Search This Blog

Monday, August 13, 2018

No Link Between Tdap and Autism

In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.

A study of women who received a Tdap vaccination during pregnancy found no increase in risk that their children would later be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The study, “Prenatal Tetanus,Diphtheria, Acellular Pertussis Vaccination and Autism Spectrum Disorder,” will be published in the September 2018 issue of Pediatrics (published online Aug. 13). Researchers reviewed the records of 81,993 pairs of diverse pregnant women and their children who were born between Jan. 1, 2011, and Dec. 31, 2014, at Kaiser Permanente Southern California hospitals. Following up with the mother-child pairs, they identified children who had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder after age 1 through June 30, 2017. The incidence rate of autism spectrum disorder was 3.78 per 1,000 people in the Tdap-vaccinated group. The rate of autism spectrum disorder was 4.05 per 1,000 in the unvaccinated group. The Tdap vaccine has been shown in prior research as effective in protecting young infants from pertussis, which has risen in incidence in the past decade. Evidence showed that antibodies are passed along to newborns and that the vaccine was 91.4 percent effective in providing some immunity until newborns reached 2 months of age.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

ABLE Age Adjustment Act

The Politics of Autism includes a discussion of the ABLE Act.

From the Autism Society:
The Autism Society and other national disability groups used the ADA anniversary to spur action on the ABLE Age Adjustment Act. In 2014 Congress passed the ABLE Act, which authorized the creation of savings accounts for people to save money for disability-related expenses without jeopardizing their eligibility for public benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. These accounts are important because people with disabilities can lose their eligibility for public benefits if they accumulated more than $2,000 in assets if they do not have access to an ABLE account. While the ABLE Act performs a valuable service, only those that acquire a disability before age 26 are eligible. The ABLE Age Adjustment Act increases the age cut-off to 46 years of age which would allow an additional 6 million people with disabilities. Autism Society affiliates are encouraged to reach out to their Members of Congress to urge them to co-sponsor this bill. A sample letter is provided in the ASA Action Center.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The ADA Is 28

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the civil rights of people with autism and other disabilities

The Autism Society recently observed the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Autism Society published a statement celebrating the civil rights law, acknowledging the history and evolution of disability rights, and pledging to continue its mission to support people with autism and other disabilities and their families. This mission includes protecting the ADA and other civil rights laws that promote the vision of full inclusion of people with autism and other disabilities. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Community Living (ACL) also published a statement using the ADA anniversary to reaffirm its commitment to the “fundamental principle that older adults and people of all ages with disabilities should be able to live where they choose, with the people they choose and with the ability to participate fully in their communities
Two years ago, David A. Graham wrote at The Atlantic:
Disability politics used to be bipartisan. The Americans with Disabilities Act was primarily authored by Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat. It passed the Senate and House overwhelmingly—91-6 and 377–28, respectively, and was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. When he signed the law, Bush said:
Now I sign legislation which takes a sledgehammer to another wall, one which has for too many generations separated Americans with disabilities from the freedom they could glimpse, but not grasp. Once again, we rejoice as this barrier falls for claiming together we will not accept, we will not excuse, we will not tolerate discrimination in America…. To those Members of the House of Representatives with us here today, Democrats and Republicans as well, I salute you. And on your behalf, as well as the behalf of this entire country, I now lift my pen to sign this Americans with Disabilities Act and say: Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.
Eighteen years later, Bush’s son George W. Bush signed some expansions of the ADA into law.

Since then, however, things have sputtered. In 2012, the Senate failed to ratify a United Nations treaty called the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities. Democrats supported the treaty, but Republicans were split. On the pro side were George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole, the former Senate GOP leader and presidential candidate who was injured during World War II. On the con side were a bloc who warned on extremely dubious grounds that the treaty would allow the UN to meddle in U.S. courts. In the end, the treaty failed, despite Dole himself appearing on the Senate floor to lobby. It needed two-thirds of votes to pass, but was only able to garner 61

Friday, August 10, 2018

Project Lifesaver

The Politics of Autism discusses the problem of wandering, which has been the topic of legislation.

An autistic teen from Waterford, New York, went missing this week and apparently drowned in the Mohawk River.

Bethany Bump at The Times-Union in Albany:
The search for both Blaauboer and Williams could have been over in hours, if not minutes, if the two had been enrolled in the Project Lifesaver program, officials have suggested.
Developed in 1999 as a way to bring peace of mind to caregivers of individuals with cognitive disorders such as autism, Alzheimer's and other dementias, those enrolled in the program wear a small transmitter on the wrist or ankle that emits an individualized frequency signal. If they go missing, the caregiver notifies local law enforcement, who can use the technology to pinpoint their location.
There are similar technologies with other names, but Project Lifesaver was one of the first and is used by the majority of county sheriff's offices around the region.

"Thinking about my 16-year-old son Michael who lives with autism, I know how children with autism can tend to wander," said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, who helped bring the program to his home county of Schenectady in 2015.
"It's critical that we invest in this life-saving technology to protect our most vulnerable citizens," he said.
Santabarbara introduced a bill in April to expand the technology statewide to those who need it. In addition to the technology, law enforcement agencies need training in how to use the program, he said.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Career and Technical Education

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the employment of adults with autism and other disabilitiesMany posts have discussed programs to provide them with training and experience.

From Autism Speaks:
The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act was reauthorized on July 31, 2018. This law increases access to employment opportunities for people with autism and other disabilities.

Perkins-funded CTE programs provide the skills training and experience that are critical for guiding youth through the transition out of secondary school into employment or continued education.

Approximately 500,000 youth with autism will enter adulthood over the next 10 years. Over one-third of young adults with autism never get a job or continue education after high school.

Perkins helps students with disabilities secure employment after graduation by integrating youth into the labor market early. It supports cooperative education which combines academic study and career and technical education (CTE) with work experience in a related field.

The reauthorization of Perkins CTE supports a well prepared, community-led, inclusive workforce by encouraging
  • Proven CTE programs, practices, and strategies
  • A broad CTE framework more closely aligned with the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act
  • Community involvement by connecting local job markets to local schools
  • Workplace-based training
  • Relationships between individuals on the spectrum and potential employers
  • Improved accountability and performance indicators
The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act was originally passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in June 2017. The U.S. Senate amended the bill and passed the legislation on July 23, 2018. The House adopted the Senate's language and passed the bill on July 25. The president signed it into law on July 31.

Autism Speaks served as a primary stakeholder on Perkins CTE reauthorization. We worked across the aisle with party leadership of the Senate HELP and House Education and Workforce committees. We also provided assistance to our legislative champions, Representatives Thompson and Krishnamoorthi and Senators Enzi and Casey. We are prepared to assist with the implementation of the new law going forward.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Antivax Victory in Italy

In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.

An amendment from Italy's anti-establishment government that removes mandatory vaccination for schoolchildren is sending shock waves through the country's scientific and medical community.
It suspends for a year a law that requires parents to provide proof of 10 routine vaccinations when enrolling their children in nurseries or preschools. The amendment was approved by Italy's upper house of parliament on Friday by 148 to 110 votes and still has to pass the lower house.

The law had originally been introduced by the Democratic Party in July 2017 amid an ongoing outbreak of measles that saw 5,004 cases reported in 2017 -- the second-highest figure in Europe after Romania -- according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Italy accounted for 34% of all measles cases reported by countries in the European Economic Area, the center said.
The anti-vax vote is significant in Italy, with widespread distrust of vaccinations dating back to a later debunked and retracted 1998 study that claimed to show a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. As late as 2012, a court in Italy ruled that a child’s autism had been caused by the MMR vaccine, fueling the anti-vaccination movement. That ruling was overturned in 2015, but its effect seems to linger: A 2017 study of Italian internet habits between 2010 and 2015 found a connection between search and social media activity around the MMR vaccine and lower vaccination rates.
After the Five Star Movement and the League formed a coalition government in May, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said that the 10 mandatory vaccines were “useless and in many cases dangerous, if not harmful.”
Health Minister Giulia Grillo says requiring 10 vaccines threatens “school inclusion” and that the government want to “simplify rules for parents.”

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Texas Antivax Hotpsots

In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.

"It's so frustrating because I can see this train coming two miles down the tracks," said Dr. Peter Hotez, director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "And I can't do much to stop it other than just try to talk about vaccines, why they're safe, why the evidence shows there's clearly no link between vaccines and autism."


Hotez’s research has showed big clusters of exemptions in the western part of the country and in pockets where parents have slightly more wealth and education. His study showed Texas had the most “hot spots” of kindergartners whose parents, for nonmedical reasons, kept them from getting vaccinations against diseases such as measles, mumps, chicken pox and whooping cough.
Texas is among 18 states that let families opt out of vaccines for personal or moral beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And Plano, Fort Worth, Austin and Houston all ranked among the 15 U.S. metro areas with the most such conscientious exemptions for kindergartners. Each had more than 400 kindergartners exempted from vaccines.
Conscientious objections have risen steadily in the state over the past five years and now top 1 percent for the first time in recent years. Texas reported that 56,738 students — from kindergarten to 12th grade — opted out last school year. That’s an increase of almost 4,000 students from the previous year, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.

Hotez, who is the father of an autistic daughter, is most concerned about how exemption hot spots can put more people at risk for outbreaks of childhood infections. He said people tend to look at national and statewide rates and say, "They're not that alarming."
But those numbers, he said, “mask pockets in these schools.”