A report released yesterday found that Andrew Wakefield who linked autism to immunization shots was not only incorrect, but he purposely altered the findings in his study. The man is a huge fraud.
Many have long been skeptical about the connection between autism and childhood vaccinations, but to learn that a researcher had consciously altered facts in his report is horrific. It makes this blogger want to spew flames of hate in his general direction.
How many families held back from immunizing their children out of fear? How many medieval diseases were spread? Deaths certainly resulted from these lies. This fraudulent research may have also distracted parents from providing their children with useful therapy and gave them a false cause for their children's condition.
These researchers are just a few of the jackals that thrive in the world of autism. There are countless therapies and services for autistic children, which are not only useless. They are also expensive and time-consuming.
Yesterday, I took Ian to a special swim class at the local YMCA. I ran into another parent from my town who has a son with severe autism. She told me about all the therapies that her son had endured — everything from B12 shots to audio-integration therapy. None of these measures had helped him, but they had cost the family thousands of dollars. She had spent the past decade dragging him to various professionals who claimed miracle cures.
On Monday, I spent the entire day researching a testing program run by a highly respected university. Someone had mentioned the program to me and, like any concerned parent, I don't want to leave any stone unturned. The university told me that they had an eleven hour program that would evaluate my son in a variety of ways, including his educational level, his IQ, language skills and so on. They said the test would cost $5,500 and they wouldn't take any insurance. After several phone calls with my insurance company, I found they would cover half the costs. So, I called the highly respected university to ask more questions.
Eventually, I spoke with a doctor who instead of telling me more about these expensive tests, asked me a lot of questions about why I wanted these tests. An hour into the conversation, I eventually figured out that these tests wouldn't help Ian at all. They were intended for political purposes. Parents, who were unhappy with their school district, paid for these tests, because they wanted to sue their school district. The university would paint a dire picture of the child and recommend that the child attend a private program. They would even recommend a particular private school that the parent chose. Parents would use these documents in a legal battle.
Since we're happy with Ian's placement, we didn't need these tests. It took me an entire day to figure out what was going on.
It would be easy to say that all therapies and services were shams and heists and walk away from it all. The problem is that good teachers really do make a difference. I've seen incredible before-and-after results when smart, sensitive, dedicated teachers and therapists work with an autistic child. Nobody is cured of autism; it's a life-long condition, despite what Jenny McCarthy says. (McCarthy is a whole different kind of fraud.) But smart interventions do improve functionality.
So, parents of an autistic child are in the unfortunate position of having to become instant experts on a neurological condition and to find some way of sorting through good and bad therapies.
There are so many charlatans promising fast and cures to autism, because they are able to prey on the grief and desperation of parents. Some parents really believe that someday a drug will be made that will transform their low-functioning child into the child that they were meant to be. Also, autism research is still in its infancy. There isn't a strong understanding of the causes of the autism. There is still much debate about even the description of the condition. Quacks take advantage of desperation and scientific uncertainty.
Wakefield is just one of the many jackal that are preying on a vulnerable audience. We need greater regulation and oversight over the autism industry.