Managing Editor's Note: Dr. Eric London (founder of NAAR) has left Autism Speaks to join Autism Science Foundation, with Dr. Paul Offit and Alison Singer, also an Autism Speaks alum. Their stated goal is to conduct autism research with the exclusion of investigating vaccinations, as they are certain there is no correlation. I'll send a T-shirt to the first reader who can tell us what's in the photo and why. (Kevin D. just won!)
By Katie Wright
Autism has been the most humbling experience of my life. I was wrong about so many things for so long. Despite his nightmarish adverse reactions, I wanted, so badly, to believe that vaccines had nothing to do with Christian’s autism. It took two years of non stop reading, talking to hundreds of parents and traveling all over the country in search of a doctor who could identify, never mind treat, my son’s chronic medical problems, for me to painfully admit to myself I was wrong. In admitting I was wrong I had to let go of my fantasy that doctors know best, the CDC had this under control and all the right research was being done.
I could continue on in a state of denial, comforting myself, or I could dig deeper in all this ugliness. The choice was easy because my son was so sick and even top quality behavioral interventions were failing Christian. If Christian were mildly affected who knows how I would have reacted.
Eric London resigned from Autism Speaks yesterday. Everyone knows I do not speak for the organization (!), but I think I can safely say this is for the best. Despite being in the field of autism research for over a decade London has never doubted himself or his resolute belief that he knows vaccines never trigger autism. Such dogmatic rigidity no longer has a place at AS, especially in the face of the obvious exponential growth of ASD and heterogeneous nature of this disease. No one parent can, or should, attempt to speak for all.
What is true for Christian very well may be untrue for another child. I have always accepted that London’s belief that vaccines had nothing to do with his son’s autism, but no one is going to tell me that they “know” what happened or did not happen to my child. Unless you were there you cannot know and have no right to assume you do.
I am hopeful that London’s departure signals an exciting new chapter for AS science, one that substantially embraces the diversity of our kids’ experiences, with openness, sincerity and humility.
Katie Wright is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.