9/10/2010

The Case of the Polings and an Even Sadder Case of Crowing for Little Reason

The Polings, after too many years fighting for it, finally got their settlement; they will have the funds to care for their daughter. We can all join together in being relieved for the family that they will not have that worry over their heads. As is common in the online autism community, many have begun to post about it. First up, at least that I know, is Ginger Taylor (thanks to the heads up from Laura at Life In the The House That Asperger Built; she has an excellent rebuttal to Taylor's oft-repeated use of the Gerbering video and the need to crow). This type of post is usual for Taylor and the Age of Autism site, both having focused lots of attention to the Poling case as proof of their children's autism being caused by vaccines.


Age of Autism ran a quick post: "The totally twisted and unsustainable United States government approach to vaccines and autism was on full display today." I'd argue that as usual their understanding of what happened is significantly off. Olmsted, in writing two brief paragraphs on the settlement, betrayed a bitterness that isn't always so prominently on display.


Sullivan at LBRB covered the story in greater detail and was flat out brilliant in a follow-up comment to a poster who accused Sully of spinning the story:


"The government awarded $1.5M—plus an annuity which is likely to cost $10M or more—for a table MMR encephalopathy.
Why is this important? Because the whole point of the Omnibus was to decide whether autism could be considered as a table injury. Hannah Poling does not set that precedent. Another way to put it is this—One can not say, “My kid had his/her first symptoms of autism within a month of a vaccine, therefore the autism is a vaccine injury”. Had one of the Omnibus test cases made the general causation argument stick, something like that would be possible."
Orac also puts his mighty blogging power into the story, posting, for him, a very brief post.


Perhaps the posts are relatively brief because the Poling story has been covered exhaustively over the years? I rather suspect that's the case. What's been said has been said over and over, and it appears, so far, that only Taylor felt the need to revisit the whole affair with the Gerbering video


What is unfortunate in all of this is that nuance is lost. The anti-vaxxers are so hungry for vengeance that when someone gets justice, the bitterness bleeds through. They want vengeance for themselves. This is a complicated mess. They both wish for the safety net we need for our children -- and with my oldest now an adult and his father and I his legal guardians, we know just how little money is there for the disabled: the full amount of SSI an individual who has never worked can get is $674 dollars. That's it, and the individual must live on it. Any assistance given can lower that amount. Medicaid does not cover all medications, either, and finding primary care docs who take medicaid can be challenging.


We need our disabled children to have better resources at their disposal, better options, so that they can live good, safe, and comfortable lives as adults; we need better group homes that provide as much autonomy as possible. We need to know they will be okay when we can no longer look out for them, that society will care as much as we do.


Our fears, often justifiable, that this is not the case, causes our bitterness and anger and we lash out, out at other parents, out at governments, out at bloggers we've decided we've taken an instant dislike to, and we rage against the lack of fairness that some children don't face these challenges that ours do, that some parents don't face these fears. We suffer from tunnel vision and it colors everything we think, say, and do.


It's understandable. It really is. But it isn't pretty. It isn't adaptive. And it takes up entirely too much of our dialogue.

No comments: