I am writing today as the parent of a child with autism to express my anger and disbelief over your headline and article on page 4 of the 530 News titled “Research Finally Reveals What Causes Autism and Parents Can’t Believe It.” First and foremost, the headline is offensive. The cause of autism has definitely NOT been proven, and although research is being done daily, we are still a very long way from a definitive cause, if there even is one. What research is showing is that it is a variety of factors, primarily genetic and environmental. So while it is great that you have an article highlighting the genetic factors contributing to autism, it is NOT the sole cause and to report it as such, as your headline indicates, is very misleading. And as a parent, seeing “faulty” genes in bold print is EXTREMELY hurtful. Secondly, in your very first paragraph you bring up the vaccine debate, which is just flat out irresponsible. Vaccines have been proven safe for the majority of people and DO NOT cause autism. Because a false study was published two decades ago people are now scared to vaccinate their children, resulting in an increase in preventable diseases. In 1998, 7,405 cases of whooping cough were reported in the US compared to 20,762 in 2015. That is the same year a 1-month old infant in Barton County died after contracting that disease, because a well-meaning, yet ill-informed parent choose not to vaccinate their child. DEATH is worse than autism. Finally, I must express how vitally important it is to report accurately on autism. To someone not connected with autism, they read your headline, see “faulty” genes in bold, maybe skim the first paragraph where it talks about toxins in vaccines and not enough maternal love and now in their minds autism is explained. This continues the spread of misinformation and makes my job as a parent and advocate that much harder. Now I have to break through an inaccurate preconceived notion that I am a bad mother with faulty genes, to try and explain that there really is no explanation for why my child is the way she is.
I am fuming mad right now and would like a printed apology. I believe you probably had good intentions, but this headline is absolutely offensive and needs to be retracted in print. If you need information about autism autismspeaks.org or nationalautismassociation.org are two helpful websites. I would also be happy to answer any questions you may have, although my story, my daughter, is just my story. There is a saying that if you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism. We also have many teachers and professionals in our community that would gladly speak with you. I implore you in the future to research what you print first, and for goodness sake do not print clickbait as your headline. You are journalists and are better than that.