Oh for the love of histrionics. Seriously?

Where on God's green earth do these people come from? Seriously? Each day I go over to AoA hoping to see that someone over there running that show has woke up that morning with a frigging clue. And each morning I am seriously disappointed. I mean really, are you kidding me?

The latest piece of complete horsewash to come out of there is an article by a woman named Cynthia Cornoyer and the level of complete utter rubbish continues to astound me; it really does. http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/06/science-vs-mothers-emotion-turn-a-lion-into-a-vegetarian.html Go on over and see if your head doesn't take a frikking spin around the corner. Here I am, come in from the hot West Texas summer after an hour bent over weeding, so that I can rehydrate, you know? Click on the web to just take a look around while I'm drinking my water and I find this. Come on, really? AoA, is it that you can't get any completely sane people to write for you? Is that the problem? Well, okay, it probably is. You've gone so far down the damned rabbithole you're left with nothing but Alice in Wonderland characters.

Snippets of the article to follow because if I went down this line by line I might not be the newer, gentler me.

"It’s not science vs emotions, it’s no science vs real science." Uh-huh. When we let emotions get in the way of making rationally sound decisions based on the real risks in a situation, then it is emotions versus science. Sorry, you're just completely frikking wrong on that one.

And the way she's written the sentence it would seem to imply that her emotions are the real science; did you notice that, dear readers?

"These mothers have no conflicts of interest or reputations to protect. It is easy for them to ask for a reasonable study of vaccinated vs unvaccinated children--to study whether adding vaccines to an already over crowded schedule is safe. Their pleas go unanswered."

Well, for the love of Pete, I'm pretty sure it's been explained the difficulties in getting a study like this through an ethics board, in terms of a double-blind randomized trial where the control group gets placebo vaccines. Let's say what she means here is she'd like for researchers (unbiased, of course, although she doesn't define what she means by that. Apparently all previous researchers of vaccines or autism are biased and therefore their studies are not honest) to find a population of completely unvaccinated children and compare the rates of autism in this population to one who has received all vaccinations recommended. There are tremendous hurdles in making sure each group is matched and all confounders taken into account. I doubt like hell even if we could find a large enough sample for statistical significance, match it down the line, get results that conclusively showed that there was no difference in prevalence or incidence, that the anti-vaccination folks would accept it. Then it would be we studied all vaccines, when we should have also take it one vaccine at a time, one booster at a time.

"So when emotional mothers ask for studies, simple studies, they are labeled anti vaccine."

They aren't simple studies, as has been explained above.

"If parents do not accept that vaccines are safe and forever safe, no matter how many are given, they are anti vaccine. No middle ground exists. When a child is damaged by a vaccine, parents want safety and real science. Absent that real science, emotions win out."

You know what? This is bullshit. Every reasonable person on the side who believes vaccines save lives admits that there are adverse effects. Not one scientist has even denied the risk involved with vaccination.

No middle ground exists because you deny its existence. Shouldn't you want the safety before the vaccine damage? Real science, I'm sorry, I gotta, versus Wakefield and the Geier's kinds of manufactured "science"?

There's a place for emotion, but it isn't when making medical decisions. If you went into the vaccination procedure without the awareness that there could possibly be an adverse effect, that's your fault. The CDC has handouts, the doctors have those handouts in their offices, and if you refuse to take the responsibility for being an informed consumer, that is on your head. Being bitter and emotional after the fact is an excuse for not dealing with the aftereffects of your decisions. It has not a single damn thing to do with science.

"The people who criticize the Fourteen Studies and offer real science and legitimate questions to counter them, are still mis-labeled anti vaccine."

Real science? Legitimate questions? First off, there are more than fourteen studies dealing with vaccinations and autism. Secondly, basing your decisions on the deconstruction of these studies by a non-scientist like Handley or Julie Obradovic instead of scientists, well that doesn't make you a particularly well-informed consumer. Let's leave it at that.

"I will choose the common sense of mothers over biased “science” any day. And I won’t be taking the easy way out. Observation is one primary aspect of the scientific method. What better witness than the mommy in the trench. Biased science or the most motivated, most accurate observers, with no vested interest other than the health, albeit, very life of one particular child? Easy choice."

By choosing the common sense of mothers over scientific method, you have chosen the fool's way out. Period.

The mommy in the trenches BS is just that. Anecdote isn't data and observation isn't science. It's a start. You are making the mistake of assuming you can observe, then form a conclusion and leave it at that.

Most motivated, accurate observers? Pick up an introductory psychology textbook and read about availability heuristic, affect heuristic and confirmation bias. Your post demonstrates these amply and this is why your post will be used as a teaching tool in my psychology courses and English comp courses. Thank you for brilliantly demonstrating all three of these heuristics to a tee.


Connie said...

Hey, this is a bit off topic, but can you possibly point me to studies that discuss the phenomenon of "spontaneous recovery"? I think I read somewhere that up to 20% of kids on the spectrum "recover" without extensive treatments -- but I mentioned that to my sister this morning and she called that a "lie."

Also, just wanted to give you some encouragement. I hope more people are reading the blog than are commenting. You are doing IMPORTANT work, and for that I thank you.

KWombles said...

Thanks, Connie. :-)

Here's one link that discusses spontaneous recovery: http://www.autism.com/ari/editorials/ed_cureposs.htm

I'll do some digging on the university database and see what I can find.

Huff did run an article last month on a study showing about 10% substantially improve.

Spontaneous recovery is probably not the best term. I'll get back to you with what I dig up.

KWombles said...


Here's an abstract I found (article not available):

"Although Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are generally assumed to be lifelong, we review evidence that between 3% and 25% of children reportedly lose their ASD diagnosis and enter the normal range of cognitive, adaptive and social skills. Predictors of recovery include relatively high intelligence, receptive language, verbal and motor imitation, and motor development, but not overall symptom severity. Earlier age of diagnosis and treatment, and a diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified are also favorable signs. The presence of seizures, mental retardation and genetic syndromes are unfavorable signs, whereas head growth does not predict outcome. Controlled studies that report the most recovery came about after the use of behavioral techniques. Residual vulnerabilities affect higher-order communication and attention. Tics, depression and phobias are frequent residual co-morbidities after recovery. Possible mechanisms of recovery include: normalizing input by forcing attention outward or enriching the environment; promoting the reinforcement value of social stimuli; preventing interfering behaviors; mass practice of weak skills; reducing stress and stabilizing arousal. Improving nutrition and sleep quality is non-specifically beneficial. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]"

Helt, M., Kelley, E., Kinsbourne, M., Pandey, J., Boorstein, H., Herbert, M., et al. (2008, December). Can Children with Autism Recover? If So, How?. Neuropsychology Review, 18(4), 339-366. Retrieved June 20, 2009, doi:10.1007/s11065-008-9075-9

KWombles said...

Another (and I can email you the article, if you'll email me at wombles@sbcglobal.net):

"diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder
(ASD) is usually taken to be permanent. In this study, 13 two-year-old children with ASD lost the diagnosis by age 4, at which time they scored within the normal range on standardized measures of cognitive and adaptive functioning. No differences were found in symptom
severity, socialization, or communication between children who lost the ASD diagnosis and children who did not, but children with PDD-NOS were significantly more likely than those with full autistic disorder to move off the spectrum. The clearest distinguishing factor was
motor skills at age 2. Results support the idea that some toddlers with ASD can lose their diagnosis and suggest that this is difficult to predict."

Sutera, S., Pandey, J., Esser, E., Rosenthal, M., Wilson, L., Barton, M., et al. (2007, January). Predictors of Optimal Outcome in Toddlers Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 37(1), 98-107. Retrieved June 20, 2009, doi:10.1007/s10803-006-0340-6

KWombles said...

"Early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) is often recommended for children with Pervasive
Developmental Disorders (PDD). It is an empirically supported treatment designed to address the core symptoms of autism including language delays, social and play skills, and restricted and repetitive behaviors as well as other related deficits in cognition and adaptive behavior. Though there are a growing
number of research studies supporting EIBI, many questions remain about the nature and stability of best outcomes. The current study provides case descriptions of eight children previously diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and mental retardation who, after EIBI treatment, no longer met behavioral criteria for mental retardation or a PDD. The average gain in IQ standard scores was 34.6 (13.2) points;
and, the average gain in adaptive behavior standard scores was 43 (25.3) points. Nonverbal IQ standard scores (mean¼9312.6) and academic achievement standard scores (mean¼105.318.7) ended within the average range. Language skills remained impaired for seven children. The cases support findings of other researchers that learning recovery in autism and PDD is possible and may be related to intensive behavioral treatment. Individual differences in response to EIBI treatment are discussed."

Butter, E., Mulick, J., & Metz, B. (2006, November). Eight case reports of learning recovery in children with pervasive developmental disorders after early intervention. Behavioral Interventions, 21(4), 227-243. Retrieved June 20, 2009, doi:10.1002/bin.225

Sirenity said...

Beautifully done Kwombles. I'd like a copy of those studies!!

KWombles said...

Sending them your way! :-)

kathleen said...

I had to stop reading that AoA crap after the line "some vaccines popped up because they were just invented.".I guess for no reason? I don't know how you could stand to even write this blog...I mean weren't your feelings hurt? I want you to know that your feelings are valid..so go ahead and feel them it is scientific, really I just know it..it is kind of like my mommy instinct...;)

Connie said...

Thanks for this great info. I'm going to email you for copies if that's not a big inconvenience.

KWombles said...


Some of AoA's articles really boggle the mind. And when the woman's own website says she's anti-vaccine, well, seriously? :-) I wonder if we'll ever see them over here commenting?

I am posting these articles over at Wellsphere. Kim S. posts all of AoA's stuff over there and you can comment without moderation, so if you want to get something said where there is a chance she'll see it, there's the place to go. Today I commented on Kim's post plugging this particular article:


From Cornoyer's own website (since she seems to insist in the article itself that she isn't anti-vaccine): "Cynthia Cournoyer is a popular anti-vaccine author." http://www.whataboutim

Why this particular comment (not the exact wording, but identical content)wasn't allowed on AoA is beyond me.

Further deconstruction of Cornoyer's post can be found under my profile here and at my blog.

I'm going to assume from your lack of an answer to my last email to you on how we could work together to heal the divide in the autism community that you are not interested in lessening the divide. That's a good thing to know. If it's a mistaken assumption, I look forward to your correction. It seems to me that arming parents with the tools to effectively cope with their child's autism is far more important than scaring them with misinformation, don't you think?


Kim Wombles


Now, it's not like ignorance of this site will work as an excuse not to engage us in dialogue. Instead, we will know clearly that the anti-vaccination side is not interested in an unmoderated, free exchange of ideas.

KWombles said...


It's never a problem. If I can get my hands on information that folks who don't have access to university databases can't, I'm happy to do some digging and send it along. :-) The two journal articles I found that I had full access to are on the way to you.

kathleen said...

It is funny-in my argument with Jay Gordon yesterday-(he was busy defending anecdotal medicine) I gave him an anecdote of my own. I told him the story of my second boy-how-being concerned with my oldests diagnosis-I staggered his vaccinations (I was still new to this!) My second boy was non-verbal(i.e. born autistic)...two weeks after his MMR( he was 3-31/2) he spoke his first word. So I can anecdotally say that the MMR cured my son of being non verbal. I could call it coincidence-or "mommy sense"