Immunizations and Autism?

In my personal opinion, the argument that vaccines cause autism is tenuous, at best. The CDC had a list of studies done, and most declared there to be little to no association between vaccines and autism.

I personally think the number of reported cases of autism is on the rise not necessarily because there are more cases. I think it is because as more is being learned about the disease, more childhood disabilities that previously had no name are being classified as "autism spectrum disorder" if they bear any similarities at ALL to the developing definition of autism. It's done all the time. If there's no name for a specific condition, doctors call it what it most resembles until a better solution comes along. There are also levels within the autism diagnosis. There are a number of autistic people who are high-functioning in society, some so high-functioning that one may not even realize that they are clinically described as "autistic." I don't think the number of cases of autism is more severe than it was a few years ago.

I also think what everyone needs to remember is that correlation does NOT equal causation. No study can prove that vaccines cause autism because it's extremely complicated to control for genetics, environmental factors, and countless other outside influences that would mess with the results of the study. The best scientists can do is prove there is a correlation between vaccines and autism. But, I think that if you try hard enough, you can find correlation between any two things, so in my mind, correlation isn't a very strong argument.

With my neurological background, I'm more likely to accept that autism is CAUSED by early problems in the development of the brain and its intraconnections. I specifically liked a quote I found on Wikipedia (that was found in a Neuroscience scientific journal...I wouldn't use unsubstantiated quotes, people!) that said, "Autism appears to result from developmental factors that affect many or all functional brain systems, and to disturb the timing of brain development more than the final product." Those problems may be exacerbated by vaccines, but in my opinion, children that develop autism already had a biological propensity for it.

This may sound harsh, but I think in many ways vaccines have become a scapegoat on which parents can blame their childrens' autism. I can imagine how devastating it would be for a parent to discover his or her child has such a difficult condition. According to my limited knowledge of human nature, it seems that people experiencing a painful event initially want to blame it on someone or something rather than accept that it may have been caused by random chance or sometimes even their own choices. In addition, it seems that parents of children with disorders caused by genetics often feel guilty, since it was THEIR genetics that caused their child's disorder. It's easier and less painful to place the blame somewhere else.

I know this is a sensitive subject. This is the conclusion to which I've arrived after doing my own research and thinking about the issue myself. I reiterate what I said in my last post: parents have the right to choose what is best for themselves and their children. For me and my children, I feel the benefits of immunizations outweigh the risks. I urge every parent to develop an opinion on this and any other issue relating to the health and well-being of his/her children.


Why I Immunize My Child

I was thinking about the controversy over immunizing children.

I've read online that there was a recent episode of Law and Order: SVU where a mother who chose not to immunize her child was on trial for murder. Her child was exhibiting symptoms of measles, and another child (one too young to receive the MMR vaccine) was exposed and subsequently died. This episode has caused an uproar on many "mommy" discussion boards, from both the pro-immunization and anti-immunization camps. (Incidentally, I believe the mother was found "not guilty" on this episode.) Anti-immunization mommies are furious (and rightly so) that not vaccinating their children can brand them as "murderers". Many pro-immunization mommies are lauding the episode for bringing a "dangerous choice" out into the open.

Here's my opinion: a mother has every right to choose what she thinks is best for her children. If she makes the decision to decline immunizations for her children, good for her. It's none of my business to tell her how to raise her children. That episode should not have highlighted such a controversy in such a one-sided way. If you ask me, the problem was not that the mother chose not to vaccinate her child. The problem was that the mother didn't keep her SICK CHILD HOME. Mothers, if your child is sick, vaccinated or non-vaccinated, show some common sense and keep him/her at home! I promise to do the same with my sick children.

I am driven in all of my medical choices by a concept in Moroni 7:12 : "Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God." In my mind, anything created with the purpose to increase the health or longevity of an individual or reduce the pain or suffering of an individual is a good thing, and therefore has been inspired by God (this is a sweeping generalization, obviously--I'm sure there are many things that appear to be "good" but, in fact, aren't. This is where personal revelation comes in). I believe most medical professionals honestly have the best interests of their patients in mind and can receive inspiration from above when treating their patients. I've been extremely fortunate--all of the doctors I've visited have been excellent, and I've never felt the need to doubt their judgment or recommendations. If I did feel that need, I wouldn't hesitate to make my voice heard. The bottom line is, I reserve the right to make my own choices regarding my health care and that of my family. I just happen to choose to trust medical professionals who have my and my family's best interests at heart. This doesn't make me uninformed or naive. It doesn't make me a sheep.

Kyle has received all of the recommended immunizations at the recommended ages. I believe immunizations were created to reduce the occurrence of debilitating diseases, and to me, that is a good thing. I will probably choose to immunize all of my other children as well. To me, the benefits outweigh the risks.


I saw this list on Facebook a while back, and I was curious to see how I measured up.

The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. I've put an "x" after the ones I've read, a "p" for books I've read parts of or started, and a "w" after the ones I've thought about reading before seeing this list.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (x)
2. The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien ( )
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (x)
4. Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling (x)
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (x)
6. The Bible - (x)
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (x)
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell (w)
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman ( )
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (w)
11. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott (x)
12. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy (x)
13. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller (w)
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare (p)
15. Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier ( )
16. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien (x)
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk ( )
18. Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger (w)
19. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger ( )
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot (w)
21. Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell (w)
22. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald (x)
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens ( )
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy (w)
25. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (w)
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh ( )
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky (x)
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck (x)
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (x)
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (w)
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (x)
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens (w)
33. Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis (p):
34. Emma - Jane Austen (x)
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen (x): This is actually my favorite of Austen's novels.
36. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis (x)
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini (w)
38. Captain Corelli's Mandolin- Louis de Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden (w)
40. Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne (w)
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell (x)
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (x)
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez ( )
44. A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving ( )
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins ( )
46. Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery (w)
47. Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy ( )
48. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood ( )
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding (x)
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan (w)
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel ( )
52. Dune - Frank Herbert ( )
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons (w): I didn't even know this was a book! I've seen the movie, and I love it, though.
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen (x)

55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth ( )
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon ( )
57. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (w)
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley (w)
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime - Mark Haddon ( )
60. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (w): I've always wanted to read this, because it's the book Kate Beckinsale writes her phone number inside in the movie Serendipity.
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (w): We were supposed to read it in 11th grade English, but my class moved at a snail's pace and we never had time for it.

62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov ( )
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt ( )
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (x)
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas (w)
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac (w)
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy (w): I bought this book at BYU at a bookstore sale, but I've never gotten around to opening it.
68. Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding (w)

69. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie ( )
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville (w)
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens (w)
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker (w)
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (x)
74. Notes from a Small Island - Bill Bryson ( )
75. Ulysses - James Joyce ( )
76. The Inferno - Dante (w)
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome ( )
78. Germinal - Emile Zola ( )
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray (w)
80. Possession - A.S. Byatt ( )
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (x)
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell ( )
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker (w)
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro ( )
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert (w)
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry ( )
87. Charlotte's Web - E.B. White (x)
88. The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom ( )
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle (w)
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton ( )
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (w)
92. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery (w)
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks ( )
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams (w)
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole ( )
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute ( )
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas (w)
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare (x)
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (x)
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo (p): I started it once, but it's a SLOW starter!

So, I've read 27, started/read part of 3, and wanted to read 36. Not too shabby. It sounds like I need to go to the library, though.


Words, Words

I've been thinking lately about toddler communication. Kyle is in a stage right now where he repeats almost everything we say (which can be good or bad...Cole recently taught Kyle how to say "boobs", much to my chagrin.), and his vocabulary seems to have increased substantially because of it. Here's a run-down of his basic vocabulary these days:

-Mommy: Still somewhat infrequent. He tends to call me Mama most of the time.
-Daddy: What he says most frequently these days
-Papa: His name for my dad
-Ma-Mah: The first "a" is short, the second long. This is what he calls my mom.
-kitty: He says the "k" sound as a "t" though, so it sounds like "tee-tee".
-"dut": This means "truck" in Kyle-speak. He usually whispers it whenever he sees a truck, toy or otherwise.
-"nanee": I'm pretty sure this is what he calls his blanket. I guess it kinda sounds like "blankie".
-no: Another word courtesy of Cole. He actually says "no, no, no, no" and shakes his finger at me/Cole/the cat/whoever.
-"oh no"
-"help me"
-yeah: He says this more like a two-syllable word: "ye-yah".
-"ya-ya": This means water. It evolved from "ye-yah".
-football: This is his newest word. Cole taught it to him this morning.
-up: Usually whispered and drawn out. It sounds pretty scary, actually, when he says it.
-down/done: These two sound mostly the same. It's because we usually ask him if he's done/wants down after he eats at the table.
-cheese: Usually accompanied by a cheesy grin for a picture.
He still signs "please", "thank-you", "eat", "milk", and "banana".

What amazes me is how well he communicates despite having such a small vocabulary. It's typically very clear what he wants. :) I love to teach him new words--it's so cute to hear him talk!

And, since picture-less posts are boring, here's a couple pictures of my boys at the park.

Cole found some sticks and the boys were furiously sword-fighting.

Kyle stopped to give me a cheesy grin. I had to make fun of Cole for this picture--it looks like he's about to beat Kyle with that stick (he wasn't really...I promise!)


Likely to Spark Controversy

I heard about this story yesterday.

Miss California Carrie Prejean, an apparent "shoo-in" for the Miss USA title, gave a controversial answer to a question regarding gay marriage. Rather than be a crowd-pleaser, she answered honestly, staying true to her personal convictions. She said,

"We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."

Now, she (along with many others, I'm sure) is wondering if this response cost her the title. Perez Hilton (the homosexual judge who read the question to Miss California) certainly thinks it did. I'm inclined to agree, and I have only one thing to say to the Miss USA program:


From what I read on the Miss USA website, the interview portion of the competition is for the judges to learn about the "successes, goals, and ambitions" of each contestant. To me, this means posing questions similar to those found in job interviews, i.e. "tell me about a time where you worked in a group to achieve a goal" or the like. You know, questions that give some insight to someone's character. Asking politically and morally charged questions does not give any insight into the "successes, goals, and ambitions" of a person. The only information it gives about a person is their personal opinion on a controversial subject. If our character is defined by our political opinions, we're all in a lot of trouble. Additionally, I think Miss California is an excellent example of strong character. She was obviously aware that her response would be unpopular, yet she didn't change her convictions to fit what the judges and the crowd wanted to hear. That's the kind of conviction that a person in the public eye needs to have.

Second, does anyone else find it suspicious that a homosexual judge "randomly" selected the question about gay marriage? Sure, maybe it WAS total coincidence. Maybe the moon is made of cheese. Incidentally, I found this comment on this story from a gentleman who is a self-described "non-religious conservative who has no problem with gay marriage":

PS…why exactly is a gay man judging a female beauty contest???? Isn’t that like having a vegan judge a BBQ cookoff?

I'm sure the producers of the pageant were looking for ways to boost viewing, but I think this went too far. The pageant is getting exposure at the cost of a young woman who is now being labeled a bigot. Do I think she could have worded her response a little better? Sure. She was on live television and was required to give an answer to a controversial question on the spot. I doubt there are many of us who could answer such a question with even a modicum of poise (Look at Miss Teen South Carolina, for example). However, she gave her answer with confidence and conviction in her position. I think she would have been a strong representative for the United States.

I'm not sure I want to live in a country where a woman is booed for expressing her personal opinion on an issue, no matter how unpopular it may be.


Kyle: The Big 1-8 (month, that is)!

Crazy how time flies! My little man is already 18 months! You know what that means...


I dropped him off on Sunday, and he seemed to be doing okay...kinda shy, but still, not screaming...so I left and went to Sunday School. Cole ran out to get his scriptures from the car...and he came back with a sniffling Kyle. Obviously Kyle wasn't that comfortable. So, I got to go to nursery, too!

Once Kyle figured out that he got snacks and he got to play with toys, he did better. I stuck around, though, just in case. It seemed like all of the other kids were light-years ahead of him developmentally, so I felt a little embarassed--apparently he wasn't as smart as I thought! Fortunately, I found out that our ward has 3 nurseries (3!) and I had brought him to the one full of almost-3-year-olds, so naturally he would be a little behind. Next week we'll take him to the right nursery, and I'm sure he'll fit right in.

Today, we took him for his 18 month check-up. He's 32 inches tall and weighs a whopping 23.5 pounds! Well, we're not that sure on the weight. He wouldn't really sit still on the scale, but we figured it's somewhere between 23 and 24 pounds. So, my child is a string bean. The doctor said he's really happy with how Kyle is growing, and that Kyle is healthy as a horse, so we're happy about that.

Kyle's cutest new thing: when we're taking pictures of him and we tell him to "say cheese", he actually obliges, and favors us with a cheesy grin, like so:

Kyle's not-so-cutest thing: he seems to have embraced his inner monkey. At the playground at our condo complex, he thinks he's big enough to climb up the ladder all by himself, like so:
*sigh* He's growing way too fast!


**Cue Choir of Heavenly Angels**

Today is a beautiful day.

Last night, my trusty pink RAZR flip phone gave up the ghost. How? Well, it had an unfortunate collision with my kitchen floor that proved to be more than it could handle. Somehow the wires providing power to the display screen were torn loose, so even though it still turned on and functioned, I couldn't see a thing. It happened right in the middle of texting my brother (sorry, Daniel!).

I was devastated. Ok, not totally. You see, it was pretty beat up already. I have an uncanny knack for beating the crap out of my phones. I'm surprised this one lasted nearly 2 years. Its predecessor met its untimely end in a freak accident involving a wad of papers crammed in a ginormous purse and an inconveniently placed cup of water...and I had only owned that one for a month or two. My RAZR had some pretty good dents and scrapes, but it stuck with me.

Anyway, I was just about due for an upgrade, which I have been looking forward to with quite a bit of excitement. Since my birthday was yesterday, my wonderful hubby told me he'd stop by the store and pick up a new one for me instead of make me wait another two weeks until I could upgrade. When he came to get me for lunch, there it was, in all of its brand-spanking-new glory:

Yes, folks, I'm (almost) up with the times. I am now the owner of a lovely BlackBerry Pearl 8120 in a gorgeous, frosty, light blue. I'm like a kid with a brand-new toy after Christmas. Good thing I don't have anything to do at work this afternoon: I have to figure out how to use the dang thing.
***UPDATE*** Since all of my phone numbers were saved to my RAZR instead of my SIM card (I'm a total idiot!) I lost all of my numbers. If anyone feels particularly strongly about me having his/her phone number, e-mail it to jessica.christensen@live.com so I can have it.


What's On My Mind...

--Why can't we be friends?
--Men gossip just as much as women do; they just don't get caught as much. Perhaps it's because it's done during activities like shooting or fishing or hunting...the manliness of the activity masks the true purpose of men getting together: to gossip like old biddies.
--Families sometimes are our worst enemies.
--Parents should love their children unconditionally. Sure, they can hate their kids' actions, but they should NEVER let their children believe they aren't loved or appreciated.
--Everyone deserves respect. Everyone should expect respect from others, ESPECIALLY the ones they love and who love them.
--Children should not be pitted against one another. They shouldn't have to fight for the love or approbation of their parents.
--No matter what anyone says, anger almost always masks upset feelings. You don't get angry about something unless it affects you deeply on a personal level.
--It's IMPOSSIBLE to apologize to someone unless you know what you've done. Otherwise, it's insincere. "I'm sorry for whatever I did to hurt you" just doesn't cut it, and I won't ever do it.
--Everyone deserves to be forgiven for their mistakes, especially if they are remorseful for them. Families should forgive each other.
--One should NEVER completely cut his/herself off from a family member without warning or reason.
--Families are forever, but they never tell you how HARD it can be.


Quick Update

--Still love our new place.
--General Conference is this weekend. I LOVE General Conference.
--I've actually been busy at work because of General Conference. We're the closest hotel to Temple Square, so everyone and their HUGE families stay with us in addition to most of the General and Area Authorities from out of the state/country. It can be a logistical nightmare to get everyone rooms where they want to be, and it's my job to experience that nightmare. I think we'll manage, though (fingers crossed).
--Kyle has a new word: "apple". Not sure where he picked this up; he doesn't really like eating apples.
--T-minus 1 Sunday (not counting Conference Sunday) until Kyle goes to nursery. Wahoo!
--Still sick of the snow. Fortunately, we don't get as much out in our neck of the woods.

That is all.
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