It’s been a number of years since I first met the two brothers, Jordan and Samuel. They were as different as two persons could be. Samuel, age 6 at the time, was a gentle, cheerful fellow – easy to smile and easy to talk to. Jordan, 3 years his elder, was retiring and sullen. Communicating with him was challenging at best. And his thin, wiry build was contrasted with the soft, full frame of his younger brother. Reflecting the difference in their constitutional nature, each boy was brought in for quite different reasons. Samuel easily developed respiratory ailments that turned into a bronchitis or asthmatic wheezing. Jordan’s issues were only paritially physical as they had strong emotional and behavioral components.
Recently legislation was introduced in the Vermont legislature that would amend the law regulating vaccinations. Currently, the state permits children entering school to be exempted from vaccinations for medical, religious or philosophical reasons. The bill, Senate 199 and House 527, would revoke the philosophical exemption, forcing parents to either vaccinate or find another means to educate their child. This bill was proposed at the behest of the public health and conventional medical establishments, which invoked the concept of ‘herd immunity’ as a rationale for its implementation. Simply put, it postulates that if enough people in a certain group or community are immunized against a specific disease, then the germ that carries the disease cannot find enough carriers to spread amongst the non-immunized, and presumably outbreaks of the disease disappear.
At an alarming rate there appears to be an increase over the last decade in the number of children diagnosed with severely delayed or otherwise disturbed developmental disorders. Perhaps the most extreme and well known of these is autism, which is characterized by speech difficulties, an inability to develop normal social relationships leading to isolation, compulsive and ritualistic behaviors, and usually an abnormal intelligence.
It was once assumed that because persons suffering with autism generally have poor capacity to communicate and many unusual behaviors their intelligence was subnormal. While some autistics clearly are mentally disabled, this notion largely has been dispelled with the recognition that many autistic persons have quite the opposite: unusually keen intelligence and tremendous creative and/or mental capabilities.