Monday, April 28, 2008

From the Concord Monitor

The Monitor ran a very nice profile yesterday of Kathleen Seidel, a Peterborough woman whose energy and activism have thrust her into the middle of a raging debate on the causes of autism.
Seidel's website,, is a clearinghouse for autism-related literature, and her attached weblog has become the site of an impassioned and thoroughly researched campaign against a group of scientists and lawyers who promote the theory that childhood vaccines cause the developmental disorder.

For Seidel, who guards her family's privacy but says she has a child with an autism spectrum diagnosis, the scientific evidence disputing their claims is overwhelming. A series of conclusive reports from government scientists have found no connection between autism and a mercury-based preservative once contained in vaccines. And Seidel said that her own family's experience has further cemented her belief that the disorder has a strong genetic component.

I first heard of Seidel's work through the website Overlawyered, when she was subpoenaed in an ongoing lawsuit that had nothing to do with her. Fortunately, the subpoena was quashed, and Seidel continues to update her website and blog, Neurodiversity. I don't know Mrs. Seidel, but I do admire her hard work on this issue.

A very good friend of mine has a son with severe autism. Some of the increase in autism cases nationally is surely due to more borderline cases being diagnosed, but I don't think this can explain the entire increase. I don't know whether it stems from environmental or genetic causes, and neither does anyone else. And finding that cause is the surest path to finding a way to prevent future cases.

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