Vaccines, Vaccines, Vaccines: AoA as Jan Brady

What's a belittled, beleaguered, bemused group of folks to do when the evidence continues to mount against its most cherished beliefs? Well, if it's Age of Autism, it's to put a spat of stories out, all of them concerning vaccines and how for autism, "most of the roads of causation research end at the vaccine schedule" (Handley). Nothing like holding onto an idea despite all evidence!

Handley, like most folks at AoA, really dislikes Autism Speaks. Okay, to be fair, many folks in the online autism community have legitimate beefs with the superpower that soaks up donations and then spends more of it on themselves and fundraising than they do on research. It has to be odd, though, for the Wrights, to see their daughter on the woo team and writing for the anti-vax rag. It's a wonder they haven't founded an organization to fundraise for a cure for that.

According to Handley, AS has to take the  position they do, otherwise their funding would dry up. In other words, AS knows that most parents think that the AoA's position regarding vaccines and autism is bunk, and AS has no desire to be a group that appeals to the fringe elements and thereby see its status fall to the fringes, as well. Well, at least that's an offhand way for Handley to admit that the majority of people in the autism community itself disagrees with AoA's position.

After Handley, or before, depending on how you view the scrolling down of the blog, John Stone writes on the Fletcher case and the whole idea that medical professionals promote the myth that vaccines are safe, but you know, they're really the root of all evil (well, that's what the title would have you believe, but in reality, what the article is instead is a string of Stone's comments showing how insightful he is and how wrong everyone else is. It's a waste of space, even by AoA's standards).

And, what would AoA do if they didn't bring in the monkeys and the "new" study from Thoughtful House? Blaxill and Olmsted would be lost without their monkeys. This article is a rehashing of old junk science, with the added throw-in of calling the online science blogging community the wackosphere, which made me chuckle. There's nothing new in the long, winding article as far as I could tell, no evidence that they learn anything from the valid points raised by science-based bloggers regarding these studies.

What we do get to witness in these three latest offering from Age of Autism is that their interest is firmly on vaccines and not on autism. It's a fair assessment to decide that based on the abundance of articles that AoA puts out regarding vaccines, and from their own words, that they are primarily anti-vaccine and completely against scientific evidence that does not support their claims. Indeed, to them, any such evidence is from the wackosphere; they ignore the new study out of Pediatrics showing yet again that thimerosal is not implicated in autism (see Emily's blog for a great tear down).

In the end, AoA comes across as a whiny Jan from The Brady Bunch. I might not care to be Marsha, as she certainly wasn't my favorite character, but I sure wouldn't want to be Jan. I think the youngest daughter had the better approach and the more winning personality; Cindy was sweet and happy. Yeah, that's nothing like AoA.


kathleen said...

Doesn't AoA just get bored with itself? It is the same article week after week..almost as if they say it enough it will come true? Sigh..How are they helping anything?

Anonymous said...

Did you see the one they copied from that woman at CBS, "What's in a Name?" What really caught my attention was when she described Autism as "a behavior disorder triggered by brain damage." That statement really gets my dander up. UGH....

KWombles said...


sigh, you would think they would be getting bored.

I did, but had had my fill with the angry place for the day and closed the browser on it before I dwelt there any longer.

Autism Mom Rising said...

Is there some official statistic or poll you draw upon when you say most Syrian parents don't suspect a link? Seems to me one side is certain most don't & the other is sure most do. Does anyone really know for sure?

Autism Mom Rising said...

Syrian parents????!!! I do not like this android qwerty keyboard! That should say autism parents. So I'm clear - it did not recognize the word autism but it got qwerty!!!!

KWombles said...


That's a fair question and one I'm happy to try to answer. I'd first answer, though, that when I wrote "that the majority of people in the autism community itself disagrees with AoA's position," that I wasn't actually speculating on what parents believed but on the scientific consensus that vaccines are not implicated in autism.

However, scientists have examined the question of what parents believe regarding their child's autism (note that belief does not determine the reality, but will dictate the actions taken):

This table isn't a great reproduction, but the first number is the number of parents in the sample who answered that way, followed by the percentage of the sample. As you can see, in 2002, in the beginning of the vaccine-frenzy, only 18% of parents believed immunizations to be responsible.
Table 1 Parental beliefs about the causes of autism and changes in attitudes about providing routine healthcare among parents who suspected a specific
cause (N = 62)
No. (%)
Causes cited
Immunizations 18 (29)
Genetic predisposition 16 (26)
Environmental exposure (mother or child) 11 (18)
Early childhood illness or injury 8 (13)
Pregnancy complication 6 (10)
Antibiotic taken by child 4 (6)
Other medication taken by child 1 (2)
Premature birth 1 (2)
Changes in attitudes about providing routine healthcare
Would delay or wait longer between immunizations 8 (13)
Would refuse some or all vaccinations 8 (13)
Would increase use of complementary and alternative medicine 6 (10)
Would use pediatrician for routine care but seek specialist for
other care 5 (8)
Has decreased trust in traditional medicine or pediatricians 4 (6)
Would do more research before making healthcare decisions 3 (5)
Would give antibiotics only as a last resort 3 (5)
Note: parents’ written responses were grouped into thematic categories, as shown.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16940312?dopt=Abstract is the abstract of the study (I have the full study if you're interested).

Here's a survey looking at parents views regarding vaccination in general (not specific to parents of autistic children): http://www.astho.org/Display/AssetDisplay.aspx?id=5018

Interestingly enough, this is the introduction to an article on parents, vaccines and fear:

"Earlier this year, the U.S. government decided to financially compensate a couple who claimed that childhood vaccines caused
their daughter to develop autism (Giles, 2008). The court concluded that shots given to the child in July 2000 aggravated a pre-existing cellular disorder resulting in brain damage that included features
of autism. The legal decision reignited the controversy over whether vaccines can cause autism.
Researchers have failed to find a link between vaccines and autism, but parents of autistic children
believe that vaccines – specifically those that contain
thimerosal – trigger or cause neurological disorders
(Cotliar & Levy, 2008). The court made no statement indicating the vaccines were the actual cause
of the child’s autism, but supporters of the autism vaccine
theory interpret the case otherwise" (Weber).

Weber, Carol J. "Update on autism and childhood vaccines." Urologic Nursing 28.4 (2008): 290-291. MEDLINE. EBSCO. Web. 16 Sept. 2010.

I think we know who the author's talking about, don't you?

KWombles said...

It's a shame that formatting goes to heck on these comments, but I'd rather not make it a new post, though I suppose it would make an interesting one.

Roger Kulp said...

I assume like me,you get subscribe to a lot of these groups like nogreenvaccine,and autism-mercury,just to monitor what they say.The other day there was a thread at autism-mercury trying to equate autism with chemtrails.I think this is one of the ideas they'll be trying to push next.

Sallie Bernard of SafeMinds is the one who reminds me of a "whiny Jan Brady" here.