Vaccines and autism: The link that doesn’t exist

Mental Health @ Home

teddy bear with a syringe and vial

Chances are, you’ve heard the idea that vaccines can cause autism.  This notion is championed by various organizations and individuals, one of the most prominent being actress Jenny McCarthy, whose son was diagnosed with autism at age 2.  She has an autism-related organization called Generation Rescue, and on its website is a guide to vaccine safety.  I was a bit surprised by how relatively toned down it was, but I got  more along the lines of what I expected with one of the places it directed people to go to for more information, the National Vaccine Information Center.  It includes a “cry for vaccine freedom wall” and a “vaccine victim memorial”.  They have a MedAlerts database of people’s reported adverse reactions to vaccines, and a search for autism spectrum disorder yields 391 case reports.  One thing that struck me as interesting was the seemingly random grab bag of multiple…

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Autism and toxic friendships and relationships

YennPurkis

This week I said goodbye to a friend I had known for a long time. I sent her a message explaining why I needed to distance myself and was blocking her. It was a very hard thing to do but it had become apparent that our relationship was not based on mutual respect and that she had become a toxic presence in my life. I did not do this lightly but it got to a point of no return. I won’t go into detail because this post isn’t really about my friendship. It is about understanding, identifying and managing toxic friendships and relationships for autistic people generally.

Autistic people can have significant challenges around managing toxic friendships. A friendship may start out toxic or become that way over time. For people who may be isolated and lonely, the offer of friendship can be a welcome thing and it may be…

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‘Just keep away from them’ – Saying ‘NO’ to victim-blaming

YennPurkis

I give a lot of presentations about autism and resilience. Right after the slide about what resilience is, I always add one about what resilience is NOT. There is a reason for this. One of the first presentations I gave about autism and resilience was at a large conference in Queensland a few years ago. Many of the attendees were parents of autistic kids. My resilience talk was in the big theatre and I was on quite a high stage. The whole way through my talk I noticed a woman in the second row on my right. I could tell she wanted to ask a question. I expected her to interject – she clearly had something important to say. As soon as I finished speaking and it was time for questions her hand went straight up. I gestured to her to speak and told me she had enjoyed my presentation…

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The flavour of autism

I definitely prefer difference over disorder and I often use it as a tag after Laina brought it up in one of her posts. Thank you very much for writing this. I do like the analogy with a tomato 🍅 I seem to understand things better when an analogy is used 😆

Why autism doesn’t fit into a tick box…

The Autism Diaries

I’ve been involved in a lot of discussion lately around the “high” and “low” functioning labels that surround an autism diagnosis. Although I do see the use of labels in generalised diagnoses such as autism, adhd and sensory processing disorder (see blog on why labels absolutely do matter), I have really never understood the whole high and low functioning side of things.

In the beginning I was led to believe by articles and professionals that higher functioning individuals were able to survive mainstream school (“survive” being the word there), communicate socially (but viewed as “awkward”) and have a higher than average intelligence. Lower functioning individuals were seen as those who were non verbal, had additional learning difficulties and were destined to spend their future lives in a care home. So the divide was pretty clear.

Over the last year I have learned just how dangerous these labels can be. Yet…

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