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Amish and Autism


emmiedahl
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I think that most of the people that believe that vaccinations are linked to autism don't believe it is the only thing that can cause autism.

What is interesting about the Amish is that while they do seem to have lower rates of many diseases and conditions, they have much higher rates of some rare genetic disorders.

In the article you linked the weird paranoia regarding "diseases not attacking religions" seems to miss the really obvious fact that this is a very isolated group of people with very limited genetic diversity. Just because autism doesn't show up with the Amish doesn't mean that other diseases or conditions won't.

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Okay, I've spent several years tackling this, I have a ready-made response for anybody who might wonder if there IS a link. (I hope not, but I'm still new here, so I don't know what you-all think!)

1. Even if it is true that the Amish cannot be autistic, the Amish have a very odd genetic profile. They are prone to several disorders that are largely found only among the Amish, and have one of the highest rates of polydactyly in the world. They also have a lifestyle that's wildly different from most people's. All the supposed autism rate might indicate is that their genetics aren't prone to autism, or that not having phones means you're less likely to be autistic, or that autism rates increase when your parents have a greater than 8th grade education.

2. Or, of course, those rates could indicate that the Amish are less likely to seek diagnoses for "mildly" autistic children. This skews the rates downwards without actually altering the numbers.

3. At any rate, it wouldn't prove that there's a link to vaccinations, because the Amish do vaccinate their children. They're not opposed to all technology, just that which disrupts the community. Keeping children alive is a good thing.

4. Also, there are more autistic Amish children than those folks like to believe. Way more. DIAGNOSED autistic Amish children, we're not even talking about "I think it's obvious, but it's not official" kids.

In short - it's so wrong it comes out the other end of wrongness and is super duper REALLY wrong.

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Omg, has the vaccination = autism link not been disproved enough times for these people?

No. And it never will be.

Hey! I have asperger syndrome (a mild form of autism) and it had nothing to do with vaccination. It just pops out of nowhere, that's my I say, simple as that.

Not, I think, out of nowhere. My entire family is either autistic (my grandfather) or part of (I do believe, based on knowing these people) the broader autistic phenotype.

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Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are virtually non-existent in Amish villages.

What are the main causes of death then, for Amish people, since heart disease, cancer (and stroke) are the top three killers in the rest of the Western world? Do they just die of 'old age'? :roll:

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It is worth pointing out that anyone can write anything on the internet (or in print, for that matter, if they can get someone to print it or if they self-print/distribute like the Pearls do). There is no magical-somewhere-overseer that checks for truth.

And for every idiot thing that is written, there are at least a few idiots who will believe it.

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And here is just one tiny snapshot of what is a HUGE problem among the Amish, due to extensive intermarriage.

http://www.genomenewsnetwork.org/articl ... 3/sids.php

And another

http://www.clinicforspecialchildren.org/CSC/Home.html

(Links not broken- they won't care).

Unfortunately, I could create a long list of such sites. I have a close professional colleague who worked in the field of genetic disorders among the Amish for several years before coming to work in my area.

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Also saw on fb this morning. Frusrated for all the same reasons posted here.

Even tried to point out that the Amish are a socially and genetically distinct population, and there are a myriad reasons why autism may not be prevalent among them, or why it may not be *diagnosed* as often, having nothing to do with vaccination. But no. Big Pharma is all about the money and is intentionally destroying the health of Americans by pushing vaccines. That is clearly the only possible, logical conclusion. :roll:

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The people who could be a huge force in advocating for their children are stuck at this roadbump. It's actually kind of sad. The friend I pulled the quote from is desperate to help her daughter and has done wonderful things for her. The girl is so much more capable than doctors ever said she would be because her mother does therapeutic things all day. That kind of energy could be really powerful if it were unleashed into advocacy for finding a cause and a cure.

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Nothing will ever convince the anti-vax crowd that vaccines aren't of TEH EVUL. It's full-on, fundie-style belief with them.

ETA: I'm very vocal about this issue not to convince the anti-vax crowd, but to educate those who aren't aware of the issue or are unsure. I think it's important to counter false information when you encounter it.

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I posted a reply that was highly critical. I feel like a meanie because she is a really sweet woman and I lurve her to death, but I was worried that other people would see the article and think it was legit.

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Amish are not prone to heart disease, DM and cancer? News to me. :) We have a sizable Amish population where I live and it's pretty common knowledge that while their lifestyle keeps them fit in their younger years, once they reach a certain age, they tend to gain weight and acquire the same problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

FWIW, we also have a tertiary comprehensive pediatrics hospital here and we get a TON of Amish people. The Amish tend to intermarry and that can lead to rare genetic diseases. I wouldn't say the Amish is healthier than the general population. They merely predisposition to different set of diseases.

I'd also say that autism amongst the Amish is probably under diagnosed because behavior problems are not always seen as "medical" issues. We don't see many Amish treated for depression or bipolar, most likely because they are reluctant to seek psychiatric help. That doesn't mean depression is nonexistent within the Amish.

Someone should tell the writer that causation does not equal correlation. I like to see some regression analysis before making such broad medical assumptions. After all, we practice evidence based medicine in this country. :P

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I posted a reply that was highly critical. I feel like a meanie because she is a really sweet woman and I lurve her to death, but I was worried that other people would see the article and think it was legit.

You're not a meanie if someone reads the conversation and decides to protect their child from measles. No amount of sweetness makes up for endangering the lives of children.

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You're not a meanie if someone reads the conversation and decides to protect their child from measles. No amount of sweetness makes up for endangering the lives of children.

This! The worst part to me is that when they choose not to vaccinate, they are making the choice to potentially endanger others who may not be able to get the vaccinations.

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I often wonder if my and my daughter's conditions - and my mother's odd ones as well - came from the old order mennonites that my mother's father and my father's mother both left. It's pretty distilled in my daughter, but still.

From what I know of these people - being second generation born "out" it's not extensive, but I've been around them enough, they would not recognize autism in many cases. Johnny is just slow, Mary is just ferhoodled.

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This! The worst part to me is that when they choose not to vaccinate, they are making the choice to potentially endanger others who may not be able to get the vaccinations.

Or those for whom vaccinations don't take. Yes, like everything else, vaccinations have a failure rate, and some wear off over time. (The anti-vaxers are always excessively shocked by this. Every time there's a measles outbreak, they take perverse delight in pointing out how many of the sickened had been vaccinated. But if 90% of the population is vaccinated, you expect to see some of the sick from the vaccinated population!)

From what I know of these people - being second generation born "out" it's not extensive, but I've been around them enough, they would not recognize autism in many cases. Johnny is just slow, Mary is just ferhoodled.

Well, sure. And it's not necessarily a bad thing if the kids are still able to function in the community. I'm not one to go "Oh, wow, all these diagnoses sure are silly!", but often they're only useful if you need them to get services.

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I have a friend who has a brother who is autistic and she and her family believe that vaccines often cause it. It irks me. There was a frontline special about it and I posted my thoughts after watching and she basically launched into this whole argument about it. The thing that bothers me most is that they've basically proven that the man who conducted the study that originally made this conclusion had a very skewed, biased sample and was hunting for these results. Yet, still people seem to hold it as a legit theory. Here's a link to a story on the Dr. and the study.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/hea ... 859560.ece

Also, a lot of these viruses still exist. Would they prefer to buy mini coffins for their children instead?

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Johnny is just slow, Mary is just ferhoodled.

never heard that word before...i love it! :D i shall have to insert it into my own vocab...

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The original study by Andrew Wakefield was retracted by the Lancet (the medical journal that published the original study). There is no proof that vaccines cause autism. In fact, there are numerous studies that they do not cause autism. I don't understand why people continue to believe a "celebrity" (Jenny McCarthy) over medical professionals....

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I have a friend who has a brother who is autistic and she and her family believe that vaccines often cause it. It irks me. There was a frontline special about it and I posted my thoughts after watching and she basically launched into this whole argument about it. The thing that bothers me most is that they've basically proven that the man who conducted the study that originally made this conclusion had a very skewed, biased sample and was hunting for these results. Yet, still people seem to hold it as a legit theory. Here's a link to a story on the Dr. and the study.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/hea ... 859560.ece

Even worse, since that article came out, examination of his data shows that not only did he have to skew his findings to get the results he claimed, he had to outright LIE in some cases. But the believers are just that -- believers. It's a thing of faith, not science, with them.

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The Amish don't get vaccines, the Amish don't get sickle cell anemia, therefore vaccines must cause sickle cell anemia!!

Nobel committee, please forward meh prize to [email protected]. Txs.

Zsu posted a link to this on the PPs wall.

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