NOTE: Below is a post written by Age of Autism Founding Editor Dan Olmsted back in 2009. Read it carefully and you'll see the genesis of Denial How Refusing to Face the Facts about Our Autism Epidemic Hurts Children, Families, and Our Future his new book co-written with A of A Editor-at-Large Mark Blaxill. Dan was able to see into the future with a sharp clarity. We wish he were here to lament it with us.
By Dan Olmsted
The Washington Post, my local paper, recently redesigned itself from head to toe. I have to say I like it – it’s kind of Wall Street Journal-y, not surprising given that its relatively new editor used to be in charge there. But a redesign is not going to cure what ails the Post when it comes to covering what’s the matter with kids today.
Those deficiencies are on compact display in the new weekly insert that is part of the redesign. Called Local Living, it combines health, home, wellness and community news in an amalgam that, in its first edition, told me the following:
-- Ethyl mercury is harmless to fetuses and infants. “The dose of mercury you get from a vaccine containing thimerosal is far below the limits of mercury exposure, but the fact that thimerosal has mercury in it causes many people to be concerned about getting injected with it. It is not associated with any adverse side effects at the doses present in influenza vaccines, but it is being eliminated from childhood vaccines due to public concerns.”
So says Andrew Pekosz, an associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins University in answer to a question about concerns over the swine flu vaccine. I’m going to skip the usual rejoinder and let that statement twist in the wind.
-- A few pages later, there’s a Q&A with the authors of a new book on baby care titled, “Is It a Big Problem or a Little Problem: When to Worry, When Not to Worry, and What to Do.” Here is the second question from the Post reporter: “Sensory processing issues seem to be so common now. Do most children grow out of them or should parents be more proactive about getting their kids therapy?”
Really? Sensory processing issues seem to be so common NOW? What the heck is that about? I don’t recall my friends having sensory processing issues. In fact, I don’t even know what that means, to tell you the truth. But it sounds like a Big Problem to me. The experts’ answer is reassuring, though: “A lot of people don’t really realize that we all have sensory sensitivities.”
Count me among the lot of people who don’t really realize that they have sensory sensitivities.
But the normalization of screwed-up children continues apace.
-- Turn back one page and we learn that “Adults can have allergic reactions, too.” TOO? In other words, allergy is so common among children that we often forget that grownups even have allergies. Before going onto the woes of shellfish allergy among big people, the article nods to the fact that “children tend to be allergic to milk, eggs, soy and wheat in addition to peanuts and tree nuts.”
Let’s see … children are allergic to dairy, eggs, soy, wheat, legumes … in other words, just about everything but raw meat. What the heck? Does this have anything to do with the statistic that 12 percent of American children have asthma? Fun fact: The word “allergy” was first used to describe vaccine reactions.
Anyhoo, you get the picture. Cluelessness about the real state of America’s kids, and blindness to the dots that are just sitting there begging to be connected, are still epidemic in the redesigned Post. It’s going to take more than a change in fonts to fix that.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism