Local group raises autism awarness

April 2, 2008 5:13:07 PM PDT
April 2, 2008 is the first world Autism Awareness Day.

The United Nations created the day to bring attention to the brain disorder that affects millions around the world.

In the Triangle, there's a group leading the effort for change. They're pushing lawmakers on the state and federal level to raise awareness about autism. Amy Carson is co-founder of the group, Moms Against Mercury. Carson divides her time caring for her 11-year-old son ,Kit, who has autism, and rallying lawmakers for safer vaccines.

"I am 100 percent convinced my sons autism was vaccine induced," said Carson. "I believe the mercury was the catalyst and the live viruses in the vaccines pushed him over the edge."

Many experts say there is no evidence to support mercury based preservatives in vaccines causes autism- a developmental disability that affects a person's ability to communicate an interact- but, Carson believes otherwise. In May, she'll lobby state senators to pass a bill for mercury free vaccines. House bill 431 has already cleared the house in a 100 to 7 vote.

"The best outcome would be for them to put into law that no infants, children, or pregnant women would receive mercury containing vaccines," said Carson. "There's also a unique provision on our bill that if you are to be given a mercury containing vaccine, that they have to provide informed consent. They have to tell you they're going to inject you with a very powerful neurotoxin."

In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control found 1 in every 150 children in America has autism and 1 in every 94 boys. That's a significant increase, but, experts say those high numbers have also pushed research forward.

"It's probably appropriate on this autism day to point this out," explained UNC autism researcher and professor Dr. Joseph Piven. "The field has been transformed, I think, by the advocacy groups largely driven by parents and grand parents that have children with autism. And pushing for legislation to put money into research, they have dramatically elevated the amount of research going on."

Dr. Piven says the recent increased awareness about autism has led to more research money and better understanding from research worldwide.

"We don't have specific causes that explain all of autism," explained Piven. "But, we have more and more data that are supporting the importance of genetic causes. And, that's not to the exclusion of possible environmental components, but the genetics is important."

There is no cure for autism, but, treatments help. And until researchers find out exactly the cause, parents like Amy Carson plan to continue pushing for answers and change.

For more info:
www.autismspeaks.org
www.momsagainstmercury.org
www.autism-society.org


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