Tuesday, March 4, 2008

In the news...

I'm a month early to discuss Autism Awareness since April is it's official month to 'get the word out' so to speak. There's one recent article in particular that has me, and I'm sure parents all over the world, scratching their heads again in confusion. It is in reference to the great debate about whether or not preservatives in children's vaccinations have been contributing to the rise in diagnosing ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders). There is such a continuance of of back and forth debate between parents, medical experts, manufacturers, chemists etc., it's making our heads spin. I think particularly so, in those of us who have a child with Autism. Let me just say, that I am in no way against childhood vaccines. I think it would be foolish of us to not vaccinate our children against disease and outbreaks that we can control. However, we have become more informed parents our second time around. With Olivia, of course we still vaccinate, but we have modified our shot schedule to include no more than 2 vaccinations at one time. Sometimes we choose to have only one if it's a particular dose of something we are uncomfortable with, and we'll come back a few months later for the next one. Even though manufacturers have claimed that they can produce vaccinations that are "Thimerosal Free", if you research enough you can find dozens of articles about the process of elimination during manufacturing (they start out using it, but the chemical process they do is supposed to end up removing it all by the time it's ready for market) - but no final testing to see if it's actually free of the mercury in the end.

The CDC won't even etch in stone whether or not they believe vaccinations contribute to this medical crisis.

Our son is 7 now, and was diagnosed at around 18 months old. Thankfully, someone in his Mom's Day Out program had experience in Early Intervention and noticed some traits that Carter was displaying. It was like 20/20 hindsight once we were informed about what to look for as "signs". He had so many, but we had no idea what the subtleties were. We chalked it up to Carter just being Carter - some interesting quirks and such. She urged us to get an evaluation, and from there we started our journey through the world of Autism. He is truly remarkable, and has come such a long way from the early years when we were just starting out. We immersed ourselves into therapies 5 days a week, several hours a day, for the first couple of years. Every day, you could count on therapists from Speech, Occupational, Physical, and Developmental to arrive at the house, or for an outside appointment elsewhere. He even had a a couple of intense therapies through OT, one called Samonas (sound therapy) that supplies stimulation to the central nervous system. He had Sensory Integration Dysfunction that inhibited his ability to walk through his world without being super sensitive to his surroundings (sound, touch, taste etc.) Another was called HippoTherapy (therapeutic horseback riding, click here for a pic of him). He wore leg braces from the knee down for a couple of years (click here for a picture) to halt the constant toe walking, which was having a physical affect on his muscle tone and causing him to consistently fall and get hurt. It's been a long road, but we truly contribute his great outcome to such early and intense interventions.

He is very high functioning now and within a regular classroom environment with his peers. There will always be a continuation of social and emotional learning for him, as he has trouble reading social cues from people and understanding emotions of others, which can sometimes cause inappropriate behavior (such as, laughing or mimicking the sound of someones cry, instead of offering sympathy). He continues to have therapy for speech and occupational within the school to help him with communication skills, and his fine motor skills. His sensory issues have drastically improved over the years as well. He is a joy to be around, and anyone who has known him from the start could write pages and pages about his turn-around from then until now. Early help, early help, early help... we can't stress that enough!

We think it's imperative that kids are screened for Autism at their early well-checks. I'm past my bitterness now of being told time and again when Carter was a baby, that my Mommy Instincts were overreactions and that boys just "sometimes develop slower" etc. I'm confident now that Pediatricians are being more informed about diagnosis and what to look for in terms of signs. No, we are no longer with the Pediatricians that had their hands on the doorknob in our earlier years. It's been trial and error along the way to find someone that we trust completely. We really love the doc we have now, and we were so thrilled to know they have early intervention screening practices in place for Autism (can you believe some offices STILL do not do the proper screening?)

Anyway, back to my original reason for needing to blog about this topic today. There is a ton of information on the Internet that one can Google, and I have links on my blog on the right hand side if you're interested in the nitty gritty of the disorder. So I will spare myself the quick rise in blood pressure and raising my tone of voice about all the things that leave us scratching our heads about this epidemic - I'll wait until April!

Now, to add to the Great Debate of vaccination contribution to Autism, I present the article at hand.... the headline reads:

"Government Concedes Vaccine Autism Case in Federal Court"

Click here to read the article..... head scratching isn't it!?

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