As Geraldine Dawson, Chief Science Officer of Autism Speaks, said in the NY Times -
The answer is not to look to the past and look for blame, but rather to look to the future. We need increased research financing directed toward rigorous science that can provide the answers that parents are looking for and deserve. Until this happens, we will continue to wallow in controversy, and people with autism and families will continue to struggle with autism on their own.In the blog post, Autism Speaks outlines some of their current priorities -
- The role of a multiple environmental factors that are potentially contributing to the increase in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) prevalence
- New insights into the underlying biology of ASD that are leading to novel treatments
- Ways we can address the medical conditions that impact the everyday lives of people with ASD, and
- Programs that are being developed to help adolescents with ASD successfully transition to becoming happy and fulfilled adults.
I have to agree (for once) with Autism Speaks. It is long past time for the vaccine-autism discussion to come to an end. All of the sides involved have made their points abundantly clear and nobody is going to adjust their position.
The medical establishment has gone all-in on their push for universal vaccinations and has adopted strong arm techniques in an attempt to force parents to adhere to the vaccination schedule. They mean well, but this approach is going to come back to haunt them.
The other side (the so-called "anti-vaxers") have their problems as well. Their ranks contain quite a few people who are very, uhm, vocal and are quick to leap to the attack. While I can understand and sympathize with where they are coming from, I have to say that they can sometimes be their own worst enemy.
The problem boils down to the lack of solid data showing a link between vaccines and autism. Sure, there are studies both for and against the theory (mostly against) that purport to either prove or disprove the link. And then there are the conspiracy theories abound as to why there isn't better data.
But, at the end of the day, none of that matters because we still don't have any real idea what the biology of autism looks like. It is one thing to say that autism is made up of these sets of behaviors. It is another to be able to point to the biological causes of the disorder and have some clue as to how it can be corrected.
So I applaud Autism Speaks for trying to shift the conversation from one possible factor to how to deal with autism as a whole. Lets just hope it works.