Autism seems to be everywhere these days. Nearly everyone can say that they know someone, or know of someone who has been diagnosed with this pervasive developmental disorder. That just wasn’t the case forty years ago! Is it because there really are more cases of autism, or simply more cases that are diagnosed? Perhaps a bit of both?
Vaccines May Be Linked to Autism
Many believe that the thimerosal preservative in some childhood vaccines was the culprit. To this day, the CDC denies this, although thimerosal has been removed from most vaccines and now there is a decrease in new cases being reported. They claim the decrease is too slight to have been a factor.
Some claim that the rise in children diagnosed with autism is inflated, because schools now get federal funding for teaching austistic children. Also, the criteria for this disorder have been altered, to include children who are just “a little bit autistic” as well as those whose symptoms are far more severe.
Symptoms of Austism in Young Children
One of my pet peeves is the baby carrier. We’ve all seen them. Many of us may have even used them. You know what I’m talking about – the hard plastic seat with a handle. Some are part of a car seat and stroller ensemble. Some are just to carry your baby around in, to “make it easier” to carry your baby. If autistic children don’t relate well to others, just maybe, could not touching your baby enough be at least partially responsible?
My heart goes out to parents with autistic children, and I truly do not mean to point fingers or place the blame on them. Leo Kanner coined the term “refrigerator mother”, and claimed that although cold and indifferent mothering did not cause autism, it was certainly a factor in it. His theory held for thirty years or so, and caused untold heartache and grief to unnumerable families. Perhaps because autism seems to be partially genetic, the cold mothers Dr. Kanner referred to were themselves autistic?
Researchers Agree Causes of Autism are At Least Partially Environmental
The controvertial discussion on the causes of autism agree that this disorder is part genetic and part environmental. The risk that a child may be born with autism is higher for families with one child already diagnosed than for the general population. But because some families with no history of autism can still have an autistic child, there must be other factors. Could it be vaccines, food allergies, or environmental toxins?
There are more questions than answers, and more research needs to be done. There is a massive study going on right now, at the U.C. Davis M.I.N.D. institute. Hopefully, once they discover the cause, they can also find a cure. But until then, we are left wondering in the dark.
Back to my pet peeve. Baby carriers. I’ve seen parents hauling their infant around in those things all the time. I’ve seen some babies with very oddly shaped, flat heads and wonder if extensive use of the baby carrier might be the culprit. I see babies being taken out of the car in the carrier, brought into church, and they stay in the carrier all through the service. If the baby fusses, a bottle or pacifier is stuck into his or her mouth. They are not lifted and cuddled. They are not held close to a parent’s chest, to feel the rhythmic beating of their heart. If babies do not receive any eye contact from the parent, or form any special bond with the parent, how can they possibly develop normally?
Babies were meant to be held! Mother chimpanzees and mother cats and mother dogs all carry their young. They touch them. They nurture them. Parenting is more than paying the bills and scheduling dental visits. We need to get back to the basics, and remember that it doesn’t matter if our child goes to the best preschool or makes it on the T-ball team. The most important memory we can give our child is that he remembers being loved.