Autism goes to court

(Cross posted at Say Anything: Reader Blogs.)

No matter how this turns out I have the feeling that it won't be a good out come for those living with autism.

Court to Focus on Link Between Autism and Vaccine
In excruciating detail, an Arizona mother on Monday described severe autism and devastating health problems that plague her 12-year-old daughter and asked a court to find common childhood vaccines were the cause.

The test case is being closely watched by nearly 5,000 families of autistic children who have lodged similar claims for compensation from a federal fund.

The case of Michelle Cedillo, of Yuma, Ariz., is the first alleging a vaccine-autism link to be heard in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. It and eight other test cases are important because they will guide the handling of the other pending claims. Most contend that a mercury-rich preservative called thimerosal is to blame for the impaired social interaction typical of the disorder.

Should they prevail, the families will be eligible for compensation from a federal vaccine injury fund established by Congress to ensure an adequate supply of vaccines by shielding manufacturers from lawsuits. No autism claim has been paid from the fund thus far.

Large scientific studies have found no association between autism and vaccines containing thimerosal.

I could go to court and tell some really heart breaking stories as well but none of my experiences with my autistic children are adequate proof that vaccines (either the thimerosal in the them or the vaccine themselves) cause autism. There is a boat load of research out there that people have to ignore in order to make the claim that vaccines cause autism. I don't want people like that deciding how the rest of the world sees autism and the people who have to live with it.

A Spectrum of Disputes
June 11, 2007 -- TODAY the special “vaccine court” at the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington will begin hearing Cedillo v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, the first case of about 4,800 similar ones to examine whether childhood vaccinations can cause autism. We have no wish to comment on these legal issues. But having spent years researching the prevalence of autism in American children, we are concerned that publicity surrounding the case will only drag out debate about whether past trends indicate we face an autism “epidemic.”

The claims for or against an autism epidemic simply cannot be proved given the evidence available. (Public attention to the issue was set off primarily by a 1999 report by the State of California that found “a 273 percent increase in the number of persons with autism between 1987 and 1998.”) In the end, arguing over what the old data mean just detracts from the more pressing issues involved with scientific research and building cost-effective support systems for affected children, adults and their families

People are scared. They are looking for something to blame for their children's condition. Vaccines have always been a good target for this kind of thing.

I've got to go visit one of my boys at his special school for autistic kids. It's a long drive through a couple of counties. Maybe I'll write more later this evening.


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