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Vaccines and Autism

Vaccines are a routine part of child medical care, but many parents face concerns that these routine vaccinations are unsafe and can even cause certain medical conditions in children, such as autism.  So when did the concern that vaccines cause autism start? What do we know about vaccines and their connection with autism? Read below to learn more.

Vaccines and Autism: Where the Controversy Started

The idea that vaccines cause autism can be traced to a few sources beginning in the 1990’s.. For one, British researchers published a document in 1998 stating that the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine could cause autism. Because there was a notable elevation in the number of children being diagnosed with autism at that time, the paper received a great deal of publicity.

Not long after the 1998 study with MMR and many other studies supporting that vaccines do not cause autism, a new concern emerged regarding the ingredients used in some vaccines:  thimerosal. Thimerosal was, at the time, used to thwart the growth of fungi or bacteria in vaccines, and the agent contained fractional levels of mercury, something that was obviously concerning to medical providers and parents alike. While thimerosal was pulled from all child vaccines by 2001 due to the mercury present, no scientific evidence or study every suggested that thimerosal could cause autism.

What do we know about vaccines and autism?

Numerous scientific studies have examined vaccines and their ingredients to determine whether vaccines could cause autism. To date, these research efforts have not been able to identify a link between vaccines and autism.

In 2015, the largest study to date was published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers extensively analyzed 95,000 health records of children — including 2,000 children already being at risk of autism due to other underlying factors. The study did not find any link between the MMR vaccine and the risk of ASD.

At least 25 other studies have examined a host of other possible links between vaccines and autism. Researchers have looked at several aspects of vaccine safety in children and how those safety concerns could be linked to autism.

Some of those research efforts have been on factors such as:

  • Thimerosal exposure
  • Antibody stimulating proteins
  • Vaccines and antigens
  • Immunization rates and neuropsychological outcomes
  • Immunization rates and metabolic errors

None of these studies were able to point out a link between vaccines and autism or conditions related to autism. The American Academy of Pediatrics compiled an extensive list of studies on vaccine safety and autism, but the list is not exhaustive. Each vaccine — existing and already in use and those in development — are continually being tested for safety and effectiveness.

What do we know about the causes of autism?

While at this time, no single cause of autism has been identified by researches,  medical professionals have identified a significant number of risk factors that can make a child more likely to have the condition. These risk factors all appear to be genetic or environmental in nature.

Autism seems to run in families, which suggests a genetic factor. Certain familial genes and gene changes may heighten the risk that a child develops autism. Though people can have the genes that have been noted as risk factors for autism and never have the disorder. It is also worth noting that genetic changes can happen spontaneously during the initial stages of embryonic formation.

A few environmental risk factors for autism include:

  • Either parent being of an advanced age
  • Complications during pregnancy or birth, such as pregnancy with multiples or premature delivery
  • Close-occurring pregnancies less than a year apart

Risks should never be misconstrued as causes for autism. Neither environmental nor genetic risk factors definitively cause autism.

Vaccines and Autism

While there are many who believe that vaccines do cause autism, there is no research based or scientific evidence at this time to suggest a direct link between vaccines and autism.  Parents should be aware that vaccinations are an ever-important and consistently safe way to help ensure the health and well-being of their children.

For an appropriate autism diagnosis, it is important to work with a qualified professional who specializes in autism spectrum disorder and knows the true signs of the condition. If you believe your child has autism or need to know more about the disorder, reach out to Lighthouse Autism Center for information.

5 Tips for Celebrating Halloween with a Child on the Autism Spectrum

1.) The Costume

Let your child pick out a costume that works for them. If they love soft things, try a fuzzy costume onesie, if they love dinosaurs, let them be a T-rex. Whatever it is that gets your child excited, channel that into a costume!

2.) What to Expect

Make sure your child knows what to expect. Talk about the trick or treating and exactly what your child should expect. Consider creating a visual schedule or countdown to the big day!

3.) Practice

Help your child practice for the big day by practicing putting on their costume and going through the routine of the day. Enlist the help of a neighbor or friend and have your child practice trick or treating at their homes.

4.) Trick or Treat Alternatives

If your child does not enjoy trick or treating, or if you are choosing to stay home due to Covid-19 related reasons, consider other alternatives. Take them to other Halloween-related activities in the community or consider a “not-so-scary” night in with their favorite movie and treat.

5.) Have Fun!

Whatever you choose to do and however you do it, remember to be flexible, do what is best for your child and family, and have fun!

 

 

Staff Spotlight: Olivia

Lighthouse Autism Center’s Staff Spotlight highlights the incredible people who work on our team. The Staff Spotlight will feature employees across all different centers in a variety of positions. This is an opportunity for our community to get to know the people who work so hard every day to deliver the best aba therapy to the kids and families we serve.

Meet Olivia

Meet Olivia. Olivia is a Jr. Program Manager at our Elkhart – South center and has been with Lighthouse Autism Center for three years. Olivia recently graduated from Ball State University with her Master’s in ABA and received her BCBA certification in July of 2020. As a BCBA with Lighthouse Autism Center, Olivia oversees a small caseload of children and designs and implements custom therapy programs to help children advance social and communication skills, daily living skills, and more.

Board Certified Behavior Analyst

Tell us about why you applied for a position with Lighthouse.

I originally did an internship at an ABA center in Munice, IN while I was in college. Once I moved back home after I graduated, I knew I wanted to continue working in the ABA field because I fell in love with the science behind ABA practices.

Tell us about a favorite memory with your team at Lighthouse.

My favorite memory is that I have made lifelong friends through this company. Being in a service field bonds you to other people because you share the same passion. Lighthouse has introduced me to some of the greatest people I have ever met!

What is your favorite memory from your time at Lighthouse?

My favorite part about working with kiddos at Lighthouse is when they completely surprise you and show you skills that you had no idea they had! These kiddos never fail to impress and amaze me with all of the things that they can learn. Working with them is the biggest blessing and I am so lucky to be their teacher!

How would you describe your Lighthouse experience?

I would describe my Lighthouse experience as memorable. I have gotten the chance to work at two centers and get to know so many different kiddos and therapists. It has been wonderful being a part of this community!

Olivia is a dog mom to a standard poodle named Stella and is looking forward to getting married in the Fall of 2020.

Interested in learning more about a career with Lighthouse Autism Center? We are hiring! For a list of available positions or to apply, click here.

 

Staff Spotlight: Meet Cierra

Lighthouse Autism Center’s Staff Spotlight highlights the incredible people who work on our team. The Staff Spotlight will feature employees across all different centers in a variety of positions. This is an opportunity for our community to get to know the people who work so hard every day to deliver the best ABA therapy to the kids and families we serve.

Meet Cierra

Meet Cierra. Cierra is a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) at our Plymouth, Indiana center. Cierra has been with Lighthouse Autism Center three years and is a graduate of Winona Lake College with her Bachelor’s in Psychology. As a RBT, Cierra is responsibly for working one-on-one with children who have autism to implement custom therapy programs to help that child develop social skills, communication skills, living skills and more. Cierra is currently working towards her Master’s in ABA at Ball State University.

Registered Behavior Technician

Tell us about why you applied for a position with Lighthouse.

Honestly, I fell in love with the idea of being an ABA therapist. I did my research before graduation and I had heard so many wonderful things about Lighthouse and I knew I wanted to be a part of a company that not only cared so much about their clients but about their staff just as much. Lighthouse just seemed like the best out of all the centers available!

Tell us about a favorite memory with your team at Lighthouse.

There are so many memories! If I had to pick one my most memorable would have to be back in March of 2019 there was a client at the center with a rare epilepsy disorder and it was epilepsy awareness month. Our team took the time to get shirts that represented epilepsy awareness and created banners and posters for this client. I remember holding one of the posters waiting for the doors to open for her and her parents to see us standing there waiting for them. Doing something that special with my team made it feel like a work family experience. I love participating in things like this with my team because it not only feels good to do something amazing for these families but feels amazing to band with my team in a way like this.

What is your favorite memory from your time at Lighthouse?

My favorite by far was a former client of ours that came to us not being able to walk on his feet. I could only move around on his knees. I remember our whole team working so hard to get him to walk using many assisting devices, and at one point even had a wheel chair. He got to a point to where he could walk if we held his hand, but if we didn’t hold hands he would not walk. After months of practicing walking around the center I remember by the end of the day one day he let go of his therapists hand and took his first independent steps on his feet to his mom. It was the best thing to experience.

How would you describe your Lighthouse experience?

My experience at Lighthouse is life changing. Without Lighthouse I would not have found my passion for what I do. I love ABA so much and I love being a part of the solution and a part of the reason so many kids get a better outcome of life and so many positive changes for these families. It’s the most rewarding feeling and I couldn’t ask for a better experience. I love where I work so much that no other place would ever compare.

When not at work, Cierra enjoys running, cooking, and spending time with her husband and her rescue pup, Maggie.

Interested in learning more about a career with Lighthouse Autism Center? We are hiring! For a list of available positions or to apply, click here.

 

Staff Spotlight: Meet Rachel

Lighthouse Autism Center’s Staff Spotlight highlights the incredible people who work on our team. The Staff Spotlight will feature employees across all different centers in a variety of positions. This is an opportunity for our community to get to know the people who work so hard every day to deliver the best ABA therapy to the kids and families we serve.

Meet Rachel

Meet Rachel. Rachel has been a Registered Behavior Technician at Lighthouse Autism Center’s Greenfield location for one year. She graduated from Wittenberg University with degrees in Psychology and Sports Management. She is currently in graduate school working towards her Master’s of Science in Education Psychology with a concentration in ABA.

Registered Behavior Technician
Rachel and her dog, Maggie.

Tell us what you like about working at Lighthouse.

My favorite part of working with lighthouse team members is the opportunity to collaborate with amazing minds every single day. Having supervisors and co-workers to not only hold you accountable but to lift you up is an amazing experience. It has helped me learn so much and to ignite a passion for this field and our kiddos.

Tell us about a favorite memory from your time at Lighthouse.

My favorite part of working with Lighthouse kiddos is getting to watch them learn and grow every single day. Everyday is a new opportunity for them and getting to be a part of their success is something that is indescribable. All credit goes to these amazing, hardworking kiddos that I get the pleasure of working with.

How would you describe your Lighthouse experience?

Working at Lighthouse has given me the opportunity to learn so much about the field and develop new skills as a therapist and future BCBA as well as given me the chance to work with some amazing kiddos. I am excited to continue to grow with Lighthouse!

When Rachel isn’t working, she enjoys hiking, DIY projects and playing with her puppy, Noodle.

Interested in learning more about a career with Lighthouse Autism Center? We are hiring! For a list of available positions or to apply, click here.