Autism and Vaccines: ASHA Asks Presidential Candidates to Look at Evidence-Based Approach, Role of SLPs In response to their public statements linking autism to vaccines, ASHA President Kate Gotffred has sent letters to the two presumptive presidential candidates asking them “to consider strongly the critical need for evidence-based decision-making.” A long-running court case alleges a link between autism and thimerosal, a preservative in some vaccines ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   July 01, 2008
Autism and Vaccines: ASHA Asks Presidential Candidates to Look at Evidence-Based Approach, Role of SLPs
Author Notes
  • Carol Polovoy, production editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at cpolovoy@asha.org.
    Carol Polovoy, production editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at cpolovoy@asha.org.×
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / ASHA News & Member Stories / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   July 01, 2008
Autism and Vaccines: ASHA Asks Presidential Candidates to Look at Evidence-Based Approach, Role of SLPs
The ASHA Leader, July 2008, Vol. 13, 3. doi:10.1044/leader.AN.13092008.3
The ASHA Leader, July 2008, Vol. 13, 3. doi:10.1044/leader.AN.13092008.3
In response to their public statements linking autism to vaccines, ASHA President Kate Gotffred has sent letters to the two presumptive presidential candidates asking them “to consider strongly the critical need for evidence-based decision-making.”
A long-running court case alleges a link between autism and thimerosal, a preservative in some vaccines given to young children. Three leading medical organizations—the World Health Organization, the Institute of Medicine, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—have rejected the link. At least five major studies have found no link between autism and thimerosal, including a California Department of Public Health study that found an increasing rate of autism in children even after manufacturers stopped using the preservative in vaccines (see The ASHA Leader, Mar. 25).
“Science is critical to the enlightenment and facilitation of decisions regarding health care and public policy,” Gottfred said in identical letters to Sens. Barak Obama and John McCain. “Parents who think that vaccines cause autism may not have their children get the vaccinations they need, a choice with serious potential health risks.
“Moreover, these parents are making this choice even though the scientific evidence supporting it is quite weak and indirect.”
In an April rally in Pennsylvania, Obama said, “Some people are suspicious that it’s [autism] connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it.”
McCain made a similar statement at a February meeting in Texas, saying “there’s strong evidence that indicates it’s [autism] got to do with a preservative in vaccines.”
“As you help lead the way toward meeting the many challenges facing our nation with respect to autism,” Gottfred said in the letters, “we urge you to do everything you can to ensure that the way is informed by an evidence-based approach.”
Additional Efforts
ASHA is taking other steps to help inform the public about autism, with a particular emphasis on the diagnosis and care involved.
ASHA also has a new podcast featuring speech-language pathologist Amy Wetherby, professor in the Department of Communication Disorders at Florida State University. Wetherby chaired ASHA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Autism Spectrum Disorders, which developed a 2006 set of documents (technical report, position statement, guidelines, and knowledge and skills) related to the role of the SLP in the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of communication disorders associated with autism spectrum disorders across the age span.
The podcast will provide information on autism diagnosis, care, and resources for parents and other consumers.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
July 2008
Volume 13, Issue 9