Teresa wrote this post in 2011. Since then, Megan, like many of our children, has aged out of school into adulthood. Autism takes no holidays. Many of us will awaken tomorrow not to gifts and a hot cup of coffee, but to seizures, a bedroom ripped apart, maybe an empty bedroom for a son or daughter who has moved into residential care. Some of us will watch our kids open Videocassettes and DVDs we've scavenged from Goodwill and yard sales to please our children who still love Thomas and Elmo. We'll smile. But we'll be sad too. Another year gone by. Our past, present and future bring worry. To think otherwise is a lie. We wish each of our readers a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah and the joy of the season in whatever form it takes for you. Love, Kim
By Teresa Conrick
Those are my two daughters in 1995. They were watching a favorite Christmas video, The Snowman, based on the UK story by Raymond Briggs. Unlike our giddy, holiday Frosty, the Snowman, the UK version is a beautiful, haunting story of love and loss. The many times I watched it with Meg -- winter, summer, fall,spring -- it didn't matter the season. Nights she woke up crying from gastrointestinal pain or intense, physical distress, she wanted to watch, The Snowman, but she could never, ever watch when he melted. She would leave the room.
Megan, now eighteen, has both an autism diagnosis and an autoimmune diagnosis. Rare? Unrelated? I think not. I believe as we end 2011 and enter into 2012, the upcoming year will bring us more facts and research into the connection between autism and autoimmunity. With that, let's say goodbye to the autism ghosts of Christmas past which gave little hope for meaningful research on preventing new cases of autism (regression) or research on medical treatments for those currently affected (progression) Junky genetic studies, Drosophilia eye-gazing, unknown autism prevalence, and bullshit research has to END. We know that bacteria, viruses and metals can cause autoimmune effects and the research needs to be centered around that.
Going back in time each holiday season, the ghosts of past Christmases can haunt those living with autism and autoimmunity. In 1995, my daughter's autism diagnosis was never related to her ongoing illnesses with Streptoccocus and other bacterial infections as well as numerous viral infections. Labs now have shown IgG quantitative titers for each -- Measles-Mumps-Rubella -- to be elevated. That was the vaccine that dramatically affected my daughter with many days of rash, fever, GI issues, loss of language and then odd visual issues. Brief definition of IgG:
Measles and mumps (rubella) antibodies are virus-specific proteins produced by the immune system in response to an infection by the measles or mumps ( & rubella) virus, or in response to vaccination. There are two types of antibodies produced, IgM and IgG. The first type to appear in the blood after exposure or vaccination is IgM antibodies. Levels of IgM antibodies increase for several days to a maximum concentration and then begin to taper off over the next few weeks. IgG antibodies take a bit longer to appear, but once they do, they stay in the bloodstream for life, providing protection against re-infection..
There are very sick children and young adults with an autism diagnosis, and there seems to be mounting evidence that the MMR (Measles Mumps Rubella) vaccine has quite possibly left its mark in them. So back to high titers and autism. If a toddler is vaccinated at 15 months, what is happening to produce very high titers 18 years later? Why are the Drosophilia scientists not dropping the fruit flies and looking at viral titers -- or Strep in those affected by autism?
Levels: Range Megan
Rubeola (Measles) 2009 0.91 - 1.09 2.88
Rubeola (Measles) 2011 0.91 - 1.09 3.34
Mumps 0.91 - 1.09 3.53
Rubella 5 - 9 12
Each of these is high. A few facts to add - Meg had an initial grand mal seizure in 2009 and then in 2010, she began to have monthly, grand mal seizures coinciding with another elevated level -- Estrogen. Maybe that has something to do with autoimmunity then starting or picking up speed. The fact that her Measles titer became even more elevated in that time frame would make one wonder - why? Back to 1995. Meg was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder in October of that year. My heart and brain have been on full throttle ever since and it is a travesty that research and science keep detouring away from the labs and connections to immune and autoimmune dysfunction and disease. I do think it is getting harder to ignore these sick children as their numbers are increasing and as a result, so are the affected families.
While trying to make sense of this, I came upon this page from CDC in 1998:
Almost all persons who do not respond to the measles component of the first dose of MMR vaccine will respond to the second dose (82) (CDC, unpublished data). Few data regarding the immune response to the rubella and mumps components of a second dose of MMR vaccine are available, but most persons who do not respond to the rubella or mumps components of the first dose would be expected to respond to the second (82-84) (CDC, unpublished data). The second dose is not generally considered a booster dose because a primary immune response to the first dose provides long-term protection. Although some persons who develop normal antibody titers in response to a single dose of MMR vaccine will develop higher antibody titers to the three component vaccines when administered a second dose of vaccine, these increased antibody levels typically do not persist (57).
But what if they do, "typically persist?" My daughter had only one administration of MMR and that was at 15 months so the above statement seems to apply to her. She had only one MMR shot and it seems her body had a different response. -- "these increased antibody levels typically do not persist " seems to be a key factor. One does not have to wonder why research in this area is not promoted and why those who do, like Dr. Andrew Wakefield, would be viciously attacked by both those who promote and profit from vaccines. Most researchers will grab those safe Drosophilia to examine, accept grants and research money, yet continue to ignore these very sick children.
Back to Megan and the present ghosts of Christmas 2011. I am always thrilled by her intermittent, joyous moods and loving innocence but the devastation of her health and future is gut wrenching. I walk around my home and see the past Christmases, illnesses, seizures, divorce and the immense physical and emotional pain that has affected so many. I remember a part in Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill's book, The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine and a Man-made Epidemic where Bridget Muncie's (Barbara K from the original Kanner paper) brother is recalling a Christmas memory. In it, he describes sharing a bed and sharing anticipation as young siblings do, waiting for Santa to come. The dark side of autism then enters - the pain and suffering of their family is shared by us all in different memories of the holidays -- "I vividly remember the drives back home in the wintry darkness, my mother weeping continuously, my father silent at the wheel of the car, and me scared and still in the backseat." I dream of future Christmases, where the autism numbers decline, Meg is healthy and communicating, smiling and able to navigate in the world. How will we get there if the unpleasant truths continue to be denied?
Teresa Conrick is Contriobuting Editor to Age of Autism.