Bearman answers: “genes, old parents and possibly a virus.” This is the best he has got? The NIH gave this guy millions to come up with that?
By Katie Wright
Dr. Peter Bearman, a professor of sociology at Columbia University, recently released a research paper alleging that half of the meteoric rise in ASD cases is an artifact. You know- “better diagnosis” and “greater awareness.” A blind, non-medical professional, could have diagnosed my son. Nevertheless in the case of HF ASD and aspergers (which comprise a small % of overall ASD) certainly greater awareness has played a role in the increasing number of those diagnoses. Still- 50%? Ridiculous.
After reading Bearman’s strange paper I was thinking, “who is this guy anyway?” A friend sent me 2 very interesting videos. The first video involves Bearman being interviewed by Dr. Tom Insel, NIMH director. Insel comes across as a super progressive, environmentally friendly scientist compared to this guy. Believe me, you have to see this. It is Insel the whole time pushing the discussion of the environment. After Dr. Bearman concludes that 50% of the increase cannot be attributed to greater awareness Insel asks what Bearman believes is driving the other 50%. Bearman answers: “genes, old parents and possibly a virus.” This is the best he has got? The NIH gave this guy millions to come with that?
OK, I want to know more about this mystery virus. Is it infectious, sexually transmitted, native grown or foreign born? Did this virus travel from Europe of Africa? Does this virus involve the use of drugs or alcohol? I am fascinated. Yes, Bearman does acknowledge the possible role of some kind of toxin. Bearman is not sure what that toxin is but he is sure what it isn’t. Take a guess.
In the second video clip Bearman is seen lecturing a friendly crowd. Now things get really strange. Bearman hypothesizes that proximity to autism organizations, of all varieties, is directly correlated with vaccine refusal. He even takes this wacky argument a step further stating that autism organizations are needlessly frightening people (and/or brainwashing?) about both autism and vaccines. Then unbelievably Bearman says: “it isn’t autism that parents are worried about. They know they can deal with that, they know they can help their child, (and he would know this a non parent of an ASD child?) but it is autism organizations scaring parents!” I had no idea that a bunch of stay at home Moms with no money, no federal backing, no million dollar grants- who are already busy parenting autistic kids- have this kind of extraordinary power! Wow, what’s next for us? Ending the recession, solving the mortgage crisis, creating electric cars?
Does Bearman live on Mars? What is he talking about; parents aren’t scared of autism? Everywhere I go parents are terrified of autism- pregnant Moms, parents of toddlers, grandparents…It really and truly does not seem like parents feel they will “know how to help their kids (if they get autism).” What an asinine thing to say. As if all we have to do is flip a switch or fill a prescription? Does this man have any inkling how hard it is to be a kid with autism and how challenging, emotionally, financially and sometimes physically it is to care for an ASD child? Apparently not.
Is Bearman aware that traditional treatment interventions are basically the same since 1987: ABA, speech OT. So parents sign up for these interventions and problem solved? Nevermind the fact that one parent usually has to quit her/his job to take the child to a 100 appointments, run a home school or sue the local school board for an appropriate education after they offer (usually) an unacceptable placement. Does Bearman even know that those of us with medically affected child often have NO idea “how to help our children” and usually have to figure this all out on our own. I wonder how this guy would handle 5 yrs of sleepless nights? Maybe Bearman would know better “how to help these children.” Does Bearman have any idea how long waiting lists are for therapists, pediatric GIs, schools….? The friend who sent me these you tube clips wrote 1 word on the subject line and it wasn't polite. Sometimes you just have to laugh.
The whole line of blame the families/ and or autism organizations for ASD clusters is crazy. Bearman’s argument that autism clusters spring up around autism organizations is nonsensical. Autism organizations usually form where there are already significant pockets of autism- not vice versa. Senior citizens like to retire in sunny climates. Does that mean the state of Florida is making people old? Of course not.
As far as blaming the parents for the national crisis of confidence in vaccine safety- grow up Dr. Bearman. The problem is the problem- not people talking about the problem.
The medical community needs to fix the problems not blame parents for noticing the problems. Jenny McCarthy asked why is it the consumers’ fault that they don’t want to buy a product they fear is unsafe? Instead of bullying families why not listen to them?
Did I mention that Bearman has written a book? The book is titled “Doormen.” He is a sociologist after all.
I think Bearman needs to leave autism to the real experts and go back to what he knows best- writing: “Doormen Part II.”
Katie Wright is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.