NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS; THE CURRENT CONTROVERSYOF
MERCURY VACCINES AND AUTISM; ONE CONTROVERSY, THREE
1. Trace the history of how mercury came to be used in vaccines.
Mercury came to be used as childhood vaccines dates back to the preantibiotic
era, a time when physicians employed a variety of compounds known as
germicles to combat bacteria.
2. What are the various historical perspectives regarding autism, i.e., its causes and
Parents and clinicians who have framed autism in biomedical terms have been
critical agents in promoting both the concept of the autism epidemic and primary
of its vaccines as a cause.
The passion behind their arguments stems from a long history of advocacy on
behalf of their children.
Often in the face of psychiatric theories perceived as parent blaming and in
adequately funded developmental and educational resources in many communities
After the death of psychoanalytical theories , optimism was conceptualised to
have been rooted from a biological model
Researchers have also re- conceptualised autism as a neurodevelopment condition
Four tenets have characterised most approaches by this researchers
The cause of autism is fundamentally biological, not due to parental
behavior. Nature of the cause remains unknown, but varieties of studies
have highlighted the importance of genetics.
Autism is conceptualized as a spectrum of disorders. In the 1970s,
investigators modified Kenner‟s original (1948) diagnosis to encompass
children with greater intellectual and language impairment and also
expanded it to encompass higher-functioning kids with labels such as
"pervasive developmental disorder" and "autistic spectrum disorders“
If autism represents a spectrum disorder rooted in biology, its treatment
must be largely rehabilitative, rather than curative
As with other developmental disorders, early referral and intervention
offer the greatest hope for a positive outcome (screening, educational
programs, support, etc.) “Alternative” biological perspective
Viewed autism in biomedical terms. Rather than viewing autism as a continuum of
disability, it characterized the condition as a heterogeneous collection of discrete entities
with different etiologies sharing a common presentation. Most importantly, this
viewpoint offered hope that at least some forms of autism are not simply treatable, but
Most popular: those focusing on special diets, based on studies suggesting that an
abnormality in intestinal permeability may admit intestinal toxins or opioids affecting the
nervous system at an early age.
These theories recast autism as biomedical in origin and potentially curable in ways that
reflect late 20th century hopes in the power of medical technology
The most notable organization promoting this frame work is the Autism Research
institute in San Diego.
Diet ,Digestive tract changes , Mercury poisoning ,Body's inability to properly use
vitamins and minerals ,Vaccine sensitivity
3. Detail the various factors, events and “players” that “came together” to create the current
controversy surrounding autism.
Group of actors, including members of Congress, professional groups, antivaccine
organizations, and personal injury lawyers, assumed central relevance
However important personal injury lawyers, vaccine skeptics, and their allies in Congress
may have been in shaping the thimerosal controversy since 1999, they did not create it.
Parents within the “alternative” wing of the autism community were the primary agents
in popularizing the concepts that autism had become epidemic and that vaccines were its
THE RHETORIC OF SCIENCE AND STATISTICS IN CLAIMS OF AN
1. How have scientific and experiential evidence been used to link vaccines,
environmental toxins and autism?
Changes in definition, measurement, and identification of ASD have had important
implications for measuring incidence of new diagnoses and the change in overall
prevalence in recent decades.
Its expanded diagnostic continuum in widely used clinical manuals such as the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV and IV-TR (APA 1994, 2000)
may be a source of increase in prevalence of childhood ASD - as diagnoses include a
broader range of conditions than they did in the past
increasing cultural preoccupation with medicalizing childhood learning and
developmental disabilities 2. How does the autism-vaccine controversy reflect society’s general attitude toward
childhood learning and developmental disabilities?
3. Review Perez’ claim of the “rhetoric of statistics” with regards to autism rates.
A key claim that autism is a serious problem that has reached epidemic levels and
deserves widespread public attention and resources involves promoting statistics
that reveal the rapid increase of those affected and the extent of the condition and
its costs to families, schools, and broader society
Prevalence of ASD diagnosis began to rise in the 1980s, with a more accelerated
increase beginning in the early 1990s
Autism statistics, esp. those closer to the 1 in 150 childhood ASD rate, are
prominent across advocacy websites and autism-related literature (CDC: 2-6
/1000 or 1/500 - 1/150) – rates that are b/w 3-4 times higher than 3 decades ago
•„„1 in 150’’ expands the domain of those possibly affected, construing the
diagnosis as frequent and appeals to all that any child is a potential child with
autism…democratizing the risk
Common techniques i