A little over six years ago, I created my first blog on the iBlog platform. My first proper post on that blog was put up on the 29th May 2010. The tagline for my blog was “A blog on Autism, Anti-antivaccination and life by a South African Autist”. So much has happened since then. I hope you will indulge me, dear readers, as I take a look back.
In January 2010, I was googling news stories about autism when I saw a news story about a doctor named Andrew Wakefield. He had been charged and found guilty of a number of offences by the UK General Medical Council. Curious, I searched more. I soon found that there were two opposing viewpoints. One side viewed Wakefield as a hero who had been destroyed for threatening the status quo. The other side viewed him as a dishonest liar who had finally got what he deserved. The first side was loud, shrill and lacking in evidence. The latter was calm and backed up their arguments with irrefutable facts. As I continued reading, I came to view the latter side as correct.
I soon found out about a world that astonished me, and not in a good way. There were people who viewed vaccines as dangerous and far more harmful than the diseases that they prevented. To them, Wakefield was a hero. In 1998, he had published a “Case Study” of 12 children that seemed to suggest that the MMR Vaccine caused autism. By 2010, his work had been thoroughly discredited. Large studies investigating the supposed link had turned up no such correlation, and Brian Deer had revealed not only that Wakefield had multiple conflicts of interest, including being paid by a lawyer to find evidence for a class action lawsuit against MMR, but also that the data in the study pointed away from a link so Wakefield cooked his data. Despite incontrovertible proof of his dishonesty, they still championed him.
I got angry. Eventually, I decided to add my voice, and so I created African Jungle. Some commentators couldn’t read the iBlog domain, and because they wanted to read my work, asked me to create another blog. On November 1st 2010, I set up a blog on WordPress. “African Jungle” was taken on WordPress, so I named my second blog “Autism Jungle”, gave it the same tagline, and copied the posts I’d already written across. After that, all posts I wrote were copied to both blogs.
I first decided to post background information on the MMR-Autism Controversy. Due to Wakefield, thousands of families went to Vaccine Court in the US to seek compensation. The petitions were grouped together under the Omnibus Autism Proceedings. Six candidates (Michelle Cedillo, Yates Hazelhurst, Colten Snyder, Colin Dwyer, Jordan King, William Mead) were selected to be test cases. If they won, the other families would have their cases expedited. They didn’t. Instead, they lost devastatingly, with Special Masters George Hastings, Patricia Campbell-Smith and Denise Vowell commenting extensively on the paucity of the evidence and the incompetence of the expert witnesses. Cedillo, Hazelhurst and Snyder appealed, with the courts upholding the Special Masters’ rulings. Hazelhurt and Cedillo appealed further, with their appeals also failing. After this, parents in the OAP began requesting voluntary dismissal of their cases.
In July 2010, my original car, a secondhand VW Citi Chico, was destroyed in a crash. I bought a secondhand VW Polo Classic, a vehicle I regret buying. Two hugely expensive services, one at 60,000km and the other at 90,000km, have soured me on Volkswagens.
In 2010, some well meaning but misguided individuals proposed a Communication Shutdown on November 1st in support of autistics. This was folly, as many autistics use IT to communicate. In response, autistic bloggers and Twitter users responded with “Autistics’ Speaking Day”. I joined, and have posted every year since.
I’m an avid filmgoer, and sometimes post on the films I’ve seen. In 2015, I saw both the worst (Pitch Perfect 2) and the funniest (Spy) films in my life. I also went to see a cricket match at The Wanderers.
I also attended a funeral.
I voted in 2011 and 2014.
I went to see Tori Amos in November 2011.
Also in November 2011, I was involved in an argument with MJ, who is a father to three autistic girls. He rudely accused me of minimizing and marginalizing his children. I was so angry that I decided to reveal my true name. Prior to that, I had gone by Jungle.
I’ve read and posted about people from history who may have been autistic, including William Bligh and William McGonagall.
Polio is almost extinct.
I learnt about the pseudoscience that is facilitated communication.
I had a letter to the press published.
I have posted about quack cures, including the shocking use of sodium chlorite.
I posted on the sad death of canoeist Graeme Anderson, killed by rabies.
I saw snow fall.
I went on vacation to Portugal.
I’ve repeatedly heard that the world was going to end in a few months’ time, only for nothing to happen each time, including December 2012.
PETA is still telling lies about milk consumption causing autism.
Antivaxxers dreamed up a lie about vaccines causing SBS.
Autism Speaks showed that they were still completely tone deaf about autism.
I swam the Midmar Mile.
I have read far too many stories about autistics being murdered by their parents.
I have seen the political and economic situation in South Africa deteriorate to the point where I am seriously considering emigrating.
I have seen the antivaccine movement go from a still formidable force in 2010 to a shadow today.
I was almost hijacked.
I bought a new computer at the start of 2015 and upgraded the OS to Windows 10.
In my street, Iola Ditcham’s body was found in her house after she’d been dead for around two years.
My blogging has decreased in frequency, but I hope my quality remains high. I am now one of the most read bloggers on iBlog, with African Jungle regularly appearing under the “Most Popular” list, and often in the top spot.
Happy blogoversary to me.