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Peete on Peet: What Holly has to Say About Amanda


I know I said I probably wouldn't do this but it was just so easy, so tempting, and I am so very weak.

Some days I fear for the survival of humanity because we seem hell bent on self destruction. Since when did having an autistic kid entitle one to abandon sound reason and critical thinking in favour of conspiracy theories and instinct.
Holly Robinson: Amanda Peet is 'Fearmongering'

As a parent of an autistic child, Holly Robinson Peete has been a staunch advocate for children living with the disease and their parents.

You know autistic children grow up right? Some people seem to not be aware of that fact. Autism is not a disease. Call it a neurological disorder, call it a different way of being, call it extreme maleness, but please do not call it a disease. That doesn't even come close to describing autism properly.
Now, the actress, whose 11-year-old son developed autism after receiving vaccinations when he was just two-and-a-half years old, serves as the first African-American to sit on the board of Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to increasing awareness and prevention of the disease.

Don't you just love the uncritical acceptance of the claim that a vaccination caused her son's autism? I've had my suspicions about Autism Speaks for years but this is just one more piece of evidence that they are more interested in implicating vaccines as a cause for autism than they are in helping autistic individuals.

I had been beginning to wonder if autism related anti-vaccination belief was exclusively a white thing (how often do you see black folk at those anti-vaccination rallies with their kids' faces plastered on t-shirts and placards with captions like "poisoned" and "stolen"). With this appointment to the board of Autism Speaks I guess they're trying to go all equal opportunity now. I wonder if they will address the findings of this study, Racial/ethnic disparities in the identification of children with autism spectrum disorders. The study concludes,
Significant racial/ethnic disparities exist in the recognition of ASD. For some children in some racial/ethnic groups, the presence of intellectual disability may affect professionals' further assessment of developmental delay. Our findings suggest the need for continued professional education related to the heterogeneity of the presentation of ASD.

Speaking from my admittedly limited experience with the autism groups in my area this issue doesn't seem to be on anyone's radar.

Now back to Peete's response to Peet.
The activist and mother of four shares her thoughts with ESSENCE.com about comments made by actress Amanda Peet, the spokesperson for vaccinateyourbaby.org, who recently said that vaccinations don't cause autism:

You know it's more than just Amanda Peet saying that vaccines don't cause autism. There's also me but in case my word isn't good enough for you there is also 15 to 20 years worth of research that says the same thing.
I'm really disappointed to hear people like Amanda Peet -- who have never been affected by autism -- make public allegations like vaccinations don't cause autism.

I wonder how she feels about a mother of autistic individuals making "public allegations like vaccinations don't cause autism." When did a statement of fact, vaccines don't cause autism, become an "allegation"?
It makes me angry because it's so disingenuous to have this kind of public discussion, especially when World Autism Awareness Day is coming up on April 2.

Like Peete I too am angry. Angry that so much time and money has been spent trying to implicate vaccines as a cause for autism. Who knows how far we could have come in understanding autism had it not been for that boondoggle? I'm angry that people keep trying to turn the discussion about autism into a discussion about vaccines even though we have a growing body of research from around the world that shows that vaccines have nothing to do with autism, vaccines are safe for the overwhelming majority of the world's population and the mechanism (in the US) for detecting any cases where a vaccine may not be safe work.
But I know exactly what she is trying to do and that's to instill fear:

She's going around telling people that a vaccination made her child autistic and that vaccines are toxic but the people who say that vaccines do not cause autism, are not toxic, and are safe are the ones trying to instill fear? Right.
if your child doesn't get vaccinations, you're going to make every other child sick.

Not every other child. Just those who were too young to receive a vaccination or had not yet completed the full course of vaccines for a given disease when the outbreak starts. And those for whom the vaccines didn't quite take. Oh and those who have medical conditions that disallow vaccination. Perhaps the elderly and any one else with otherwise frail health (cancer patients under going chemo and the like) as well.
Believe me, I understand both sides of the argument because I have four children.

No I don't think I will believe you Mrs. Peete and I don't think you really understand either. Having children does not confer sudden and unreproachable insight into matters of neurology, immunology, and human biology (although one would think that a certain basic knowledge of human biology would be necessary to achieve parenthood). I have four children as well. I don't expect people to believe anything I have to say about parenting or autism because I've got autistic kids. I expect them to rely on the same body of evidence that I'm looking at and basing my own conclusions on.
Although I have total respect for what any mother feels is best for her child, you can't tell me what is right, because it's not necessarily going to work for my kid. I know because I've experienced it with my eldest son.

Being a mother doesn't make anyone's choice the right one. Being a parent does mean that right or wrong you get to call the shots but you don't suffer the consequences of those decisions alone. That's a heavy burden knowing that your children will have to endure the results of your decision making. For that reason alone I don't believe what every Tom, Dick, and Harry comes along to tell me about autism. You need some hefty, verifiable, credentials to be believable in that department. "I'm a mom and I know" just ain't gonna cut it with me.

Like Peete I am the mother of four children so you know I know what I'm talking about right?
When my son was two-and-a-half, he was just recovering from an ear infection and had been on antibiotics, therefore his immune system was suppressed.

Funny, back when I was in high school they taught that antibiotics killed bacteria (by doing things like compromising their cell walls). When did pharmaceutical companies start making immunosupressent antibiotics?
He had already missed several appointments for his vaccination so his pediatrician wanted to catch him up on all of them in the same day.

Mom and dad are responsible for getting their kids to the doctor for well child checks right? So who is responsible for the child needing to catch up on his shots? And when was it established that receiving a catch up dose at the same time as a scheduled dose of something else was a problem?
Although I asked if he'd consider waiting or breaking up the cocktail, which contains three viruses, he laughed me out of the office and belittled me. I firmly believe that it took my son to a place of no return and his body could not handle it.

If all of the stories I have read and heard about disrespectful, dismissive, borderline abuse medical professionals were true we'd be up to our necks in weeping patients who all had their feelings hurt by those mean nasty doctor people. I always wonder though, if these doctors are so awful why go back? And if doctor after doctor is so awful at what point do you stop to consider that the problem may be you rather than the doctors?
And to think that today there are more than 30 vaccines that children are required to receive is scary.

Here's a link to (among other things) the recommended vaccine schedules put together by the CDC for 0 to 6 years, 7 to 18 years, and the catch up schedule for 4 months to 18 years. Individual states set their own recommendations and requirements based on the public health needs of the state. Now I count 16 diseases covered in those schedules with multiple doses (2 to 5) given over a period of months and years. Six of those diseases are covered by 2 vaccines MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and DTaP (diptheria, tetnus, pertussis). You don't get the number 30 from that information unless you are counting each dose as a separate vaccine which I think is at best misleading.
I don't know why boys are five times more likely to become autism, but they are.

The most often quoted male to female ratio is 4:1. I've read at least one abstract that suggests the actual ratio may be more like 3:1 because so many assume that women don't have autism and fail to evaluate or diagnosis women.
If I could talk to Amanda Peet, I would say that, I'm glad your child was able to tolerate that level of toxicity, but don't expect me -- after witnessing what vaccinations did to my son -- to inoculate my other children under the same circumstances.

When was it established that vaccines are toxic? By someone who wasn't looking to then sell you a cure for said toxicity I mean.
So who's to blame?

I understand that it is important for some people to find someone or something to blame for autism. I'm not one of them. The resources spent so far in trying to pin the blame on vaccines boggle the mind. Time to move on.
Is there some pre-genetic predisposition? Do genetic and environmental factors load the proverbial gun and the vaccines pull the trigger?

Pre-genetic? Perhaps she meant epigenetic? Epigenetic predisposition don't entirely make sense either.
Since you claim all the studies and conclusions have been drawn, how do you explain the thousands of families that have received millions of dollars from the Vaccine Injury Court? So clearly, the jury is not in and the independent studies on susceptibility and genetic predisposition have not been done.

Millions of dollars? Really? Paid to people who managed to prove that vaccines caused autism? That would be news to these folks who lost their cases. By the way, I have recently discovered that "independent" is the new code word for, "Everyone who disagrees with me has been bought by an evil money grubbing pharmaceutical company and is part of the immoral and unethical government, pharmaceutical company, and medical community axis of evil conspiracy so nothing they say can be trusted. Only those who agree with me are to be trusted." Just so you know. As for research into the genetic origins of autism check this out. I've lost count of the number of genes that have been identified as being partly responsible for autism. None of them have anything to do with the body's response to vaccination.
Knowing all this, do you think it's okay to make a judgment about me based on what I know about my son and the rest of my children physiologically

Based on what I know about, vaccines, the human body, and autism? Yes. Knowing something that is false doesn't immunize you from being judged based on what others know to be true.
If your mission is to gain the public's trust, then you're not going to get parents to do it by fearmongering.

Ain't that the truth! For this reason I don't trust any group that claims vaccines cause autism. And I don't trust any group or anyone who talks about autistic individuals being stolen, lost, poisoned, damaged, locked away or any other such thing.
Until you've experienced the physical, emotional and financial toll you simply can't make such public statements.

Here we see a fine specimen of the argument if you are not X then you can't comment on any subject relating to X. Other fine examples are if you are not a woman then you can't comment on any subject relating to women, if you're not black you can't comment on any subject relating to blacks, if you're not poor you can't comment on any subject relating to the poor, if you're not a child you can't comment on any subject relating to children. Clearly this argument is false but I'll be nice and play by this silly rule. I am a mother of not one but two autistic individuals. That should give my opinion more weight by this standard of argumentation. I am well aware of what life with autism is like for the average American. I think claims that vaccines are somehow responsible for autism or are toxic are themselves toxic bunk. So there.
Despite what happened to my son, I'm not anti-vaccine.
Really? Let's try this on for size, I'm not anti-vaccine. I just think that they are toxic and gave my son a neurological disorder. May be I'm missing something but that sounds anti-vaccine to me. Is there some nuance that I'm missing?
However, if the government wants to make me and other parents who have autistic children feel comfortable with vaccinations then there needs to be some independent studies done regarding these treatments.

There's that new code word again, "independent." Remember what the new meaning of "independent" is? Claiming that there need to be new "independent" studies done implies that the last 15 to 20 years worth of research is some how tainted. If that is the stance you're going to take that doesn't give one much confidence that you will accept as "independent" anything that doesn't agree with your preconceived notions on the matter. Which gives lie to this next statement.
Not only would it make me feel comfortable, but it'd make me feel like I'm being listened to and heard.

Only if they told you what you wanted to hear.
Lastly, to Amanda Peet: I would never ever wish what we've gone through in our family on her and her family or anybody. I would just ask her to give the respect she has on her position to mine. It's not about reading so-called studies online; it's about living and learning.

Amanda Peet will have to speak for herself but as far as I am concerned I can't really give any credence to what Holly Robinson Peete believes about vaccines and autism because it is simply not true. If you're not going to read the available scientific research, online or other wise, why bother calling for more? You're not going to accept it unless it says what you want it to.
My study is my son.

No your son is not your study. You owe him, and the rest of your children, more than that stupid throw away line from Jenny McCarthy. Ethical peer reviewed research that has been replicated by other researchers is my science, my study. Much more reliable but not nearly as much of a tear jerker.



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Comments

  1. As the mother of a 12 year old son with autism, I have never followed Holly Robinson Peet, Jenny McCarthy and certainly not Amanda Peete. Celebrities are good as mouth pieces and for awareness, but certainly not role models for parents living with autism. I know what I witnessed first hand with my son - I watched a perfectly healthy little boy disappear before my eyes after his 18 month vaccines. I don't believe that vaccines are harmful to all children, but like most reasonable parents who observed their own children injured by vaccines, I believe that vaccines are not one size fits all. My son should have been given a different schedule - he was born 6 weeks early, was low birth weight and my health was compromised throughout the pregnancy. The vaccines he was given also did include the mercury laced substance thimerosal. And no matter what anyone tells me - mercury is toxic in fillings for our teeth, in the tuna we eat and certainly in the vaccines we give our babies. No one has also been able to ever explain why the number of vaccines that we give children has gone up so dramatically. Finally, the person that Amanda Peete has been getting her information from is Dr. Paul Offit, former employee of Merck Pharmaceuticals and creator of - guess what - another childhood vaccine. Not exactly an unbiased source. The research that Ms. Peete refers to in every case has been shown to be faulty - either written by researchers with a connection to the pharmaceutical giants or based not on new research, but old studies with new questions. The one study that has never been done is comparing vaccinated children to populations that have never been vaccinated. Ever wonder why the Amish populations don't have any biological children with autism?

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  2. Thanks for commenting but what evidence do you have to support your claims? The various health agencies in the US have a wealth of information available about the 16 diseases that we currently vaccinate against. Your family doctor should be able to provide you with information about those 16 diseases as well. The Amish certainly do vaccinate their children and they have a prevalence rate that is comparable to the general US population. Information on studies of the Amish with regard to developmental disorders can be found at pubmed.gov. Dr. Offit spends several pages in his book Autism's False Prophets discussing what his actual relationship with Merck is. He also gives extensive references for the reader to check up on for themselves if one is inclined to disbelieve anything he says.

    Are you aware of the ethical problems that go along with the kind of study you claim should be done? You are asking the medical research community to knowingly create the kinds of conditions that lead to regular outbreaks of potentially crippling and fatal diseases. Consider northern Africa, India, and south east Asia where diseases that have nearly been eradicated in the west still regularly maim and kill. Even in the US and Europe such diseases are again on the rise because of unfounded fear of vaccines.Is autism so scary to you that you are willing to put the very lives of generations of children at risk to assuage your fears? Your fear is unfortunate but it is not worth putting the general public at risk from potentially crippling and fatal diseases.

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  3. The evidence I have to support my claims are in the history of my child - who was born 6 wks early, relatively low birth weight and born to a mother with a compromised immune system. He should not have been put on the same vaccine schedule as a full term, heavier baby born to a healthy mother. But all babies receive the same schedule, same dose regardless of their health or the health of their mother. That is what parents like me are opposed to - the one size fits all approach to vaccines.

    I am also skeptical the the approach that we can and should vaccinate for every disease, regardless of the rate of prevalence in THIS country, not poor, war torn, developing countries - but right here at home. Vaccines DO weaken our immune system making us MORE likely to get ill from viruses and bacteria. Why has the number of vaccines given to children gone up so dramatically? And yes a few Amish families may vaccinate, but they are a very small minority to the whole. BTW - the point was that there are populations that don't vaccinate and that would be a reasonable comparison - children routinely vaccinated compared to children never vaccinated. As far as other studies done, I have the studies on my hard drive if you would like for me to email them to you and in every instance, they were found to be compromised due to bias, connection to the pharmaceutical companies or just a rehashing of old data.

    You want more proof - the Vaccine Injury Court just awarded $810,000 to a family of a child with autism, the second in less than a year. And why is mercury (in Thimerasol the preservative) so harmful in fillings for our teeth and the foods we eat, but not in vaccines for babies? My son did receive a mercury tainted vaccines and immediately began showing signs of autism and diagnosed at 3.

    Believe what you'd like, go on like the herd mentality that is preached to promote vaccines. I know that my son was injured by his vaccines, I watched him go from a perfectly healthy toddler (I also have the videotape proof of that) to a non responsive, non verbal child with autism. Vaccines are big business and the big pharmaceutical companies will do anything to protect their ever increasing cash cow - no matter how many are injured in the process.

    I left similar comments on your blog before, but for some reason, they didn't appear. Will check to see if this one disappears also.

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  4. First if I were into disappearing comments as you imply we wouldn't be having this conversation. Let's not play that game shall we?

    The evidence I have to support my claims are in the history of my child...

    In response I share this from this very post:

    Being a mother doesn't make anyone's choice the right one. Being a parent does mean that right or wrong you get to call the shots but you don't suffer the consequences of those decisions alone. That's a heavy burden knowing that your children will have to endure the results of your decision making. For that reason alone I don't believe what every Tom, Dick, and Harry comes along to tell me about autism. You need some hefty, verifiable, credentials to be believable in that department. "I'm a mom and I know" just ain't gonna cut it with me.

    ***

    Ethical peer reviewed research that has been replicated by other researchers is my science, my study. Much more reliable but not nearly as much of a tear jerker.


    Emphasis added.

    Given that those are my standards of evidence do you have anything to support your claims that meet those standards?

    Regarding the vaccine injury court you have to address the recent rulings where the court rejected the claims of several families who were arguing specifically that some aspect of a vaccine caused their child's autism. There is an extensive review of the so called evidence presented in support of claims that vaccines cause autism.

    Vaccines are a cash black hole (thanks in part to repeated litigation over claims that vaccines cause every health problem under the sky) for the companies that make them. That's why they pour money into R&D for new block buster maintenance drugs that people will to take everyday for the rest of their lives. That's much more lucrative than a few shots given in childhood and adolescence. If you have some evidence that they are rolling in cash from vaccines I'd like to see it. That would make great blog fodder.

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  5. As to the Amish, again their vaccination rates are comparable to that of the general US population. If you have evidence that that is not the case please share it. The titles of the articles with publication dates and the names of the journals will suffice for me. Again the existence of such evidence would make great blog fodder.

    How would you address the ethical and moral problems involved with leaving a larger number of individuals unvaccinated and unaware of the fact that they are unvaccinated (because that is what would be necessary to do a vaccinated vs unvaccinated population study that would produce any viable data) all for the sake of finding a link that the best science available to date says does not exist?

    I'm curious as to how you think the rates of the diseases we vaccinate against came to be so low in the US? Wait don't tell me, better sanitation right? Which leads to the question of why do we see resurgence of vaccine preventable diseases in modernized nations when rates of vaccination fall (as with measles in Europe, Japan and now the US). What, exactly, do you think will happen to the rates of vaccine preventable diseases should we follow the lead of anti-vaccinationists and stop vaccinating vulnerable populations (the very young and the very old) against infectious diseases? Also, what do you think will happen when Americans travel abroad to those places where vaccine preventable diseases still hold dominance or someone from one of those places comes to the US?

    The CDC currently recommends that the population be vaccinated against 16 diseases. How exactly are you defining "dramatically"?

    Finally, how does all of this do anything to help individuals with autism? Continuing to claim that vaccines cause autism do not make teachers any better at educating autistic students. It doesn't make school districts hire more speech language pathologists or occupational therapists. It doesn't make insurance companies pay for adaptive equipment for autistic individuals. It doesn't provide more community based living opportunities for autistic adults. It doesn't provide job training and placement opportunities for autistic teenagers and adults. It doesn't provide life skills training for autistic individuals who want to move on to college. It doesn't educate potential employers about the benefits of hiring autistic individuals. So what exactly is the point of continuing to argue that vaccines cause autism? It doesn't do anything good for autistic individuals as far as I see.

    ReplyDelete

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