Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Autism is an Iceberg

My good friend Ginger Taylor posted today on her blog, Adventures In Autism, about an article written by Rick Jones and  published in CFO magazine entitled, "The Value of Life: Why an ethically complicated calculation can help determine the value of your company’s risk reduction programs."  WHAT????  Read Ginger's post for a beautifully rendered analysis of the article, pointing out the problems with some its assumptions but, bottom line, what Mr. Jones writes is:

"The lives saved and dollar benefits from vaccines are hard to calculate, but it’s safe to say that these and other immunizations have greatly improved the quantity and quality of life for millions of people -- at the tragic, yet accepted cost of a few. "

 Yes, he acknowledges that children will be harmed by the vaccine program and he is willing to stand up and say outright that that is acceptable.   While it is disturbing to read in print that someone believes it is knowingly acceptable to harm children, at least he is being honest in his acknowledgement

One of the issues that Ginger points out and that Jones does not address and which should have been considered in his analysis is the chronic health crisis among America's children.  In a recent article, based on a 2007 survey, the authors found that, 43% of children had at least one of 20 assessed chronic health problems, and when obesity and risk of developmental delay were included, that percentage exceeded 54%! Moreover, 45% of children with one condition had at least a second - meaning that almost 20% of children had at least two chronic health conditions assessed in the study.

More than half of this country's children are ill and those charged with protecting our public health do not seem particularly curious - let alone panicked -  as to why?  Alarm bells should be ringing!  This is like the Titanic.... and autism is the iceberg.  They see autism and think they can avoid or ignore it but they don't have a clue as to what is hiding beneath - or here, hiding in plain sight.  Here's a handy graphic (pardon my admittedly lame art  skills, but thank goodness for SketchBook Pro on my iPad) showing all those conditions...

Sadly, I am guessing that many children have more than one or two of these conditions.  When I look at it, I count several for my own son - at least 5 diagnoses he carries in addition to ASD and I am not including speech and developmental delay (I will throw a bone and subsume, for my child, those issues under ASD), and two others that may be applicable.  This is not my idea of a fun game.  Ooooh who gets the most chronic illnesses - ME ME ME!  There is no winner here and our children are the big losers.  No potential cause - including vaccines - should be ruled out as a contributing factor to this epidemic of chronic illness without serious investigation.  And for those who baldly claim that vaccines have been vindicated - I urge you to take a hard look at the science - it does not support that position.  This is still an open question.  Read Vaccine Epidemic (full disclosure - I am a contributing editor and author) and watch "The Greater Good."  Ask yourself - what is the greater good if more than half our children are being harmed by something(s)?  Why are we not racing to identify the cause or causes of rampant chronic illness?  What does that say about our society and our willingness (or lack thereof) to protect the most vulnerable?  And what does our future bode as a generation of chronically ill children struggle to compete in an ever more challenging world economic climate?

Those of us in the autism community have been struggling with many of these questions for years, and now we watch families of young people in LeRoy, NY struggling with a mystery illness.  So many are willing to dismiss their illness and give an easy diagnosis that does not take a serious look at causation.  Yet, because these families are standing up and others are taking notice, we are learning  about potential environmental causes for the these symptoms that so many in power - including their own school officials - are willing to ignore or are affirmatively refusing to consider.  The autism families, the Le Roy families, and every family with a chronically ill child should continue to demand answers.

I was reading Oprah's magazine today and she had a feature about defining yourself  in 6 words (inspired by Larry Smith).  I have been pondering my 6 today.  Right now, I am feeling: "Stand Tall.  Be Heard.  Demand Accountability."  I hope that you are feeling it too!