Autism and vaccines: The Controversy

Annie Tanasugarn, PhDc, BCBA CEO/AUTHOR, The Autism Analyst
"Autism Awareness simply means to acknowledge that Autism exists; Acceptance is to acknowledge its value."

The Autism controversy surrounding vaccinations and an increased risk of Autism is not new. For nearly 2 decades, the controversy has been very much in the public eye, resulting in often misinformation and confusion for parents and families.

Let’s face it: Our children are the future! They are the amazingly positive hope that we have for a brighter life, a happier and more functional world that we all share. I lovingly refer to my own children as my “better halves”. So, when parents choose whether or not to vaccinate their child, it is often met with scoffs, gasps and challenges. Schools often won’t admit a kiddo without vaccination records for fear of that child either infecting others, or contracting a disease that vaccinations would otherwise help prevent. And the challenges don’t stop with school. Certain jobs (military, overseas jobs, etc.) often require immunization records for recruits and applicants.

Even President Trump’s tweet a few years ago included anti-vaccination warnings of the link between vaccines and Autism stating, “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!” (Donald J. Trump, March, 2014; courtesy of KTLA news). Now, my point is not to get political. I respect that we all have our own political agenda and our own beliefs and values. My point is to document facts related to Autism in supporting the thousands of families who have reached out to us here at The Autism Analyst, and faithfully tune into our blog.

I want to let the public know this: in 2010, former British doctor, Andrew Jeremy Wakefield was likely the at the center of this controversy with his now-debunked claims that vaccinations cause Autism. For years, I met families that refused – literally refused – to vaccinate their children based on the ramblings of this quack. Luckily, Wakefield’s ramblings were just that: ramblings. He was charged and convicted of fraud in his data that the MMR vaccination caused anything, let alone Autism. Unfortunately, although he lost his title as Doctor, and was laughed out of the medical community, the aftermath of his ramblings are still very much alive, even to this day.

We at The Autism Analyst strive for excellence and truth. We want the millions of parents out there who live with a child with Autism or other special needs to turn to us as a trusted authority; that we present the facts and allow families to make informed decisions regarding their little ones. Parents, vaccinations are a personal choice. Yes, families who choose not to vaccinate often have an uphill battle with admission to schools. Yes, employment can be challenging for certain jobs if vaccination records cannot be provided. Yes, unvaccinated children can be at a higher risk for dangerous infections than vaccinated children.

Here’s what I suggest to all my families considering the pros and cons of vaccinations:

  • Do your research
  • Then….do more research
  • Make sure the information you are reading comes from a validated, reputable source such as medical journals (although they are painfully boring and tough to read). One medical journal that comes highly recommended is the New England Journal of Medicine.
  • The CDC (Center for Disease Control) is also a highly respected site for research
  • Speak with your child’s pediatrician
  • Get a second opinion from another pediatrician if necessary
  • Avoid random Google searches as this often pull up someone’s opinion rather than facts

 

Make sure to join our community for the latest parent support, scientifically valid information and parent training!

 

References

Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). (2016). Infant immunization facts. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/parent-questions.html

Scott, J. (2014). Injurious speech, scientific boundaries, and institutional orthodoxy: The rhetoric of the vaccines-autism controversy. New Mexico State University.


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