Search This Blog

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Antivax Activists Throws Liquid on CA Senators

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing disease to spread.  Unfortunately, Republican legislators in some states are opposed to vaccine mandates.

Hannah Wiley at the Sacramento Bee:
An anti-vaccine activist who traveled to the Capitol to protest on the final day of the legislative year threw a menstrual cup at state senators on Friday afternoon, prompting a quick recess and an immediate evacuation of the chambers.
The protesters were watching from the upstairs balcony in the Senate at about 5:15 p.m., when a woman hurled what the California Highway Patrol called “a feminine hygiene device containing what appeared to be blood” at several lawmakers. “That’s for the dead babies,” she yelled.
Rebecca Dalelio, 43, was charged with felony vandalism, misdemeanor battery, and multiple other misdemeanor counts related to disrupting official state business. Her bail is set at $10,000, according to Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department records.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Amicus Brief Against "Public Charge" Rule

The Arc and seventeen other national disability advocacy groups represented by the global law firm Latham & Watkins filed an amicus brief in support of litigation to stop the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from implementing its new “public charge” rule. Twenty-one states, led by California, Washington, and New York, have filed cases against the Trump Administration to block the new rule. The advocacy groups – representing tens of thousands of people with disabilities and their families across the country – claim that the new public charge rule will prevent people with disabilities from entering this country or becoming legal residents in violation of federal disability law.

“The new public charge rule is based on an insidious and outdated notion that people with disabilities do not have a valued place in American society,” said Alison Barkoff, Director of Advocacy for the Center for Public Representation. “Almost 30 years ago, Congress removed the per se exclusion of immigrants with disabilities, recognizing the discrimination and prejudice these policies embodied. In the following years, Congress has repeatedly legislated its commitment to include and integrate people with disabilities in all aspects of life. This new rule flies in the face of that progress and federal law.”
“The new rule punishes immigrants who use Medicaid, even though Medicaid is the only way to access critical disability services,” said Claudia Center, Senior Staff Attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. “Congress has explicitly recognized the importance of Medicaid in enabling people with disabilities to be productive, contributing members of society. Studies show that access to Medicaid increases employment for people with disabilities. That is the opposite of a public charge.”
“This new policy is devastating to many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. It discourages immigrant families from utilizing critical public services out of fear of harming their immigration status. The rule will increase poverty, hurt public health, and worsen housing instability. It’s the latest callous tactic in restricting access to necessary services and supports. The Arc continues our work to ensure that non-citizens with any type of disability have a fair opportunity to enter and reside legally in the U.S., without unnecessary or discriminatory restrictions based on their disability,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.
“We are proud to represent the disability community in this important litigation,” said Sarah Ray, a partner with the global law firm Latham & Watkins. “Our public interest organization partners across the disability and immigration sectors report that this new rule is causing serious fear and confusion among immigrants – especially those with disabilities and those whose family members have disabilities. This rule violates federal law and must be stopped before it goes into effect on October 15th.”
For more information about the public charge rule and its impact on people with disabilities, see or

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Autism CARES

No government agency has exclusive jurisdiction over all of these areas. The federal government takes the lead with some, while states and localities may be the main arenas for others. At each level, different bureaucracies deal with different aspects of autism. Courts and private organizations also play important roles in autism policymaking. Each place on the autism policy map has its own jargon and rules, hence the “alphabet soup” that bedevils parents.

Autism CARES Act Reauthorization
Contact your Members of Congress!

The Autism CARES Act will sunset (expire) on September 30, 2019, if it is not reauthorized. The House passed a bill (HR. 1058) on July 24 which reauthorizes the law for five years.
The Senate now must pass its companion bill (S. 427) within the next two weeks!
Contact your Senators today! Urge them to co-sponsor and urge action in the Senate on S. 427, the Autism CARES Act Reauthorization Act.

There are currently 36 Senator co-sponsors. we need 100! If you don’t see your Senator listed below, please call them now!

Dial 202-224-3121. Ask to be connected to your senator. Say please co-sponsor and pass S. 427 the Autism CARES Act now.

In addition, please use this action alert to send an email to your Senators:

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

California Republicans Side with Anti-Vaxxers

Mariel Garza at LAT:
[I]t was dismaying to see state Senate Minority Leader Sen. Shannon Grove of Bakersfield and other Republican legislators side with the opponents on the bills to close a loophole that was allowing people to get around the state’s vaccination laws.
If this is a ploy to turn the so-called “anti-vaxxers” into GOP voters, they may not have great luck. Those opposed to mandatory vaccines don’t split along party lines. In fact, some of the places that have seen the lowest vaccination rates are solidly liberal communities, like Marin County and Santa Cruz.

Autistic People Can Be Good Students of Behavior

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families.  But people on the spectrum also have strengths in areas that NT people expect.

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by the inability of individuals to gauge the emotions and mental states of other people. However, if the lens is widened to include the behavior of people in general, those with ASD traits are as good or even slightly better social psychologists than people who do not have traits of autism, Yale researchers report Sept. 9 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“People with ASD traits seem to be able to analyze how people in general will react in a social situation, even if they have difficulties judging the mental states of individuals,” said Anton Gollwitzer, a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology.
Gollwitzer and senior author John Bargh analyzed results of an online quiz taken by 6595 respondents from 104 countries. In this quiz, participants attempted to predict how people in general will react in a social situation — what Gollwitzer calls “Social Psychological Skill.” The quiz included questions such as: Do people feel more responsible for their behavior in groups than as individuals? (No) Does catharsis work: If I am angry, will taking out my hostilities on a stuffed doll make me feel better?” (No) On average, do people work harder in groups or as individuals? (As individuals).
Surprisingly, those with ASD traits had slightly better scores on these questions than those without those traits. Gollwitzer said that the general nature of these questions likely allowed ASD individuals to view the situation analytically, without needing to assess emotional or mental states of individuals. This skill may help them compensate for their difficulties in reading others’ mental states in order to function in a social society.
The article:
 Anton Gollwitzer, Cameron Martel, James C. McPartland, and John A. Bargh, "Autism Spectrum Traits predict Higher Social Psychological Skill, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, first published September 9, 2019
Social-cognitive skills can take different forms, from accurately predicting individuals’ intentions, emotions, and thoughts (person perception or folk psychology) to accurately predicting social phenomena more generally. Past research has linked autism spectrum (AS) traits to person perception deficits in the general population. We tested whether AS traits also predict poor accuracy in terms of predicting generalized social phenomena, assessed via participants’ accuracy at predicting social psychological phenomena (e.g., social loafing, social projection, group think). We found the opposite. In a sample of ∼6,500 participants in 104 countries, AS traits predicted slightly higher social psychological skill. A second study with 400 participants suggested that heightened systemizing underlies this relationship. Our results indicate that AS traits relate positively to a form of social cognitive skill—predicting social psychological phenomena—and highlight the importance of distinguishing between divergent types of social cognition.
Our findings may also help explain why individuals with ASD exhibit adequate person perception performance in settings that allow for deliberation, reflection, and reasoning (e.g., extended time) (18). Individuals with ASD may be recruiting their knowledge of social psychological phenomena as a form of compensatory learning to understand other individuals’ mental states.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Newsom Signs Vax Reform

Antivaxxers failed to stop enactment of reform legislation in California.

A release from California State Senator Richard Pan:
Dr. Richard Pan, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and a broad coalition of doctors, health care providers, public health officials, family and child advocates and parents celebrated the signing of Senate Bill 276 into law today, which will prevent fake medical exemptions and require oversight of the medial exemption process.
Senate Bill 276 will require physicians to submit information to California Department of Public Health (CDPH), including the physician’s name and license number and the reason for the exemption, which CDPH will check to ensure they are consistent with the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines or stand of care. The physician must also certify that they have examined the patient in person.
Additionally, CDPH will create and maintain a database of medical exemptions. CDPH will have the authority to revoke medical exemptions granted by licensed physicians if they are found to be fraudulent or inconsistent with standard of care. This authority will give the state public health officer the tools necessary to contain and prevent further outbreaks.
After working with the Governor’s office, Dr. Pan agreed to amendments that are contained in a separate measure, Senate Bill 714.
Following a measles outbreak in Disneyland in 2014, California legislators passed Senate Bill 277, authored by Dr. Pan, which eliminated all non-medical exemptions to the required vaccines for school entry. As a result of the implementation of Senate Bill 277, overall vaccination rates have increased sharply statewide since 2015. Figures from earlier this year show that immunization rates remain high, but have decreased slightly over the last two years. The report shows that 94.8 percent of kindergarteners in 2018-2019 have been vaccinated, a 0.3 percent decrease from the 2017-2018 school year.
However, California has also experienced a dramatic increase in the number of medical exemptions. Last year it had tripled (from 0.2 percent in 2015-16 to 0.7 percent in 2017-18). Data from this year shows the percentage has quadrupled to 0.9 percent. Low vaccination rates in certain pockets of the state have put children and communities at risk. More than 100 schools have a medical exemption rate over 10 percent, far beyond what should be expected, putting children and communities at risk.
The vaccine schedule prevents measles and other types of diseases, including pertussis, (also known as whooping cough), which is marked by severe coughing attacks that can last for months. Infants too young for vaccination are at greatest risk for life-threatening cases of pertussis.
When measles spreads in a community with immunization rates below 94 percent, the protection provided by ‘community immunity’ is lost. This means that many people, are at risk of becoming infected, including those who cannot be immunized, infants, chemotherapy patients and people with HIV or other conditions.
The hesitation to vaccinate on the part of a growing number of parents stems from misinformation such as the now retracted 1998 study that falsified data to purport a link between autism and the measles vaccine. The study was authored by Andrew Wakefield who was later found to be lying. Also, numerous subsequent studies worldwide involving hundreds of thousands of children have proved that vaccines are safe and do not cause autism.

Monday, September 9, 2019


In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autismTwitterFacebook, and other social media platforms have helped spread this dangerous myth.   Measles can kill.

From CDC:
From January 1 to September 5, 2019, 1,241individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 31 states. This is an increase of 7 cases from the previous week. However, only two of these cases were recently ill. The rest were identified as past cases.
This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1992. More than 75% of the cases this year are linked to outbreaks in New York. Measles is more likely to spread and cause outbreaks in U.S. communities where groups of people are unvaccinated.
The majority of cases are among people who were not vaccinated against measles.
Measles can cause serious complications. As of September 5, 2019, 130 of the people who got measles this year were hospitalized, and 65 reported having complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis.
Nick Paumgarten at The New Yorker:
One need not relitigate the case for vaccines here. There have been more than a dozen large-scale, peer-reviewed studies—the most recent one in Denmark, involving more than six hundred and fifty thousand children—that have found no connection between the M.M.R. vaccine and autism. Are there side effects to vaccines? Sometimes. Are there bad doses or batches? If there weren’t, there would be no such thing as the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Does Big Pharma benefit from the vaccine protocol? You bet. At the end of July, Merck, the only U.S. manufacturer of the M.M.R. vaccine, announced that it had earned six hundred and seventy-five million dollars in the previous quarter from the M.M.R. vaccine and the chicken-pox vaccine, a fifty-eight-per-cent increase from the same period last year.
But vaccines work, both for individuals and for the general public. They are one of the great advances of modern times. And they do not cause autism. The science on this point is settled, to the extent that any science ever is, in the pursuit of proving a negative.
But, if we have to pick a Patient Zero, Andrew Wakefield will do. Wakefield is the British gastroenterologist who produced the notorious article, published in The Lancet in 1998, linking the M.M.R. vaccine to autism. The study, which featured just twelve subjects, was debunked, the article was pulled, and Wakefield lost his license to practice medicine—as well as his reputation, in scientific circles anyway. But, owing to his persistence in the years since, his discredited allegations have spread like mold. In the anti-vaxxer pantheon, he is martyr and saint. There are also the movement’s celebrities, such as Jenny McCarthy and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., stubborn in the face of ridicule, and the lesser-known but perhaps no less pernicious YouTube evangelists, such as Toni Bark, a purveyor of homeopathic products, and the Long Island pediatrician Lawrence Palevsky. If your general practitioner is Dr. Google, you can find a universe of phony expertise. The movement seems to sniff out susceptibility. Not surprisingly, there is money there, though the financial incentives behind this strand of advocacy are less clear than, say, what has led the Koch brothers to champion fossil fuels. This spring, the Washington Post reported that the New York hedge-fund manager Bernard Selz and his wife, Lisa, have given more than three million dollars to anti-vaccination causes and helped finance “Vaxxed,” Wakefield’s 2016 documentary, which purports to reveal a C.D.C. conspiracy to cover up the connection between vaccines and autism. Needless to say, the anti-vaccination ethos is by no means exclusive to the New York tristate-area Orthodox community. It thrives in certain pockets—affluent boho-yoga moms, evangelical Christians, Area 51 insurgents. The vaccination rates are about the same in Monsey and in Malibu. Before New Square, the three most recent big outbreaks of measles occurred among Somali immigrants, in Minnesota; Amish farmers, in Ohio; and a hodgepodge of visitors to Disneyland.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Vax Agreement in California

In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autismTwitterFacebook, and other social media platforms have helped spread this dangerous myth.

California Governor Gavin Newsom will sign a bill tightening vaccine mandates, but with some compormises.

Melody Gutierrez at LAT:
The agreement between state Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and Newsom calls for the governor to sign SB 276, which has passed the Legislature, and for revisions to be placed in separate legislation, SB 714, which requires approval by the Assembly and Senate by Sept. 13. Newsom’s office said the governor will sign SB 276 once the Legislature passes SB 714 with his changes. Legislative leaders said Friday that they support the new changes under the deal.
SB 714, which is also written by Pan, would invalidate any medical exemption from a doctor who has faced disciplinary action by the state medical board.
 The changes under SB 714 include Newsom’s proposal to grandfather in all existing medical exemptions before Jan. 1, causing concern among critics that such a move would prompt a rush for new vaccine exemptions.
However, Newsom’s amendment contains a key caveat: New medical exemptions would be required when a child enters kindergarten, seventh grade or changes schools. By adding that provision, permanent medical exemptions would no longer be valid throughout a child’s K-12 education. A similar approach was used when the state eliminated personal belief exemptions in 2015 under another bill by Pan that allowed immunization waivers to remain valid until a child reached kindergarten, seventh grade or changed schools.
Under the deal reached Friday, temporary medical exemptions that currently allow a doctor to use his or her discretion as to the length of time they remain valid would be limited to one year.
SB 714 will also remove a provision called for in SB 276 that would have required doctors to certify that medical exemptions are accurate, under penalty of perjury.
From Dr. Pan:
As the latest measles outbreak threatens the country’s elimination status, California acted to keep children safe at school by abolishing non-medical exemptions. Unfortunately, a few unscrupulous physicians are selling inappropriate medical exemptions, and we need SB276 stop the corruption of medical exemptions that endanger children. I appreciate the Governor’s commitment to sign SB 276 with amendments contained in SB 714 that we both agree upon to ensure we maintain the community immunity needed to protect our kids.”

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Barriers to College Access and Success

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the growing number of college students on the spectrum

Amy L. Accardo, and colleagues have an article at The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders titled "College Access, Success and Equity for Students on the Autism Spectrum."

The abstract:
College may be considered a gateway to success, yet access to college is limited for young adults with autism. Given the research recommendations to elicit student experiences and to communicate among universities to improve college access, success, and equity, the present study examined the questions: What factors are perceived as pathways to success or barriers to success by college students on the autism spectrum? What university provided accommodations and/or support services do they prefer? Participants from four universities completed surveys and semi-structured interviews. Findings from the multi-university study suggest the need to provide transition planning and systematic non-academic social and emotional supports from the start of the college experience as well as specific training for faculty, staff, and peers.
From the article:
Across all four universities students on the autism spectrum noted parent expectations and support as key to accessing and attending college and they defined college success in both academic and non-academic terms including development of a social network. Similarly, students reported factors leading to success to include goals of employment, self-determination, and self-advocacy for needed supports, and reported barriers to success as mental health challenges (including co-occurring conditions) and non- academic stressors (such as lack of awareness of disability and faculty members). Unlike the single-university study, students in the current study identified a lack of financial resources as a barrier to success. In terms of attaining college equity through accessing accommodations and supports, fondings also align with the prior one-university findings (Accardo et al. 2018) with students again reporting extended time, copy of notes, priority registration, academic coaching, tutoring, mentorship and the writing center as top accommodations and support services, and social skills groups as one of the least preferred supports. Unlike the previous study, students in the present study were less positive about summer transition programs, likely due to differences in the programs provided across universities.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Californians Back Vaccines

In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autismTwitterFacebook, and other social media platforms have helped spread this dangerous myth.

From PPIC:
In PPIC’s May Statewide Survey, an overwhelming majority of Californians (73%) said parents should be required to vaccinate their children for diseases like measles, mumps, and rubella. This view is held by at least seven in ten across genders, political parties, and those with and without children in the household. Majorities across demographic groups and regions say vaccinations should be required, as do about three in four Asian Americans, whites, and Latinos—compared to 53 percent of African Americans.
Vaccine safety has been an ongoing matter of concern, despite assurances from the scientific community. Today, nearly all Californians say that the vaccines given to children are safe (62% very, 27% somewhat). The share that say vaccines are very safe is held by strong majorities across parties, as well as majorities across regions and demographic groups. Notably, among Californians who say parents should be able to decide whether or not to vaccinate their children, 73% say vaccines are safe.
At the same time, eight in ten residents are concerned that measles outbreaks will become more widespread (43% very, 36% somewhat). This view is held by majorities of Californians, although the share who say they are very concerned is higher among older Californians than younger Californians (48% to 34%) and among women than men (48% to 38%).

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Will Newsom Cave To Antivaxxers?

In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autismTwitterFacebook, and other social media platforms have helped spread this dangerous myth.

George Skelton at LAT:
Gov. Gavin Newsom is about to show the Legislature and all of us just how much his word is worth.
In June, the governor promised to sign a highly contentious vaccine bill if it was changed to narrow its scope. The measure’s author, state Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), amended it the way Newsom wanted.
The governor and the senator publicly praised each other for being cooperative.
Fast-forward to Tuesday after the bill passed the Assembly 47 to 17 and was returned to the Senate for confirmation with Newsom’s requested amendments. The governor’s office tweeted that there still were “technical — but important — changes” Newsom wanted saying, “The governor believes it’s important to make these additional changes concurrently with the bill.”

In truth, the newly requested changes weren’t just “technical,” they were significant.
Left unclear was whether the new changes needed to be approved by the Legislature “or else” — or else Newsom wouldn’t sign the bill; he’d veto it. And there wasn’t any clarification Wednesday after the Senate sent the bill without the changes to the governor on a 28-11 vote.
Ana Ibarra at California Healthline:
The changes Newsom now wants to make include clarifying that a doctor’s previous medical exemptions wouldn’t be considered by state officials; the state wouldn’t start counting them until the bill takes effect Jan. 1, his office said.

Newsom also wants to remove a provision that would require doctors to certify under penalty of perjury that their exemptions are accurate. And he is requesting that, in order to protect patients’ medical information, the legislation specify that exemption forms would not be accessible through the Public Records Act.

Additional amendments would be made in separate legislation that would have to be approved by the legislature before its Sept. 13 end-of-session deadline.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Parks and Playgrounds

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families.

Alysia Abbott at Curbed:
When we think about making public spaces accessible to disabled people, we usually think about making those spaces accessible to people with physical disabilities. But the fact is that for many families like mine—with members who are on the spectrum or have other sensory or mental disorders—parks and playgrounds are vitally important, an affordable mixed-use space that can be valuable for every member of the family.
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires that all public spaces, including public parks and playgrounds, be accessible to all people with disabilities. But in Massachusetts, where I live, the Architectural Access Boards (AAB) regulations contain only a limited number of sections on playgrounds. These require “an accessible route to all play equipment” and nothing more. For families with children on the spectrum, safety is a prime concern that isn’t addressed in the ADA language. Those children need enclosed spaces where they can be seen by caregivers. And given how closely people on the spectrum may interact with the materials and plants in parks and playgrounds, those spaces should be free of toxic plants, thorny plants, or rash-causing plants.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019


In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autismTwitterFacebook, and other social media platforms have helped spread this dangerous myth.

From CDC:
From January 1 to August 29, 2019, 1,234 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 31 states. This is an increase of 19 cases from the previous week. However, only one of these cases was recently ill. The rest were identified as past cases. This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1992.
  • More than 75% of the cases this year are linked to outbreaks in New York. Measles is more likely to spread and cause outbreaks in U.S. communities where groups of people are unvaccinated.
  • The majority of cases are among people who were not vaccinated against measles.
  • Measles can cause serious complications. As of August 29, 2019, 125 of the people who got measles this year were hospitalized, and 65 reported having complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis.
  • All measles cases this year have been caused by measles wild-type D8 or B3.
Elizabeth Cohen at CNN:
There's a "reasonable chance" the United States will lose its measles elimination status in October because of ongoing measles outbreaks in New York, according to Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
"It certainly is incredibly frustrating and upsetting to the public health community that we may lose measles elimination status, because we do have a safe and effective vaccine," Messonnier said.
When the World Health Organization declared in 2000 that the United States had eliminated measles, it was hailed as one of the biggest public health achievements in the nation's history. Losing that elimination status would be a black eye to the United States, public health experts said.

"We're embarrassed. We're chagrined," said Dr. William Schaffner, a longtime adviser to the CDC on vaccine issues.
WHO removes a county's elimination status when measles has been spreading continuously for one year.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Labor Day: A Program at West Chester University

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the employment of adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. Many posts have discussed programs to provide them with training and experience.  
I also discuss the growing number of college students on the spectrum

Susan Snyder at The Philadelphia Inquirer:
West Chester last week became the first university in the country to open a convenience store on campus to provide workplace training for autistic students, according to a Yale University expert whose organization is familiar with college programs nationally.

The Ram Shop, located in the same building as West Chester's autism program, will be a training ground for up to a quarter of the 50 students in the autism program on the 17,840-student state university's campus, said Cherie Fishbaugh, director of autism services.

West Chester began its autism program three years ago, on the cusp of a movement among colleges nationally to better serve growing numbers of students with autism showing up in classrooms. Between 1.7% and 1.9% of the nation’s college students are estimated to have autism.

Only a few students have dropped out of the program, which provides support in areas such as social competence, independence, self-care and career readiness and troubleshoots problems that students face in the classroom.

There are more than 60 programs at colleges nationwide. With 11, Pennsylvania has more than any other state. Among them are programs at Drexel, St. Joseph's, Bucks County Community College, Kutztown University and Eastern University. Rutgers University in New Jersey also has a program.

More programs are realizing the importance of career readiness, said Jane Thierfeld-Brown, an assistant clinical professor at Yale Child Study Center and director of College Autism Spectrum.

Nationally, 82% of college graduates with autism remain unemployed, she said. Yet, Fishbaugh said, many have characteristics that make them excellent employees, including attention to detail and high productivity.

“People rarely think about teaching work skills to college-capable students,” Thierfeld-Brown said. “Many people on the autism spectrum need to learn those employment skills as much as they need to earn a college degree — or more.”

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Measles Cases Soar in Europe

In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms have helped spread this dangerous myth.
Palko Karasz at NYT reports that the World Health Organization has reported a resurgence of measles in Europe.
The number of cases in the first half of the year in the European region doubled in comparison with 2018 — with 90,000 people infected, compared with 44,175 in the first six months of last year, the W.H.O. said in a statement.

“We are backsliding; we are on the wrong track,” Dr. Kate O’Brien, the director of the W.H.O.’s immunization department, said at a news conference.
The W.H.O. monitors the elimination of the disease across the region, and countries with continuous transmission of the virus for 12 consecutive months are no longer considered measles-free.
Albania, Britain, the Czech Republic and Greece, which had declared measles eliminated, joined 12 other nations — including France, Germany, Poland, Romania and Russia — where the disease is endemic, the W.H.O. said.

Even countries that had eliminated the disease have seen a return of infections. The United States is experiencing the worst measles outbreak in decades, with a record number of cases since the last large epidemic, in 1992, and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Elimination” does not mean that the disease is completely absent. It indicates that a country has gone more than 12 months without continuous disease transmission. That is why health experts have called on people to continue to vaccinate children.

But a growing movement promoting skepticism of the vaccine — mainly because of the belief, which scientists have argued against, that it could cause autism in children — has contributed to falling vaccination rates in many developed nations, and the shots are not compulsory everywhere.