Monday, November 21, 2011

Autism and the Amish: part 1

**Disclaimer: I am not a Doctor. I do not have all the facts. I am not trying to cure anything.**

I have done some reading on this, since my curiosity was piqued while watching "Down on the Farm" part of  The Business of Being Born 2.  In the movie Ina May Gaskin made the claim that the Amish do not have Autism and that they have not had a single case of it on The Farm. Some sources I have read state that there is Autism in the Amish communities, but not to the extent of which it is in the rest of the modern world.  It has reached frightening statistics in the US.
We are talking about 1 in 110 are diagnosed nationally with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). 1 in 90 of these are boys.  It is no wonder parents are clambering for any kind of answer. Yet, my question is now. Does it have to do as much with vaccines and environment as it does what happens during pregnancy and birth? In this part, the Amish seem to have the answer since they have few to no cases of it in their communities.

Here are the basics of the Old Order Amish. They don't have electricity, they go by horse and buggy, do not attend public school, do not educate past 8th grade, do not vaccinate,  do not let pictures be taken of them, and they do not talk to us "English". There are some sects of Amish who are more open to modern things, who go as far as to send cards, ride in cars, see modern Doctors, and have farm stands to sell there goods. My mother has bought Amish Doughnuts and other produce from their stands.

So adhering to the standard, the women birth in their homes/beds with no medication, no fetal monitoring. Nothing.
To some this is medieval, to others what happens in hospitals is cruel torture. But if these statics are true, then that speaks louder than words.

To quote out of the first link.

"So far, from sources inside and outside the Amish community, I have identified three Amish residents of Lancaster County who apparently have full-syndrome autism, all of them children.
A local woman told me there is one classroom with about 30 "special-needs" Amish children. In that classroom, there is one autistic Amish child. Another autistic Amish child does not go to school.
The third is that woman's pre-school-age daughter."  The Age of Autism: The Amish anomaly
By Dan Olmsted

3 in a community of hundreds? Thousands? And this is just one community, what is this statistic if we combine all of the communities? This makes autism become that rare odd disease, that genetic blip, rather than something that is becoming prevalent and scaring the living crap out of parents.

 I'm going to say here that I know the Amish do have their own set of issues. Due to the closed nature of their groups, there has been inbreeding and it has brought several genetic issues to the front, explained below.

 "Genetic diseases: Some Amish groups have a very limited gene pool. For example, the vast majority of Amish in Lancaster County, PA, are descendents of about 200 Swiss citizens who emigrated in the mid 1700s. Because they traditionally do not marry outsiders and because few outsiders have joined the order, the "community has been essentially a closed genetic population for more than 12 generations." Thus, intermarriage has brought to the fore certain genetic mutations that were present in the initial genetic pool (as they are in any population), making the Amish host to several inherited disorders.5 These include dwarfism, mental retardation and a large group of metabolic disorders. One in 200 have glutaric aciduria type I; they are born healthy, but can experience permanent neurological damage when a mild illness strikes. From 1988 to 2002, the Clinic for Special Children in Lancaster County, PA, has "encountered 39 heritable disorders among the Amish and 23 among the Mennonites.....For 18 of the disorders seen regularly at the clinic, the incidences are high, approximately 1/250 to 1/500 births6 

I'm not going to run off and become Amish, but apparently there is something to be said for the purity of their birth practices. They could use some fresh genes in their pool, but genetics aside. We are talking about a mysterious disease that is ransacking our children and stealing them away from us. Parents sob daily in Doctor's offices around the country, as their hearts break to hear the word 'Autism' come from the Doctors mouth. Others sink hundred of thousands on care, treatment, hopes, and heartbreak.
This is a modern reality. Yet, if in these communities there is but a blip of Autism. Than that speaks volumes.
 And it goes back to what I said in some of my posts from last year. During our pregnancies, we are told what to eat, what to avoid, what is safe and when we go into labor: it's all out the window. There is no dose monitoring as to what is safe for the infant, as it is also being pumped with whatever is being given to the mother. We are talking medicines that have not been tested to see how they affect infants. Some don't even have a set safe dose, it goes by the Doctor. And then, to have them be exposed to it for hours while the mother is laboring. Is one day of discomfort and pain too much to give for a healthy baby, especially after nine months of carrying a child that is soon to be the center of your world as soon as you two make eye contact.  

Be Aware and be Wary.

The Age of Autism: The Amish anomaly
Myth "The Amish don't have Autism"
Autism in Amish
The Amish
What is Autism | Autism speaks

 I am going to keep delving into this mystery, hence why this is titles 'part 1'

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