With Autism Speaks, the bad outweighs the good

Yesterday, I did not “light it up blue” for autism awareness. Instead, I intend to “Tone it down Taupe” and “Walk in Red”.
This may come as a surprise to some, but I had my reasons. The problem is, the slogan has been captured by Autism Speaks, an organisation that, despite its name, does not speak for autistics. Instead, it ignores, undermines and degrades us with its actions.
The biggest problem with Autism Speaks is its consistent use of the “Autism is a tragedy” narrative, to the point that John Elder Robison resigned from the Autism Speaks Board. Autism Speaks refuses to listen to those autistics who say that we have #ALifeWorthLiving
A second problem is that only a fraction of the money donated to Autism Speaks is used to help autistics and their families.
A third problem is that Autism Speaks initially bought into the MMR Autism causation hypothesis, and still refuses to distance itself from its earlier position. At the start of 2009, Alison Tepper Singer was the Vice President for PR and Strategy at Autism Speaks when the first three cases in the Omnibus Autism proceedings were judged. When the verdicts went against the families, Singer took a much closer look at the evidence and realised just how poor it was. But when she tried to get Autism Speaks to change its approach, she failed. She then left Autism Speaks and set up the Autism Science Foundation.
Recently Rob Ring, Autism Speaks’ Chief Science Officer, put out a statement unequivocally denying the vaccine autism link. But then Bob Wright, cofounder of Autism Speaks, commented.

Over the last two decades extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccines and autism. Scientific research has not directly connected autism to vaccines. Vaccines are very important. Parents must make the decision whether to vaccinate their children. Efforts must be continually made to educate parents about vaccine safety. If parents decide not to vaccinate they must be aware of the consequences in their community and their local schools.

The comment is ambiguous and equivocal. Wright should have confirmed that autism and vaccines aren’t linked. Instead, he suggests there may still be something to it.
Disappointing.

With Autism Speaks, the bad it does far outweighs the good.

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More deaths from “harmless childhood” diseases

Another baby has fallen victim to whooping cough.
Riley Hughes wasn’t even five weeks old. He wasn’t the only one. According to the article linked above.

There have been three whooping cough deaths in babies in NSW since 2009, including a six month old unvaccinated twin who died last September in regional NSW.

Revoltingly, the anti-vaxxers have begun their attack, just as they did when David and Toni McCaffrey lost their baby daughter Dana. The McCaffreys have sent the Hugheses condolences.
In Germany, an 18 month old unvaccinated child died from measles. The result has been calls for mandatory vaccination. I am very surprised that mandatory vaccination doesn’t already exist in Germany.
Please vaccinate and get your boosters.

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From the news

AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.
Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.
The End.
With those three tweets, the death of fantasy author and Discworld creator Sir Terry Pratchett was announced to the world. He had a form of Alzheimer’s disease, and that is what took him. Oddly enough, I went to see “Still Alice” on Sunday. Julianne Moore won a Best Actress Oscar for her depiction of a linguistics professor suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s. Joyreactor has a tribute to Sir Terry. It doesn’t link to the source, unfortunately.
I saw an article about a link between autism and intelligence. The investigators say more research needs to be done, but I thought it was interesting.
Next up, something for pro vaxxers to smirk about.
A German antivaccinationist named Stefan Lanka offered 100,000 Euros to anyone who could irrefutably demonstrate the existence of the measles virus. A physician named David Barden accepted the challenge and sent Lanka peer reviewed documentation. Lanka refused to accept the proof and pay out the prize, so Barden sued him in court.
And won.
Lanka has announced he will appeal, but I doubt he will be successful as the judge declared the terms of the challenge were met.
And unfortunately, I’m going to have to end this on a major downer.
An autistic teenager named Otto Smith was murdered by his mother’s live-in boyfriend. The boyfriend, Matthew Lee Christenson, has a history of assault.

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Italy agrees – the MMR Vaccine does not cause autism

Some two and a half years ago, one of the most egregious verdicts in history was returned by a lower court in Rimini, Italy.
The court ruled that the MMR vaccine caused autism.
I wrote about it then. To reach this execrable verdict, the court relied heavily on Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent and retracted “case study”. Given that it had been retracted for over two years already at that point, the decision was a travesty.
And now, justice has prevailed.
On the 13th February, a higher court overturned the verdict, ruling that it was completely wrong to rely on Wakefield’s “research”.
I used Chrome’s “translate” feature as I don’t know Italian. The first paragraph reads:
There is no link between the trivalent vaccine and autism. There is no evidence to establish that the former causes the syndrome, there is only a temporal connection. In the sense that the injection that prevents measles, mumps and rubella is made ​​before the diagnosis of autistic disorder, which usually arrives between 3 and 6 years. That’s it. The Court of Appeal of Bologna has overturned a controversial 2102 ruling of the Labour Court of Rimini, who had recognized the compensation to a couple of Romagna whose child had been vaccinated by local health authorities in 2002 and subsequently had a diagnosis of autism.
The verdict led to a fall in vaccination rates. Hopefully, this too will be corrected.

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Once again, the lives of autistics are diminished

A few things before the main event.
Pro-vaxxers have two new celebrity allies. Kristen Bell and her husband Dax Shepard are not allowing their friends near their children unless they’ve been vaccinated.
Cracked has an article on why anti-vaccine lies work so well.
And now the story that has me shaking with rage. THIS.
That article is straight up apologetics for murder. Matt has a much more accurate view.
For more information, please go to Respectful Insolence and search on “Alex Spourdalakis”.
This is just downright evil. It’s the same “autism is a tragedy” lie that devalues my life and the life of every single other autistic. Spourdalakis’s caregivers are not good people. They were offered help and they refused. Then they violently murdered Alex.
This just makes me want to scream “STOP DEVALUING US!!!” Because that is precisely what it’s doing.

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The stupid, it burns

Sometimes you read something so patently ridiculous, you wonder what the authors/writers/researchers were thinking.
The first stupid thing I read was a proposal to change the law in South Africa reduce the blood alcohol level of drivers to 0%. No alcohol whatsoever. This has been put forward to lower the shockingly high death rate on South Africa’s roads.
This has been mooted in several other countries and invariably shot down. Fresh fruit, freshly baked bread, amasi, and rum and raisin ice cream all contain small amounts of alcohol or other substances that can trigger positive breath readings. Diabetes and other medical conditions can do the same.
We don’t need ever stricter laws that will sweep up loads of innocent people, we need proper enforcement of the existing ones. Not once in my ten years of driving have I been stopped and checked for sobriety. In fact, we could probably go back to the old limits if proper enforcement was used.
The second stupid thing I read was an article by someone accusing her paediatrician, who is now refusing to take the children of vaccine refusers on as patients, of violating the Hippocratic Oath. Suffice to say, the paediatrician is totally in the right. If a child is too young to have received vaccines, or immunosuppressed as a result of receiving chemotherapy, or anti-rejection drugs for a transplant, then an un- or under- vaccinated child poses a grave risk. Paediatricians have a responsibility to all of their patients, and if a family endangers the other patients by refusing to vaccinate and thus increasing the other patients chances of catching diseases, then as far as I’m concerned the practise has a right to refuse the refusers.
And now, last but not least, the stupidest thing I read last week.
Some reports say that Russian leader Vladimir Putin is an Aspie. No, really. They say he is.
Putin was a member of the KGB before communism ended in Russia, President for two terms and now (officially) Prime Minister. If you have trouble believing that an aspie could achieve those things in a dictatorship, so do I.

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Was Alan Turing autistic?

Strange, isn’t it, how you’re reading something and a phrase catches your eye.
The film The Imitation Game went on cinematic release in South Africa yesterday. It’s about Alan Turing’s life, his work at Bletchley Park as a cryptanalyst, his homosexuality and his death. The local newspaper printed a review of The Imitation Game written by Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post.
While reading the review, several things jumped out at me. The first was that, according to the film, as a boy Turing would separate his vegetables “into compulsively arranged colour-coded piles.” The next is that Turing found it “so difficult to break the signs and social codes of his colleagues”. The third is that he suggested the rest of the Bletchley Park team be fired so he can make better use of their salaries, and that by way of atonement, he brought them apples.
Admittedly, films are notorious for “exaggerating” things, but those foibles are signs of autism. Was Turing autistic?
Out of curiosity, I went to the Wikipedia pages for The Imitation Game and Alan Turing. The Imitation Game’s page didn’t really have anything, but Turing’s page mentioned Jack Good quoted by Ronald Lewin.

“In the first week of June each year he would get a bad attack of hay fever, and he would cycle to the office wearing a service gas mask to keep the pollen off. His bicycle had a fault: the chain would come off at regular intervals. Instead of having it mended he would count the number of times the pedals went round and would get off the bicycle in time to adjust the chain by hand. Another of his eccentricities is that he chained his mug to the radiator pipes to prevent it being stolen.”

Who wears a gas mask to stop hayfever? An autistic, that’s who.
I realise that none of this constitutes proof that Turing was autistic, and that it’s not wise to retrospectively diagnose historical figures, but I’m going to do just that.
I believe that a strong case can be made that Alan Turing was autistic.

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