Thursday, March 27, 2008

Another Day

In keeping with the style of an earlier post of the same bent, here is a summary of how the D's spent our day. Everything I put on this list is true.

Today, I breakfasted on a homemade fruit salad of Kiwi, Mango, and Nectarine with a squeeze of Lime. I gave Baby C (14 months old) a taste of Kiwi and watched a transformation from normal baby to Kiwi-jonesing baby before my very eyes. He loved it so much, I won't be surprised if his first words have a New Zealand accent.

Today, I drove over 120 miles.

Today, I watched a calico cat traverse a tightrope approximately 40 feet long and approximately 30 feet off the ground, all to the theme song of "Jump!" by Van Halen.

Today, I listened to J in the backseat repeat the phrase "All Hail Plankton" for about 7 or 8 minutes. Plankton, most commonly recognized as a drifting organism that inhabits the pelagic zone of the ocean and is a key component of the oceanic food chain, also happens to be the nefarious (though tiny) arch-villain in Spongebob Squarepants' world. Try sitting in Southern California traffic and listening to "All Hail Plankton" in chant-like monotone to test your sanity sometime.

Today, I devised a plan - with the help of a local carpenter/contractor - to possibly rebuild a workshed on our property. This outbuilding was partially crushed when an ancient California Coastal Live Oak tree collapsed on it last year. With a new wall, a new roof, some window coverings, and a coat of paint we could have ourselves a nice new shed.

Today, I brought home to my wife her very favorite treat - peanut butter/dark chocolate ice cream from our tiny local ice cream parlor. We all deserve a treat sometimes.

Today, I spent a few minutes hoping that a shipment was going smoothly for one of my best customers. I am on vacation this week, and pre-arranged a large, important order for a wedding in Arkansas. It consisted of over 1200 stems of Tulips and French Tulips in pinks and whites, along with Asparagus Myerii and white roses. If anyone reading this likes flowers and wants to know more about the business, check out The Human Flower Project. I have been in contact with them about doing some writing contributions. Its a really good blog/interest site.

Today, I introduced my boys to the musical genius of Rage Against the Machine. Some may disagree with me (most?), but I think this band is artistically and technically among the best I've ever heard. Despite their ear-crunching sound (hey, its an acquired taste!).

Today, I watched a young girl of about 7 years old perform a rendition of "We Are Family" by the Pointer Sisters, complete with over-emoted arm movements and a seemingly fully choreographed spins and hip-swings. This done on a raised platform of a Jungle Gym, and the only audience (besides me sitting at a distance, unnoticed) was my middle son T. He was enthralled.

Today, J won an Orca that he named Shamu and a Dolphin that he named Miss Dolphin. T, on the other hand, won a Penguin that he gave as a gift to his Mom. He also won a Manta Ray that he gave to Baby C. He's a sweet kid.

Today, I sank 63 of 100 free throws. On the last one, I was imagining myself dropping the winning basket to advance University of San Diego to the Sweet 16. I bet no one's ever imagined that before, right?

Today, I opted for the Caesar Salad instead of the Slow-Roasted Beef Sandwich. Good for me, bad for my taste buds.

Today, I had a late dinner. I took the opportunity of eating alone to start Children of Hurin (by JRR and Christopher Tolkein). I've been wanting to read this book as a way to continually feed my utter fascination with the world that sprung forth from the mind of Tolkein. He is a literary treasure, in my opinion.

Today, J waited in lines for the first time without a "disability pass" allowing us/him to enter an attraction without waiting. I think it is a good step, though I fully support that accommodation for those who need it.

Today, I fed a Dolphin by dropping fresh fish in his/her mouth. Ever felt a Dolphin? They feel like hard-molded rubber, not unlike a really smooth tire.

Today, I drove by two of my old College residences. One was in the "Dogpatch" near campus, the other was in Mission Beach. Very nostalgic. Instead of me and my punk friends driving by, it was older me and my great kids.

Today J and T and I unsuccessfully tried to find the "Sunny Jim" Cave in La Jolla. Next time, we'll find it.

Today, I am going to finish the night by watching No Country For Old Men. I am drawn to this movie due to the fact it was written by Cormac McCarthy, whose "The Road" I recently read. "The Road" is one of the bleakest, most difficult novels I've read. McCarthy gives substance to emptiness, if that's possible. Therefore, I expect No Country For Old Men to be of the same vein.

Today, I prepped tomorrow's dinner as follows: Mince together onion, garlic, basil, pancetta, dried oregano and marjoram, olive oil. While continuing to mince, add some Balsamic Vinegar. Once you create a paste, take a while chicken and butterfly it. Stuff paste under all the skin, then rub remaining paste on the outside of the skin. Refrigerate overnight. Tomorrow, I'll arrange it on a pan surrounded by baby Yukon Gold Potatoes. I'll drizzle Balsamic over all, then a sprinkle of Sea Salt. Bake until crispy. Meantime, steam some cauliflower partway. Saute Red Onion in olive oil, then add and brown the cauliflower florets. Add some lemon rind and black pepper and serve with the chicken. Its a meal fit for a Tuscan prince! (And here I give a shout out to new Hub bloggers - the Buongiovannis! Benvenuto, Angelo e familia!)

Today, I realized that my life is less and less resembling what I thought it was going to when we received J's autism diagnosis. This realization runs concurrently to little signs we are seeing in Baby C - just enough to keep us on our toes and watching and wondering...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Leopard Cannot Change His Spots

I just read a mind-bendingly offensive post by pop-journalist David Kirby over at the Huffington Post. This guy has some serious gall to write such things as:
"It serves to remind us all that, no matter what "causes autism," no matter what, if anything might "cure" it, children affected by the disorder deserve all of the honor, love and patience that we, a nation consumed by our own attention deficits, can muster."
"They deserve more than our compassion, our love and our dollars. They deserve our respect."
What, you may ask yourself, is so wrong about these statements? Well, by their own right, nothing at all. The rub lies in the dissonance between the source and the content. In other words, David Kirby has utterly no business taking on the mantle of "let's respect autistic people" at this point. Has any single person done more to damage the likelihood of positive outcomes for autistic people in our society today? Let's review exactly what David Kirby has done for autistic people since Evidence of Harm was published in 2005:

*He has helped to turn the conversation away from "how do we help autistic folks at all ages to thrive?" and pointed it towards "where do we direct our anger that autistic people exist?".

*He has, through his sensationalist, wildly accusatory book created a pocket of conspiracy theorists in the autism community. A few certainly must have existed before he came along, but he (along with Andrew Wakefield) is the one that brought the anti-vax/toxic child brigade. An example of how bad it has gotten lately on the internet: One person - who is perhaps the most frequent commenter on virtually every site I visit that discusses autism - is not related in any way to the autism community. He is not autistic, is not a parent of autistic children, is not a researcher or physician who works in the field, is not a therapist, nothing (much like David Kirby, come to think of it). What he is, is an anti-vaxxer who was drawn to the autism community due to the controversy created, in part, by David Kirby. This illustrates that fact that Kirby's influence on the autism community has nothing to do with autism, and has everything to do with creating controversy.

*He has, through his promotion of the completely false notion that autism somehow resembles mercury poisoning (it doesn't), even created a whole new set of terminology with which people can refer to autistics. He even mentions one in this post, "...there is some talk about vaccines, environmental toxins and 'damaged kids.'" Yup, that's right - damaged kids. Pardon my French, but thanks a lot, a**hole. My kid is not damaged, despite your honeyed tongue convincing thousands of parents that their kids are.

*He has, by influencing a change in the national dialogue about autism, helped to create a situation where funding must be dedicated to grasping after theories long-since discredited. Not only with regards to Hg=autism, but also with MMR=autism. You see, we live in a world with limitations. Among these limitations are funding limitations. When a given community has a finite amount of dollars that can be used for research and direct support, then resources must be budgeted. Ideally, they will be budgeted towards areas that will be of most immediate and direct benefit to autistics through research, treatment, and occupational/educational/functional supports. Not so in the autism community, where we continue to throw good money after bad with call after call for more research into the mercury/vaccine causation theory.

*He has caused good parents to go after each other's throats by causing the focus in the autism community to rest on causation. A brief visit to the Autism Speaks message board will provide you all the evidence you need for this. I myself have dusted it up a bit over there, nothing I am proud of to be sure. Please note, while you visit there, that within the "Autism Science" category, 12 of the most recent 20 topics directly discuss either vaccines or mercury. For contrast, see in the sidebar of this blog - under "Autism SagePub Feed" - how many other areas of research can and must happen in the field of autism. In the "Autism in the News" category, also 12 of the most recent 20 posts focus on vaccines and/or mercury. For contrast, read the Autism Hub to see essay after essay, day after day, discussing all kinds of news items that have nothing to do with vaccines or mercury.

*He has spurred on the growth of the DAN! movement, with all of its unregulated AltMed practices and complete lack of ethical or professional oversight (read more about specific DAN! practitioners here). I would argue that DAN! has done more harm than good, when one factors in a family's time and money as an "opportunity cost". In other words, even the treatments that do nothing are not copacetic.

So here we have a guy who has just one "inroad" to the autism community - that he wrote a widely discredited book about a failed causation theory about autism. And yet here he is, again, opportunistically using the debut of "Autism: The Musical" documentary on HBO to get his name back in the discussion. But now the Doppleganger tries to take on the mantle of peacemaker. He comes out with lines such as:
"Here, I hope, is a movie that everyone can watch and appreciate."
"This all-too-real movie lifts the heart up and then slams it right back down on the pavement -- and we love every minute of it."
But his true colors belie his ability to conceal them. Throughout his post, he peppers the reader with his real view of autism - something to be held at arm's length, something that may actually produce a good feeling amidst a sea of anguish and despair. And, stunningly, he now takes the tactic that if kids are not as he describes them, maybe - just maybe - they aren't autistic at all. Observe:
"Others might worry that the portraits of the two high functioning boys -- so bright and charismatic you want to hang out with them for hours (though their peers shun them into a lonely world of their own) -- will leave the mistaken impression that most children with autism are like this. If they were, then the epidemic might be slightly less painful to bear."
(emphasis mine)

"Please watch this film: You will be treated to an achingly accurate portrait of what autism is, isn't, and can be."
(emphasis mine)

"Divide and conquer!" once spoke Julius Caesar. Apparently David Kirby was listening. Only JC was building empires, while DK was just selling a book.

One last breathtakingly offensive remark David makes that cannot escape notice;
"Sadly, however, most kids with autism are more than just a little "quirky." And as much as we truly adore all the children in this film, few, if any parents of "typical" kids could honestly say, 'I wish my child were like that.'"
So, for my autistic readers, in case you haven't been kicked in the proverbial teeth enough times by people like this , here's a final blow by this guy that tells you that we should all feel sad about you being more than just quirky, and that parents of typical kids sure are glad you don't belong to them.

If I could apologize for David Kirby, I would. In the meantime, consider me a proud member of the autism community and a proud father of a son who is not damaged and does not make me sad.

Monday, March 17, 2008

One Runs Home...

I'd like to make you aware of a situation with a boy named Nate Tseglin. Nate is a 17-year-old boy who lives not far from me. I do not know Nate or his family, but have been made aware of his story by other, mutual friends.
In a nutshell, Nate was forced into residential treatment by San Diego Child Protective Services against both his will and the will of his parents. Please take a moment to read this post by Kristina and some very interesting comments. Included in the comments are this link to, which gives a detailed description of events leading up to Nate's removal and what has occurred since. Please do read the timeline, which will give you a feel for the level of tragedy that Nate and his family are dealing with. Here, also, is a brief post from last week by Ginger, and excellent blogger who I disagree with on so many issues - but not this one.
So my point in bringing up Nate's plight is not to ask for pity for him (though I do, like Ginger and Nate's parents ask for prayers for him), but instead to ask for help. Is there anyone reading this blog who has any help or service that can be offered to assist the family? Several things come to mind:

Does anyone have the capacity to provide expert testimony on the adverse effects of psychotropic medications, that could be provided gratis?
Can anyone testify as to the nature and scope of self-injurious behavior, and accepted means of managing that behavior without medication?
Is there a lawyer who has expertise in any of these areas relating to this circumstance with Nate?
Are there any folks with media contacts who could help to increase public exposure - particularly in the coastal Southern California region? Added media exposure could potentially identify others who can help as well as increasing public pressure on CPS to resolve this situation in Nate's favor.

I am pulling for Nate to have a positive outcome, and I hope that someone out there feels the same way and is equipped to help to a greater degree than I. If so, please email me directly and I will connect you with the family, or direct you to someone else who can.

Now, on to another boy. My son, J. On the off chance that any of the State's agents in this situation happen upon this blog, I'd like to illustrate what can happen when a boy who is on the autism spectrum is provided the opportunity to live and learn and experience in a positive, family-based environment.
As for a brief lead-in... A few days ago, we received an email at home that our sons' Little League website was up and running, and we went to take a look at the schedules and whatnot. We noticed a tab on the screen for 'Albums', which led us to a series of pictures from Week 1. We looked over the pictures, most of which were of older kids playing hardball, pitching, sliding, making reaching catches and bullet throws. But there were a few of the T-ballers including, lo and behold, one of our own boys! (They both are on the same team as discussed here). Never mind that J is clearly running way past Home Plate to the side, and never mind that he is not exactly tearing up the turf like a racehorse - the point is that he is participating in a positive way and having a great time doing it!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Processing New Information

It is with great interest that I have been following the events relating to HHS conceding the claim brought before the VICP by the parents of 9-year-old Hannah Poling.
I am a strong proponent of adhering to truth and utilizing appropriate lines of logic and reasoning to arrive at my understanding of the truth. I have stated publicly and openly for quite some time that scientific data do not support the theory that vaccines nor the vaccine preservative Thimerosal cause autism. I still adhere to that statement. I also have supported the position that one must change one's position as new evidence comes to light.
What has occurred with the Poling case (I hate to refer to it as a "case". Hannah Poling is a 9-year old girl who is a loved, valued person and deserves individual respect as a whole person without regard to what caused her condition, how that condition has manifested itself, or how that cause has been contested in any venue. But her suit against HHS does, in fact, constitute a "case") is that a legal hurdle has been presented and overcome. The VICP did, in fact, deem that the Polings had enough evidence to warrant their claim that Hannah suffered physical harm from her vaccinations at around 18 months.
I do not think that Hannah Poling flips a true/false switch on the statement that "vaccines cause autism", but I am now more likely to consider the merits of data that is presented that includes the role of mitochondrial dysfunction as an explanatory factor in the onset of autism, and furthermore that mitochondrial dysfunction could correlate to vaccinations. In other words, I am willing and able to consider new information and adapt my understanding of the scientific body of evidence as a result. This is not a direct result of the concession, but instead is a result of the focus that the concession has brought on this emerging area of research and my initial reaction to the quality of the data.
Having said all that, and with apologies since my time to complete this post is short, I have some interesting questions/issues with regard to this issue in general and with regard to Dr. Poling's post to AoA today specifically:

- I find it fascinating that a paper that was co-authored by Dr. Poling was actually used as a supporting document in the case. Is this not a conflict of interest? Is it possible to factor in the existence of a potential large settlement/award from VICP as a COI for Dr. Poling while at the same time not including the other authors in any implication of bias?

- If you read the post by Dr. Poling on AoA, you will see that he clearly avoids making a statement regarding thimerosal/autism causation that he could be questioned on. In other words, he offered an implication while avoiding a "mine-able" quote. Observe:

5. Thimerosal—On or Off the Table?I don’t want to dwell on mercury, as this theory is not why HHS conceded Hannah’s case (imo)....
My opinion is that mercury is a potent neurotoxin. Therefore, don’t inject it into kids! Interestingly, basic research studies have shown that Thimerosal toxicity occurs through mitochondrial pathways.
Is this statement a way to avoid making his stance debatable while at the same time influencing the reader to deduce that he does consider thimerosal a causative agent? Or is he simply adhering to the language of science which precludes him from making an overly strong statement in the absence of compelling evidence?

- Dr. Poling, at the end of the post, discloses numerous COI's. None of these concern me or have any effect on my opinion of his acumen as a neurologist or researcher. Can people like JB Handley say the same thing? Can all the members of EOHarm list and organizations like TACA, parents such as Jenny McCarthy and Lenny Schafer, author/journalists such as David Kirby, in general people who have backed their claims of government conspiracy over and over and over for years simply wave their hand and ignore the declared COI's simply because Dr. Poling's VICP-related efforts support their position instead of contesting it? Anyone who has observed the debate over the years will acknowledge that a primary Talking Point of the supporters of the mercury/autism theory is that a government coverup is involved. Just two or three days ago Jenny McCarthy put out a call to parents to blitz the White House with calls for Julie Gerberding's (of the CDC) resignation. But what, then does that same group make of these statements from Dr. Poling and the editor of AoA?:

-"He also would like to declare his conflicts of interest. First of all, he is the father of Hannah Poling. Dr. Poling has also accepted consultancy or speakers honoraria from Pfizer, Eisai, Ortho-McNeil, Biogen, Teva, Immunex (now Amgen), and Allergan.)"

-"Dr. Shoffner furthermore advocates, along with us, that vaccination is important even for kids with mitochondrial dysfunction. "

- I thought for a while that I was the only parent following this discussion who was thinking to myself, "This is all very valuable in terms of adding to the scientific body of knowledge, but is anybody thinking about/talking about autism in the blogosphere aside from this topic?" Until I saw my thoughts echoed by Kristina. And then I looked at the Autism Hub in general. What I saw was a huge range of people and opinions covering all kinds of topics including, but not limited to, discussion of the Poling case. Let it be known that I sincerely hope Hannah Poling is an Autism Hub contributor someday. She would fit right in over here. Not so much at AoA, where autistic people dare not tread. I wish Dr. Poling would have considered that issue when deciding where to post his response to Dr. Novella today.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I'm Not Dead Yet...

Overall, it was a good day. I got up early and went to work for a few hours. Got a lot done since it was relatively quiet on the distribution end of things. I was home by noon, just in time to see Grandma and Poppa whisk J and T off to have an "adventure day" (adventure day occurs most weekends when G&P are in town - about half the year. It consists of, well, surprise adventures.) Today's adventure, as it turns out, was a puppet show down in Balboa Park, followed by some playground time, followed by Church. Then off to get some Mexican Food.
In the meantime, my wife took baby C to run some errands and left me to attack the garage. After 5 and a half hours of rearranging shelving and hanging pegboard, thinning out the garage-related inventory, narrowly escaping a Black Widow spider (thanks to my cat-like reflexes I am alive to write this blog post), and marvelling at how much Diazanon (sorry, Andrea) we have accumulated over 8 years of marriage, I was famished.
So I headed up to meet G&P and the Boys (that sounds eerily like a bluegrass band name) and get some food. After a nice dinner in which J and T both spilled their pink lemonade, it was time to drive home. This is where things became interesting.
As I pulled on the freeway, I heard sniffling coming from behind me. Now, J is typically very emotionally stoic on the surface. As can be the case with many people with autism, he doesn't wear his emotions right there on his shirt sleeve all the time like some other people. But when he decides he is sad about something then, well, he gets really sad. I look in the rear view mirror and see the first crocodile tear flow down his cherubic cheek. I ask why he's crying.
"I'm sad."
"But why are you sad, Jason?"
"I'll miss you when you're dead."
(A brief pause by me as I apply One Dad's Opinion to the situation. I quickly determine that this is a teachable moment, a rare and elusive burst of existential lucidity coming from a 6 year old whose sponge-like mind will absorb my wise words and reference this moment for many years to come. So, I reply with...)
"But I'm not dead yet. I'm right here, driving the car."
As I have my Homer Simpson d'Oh! moment wherein I realize my mouth is substantially more active than my brain at this moment, I hear sniffles and a clipped cry coming from the other back seat. Now T is in on it!
"Daaaaady. I'll m-m-miiisss you when you're...hnf ...hnf ...hnf .... dead!"
("Hnf" is that sound little kids make when they cry and they have those involuntary hiccup-like breaths between sobs). Clearly this situation is needing some better action than my first response. So, I say "Look, there's no need to cry or be sad. How old am I right now?"
T: "36" (this kid is unbelievably detail-oriented)
"Right, and I don't plan on dying until I'm at least 76, or maybe 80, or maybe even older!"
This seemed to cause a brief cessation of sobbing in the backseat. I saw my opening, and I went for it.
"Who wants to listen to pirate music!?!?"
"Then say, 'Arrr, Matey, I want some pirate music!'"
(together):"Arrr, Matey, I want some pirate music!"
I cued up Flogging Molly and turned it up a bit. Now, I love Irish music. One would think I am genetically inclined I take to it so much, even though I am 0% Irish (though I do proudly associate with the winner of the Irish Blog Awards last week!). For anyone who has not heard of or listened to Flogging Molly, please disregard the horrid name and give it a listen. I could best describe it as an eclectic blend of classic Irish music mixed with punk rock, and a little dash of other genres mixed in for good measure. Each band member plays numerous instruments, and the overall effect is just awesome. Oh, and some songs sound like pirate music.
Tomorrow or the next day I'll sit down individually with J and T and talk over how they were feeling and why they thought I might die. In the meantime, its just nice to know they care.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Autism, Mito, Vaccine Court, and the Polings

The purpose of this post is to lay out as clearly as I can my understanding of the Vaccine Injury case that was announced today in the national media.
I, like many of you, run the risk of misunderstanding the significance of this event due to my lack of knowledge about several of its key components. So I am going to try to summarize, with every effort to avoid bias or opinion, my understanding of the case of this 9-year old girl and what the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (Vaccine Court) has found.
If you would like to gain a much better understanding of how the Vaccine Court works, take the time to read this excellent summary.

The Background
The case is about 9-year old Hannah Poling who, according to her parents and their attorneys, developed autism at around 18 months of age (in July 2000) after she received routine childhood vaccinations.
At the time she was vaccinated, she was experiencing a high fever. Additionally, she had been ill (with ear infections and fever) on and off for almost a full year leading into that doctor's visit, and several times vaccinations had been delayed as a result.
Soon after (within 48-96 hours) receiving her vaccinations, her health began to deterioriate. Not only was she ailing physically, but she also began to present "features of autism". It was later determined that she suffers from mitochondrial dysfunction.

The Concession
The government, or more specifically HHS (Department of Health and human Services) has agreed to compensate Hannah Poling for injuries she received from vaccines. They are stating that the vaccines she received significantly aggravated a rare, underlying mitochondrial disorder and that this resulted in regressive encephalopathy including "features of autism" (FYI - I keep putting quotes around that phrase since most reports are also doing so. Apparently Hannah was not presented in court as being autistic, but instead was presented as exhibiting features of autism. More on that later...)
Here is a link to the Huffington Post page on which the Concession Document has been posted, in case you would like to read it for yourself.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction
Mitochondria are organelles that exist in most of the cells in our bodies. They serve several functions, the most important being the creation of ATP - a chemical source of cell energy. Oxidative stress can interfere with the proper functioning of mitochondria's role in this process, and also explains in part why mitochondrial functioning diminishes with age.
Mitochondrial Dysfunction can result from Mitochondrial Disease (which is genetic, passed almost exclusively through the maternal DNA, and is associated with Parkinson's disease and ataxia, among other diseases) or other mitochondrial dysfunction (which can have variable causes including genetic and environmental and has been associated with numerous neurological disorders such as Bipolar disorder, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease, among others).
Hannah Poling apparently has a mitochondrial disease that her mother also has. This disease was unknown at the time of her vaccinations. Currently, vaccinations are recommended for most sufferers of Mito.
If you would like to read a very interesting take on autism and mito from someone who is intimately familiar with both, please read this blog entry by SL.

The Autism Link
Hannah was presented to the court as exhibiting "features of autism". At least 10 specific features were mentioned in the case documentation, only 3 of which relate directly to DSM-IV diagnostic criteria. More on that (subjective analysis) here.
Hannah was originally included in the Autism Omnibus case, but was subsequently removed from that group of litigants. I am unsure as to why this is, but have read in several spots that her underlying Mito would prevent her from being classified alongside the 4800+ cases that make up the Omnibus proceedings.
EDIT 3/7: Please read the comments section, where Dad of Cameron has
provided a good overview, with links, of some of the possible
factors relating to the decision to exclude Hannah Poling from the Autism
Omnibus proceedings.

Of particular interest to me was an excerpt from the Journal of Child Neurology / Volume 21, Number 2, in which Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, who performed a case study on Hannah Poling, said:

It is unclear whether mitochondrial dysfunction results from a primary genetic
abnormality, atypical development of essential metabolic pathways, or secondary
inhibition of oxidative phosphorylation by other factors. If such dysfunction is
present at the time of infections and immunizations in young children, the added
oxidative stresses from immune activation on cellular energy metabolism are
likely to be especially critical for the central nervous system, which is highly
dependent on mitochondrial function. Young children who have dysfunctional
cellular energy metabolism therefore might be more prone to undergo autistic
regression between 18 and 30 months of age if they also have infections or
immunizations at the same time.
Clearly there are issues here that deserve and will certainly garner additional discussion and, yes, research. I have many questions stemming from this information as well as several early thoughts/opinions, but I will save those for another post. For now, I simply wanted to provide a summary of events so that interested people can have a well-rounded understanding of the case of this little girl from Georgia.
I am not a scientist and have no special knowledge in any of these areas. Many of my readers, however, are. If I have missed the mark in any of this objective discussion, please inform me in the comments section and provide a link to substantiate your recommended correction. I will then edit this post accordingly.

Other links that you may find useful (I certainly did):
Autism Vox (read the comments section on this one)
S.L. (lots of good posts here)
Left Brain/Right Brain (This article guest-blogged by S.L.)
Joy of Autism (Two good posts here)
Grey Matter/White Matter (A good overview of how elements of the autism community are reacting by Sullivan)
Club 166 (Expressing ire with the way this case is being presented in the media)
DFMP (a mother's and biologists' perspective)
Asperger Square 8 (for some well-needed humor)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Positive and Powerful

Have you ever heard of Wikio?

I received an email from a very friendly person named Sarah at Wikio today. In part, it read:

"Wikio, an aggregator of online news and blogs, has recently kicked off our own blog ranking. Mashable has already positively acclaimed our new service ( and blogs like The New York Times’ Freakonomics are rapidly adding badges featuring their Wikio ranking (

Our Top Blogs ranking features a bunch of different categories; for instance, the "Health" category where your blog "One Dad's Opinion" stands at number 77."

Taken in and of itself, that's pretty cool. My little corner of the internet ranks somewhere, on something! Who'da thunk it? 12 months ago, I thought "HTML" was German for "internet", and here I am now showing up in someone's rankings!

But that's not the half of it. You see, I have many reasons for writing this blog. Among them are the sense of community and 'connectedness', the (predominantly) positive interaction I have with members of the autism community, the daily feedback on important issues affecting autistic people and those who care for and about them, the outlet for emotional and intellectual energy, and the ongoing effort to create a "Captain's Log" that my family can look back on in the future and remember what a challenging, yet rewarding, time it was when my sons were 'wee beasties'.

But also among my reasons, perhaps foremost of all, is that I am confident that through the combined efforts of the amazing people who have voluntarily agreed to contribute to the Autism Hub, and who have sunk their heart and soul into those efforts (it is an effort!) over the past several months to years, that we communally have made and will continue to make a positive difference in the lives of autistic people (it goes without saying to anyone familiar with the Hub that a solid majority of our contributing members are autistic adults).

In case you are wondering how all this ties back into the email from Wikio I mentioned at the beginning of this post, observe the following list of rankings in the "Health" category's Top 100 of Wikio:

#5 Autism Hub All Hub Bloggers
#10 Autism Vox Kristina Chew, Ph.D
#37 Ballastexistenz Amanda Baggs
#38 Autism Street Dad of Cameron
#40 Andrea's Buzzing About... Andrea
#55 The Voyage Sharon
#77 One Dad's Opinion Me
#78 Autism News Beat Anonymous
#80 Joy of Autism Estee Klar-Wolfond
#89 The Rettdevil's Rants Kassiane

Call me crazy, but it seems to me that 10% of the entire "Health" category on Wikio is made up of Autism Hub bloggers!

When Kev Leitch created the Autism Hub, he was acting as a visionary for the autism community, whether he knew it or not. I recently was joined by Bev and Dad of Cameron for a multimedia presentation on the Autism Hub at the University of San Diego Autism Institute's Winter Conference. The gist of our presentation was threefold: That the Hub provides an entirely new context/medium for autistic self-advocacy (Bev), that the Hub provides a comprehensive and ongoing review of the current scientific issues relating to autism (Dad of Cameron), and that the Hub provides a powerful resource and point of reference for parents who are interested in focusing on their children's autistic strengths as well as learning to help them with their challenges (me).

Thank you to all Hub members, founders, contributors, readers, and commenters. It is through your efforts that autistic self-advocacy can flourish after taking root during the past several years.