Autism Myths and Misconceptions – Part 7 – External Causes & Triggers

vaccineWhen a child is diagnosed with autism some parents may struggle with this initially.  When they first find out they usually don’t have a great deal of knowledge about autism, and they more than likely don’t know about the positive aspects of the condition – or that nearly everybody with autism has a good quality of life.  They only really know about the negative aspects, and therefore they panic.  They look for someone to blame, but in reality there are no known outside causes of autism – it is just a difference in the functioning of the brain.  But in the past, and even to this day, a lot of people dispute this.

In the 1950s Bruno Bettleheim further developed the theory that that autism was caused by cold and distant mothers not loving their children – refrigerator mothers.  Obviously this isn’t true, and today we can look back and wonder how people ever believed such a thing, but at the time some individuals believed it made sense.  Children grew up not being able to do things independently, and not displaying the appropriate emotional reactions to situations.  They could sometimes become violent or drawn in to themselves.  To the people of the time – or at least some of them – these seemed like clear signs that the parents were somehow to blame, and had almost induced autism in to their children.  They noted how other children grew up neuro-typically, and this was clearly because they had been raised right – not taking in to account typically developing siblings of the autistic children.

Nowadays a lot of people believe that vaccinations can cause autism.  This is a controversial topic, and one that is often misunderstood by people on both sides.  Some parents claim their child had been vaccinated and developed autism, but they also say that their child had lost consciousness, and lost the air supply to their brain for some time. Losing oxygen to the brain can result in brain damage, and others argue that this seems more likely that the concept of the entire wiring of the brain being rearranged by a vaccination.  This theory also takes no account for autism before vaccinations were invented, and has been blamed for putting children at risk by encouraging parents not to get them vaccinated, and therefore leaving children open to potentially deadly diseases.  It also doesn’t take account of the fact that many children develop in a so-called `normal` way – up to about aged eighteen months – before their autistic traits come to the front.  This is not to say that vaccinations are in any way perfect, or that they can’t cause damage – potentially very serious damage to the brain – but it is argued that this should never be confused with autism; the autistic brain is not damaged, it is simply wired differently. Autistic people may take offence at the idea that others think their brain is somehow damaged.

This topic is bound to be divisive for years to come, and the people who argue that vaccines do cause autism will probably never be otherwise persuaded, but there has never been any definitive proof offered.  There is proof that vaccines can be dangerous, and that children can have an allergic reaction and become brain damaged, but throwing a perfectly natural, organic condition, and state of being such as autism in to the mix, is viewed by many as pointless and, counter-productive.


One Response

  1. John Fryer November 9, 2014