web sites, and read Autism's False Prophets. Have you tried a non-traditional treatment for your child with special needs? What was your experience like? I shared a bit about our family's experience in my post Race for a cure or journey towards acceptance? Please share yours.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Today is graduation day for high school seniors 'round these parts. But for teens or young adults with special needs, it may just be another day, if they are not "walking" with their "typically developing" peers.

How nice, then, to read about a graduation ceremony recently in Oregon for graduates of the Salem-Keizer School District's Community Transition Program. This article describes the impact that graduates have had have on the instructional assistants, bus drivers and specialists who have worked along side of them for so many years. Many of these attend the ceremony as "crucial partners in special education."

Thanks for Mackenzie Ryan for writing this article, for the Statesman Journal for publishing it, and to reader "K" for bringing it to my attention via Facebook.