Autism/Vaccine Parents and Pain

I've spent more time than I probably should reading AoA's posts and comments, and obviously outing the glaringly stupid bits on Countering Age of Autism. Between AoA and the woo-crowd at Huff, I've noticed, especially as I read multiple posts by the same individuals, some similarities besides the woo-silliness.

These parents, yes, fall victim to the availability heuristic, affect heuristic, and confirmation bias, that is a given. They are also prone to group polarization since AoA allows very few dissenting posters on; it appears to me that they let a token few on so that they can devour them. Overall, AoA isn't interested in dialogue or the exchange of scientific information.

AoA appears to be firmly engaged in helping these parents remain in victim-hood. They offer clear answers: vaccines did it. And if not vaccines, then the toxins in our environment, but it was probably the vaccines.

So, with a victim-hood mentality, the promise of recovery, and a clear bad guy to blame, AoA continues to foster dissatisfaction: with the government, with the medical field, with society for not believing them, with other parents with autistic children who don't follow them down the rabbit hole, into the abyss.

It doesn't help that these are also for the most part individuals who do not have a sound scientific education or critical thinking skills under their belt. But, these conspiracy parents are not all scientifically illiterate. Bright, well educated people with scientific backgrounds can also go down the rabbithole.

What it boils down to, I think, is pain and a person's coping skills. How do we react when we are in pain, physical or mental? Do we shut down, do we rage, do we cope, do we adapt? Not everyone has good adaptive coping skills. Not everyone has a positive attribution style.
If a scientific study were undertaken on parents of autistic children, would we find that the parents who blame vaccines for the autism have less adaptive coping skills? Would we find that their attribution style was negative? Some people need certainty in order to function. Blaming vaccines offers that certainty. It doesn't seem to move them past the rage, and I think that's AoA's fault in large part. There's no money in folks accepting and moving on. Which people could do, even if it were vaccines, if they were acknowledged and assisted. AoA doesn't do that. Doesn't offer support. It continually stirs up the pot. It agitates for no other purpose than to keep itself alive.

If AoA cared about parents it would move beyond and offer articles that focused on coping mechanisms, behavioral therapies that would help both the parent and child, would offer book reviews on autism books, would invite the experts to write and participate on the site.

It would offer a forum for encouragement, for suggestions. It would offer support and a moving away from victim-hood.

That AoA does not says everything.


kathleen said...

How very true-and well said. I often find myself wondering about "victim-hood"-what purpose does it serve. I have found that with many things-not just having kids, that people have fairy tale images of what it is going to be like.If you were to look at popular media.."A baby story"..."A wedding story"..etc.etc. they are fantasy based shows-it is all about the ceremony-or having a baby. The reality of life and these being life long commitments is never discussed. So, I think that people are being steered into having false expectations. Time and time again, I have heard parents lament-saying things like" I didn't plan on having kids like this" "I have had to give up so much for them" "This isn't fair" and the like..I have always found it odd that you need a licence to drive a car-but anyone can have a baby...

angela said...

Can I post this on my blog?

KWombles said...

Angela, yes, of course. :-)

KWombles said...


I completely understand; it seems like so many people aren't prepared for the hard work that living is. It takes effort to parent children, whether they are normal or not. It takes work to keep a marriage together (although sometimes all the work in the world isn't enough). It takes work to succeed in one's job. There is joy to be found in working hard for things, though. I'd rather work for it than have it handed to me. Life is boring when you aren't making an effort. :-)