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World Autism Awareness Day

By Andrea Clement-JohnsonCaleb Word Cloud

My son, Caleb, is many wonderful things and this word cloud captures just a few aspects of his personality. You may have noticed that autism is represented as the smallest piece of this word cloud. Autism, like any diagnosis, is just one part of his life, not the whole of our Caleb.

CalebToday is World Autism Awareness Day,
a day design
ated by the United Nations to bring awareness to the need to help improve the lives of children and adults with autism. It is also just a few weeks before National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW). With that in mind, I want to remind you that there are many parents, like me, who have children with autism and know that vaccination is safe and effective and vaccinate their children according to the recommended, science-based schedule. Dealing with the potential long-term consequences of vaccine-preventable disease would be a much greater obstacle for my son to overcome than those that we have faced since he was diagnosed with autism!

Some parents are concerned that there is a link between vaccines (like MMR) or vaccine ingredients (like thimerosal) and autism. Fortunately, several large studies of MMR vaccine have been done in the U.S. and other countries. None has found a link between autism and the MMR vaccine. Additionally, scientific research does not show a link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism. Although thimerosal was taken out of kids’ vaccines in 2001, autism rates continue to go up. To add to the mounting evidence, a brand new study shows, once again, that the number of vaccines a child receives during the first two years of life is not related to the development of autism in children.

Please take a moment today to celebrate the talents and joys of the many kids – like my son Caleb – and adults who are living with autism. And please remember the importance of immunization in helping all children reach their full potential!

Andrea is a health educator who lives and works in Larimer County, Colorado. She is married and has 3 children, ages 10, 12 & 15.  She is passionate about public health, learning new things and educating others. She enjoys volleyball, hiking, music, dance and spending time with her friends and family.

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