Mercury and Autism

While I’m not a big believer in conspiracy theories or cover-ups, I tend to be a big fan; think the X-Files (the series, not the movie), Wag the Dog and Capricorn One. However, I admit to harboring a certain suspicion when it comes to my middle son, Hunter.

Hunter is a beautiful, charming and brilliant little boy. He is seven years old, reads (and understands) a wide variety of chapter books and does math like a madman. Computers and DDR Max are his favorite pastimes, and he’s always discovering some new way to challenge me with a fix or a dance move. His current delight? Knock-knock jokes.

Hunter falls “in the spectrum”; a nice way of saying “he has autism”.

His development was normal for his first year-and-a-half or so. He didn’t speak a lot, however, he had an older brother and parents who would anticipate his needs, so we didn’t think too much of it. Sometime between his first birthday and our noting changes in his behavior, he had his childhood shots.

A popular theory among some parents of autistic children is the concern that children received vaccines that contained a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal. Thimerosal has since been removed (or reduced to trace amounts) from vaccines, giving rise to a fair amount of suspicion in the interested community.

A note on childhood shots: we had them, you had them and our oldest had them. However, the timing of the shots and the apparent changes in Hunter’s behavior (which led us to seeking diagnosis) has left us wondering.

My belief? I believe Hunter’s intellect will propel him above the challenges he faces. I think that eventually (and we are making progress), he’ll be able to understand the social reasons to minimize his stimming (the act of stimulating himself through voice and action), be taught to recognize the subtleties of facial expressions and learn to not feel so deeply when something (like a video game or a cartoon) goes “wrong”.

Anyhow, I told you that story to provide a link to an article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. It was posted on the Common Dreams Newscenter and is called “Deadly Immunity”. Quite an interesting read, and really doesn’t make me feel any better about the possibilities described therein.

I think I’ll go give him a hug.

About Michael Coates
I am a pragmatic evangelist. The products, services and solutions I write about fulfill real-world expectations and use cases. I stay up-to-date on real products I use and review, and share my thoughts here. I apply the same lens when designing an architecture, product or when writing papers. I am always looking for ways that technology can create or enhance a business opportunity .. not just technology for technology's sake. My CV says: Seasoned technology executive, leveraging years of experience with enterprise and integration architectural patterns, executed with healthy doses of business acumen and pragmatism. That's me. My web site says: Technology innovations provide a myriad of opportunities for businesses. That said, having the "latest and greatest" for its own sake isn't always a recipe for success. Business successes gained through exploiting innovation relies on analysis of how the new features will enhance your business followed by effective implementation. Goals vary far and wide: streamlining operations, improving customer experience, extending brand, and many more. In all cases, you must identify and collect the metrics you can apply to measure your success. Analysis must be holistic and balanced: business and operational needs must be considered when capitalizing on a new technology asset or opportunity.

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