I'm concerned whenever I see articles from a seemingly reputable source making references to autistic people as being "lost in their own worlds" and the like. I'm also concerned that here's the inference that the Somali people are experiencing an epidemic of autism in their children when they move to the US. The implication is, of course, that autism is caused BY SOMETHING and that if we just threw these children off to the African lions, somehow they'd get all better in their homeland because, like, the medical care is soooo much better there, right?
Sigh. Just read the quote from this article (or better yet, read the whole article) and tell me what you think:
“They say, ‘There’s more sunshine, there’s less pollution, the food is fresher because the animal was killed that morning,’ ” Ms. Abdull said. “They say: ‘My kid won’t talk? Throw him in the middle of 20 other kids, and he’ll talk. They’ll tease him till he has to.’ You know the way kids run around in Africa? People are so isolated in their apartments here. They think maybe they’ll snap out of it.”
Yeah, that, or they'll be injured or killed. Survival of the fittest and all that (shudder). Mayyybe there are genetic or environmental causes of autism, and certainly with parents' permission these can be investigated. But wow. After reading this article, I would wonder if the equation "Somali = likely autistic" will be implanted in the readers' minds just as "Haitian = likely has AIDS" used to be in the 1980's. Remember those bad old days? Me, too.
Ok, even worse than that? The idea that anti-vaccine people who stand to make money through their own "treatments" for autism are swooping in like vultures for the kill:
"... He warned them not to trust the state health department and suggested they slow down their children’s shots and get exemptions to school vaccination requirements. He also offered to pay for some to attend an antivaccine conference. The appeal has had an effect. Many parents, including Ayub’s, now say that their children’s autism began after seizures that started after they got shots."
“People in the Somali community have gravitated to that theory, and many are resisting immunization,” Dr. McLellan said."
Oh, greaaaat. Now, I'm not pro-vaccine all the time, but I'm all for not scaring people into doing what you want for some money. Don't scare people into getting shots for their kids, and don't scare them into NOT getting shots for their kids so they can buy your stupid product, either. Each parent should have all the information he needs to make an informed decision. To my mind, if I were living in a large unvaccinated population and the mumps started going around, that might make me seriously consider the mumps vaccine that my children do not currently have. To alienate a large population that is experiencing a medical crisis from the state that is at least TRYING to help through various programs is, I think, a travesty.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know you might say "the state? Helping?" and really rail on me. But listen. Here are newly-immigrated people without a great deal of connections or conventional education about immunities, lead testing, city living, etc. etc. etc. And here are some granola-toting hippies trying to sever the ties that they might have gotten from conventional medical sources.
Not that we found conventional medical sources to be all that helpful. And not that I don't like granola sometimes, too.
Aargh. I guess it bothers me that everyone in the article doesn't seem to be diligent about letting the parents decide. That there's such a ... oh... paternalistic? kind of feeling running through it. Maybe that's it.
Ok. Signing off this post now, because I want to hear what you think and see what ideas I get bounced back. :]