Monday, December 31, 2007

A Site on the Basics of Autism

I found a site called Right Health that has an article which explains the basics of autism better than some of the government sites I explored. The basics are the who, what, where, when, why, and hows of the disorder. A good site covering the disorder should provide a description of symptoms and discussions of diagnosis, treatment options, and may touch on prognosis. This one goes a bit further and touches on the issues behind autism.

Unlike some of the U.S. government sites, this site has type large enough to read. The explanation offered is simple yet seems complete. It's also fairly gentle in terms of not shocking a parent researching the disorder for the first time.

One really doesn't want to read about the chances of mental retardation in a child with autism being seventy-five percent. I, personally, do not believe this statistic contains a lot of truth. I think that the current tests for intelligence quotients are not adequate for individuals with autism. So when I read this stat on a site with the basics I cringe. A quick scan of Right Health did not turn up such a stat, so I think it's safe.

Some people who have more in-depth knowledge of autism may not like this site because the writer(s) claim there is no connection between the MMR vaccine and autism. Hopefully, however, a parent who has a child without a diagnosis or a newly diagnosed child with autism will keep reading various websites, blogs and books before forming a personal opinion. I'm still exploring some of these issues and do not wish to state a strong opinion. At the moment my goal is to provide information from both sides so a person can decide for themselves. This topic can cause heated arguments amongst autism parents.

Final note: One also has to be aware of credibility of various websites. My friend who is a health librarian at the local university recommends Medline Plus when asked a research question on autism. Medline Plus is an excellent site and the Right Health article lists it as a source. I'm hoping that this is a good sign in terms of the Right Health article being credible.


John Wills Lloyd said...

iIt does appear to be a better-than-average site. It's direct, clear, and accessible. Also (and very importantly), it doesn't pass along some of the mistaken information that is so prevalent on autism sites. Thanks for noting it.

J said...

You are welcome.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Julie,
I am at Rosie's (she is writing this to you for me.) It is wonderful work you are doing. Kiss the kids for me and Mike.
Great Grandma Lorenzen

J said...

Thanks for the encouragement Grandma. I'll make sure they all get kisses from you. Say hi to Aunt Rosie for me.

Anonymous said...

What caught my eye was your objective comment on the MMR vaccine. Our oldest (he is 6) has autism and for our second son we changed his vaccination schedule. I am watching him closely for any reaction. Is it your thinking that it maybe the mercury or the actually viruses in the vaccines? I am reading conflicting information.

J said...

I've thought about your question carefully. Part of the reason why you are finding conflicting information about your topic of concern is that there is a full-blown culture war revolving around the mercury in vaccines/autism issue.

On one side there are people who solidly believe that mercury in vaccines is directly related to rise in autism. On the other hand, there is also a group of people who solidly believe there is no link between mercury in vaccines and vaccinations. Neither side seems willing to back down from their beliefs.

Unfortunately, the group of people caught in the middle are anxiety ridden parents who aren't sure if they should vaccinate their kids or not.

I had both kids vaccinated before I knew much about the issue. My youngest one seems fine and looking back I realize the other one was exhibiting signs of autism before the vaccination schedule was complete. However, that's just one person's experience. Several other parents claim they saw a direct link between vaccinations and developmental regression.

Wish I could help you more, but I'm still collecting information about this topic. I may present articles from credible sources representing both sides in the future. One could write dozens of posts related to the mercury issue.