Why has it taken so long for Autism Speaks to announce vaccines do not cause autism?

AutismSpeaksThe big news last Thursday was the statement release in response to the measles outbreak in the US by Rob Ring, chief science officer of Autism Speaks, which finally stated that vaccines do not cause autism, and parents should vaccinate.

“Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism,” he said in the statement. “The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism. We urge that all children be fully vaccinated.”

Autism Speaks, founded in February 2005, was heralded in the press on February 5 as renowned and respected. Those adjectives appear to have been removed from the headlines. By the weekend the reports were more conservative. The Washington Post referred to them as: a leading autism advocacy organization and the New Your Daily News called them: the country’s largest autism advocacy group.

Autism Speaks is not without their detractors. Age of Autism called them the Sock-Puppet For the CDC and many on the spectrum reject pretty much anything coming out from them.

SMNNWeekly says that Autism Speaks out for the first time, but that is simply not true.

Autism Speaks is the leading and largest autism advocacy organization and therefore one would have assumed that they had taken a position prior to the recent outbreak of measles. . . . and they had.

Co-founder Suzanne Wright publicly stated that Autism Speaks would continue to look at the vaccine and autism connection at the Children Making Strides/Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation event on May 1, 2006.

It has been pointed out that politicians were much more on the fence about any link between autism and vaccines back in 2008. This despite the numerous studies that could not find any link or connection.  We hold them accountable for knowing all the issues while campaigning, so why not Autism Speaks? Autism Speaks would have all the statistics and data available to them.  Given all the research and expertise one must wonder why Autism Speaks continued to suggest a possible link long after 2008?

measles baby, vaccination baby, mmr baby shotsIn January of 2009, Alison Singer, Autism Speaks first chief executive, resigned over continued policy on funding vaccine safety research. Singer said,

“There isn’t an unlimited pot of money, and every dollar spent looking where we know the answer isn’t is one less dollar we have to spend where we might find new answers. The fact is that vaccines save lives; they don’t cause autism.”

This was followed six months later by another resignation by Eric London, a member of the science advisory board for Autism Speaks who said that funding research into vaccines as a possible cause of autism, in addition to being wasteful, unduly heightens parents’ concerns about the safety of immunization.

Autism Speaks did soften their stance last summer by stating on their website:

 “Many studies have examined possible links between vaccination and increased prevalence of autism,” but that “these studies have not found a link between vaccines and autism” and that they “strongly encourage parents to have their children vaccinated for protection against serious disease.”  (“Vaccines and Autism”. Retrieved 2014-08-01 according to Wikipedia)

It appears that only Disability Scoop got it right about Autism Speaks’ historical position regarding vaccines: Autism Speaks Alters Position On Vaccines. They state:

“As recently as 2010, Autism Speaks affirmed its commitment to funding research examining a possible link between autism and vaccines even in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary.”

What appears more disturbing is that Disability Scoop reports that the new position does not seem to eliminate any ongoing plans to research related to immunization.

“Autism Speaks is funding studies on the underlying biology of autism, including studies to better understand medical and genetic conditions that are associated with autism that could potentially be linked to adverse responses to immunization,” the strategic plan states.

The question remains…

Why did it take almost 10 years for Autism Speaks to publicly admit there is no link?

Your Comments are welcome.

Caveat – Below is one of the best “lay person’s” explanation of the recent issues relating to vaccinations. Please note that in no way are we suggesting that on-going monitoring of vaccine schedules or religious considerations should be ignored.





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