Teen Queen was born in 1995, diagnosed in 1998.
Baby Queen was born in 1997, diagnosed in 1999.
BQ was easier to diagnose quickly because she never hit the verbal markers of neurotypical kids and we'd just gone through it with TQ. TQ went from talking at 18 months to completely silent and withdrawn at 22 months. Like a switch was flipped in her brain. I know from experience how violent the discussion of vaccines and autism can get. On one side is a group of parents wanting answers and on the other side are a group of people who've never lived our lives screaming at us that we're ignorant, negligent, horrible people who just need to shut the fuck up. The more they scream at us, the more we hate them.
It all hinges on one research project by Andrew Wakefield. Too many years and too many millions of dollars have been spent by the pro-vaccine groups to discredit (repeatedly) this research. Instead of hammering the same nail over and over to protect vaccine interests, why didn't any of them branch out into research on tangents: vaccines and genetic susceptibility, vaccines and Tylenol toxicity, vaccines and a million other environmental factors. Way back when, the tobacco industry did the exact same thing to us that the vaccine industry (and trust me, vaccines are an incredibly lucrative business) is doing. Stonewalling, gaslighting. The same "if vaccines caused Autism, then every child who was vaccinated would be autistic" echoes the tobacco industry's favorite argument, "If smoking caused lung cancer, then every smoker would have lung cancer." What did we later learn? Genetics plays a factor, definitely. Some people who smoke are more genetically predisposed to lung cancer. Some people can smoke 8 packs a day and never get lung cancer. So that argument doesn't float. There are also people genetically predisposed to lung cancer who never smoke and get it anyway. Does that mean tobacco doesn't cause lung cancer? No, no it doesn't.
The pro-vaccine group will also tell you that the increase in autism diagnoses is due to better testing and broader diagnostic criteria. I will grant probably 50% of the increase is due to better diagnosing, but that leaves 50% as a big old question mark.
Let's look at Tylenol (acetominophen). How many of you were advised by your pediatricians to administer Tylenol either prior to or immediately after vaccines? Tylenol was not widely used in young infants for this purpose until the early 70s. Now go look at the chart. 1 in 5000 in 1975 to 1 in 2500 in 1985. In that decade, autism was still very rare and not widely understood, the diagnostic criteria was very narrow and specific. There definitely wasn't as wide a diagnosis for Asperger's Syndrome at that time. So why the increase in 10 years? In 2008, a University of California (San Diego) study analyzed data collected through an online survey of 83 children with autism and 80 control children from July 2005 to January 2006. The doctors found an association between the use of acetominophen and the occurrence of autism. Specifically, use of acetominophen after MMR vaccination resulted in a 6.11 fold higher instance of autism in children 5 years or younger, 3.97 fold higher risk in older children with regression in development, and an 8.23 fold higher risk in children who suffered other problems after vaccination (high fever, seizures, etc.). However, ibuprofen used with MMR shots showed no associated incidences of autism. Is this a definitive study? Absolutely not, but it's a place to start. It's a path that isn't spending millions of dollars shaming vaccine questioners. This type of research is what we need. Not negative research picking apart an already clean carcass, but positive research asking, "But what about this?" (full report HERE)
Another jump in diagnoses occurred after Desert Storm and now with the Iraq and Afghan wars. The veterans of those conflicts saw occurrences of 1 in 88 in 2007, while the rest of the country was 1 in 150. 2007, those were the kids of Desert Storm veterans. With the vets of Iraq and Afghan coming home and starting families, it will be interesting (in a sad terrifying way) to see where the numbers are for them in a few years. I know the Cute Chicks' dad underwent a battery of shots and vaccines when he went in and was forward deployed out of Japan (USS Midway). Before they berthed in Africa, more shots. Before deploying to the Gulf of Oman, more shots to battle whatever Saddam was planning on launching. No tests were done on the aftereffects. No studies on the effects on off-spring. The numbers of autistic children born to military personnel grew to the point that in 2010 several military families sued the DOD for enrollment in ECHO (Extended Care Health Option) to be made easier and more comprehensive. (HERE)
So, for all of you dismissive, condescending, asshat pro-vaccers, maybe stop and think before you attack. Those of us struggling with Autism have fought our share of battles to get adequate healthcare, therapy, education, acceptance, and protection (both by and from law enforcement), we really don't need to fight you too. Maybe, instead of attacking us, you could start asking "What if? What if there's something more to it? What if there are factors other than vaccines at work and vaccines are the trigger? What if Big Pharma is pushing the same way the Tobacco Industry pushed? What if I'm creating more problems by stubbornly refusing to examine other possibilities? WHAT FUCKING IF?"
And for my fellow Autism families, hang in there, keep fighting, keep loving your special angels, keep supporting each other, keep on being awesome!