An endless supply of material. Gads.

"What is unfortunate is that the very sensible information provided by Jenny McCarthy does not have an even bigger platform. All the scientists who research autism and doctors who treat autism and parents of children with autism and people with autism who are able to understand -- all should be aware and educated about everything in Jenny & Dr. Jerry's new book "Healing and Preventing Autism" and also Dr. Bryan Jepson's book "Changing the Course of Autism", and Dr. Jaquelyn McCandless' book "Children with Starving Brains"."


No more need be said.

And by Handley: an article entitled "Is Autism Speaks' Geri Dawson a Blithering Idiot?" Let me answer that for you, J.B. No, that would be your reflection in the mirror staring back at you. Nice. Read the article, it's almost worth the headache this much ignorance cause. The balls of it, though, should not fail to impress. I will give him that. He may think Wakefield is gold and anything that counters Wakefield to be wrong, that anyone not Wakefield can't speak on the autism/vaccine link except for Handley himself, because he of course has accurately read the research, but at least he has the cajones to stand up and speak and reveal himself to be a blithering idiot, to borrow a term.


"And furthermore, do you really think the vaccine program could be stopped completely at this point? Because for every handful of people who agree vaccines are bad, there are two handfuls of people who believe vaccines are the greatest thing since sliced bread."


This person goes on at length (not something I would ever complain as a bad thing) about how people who don't buy into the vaccine/autism deal are essentially too lazy to think. It couldn't be that the science doesn't back it, could it?

"Why listen to laundered, watered down, corporate controlled "news" when you can read Dan Olmstead on stuff like A of A's news instead?"



And the Here's Your Sign Award Goes to....

From a poster at Huff:
"I know science. I just don't believe in it. I am a nurse and have a background in biological science."
Fortunately, the person assures us she has left the nursing field. You may now let go a huge, collective sigh of relief.


Puffed Up Moral Outrage

One thread closes over at Huff and another opens on the autism/vaccine hokum, and the woo-fighting is waged in earnest and occasionally in jest, when the woo-fighters get punch-drunk. I don't know that all my fellow woo-fighters think of it quite as waging battle, but I'll admit that this is mental imagery I use in many things in my life, not because I see others as my enemy, but as opponents on a chess field of life, where strategy, cunning, and full-out fraktacular balls are necessary to win the day. So, this is how I see the autism/vaccine/heavy metal toxicity/general woo-fest that AoA, GR, and those who post on this side of the woo-line and the responses I make to those on the other side of the woo-line.

I try to present the evidence rationally, although I do get emotionally suckered in and occasionally respond testily, sarcastically, or with humor. I try, where it seems possible or appropriate, to reach out to those who are open to learning, to listening, although I occasionally alienate the ones I was making strides with when they read my responses to those so far gone into woo-quackery that there is no hope of reaching them.

The latest Huff thread, from a pro-science side, this time, is not generating quite the number of responses that the Carrey thread did, and I'll admit well over a hundred of the 700 plus posts on the thread are mine; I was stuck to a computer the last two weeks monitoring an online class, so I made use of my time between "talking" to students. So, one individual was extremely irritated that I was hogging the board; that exchange of posts ending up being flagged and pulled, but she was really snotty. Didn't like that I'd pointed out she was using made-up numbers for her autism numbers.

This person has been fairly scarce on the thread, but she makes a splash when she does post and she wins the Puffed Up Moral Outrage award for the week.

I was responding to another poster and have been all week, countering her claims concerning autism and vaccines, and I posted this in response to the umpteenth repeat of essentially the same post in different places:

I am sorry your child suffered an adverse reaction to the vaccination. No one is denying that an unfortunate few suffer serious adverse effects. Here's what we're saying: science, which has studied this, shows no link, no connection between vaccination and autism. Is it possible that your child had both an adverse reaction and also has autism? Yes. I am aware at this point, replying to you is falling on deaf ears and blind eyes. You know what you know and cannot allow yourself to consider that you might br mistaken. I understand that. There's a reason for science, it allows the best chance to get an objective reality, the objective truth regarding the area being investigated. It helps to remove the gut from the equation.

Might I recommend that you check out from the library or purchase The Science of Fear by Gardner or any of Malcoln Gladwell's work. These two reporters do an excellent job of explaining how our gut can get things wrong.

(I see the typos -- now, of course)

Well, it got this response from the pissy person (not the original poster, but the splashy one, who by the way appears to have made the ONE response to AoA's post on Jenny's appearance at Autism One: "Jenny is so pretty...doesn't matter if she has her hair tied back or in a magazine spread...she's just so pretty.
Posted by: rileysmom May 23, 2009 at 11:14 PM" -- I'm just saying....):

Rileysmom1204: "Spare this person your disingenuous, fake apology. Don't you dare say it's unfortunate that a few have an "adverse reaction". It's not your child. It's not YOUR FEW. That was probably the MOST disgusting "apology" I've ever heard from someone that calls themselves human. ****I am aware at this point, replying to you is falling on deaf ears and blind eyes. You know what you know and cannot allow yourself to consider that you might br mistaken. I understand that. **** How dare you act like you are so much more intelligent than anyone else. You can not allow yourself to consider that YOU might be mistaken so you lash out with ignorant comments. I can guarantee you that there is always some one bigger, badder and smarter than you. You think to highly of yourself. How humble of you."

My response, sincerely meant, I assure you, with no dis ingenuousness about it:

If you don't care how PrincipalDad found (felt about) your accusations to the author of the article, then why would I give your histrionics concerning my posts any merit whatsoever? You give yourself over completely to puffed-up moral outrage as if that will give you the high ground in the debate. Except that debates won by rank emotionalism are not debates at all.If I say something or write it, unless I otherwise make clear I am saying it in jest, I mean every word I say. In earnest.
And I have backed up my assertions regarding the lack of a link between autism/vaccination in spades over the hundreds of posts I have made. If I say I am sorry for her child"s adverse reaction, I mean it. And I did not say it was unfortunate that a few suffer adverse reactions; I said no one denied an unfortunate few suffered adverse reactions, all the difference in the world.

You've got a bug in your bonnet concerning me, and that is your problem. It in no way changes the facts on the ground.

How overly dramatic of you.

I have to assume this is not one of the ones who is open-minded about the cause of autism, huh?


Over just now on AoA from this person:

"I didn't know where else to post this too so I'm posting it here. I wrote to Huff Po on the article about Jenny and the "Playboy" bunny thing and I must say that I'm pissed. They won't let some of my comments through even though they weren't that bad. I wrote a post to the doc that wrote the article and apperently Huff Po is in the business of protecting Doctors too. Here's my post in response to NOT posting my comment. ********************************
What was wrong with my post HuffPo? I do believe that my posts aren't quite as bad as others and yet you let those go through. I wanted PricipalDad to know that this was not a post that was meant for him. That he should let the doctor answer her own questions. Does he need to speak for her? Was it the fact that I referred to Offit as a vaccine profiteer? PrincipalDad is allowed to say MY comment is derogatory and repulsive but I'M not allowed to say what the doctor wrote was derogatory? Is that how it works? That HuffPo protects the doctors from answering the tough questions too? Protects the doctors from accountability for their actions and their words? Lord, I wish I lived in that world...where I wasn't accountable for anything that I didn't really think I should have to answer too. I dare you to print this Huff Po...prove you are neutral...that you will allow parents to ask the tough questions without censorship. I don't mean cussing and the like...I mean the hard questions that every doctor wants to avoid at all cost. Do it, make me a believer in free press again. Make me a believer that the drug companies and doctors don't feed the media what they want printed. Please I'm begging you. Be a beacon of truth in this whole mess. Won't print this either but I know you'll read it. But I still dare to post it.**********************************This was a comment from the 2 or third page. Of course I'm rileysmom on there too. This is in response to the jerk that said my comment was derogatory and repulsive because I asked the doctor was what the difference if Jenny made money from autism when she (doctor) was making money from vaccines. What's the difference? You can post this if you want to or not Kim, I'm just so erked by Huff Po's censorship of the tough questions. Protect the precious doctors at all cost...just don't worry about the kids."

The really excellent thing about having one's own blog is that when things disappear over at Huff as now all of these posts have is that I can make sure they don't disappear completely. Someone can sit in smug satisfaction, thinking they've made my words disappear, oblivious that not only have my words not disappeared, neither have their's.

Well, there you go. Beliefs make it so. No science needed.

"It’s long been the belief among Defeat Autism Now (DAN) practitioners and parents that some combination of toxins and infections are responsible for autism." -- Kent Heckenlively, Esq

I don't know that I really need to go far with this. I mean, stupid just kind of hits you right between the eyes at times.

If you keep reading his post, you're going to have a hell of a headache.

So apparently, it's not just mercury these kids are poisoned with, it's arsenic, too. Huh. Didn't know that. And, gads, the swine flu is a versatile thing isn't it? Here they're using it to prove children with autism have heavy metal toxicity and they were infected with viruses as well. Oh, wait a minute, there are vaccines that could protect kids from viruses, but then, according to the AoAsters, the vaccines would lead to autism because of the heavy metals that would poison them, you know?

And down the rabbithole we go.

Kudos. Kent, for a post that defied logic.

This gem is also noteworthy: " What about the aluminum, or the mercury that’s still used in the process of making the vaccines and in many flu shots? What about the formaldehyde, the lead, the cadmium, the monkey and dog kidney, as well as various animal and supposedly inactivated human viruses?"

The censoring of voices and irony missed completely

Anne Dachel is hammering the Trib again, decrying what she says sounds a lot like promoting censorship (concerning the folly in giving Jenny McCarthy her own show). Is that not delicious? AoA is all about censoring people whose opinions don't dovetail with theirs, but get their knickers in a knot when an individual or an organization points out that the "scientists" and "doctors" they support are frauds, their proposed treatments horrific at worst, abusive at best.

We are all guaranteed the right of free speech (with some limits, like yelling 'Fire!' into a crowd where there is none-- gotta wonder if someday the whole vaccines cause autism might not qualify), but we aren't guaranteed the right to a medium with which to voice our free speech, and certainly not a TV show to dispense inanity, woo, and outright fearmongering by consistently lying about the ingredients in vaccines, the number of adverse reactions, and the link between vaccines and autism.

The people who say they'd rather their child have one of the potentially deadly diseases instead of autism are in effect saying they'd rather see their child suffer, potentially suffer irreparable harm, and potentially die than have to deal with their child's autism and the hard work it takes to provide intervention and the fact that for a fair proportion of these parents, the reality that these children will not grow up to live independent lives.


Your blog is marked as spam

Sigh. I'm in the middle of moving my blogs related to AoA over to here from Detritus, and apparently linking to the Detritus blogs made the blog robots think this was spam. Hopefully, it will be resolved soon.

Another day, another jolt of woo-siness

AoA continues to add posts containing such appalling woo-siness I almost grow faint while ignoring my requests in personal emails for the right to rebut those few who attacked my post. Ah well, you can't say I didn't try. And yes, I know I went willingly into the lion's den on this one. I won't bother to try to post there again; it's far more effective to make my rebuttals here.

Between Huff Post's woo-inators, GR's woo-tins, and AoA's woo-beciles, there is enough ammunition there for plenty of posts to pick apart.

It would be interesting to conduct a survey of parents of autistic children and children with other disabilities and find out what proportion of parents really believe vaccines are to blame, what percentage blame heavy metal toxicity, and what portion believe their child's difficulties are due to a combination of genetic and environmental triggers. We really have no idea of whether AoA, GR, and other like groups represent large numbers or not. It would also be interesting to know what proportion use biomedical treatments, what treatments are used, and how many restrict their treatments to cognitive-behavioral therapies, social skills training, and academic supports.

I'm not convinced that AoA actually has a large body of supporters, at least not based on the number of comments alone. It would be interesting to see site numbers, and then be able to survey those who read the mostly junk there and see whether they read it to be woo-informed so as to counter it or because they are woo-believers.

I'll have to do some digging to see if any of these kinds of surveys have been done.

Letters to the managing editor at Age of autism

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Letters to the managing editor at Age of autism

On Mon, May 25, 2009 at 8:27 PM, Kim Wombles <wombles@sbcglobal.net> wrote: Kim,We've had at least one exchange over at Huff that I consider to have been civilly done, where we reached a commonality in agreeing that autism was probably genetic with environmental triggers.

So, on the On Media: The Chicago Tribune Fails Children with Autism article, I posted and I'll admit to being snarky, but now the attacks have begun (after I was told that comments were moderated so as not to hurt parents of autistic children -- remember I have three, too) and apparently, your moderators thinks its fine and dandy to allow the attacks against me on, without allowing my rebuttals.

If you have any problem in finding what responses of mine were not put on, then you can see them, along with my dissection of the attacks at my blog: kwombles.blogspot.com.Thank you for your time. I hope you will let my responses on. Especially since one of the attacks appears to be by one of your personnel who had access to my sites when the readers were not given the same info.

Sincerely,Kim Wombles

And tonight, since none of my rebuttals are on:

I am extremely disappointed that my rebuttals were not allowed on. I thought better of you.You can find all the attacks and the rebuttals at both my blog kwombles.blogspot.com and sciencerocks.proboards.com.

If you can not see fit to allow those who have been attacked the opportunity to rebut on your site, then I will see fit to make it as widely known as possible that AoA does not play fair and is nasty when confronted.
What an excellent way to unite the autism community in an attempt to provide support for families and improvement for our children.
You can also expect that my emails to you will now be placed onto both the blog and the forum, although I will not place your first email on without your consent. You should assume future communication will be considered public though.

I sincerely hope you will reconsider and post my responses.
Thank you,
Kim Wombles

Age of Autism and the censorship of opposing ideas

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Age of Autism and the censorship of opposing ideas
Just thought I'd point out that my rebuttals provided in posts below still aren't on. I get censorship of trolls, censorship of ugly, mean, and otherwise nasty posts, but failing to put my rebuttals on smacks of pettiness and really raises the question: do they let one dissenting post on so that they can dogpile on the person, all while cackling evilly, knowing that the individual's rebuttals of those attacks will never be let on?

Chickenshits. :-) I double dog dare you to put them on and allow a free exchange. After all, Orac doesn't censor your Jake or folks far crazier.
Posted by KWombles at 5:52 AM

Wow, Age of Autism has some really lovely people! Updated 0601



"KWombles I went herehttp://www.kwombles.com/psycunit2.htmlto read your thoughts on autism- you said you are a parent to 3 children with autism and a psychology instructor-"The Role of Theory of Mind in Autism Spectrum Disorderby Kim Wombles (2007) Some of the most beautiful people I have ever seen have been individuals with autism. They oftenhave this otherworldly look about them, as if they are not of this earth and are often deep in thoughtof other places and other times. It is only with tremendous effort and great cost that they turn theirgaze outward and on others. It would be easy to dismiss this lack of awareness of others as extreme narcissism, but it would be a colossal mistake. Individuals with autism can be extremely empatheticwhen aware of another’s pain or discomfort; they will take on this pain as if it were their own. It isnot a lack of concern for others’ well-being that characterizes autism, but instead is a relative inability to realize that other people can and are thinking, believing, and feeling different things from oneself.Even when that awareness can be taught, there remains a disconnect between that knowledge andthe application of it to predict another’s behavior."I

am so sorry for your students as they are receiving a double dip of crap as you mix SB-C "theories" and your own personal opinion. These are not facts. Please add real research onto your list for students -- ie--Neurotoxicology. 2009 May;30(3):331-7Ockham's Razor and autism: the case for developmental neurotoxins contributing to a disease of neurodevelopment.DeSoto MC.Department of Psychology, University of Northern Iowa, Baker Hall, Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0505, United States. cathy.desoto@uni.eduMuch professional awareness regarding environmental triggers for ASD has been narrowly focused on a single possible exposure pathway (vaccines). Meanwhile, empirical support for environmental toxins as a broad class has been quietly accumulating. Recent research has shown that persons with ASD have comparatively higher levels of various toxins and are more likely to have reduced detoxifying ability, and, that rates of ASD may be higher in areas with greater pollution. This report documents that within the state with the highest rate of ASD, the rate is higher for schools near EPA Superfund sites, t (332)=3.84, p=.0001. The reasons for the rise in diagnoses likely involve genetically predisposed individuals being exposed to various environmental triggers at higher rates than in past generations.Cell Biol Toxicol. 2009 Apr 9. Induction of metallothionein in mouse cerebellum and cerebrum with low-dose thimerosal injection.Minami T, Miyata E, Sakamoto Y, Yamazaki H, Ichida S.Department of Life Sciences, School of Science & Engineering, Kinki University, 3-4-1 Kowakae, Higashi-osaka, Osaka, 577-8502, Japan, minamita@life.kindai.ac.jp.Thimerosal, an ethyl mercury compound, is used worldwide as a vaccine preservative. We previously observed that the mercury concentration in mouse brains did not increase with the clinical dose of thimerosal injection, but the concentration increased in the brain after the injection of thimerosal with lipopolysaccharide, even if a low dose of thimerosal was administered. Thimerosal may penetrate the brain, but is undetectable when a clinical dose of thimerosal is injected; therefore, the induction of metallothionein (MT) messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein was observed in the cerebellum and cerebrum of mice after thimerosal injection, as MT is an inducible protein. MT-1 mRNA was expressed at 6 and 9 h in both the cerebrum and cerebellum, but MT-1 mRNA expression in the cerebellum was three times higher than that in the cerebrum after the injection of 12 microg/kg thimerosal. MT-2 mRNA was not expressed until 24 h in both organs. MT-3 mRNA was expressed in the cerebellum from 6 to 15 h after the injection, but not in the cerebrum until 24 h. MT-1 and MT-3 mRNAs were expressed in the cerebellum in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, MT-1 protein was detected from 6 to 72 h in the cerebellum after 12 microg/kg of thimerosal was injected and peaked at 10 h. MT-2 was detected in the cerebellum only at 10 h. In the cerebrum, little MT-1 protein was detected at 10 and 24 h, and there were no peaks of MT-2 protein in the cerebrum. In conclusion, MT-1 and MT-3 mRNAs but not MT-2 mRNA are easily expressed in the cerebellum rather than in the cerebrum by the injection of low-dose thimerosal. It is thought that the cerebellum is a sensitive organ against thimerosal. As a result of the present findings, in combination with the brain pathology observed in patients diagnosed with autism, the present study helps to support the possible biological plausibility for how low-dose exposure to mercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines may be associated with autism.Curr Med Chem. 2009;16(2):157-70.Immune-glutamatergic dysfunction as a central mechanism of the autism spectrum disorders.Blaylock RL, Strunecka A.Belhaven College, Jackson, Mississippi, USA.Despite the great number of observations being made concerning cellular and the molecular dysfunctions associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), the basic central mechanism of these disorders has not been proposed in the major scientific literature. Our review brings evidence that most heterogeneous symptoms of ASD have a common set of events closely connected with dysregulation of glutamatergic neurotransmission in the brain with enhancement of excitatory receptor function by pro-inflammatory immune cytokines as the underlying mechanism. We suggest that environmental and dietary excitotoxins, mercury, fluoride, and aluminum can exacerbate the pathological and clinical problems by worsening excitotoxicity and by microglial priming. In addition, each has effects on cell signaling that can affect neurodevelopment and neuronal function. Our hypothesis opens the door to a number of new treatment modes, including the nutritional factors that naturally reduce excitotoxicity and brain inflammation.Though most of the archaic psychology stuff you seem to post guarantees you a job in the psych dept- it has zero accountability in the definition and treatment of children with autism."Posted by: Teresa Conrick May 25, 2009 at 05:59 PM

Damn, Teresa, don't hold back while you spew your complete garbage. What a lovely person you are. Thanks for sharing.You will be an excellent teaching tool. Thank you so much! :-)--- Oh wait, there's more. AoA isn't let my posts on, either. Yup, they are about the science. :-)

An interesting note: I've run across Teresa over on Huff, and I was doing a little background reading. She posted this gem in April on the Carrey thread:

"OK - So as soon as the science is brought up and the thimerosal studies come out, the wackosphere shows their true colors and does their typical thing -- which is to do personal attacks to attempt to get everyone of topic...."


Now, isn't that precious. Personal attacks and the pro-science side is the wackosphere. I tell you, give Teresa her props, she's all about the personal attacks, isn't she?

"Well Mindy, I also am a special education teacher and I worked in psych in the 80's and 90's too. There were never the amount nor as impaired numbers of children and now teens that we see today in both public school and private placements. Get real and stop with the vaccine commercials !!"
posted Apr 24, 2009 at 19:54:39


And she feels sorry for my students? Alrighty then.

"Stephen Becker...a summary will be available shortly here on AoA. In fact, there will be much, much more to follow on the 14 studies. AoA is not about the science, K Wombles? It is the reason we exist. This debate is very simple, so pay close attention: You believe the very people who will ultimately be held responsible for this disaster not only have the right to study themselves to see if they are indeed guilty, but that the very science they use to claim innocence is qualitatively and quantitatively enough to do so. We don't.That's it. That's the debate. It's just too damn bad no one wants to go there. So again, I ask you, since you are clearly implying you are all about the science, which study would you like to discuss?"Posted by: Julie Obradovic May 25, 2009 at 04:42 PM

My response (not allowed on): Let this one on, what do you say? Since you're letting the attacks on, shouldn't you at least give the semblance of fairness?

Teresa, lovely person you are. Thanks so much for the excellent teaching tool your post will be. :-)

Julie, pick a study, but you gotta promise not to spin or distort it, okay? Oh, wait, that's what y'all do.

By the way, all my posts, the ones you didn't put on, as well as these lovely, dispassionate responses to my first post that are all about dialogue and exchange (oh and compassion for other parents with children on the spectrum) are there as well and will be used with both my psychology and freshman comp classes as critical thinking tools. Thanks bunches. :-)

Y'all have a most excellent day.
Newest response: "I read Ms. Wombles "Theory of Mind" paper and of course by me not being a scientist I have no idea what she is talking about, really.I have a question though, as I understand it children with autism do not possess "theory of mind," they can't enter an abstract and react typically. Also it is mentioned, I believe, that theory of mind does not begin to develop until someone reaches 4 years of age. Why then did my 3 year old son, run from us at bath time and hide under the covers in our bed? Why did he run away scared from a baby bird that was on the ground today flapping and chirping? How is it that when he saw a cougar pacing back and forth at the zoo on his birthday he remarked rather forcefully, "He's not happy!"? Is he not placing himself in the shoes of another, is he not mind-reading? Is this not theory of mind?I don't know, maybe my son's initial diagnosis was wrong, I mean since children do not recover from autism, if they reallyhad it in the first place, how could this be, maybe I"m imagining things, maybe not being a "scientist" I am misinterpreting information. Or maybe I am paying a good deal of attention, looking for clues that your science can't discover because of biases, a need to find a square peg to fit into your square hole.Maybe science is a lot like art, there is no one truth. It's all open for interpretation.My son sleeps with his pink teddy bear not because it is another pillow, it's because he has attached a humanistic personality to it that gives him comfort. Anthropomorphism perhaps? Theory of mind?"According to Baron-Cohen (1985), theory of mind is not dependent on intelligence levels. The theory of mind model is the idea that a person understands the idea that not only does he possess states of mind (feelings, thoughts, and beliefs), but that other people also possess states of mind and that these might differ from his own. An inability to conceive of this state of mind is what sets an autistic person apart from those who can..""While the first order theory of mind acquisition usually occurs around age 4 in children who have no neurocognitive deficits, the second order theory of mind abilities tend to develop between the ages of 6 and 7 (Coull, Leekam, & Bennett, 2006)." I also noticed that you stated in your 2008 paper that you have a child diagnosed with autism. In fact I quote, "... but as the mother of an autistic child, it is one that has played a prominent role in my caring for and teaching of my son – how do I honor hisunique gifts while helping him gain the tools and judgment to better fit into society."Didn't you just post that you have three children with autism?Or were you just speaking scientifically when you said: "To Cherry Sperlin Misra:No, I, as the mother of three children on the spectrum and as a college instructor of psychology with a focus in autism, will most emphatically not be joining the Age of Autism crowd. Ever. Thank you.I absolutely know what it is like to parent a severely autistic child who will never be leaving home to live an independent life.To say that AoA is about the science borders on absurd and your sanctimonious post certainly goes right over that edge.Posted by: KWombles May 24, 2009 at 08:31 PM" Sigh... science is so confusing.

Posted by: bensmyson May 25, 2009 at 10:56 PM
At the time the Theory of Mind paper was written my youngest two hadn't been diagnosed. On the plus, I am getting read, on the negative, the people reading are asses. (I was going to change the asses part when I woke up this morning, 5/26, but, rereading their posts, I think that's fair --y'all disagree and think that's too harsh, let me know).

Response for all the good it will do:bensmyson: At the time written, my two youngest had not been diagnosed.

Sarcastic much? Make you feel all better? You read my blog, my posts at Huff, they're all consistent. If you read my Culture of Their Own paper, you'll see that the youngest had just been diagnosed and we were working on the middle child's eval.

Ya think maybe things change with time?And theory of mind, at least the rudimentary levels of it, can be systematically taught to children with autism. I'd argue you probably need to reread the paper, though, as your examples are not of theory of mind. But that would just be me and science talking. Cheers!

Second response: The tiger example losely fits. He's connecting the tiger's behavior with an inner state. That doesn't mean he'd recognize that two different people can have differing mental states at the same time. Ah, but, you were just being sarcastic, so you're not really interested in the science on theory of mind and its impairment in people with autism, not really, are you?

You may in fact be right and your child did not have a theory of mind impairment. Kudos to you; no theory of mind impairment would mean no serious social deficits, wouldn't it? Which would mean that it didn't meet the criteria of autism set out in the DSM-IV-TR. But, hey, y'all are completely redefining autism, aren't you? So psychological and neurological studies into autism really don't apply over here in the vaccine-damaged autism, right?........And my theory of mind paper is dated 2007.
Posted by KWombles at 6:29 PM

kathleen Leopold said...
Holy crap-they don't listen to a word that you say...AoA seem to be a bunch of "victims"..they are not about science not about truth..They simply want to justify being angry. By the way, I love your course description-whats your reading list?...Anyway, I hope that you have run outside in the moon light and covered your body with crystals to dispel all the negative energy thrown at you-perhaps some time in a Hbot chamber? :)
May 26, 2009 8:42 AM

KWombles said...
I'm still working on how to tweak the freshman comp course to incorporate the Huff stuff. AoA is going to have to come in there, too. And figure out how to add some of this stuff in besides my Theory of Mind reading. I think the bashing of the piece by the AoA woo-dips (don't you wonder how many different names we can come up with?) has to enter in as well!Man, I gotta align my chakras, don't you think? Better do the sage smudge thing, too. I'm needing lots of cleansing! Okay, actually been laughing my ass off. :-)They still haven't let any of my rebuttals on. And I emailed Kim S. and pointed that out. She said she'd keep checking on the thread. So, we'll see. Hah!
May 26, 2009 9:53 AM

Irritated with Age of Autism/Are You Frakking Kidding Me?


My comment (hah, like it will get on):

Absolutely, "In the end, the truth will be undeniable."Woo-quackery at it's finest here. Thankfully, the mainstream media are picking up on it finally. After all, there's only so much most people can stand of being wrong. And then it's time to consider what the truth of the matter really is. And where do most reasonable people go for that? Ahh, yes. Science.

Of course, many of the people at AoA wouldn't know science if it walked up and smacked them in the face.

Alright, Maggiemom would note that for someone who prides themselves on civility, this isn't. Meh. Tough. I didn't note that they were walking wackaloons, did I?-

----Added this to the comment and resubmitted:

I like how the comments are moderated and the author has to approve them. That's one way to control the dialogue. That's okay. You don't have to put this comment up here. It's in my blog, oh, where all comments are welcome, where I believe if you want to put it out there, go right ahead. :-)

----Update 05.24 10:11 am --- Slap me silly and color me pink ---

AoA put the whole damn thing on. Including the last paragraph I added. Oh, I know, I double-dared them, essentially. So, gracious person that I am, I promptly posted on there acknowledging that they had let it on. I still think they are incredibly WRONG on just about everything. Maybe they have a minimum number of dissenters they allow on so that they can then eviscerate them? Ooooh, that gets to be me this time around! I gots me a mighty thick skin, you know!

----Hey, look what A0A put on of mine in response to http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/05/olmsted-on-autism-welcome-to-illinois.html#comments:

Overgeneralization: "Mainstream docs prescribe this drug every day, to children."Statistics to back up this claim? Is your argument that if regular docs do it and don't know the effects, then no bigger if the Greiers (sic) do it?"

---I don't know why I want to put an r in their name, but I keep doing it. Arrggh.

Update and retitled Are you frakking Kidding Me?

From Sanctimonious Miss: "To KWombles, I, as a person who has no autistic child, can tell you from long experience, that you have no idea how many of the parents of AOA are scientists themselves, or who, being non scientists, know all about research done by Dr Haley, University of Kentucky, Dr. Burbacher, University of Washington, and Dr. I. Pessah, U California, Davis, and so many others, of whom I am sure you have no knowledge, or you would probably be on our side. Comments are moderated because we want to keep up the science and because we want to have respectful discourse. You have no idea how tough it is to be the parent of a severely autistic child and some comments can be hurtful. Now, let us imagine that someone here thinks that Lupron is not a good treatment in some way. We want to hear that because we want to move forward. We want to discard the treatments that arent doing kids any good.But, yes, anything that might help an autistic child feel better, We're going to take a close look before we trash and dismiss. Open your heart and eyes, if you truly care for the suffering of children. Listen to the stories of parents. Look at the autistic children. Age of Autism is not the TRUTH, it is merely the SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH. Please join us on our journey."

My response (if it gets on):

To Cherry Sperlin Misra:No, I, as the mother of three children on the spectrum and as a college instructor of psychology with a focus in autism, will most emphatically not be joining the Age of Autism crowd. Ever. Thank you.I absolutely know what it is like to parent a severely autistic child who will never be leaving home to live an independent life.To say that AoA is about the science borders on absurd and your sanctimonious post certainly goes right over that edge.

Update 5/25

"KWombles -If you won't be joining us ever, that is your loss. Cherry's post certainly was not sanctimonious. Perhaps you need to clean your glasses, as your perceptions seem to be a bit off."

My response: (not put on)

Twyla,No, not my loss at all. I have a wonderful support group in people who are scientifically minded and go where the evidence leads.And, I see quite clearly, thank you.

And, yes her post did come across that way. She made multiple assumptions regarding my experiences and knowledge base and she was wrong. I speak from personal and professional experience and knowledge regarding autism.I do know what it's like to have a child severely affected by autism; who at 19 remains mentally around 8, who is never leaving home for an independent life.

Also not put on:

Twyla: Sanctimonious: "self-righteous, goody-goody" -- www.answers.com/topic/sanctimonious

Now, the question is is yours?Her post was.And if I appear adversarial? You bet I am; I've spent the last three months at Huff countering woo and outright lies. I'm done sitting aside and watching people like Jenny spout misinformation. I'm done watching people follow the woo-trail in the desperate hope for improvement for their child(ren) without standing counterpoint and offering evidence-based practices.

And can we all say fraktacular balls?



Transylvania on the Brain

The boy comes home last week from the center and says there's a new girl there from Transylvania. I do a double take and ask him if he's sure. He's positive. Transylvania, Mom. I wisely let it go. What the heck is the likelihood of someone from Transylvania moving to West Texas to live in a group home and attend a center for the disabled? Really? But, who knows, right? He comes home the next day with a letter from the girl, filled with hearts and kissy signs and all manner of mushiness directed at my decidedly unmushy boy. That's going to work, right? She's drawn a picture of buck teeth on the paper as well, writing buck teeth beneath it, so he's perseverating on whether she thinks he has buck teeth, ignoring all the other little nonsense drawings she's made and all the suggestive ones indicating her clear desire to get jiggy with him. At the end, she's written, " Can I have your cell number?" and drawn boxes for yes and no. He's at a quandary of what to do. He's not overly fond of the phone, preferring to talk to his best friend only on the phone; anyone else, not so much, thank you.

All he can tell me about the girl is that she's from Transylvania. No age, no hair color, no size, no degree of functioning. So, she could be anywhere from her teens to her 70s and anywhere from high functioning (and based on her note, it would appear she's higher functioning than him) to lower functioning, from just mentally challenged to physically disabled as well, although he talks about the women with their sitters (walkers that also have the seat, so if she is physically disabled, it's not significant). There's absolutely no telling with the boy, because he's damn near person blind, not just face blind.

We decide yes on the cell-phone and the next day he comes home and tells me she's told him that she's his girlfriend. It's a good thing she's ready to lead, because left to the boy, no one would get anywhere. He's rehearsed with her, so he's also able to tell me she is 19 too and has blond eyes. I stop him and tell him I'm pretty sure she doesn't have blond eyes. Blank stare ensues.

Ah well. Tonight his friend from the center (the one he'll happily talk to on the phone, ususally nonsense about Brittany Spears-- I have no idea and wish for none) is over; we're eating, and the light goes off in my husband's head. Ask the friend, who is not faceblind. So Rick asks, where's Bobby's girlfriend from? Right out with it comes: Pennsylvania, and right away I lose it, nearly spewing my Fresca (I'm always losing my Fresca, dammit), bent over, laughing my ass off as I run to grab my cell and call Mama, who will get every bit as big a kick out of it as me.

The boy has a thing for vampires. He knows Transylvania. Pennsylvania he's never heard of and couldn't find on a map.

Will he remember correctly that she's from Pennsylvania? I wouldn't bet on it. :-)


A Wooquack's Gut

A Wooquack’s Gut

In the land of Wooquackery,
where no wind blows and no one knows,
there lives an unhappy band
of wooquacks.

Never a fact
have the wooquacks met
that google couldn’t undo.
Real it must be if it’s there on the net for all to see.

No old scientists
for the wooquacks, nosirree.
Brand new ones with
Google degrees, if you please.

No need for scientific method.
No use for critical thinking.
Just our gut here, you see
In the land of wooquackery.

We know what we know.
Truth is truth.
Proof is proof.
Out with science and in with the wooquackery.

dedicated to the one I have designated nemesis 2.0, who was and is a muse for my writing (although that's probably not a compliment, but hey, what can you do?).


Peace in the Pieces of Me

Every couple of months, the boy (who will be 20 this year) brings up one of his plans for the future and I take the bait. He brings up his future plans all the time, his desire to be a dog masseuse, a chef, a janitor, a professional Yu-gi-Oh duelist, and I blythely go about my business ignoring the unlikelihood of these ever happening as well as his complete obliviousness that these things will not happen. Ah, but, about four times a year or so, I bite and spend the next half-hour to hour trying to explain how and what he would need to do to make any of these a reality. Physically banging my head into a brick wall could not do me more damage than these talks do. They are beyond pointless as none of it reaches him. I start off with assuring him that I love him as he is, that if attending the day program for the disabled is all he ever does, as long as he’s happy, I’m happy. I then transition to pointing out that I believe, though, that he could do more, I don’t know how much more, but more, and that I would be happy to see him achieve his goals. Then, of course, I delineate the ways in which he would need to work to achieve these goals. All of those ways involve effort and a GED, so that’s usually where it stops. The boy can read well enough to get through adult novels (he misses the emotional or abstract parts), do basic math, and write a little. He’s got a proclivity to Tim-the-Toolman-Taylor facts, though, that staggers the imagination. If there’s a way to completely butcher it and miss the point, the boy can and does, and no amount of explaining where he’s wrong will fix it.

So, today on Mother’s Day, he started with the chef thing and kissing girls, how that came in I don’t know, and I bit. And I got nowhere at all, except that this time it ended with him uttering that being a chef would be nice but it wasn’t worth a GED to do it and this life now was easier. I don’t know why I do this to myself, as one of our “conversations” can immediately trigger a migraine that leaves me in the bathroom bent over the commode, wondering why I never learn. If you leave the boy alone, let him drone on about Yu-gi-Oh, Soul Calibur, his other video games, Gangland, and UFO sightings, as well as his career goals, offer your occasional grunts of acknowledgment, he’s happy and all’s well with the world. Try to point out anything at all counter to what he’s said and you hit a brick wall that will knock you over and depress the hell out of you. The boy’s fine, at least, at the end of the “conversation” so there’s that positive. He remains untethered in time, unaware of the riptide he’s made in your day.

Migraine meds swallowed, I’m left to find peace in the pieces of me that these conversations inevitably shatter. Most times, I wade along, untethered in time with the boy, at least with regards to him, my constant, seemingly unchanging child. There, where time does not ripple forward but pools stagnant, algae green unmoving, we can be happy, insulated from the outer world, and he is free to be just the boy, compared to himself only. When those waters ripple, when they become rapids, the pieces of me shatter, and I am no longer untethered. I learned long ago to find the peace in the pieces of me in my gardens. The older the boy and I get, the longer our journey together, the more the garden means to me. So, today, on Mother’s day, after the inevitably pointless shattering conversation, I retreated to my garden, on this misty day. West Texas gardening is a challenge, especially when what you’re trying for is a lush, English cottage garden. It’s a lot like raising an autistic child or two or three. It takes a lot of work, a lot of time, and it can be heartbreakingly frustrating. But when it works, when the years of work build and the effort finally shows through, the payoff is big and the pieces of me are no longer shattered and I have that moment of bliss; I have peace in the pieces of me.

Solace in a Balcony Garden -1994

This piece was written in 2004.

What should have been an exciting, happy time for us, finally together again after two years apart, was instead one of the most difficult, depressing times in my life. My husband was stationed in Germany, and we lived in a picturesque little village on the side of a hill, with a magnificent view that seemed made for us alone. Our son, a beautiful blue-eyed, blond-headed angel, had us sleep-deprived, bewildered, and when not in denial, anxious. At four, he spoke only a few words, wasn't toilet trained, wouldn't stay dressed, stayed awake thirty-six hours at a time, and screamed for hours. He was as difficult as he was beautiful. Outings with him were painful, embarrassing, and exhausting affairs, as we never knew what would set him off.

My husband and I coped as best we knew how, but weren't even treading water. To this fragile situation, we then added his two sons, 10 and 11, when they needed a safe place to live. They both suffered from learning disabilities and behavioral issues we weren't fully aware of. Within a month of their arrival, I felt completely alone, isolated, and overwhelmed. Many of the destructive coping mechanisms I had worked hard to overcome began creeping back in. My weight went up; I began smoking again. I knew I had to find something, some lifeline to hold onto.

Left home alone with the three boys for long periods because of my husband's work, I found myself retreating to our large balcony with its view of the valley, the Main River winding lazily past. The balcony was the nicest feature of the apartment, and I knew it had tremendous potential. I had always loved gardening and the endless possibilities that soil, seeds, water, and sun created, and knew I had found a lifeline. I just had to make my husband see the same possibilities and my need, as carrying forty-pound sacks of dirt up eight flights of stairs was not a chore that would fall on my shoulders. My husband, like most men, misses much he should see, but was able to see my desperation, and over a ton of dirt made its way up all those stairs, past the startled stares of our very confused neighbors. After the dirt came dozens of containers and even a wading pool, along with several flats of flowers and seedlings.

Whenever I began to feel overwhelmed by the demands of caring for three developmentally disabled, rambunctious boys, I would withdraw to my balcony garden, where it was slightly quieter, with only the sounds of boats, trains, and cars racing by below. While my little son sat beside me, lost in his own little world, lining up his toys in neat rows and my stepsons were away at school, I planted morning glories, begonias, marigolds and miniature roses and took solace in their beautiful colors and lovely scents. In the wading pool, I planted spinach, cucumbers, and onions. I had several containers with tomato plants, beans, and lettuces. Outside, on this lush, undoubtedly overloaded balcony, I found a measure of peace and some confidence that the work I did, the efforts I made, were worthwhile and effective.

Inside, as spring turned to summer and fall began to peek around the corner, my efforts did not seem to make any difference, and the situation between my stepsons and my little family continued to deteriorate. In June, the younger stepson, who had severe behavioral problems, tried to strangle my son as a roomful of adults in the special-ed classroom watched on in shock. We were fortunate to be present when it happened and were able to pull him away before any physical harm was done, but a piece of me withered. I could not bear to ask my husband to send the boys back to their mother, but also could not understand why they weren't on a plane the next day.

Things continued to slide inexorably down, despite the help we were getting from the school and the hospital. I found it increasingly difficult to function, and the next month when our oldest managed in a moment of rough play to drop our youngest upside down onto the concrete floor, I withdrew emotionally from my stepsons and my husband. I spent most of my time out on the balcony with my son, never leaving him alone with his brothers. The garden and my son were my lifelines, what I held on to. My garden let me see that I could succeed, and gave me peace. I tended my plants, I hugged my little boy, and I prayed for a solution, as I harvested my tomatoes and cucumbers, as I touched the petals of my marigolds and pansies and found comfort.

In August, as my garden reached its potential and my life reached a crisis point, I was able to see that just as the soil needs replenishing and crops need rotating, that it was not a failure for my stepsons to return to their mother now that her situation had changed. Their time with us, although painful for all, had been beneficial. The school system had worked with us to get accurate testing of all three of our boys, and my stepsons returned to the states with carefully worked out educational plans for the next school year, eager to return to Ohio and their mother and grandmothers.
My garden and the peace it provided continued to be a balm over the next two months as we readied for our own move back to the states. Because of my stepsons' time with us, our own son began to get the treatment he needed, and the word autism began to enter our vocabulary. Our lives were changing, and I began to see that my efforts mattered, not only in my garden, but also when I invested myself in my son's life and in my own, I could make a difference; it just took more than a season to see the results.