Emily Willingham

I am a scientist, writer, and editor, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Biology, and an autism parent. I've also contributed to the anthology, Gravity Pulls You In: Perspectives on Parenting Children on the Autism Spectrum, and am the science editor at the wonderful autism resource, the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. You can find more of my writing at my personal blog, A Life Less Ordinary, where I write about parenting, working, worrying, science, writing, and autism, and at my science blog, The Biology Files, where I write about...well, science. My work also has appeared in national and regional publications, including Backpacker, Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine, and the Austin-American Statesman. My passions are my family, writing, science, history, Victorian literature, and learning something new every day. 

Birth Control Heats Up As A National Issue--But Where Are the Women?

It’s time for a birth control lesson, ladies. Are you with me? ...more
Just imagine if this were men under discussion: ...more

When Medicating Kids Goes Very, Very Wrong

"I want you to consider taking some anti-anxiety medication. As in, tomorrow." I thanked her sincerely, told her I'd look into it, and left the medical center. I'd appreciated that quiet two-hour break from my computer and household chaos, even with the blood draws and chest x-rays. That was four months ago, and I still haven't taken the recommended medication, despite advice from both friends and professionals to do so. Why am I hesitant? Because it was my son's horrible reaction to anti-anxiety medication that helped land me in that clinic....more
We decided against Zoloft for our OCD, anxiety-riddled middle son because I asked several ...more

Is it Still a Family Vacation Without My Autistic Son?

When we told people we were spending a week on a summer family vacation with our girls -- but without our son Leo, who has high-octane autism, responses varied. The best reactions stayed positive without dwelling on the details of our abandonment: "Wow, that sounds like fun, all that time in the San Juan Islands!" More well-intentioned reactions stoked my already-raging guilt-fires: "Well, you know, those girls really deserve a break, and so do you -- it's about time you had a regular family vacation."...more
Everybody needs to ditch a constant in their lives and have a vacation from it. Spouses, ...more

Would You Give Your Child An Autism-Be-Gone Pill?

As Autism Awareness Month nears its end, I thought it would be a good idea to feature a post that poses a question I've seen debated about various disabilities and issues: If you could give your a child a pill to rid them of autism... would you? Jill of Yeah. Good Times. shares her take on the question at hand. ...more

A couple of times. ...more

New Study on Working Mothers Misses the Truth Behind What Kids Eat

Really? Wow. What sort of policy would that be? Would we have Congress mandate all parents need to be home by 5:30 pm in order to get dinner on the table? Or maybe we would lobby the Senate to put forth a bill requiring parents to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. I'm just going to say what I think most parents, if not people in general, are thinking, "Give me a break!" We need policies alright, but it's not the parents who need the help, it's our country. I'm not an economist, but it doesn't take an economist to know we're in a slump here. Money is tight. Fast food is cheap. ...more

it was also how the news media presented it. I blogged this one a while back, and one of the ...more

The "Elaborate Fraud" Linking Autism to Vaccines

It's about time. Researcher Andrew Wakefield's 1998 MMR study -- which kicked off a decade of misplaced fears about vaccines causing autism before the study was officially retracted -- has been declared an "elaborate fraud" by the British Medical Journal (BMJ). I fully hope that, as BMJ's editors asserted, "Clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare," because when the public's faith in vaccines wavers and vaccination rates decline, children fall ill from vaccine-preventable diseases, and some of them die. ...more

are not different strains of "the same varicella virus." They are each a type of herpesvirus, ...more

Another Thing to Worry About? Closely Spaced Second Sibs at Greater Autism Risk

A study coming out in the respected journal Pediatrics reports that second children born soon after their older siblings are at a higher risk of developing autism, a developmental difference or disorder characterized in general by social and communication deficits. Note that even with the increased risk, the overall risk of autism even for these second siblings is still quite small. ...more

As I noted, this is only a mathematic association, not a demonstration of cause-effect. It ...more

Another Thing to Worry About? Closely Spaced Second Sibs at Greater Autism Risk

A study coming out in the respected journal Pediatrics reports that second children born soon after their older siblings are at a higher risk of developing autism, a developmental difference or disorder characterized in general by social and communication deficits. Note that even with the increased risk, the overall risk of autism even for these second siblings is still quite small. ...more

this study is indeed to be taken with a large dose of caution. It's just a mathematic ...more

The "Elaborate Fraud" Linking Autism to Vaccines

It's about time. Researcher Andrew Wakefield's 1998 MMR study -- which kicked off a decade of misplaced fears about vaccines causing autism before the study was officially retracted -- has been declared an "elaborate fraud" by the British Medical Journal (BMJ). I fully hope that, as BMJ's editors asserted, "Clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare," because when the public's faith in vaccines wavers and vaccination rates decline, children fall ill from vaccine-preventable diseases, and some of them die. ...more

That entrenched mindset won't change, but hoping that the change in tides will wash over those ...more

The "Elaborate Fraud" Linking Autism to Vaccines

It's about time. Researcher Andrew Wakefield's 1998 MMR study -- which kicked off a decade of misplaced fears about vaccines causing autism before the study was officially retracted -- has been declared an "elaborate fraud" by the British Medical Journal (BMJ). I fully hope that, as BMJ's editors asserted, "Clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare," because when the public's faith in vaccines wavers and vaccination rates decline, children fall ill from vaccine-preventable diseases, and some of them die. ...more

around--recent outbreaks in Africa, for example--and it is literally a plane ride away from ...more