29 Oct

Attitudes towards future care, medications, the MMR vaccine, and residential care.

By Lirio Sobrevinas-Covey, Ph.D.

Twelve attendees (9 mothers and 4 fathers) responded to an informal survey at the recent 4th Annual Symposium of the Association for Adults with Autism Philippines (AAAP). The survey, obtained on October 17, 2015, revealed some good news, but one concerning position.

Notably, the diagnosis of Autism received by the children had been made by an appropriate expert – a developmental pediatrician, a neurologist, or a psychologist; often by more than one of those professionals for each child.

The good news –all the children had received some form of speech or occupational therapy.

Whereas the primary caregiver was most often the mother, it was mentioned by several that a caregiver other than the parents were involved. Also, most parents’ lives had not been seriously hampered by their child’s condition.

Much in line with the theme of the symposium – Future Life and Financial Planning, all had already begun thinking about the future care of their child with autism, including considering or making relevant financial plans.

Attitudes towards using medications to treat autism symptoms were mixed, with many indicating no opinion per se – they would defer to their physician’s judgment.

Surprisingly to me, five (three mothers and two fathers) of the 12 respondents were against the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine (MMR), one of them explicitly stating her belief that the vaccine had caused her child’s autism. This belief echoes the erroneous theory, proposed by a single physician several years ago based on flawed data, that has been overwhelmingly debunked by much research.

At the conclusion of the symposium, when the attendees were asked what they would like to hear more of in future AAAP symposia, a popular response was – more details and specifics on approaches towards ensuring the financial welfare of their children. Questions were raised also regarding AAAP’s progress on developing a residential village for adults with autism. AAAP’s leadership will take such issues up in future seminars and symposia.

We note that these results were obtained from a very small and select sample of parents who are well informed about autism treatments and have actual or potential access to financial
​resources. Their responses cannot be taken to represent all parents of persons with autism. Nevertheless, the individual answers by the respondents indicate the presence of the positions they held. The respondents’ reporting of several positive plans and actions indicate the feasibility of efforts towards that direction by other parents.

As I have written in past commentaries published in AAAP Today, the persistent thinking held regarding the adverse impact of the MMR vaccine on autism needs to be clarified. The MMR vaccine has saved millions and millions of lives throughout the world. By contrast withholding it in the mistaken belief regarding its harmful effect, ironically, caused in both the United Kingdom and parts of the United States, minor epidemics of measles, mumps, and whooping cough, the illnesses the vaccine was designed to prevent.

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