How did the vaccine controversy start and why won’t it go away? by Robert Naseef, Ph.D.

Facts are stubborn things, but study after study and warning after warning doesn’t kill the intense fear that many parents have about vaccinating their children. My son, Tariq, received the MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) in 1981 around the same time that he lost his speech and started flapping.  From my experience since then, I have gained insight into ‘the vaccine issue’ that makes it at least understandable and may help to even do something about it.

Generally the first signs or “Red Flags” of autism, that my son began to show as a toddler, appear in the second year of life often around 18 months when the measles vaccine is routinely given. Herein lays the connection which some parents and professionals were making by the mid-1980s. Some were convinced that the vaccine was the cause or the smoking gun.

Autism has no singular cause and no known cure. Not every individual with autism is disabled, but many are. Not every diagnosis is a trauma or tragedy, but many are. While every child is a unique and special human being with gifts as well as challenges, the unemployment rate for adults with autism hovers between 70 and 80%. As parents we want to have a cause for the problem. With a cause we can have the hope that a cure is possible.

In 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a study in a prestigious British medical journal, The Lancet, which proposed a causal link between the MMR vaccination and autism.  Even though most of Wakefield’s co-authors wrote a retraction and disagreed with the conclusion, parent activists, including high profile celebrities, were especially alarmed about the idea that the MMR vaccine caused autism. There was a perfect storm as the number of children diagnosed with autism was increasing rapidly due to several factors including increased awareness and changes in diagnostic criteria.

Besides the discredited research, several large studies found no evidence of a causal relationship between the MMR and autism. In 2010, The Lancet retracted the 1998 article because it was based on fraudulent data, and Wakefield’s medical license was revoked in the UK. But the parent community remained terrified that their children could be infected with autism through vaccinations.  Some parents felt certain and signed onto litigation against the pharmaceutical companies that made the vaccine. Vaccines do have documented but rare side effects, and a small number of parents won their cases.

So why does the controversy continue?

When professionals and politicians merely recite facts and do not show an understanding or respect for the legitimate fears and needs of parents we cannot expect this controversy to go away.  From my own scientific training, I knew that the timing did not prove causation.  Like others, when my son changed at 18 months, I wondered about the causal link between autism and the vaccination.  As a social scientist however I was not convinced and read the scientific research with great interest. Still, I lived in fear that lightening could strike twice as it actually has for many parents.

I have a view from the trenches of autism, and I feel the pulse of the parent community. Most of us love our children as much as life itself.  Tariq, now 35, does not speak, or read, or write, and he lives in a group home outside Philadelphia. It has not been an easy journey, but I don’t look back to his vaccinations.

As I have found through my work, compassion for parents’ point of view and honoring their perspective helps terrified parents to think through their options and make better informed choices. All of which still amounts to taking a chance at your best future. There are no guarantees. Everyone wants to welcome a happy, healthy child with a bright future into their family.  The outcome of any birth, and any day for that matter, remains uncertain– not just because of autism but because of any of life’s unpredictable events.

21 thoughts on “How did the vaccine controversy start and why won’t it go away? by Robert Naseef, Ph.D.”


    • AspieUtah on February 21, 2015

      This is a fair examination of the “controversy.” It is also a great explanation of the considered doubts that most parents have. Very good!

    • RELICHUNTER on March 7, 2015

      When I read that the child was vaccinated in 1981 , I felt instantly alarmed because that was yearI wasborn and when I got vaccinated in 1982 I was doing great !

      And so it alarmsme in terms of I am having doubts that vaccines caused autism in the early 80′s .

      And I am wondering actually if the doctors eventually need to be investigated and not the vaccines .


    • bluelily1985 on March 7, 2015

      I wondered about the vaccines before too, but I’m more convinced that my is hereditary. My father and his siblings have Asperger’s, and their mother was extremely autistic.

      • TimT on March 7, 2015

        You are probably right. I’ve helped with autistic and Asperger kids, while having Asperger’s syndrome. I ask someone in one of the centers, did one of your parents have this sydrome? If they say “no”, it’s autism. If they say “yes”, then it is Aspergers. However, sometimes kids have BOTH. Temple Grandin is a case of this.
        If you have a bigger hat size, stronger bones, stronger muscles, a little clumsiness, prefer to be alone, and larger eye brows & cheeks, you are definitely Aspergers because you are higher percentage Neanderthal.

    • TimT on March 7, 2015

      Dr. Nassif says we don’t think vaccines are the only cause of autism. This is true. It is the neurotoxins the children get that does it. Look up Minimata in Japan, where children became autistic from eating fish from a bay that was contaminated with mercury compounds. Looks familiar….
      He says there is no known cure for this. Wrong again. Christian soaking prayer will gradually get the mercury out of the nerve dendrites and make new dendrites. I have seen this happen.

      Why is the government deceiving people about this? Because if the parents of autistic kids got big lawsuit judgments, they could bankrupt all the American pharmaceutical companies.

      Why do they continue? Because to stop would give presumption of guilt in the lawsuits.

      Another reason is the Marxists and Muslims want to destroy America. That’s the same reason they tried to bring Ebola into America, to kill millions of Americans.

    • audesapere on March 7, 2015

      The hereditary part of autism is a decreased ability to detoxify from heavy metals like aluminum and mercury, both of which are known neurotoxins and have been or still are contained in vaccines.

    • myownisland on March 7, 2015

      Are you kidding me?? I think the first sentence should be study after scientific study has proven vaccines CAN and DO cause autism. CDC studies have shown 340% increase risk of autism after the MMR vaccine. Hundreds of studies have proven vaccines cause permanent brain damage and even death. Maybe you should pull your head out and read real studies. Try googling #hearthiswell

    • myownisland on March 7, 2015

      There is zero proof autism is heriditary! The only genes you get autism from is fragile x and it’s a 1% chance of autism. No dna can be linked to autism.. all those studies you read show 95% of those with that gene are NORMAL. Talk about stretching for desperation to blame the parents. Autism is a syndrome.. meaning there are MANY causes.. and vaccines is without a doubt.. ONE of them. You’d have to be buried under a rock to not see DEATH and severe brain damage on the vaccine insert as a side affect. It’s a FACT! Get over it

    • myownisland on March 7, 2015

      After my college vaccinations (over 6) I lost the ability to walk by the end of the year.. i got worse and worse and worse.. suddenly I had every auto immune condition where as before I had none. Worst choice of my entire life! I couldn’t even lift a glass of water to my lips… i went to the ER for lack of hydration.. code red as I hadn’t drank in days as I was too weak. It took 10 years to be able to detox enough to pretend I’m ok at least.. but I’m still in a lot of pain. I know my family genetics by the hundreds of years.. not one sign of autism (and no your smart uncle or antisocial aunt does NOT mean they have autism!!) Now my child is severely retarded/autistic… I am guessing due to all the toxins in my body from the vaccines… as there is just no other reasons at all. I will have a hard time forgiving myself for making such a stupid decision to get vaccinated.. and no.. I have no methyl problems.. so no it’s not a genetic thing that mercury can virtually KILL you.. or the fetal dna that does not match most of us

    • †åηk•Gïяℓ™ on March 7, 2015

      That is only one study.
      here are
      Several medical studies that show vaccines can cause autism, that no one ever seems to mention❢

    • GrindingWhim on March 8, 2015

      I posted some links about vaccines and autism, for some strange reason my post is still awaiting moderation over 24 hours later…

      • audesapere on March 12, 2015

        I also posted a comment about vaccines and autism and it has been awaiting moderation for 5 days so far.

    • Aspiewordsmith on March 8, 2015

      Theories like this have been going round since the 1960s. Then it was the link between non allism and the whooping cough vaccine. Although it may have cause some learning disabilities in a minority of people but I don’t think that the higher end of the autism spectrum is one of them. I have been denied childhood vaccines based on what I think has been a fallacy. I hope that TB or polio does not come back because I have not been vaccinated against these diseases

    • GrindingWhim on March 8, 2015

      @Aspiewordsmith, even if it’s only a subset of autism caused or triggered by vaccines, we ought to be questioning more what they are putting in vaccinations and whether they are in fact necessary. If you research, you will see that vaccines being responsible for wiping out diseases isn’t necessarily the case and vaccinated people have passed illnesses on to others. So you have to question whether they even work.

      See P626 where it lists autism (amongst the hundreds of other side effects)

    • GrindingWhim on March 8, 2015

      That link is GlaxoSmithKline’s own research findings BTW.

    • usaneanderthal on March 9, 2015

      it is a rotten situation — kids need vaccines , nobody –including the govt MDs fully understand the effects of vaccines on the immune system –esp in the face of daily BPA(BPA causes TH2 shifting as well as other epigenetic things) , methylparaben,paraben,phthalates..etc, exposures before pregnancy, during pregnancy and after birth…
      Proper Neuronal pruning is a very complex process as well and , if i am not mistaken, relies quite a bit on VERY SOLID TH1 input from the immune system. ASD has multifocal origins, yes and if I am not mistaken , I think infants are born with Th2 shifted immune states and more so in asd at risk kids). vaccines will shift things towards TH2 –ya need to to make decent antibodies to protect child…. and that is best done by Th2 system

      So Then daily exposure of the infant to lotions shampoos that may contain bpa/methylparabens/phthalates…etc , plastic bottles , plastic chew toys and passifiers, get juice and food from containers lined with bpa or equivalent..etc and it is conceivable that one could inadvertently be shifting the kids immune system more towards the Th2 side of things.
      Then time to vaccinate the kid and then people say wow the kid got asd after the vaccination……
      ——-i think the vaccine is the victim –not the culprit —-

      The kid was at risk genetically for asd at birth and then things got inadvertently and unknowingly exposed to the kid daily for months to modulate the immune system to an unfavorable state so that the kid is at higher risk for problems when time for proper neuronal pruning arrives…..

      Given that asd is around 1:15,000 in amish –they should study the bpa exposures ,etc in the life of mom and the infant…..and follow the kids TH2/TH1 status every week throughout childhood until kid reaches 6y/o and compare to avg nonamish kid.

      IF one then found elevation in TH2/TH1 ratios in nonamish kids and much higher ratios in kids who are at risk for asd from birth compared to amish , then one could consider some argument that maybe doing things to shift the TH2/Th1 ratio to more resemble amish kids th2/th1 ratio might be something reasonable for the researchers to consider doing a study on in animals.
      While this is all just my opinion –and maybe i am wrong, it would make for an interesting study.

    • Lintar on March 17, 2015

      Quote: ‘Autism has no singular cause and no known cure. Not every individual with autism is disabled, but many are. Not every diagnosis is a trauma or tragedy, but many are. While every child is a unique and special human being with gifts as well as challenges, the unemployment rate for adults with autism hovers between 70 and 80%. As parents we want to have a cause for the problem. With a cause we can have the hope that a cure is possible.’

      I keep coming across this claim, the claim that ‘the unemployment rate for adults with autism hovers between 70 and 80%’, but where is the actual research that has been conducted on this? I can’t find it anywhere! Why are there no links that would allow those who question the claims made within this article the opportunity to actually verify them? Could the reason be because the aforementioned claims are actually bogus? If vaccines do not cause AS/autism, then what does? That’s what I would like to know.

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    • paolo on April 6, 2015

      If someone shouts “Fire!” in a theatre and causes a stampede, should pay exemplarly. I don’t Wakefild is payng.

    • Krokodyl on May 26, 2015

      Milk. Milk causes autism. I just conducted a very thorough study, in my own head , which shows that 100% of autistic people drank some milk at some point in their life.

      It has to be milk.

    • GreenSky on May 3, 2016

      When my wife and I had twins one was autistic and one was NT. At 2 years old my wife thought something was very wrong with one of our children. Guess which one I thought was “normal”… the autistic one. I didn’t know at the time I was autistic or that both my parents were too.

      The differences begin to be noticeable at that age to NTs. I noticed the differences way earlier. One major early difference was eye contact. He also had other sensory processing issues like hearing sounds NTs could not hear and florescent lights really bothered him (just like his dad).

      Personally I think it is human variation. What NTs see as a flaw I see as beautiful. Does autism make my life harder… no. Dealing with NTs makes my life harder. If there was a “cure” for autism would I take it or give my child the “cure”… NEVER!!!

      There is so much junk science, con-artists and ignorance floating around. It is NOT vaccines! Fear, anxiety, and blaming yourself makes parents desperate and they will believe what ever helps them sleep at night. If a fiction helps you cope, I don’t judge you (but it does not make that fiction true).

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