- I will not claim to speak for any parents other than me, not even my ex-wife.
- There is little doubt that part of the quick rejection of vaccine causation for Dylan’s regressive ASD onset was my ex’s science background (she was a Ph.D. developmental biologist with a family history full of medical professionals) and my familiarity with epidemiological issues through my exposure to them in practicing product liability law.
I believe that all parents are, on a subjective basis, trying to help their kids, even when they choose unproven therapies or focus energies on vaccine and other unproven causes of ASD.
I sincerely wish that the cause of ASD were so easily tracked down that it could be MMR or other vaccines or the mere inclusion of wheat and milk in our children’s diets. Such simple causes would be easy to treat or address, and ASD would disappear. I really wish it were that simple.
I don’t know what causes ASD. It is indisputable that there is a strong genetic component that describes the vast majority of the risk, and thus genetic research to discover the underlying genetic mechanism is helpful and important. Once relevant genes, proteins, and pathways are discovered, the search for the non-genetic components of ASD can be far more tailored to likely candidates.
I know that if I could ascribe my son’s autism to vaccines, it would probably assuage most, if not all, of the guilt I feel at “missing” signs early on. I know that concerns (that in hindsight were symptoms) were raised with his pediatrician; I know that I was wholly ignorant of the notion that ASD is a spectrum disorder and relatedness to his family, developing language, and good vocabulary were MISLEADING signs about his underlying health; I know that even though I believe we acted reasonably, and even though we took additional steps to raise issues about him with the appropriate people, we still failed to get the “right” result. I know that I worry constantly that the months or years from when I “might have known” might turn out be the critical ones that may prevent him from making as much progress as he otherwise might.
So, what do I think about other parents? I think that many of them might feel guilty about not recognizing signs, about not pushing harder with pediatricians or other professionals. And all I can say is that I had to let go of most of that guilt so it wouldn’t interfere with helping my son. I could spend all my day arguing about vaccines, but in any case, he’s already autistic. The only relevant actions for him in his life are those that point towards treating and curing this disease.
Ed. note: This post was written quite a while ago, in response to this article asking for folks to ignore the media-tuned yammerings of Jenny McCarthy. This recent re-review that antigen exposure is not related to autism prompted me to finally publish it.]