the CDC vaccines/autism/coverup theory {spoiler alert-it’s not true!}

Today is one of those “head exploding” days for me. It started last night when a friend, a friend that I consider to be intelligent and reasonable….first posted a link to a CNN article. Correction–it’s iCNN…which is VERY different. ANYONE can post ANYTHING there. You can, really. It’s a crowdsourcing platform. Shame on you CNN for whoring out your name for page views. Because this is what happens–people will post just about anything. The person who posted this story–click their profile. They have only been a member of the site for a few days.

In a nutshell, this “story” claims that they have “proof” of a huge coverup at the CDC in which the evidence–which they claim shows that hundreds of boys got autism from vaccines–was covered up. And a whistle blower has come forward and shown us the light, the truth, the way……..

Except for one thing–it’s not true. Snopes has already come out and debunked it. And in what is a much better read, imo, Dr. Gorski over at Science Based Medicine has poked holes in just about every aspect of this theory.

The whole vaccine-autism thing makes me crazy for so many reasons. One is that it simply is not true. It takes away time, energy and resources from our community. The autism community does not have an excess of time, energy and resources. Imagine if all of this was actually directed towards helping individuals with autism?? The 2011 Annual Report for Barbara Loe Fisher’s National Vaccine {mis}Information Center states that their income was almost $1mm. A million dollars. Think about that. A million dollars of parents’ donated money being spent towards something that isn’t true–something that has been researched over and over and over. How many educational and therapeutic services could be done with a million dollars? How many individuals with autism could actually be helped with a million dollars? What has NVIC done to help them? Nothing, nada, niente, nil. Other than fuel anger, paranoia, mistrust and fear within our community, they have accomplished nothing. It’s not because there is a giant conspiracy against them–it’s because what they are saying is simply not true.

One million dollars (said in my best Austin Powers voice). Who has the ulterior motive here?

Many people with autism are non-verbal. Many have sensory disorders that means that their pain and discomfort threshold is higher than normal. Many have low muscle tone which means that they may not be able to produce a strong, forceful cough like non-autistic people. These three things can add up to disaster very quickly–if a person gets one of these vaccine preventable diseases. A headache from meningitis may go unnoticed. Pertussis could easily settle into the lungs and develop into pneumonia. And the child may be unable to tell you what is going on. How is it these folks are allowed to put their kids at risk like this? Vaccine skepticism is a first world luxury.

I wish we knew the causes of autism, I really do. But vaccines ain’t it.

Fear sells, don’t buy it.

Lisa Lightner

Lisa Lightner lives in southeastern Pennsylvania with her husband, two boys and two dogs. When not screaming at her kids in public, she can be found on her special needs parenting blog, where she offers advice, support and fun tips for special needs parents.

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  1. “I wish we knew the causes of autism, I really do. But vaccines ain’t it.”

    One of the problems I have with the vaccines-cause-autism claim, and pretty much any [something simple]-causes-autism claim is that it assumes that autism is purely a defect. But what if it turns out that the presence of autistic-spectrum traits in the population was and is essential for the survival of the human species? I keep thinking of sickle-cell trait, which if homozygous causes sickle-cell disease, but if heterozygous confers some resistance to malaria. From an evolutionary standpoint, the malaria resistance in the larger heterozygous population outweighs the reduced life span in the homozygous population.

    As the parent of a child diagnosed with an ASD (Asperger Syndrome) and a member of a family that shows some ASD-like traits, I’ve noticed that neurotypicals seem to unconsciously absorb their culture’s ideas of how one should think, do, and be, whereas those tending in the autistic direction don’t. I’ve never worried that my children would do something stupid due to peer pressure (on the other hand, they won’t do anything smart because of it either 🙁 ) If you’re looking for someone to pursue an idea that the herd thinks is crazy or just cannot wrap their heads around, you’ll have better luck with someone on the spectrum than with a neurotypical. Einstein is of course the poster child for this. My theory (and yes, it’s just a theory) is that a population composed of mostly neurotypicals (to keep the culture going) but with some high-functioning autistics (to deal with situations where doing what grandma/granddad did doesn’t work) will survive better than one composed just of one or the other, even if you also get some low-functioning people in the process.

    This is leaving out the whole issue of ablism in how autism is viewed, especially by many who believe they are trying to help. But that’s a different post.

  2. Yes I agree. I also loathe the “you’re better off risking dying of some vaccine preventable disease instead of getting autism.” That being said, if I could “cure” my son of his disabilities, with the caveat that it would not change his core personality and who he is, I would. Not because autism is so horrible–but because the fact remains that he will likely never be fully independent and I can’t live forever. His chromosome disorder (the root of his autism and IDD) also causes many other unfortunate things like sometimes severe seizure disorders, shortened life span and a sudden unexplained death in juveniles. As a society we do a terrible job of taking care of adults with disabilities. So by “cure” I don’t necessarily mean erasing the autism from him, but if we could figure out a way to fully educate and help these kids be independent. My son is such a sweet boy I would never want his personality to change. But I wish he didn’t need to be so dependent on others for daily stuff, kwim?

  3. The idea that autism is just a leap in human evolution is definitely interesting. I’ve live with/worked with autistic individuals for two decades now and I really see very different possible etiologies, and fairly different presentations. It’s impossible to lump everyone together. I get more than a little annoyed with the Asan (Autism Self Advocacy Network ) when they ignore the ID population in their advocacy (it’s a minor complaint). All of this to say, I would not rule out that certain types of autism (I know that the DSM lumps everyone under the same diagnosis– so no more Aspergers ) are the result of some sort if environmental
    Poisoning and to say conclusively that it isn’t is just as ridiculous as saying that it is.

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