Monday, October 20, 2008

Autism's False Prophets

Just before Lucy was born I reviewed Paul A. Offit, M.D.'s book Vaccinated. I know it's odd to say that I enjoyed reading a book on vaccine history, but as a (former) scientist and a parent, it appealed to me. It was well written and well researched. When The Parent Bloggers Network reached out to me to review his new book, Autism's False Prophets, I couldn't say no. The first book only covered the history of vaccines, and as any person, parent or not, knows, vaccines have been very much at the center of many major stories in the past decade. 

Offit knows his work has consequences. He starts the prologue by quoting some of the more colorful hate mail he has received. Having my own children, I cannot fathom how difficult it must be to parent one with special needs. I can imagine that these parents, in moments of desperation, are just looking for someone to blame. Many choose Offit as their target, and while this could lead to risks to himself and his family, he presses on. Why? Because he believes he is doing the right thing. The just thing. 

I admit, I have to agree. 

Offit spends the beginning of the book discussing Andrew Wakefield's proposition that vaccinations, specifically the MMR vaccination, causes autism. The way in which the information was presented lead to a media storm of enormous proportions that had millions believing unproven, unsound data. After Wakefield's bombshell, Offit goes on to detail many of the supposed treatments for autism. These treatments had parents of autistic children digging deep into their pockets, giving them hope of a cure. None of the children were 'cured' and some of them were even harmed in the process. 

Offit also delves into the scientific and judicial process for the reader to dissect exactly how these process work in relation to these cases against vaccinations. (I know it sounds boring, but seriously it's not!) He also discusses the relationships between science and the media, science and society and how those can affect the way information is disseminated. 

Paul A. Offit M.D. is, no doubt, a man with an agenda. He wants to protect children from unnecessary, harmful procedures. He wants to protect parents from spending countless dollars on what amounts to snake oil. And he wants to protect the doctors and scientists who are hard at work on autism causes and treatments. 

Which is why I hope we continue to hear from Paul A. Offit, M.D. 

Monday, October 13, 2008

Finally! An Acceptable Form of Bathroom Reading. Once Upon a Potty.

Remember a few weeks ago when I posted a picture of Sam in big boy underpants? Yeah, well, that was kind of a short lived adventure that ended in me cleaning poop off of the floor in three separate locations! Fun times. So when the Parent Bloggers Network sent me a copy of Once Upon a Potty (actually two copies! The girl version and the boy version!) I was ecstatic! 

Truth be told, we already owned a copy of the boy version, with Joshua and his mother, and it had been a big, big hit. But when our new copies arrived I couldn't have been happier. First of all, they have sturdy, board book-like pages which are nearly impervious to ripping little hands. Plus they came with an audio cd of original music, introductions by the author Alona Frankel, and a reading of the story. 

The songs, 'The Joshua & Prudence Theme' and 'The Potty Song' are kick-y little jazz numbers that come both with lyrics and as instrumental pieces. This is a nice feature if you have a little song bird in your house. It's like toddler potty karaoke! The only drawback to the cd is probably unique to us. As soon as Sam sees a disc, he assumes it's a video, so he was initially a little disappointed that there was only music. Once he heard the song, though, he was grooving his little bum to the sax. 

The reading of the book is quite lovely as well. There is music and plenty of cute sound effects. Sam especially likes the sound of the Joshua's present being unwrapped and of the toilet flushing. Why am I not surprised? 

Wanna know the best part, though? Last week Sam peed and pooped on the potty! I was so excited! And so was he! As soon as he was done, he turned around and looked into the potty to see his accomplishments. When he saw what was in there, he exclaimed, 


Which is a toddler variation of what Joshua says when he finally pees and poops on the potty. I made sure to tell him that I was very happy and proud, just like Joshua's mother. He couldn't have been happier.

And that is the moment I will choose to remember in the future when I recall the trials of potty training. Not that one where I was cleaning human poop off of the floor in my living room, foyer and bathroom.