Friday, August 16, 2013

Ignorance and Autism


Let me start by saying that, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, I hate stupid people.  And the only thing I hate more than stupid people is when people talk about things and act knowledgeable about things that they have absolutely no real understanding of. Ok, fine, I hate plenty of things more than that, but today that is the thing I hate most.

I might snap if I have one more person tell me that my child will have autism because:
  • We did IVF
  • We used ICSI as part of our IVF cycle
  • I have done frequent ultrasounds
  • I drank wine during my pregnancy
  • I drank out of a water bottle that I left in my car (seriously, I wish I was kidding)
  • I ate non organic fruits and veggies during my pregnancy
  • I ate tuna fish while pregnant
  • I plan to vaccinate my child
I might literally bite the person's head off.  There is absolutely no solid research that shows a link between autism and any of the things I listed above. Autism is caused by abnormalities in the brain structure. No single "trigger" has been identified as the problem that causes autism.  It seems that most REAL research finds a link between heredity, genetics and autism. The Mayo Clinic, which I find to be a very reliable source, says that they are doing research to see if, IF, environmental factors play a role. IF.

I am married to a very wonderful man who just so happens to be a special education teacher.  And not just any special education teacher, a teacher who specializes in students with autism and works in a program specifically for students on the autism spectrum. A man who is getting his master's degree in special education and has been taking numerous classes regarding autism. Do you see where I am going with this?!

Brandon has students whose mothers used drugs during their pregnancies and who didn't use drugs, who keep an organic diet and who didn't keep an organic diet, who were vigilant in their pregnancy healthcare and who were not so in tuned with their care during pregnancy, mothers who vaccinated their children and some that did not.  His students come from a variety of social and economic backgrounds and literally the one thing these kids have in common is that they all have some form of autism... and Brandon is their teacher, but that point is moot.

I have a coworker, Donna, who did ultrasounds every Monday during her pregnancy to see the heartbeat of her twins. Those ultrasounds were done ON TOP OF the appointments with her doctor.  And you know what - her twins are TOTALLY healthy eight year olds.  Not one sign of a learning disability. The sonographer who did my 20 week anatomy scan told me she did scans on herself every week, sometimes twice a week, and you know what - no autism or learning disabilities.  In Europe, there are women who drink wine every night with dinner and you know what, their babies are just fine.  In fact, in the US 1 in 88 child have autism and in Europe 1 in 150 children have autism.  Maybe we should all be drinking more wine!  If you clicked on the link to the Mayo Clinic, then you would have read that there is no link between autism and vaccinations. As for autism and IVF, I have worked at Shady Grove for over three years and in that time I have yet to hear a patient of mine complain about their child being born with autism and Dr. Levy has A LOT of repeat patients.

Yes, I am aware that the number of children being diagnosed with autism is on the rise.  I am also aware, because of the work that my husband does, that the diagnostic umbrella for autism is getting wider. Meaning the definition of autism is broadening.  Of course a broader definition is going to cover more things.  What I have learned from Brandon, his students and the many text books laying around my house right now is that there is ABSOLUTELY NO REAL LINK between the things listed above and autism so before you tell me that my chocolate sprinkle donut is going to cause my daughter to have autism, why don't you shut up and do a little research.  And at this point, the reality is, I would rather have a child with autism than one who is ignorant. WOOF.

Brandon, my love, will you be a dear and please hold my glass of wine and tuna sandwich while I step off my soap box? Thank you.