Pro Vaccine Prejudice Against Autism: A Look Back

Media reports on autism have not historically emphasized the presence of accompanying disorders in a considerable segment of the autism population. Nevertheless, one affiliate surprised me when it came to vaccine related brain damage compensations that have transpired.

“… CBS News has found nearly 1,300 cases in which vaccine-related brain damage has been compensated in court over the past 20 years. (From: Vaccines, Autism, and Brain Damage – What’s in a Name?)

In July 2010, a family accepted $1.5 million dollars to settle their claim that vaccines cause regression into autism. Mitochondrial disease was the proven predisposing factor, before exhibition of full-blown autistic features. Reports showed acceptance of case merits, with the claim scientifically supported, according to our own government.

Autism, the label, defines a condition of clinically exhibited features-deficits and excesses that present without verifiable cause. Autism is many times accompanied by conditions that have a medically identifiable cause; the incomplete sample of conditions are mitochondrial-disease or -disorder, seizures, phenylketonuria, congenital rubella, tuberous sclerosis, hypothyroidism, and hearing impairment.

Diagnostic criteria allows for overlap in application, between psychiatric and general medical condition labels. For instance, I read about a person who was told their loved one died from Alzheimer’s. But, after the autopsy Creutzfeldt Jakob disease was identified. Or, I learned of a mother who thought her child had autism. But, it turned out to be severe milk allergy. Both conditions were labeled based on clinical observation of behavior, because not all diagnoses are differential. So little is known about some conditions, and diagnostic procedures like blood work or imaging have yet to contribute to a best practice part of diagnosing conditions like autism and Alzheimer’s.

“Not all medical diagnoses are differential ones: some diagnoses merely name a set of signs and symptoms that may have more than one possible cause, and some diagnoses are based on intuition or estimations of likelihood.” ( on differential diagnoses)

A large group was denied victory, in regard to claims that vaccination caused autism in their children. We know, peer reviewed science does not yet propose known causes of autism. So, how did the lawyers present each individual case within a group of so many? Remember, autism is a label given based on clinical observation and testing. It is NOT associated with known cause.

When I heard of this group’s defeat, I immediately wondered if there were autism-affected children in the group with co morbid disorders; ones associated with probability of damage from vaccination. As you have already seen from the former example, peer review does accept instances where vaccination is the cause for devastating neurological illness labeled as something within the autism spectrum.

For the large group, it seems as if the autism label was used as a legal side step by the one rendering a decision to deny validity. Doing so in a universal way, to every single injury claim in the group. Even though, some claims may have been valid. In this unfortunate situation, the mediator excoriated the lawyers’ failure for not furthering understandings in science. But, what about the mediator’s own failure as one who needed to mediate upon all things true within this very complicated debate?

It is a systemic failure that is not solely contingent upon how a set of lawyers present their case. Even if lawyers hinge their bet a little too much upon a controversial scientific claim, there is proven science about vaccination effects that result in brain injury.

Cases where affected individuals are represented individually, instead of by a group, seem to allow for better representation of the possible scientific cause of damage. The aforementioned 1.5 million dollar award supported a family’s claim of a child with mitochondrial disease experiencing detrimental worsening from vaccination into autism features. Nevertheless, one key to this family’s victory was to avoid emphasis on the autism label that their child received. They instead pointed to what was identifiable in scientific terms, and how injury was linked to vaccination.

A woman in England won an appeal, with regard to damage her son suffered from MMR vaccination. She smartly litigated his seizure condition. The reports on that story strongly emphasized the case was NOT about autism. This is because society is conditioned, through lack of complete understanding, to have prejudice against any who carry the autism label. Many think those who have the label fit in a tidy box, whereby vaccination never did hurt them. For that matter, other medical symptoms they have are many times ignored and described as a behavior because of the autism label.

Remember, co morbid disorders that many times accompany autism are the biggest clue to finding out why a child exhibits features of neurological illness. Autism is a kind of misdiagnosis, because we DO NOT know what causes manifestation of autistic features. Furthermore, the autism label has become a smoke screen that many use to deny known risk of brain injury.