Autism

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Although briefly talked about in the text, Autism is an increasing problem in America. One in every one-hundred and ten kids are diagnosed with it. But there continues to be an enormous debate on the causes of it. Some believe vaccines are the cause, others believe in environmental factors, and others believe strongly in a heredity of Autism. My little brother is a non-verbal autistic who is very low functioning. In the text it talks about facilitated communication and the errors behind it. I have personally seen this in my life with my brother when we try to guess what he wants from us and we believe he is asking us for what we want him to ask us. Unknowingly, these biases confuse communication even further between my brother and myself. The hope that my family and I have of knowing exactly what my brother needs overshadows the effectiveness of the communication itself, resulting in mistakes. Personally, I strongly believe vaccines played a large role in my brother's autism. We saw a huge change in his behavior immediately after he received them from a healthy happy baby to one demonstrating autistic characteristics. However, environment and genes play a large role in it, too. To which extent, I am unsure of.
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I hope that they can find out scientifically that vaccines cause autism and soon. It is a hard concept to touch. On one hand, the vaccines could help fight off deadly and debilitating diseases and so many view not getting babies vaccinated as a form of abuse, on the other children start showing signs of autism a while after birth. To test out the causation of autism, a parent and researcher would have to potentially put the children in harms way. I am sure that researchers have figured this out and corrected it for studies sake.
I wish you and your family the best,
John

Do you know of any specific studies that have shown that vaccines are the only reason for some people's autism? I know that this is a sensitive subject for those affected by autism, but I find it difficult to believe that it is only the vaccines that cause autism. A baby's immune system is not that great, so without seeing an actual study on this, it is hard for me to believe that the autism isn't caused by some other minor problem with the vaccine added on top of that.

According to the National Autism Association, the problem with vaccines is that since the 1930's a metabolized inorganic mercury compound was being used as a preservative to prevent bacterial and fungal contamination in the vaccine. It talks about how there is a correlation between the number of cases of autism and the number of childhood vaccines containing the mercury compound, but it also says in number 16 that there is inadequate research regarding the relationship between autism and mercury-containing vaccines, so nobody can know for sure. It's quite interesting though.

http://www.nationalautismassociation.org/thimerosal.php

By no means to I blame vaccines solely for giving my brother autism. Something I believe to be far more likely is that my brother possesses a set of genes that were affected by our increasingly polluted environment somehow and that vaccines acted as a trigger for those genes to be activated or altered in some way. But like you have pointed out, there needs to be much more research to get even close to verifying anything related to this issue.

I have a brother with a light case of autism, and to be honest I do not think it was vaccines that caused it. I grew up with him normally and played all the same like any other brothers would. It was not after vaccines that caused him to change. It was not a sudden change and actually was not obvious for years. At first we just thought he was playful and had troubles speaking because he was a kid, but around kindergarten it was obvious that he did not have as great of an ability to form sentences and follow social rules.

The way I see it is that it may not be so much as a vaccine, but more of a developmental error. Although many can argue, and I can even argue with myself, it seems as the lack of attention may be what caused it. Even my doctor says that with enough attention and work any autistic child can catch up on development, although they may be a few years behind. I think something goes haywire in the brain while growing up due to some kind of deficiency in social development. One thing I can see that may disprove this is that a lot of autistic signs did show up as my brother was aging even as a younger child. However, my brother may be a specific, so don't take my story as any more than an anecdote.

Lauren, this is so interesting, and I'm impressed with what a measured and informed view that you've taken on an issue that has so deeply impacted on your family. Figuring out the nature of developmental timing in autism and understanding the different combinations of genetic and environmental influences that result in the phenotype are critical questions research from the vantage of genetics, development, brain plasticity, and evolution (to name a few). Thanks for the good comments, everyone, keep 'em coming :)

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This page contains a single entry by stin0140 published on February 5, 2012 1:33 PM.

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