Monday, April 04, 2011

Autism Awareness Week Kicks Off With Misleading Headlines and Reporting

Autism awareness week kicks off today (and April is autism awareness month), and media outlets are scrambling for content to fill their health segments. However, the accuracy of those reports isn't what it should be.

All too often, they are including references to the debunked vaccine-autism link, which was peddled by Andrew Wakefield, and that continues to guide parents into making poor health care choices for their children. Such was the case with WPIX Channel 11's segment today, which referred to the autism-vaccine link in passing, but then went on to get comments from Autism Speaks, which does not support that bogus claim.

Other reports highlight studies that found that various drug therapies have shown to have little to no effect, but downplay the fact that intensive behavioral therapies have shown to be effective in many cases.

All this information ends up being even more confusing for parents who are coping with children who have autism-spectrum disorders. Parents will frequently turn to the Internet for information and guidance, and that's where the junk science really does its damage where opinions substitute themselves for facts.

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