Please Explain: Autism

Friday, November 14, 2008

Since the 1980s, the percentage of people diagnosed with autism has risen dramatically, and no one is exactly sure why. Find out how autism affects the brain, and what the latest theories are on how to treat it. Dr. Robert T. Schultz is Director of the Center for Autism Research at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Dr. Kathy Pratt is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Autism Society of America.


Dr. Kathy Pratt

Comments [19]

MaryAnn from Peekskill, NY

I beg to differ. Our son is now 13, still non-verbal, and still in diapers. His system may simply have not been able to cope with so many vaccines in such a short space of time. Our two younger children (who are also fully vaccinated) had their shots spaced out more widely, never more than one shot at a time, and, when it was possible, separate shots for the MMR. I know my son, and his history, far better than you, Chris from NJ, so I would prefer that you not try to talk down to me. There is a government agency which compensates those persons who are damaged by vaccines or their components. I doubt very much that it would exist were there no need for it.

Jan. 09 2014 08:27 PM
Chris from NJ

Sorry Mary Ann, but vaccines didn't do it to your son. Mine has autism too and I accept that it is genetic. You should look up the term "post hoc fallacy".

Nov. 17 2008 10:23 AM
Amy from Manhattan

If a segment on vaccination is done, I strongly suggest it include a discussion of the resurgence of whooping cough & the need for adults to get booster shots to keep them from transmitting it to babies, who are the most likely to die from it.

Nov. 16 2008 11:36 PM
PL Hayes from Aberystwyth

The experts' failure to deal firmly and efficiently with the unfounded and corrosive vaccine scare was disappointing and under the circumstances I think even non-experts ought to equip themselves with enough knowledge of the subject to be able to do so. On the other hand, one would think a psychologist would be ideally suited to explain the post hoc fallacy in a way which would give non-scientists the means to defend themselves against it and its unfortunate consequences.

And yes - let's have a Please Explain about vaccines, including the horrific facts about the appalling destruction wreaked by “mild” and “harmless” infections such as measles and rubella in the pre-vaccination era (in the developed world) and including a more thorough discussion of the flawed and now clearly bogus link to autism.

Nov. 15 2008 09:21 PM
Laura from lower westchester

I don't understand the purpose in having a psychologist on to discuss vaccines--he declined to debate, rightly acknowledging that he lacks the expertise to do so.

Interview Paul Offit if you sincerely want to debate the mainstream scientific case against a vaccine-autism connection.

Nov. 15 2008 08:55 AM
Liz from NYC

My son was diagonosed with PDD-NOS and I do not think it was related at all to the vaccines. There were things about my son that were always there long before any of the vaccines that are constantly linked to autism were administered. At any rate, I found the "experts" on this show hesitant to give answers to the questions. Leonard you did your best to ask probing questions but they both seemed afraid to state their opinions. There was so much more that could have been explored if they were willing to be candid.

One thing I have learned about spectrum disorders is that if you have seen one child on the spectrum, you have seen one child on the spectrum. All the children (mostly boys) present with different combinations of difficiencies in different areas. Some have splinter skills some don't. Some are hyperlexic, some have limited verbal abiltites. Some respond to gluten free diets, others don't. Some also have physical issues, some don't. There is still so much that we don't know. So Leonard, please keep talking about autism and bring on more specialists that are willing to talk openly even if their views are controversial.

Nov. 14 2008 10:58 PM
MaryAnn McCarra-Fitzpatrick from Mount Vernon, New York


Early Intervention, while a great program (which our son went through) is not a cure-all. Also, attention must be paid to the fact that families, as a whole, suffer from autism (divorce rate is 80% or so, last time I checked) and often one parent (generally the mother) has to stop working outside the home in order to become the primary caretaker (thus cutting the income of the family in half) so that the family has both social (cannot often go out into the community) and financial disadvantages. Housing may also be affected (we were forced out of a rental in a co-op after we disclosed that our son was autistic). is not all rosy "get well" stories.

Nov. 14 2008 02:42 PM
MaryAnn McCarra-Fitzpatrick from Mount Vernon, New York

Our son was completely normal and typical until after having his one-year vaccines. He developed a high fever and was never the same again. Lost eye contact, started staring at walls, and started lining up cars. At the age of eight he is still in diapers and cannot speak. Every day is a struggle for our family. With our second son we spaced the vaccines and had the MMR divided (no problems with our second son). I think part of the problem is an overly aggressive vaccine schedule. Children are required to take many more vaccines in their first year of life than they were previously. I was born in 1967 and had six or so vaccines (including polio). I had the mumps, the measles, and chicken pox and am today a healthy (if overstressed) woman of 41. I can speak, too, which my son cannot.
Multiple vaccines, some of which require toxic preservatives (thimerosal, for instance) to keep them shelf-stable (and more profitable) are part of the problem. Some attention should be given to the constant stress the parents and siblings live under due to the disaster these vaccines have caused. I am currently expecting our third child and, while it will be vaccinated, the vaccines will be single and they will be well spaced.

Nov. 14 2008 02:21 PM
Chris from NJ

Yes, a a "Please Explain" segment on vaccines AND autism would be great. It's ridiculous that 1/2 the population thinks these 2 things are connected.

Nov. 14 2008 02:15 PM
Amy from Manhattan

And 1 reason vaccines are given together in 1 shot is so children (& adults getting booster shots!) don't have to get as many injections & have separate appointments for each one--painful for the child & often difficult for the parents.

Leonard, have you had a "Please Explain" segment on vaccines? If not, I hereby suggest it.

Nov. 14 2008 02:02 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Vaccines are still given for German measles because if a pregnant woman has it, it can cause severe birth defects in the child.

Nov. 14 2008 01:57 PM
anonyme from midtown manhattan

By nutritional components I mean a terrible food system full of things that should be illegal because they are so toxic to nerves etc.

Nov. 14 2008 01:56 PM
katie from brooklyn

Why are these guests not emphasizing, over and over, the fact that no large-scale studies have found any link between autism and vaccines? The MMR hypothesis has been shot down (and the doctor who presented it found to have a conflict of interest), and autism rates have not dropped off even after the removal of thimerosol from most vaccine stock. Kids with autism and their parents deserve answers, and research dollars should be put into fields with promise, not ones advocated by celebrities with no medical or epidemiological training.

Nov. 14 2008 01:56 PM
anonyme from midtown manhattan

This is frustrating, with splintered understandings because of over specialization of understanding - there are also nutritional components nobody wants to talk about

Nov. 14 2008 01:55 PM
anonyme from midtown manhattan

there are really moving accounts of the experience of autism given by John Robison and Dawn Prince Williams in their respective memoirs

Nov. 14 2008 01:49 PM
wendy from brooklyn

I was surprised to hear that the average age of diagnosis is 5 years. I'm curious if there is diagnosis spectrum based on the severity of the disorder. That is, do children with more sever autism tend to be diagnosed earlier, and it's the very mild Asperger's type symptoms that take longer to diagnose?

Nov. 14 2008 01:44 PM
mike gilles from Pawling, NY

As children on the spectrum of Autisum move through our public schools and onto college and university settings, higher education institutions are starting to respond with necessary programming. Would your guest comment on this trend?

Nov. 14 2008 01:38 PM
Dana from Teaneck, NJ

My sister works in early intervention, and there is often resistance on the parent's part to admitting that his/her child has a problem.

Nov. 14 2008 01:38 PM
anonyme from midtown manhattan

Some people think it's caused by vaccination (mercury/thimerose) - my sister works with autistic children in NJ (OT) - she tells me the mothers go to Pennsylvania for raw cow's and esp. goat's milk to help their children.

Nov. 14 2008 01:29 PM

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