Autism and Vaccines: A Matter of Trust

There is a lot of heated debate going on right now between, what some are calling the Vaxxers and the Anti-Vaxxers. These two opposing groups both have very valid reasons behind their argument. The basic picture is simple: Despite over-whelming scientific consensus that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines do not cause autism (Shwed and Bearman 2010), many people believe otherwise. Many “Vaxxers” have expressed the opinion that “Anti-Vaxxers” are deluded and irresponsible in their decision to not vaccinate their children. I, on the other hand, am in a very precarious position. My husband is a true Anti-Vaxxer whereas I believe that there is Oh, So Much More To The Story than vaccines that simply leads to the symptoms of Autism, but I can understand both sides.

stress concept

The whole thing with this debate has a enormous amount to do with how much the public can trust Big Brother. (Oh yes, she did say that!) Now, Big Brother is really just the modern day ‘Boogie Man’ but there are valid reasons why it is so difficult for many to just take the word of any organization under government endorsement. The CDC has been under question for years, the FDA has consistently been under scrutiny over poor decisions that have put our health in jeopardy, and so has science in general. Now remember, I’m not one to try to persuade anybody to one belief or the other, I’m just here to explain why some parents have made a conscious decision to not vaccinate. If we address the “why” instead of persecuting the parent, than we can perhaps make a change with the way things are being done. Because when it comes down to it, we all just want what is right for the wellbeing of our children.

I’m not going to go into all the science of vaccines and how there are just as many research studies that say vaccines are detrimental to our children. If that is what you are looking for, there is an article here describing all that. Autism-Vaccine Link: Evidence Doesn’t Dispel Doubts

The “Vaxxers” and the general public expect the “Anti-Vaxxers” to trust the consensus that vaccinations do not cause Autism, because scientific research says that it does not cause autism. At the same time, these scientists can’t tell us what does cause autism. In fact ever other week, there is a NEW cause of autism coming from what appears to be a highly scientific study from the BLAH BLAH INSTITUTE OF BLAH BLAH. The ordinary person cannot discern which scientific collective is a legitimate resource and which is not. In fact, most government officials cannot discern what is legitimate and what is not. We all just blindly follow. From history the general public follows whoever has enough money to persuade us to follow them. Like I tell my husband, (who has, in his mind, researched this thing from top to bottom) anyone can prove their point of view by finding a multitude of people and articles on the internet that will share that particular point of view. The tricky part is determining which sources are valid. Even then, there can always be a chance that the study is skewed in the direction that the researcher or corporation wants us to conclude.

The History of Scientific Mistrust in the USA

Someone may say, “Why would we question the voice of CDC or the FDA or any of the organizations that were created to protect us?” Let’s see…

These are the same people that endorsed smoking IN THE 50S AND 60S, who said DDT was good for us, in fact there were times when entire neighborhoods were sprayed with DDT. You can read more about this at The Society Pages

Science told pregnant women experiencing morning sickness to take thalidomide only to find later that many of their children were born with serious birth defects as a result. These same scientists also said that mercury was not a problem for humans in small quantities, but later realized that mercury can accumulate in organisms, especially in wildlife, and be passed on to future generations. Wasn’t it also science that associated Autism with the Refrigerator Mom Theory, and refused to tell African-American men with syphilis that there was a treatment?

Anti-Vaxxers acknowledge what many others are content to ignore when they look out at science. Anti-Vaxxers believe research results have been the basis of a vast conspiracy that interlocks government agencies with “Big Pharma” (the Pharmaceutical corporation), who’s reckless pursuit of profit leads them to leave our future in ruins. How many times have we seen on the television a barrage of advertisements trying to convince us that this DRUG or THAT is going to change our lives? That we absolutely cannot go on without this DRUG. Then, two months later, we suddenly see all the advertisements from the bad effects of that same drug. We see lawyers on TV, trying to make a buck from our misfortune of listening and believing that THAT particular drug passed the inspections of the FDA. If it passed FDA, it must be safe, right?

What exists here in the world of Big Pharma is a term they call “acceptable losses”. We the citizens and our kids are “acceptable losses”. It is built into Big Pharma’s budget for there to be money put away for those of us that suffer from the drugs they are pushing. They get the studies and see that a percentage of people will develop side effects from the drug, BUT they will profit from those that don’t. Then they pay doctors to prescribe those drugs. Okay, so they maybe don’t pay them per say but I’m sure they ‘greatly’ encourage them with perks.

The conspiracy theories runs rampant here in the United States and there are so many reasons why. How can we trust? Our trust has been tried and blemished over and over. A co-worker of mine, who worked in an organization (with me) that served individuals with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, once said to me on the topic: “Why NOT vaccinate? Your kids are already damaged. What else do you have to lose?”

I almost flipped because at that point, my husband and I had made so many strides with the children. They were making so much progress in school, starting to talk and do things independently. It was THAT statement that made me think, “Geesh! If I go against my husband’s beliefs and trust that the vaccines are ok and they ‘damage’ my kids again, how would I ever forgive myself?”

The issue is complicated and multi-faceted. The real problem at hand here is not whether one group of people’s mistrust is jeopardizing the health of our nation’s children, but rather why the nation is making it hard for US to trust them. People seem easily inclined to treat symptoms but not so inclined to address the cause of the symptoms. In this case, what is causing parents to not trust the consensus with the well-being of their children?

By Katherine Goodsell M.Ed

References:

Social Psychology Quarterly Vol. 73, No. 2, 112–115 Ó American Sociological Association 2010 DOI: 10.1177/0190272510371672 Retrieved From: http://spq.sagepub.com

Despres, S. (2015). Politico Magazine: Vaccines Arent Partisan

Retrieved From: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/02/vaccines-bipartisan-support-114915.html#ixzz3Qy7fzUwT

TedTalks (2011) The Darkside of data. by Ben Goldacre Battling bad science. Retrieved From: http://www.ted.com/playlists/130/the_dark_side_of_data

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Katherine Goodsell M.ED is the mother of two amazing children on the Autism Spectrum. Her children were the catalyst that started her journey down the road of Early Child Development and Education, Developmental Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders Advocacy.In a 25 year span, Katherine is proven as an effective and culturally sensitive Life Coach; a capable director of resources and designer of Behavior plans and individualized educational plans (IEP) for children with developmental delays.

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