By Neil Z. Miller
In 1943 the well known child psychiatrist, Leo Kanner, announced his discovery of eleven cases of a new mental disorder. He noted that "the condition differs markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far..."(1) This condition soon became known as autism.
What is autism?
Autism (alternately referred to as autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder) is a complex developmental disability a neurological derangement that affects the functioning of the brain. This condition usually appears during the first three years of life, and often strikes following an early childhood of apparently normal development. Mental and social regression is not uncommon. Although the severity of the affliction varies from child to child, the following symptoms are typical: inadequate verbal and social skills, impaired speech, repetition of words, bizarre or repetitive behavior patterns, uncontrollable head-banging; screaming fits, arm flapping, little or no interest in human contact, unresponsiveness to
parents and other people, extreme resistance to minor changes in the home environment, self-destructive behavior, hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli, and an inability to care for oneself.(2-4)
What causes autism?
When the first cases of autism began to appear in the 1940s, researchers were puzzled by the high incidence of autistic children being born into well-educated families. Over 90 percent of the parents were high-school graduates. Nearly three-fourths of the fathers and one-half of the mothers had graduated from college. Many had professional careers. As a result, scientists unsuccessfully tried to link autism to genetic factors in the upper class populations.(5) Meanwhile, psychiatrists, unaware of the neurological basis of the illness, sought psychological explanations. The mother was often accused of not providing an emotionally secure home environment, and was presumed to be the cause of her afflicted child's ailment.(6,7)
Today, researchers have discounted these earlier notions but still do not have an adequate explanation. Although autism has been linked to biological and neurological differences in the brain, and genetic factors appear to play a role in the etiology of this disease, no single cause has been identified.(8) However, recent dramatic increases in the number of children stricken with this debilitating ailment coincident with the introduction of new vaccines may shed some light on this medical mystery.
How common is autism?
According to several researchers who investigated Kanner's claims, autism was extremely rare prior to 1943.(9) By the 1980s, over 4500 new cases were being reported every year in the United States alone.(10) By 1997, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was reporting that 1 of every 500 children is autistic.(11) Today, autism is a raging epidemic; in some parts of the country 1 of every 150 children is permanently damaged by this devastating disease.(12)
Autism and the pertussis vaccine:
The first cases of autism in the United States occurred at a time shortly after the pertussis vaccine became available. When the pertussis vaccine was initially introduced (during the late 1930s), only the rich and educated parents who sought the very best for their children, and who could afford a private doctor, were in a position to request the newest medical advancements. (Remember how researchers were puzzled by the high incidence of autistic children being born into well-educated and "upper class" families.) However, by the 1960s and 1970s parents all over the country, within every educational and income level, were seeking help for their autistic children. Socioeconomic disparities began to disappear during this period. Today, autism is evenly distributed among all social classes and ethnic groups.(13) Once again this puzzled the researchers. Many simply concluded that earlier studies were flawed. But there is an explanation. Free vaccinations at public health clinics didn't yet exist in the 1940s and 1950s. Compulsory vaccination programs were still on the horizon. And as vaccine programs grew, parents from across the socioeconomic spectrum gained equal access to them. The growing number of children suffering from this new illness directly coincided with the growing popularity of the mandated vaccination programs during these same years. Autistic children were now being discovered within every kind of family, and in dreadfully greater numbers than ever before imagined.(14)
The same correlations between autism and childhood vaccination programs may be found in other countries as well. In Japan, the first autistic child was diagnosed in 1945.(15) When the United States ended the war and occupied Japan, a mandatory vaccination program was established. Hundreds of new cases of autism were being diagnosed annually in Japanese children shortly thereafter.(16)
Europe began promoting the pertussis vaccine in the 1950s; the first cases of autism began to appear there in the same decade. In England the pertussis vaccine wasn't promoted on a large scale until the late1950s. Shortly thereafter, in 1962, the National Society for Autistic Children in Britain was established.(17)
This article was excerpted from Vaccine Reactions: The Hidden Epidemic, a soon-to-be-published book documenting many of the dangers associated with mandatory vaccines. Expected date of availability: Spring 2002. For more information about vaccines, please visit the Thinktwice Global Vaccine Institute http://www.thinktwice.com or the Thinktwice Vaccine Bookshelf. http://www.thinktwice.com/vaccine.htm
References to this article will be published in the original book. All rights reserved.
Autism: A Medical Mystery? © 2001 Neil Z. Miller & New Atlantean Press
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