Look, I know that all kinds of people are up in arms about this autism “epidemic,” but few of these idiots have actually been thinking rationally. I came across this idiot over in the comments at this post from a great blog I regularly frequent.
I try to understand these people. I really do. But when they start invoking Godwin’s law and just start spouting crazy I can no longer take them seriously. These people seem to be completely devoted to the fact that their son/daughter cannot be developmentally delayed due to anything other than vaccines, environmental “toxins,” or some other bullshit excuse. I’m not saying that those things may not play a role in their development, but to blame those things, and ONLY those things, with little to no empirical evidence is irresponsible at best. Development is a fickle beast affected by many things, but genetics plays the largest role. In fact, most teratogens have a relatively narrow window during which they have the terrible effects of which you hear.
Essentially what this comes down to is what you are willing to believe based on the evidence. Using the best evidence we have (and it’s damn good evidence) vaccines don’t cause autism. I’m far from an expert, but being in neurobiology for as long as I have I do know human cognition and other basic medical principles very well. Here is my take on this.
What is currently known as autism (or ASD) is a wide range of relatively mild to severe cognitive disorders that have been common in humans for centuries. The reason for the wide range in autism disorders is due to our relative lack of knowledge about the origins of the disorder and our current need to classify anything and everything that isn’t “normal” as a disorder (don’t get me started on the fucked up reasons why), so we just lump them all into the super-diagnosis of what the DSMIV (and soon to be V) calls ASD. There hasn’t been an increase in the number of people with autism, but there has been an exponential growth in the awareness AND diagnosis of autism, making the overall numbers appear to be skyrocketing when in fact they have probably been pretty stable for the past few decades at least. Those kids you used to make fun of for being weird back in the ’70s and ’80s? Yeah, they’re now diagnosed with mild autism or Aspergers. Does that mean that the number actually rose? No, it doesn’t, we’re just changing what it’s called.
Do I have any fool-proof evidence of this? No, I do not, and I don’t pretend to (unlike those anti-vax freaks). I’m using personal observation and common sense to piece together information that doesn’t appear to make a whole lot of sense otherwise. For instance, if mercury poisoning is what was causing so many autism cases then why did the numbers continue to grow even after taking thimerosal out of the most prevelent vaccines? Oh wait, you’ll just blame it on the other “toxins” in the vaccines. Sorry, I forgot that logic doesn’t play a part in your thought process. I shouldn’t be surprised though considering nearly all of you “vaccine caused my baby’s autism!” people lack even the most basic understanding of biological principles and yet still talk like you know something.
My advice: shut the fuck up, love your child for what he/she is, and do your very best to raise him/her regardless of the circumstances.