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Autism can be considered a form of neural development disorder which impacts the way in which an individual communicates and interacts on a social level. It affects an individual’s cognitive abilities in terms of memory, interpreting information, and the ability to respond to certain questions. However, despite knowing what manifests as the symptoms of autism, there are still numerous controversies as to how it is brought about in the first place.
One of the most prevalent controversies involving the disorder that has been in the media as of late has been the correlation between autism and vaccination. For example, articles such as those from the website Activist Post, state that early vaccination of children supposedly has an adverse impact on the brain’s development resulting in autism (Walia 1). This is a rather strange assertion given that academic articles such as those by Dealberto, state that
“….., there is no correlation between autism and vaccination based on years of research which has explored possible ill effects that could be brought about through early childhood vaccination” (Adalberto 341).
Other researchers such as Eyal, also explain that while the precise “triggers” behind autism have yet to be determined, the fact is that the development of autism in children is more of a genetic issue than it is a developmental one (Eyal 867). This means that a child does not develop autism as a result of external factors (i.e., vaccination), rather, it is a result of inherent biological factors that they had at birth (Eyal 867).
Opposition to such views can be seen in the article “22 Medical Studies That Show Vaccines Can Cause Autism” from Activistpost.com, which creates a correlation between the chemical components of vaccines (ex: mercury) and their supposedly “mind-altering properties” which causes developmental issues leading to autism (Walia 1).
While such views have little in the way of credible scientific evidence to back up their claims, it has incited the development of numerous “anti-vaccination” groups within the U.S. that have spread the notion that vaccinating a child has the potential to bring about autism.
It is based on such views that the issue of autism and vaccination will be examined with the purpose of separating fact from conjecture. Areas that will be examined are the current assumptions involving autism and vaccination, the biological and psychological factors behind autism, and various theories delving into some of the possible causes of autism in children.
It is expected that by the end of this study, a sufficient argument can be formulated either in favor of or against vaccination based on its possible connection to the development of autism in children. This report assumes that: based on scientific evidence, there is no correlation between the development of autism in children and the use of vaccines.
Autism and Vaccination
One of the more recent controversies in relation to autism and issues with the diagnosis has been the supposed correlation with vaccines and a child developing autism. Brown delves more into this issue by explaining that various parental groups have developed the assumption that the use of mercury and other artificial chemicals in vaccines has the negative effect of inducing autism in their children and, as such, this particular practice should be supposedly stopped in favor of preventing the spread of autism (Brown 1885).
The problem with this case is that while it may be true that the cause for the development of autism in children have yet to be fully determined, the fact remains that there have been numerous studies which have examined the use of vaccines among children, and none of them have shown a sufficient connection between vaccination and the development of autism (Brown 1886).
While it may be true that the use of mercury and other supposedly “dangerous” substances could potentially harm a child, the fact remains that modern medicine has advanced to such a degree that these additives, when used in the process of creating vaccines, are completely harmless and are a necessary component of the process (Langan 193).
On the other end of the spectrum, website articles from Naturalnews.com such as “Nearly two dozen medical studies prove that vaccines can cause autism” present various arguments in support of the vaccination-autism correlation. One of the main points that often came up was that parents noted distinct changes in their children a period of time after they were vaccinated (Huff 1).
This often manifested in their children not doing so well in school, a lack of sufficient willingness towards social interaction, development of behavioral issues in relation to isolation and a plethora of other symptoms that have been successfully linked to autism (Huff 1).
As a result of subsequent diagnosis and finding out that their child has autism, parents often correlate the use of vaccines and the development of autism in their child as being related. Combined within the growing “anti-vaccine movement,” this has resulted in the development of the assumption that vaccines cause autism.
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While there is little in the way of relevant academic literature that is in support of such claims, there are a plethora of “unofficial” sources of information that are in support of the concept. Examples of this can be seen in websites such as MDPI.com which point towards mercury and various other chemical compounds as causing adverse effects on a child’s brain development based on “supposed” scientific evidence (MDPI 1).
This “evidence” correlates mercury, aluminum phosphate, ammonium sulfate and formaldehyde, which are chemicals utilized in the production of vaccines, and states that since individually such chemicals can cause an assortment of biological problems when exposed to in certain amounts then it goes without saying that injecting such a concoction into a child could cause a possible biological malfunction which manifests itself autism.
This is one of the prevailing arguments in the current debate involving vaccination and has been utilized repeatedly to justify the supposed correlation between autism and vaccination. The inherent issue with such arguments is that it only applies to individuals that have no pharmacological knowledge.
Immunologists who specialize in the development of vaccines utilize the aforementioned chemicals in such a way that they become safe for use in humans no matter the age range in order to create an immune response when exposed to a variety of possible viruses.
In direct opposition to arguments in relation to vaccines causing autism in young children comes the view of Kirkland, who states that there are cases where an individual can go for years with an undiagnosed case of autism.
This is not to say that the symptoms do not manifest themselves later on in life (autism starts early on in an individual’s life and manifests itself in gradual stages), rather, what apparently occurs is that the symptoms associated with the disorder are at times mistaken for shyness, slowness or peculiar traits inherent to individual children.
It is within this context that Kirkland explains that the arguments that correlate autism and vaccination are often based on the fact that they occur within a specific timeframe of a child’s development wherein the full gamut of symptoms in relation to autism are noticed (Kirkland 238).
What this implies is that the period of time in which a child is given vaccines (usually 2 to 3 years of age) and the time that they are exposed to school and social situations (kindergarten, preparatory school, etc.), coincides within one another. The fact is that the symptoms associated with autism do not seem as apparent when a child is barely 1 to 2 years of age aside from a relatively slow level of development in relation to the time that they learn how to walk and speak.
It is only when they are exposed to broader areas in relation to higher levels of social interaction and education that a deficiency in their mental capacity is noted which coincides with the period in which they are administered vaccines for the first time. It is based on this that Kirkland presents the assumption that parents immediately jump to the conclusion that the development of autism in their child came about through effects of vaccination rather than the fact that their child had autism since birth.
It was mentioned by Kirkland that while she utilizes numerous diagnostic tools in identifying specific symptoms related to autism, it is often the case that the relevant literature (manuals), processes of evaluation and tools used to measure autism are often outdated and in need of significant improvement and updating considering the sheer amount of accumulated knowledge on diagnosing the disorder within the past 20 years (Kirkland 237).
As such, with the current gap in the literature resulting in numerous undiagnosed cases of early-onset autism in children, it is not at all surprising that parents would search for possible answers regarding the “sudden development” of autism in their children when in reality it was there from the start (Kirkland 237).
Despite such data being released to the public, various parental groups still continue to rally behind the banner of autism supposedly being connected to vaccination. It is due to this that the next section will explain autism is more of a biological rather than a vaccine issue with the current problems plaguing autistics primarily being due to problems with the neurons or chemical balance within their brain that affected them sometime during conception or birth.
Biological Origins of Autism
Another of the debates surrounding autism that is connected to the issue of vaccines and children is the current debate surrounding the causes of the mental disability. Based on recent estimates examining the prevalence of autism in the world today 1 to 2 individuals out of every 1,000 have some degree of autism with numbers in the U.S. actually being significantly higher with the potential for 1 out of every 155 children having the potential to be autistic (Frith 2074).
While it is still uncertain as to what causes the mental disorder to manifest, there have been various hypotheses that range from stress induced hormone changes that occur while a child is still in the womb to a genetic predisposition brought about through some abnormality in the genes inherited by a child from both parents. Other more controversial views come in the form of the various arguments presented in this paper involving vaccines and their supposed correlation in causing autism in children.
To put such a theory to rest, the analysis of Frith explains that while the exact causes behind the manifestation of autism in children have yet to be completely understood, there has been sufficient advancement in the field to conclusively state that autism is a result of biological factors that occur as a result of genetics, hormones or chemical imbalances while a child is still in the womb (Frith 2073).
As such, external sources such as vaccines that are applied after such an event would not cause autism. While poisoning may be possible through a tainted batch, this is a relatively rare occurrence.
Overall, this paper has shown that based on scientific evidence, there is no correlation between the development of autism in children and the use of vaccines. This has been proven by correlating relevant academic articles on the issue with various viewpoints from websites support the anti-vaccine faction.
The significance of this finding in this argumentative paper is in its contribution to the field of autistic research and possible methods that can be employed so as to improve practices encouraging greater levels of examination regarding the causes of autism and how it is brought about through biological issues rather than through external means (i.e., through vaccination).
Overall it is expected that by examining various aspects presented in this study and combining them with the unique views and ideas of the researcher, a new and possibly better way of addressing the false idea of vaccines leading to autism could possibly be created resulting in better-instituted practices in need-based learning programming for parents in order for them to understand what autism is, how to identify it and to give them a general overview of how vaccines are not the cause of autism in children.
The inherent problem with autism is that as an individual develops from being a child and into an adult, their autism remains and does not dissipate over time nor is curable based on the latest studies.
This results in certain segments of the adult population have a distinct mental disorder that, at times, prevents them from functioning normally in society. On the other hand, it must be noted that not all cases of autism are debilitating. Autistics can actually be separated into two distinct categories: low functioning autistics and high functioning autistics.
What must be understood is that due to the growing population of individuals progressing from childhood autism to adult autism, it has become necessary to investigate additional measures of support that can be utilized so as to address this growing need.
By doing so, not only would this ease the burden of families and institutions that deal with the autistic on a daily basis but would actually also benefit people suffering from autism as well since this would open new channels of communication and interaction that would otherwise have been denied to them.
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