Sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to tell someone when they are not only wrong, but dangerously wrong. I ran into this recently at a conference on autism. Not only some of the attendees, but some of the presenters had fallen into the dangerous and discredited belief that autism is caused by vaccinations.
Putting aside for a moment why a nationally recognized autism advocacy organization would support this position (suffice it to say that I will not be giving this organization any more of my money), I want to deal with why people believe this even though the evidence the theory was based on was manufactured by a man who lost his medical license over the fraud.
First of all, autism is a terrifying diagnosis for most parents. A child appears to be developing normally until the point where speech begins, and then stops or regresses with regard to social and verbal behavior and emotional regulation. The family goes from pride and delight in their child to sudden and seemingly inexplicable worry and fear. And coincidentally, the age at which a child will often begin showing signs of autism is the same age at which a child is going through their standard immunization schedule. Continue reading