Monday, April 29, 2013

Autism Understanding & Acceptance 2013, Day 29: What's causing it?

Yep, I’m going there. But I may surprise you with what I’m going to say: I don’t know. And I could just stop there. But no worries - I have plenty to say on this matter, and I’m sure some of you will not agree with me, or will feel the need to argue your point, or bring up something you think I haven’t considered yet or don’t know about yet. I’m girding my loins for responses. Believe me, I’ve lived in this volatile world now for seven years and I’m used to it.

Here’s the shocker: it really doesn’t matter to us at this point. It’s too late. How it happened is behind us. Rob & I are too busy maintaining Thomas’ needs day to day to spend much time worrying about why. I understand and acknowledge that it is of the utmost importance that research be done on what is causing the explosion in autism diagnosis…and when I say explosion, I mean explosion. When Thomas was diagnosed in 2005, the rate was 1 in 166 children. Then it went to 1 in 150. Then it went to 1 in 100. Now we are at 1 in 88, and if you just count the rate in boys, then it is and even higher rate. What the heck is going on here?

Here’s where the screaming starts. Vaccines. Toxic environment. Genetics. Change in diagnostic criteria for autism. Change in diagnostic criteria for mental retardation. Better screening and awareness. Increased diagnosing so students can qualify for IEPs. Having parents that are too educated. Having used an epidural. Food allergies. Just about anything you did while pregnant. (Did you breathe while pregnant? Well, yes. Well damn woman, what were you thinking???) Low birth weight. Premature birth. Having older parents. Hell, I even read that watching Baby Einstein videos causes autism.

You can see why there is screaming. No one knows. Or maybe better put: everyone has their theory, and everyone dismisses all the other theories, and pretty vehemently. No wonder Rob & I have withdrawn from all that mess & hollering. We’re too busy looking for the light.

So I will share what we know and what we believe. Thomas is fully vaccinated and had no noticeable reactions to any vaccine. He did not regress. He started showing red flags at about 4-5 months which we did not notice but other more seasoned parents of children with special needs did. We believe he was born this way. I had a healthy pregnancy. I have lived and breathed the world of autism for the past seven years, and have done a ton of research. I have come to the conclusion that vaccines did not play a role in his autism. Trust me. What we see in Thomas is so many of Rob’s & my personality traits just ramped up about 100 times. SO…we believe that for our boy, genetics got ramped up big time by something, probably something in the environment, and probably the big combination of toxins that are in our environment and not just one toxin or insult. The catch phrase, and pardon the current political incorrectness here: genetics loaded the gun, the environment pulled the trigger.

But here’s where we get super frustrated: we think there are several types of autism out there, and the reason behind all this screaming about causes is that we are looking for one cause of several different disorders that all look like autism. In this case, they all look like ducks & quack like ducks, but maybe it’s a big gaggle of geese, quails & blue-footed boobies mixed in with the ducks instead.

To make my point: take two kids diagnosed with autism. One developed typically until 12-18 months, talking, interacting, all the good stuff you look for (and that doesn’t make you want to flip-off the book “What to Expect the First Year”), but then heartbreakingly and suddenly regresses, usually closely coinciding with a well-baby visit & vaccines, and develops terrible gastro symptoms & behaviors which are corrected by a special diet. Another kid does not regress, but instead takes his/her time and eventually falls way behind peers (hence inspiring the flipping-off of the “What to Expect” book), has no gastro symptoms and does not respond to diets. Both are diagnosed with autism.

How does this happen??? Different onset, different symptoms, different responses to treatment, and yet we categorize them both with the same disorder? NO WONDER we can’t find ONE cause! There ISN’T ONE because it’s NOT THE SAME DISORDER!

So for now, we don’t know. And Rob & I keep looking for the light.

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