AUTISM: THE EPIDEMIC?
By Kent Erdahl
AUTISM: THE EPIDEMIC?Autism is now the fastest growing childhood impairment in the country, affecting one in 150 children according to the latest CDC report. One Iowa mom has made it her mission to do something about it.
Life has been full of appointments for Lin Wessels and her son Sam but each one has become a little easier since doctors made a dreaded diagnosis three and a half years ago.
“(The doctor) said we have your diagnosis and it is autism,” Lin says. “And I was choking back the tears and I said to her, ‘So now what?’ And she said, ‘So now you need to go out and educate yourself on your son’s condition.'”
Lin did just that, learning ways to work with Sam on his physical, sensory and social development. But despite Sam’s progress, she grew frustrated with the lack of research and political attention paid to why autism cases are increasing. So like many other Iowans, she decided to take sam to meet some presidential candidates.
“Sam posed the same question to each candidate,” Lin says. “‘How will you help me and all the others like me? I have autism.'”
Lin is asking candidates to look into a connection between autism and a preservative in vaccines containing mercury. Sam tested positive for mercury poisoning this summer, but the connection has yet to be proven medically.
“I don’t believe it’s the only cause of Autism I believe it’s a major factor,” Lin says.
Because of her belief, Lin asked other parents of autistic children to send her their mercury test results in hopes of sharing them all with Senator John McCain on a trip through her hometown of Rock Rapids.
“Senator McCain promised to help all those with Autism,” Lin says. “He promised to help find the cause. We are holding him to his word.”
The day after Lin put out a request she had 30 lab results from parents across the country, and within ten days time she had 208 from 35 states.
“They want their government to know this is my child and this happened to my child,” Lin says. “So I became their spokesperson.”
On October 26th, Lin, the spokesperson, stood and asked Senator McCain for one more appointment.
“Would you commit to meeting with a special task force of parents such as myself?” Lin asked. “Anywhere, any time, you name the place, we’ll be there.”
“Yes ma’am and I will do it at your convenience either here or Washington D.C. or some other geographic location that is most convenient for the people that you want me to meet with,” McCain responded.
That appointment is now official, Lin Wessels and a group of parents are scheduled to meet with Senator McCain in Washington on November 20th.
Seven states, including Iowa, have passed laws banning that mercury based preservative, known as thimerosal. It is not banned in Minnesota or South Dakota.