Vaccines: Autism's Great Divide
Nov 02, 2011

Every Child By Two (ECBT) recently offered an informative webinar entitled “Autism 101 for Immunization Advocates”. 
You may be asking, why would an immunization organization like Every Child By Two be offering education on autism?  To be honest, as we continue to share information about autism research on this blog and on our Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page, we hear this question time and again.
“If there is no link between vaccines and autism, then why do you spend so much time talking about it?”
While the majority of people realize that vaccines are not responsible for a diagnosis of autism, there are still some people who are under the impression that some possible link may exist.  In fact, research has indicated that some parental hesitation about vaccinations is in part due to these unsettling concerns and misconceptions.   According to a Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll published in January 2011, 18% of Americans say vaccines cause autism and 30% of Americans aren’t sure.
That is why Every Child By Two continues to be involved in the conversation.  They believe that as long as these two things remain associated in some way, both the immunization community, as well as the autism community, have an important role in educating parents.
Amy Pisani, Executive Director of Every Child By Two, explains,

“Immunization advocates need to listen carefully to the concerns that parents have raised regarding vaccines and autism.  Parents may have heard scary things on TV or from friends and their fears are very real.  It’s our job as public health professionals to have respect for their legitimate concerns and to do our best to explain the science regarding vaccines and autism clearly and concisely.”

In an effort to address these concerns, Every Child By Two has collaborated with Alison Singer, Executive Director of The Autism Science Foundation, to help educate immunization advocates about early diagnosis, interventions and potential causes of autism. Throughout this special one hour presentation, Ms. Singer combines emotional and scientific talking points that can be used to address emotional responses that people have to vaccines and autism and help parents face their concerns more logically.
It is understandable that parents with autistic children often turn to various autism organizations for information and support.  That is why it’s also imperative that these organization not only educate people on autism, but also take the opportunity to exonerate vaccines in the diagnosis.  Every Child By Two has chosen to partner with The Autism Science Foundation because of the clear message they send to parents in regards to vaccines.     The Autism Science Foundation is one of the few autism organizations that not only offers people the scientific research that has been conducted to disprove any links between vaccines and autism, but who also emphasize the need for immunizations in protecting everyone in our community from vaccine preventable diseases.
Unlike most other autism organizations, The Autism Science Foundation is very clear in stating their views on vaccines as they pertain to autism:

“A decade ago most agreed that we need to study vaccines in relation to autism. We had to reconcile the fact that the number of vaccines children were receiving was increasing, and at the same time, the number of children who were being diagnosed with autism also was on the rise. But fortunately this was a question that could be studied – and answered – by science. We looked at children who received vaccines and those who didn’t, or who received them on a different, slower schedule. There was no difference in their neurological outcomes.  We’ve done multiple studies looking at the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination in relation to autism. We’ve looked at thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative, and its relation to autism. The studies are very clear; there is no relationship in the data between vaccines and autism.  It’s Time to Ask New Questions. If we ask the same questions we’ll get the same answers. We’ve asked the autism vaccine question over two dozen times and each time we get the same response; no relationship.  We need to move on; We need to invest in studying genetics, the brain structures of children with autism, and environmental factors that may be playing a role.”

Ms. Singer’s presentation was full of the latest information and statistics that are helping to identify causes and risk factors relating to autism.  This information is not only helpful for immunization advocates, but for the general public as well.
As Ms. Pisani emphasized after the presentation,

“All parents need to be educated about autism spectrum disorders.  By knowing what signs to look for, parents can make observations that may lead to an early diagnosis which can be critical to getting families the assistance they need.  And what’s great about The Autism Science Foundation is that they are funding important research and constantly educating parents about the latest scientific findings.  I learned so much from Alison’s presentation and by making it available on our website, we hope that others will learn from it as well. “

If you’re a parent who wants to learn more, check out the full presentation on the Every Child By Two website here or you can listen to the recorded webinar when you register here.
For more details on the exciting research being funded by The Autism Science Foundation, be sure to visit their website and friend them on Facebook.  If you subscribe to their YouTube channel, you can also hear first-hand accounts from various scientists about their current research projects.
Autism awareness is such an important public health issue and we must continue to give it the attention it deserves.  In doing so, we should also call for more autism organizations to assist in  educating parents about the research that has already been done to prove vaccines safe and unrelated to autism diagnosis.  Only then can we expect parents to respect the science that relates to both immunization issues and autism research, and hope that this will help put aside the speculation that is preventing people from getting immunized against dangerous, and sometimes deadly, diseases.
Perhaps you have a personal experience with autism that you can share with us.  Does it frustrate you that the autism community is often polarized by the topic of vaccines?  Does the great vaccine divide ever interfere with your efforts to help and support an autistic loved one in your life?

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