Sunday, April 19, 2015

Facts Are Your Friends -- Vaccinate Your Children, by Kristen Bell

Have you read the piece by Kristen Bell on vaccinations in 'The Huffington Post'? You should.

I have popped it on this blog page - the 'Our Autism Adventures' blog page - without thinking too much about it. I could have put it on my 'TwinnieWorld' blog page, or my 'Josie's Juice' blog page, as the latter is celebrity-driven content.

But when you say autism these days, people can equate it with another emotive word: vaccinations.

And so, here we are.

I read this post a few days and was rather blown away.

I think it's the most thoughtful, non-ranty, educated, well-researched position on vaccinations I have read, and I am kinda in love with Kristen. Even more than before.

Read the start of the piece here, then scroll down for the link to read it all. You won't regret it.

Facts Are Your Friends -- Vaccinate Your Children, by Kristen Bell

I didn't think I was going to vaccinate my children. I've always been earthy, crunchy, whatever. Fair trade? Artisanal? Free range? I love it all. I care about what I put into my body, and when I got pregnant, I became acutely aware that my decisions affected someone else. Someone who I had a duty to protect.

I'm a fairly confident person, but I was filled with so much uncertainty when I became pregnant. I was thrust into a world of choices: home birth? Drug-free? Inducement? Caesarian? Eat my placenta? And when I shared my birth plan with other moms, I would often feel shame, like I wasn't willing to go as far as others. Every conversation felt like a million little tests that questioned my motherhood. The consensus seemed to be that anything short of a drug-free home birth in water was child abuse. It was a lot of pressure, but ultimately I felt like having a human pass between my legs was stressful enough. I didn't need the added trouble of something going wrong and screaming, "Why am I squatting on a silk pashmina surrounded by wind chimes; where are all the doctors!?"

The doubt and difficult decisions didn't dissipate after the birth. The responsibility of keeping another human being alive was often overwhelming. Each little choice felt like it had the power to irrevocably shape her entire future. The weight of that often brought out strong, emotional responses to even the most benign decisions. The important decisions felt almost paralyzing. What if I messed up and chose wrong?

At first, I leaned toward keeping our kids vaccine-free. I thought the concern about vaccination made sense. There are countless reasons to distrust the pharmaceutical industry, and I didn't want to put anything artificial or unnecessary in my child's body. Least of all something questionable that protects from diseases that don't even exist anywhere near us these days. Still, I felt a nagging responsibility to hear both sides of the argument (largely because I had my heart set on a "mother of the year" mug).

I decided facts were my friends. I couldn't rely on word-of-mouth, friend-of-a-friend information. It was going to require actual research from vetted sources; I wanted the truth.
It wasn't easy sifting through all the false and deceptive studies to find them, but now that I have, I feel compelled to share them with any of you who may be struggling with this tough choice.

First, tell me why I need a vaccine.

Vaccines train your immune system. They give it a chance to build up resistance to dangerous diseases, so that if you are ever exposed to the real thing, your body is able to fend it off.

Vaccines DO contain disease particles, which is not only gross -- it's scary. However, the disease particles are dead or severely weakened, which renders them unable to cause the original diseaseEven very young children can easily handle them.

The immune system is far more effective when it knows how to identify and fight off what doesn't belong. Vaccines are like a wanted poster hanging in the saloon. They train the bartender to spot the bad guys and kick them out.

What's the deal with "herd immunity"?
I found the clearest explanation of herd immunity in a comic! Find it here, but essentially, epidemics are prevented when at least 80-90 percent of people are vaccinated. This means that the most important factor in promoting universal health is creating access to vaccination. Even those who are not vaccinated against a disease -- because they are too young, or have a weakened immune system due to chemotherapy, etc. -- are protected, because there are so many individuals with resistance that the disease doesn't spread very far. It takes a village, people. (Not the actual Village People, but like a village of people... anyway. Let's continue.)

What are the side effects?
Like all medicines, vaccines have some side effects. The common ones are mild -- redness, slight swelling right around the injection site, brief headache or fever. But these are actually GOOD to see -- these symptoms reflect that the body is responding to the treatment, and is learning how to deal with it. This is exactly what we want our bodies to do, so that we can react if we ever encounter the real thing. These common side effects are fire drills. Should the real thing happen, your child's body will know exactly where the nearest exit is.

There are rare cases of more severe side effects. Most often, these are essentially allergic reactions. These are serious, and scary, but occur almost immediately, and can be addressed by your doctor on the spot. This is why all patients receiving vaccinations are asked to be observed for a period of time before leaving the doctor's office. There's a point to making you flip through their back issues of Good Housekeeping magazine. They're keeping an eye on your little one.

Some side effects are so rare that it is impossible to tell if they are actually side effects of vaccines, or just coincidences. Interestingly, autism doesn't fall into that category. Autism occurs frequently enough that it can be studied, and it has been -- extensively. During my search for information I have found that the overwhelming majority of medical scientists agree that there isabsolutely no causal link between autism and vaccination. I know this can be a big one for many, though, so here are a fewmorearticles to read if you are concerned about autism and vaccines.

Read more about 'What are the side effects', and the rest of the article here.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Bugalugs Bum Thief - Relaxed Performance and Review

Just recently I took my seven year old twins to see a show called 'The Bugalugs Bum Thief'. We went along to the Monkey Baa Theatre in Darling Harbour, and you guys… it was sensational! Highly recommended.

The show is based on the children's novel by acclaimed Australian author Tim Winton - a comedic mystery story about Skeeta Anderson.

The story goes that when Skeeta woke up one morning, he found his bum (I love that the word bottom or tush is not used… nope, bum!) was gone.

This was just the beginning! In one day, he discovered that his was not the only bum missing in the town of Bugalugs. In fact, all 496 citizens of the town of Bugalugs are bumless!

And so, Skeeta decides to undertake his own investigation into who the bum thief is, and fix the situation!

Skeets enlists the help of his best mate Billy Marbels and Mick Misery, set out to discover where all the bums have gone and to find the culprit of the crime. After much mayhem, Skeeta finally solves this big mystery. Well… kinda!
The show toured last year and is back for 2001, with several shows left at the Monkey Baa, before continuing for more shows. It's perfect for kids aged four -10.
Prices: $25 per ticket + $2.50 booking fee per transaction. (Family discounts available).
And, the show has a 'RELAXED PERFORMANCE' available! Perfect for kids with special needs (autism, for example).
My son has mild autism, although we went to the standard performance, and he loved it. Yes, there were some parts that he put his hands over his ears, but it WAS loud! For a child with obvious sensory needs, this more relaxed performance is perfect. The volume is decidedly lower and the house lights are dimmer, and the tone is more relaxed.
Here are the details for this special show: Tuesday April 14 at 1pm, and it's described as:
This performance is the opposite of the quiet carriage on the train. Patrons are welcome to come and go as they please, the theatre lights remain on and audio is adjusted accordingly. We welcome patrons with young children and those that may have special requirements.
For further information, go here.
The cost for this relaxed performance show is: 
$17 per student for school group bookings.
And, teachers can download booking form HERE.
Vacation Care Groups can download booking forms HERE.
And, you can even access a free teaching resource right HERE!
Come to the show at Monkey Baa, and go find it again when the season there is done. The kids - and you - will love it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Luke Shambrook Found Alive: Report

News just in: the young boy with autism who had wandered off from the campsite on Good Friday where he and his family were staying at Candlebark camping ground, near Lake Elidon, has been found, according to Seven News.

Luke Shambrook, age 11, had been missing for four days.

In a breaking news report, the little boy is safe and sound, with hypothermia and dehydrated, but alive!

SES crews have been searching for Luke since the alarm was raised by his family.

Luke's beanie was found late yesterday.

Police said he was spotted by the air wing just before midday in an area off Skyline Road.
Rick Newton from Victoria Police said Luke was being treated by paramedics.
"[The] police helicopter spotted Luke walking in bush about three kilometres from where he went missing on Friday," he said.
"The helicopter has directed police and paramedics and searchers into that area and recovered Luke.
"We are told Luke is well, [but] he is exhausted, he is suffering hypothermia and he is also dehydrated.
An earlier, background report here.

Here is Luke (left) and his family. Photo: Victoria Police.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Subtle Signs of Autism 0-7 years old: VIDEO

In honour of World Autism Awareness Day, here is a video I found called:

'Sublte (sic) Signs of Autism 0-7 years old'. 

People often ask me these questions about my son (Rafael, age 7):
- How did you first know your son had autism?
- What were the signs? How did he act which told you he had autism?- At what age was he diagnosed?
- How has he progressed over time?
- How is he doing at school now? (my son is in year 2)

While every child 'on the spectrum' is different, this video gives some good insight into the profession a child with autism can make.

Says the video description:

"This video shows the subtle signs of autism from one child as he ages and his tremendous growth from years of therapy."

Watch and tell me what you think (and light it up blue today for our beautiful kids with autism and Aspergers: