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Finding Autism Early So Vaccines Don’t Get Blamed January 19, 2011

Posted by frrobins in Autism, Current Events, health, Uncategorized, Vaccines.
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Today I took my son to the doctor to get his two month vaccinations. I did this as a woman who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder. I did this as a former ABA therapist who worked with children with Autism. I did this because I believe that the risks of NOT vaccinating him outweigh the risks of vaccinating him.

The vaccine controversy has been getting a lot of coverage lately. The study linking vaccines and autism has been thoroughly debunked. But fear is hard to quash. Anyone who has worked with people with autism knows that there are people in the community who strongly believe that vaccines caused their child’s autism, and there is little that can be done to persuade them otherwise. There are several reasons for this.

One is that the earliest signs of autism often go unnoticed by parents. And the dramatic symptoms tend to manifest at the time that the MMR vaccine is administered. Hence parents see a link. Yet as anyone who studies statistics knows, correlation does not equal causation. As one mother whose son has autism that she used to attribute to vaccines attests, when she enrolled her son in a study by the MIND Institute and they looked at early photos and videos of her son, they found he had autism traits since he was born. In Baby 411 Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician, notes that she often has concerns about children who exhibit developmental delays but does not say anything to the parents before she is certain of a diagnosis. She mentions a study where doctors viewed footage of children at 12 months, before they had their MMR vaccine, and were able to accurately determine which ones would be diagnosed with autism at 18+ months.

While I understand not wanting to cause undo alarm, I wonder if we would be better off if pediatricians discussed their concerns with patients when they have them. First time parents often do not know what is and is not normal, and therefore are surprised when their seemingly normal child turns out to have autism out of the blue. Further, considering that the earlier autism is diagnosed and treated the better the prognosis, I would think that getting parents alert to the possibility that something may be wrong would be a good thing.

As for me, I don’t think that vaccines caused me to be on the Autism spectrum. My parents can recite a list of early warning signs. And if my son turns out to have autism, I don’t think it will be because of vaccines. Further, with the resurgence of diseases such as whooping cough, I worry more about death than autism. I know that not everyone who falls on the spectrum will get to a point in their life where people who meet him/her would never suspect that s/he has autism, as is the case with me. Yet even if it’s obvious, the child with autism can grow up and lead a productive, happy life. The unvaccinated child who dies of whooping cough can’t.

And for those curious as to the early signs of autism, they can be found here and the video glossary which has clips of normal development and the development of children at risk for autism.