AAP needs help of rational parents

18 Feb

As part of the welcome addressing of the needs and concerns of the real autism and autistic community in regards to science and as part of their efforts to address the pseudo-science and quackery of the anti-vaccine agenda of certain autism related groups, the AAP are looking for rational parents to help them. I will certainly be offering my details should they be of service and I would urge any parent of an autistic child who is sick of hearing the unscientific and self serving agenda of such groups – groups who not only belittle autistic people but also gladly and readily place the health and well being of others at risk for absolutely no purpose to contact the AAP to offer their details also.

If you wish me to pass on your details, please either leave your name and email address in the comment section of this post, or email them to me or you can email the author of the AAP letter reproduced below.

Hello,

As part of our ongoing response to media stories regarding autism and vaccines, the AAP communications department is compiling a list of parents who support the AAP and are available for interviews. We are looking for two types of parents who could serve as spokespersons:

Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders who support immunization and who do not believe there is any link between their child’s vaccines and his or her autism.

Parents of children who suffered a vaccine-preventable illness. This could be a parent who declined immunization, whose child became ill before a vaccine was available, or whose child was ineligible for immunization.

We are asking for your help identifying parents who would be good spokespersons. They do not need to be expert public speakers. They just need to be open with their story and interested in speaking out on the issue. We will contact candidates in advance to conduct pre-interviews, to offer guidance on talking to reporters and to obtain a signed waiver giving us permission to release their name.

If a parent were placed on our list, we would offer their name and contact information to select media. We hope to build a list of parents from a wide range of geographical areas.

As the Jenny McCarthy and “Eli Stone” stories illustrate, this issue is likely to recur in the national and local media. The AAP is committed to doing all we can to counter such erroneous reports with factual information supported by scientific evidence and AAP recommendations.

The anti-vaccine groups often have emotional family stories on their side. The ability to offer a reporter an interview with a similarly compelling parent who is sympathetic to the AAP’s goals is a powerful tool for our media relations program.

Please contact me if you have any questions or to suggest a parent to interview.

Thank you,

Susan Stevens Martin
Director, Division of Media Relations
American Academy of Pediatrics

Lets take the example of just one worldwide disease that is vaccine preventable. Measles. In Jan 2007 The Guardian reported:

Between 1999 and 2005, there was a 60% reduction in annual measles deaths worldwide, from 873,000 to 345,000….

Fantastic news. But let that figure of 345,000 stay in your mind. That was how many people died all over the world from measles in 2005.

What do the countries most affected by measles think?

Urbain Olanguena Awono, Cameroon’s public health minister, described the fall in deaths as a spectacular achievement. “We are winning the fight against measles, which has long killed, sickened and disabled our children,” he said. “Our determination is stronger than ever to make measles history by further strengthening our measles control activities, working in concert with our international partners and setting aside resources.”

And who form part of their international partners I wonder? Merck? Wyeth? Bayer? SafeMinds? TACA?

There is even cautious talk of the possibility of ridding the world of measles, but while the eradication of smallpox was a triumph, the long struggle to eliminate the final reservoirs of polio in a handful of countries has shown how difficult it is to stamp out a disease.

And it is the same with measles – a handful of countries are holding back the eradication of measles.

Measles eradication could conceivably be stymied not by the developing world, but by dissenters in rich countries such as the UK

Thats right. My rich, upper middle class fellow countrymen and women. And their American rich upper middle class counterparts. Some of whom think the idea of AAP appealing for help to save kids lives is funny to the point of making jokes about the deaths of children:

From: krstagliano
Date: Feb 16, 2008 6:57 AM
Subject: [EOHarm] Re: JB, email from AAP looking for sick kids
To: EOHarm@yahoogroups.com

Can you imagine the ad campaign? Dad sitting in a confessional proclaiming his remorse and grief for not vaccinating his child, while the bell tolls in the background. Then a quick shot over to a small pink casket with a dolly on top and mother on her knees sobbing in front of the altar……[]

KS

Hilarious eh? Those whacky guys and gals at EoH really know how to make with the funnies.

Please don’t let this morally and scientifically bankrupt bunch of me-me’s keep hogging the media with their poor science. Support the AAP in the US and the NHS in the UK.

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14 Responses to “AAP needs help of rational parents”

  1. Matt February 18, 2008 at 05:26 #

    I saw the Age of Autism blog on this the day it came out. I immediately called the AAP to offer support.

  2. Sullivan February 18, 2008 at 06:55 #

    Kev,

    It is an upside-down world where the AAP has to work to get it’s message out while groups pushing an unsupported message get heard.

    I’ve made some more comments on GreyMatter/WhiteMatter.

  3. Tom February 18, 2008 at 15:50 #

    With three autistic children, Kim Stagliano is the poster parent for autism genetics.

  4. Kev February 18, 2008 at 16:18 #

    Especially when one considers that one of them hasn’t ever been vaccinated.

  5. Bink February 18, 2008 at 17:22 #

    I don’t think implying these parents are irrational is particularly helpful. And while I am glad the AAP has woken up to the extent of the misinformation out there, I think it needs to do much more than ask parents to tell their personal stories. I don’t think a biomed parent who has in his hands documents from a medical doctor, a member of the AAP, that state his child has been diagnosed with “mercury toxicity,” is going to be interested in anecdotes. He feels that he has proof, so how is that irrational? If these documents are wrong, if the physician who made that diagnosis is wrong, or a fool or a liar or a confidence man, then the parents being lied to and fooled need to be able to understand exactly how this happened. And the AAP needs to take responsibility for allowing this to happen.

  6. Regan February 18, 2008 at 19:04 #

    Darn it.
    I wish that I had the exact citation or link but just last night I was reading that people are not reassured on points relating to public health by large-scale entities or by research papers but by other parents or their doctor speaking to them in “their” language.
    So as much as those kinds of first-hand presentations don’t speak to me, I can understand why the AAP feels that this would be a more effective way to reach people. This request indicates to me that they are moving towards more visibility on this area of public health and that is to be applauded.

    Bink,
    I don’t know as I would blame the AAP for the foibles of NDs, ODs, Ph.Ds, non-member MDs or the labs that do the analyses and work hand-in-glove with those folks. I could be wrong, my impression is that most DAN!s are not pediatricians and/or members of the AAP (Does anyone have a ballpark figure at their fingertips?). I have not as yet seen research published in the journal Pediatrics suggesting a vaccine-autism connection.

  7. Bink February 18, 2008 at 21:50 #

    Regan — sadly, in my neck of the woods, the two highest profile DAN doctors are both members of the AAP. People I know around here have reams of paperwork and labwork from them and will metaphorically wave it in the face of anyone who questions the supposed vaccine/mercury connection.

    I feel glad that more people are speaking up in favor of legitimate science and ethical treatment of autistic people. But I think medical professionals need to police their own, and also to explain to parents who have been conned how it happened and exactly why certain lab tests, diagnoses, sciencey-sounding papers, etc. are not legit.

  8. Regan February 19, 2008 at 01:47 #

    Bink said,
    “two highest profile DAN doctors are both members of the AAP. People I know around here have reams of paperwork and labwork from them and will metaphorically wave it in the face of anyone who questions the supposed vaccine/mercury connection.”

    Bink,
    I stand corrected. The majority around here are NDs or non-pediatric MDs so I plead ignorance. I agree with your point on professional self-policing.

  9. Kev February 19, 2008 at 09:10 #

    You’re both right. The AAP needs to take a lead but we need to support.

    Some DANs are doctors. Some are no more than homeopaths. I’m not sure what jurisdiction the AAP might have in such instances.

  10. Azkyroth February 19, 2008 at 10:37 #

    I don’t think implying these parents are irrational is particularly helpful.

    ….

    ir·ra·tion·al [i-rash-uh-nl]
    –adjective 1. without the faculty of reason; deprived of reason.
    2. without or deprived of normal mental clarity or sound judgment.
    3. not in accordance with reason; utterly illogical: irrational arguments.

    (Source)

    As for me, I’m happy to contribute, though I should probably talk it over with my wife first. I’m planning to circulate this a bit in the online communities I’m part of, too.

  11. Azkyroth February 19, 2008 at 11:09 #

    …actually, while in light of the absolutely fucking insane libel laws of the UK your position is pragmatically understandable, after reading your most recent post (Feb 19th), I think I’d rather go through a different channel to reach the AAP. Thanks anyway.

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