TED2015: Steve Silberman



Over the years, autism rates have been increasing and today we’re now estimating that 1 in 68 children are being diagnosed with autism. With the prevalence of autism on the rise, we are left to wonder – why are the rates increasing so steeply over the years? Are there really that many more people with autism today than there was 20 or 30 years ago?

This is the question Steve Silberman set out to answer – and this led him down a very interesting path back through the history of autism. He uncovered a series of events that have all led up to where we are today. With a new book coming out called NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, Silberman shared some of his research findings at this year’s TED. Check out his TED Talk.

Lynsey, Community Manager

New Vaccine Study Re-Confirms No Link to Autism

Another study has come out that again shows there is no link between vaccines and autism. This one, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, focuses on siblings of those touched by autism.


The research –as discussed in this article – shows that brothers and sisters of children with autism were not at a higher risk of developing the disorder if they were vaccinated compared to the siblings of those without autism.

This is significant because separate studies have found there is an increased risk of autism among those with older siblings on the spectrum, which could be contributed to genetic and environmental factors. But because some have a fear that vaccines– specifically the MMR vaccine – are linked to autism, parents of autistic children have been more hesitant to vaccinate their younger children.

This study-and others related to vaccine safety—are important so we can feel confident and comforted that we’re making the right decisions for our children. Opting out of vaccines has led to several outbreaks of diseases/viruses that we would be protected from getting, such as the measles. Much is being done to combat the fear of vaccines and this study is an important reassurance that a link doesn’t exist.

Read more about the study

Lynsey, Community Manager 

Still Considering Not Vaccinating Your Child?

Even with the President and many, many others speaking up the last few days urging parents to vaccinate their children, there may still be parents – maybe even you – that are hesitating vaccinating their children for fear of autism. This has been a fear ever since a study came out years ago linking the MMR vaccine to autism – this study was debunked, retracted from the medical journal it had appeared and the lead researcher on this study lost his medical license. But the fear remained. And children have gone unvaccinated – which has led to an outbreak of measles—a disease that should no longer exist.

Even today, Autism Speaks came out with their position on the matter, saying, “Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism. We urge that all children be fully vaccinated.”

So to help address any concerns a parent on the fence might be having on the matter, CNN covered the top myths on vaccines vs. the truth. You can read the article in its entirety here, but here’s the summarized version:

Myth 1 – Vaccines cause autism.
Truth: The one study (mentioned above) that linked autism to the MMR vaccine was fully debunked. Thorough studies have since been conducted showing no link between autism and vaccines.

Myth 2 – They contain poisons (through mercury in the vaccines).
Truth: Studies have shown there is no connection between Thimerosal and autism/major side effects. However, the majority of children’s vaccinations no longer contain it.

Myth 3 – Doctors are profiting from them.
Truth: A 2009 study that is sourced actually claims that up to a third of doctors lose money when giving vaccines.

Myth 4 – They have too many antigens.
Truth: People are getting inoculated with less antigens than 30 years ago.

Myth 5 – The diseases they protect is from are extinct.
Truth: If you’ve seen the news, you’d know that’s not true. We had more than 600 cases of measles in 2014 and we’ve already seen more than 100 cases in January of this year.

Again, you can get the full article here.

Lynsey, Community Manager

No Link Between Vaccines and Autism



It is no secret that an ongoing, much-debated topic among the autism community – and certainly even beyond – is if vaccinations, particularly the MMR vaccine, could be a cause of autism. Although there is no fully confirmed cause(s) of autism at this time, the idea that vaccines could be linked came from a study published by Dr. Andrew Wakefield in 1998– and that study has since been debunked. But it started a movement – there have been some people that look back and may feel like it could have been a vaccine that caused their child’s autism because the timing of the vaccine with the show of symptoms – and those that are now opting out of getting their child vaccinated as a “preventative” measure.

Although the medical community has been working to spread reassurance that vaccines are safe, it still hasn’t done too much to change the minds of those opposed to them. But a new report led by the University of Sydney may give some comfort about vaccines – it reviewed available data from around the world and found that there is no link between vaccination and the development of autism.

As noted in this article, the paper’s senior author, Associate Professor Guy Eslick, said he was inspired to look into the issue after watching some documentaries on the medical debate. His study examined seven sets of data involving more than 1.25 million children and concluded that there was no evidence to support a relationship between common vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough and the development of autism.

This type of research is very important given that, as Eslick points out, there have been 11 measles outbreaks in the U.S. since 2000, and New South Wales/Australia also saw a spike in measles infections throughout the year in 2012.

Everyone needs to make the decisions that they feel is best for them/their families, but this report may at least provide some peace of mind.


Lynsey, Community Manager