This afternoon I sat down and read a superb book on alternative medicines entitled Do You Believe in Magic by Dr. Paul Offit. The book dealt with the problems with alternative medicines and the danger they present to society. Given a small focus was the toxic work done by antivaccine advocates. Offit, a man of hard science, pretty strongly lay waste to the idea of vaccines as toxic.
Reading the book made me realize I need to get my thoughts on this matter on the record. I’ve never been quiet on this, mind you. I’m a pro-science guy all the way. (1) I’m also a great fan of the work done in medicine. The history of medicine is that of perennial growth and evolution towards better practices.
And this brings me to the big issue. I’m not a scientist but from all reliable evidence, I do not believe vaccines cause autism. In fact, it’s obvious the original studies are corrupt as they come. I’m in favor of vaccinations though I have friends who have presented very solid cases for why they didn’t vaccinate their kids and I can respect that. I think the issue is rather clear for the most part. Truthfully, it’s not really what interests me about the literature on it.
What interests me about this topic is something embedded within it. I can’t help but see this tone from parents who scream about how awful it is that their child has autism: they wish their child didn’t have it. I can’t blame them. I’m on the outer edge and I don’t have it near as bad as the severe cases. Of course they wish their child wasn’t the way that they are. Even with lighter cases like mine, I get it. What bothers me is a term that shows up: cure.
Here’s another thing that I’ve concluded based on my research: autism is incurable. There is no magic bullet that will make all of this go away and how can there be? Autism isn’t cancer. You can’t cut it out and apply chemotherapy to it. It’s a system of behaviors an activities and hardwired mental processes. Science isn’t even sure how it happens! An autistic child will. like it or not, become n autistic adult.
I said something key there: It’s incurable. It’s not untreatable. That’s where my medical interest lies. I’m fascinated by learning about new treatments. There are definitely medicines that help us such as SSRIs and ADHD medicine does often help. There’s also behavioral and occupational therapy which I’ve been in. We may not be able to be cured but we aren’t hopeless. Even many more severe cases can be helped.
And that’s why I hate the antivaccination crowd. They distract attention from what I consider the real issue. I want more information on treatment, not some ridiculous cure that will never happen. The entire public discourse on the matter today has been taken over by these people sadly. I’m not even going to address the sad, unfortunate figure they chose as their spokesperson. Bad choice there. (2)
Before I close, I do have to pause and briefly address one thing. Would I take a cure? It would definitely make my life easier at times. I wouldn’t suffer from my temper most likely. I could handle crises better. But I also wouldn’t be me. Whether I like it or not, I am the product of my disorder to at least some degree. The depth of my interests has taken me on some amazing journeys. I’m in a career I love. Most importantly, I might not be the person who my wife loves. No, if there was a magic cure, I would never take it.
In time I expect the fervor over the subject to fade. With it, I hope the focus will change. We are who we are. We can hope to be the best version of that.
(1) This has nothing to do with the idea of science vs religion, I refuse to go there.
(2) What I have against McCarthy has absolutely nothing to do with her former career. Far from it. I dislike her attitudes and her aggression on the subject. Her former work has nothing to do with it.