If you’ve been around autism for long, at some point you’ve likely heard of the vaccines cause autism hoax. And like most people, you’re curios asking yourself, “Is there any truth to it? And what exactly is the correlation between vaccines and autism?” Good questions!
Well for many years there has been much debate about the topic. And the fact that autism diagnosis rates have increased adds to the complexity. And the jury is still out on how we interpret these increased rates!
Some attribute increased autism rates to improved diagnostic methods. Others aren’t persuaded and interpret increased rates as a sign that autism is more prevalent today than in the past.
Well here’s what you should know about the vaccines cause autism hoax.
Defining Autism Spectrum Disorder
First, a little about Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD. ASD is a developmental disability that emerges as early as 2 years old. Though estimates vary, about 1 in 60 children have autism.
This disorder tends to affect boys more than girls. Typical features include social deficits, communication challenges and repetitive behaviors. Some of these signs can intensify or progress as the child gets older.
Seeing that the disorder has a wide spectrum, doctors categorize ASD in three levels. These levels correspond with the severity of the disorder. Here is a simple way of understanding the levels of autism:
- Level 1 describes individuals whose condition is mild, thus requires minimal support
- Level 2 describes individuals whose condition is moderate, thus requires moderate support
- Level 3 describes individuals whose condition is severe, thus requires substantial support
Addressing the Vaccines cause Autism Hoax
There is no conclusive proof that vaccines cause autism. That’s right! The research and evidence simply don’t conclusively support this claim. Among the more reliable factors that doctors consider are one’s genetic and family history of illness.
Consider this. If vaccines were 100% responsible for autism, every child vaccinated would develop the condition. Since every child vaccinated does not develop the condition, we can’t solely attribute autism to vaccines.
Autism is a developmental disability. This means that as a child reaches certain developmental benchmarks, they start to display deficits. Because children usually get vaccinated during the same developmental phase, its easy to link the two.
Here’s another way of understanding cooccurrence. Two things happening about the same time doesn’t necessarily mean that one led to the other. At best, there may be some sort of correlation between the two, but not causation.
So it is with vaccines and autism. In recent years, doctors have not only looked at medication but also one’s diet and that relationship to autism. As yet, no studies have confirmed that vaccines are the cause of autism. So any claims that support that conclusion is inaccurate.
So Now What?
Researchers have been doing lots of work to understand the complexity of ASD. And from the research, there is still a lot that we don’t know about the cause of autism. What we can affirm is that vaccines aren’t the definitive cause.
The choice to vaccinate (or not) is yours. I’d encourage you to make decisions based on credible research. But know that any claim that vaccines are the definitive cause of autism is a hoax.
A.D. Daisley holds a Masters Degree from the University of Central Florida and has been working in the field as a Behavior Analyst since 2005. He has provided services to children and adults with varying diagnoses such as autism, mental retardation, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). His scope of experience also includes coordinating therapy to individuals and families in conjunction with other supports including School Teachers, Adult Day Training Facility Staff (ADT’s) and Speech/Occupational therapists. He is the Director and Behavior Analyst at Alternative Outcomes since 2007. A.D is also the Director of Creátre, a non-profit organization that uses the arts for the purpose of skill training, outreach and to display community leadership.