Reminder: Vaccines have nothing to do with autism. Not a single f***ng thing.

A friend recently asked me to join a discussion on autism and vaccines, in which an acquaintance was parroting, much like our ignorant PEOTUS, the misinformation that vaccines are linked to autism -- and also that anyone who says otherwise has been bought by Big Pharma. Here is my response:

Perhaps a personal story might help.

My high-support autistic son is now a teenager. I initially bought into the message that vaccines caused autism, because in the early 2000s it was not easy for laypeople to get past the media hype on the topic, and find reliable mainstream information.

Leo, a preschool-age white boy, next to an outdoor picnic table set
Post-MIND Institute Session
[image: Leo, a preschool-age white boy,
next to an outdoor picnic table set.]
I enrolled my son in a study on autism and regression at the UC Davis MIND Institute, which was founded by parents who sought cures and believed in a vaccine link. The researchers' conclusion, after reviewing my son's infant, toddler, and preschool-age videos, was that he did not regress or react to vaccines, but rather that he followed a typical autistic path of gaining skills and abilities unevenly, and in some cases more slowly than his peers.

In the meantime, researchers have reviewed data involving millions -- literally -- of kids, and found no link between vaccines and autism. Because there is no link in research, only in anecdotes and testimonials that have never once stood up to scrutiny. Not once.

And even the MIND Institute has shifted its focus to understanding and support, and away from its cure-oriented roots, because the founders' theories turned out to be scientifically implausible.

I've since spend much of my time working with autism scientists and researchers as the senior editor of Thinking Person's Guide to Autism, in order to disseminate the most useful autism information possible. I attend International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) every year, and can happily report that, after years of autism-vaccine papers waning in number, the 2016 conference featured only a single poster on how lingering hoax-based vaccine-autism fears affect the immunization status of autistic kids' younger siblings.

So, no. Vaccines have nothing to do with autism. Not a single fucking thing.

P.S. My son is now fully vaccinated.


Bye, Twisty

Twist went to the big cat tree in the sky today. The veterinary staff were all kind and thoughtful, and they even let us hang out in their new spa-like goodbye room for as long as we needed to. I cried a lot. I may still be crying right now.

The vet confirmed that Twist was probably in a lot of pain even though he perodically rallied, and that it was better to not let him suffer, especially given cats' ability to mask discomfort.

We will read Cynthia Rylant's Cat Heaven tonight and for as long as we need to. We will remember that Twist was a good cat, a pretty cat, who deserved a much longer life -- but that he was adored during his short visit with us. (He really was The Best Cat.)

We will remember the good times. And I will try not to be too sad about the lack of a warm purring kitty snuggled against my back as I fall sleep.

[video description: black and white kitten trying to play with a straw held in a sleeping white teen boy's mouth.]