Friday, September 19, 2008

Walk Now For Autism

We are doing the autism walk tomorrow through Autism Speaks. I didn't have the time or energy to form my own team and do fundraising, but I am walking with my brother Joe, who is also autistic. Joe is now 28 and he was diagnosed when he was in 5th grade. My dad will be walking and a coworker of my dad may be coming with his son who is also autistic. It's a small world. One thing I wanted to do with my blog is to have information about autism and the various treatments and summaries of the extensive research that I have done in the past 9 months or so. I just don't have much time or energy nowdays. But in honor of the autism walk we are doing tomorrow, here are some autism facts that you may not be aware of:

Autism is a neurobiological brain disorder

1 in 150 children are currently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder

Autism is 4 times more common in boys, but tends to be more severe in girls

Autism impairs a person’s ability to communicate and relate to others

Autism is associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors

Many people think of “Rain Man” when they think of autism. In reality there is a whole
spectrum of autism and symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe.

A high percentage of kids with autism have gastrointestinal issues that may be affected by
diet and/or food allergies and sensitivities.

There is some evidence that autism is related to immune/autoimmune diseases

A tidbit about Minnesota and the autism rates: We have a large population of Somali in Minnesota. The rates of autism in the Minnesota Somali population are much higher than the general population. They tend to be much more severe cases. And these children are ones who were born here, not in Somalia. They do not know why. But in my opinion, this could very well be a good clue to the huge increase in rates of autism. I hope that they can figure it out soon.

Most research today indicates that the level of mercury that used to be in vaccines has not led to the increased rates of autism, though many still believe that vaccines have something to do with it. (My belief is that, in most cases (as there are always exceptions to the rules), vaccines had nothing to do with it. It just happens that the timing of the vaccines coincides with the timing of autism symptoms. Even some kids later diagnosed with autism, that were never immunized, showed a regression at that age. I do not think that the vaccines cause it. However, I would also like to see more research on a large scale, double-blind studies to examine other aspects of the onset and increase in rates of autism and how they might otherwise relate to vaccines. If nothing else, to rule out the possibility that there is a connection. As a microbiologist, I understand how horrible the diseases were that we now immunize for and honestly even if there was a clear connection with vaccines and autism, I would still immunize. But I do think that there needs to be more research.


I'm Tara. said...

I'm with you on the immunizations thing. How did the walk go?

Kris said...

The walk went really well. Thomas had a good time. It was fun to see people with autism of all ages and all parts of the spectrum. It's scary how prevanlent autism has become, and how little research is done in comparison to other diseases and disorders.