Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Continuing Vaccination-Autism Debate

Another school year is now underway in classrooms all around our country, as our kids resume their studies of math, science, English, history, and hopefully much more.  If you have children in a public school, you know that one of the many pieces of paper you had to submit in order to get them registered was an immunization form.  School administrators want to know that the kids walking their hallways are not going to be harboring measles, rubella, chicken pox, or other diseases that medicine has largely eradicated.  But, there are an increasing number of children who reach school age and whose parents have opted out of having them vaccinated.  They are placed right in the middle of a debate that extends way beyond simply whether or not they should be allowed in a classroom.

Many parents worry about the publicized link between vaccines and autism, even though the scientific community has repeatedly come out against there being any evidence of a connection.  Others don't like the idea of their infants being inoculated at such a young age and choose to develop their own vaccination schedule.  The topic even has earned some attention among the current contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, as Rep. Michele Bachmann spoke out about her concerns that the HPV vaccine may cause mental retardation

In my upcoming book, Pabby's Score, I look at the serious issue of autism and the stigma it receives in our country.  I am hoping that my writing on this topic will inspire some conversations among readers about the causes behind this affliction and how best to help families who are dealing with this special need in their homes.

If you have some thoughts about the great debate over the vaccination-autism connection, or if you have experience with autism in your own circle of family and friends, I would love to hear your story.  I know that I can learn a great deal from what you have to share.


Anonymous said...

James, This is an emotive topic with passionate proponents on both sides of the argument. While I am open to considering the vast research compiled both in support of and against the 'vaccine link' debate, one thing remains foremost in my mind. That would be the day that my otherwise happy, healthy 2 year old had her MMR vaccine in the UK and later that evening succumbed to a fever and 'flu like symptoms'. It took days for her to recover, but she was changed forever. She became withdrawn, nonverbal and drastically regressed from that point forward. 22 years later, as a medically diagnosed Autistic adult, I can't help wondering what her life might have been like had I opted out of the MMR.

Virginia Llorca said...

I have a 45 year old daughter that has been a misfit all her life despite being physically attractive and bright. She now leads what I can only call a marginalized existence. Her entire life has been one heartbreak after another. I wish when she was younger the diagnosis of Asperger's had been more well known and I would have had the knowledge and support services people now have. I fought battle after battle with Social services and school boards. She has three children that have been enormously impacted and now, with the HEPA laws, my hands are tied. I can only say I did all that I could. I had a letter published in the Chicago Tribune the last time they had an article re the vaccinations. I asked if there had been a study of the incidence of autism in unvaccinated children. No one has ever answered although some commented that they would like to know that.

Liz Ditz said...

I invite you to visit The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism (TPGA),, which specifically rejects the idea of "stigma".

I would particularly urge you to read the posts by adults with autism, and the dialogues between adults with autism and parent-advocates,

Disclosure: I am a co-founder and co-editor at TPGA.

Liz Ditz said...

I would like to point out that many adults with autism and autism parents would take great exception to characterizing autism as "an affliction".

Anonymous said...

As a medical editor, I'm aware of the ongoing debate about the connection between vaccination and autism. It must be frustrating for parents of autistic children to not know where the condition comes from.