Tag Archives | risks

A bit of fatherly advice

father-childEvery parent’s wish is for their children to have a better life than they did… whether rich, poor, big family or small… we only want our children to get the most out of life, and to do so better than we did before them.

Not everyone has the same advice on how to do that and sometimes we down right disagree with others, that’s fine.

So today, I am writing this for my two boys, Cameron and Tyler:

1. Risks

Through out my life, I’ve had a lot of my ideas pushed aside by family and friends that told me that they’d be too risky to try. Take the safe job, make the safe choice, don’t speak up for yourself or you might lose something…  avoid risk!!

If I could go back, I’d tell myself not to listen to any of them.

Sure, some of those ideas were really bad ideas. Maybe some would have failed. Maybe even all of them.

Maybe some would have succeeded too though.

Either way, it doesn’t matter… because right now, I wouldn’t be regretting having not tried. To at least try means that today, right now, I’d have gained the experience that comes with trying. I’d be one step closer to knowing what things didn’t work which would mean that I’d be one step closer to knowing what will work.

Maybe I’d have really really liked one of those things. Sometimes you never know you love something until you try it. Perhaps I’d have loved one of those things so much that the risk would have been worth doing it… and worth doing it again and again.

2. See things through

For all the things I didn’t try, there were still things that I did try… things that required less risk, or no risk at all. The problem with those things was that I’d never see them through.

I’d start something and lose interest, get distracted by life or simply be unable to finish due to my own short comings. What does that mean? It means I didn’t push myself hard enough to know how or to be able to finish what I started.

It is far worse to never finish than it is to fail and end with valuable experience.

3. Embrace the critics, ignore the haters

There is a very big difference between a critic and a hater.

Haters will do their best to tempt you into an argument or to spark your anger. Their jabs have no substance except to incite emotion.

A critic, on the other hand, may be harsh at times, but will offer real observations and sometimes even advice for moving beyond what is revealed in those observations. A critic doesn’t care if you take their criticism or not; or if you get mad or not. They do not speak to anger. They speak to offer criticism. Listen to them. Learn from them.

Critics are the voice of your failures and failures are the experience you take with you when you do something better next time.

4. No one was ever able to stand out by blending in

If there is one thing that school pounds into you, it’s to blend in. Do what everyone else is doing and they might accept you, be different and they will likely laugh or even bully you.

I’m going to tell you a secret that you might not believe until later… school doesn’t matter. The kids at school don’t matter. What you learn at school doesn’t matter. Trying to fit in with all of that will only result in one thing… you won’t matter either.

Be different. Be proud. Stand up and stand out and do it so well that people take notice.

When you think about all of the greatest people in the world, think about what they do to be the greatest. Do they try to do what everyone else is doing or do they try to be different?

Don’t worry about better or worse. Because you will be worse. But you will also be better. That isn’t what it’s important. It’s not always the best that stand out. It’s not always the best that are remembered.

Just be who you are and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you need to blend in. You do not need to blend in. Not in school. Not ever.

5. Don’t let fear stop you

Dads aren’t supposed to be afraid of anything, but we are. We’re afraid of a lot of things. Sometimes the same things that you’re afraid of. The only difference is that it doesn’t let it stop us, or at least, it shouldn’t. But even dads are human.

I’ve let my fear stop me a lot of times. Remember #1? Risks? That’s what I’m talking about. When a risk seems too big, like I might lose a lot… I let my fear get the better of me and I didn’t even try.

There’s nothing wrong with being afraid of the risk. There’s nothing wrong in being afraid of anything. But don’t ever let that fear be what stops you.

Let me put it another way, maybe you’re thinking of doing something really big but the risk in doing it isn’t worth the reward. That’s fine. Don’t do it. You’re smart. That’s entirely different than not doing something because you’re afraid.

There were some things that I was smart to walk away from. Then there were also things I walked away from simply because I was afraid… that’s not smart.

6. Go for what you want

Figure out what you want. Figure out how to get it. And do it. No matter who says not to. No matter what the risks are. No matter how afraid you are. No matter who might be looking and thinking you’re strange for wanting it.

Do it. Do it for me. Do it for yourself.

You’re already a better person than I am. You have a much better life waiting for you than what I had. You just have to step up and do it.

From Dad

I am writing this for both of my sons, Cameron and Tyler.  It doesn’t matter that one has autism and one does not. This advice applies equally.

No two lives are the same, no two journeys are the same. That’s how it is supposed to be, with or without autism.

Do these things that I could not and you will be happy, I will be happy too.

Comments { 2 }

Vaccine Math

vaccine mathAs you may or may not know, I try to avoid this topic but sometimes, for the health of those that are unable to protect themselves, I feel the need to speak up.

Recently I read a news article about how the “Vaccine Mistrust Spreads To The Developing World“, where obviously a news story from a place like Afghanistan can be completely accurate or a total farce. I have no way of verifying any of it.

However, it is very concerning and down right scary to think that people would be choosing to brave Polio than take the (unfounded) risk of Autism, or any of the other associated risks of being vaccinated.

(I included a link to the Polio wikipedia page because I think it’s important to take a minute to recognize just how devastating Polio can really be)

Vaccine Math

Now, this isn’t exactly math so much as a comparison but just follow me on this for a moment:

Your options:

  1. You know that vaccines prevent X, Y and Z… and despite the fear that it may cause Autism, you get your child vaccinated.
  2. You deny vaccinations for your child and now risk contracting X, Y and Z… and despite the fear that it may cause Autism, your child could STILL be Autistic.


  1. Your child may become Autistic.
  2. You now risk contracting X, Y, Z and becoming Autistic PLUS you also put babies, children and others at risk of X, Y, Z that are not yet or unable to be vaccinated.


  1. A child that may become impaired/disabled, with a possibility for life long dependence on a guardian/care provider.
  2. A child that may face illness, life long health issues, neurological impairment/disability, disfigurement, paralysis, death… PLUS, you also put babies, children and others at risk that are not yet or unable to be vaccinated.

The Logic

To me, the logic is pretty straight forward.

I’m not saying that I don’t recognize the rather questionable ingredients that are used… I’m not saying that vaccines couldn’t be safer.

However, to not vaccinate for fear of Autism really makes no sense to me at all. Mostly because even non-vaccinated children can be Autistic. But also because of the HUGE RISK in doing so.

And it’s not just your risk. You put others at risk as well. A baby may not be able to survive a battle with vaccine preventable illnesses… people with weakened immune systems may not be able to survive them either. They are either not yet vaccinated or unable to be vaccinated. They depend on you and I.

Safe Vaccine Advocacy

Being pro vaccine safety is entirely different than being anti-vaccine.

If you push for safer vaccines, I’ll support you. Even vaccine makers can admit that they could be safer.

Safer schedules? I’m no scientist. I can find articles arguing back and forth, from doctors no less, so I’m not in a position to say but I don’t question it so long as the vaccines are still given.

I’ve written about this before, I’ve also taken a stance earlier this year and this post is an extension of that stance.

Not saying something might mean another innocent baby being infected with whooping cough, or further measles outbreaks.

Don’t react emotionally, don’t base life and death decisions on a Youtube video. 

Do the math for yourself and ask yourself, what risks are you really avoiding and more importantly, what risks are you really taking?

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“May increase the risk of autism” studies versus real scientific research

Weird Science

Autism is still very much a mystery, I’m fairly certain that we can all agree on that. Some people may think they have it all figured out (anti-vaccine extremists) but for the most part, everyone admits that there is still a lot to learn.

May Increase The Risk of Autism

As such, study after study seems to hit the news wires with the tag line “may increase the risk of autism” and collectively, the entire autism community rolls their eyes.

Some of these studies in the last year include “Living Near a Highway May Contribute to Autism Risk“, “Jaundice in newborns may be linked to autism“, “Sibling spacing may be tied to autism risk“, “Early Prenatal Vitamin Use Prevents Autism” and the list goes on.

You have to understand how these studies come about. Researchers pick a year, or several years, go back through medical records of children born during those years, determine which ones have been diagnosed with Autism and find something that more than 50% of them have in common.

If they find that 55% of children living close to a highway had Autism, then they can release a news story saying that a study was done that determined that living close to a highway increased the risk.

There’s several problems with this.

  1. They aren’t counting the children that have gone undiagnosed.
  2. A lot of information could be out of date or simply incorrect. Historical records in studies make for a huge margin of error.
  3. When you’re looking for a commonality, you can find virtually anything.

Allow me to clarify #3… let’s say that they could find out if a bird was flying over the house at the moment of conception in 51% of Autism cases. This could result in a study stating that birds flying overhead during sex could increase the risk of Autism.

Luckily, there’s no way they could check that but you know what? It’s possible that it did happen.

Does that mean it really increased the risk? No.

Real Scientific Research

Ah, science. You know, that stuff you see on television where they mix chemicals, dissect and examine the insides of animals and people… you know, science.

The most recent real research to be released states: “Gene Expression in the Brain Offers Clues to Autism’s Roots

This study was done on actual children post mortem (after they died), where they actually opened up and investigate actual brain matter of children with and without Autism.  If you don’t wish to read all of it, here’s the summary:

Working with the brain tissue of youngsters after their death, Geschwind and his team found that compared with nonautistic children, those who had the disorder showed a marked drop in gene expression in two areas of the cerebral cortex, where higher-order processing occurs — the frontal lobe, which plays a role in judgment, creativity, emotion and speech, and the temporal lobe, which is involved in hearing, language and the processing of sounds. These areas have been implicated in autism before.

In addition, Geschwind found that healthy brains showed distinct differences in the level of expression of some 500 genes between the frontal and temporal lobes. But this difference in expression was missing in the autistic brains; the features that would normally distinguish the two regions had disappeared, Geschwind said.

This is actual genetic and scientific proof that the brain of children with Autism are different than those without. Furthermore, it goes on to say:

It turns out that even in the womb, the fetal brain begins to show differences in gene expression between the frontal and temporal lobes, suggesting that the developmental abnormality associated with autism may develop then too.

This suggests that jaundice and vaccines and other “after birth” factors likely have no effect. It does not have much of an effect on other studies that base their focus on the mother during her pregnancy.

Even still, it does show that it is a genetic disorder that is not just something that you can force out of them through discipline or shock therapy.

Some other notable scientific research includes “Early Brain Overgrowth Linked to Autism” and “Researchers Reveal 18 Novel Subtype-Dependent Genetic Variants for Autism Spectrum Disorders“.

Again, looking at real subjects instead of just comparing old data, looking for commonalities.

What do we believe?

I’m not saying that we have to ignore the studies base on researching data and basing conclusions on those findings… those studies have real value and they’re done for a reason. However, as we in the Autism community can see, they seem to be grasping at straws.

It’s a shot in the dark approach at playing with odds in a crap shoot who’s results may or may not be accurate. “May increase” means it might not, and “increase risk” means that there’s still a 0% to 100% chance. That means there are lots of people who’s children have Autism that go against what the conclusion of the study states.

Not very comforting.

However, people that know nothing about Autism nor how these studies are done will read them and base their future pregnancies on that information. They’ll move, they’ll take their vitamins, they’ll make sure not to have a child within a year of the previous one… and their child might still have Autism.

They’ll wonder what they did wrong. As if it was their fault.

I share these studies and stories on Twitter, Facebook and here on this blog because, as I said, it’s valuable information. You and I need to know about them just in case someone asks us “hey, I read on CNN, do you think your child has Autism because you lived close to a highway?” and you’ll need to have an answer because your answer might affect their future decisions, and their future information sharing with others.

Keep in mind though, that maybe some of these studies are right. Maybe the data actually does add up and it does make it more likely that your child will have Autism. Unfortunately, there’s just no real way to know which are wrong and which are right. Just because you and I beat the odds, it doesn’t mean that it didn’t make it more likely. Even though I compare statistical analysis to “real science”, it is real science too.

Until they have definitive proof one way or another, we have to keep an open mind and inform others to keep an open mind. “May increase risk of” is a very very vague statement that is very scary to a lot of people even though it really means not much at all.

Don’t avoid them, don’t avoid the questions and don’t get frustrated with them either. Read them to know them and answer the questions honestly.

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The “Which Would You Rather” Game Is a Very Dangerous Game Indeed

Probably the most prominent example, and the one to start it all off, is Jenny McCarthy’s interview where she says (and I paraphrase as best I can) “Would I rather my son have measles instead of Autism? yes, in a heart beat”.

Granted, measles doesn’t sound so bad so I’d have to agree with her, I think I’d rather my boy be sick for a while, help him get through it for a little while and then go on with his life, instead of having Autism for life.

However, that’s just one of many diseases and viruses that are held back by vaccines…  mumps and rubella aren’t really all that bad either, can be fatal but very rarely. Chances are my boy would just be sick for a while.

What gets me though, is that, in the interview, no one asks her if she’d rather have her child be disfigured or paralysed from polio, no one ever asks her if she’d rather kill someone else’s baby with whooping cough than risk her child having Autism.

Sounds a little harsh, but if you look to California, it’s happening! An outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) is happening right now, today, and it’s killing babies. Why?

Here’s the thing, some parents are convinced, absolutely and completely, that vaccines are causing Autism in children, and therefore are not taking the risk.

Let’s take a look at that risk for a moment, because I think this is where the system breaks down.

If a parent does not vaccinate their child, that child can contract a preventable illness such as whooping cough, and then come into contact with a baby sibling or some other baby, pass along the illness before that baby even has a chance at getting their vaccination and that child could die.

Meanwhile, there’s no guarantee that their child won’t already have Autism despite not being vaccinated! Recently a woman commented on another of my posts about how one mother did not vaccinate, another did, both of their children are Autistic.

This isn’t a debate about whether or not vaccines do cause Autism, it’s about the risk. Taking a risk, avoiding a risk, choosing which risk to take.

Let me put it this way, if you “don’t take the chance” by not vaccinating your child, and he/she turns out to be Autistic anyway AND comes home to infect your newborn baby and that baby dies… not only did you not avoid the risk, you took the ultimate risk and lost both times!

Some of you die hards will say that would never happen but, it can happen. We are seeing it right now. Unvaccinated children are Autistic. Unvaccinated children are dying from preventable diseases!!

The “Which Would You Rather” game is not a game, it’s very…. VERY dangerous.

I understand how watching your child be ‘vaccine injured’ can set you on a path, set you on a mission… however, I can also see how a much bigger tragedy can come of it if not careful. If your child regressing into Autism affected you this much, how much would it affect you if your child got Autism and a baby died at the same time, all because you didn’t vaccinate.

Would you still feel the same? Would your mission be different?

Comments { 5 }