Following from yesterday’s article, a couple more items on autism and mercury.
First, according to the CDC, symptoms of organic mercury poisoning might include:
paresthesias (pins and needles), headaches, ataxia (loss of the ability to coordinate muscular movement), dysarthria (difficulty in articulating words, caused by impairment of the muscles used in speech), visual field constriction, blindness, and hearing impairment.
While symptoms of autism usually include:
Abnormal reactions to sensory stimuli (i.e., senses may be over- or underactive). Touches may be experienced as painful, smells may be overwhelmingly unpleasant, and ordinary daily noises may be painful. Loud noises (e.g., motorcycle going by, vacuum cleaner) and bright lights may cause inconsolable crying.
Other signs of the disorder in infants include the following:
- Appears indifferent to surroundings
- Appears content to be alone, happier to play alone
- Displays lack of interest in toys
- Displays lack of response to others
- Does not point out objects of interest to others (called protodeclarative pointing)
- Marked reduction or increase in activity level
- Resists cuddling
They don’t look much alike to me.
Next, an article by James R. Laidler, MD, who was once an impassioned supporter of chelation therapy for autism, but who examined the actual evidence and changed his mind:
There were more treatments for autism than I could ever hope to try on my son, and every one of them had passionate promoters claiming that it had cured at least one autistic child—usually their own. There were blood tests, urine test, hair tests, saliva tests, brain wave tests and eye tests, all claiming to be able to find the specific cause for a child’s autism. And they had specific treatments for each of those causes. Sure, some of them were contradictory, but nobody seemed to mind that. What really caught my interest was the proposition that thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative in vaccines, caused autism and chelation therapy could cure it. Advocates of this idea spoke authoritatively, with impressive lists of references and well-designed PowerPoint slides. I was intrigued even though the children I had seen with mercury poisoning did not behave like my autistic son and the recommended dosage for the chelating agents made no sense to me.
In the following months, we stopped every treatment except speech and occupational therapy for both boys. They did not deteriorate and, in fact, continued to improve at the same rate as before—or faster. Our bank balance improved, and the circles under our eyes started to fade. And quite frankly, I began to get mad at myself for being so gullible and for misleading other parents of autistic children.
Looking back on my experiences with "alternate" autism therapies, they seem almost unreal, like Alice's adventures in Wonderland. Utter nonsense treated like scientific data, people nodding in sage agreement with blatant contradictions, and theories made out of thin air and unrelated facts—and all of it happening right here and now, not in some book. Real people are being deceived and hurt, and there won't be a happy ending unless enough of us get together and write one.
He could be describing much of alternative medicine, of course.
Finally, an item today on the effects the anti-vaxers have, supported by celebrity idiots and the press, from the Guardian’s Bad Science guy. I wish I could write like that.