Wednesday, April 02, 2008

World Autism Day

Although some of you might have been waiting anxiously for the post about the unfortunate toddler tantrum at the library yesterday (and a mini-story about a father at the library who decided story time was the perfect opportunity to hit on the librarian), you are going to have to wait one more day.

Today we at savethephillipsfamily are pausing to recognize World Autism Day.

April 2nd has been set aside to promote global awareness of an epidemic which is affecting our world. Rates continue to rise, with England and Ireland being so bold as to report rates of autism as high as 1 in 60. This morning the New York Stock Exchange was opened by several families dealing with autism. Six years ago the most publicity autism was receiving was occasional showings of Rain Man on TBS and the random shot of the "Cure Autism Now" poster in the background of the television show ER. Now we have a World Autism Day. Things have come quite far, which I am thankful for.

My interest in autism began when I started teaching a behavior modification class for elementary kids that consisted primarily of children diagnosed with some form of high functioning autism. I spent four years working with the same core group of children (others floated in and out) and witnessed their families battle this disease. Some are success stories (one of my very first students is set to graduate in May 2010) and others are still deep in the trenches of this battle. Finally the media has tuned an ear to this problem and autism has been placed in the limelight. Awareness is being cultivated, more dollars are being placed into research, and understanding is growing.

Despite many conflicting reports, as of today there is no definite reason as to why autism happens in individuals and there is no known cure.

In honor of World Autism Day, here are a few links to click on and read about some of the latest happenings in the world of autism spectrum disorders.
  • Autism Speaks website....great basic information about autism spectrum disorders and about World Autism Day
  • Here is a link to an article written by Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey in response to the vaccine debate (Do vaccines cause autism?) and how some children with autism can be in recovery. I have read Jenny's book "Louder than Words" (see my review here) and really liked it. Although I do not believe the statement of "Vaccines cause autism" and I currently do vaccinate my children according to set governmental guidelines, I do believe that some children cannot tolerate vaccines and such toxins in their bodies (as well as other environmental and food toxins) "trigger" autism. A girl I taught with autism had parents that jumped on the "Vaccines gave my child autism" bandwagon early on. I believe they did this rightfully so because their daughter had no symptoms prior to receiving vaccines around 18 months of age (understand that some children display signs of autism before receiving major vaccinations) and because parents crave an answer as to why their child has suddenly become locked behind the wall of autism. The girl often wore a sweatshirt proclaiming the horrors of vaccinations and what they can do to children (this shirt was eventually prohibited by the school district due to its content and due to the fact the girl did not have the ability to understand the message her parents were dressing her in). After many different types of therapies, these parents eventually took their daughter to a specialist who rid the little girl's body of metals and mercury through different herbs. I laughed along with other teachers when we heard of this nonsense. Then I saw the results. A little girl who was once lost inside her own little mind was now running around the playground interacting with children. She could concentrate in class rather than being somewhere a thousand miles away. The repetitive language and behaviors ceased. She was taken out of my class (except for social skills training) and thriving in regular education. I believe in autism recovery.
  • Barnes and Noble Bookstores are recognizing April as being Autism Awareness Month by hosting special story times about autism. We plan to attend our local story time event later this month.
  • Hannah Poling's family made the news recently because they won a settlement claiming that vaccinations caused their daughter's autism. Some people believe this is an admission by the government that vaccines cause autism, yet the government is standing by the notion that the vaccines could have caused the autism and that research continues to show their is no link. I am not sure what I think about this settlement yet.

Happy Reading!


Anonymous said...

Lynley, have you read any research on the study that diseases such as Aspergers and Autism are actually natural effects of human beings EVOLVING?

Check out this website

I also heard this discussed on NPR a few days ago

Phillips Family said...

Thanks, anonymous! I haven't heard of this theory, but will have to check it out!

Shelley said...

Hey... thanks so much for the post. My cousin's boy has been diagnosed with autism and I, too, have an interest in it. As a past special ed. teacher, I am still interested in learning about development, etc... Thanks for the info. I will have to read the links!

JenniferReinsch said...

There are a couple of states that have begun setting forth legislation to have medical insurance cover behavioral therapy within autism cases.

Jennifer H. said...

Thanks for a great post, Lynley. My thinking is very similar with yours concerning autism. We also still vaccinate our kids, but luckily we have a very supportive pediatrician who does not combine as many vaccines in one shot.

What an amazing story about the girl. So sad that her parents used her to voice their concerns. I am infatuated with Jenny McCarthy's story. I read all of her CNN editorials and information that CNN has posted this week. And I tivoed the Oprah that she was on when discussing autism. I have not had a chance to read her book yet, but it is on my summer reading list. Have you checked out the website she supports? It is really interesting.

I have taught so many students with autism that it really piques my interest. I often wonder if many of my students were ever taught by you. Even though you were in a different feeder pattern, there are always kids that we get that have transferred.

Thanks again for some great reading!

Amy said...

My nephew was just diagnosed with very high functioning autism. It is such a sad frustrating disease. Thank you for your post!

Monica said...

Loved your post. Autism is something that just hurts my heart. I know of people who have also experienced "healing". It is amazing. Seems so far fetch and the methods are crazy, but the child is proof. You are such a good blogger. I love reading about your life.

JenniferReinsch said...

Happy Thursday. I'm too lazy this evening to log onto my email, so I thought I would send this info to you via blog. Check out this website... I know you and Tobe like to save money as much as I do. It is my new favorite site.

margk said...

I appreciate your thoughtfullness and interest in autism. While I have not been affected by the disease, I am so alarmed by the rise in it since the early 90s that I haven't done any vaccinations on Nicholas since he turned 1. There seems to be some proof that certain children are more susceptible. I would like to see a blood test available to parents before they begin to vaccinate their babies. Did you know that when our parents were kids they didn't get their vaccinations until kindergarten and there were only 3 or 4 of them? Am I being paranoid in my statement when I say that drug companies are controlling our healthcare system?

Phillips Family said...

Excellent comments...everyone brought ups some great points!

MargK--I am starting to join the bandwagon of drug companies manipulating our healthcare system simply to make money!