Chris Castig Chris Castiglione is an educator. His mission is to use storytelling as a tool to inspire positive change in the world.

My Thoughts on, “Where Does Autism Comes From?”

2 min read

What causes autism?  I don’t know.  But I wanted to find out.

First stop: vaccines.

Do vaccines given to children cause autism? 

Aaron Carroll says “No.”

Aaron says,  “It’s not vaccines!” In the video (above) he cites a dozen or so studies that show no proven link between vaccines and autism. Aaron goes on to  explain that the initial vaccine/autism outbreak is a well known hoax – which you can read about in the MMR vaccine controversy, or watch Health Care Triage to learn more.

I believed this theory for a while. But was torn after watching this documentary Trace Amounts 

Trace Amounts argues that not all vaccines cause autism, rather it’s the vaccines which contain thimerosal (which contains mercury) that are causing autism. The film advocates that everyone should opt out of taking vaccines that include thimerosal.

The film’s call to action asks for the removal of thimerosal from all vaccines, including flu shots, in the U.S. and abroad. And asks that if you must take vaccines, you request vaccines that don’t include thimerosal.

Leaving me even more confused.

Which brought me to ask my doctor… 

I chatted with him about whether he believes mercury is linked to autism.

He asked that I not use his name, for legal reasons (which is also why I’m sharing this with you, because so much good information doesn’t get shared because “of legal reasons.”)

He hadn’t seen the movie, but here’s our conversation:

Do you believe there’s a link between vaccines and autism?
“It hasn’t been proven that vaccines are linked to autism”

Does mercury in the vaccines cause autism?
“Mercury could have something to do with it, but mercury is just one of many other things that COULD have to do with autism. What about pollution? What about the chemicals in the food we’re eating? EMF from iPhones? There are a host of things about there that were introduced in the past 30 years, so we can’t for certain say it’s mercury and vaccines”

Legally do you have to vaccinate your child?
“Many vaccines these days are mercury free, or at least you can get mercury free options. It’s not the law that everyone has to have a vaccine”

It’s not the law?
“No, but if you want your kid to go to public schools, then yes by law they will need a vaccine.”

So, it is the law!
No, you could do homeschool, or potentially a private school

And then…

On March 8th, I posted this blog post on my Facebook Wall

Vaccines and Autism

Which led me to this Harper’s piece, that basically says: The argument for vaccines causing autism is weak, AND we should be paying just as much attention to the chemicals we ingest through our environment

Here’s an excerpt:

If we do not yet know exactly what the presence of a vast range of chemicals in umbilical-cord blood and breast milk might mean for the future of our children’s health, we do at least know that we are no cleaner, even at birth, than our environment at large – Sentimental Medicine: Why we still fear vaccines [Harpers]

And John Oliver’s piece on Vaccines (watch this now):

My conclusion regarding vaccines and autism: 

  • We don’t know the answer to what is causing autism
  • It’s not vaccines
  • I’m weary of taking in too many industrialized chemicals in my home. My doctor told me, “Too much of anything industrial COULD be linked to autism. The truth is: We don’t know.” He cited a myriad possibilities: chemicals in our food, carrying our iPhone around with us all day, pollution in the air, and/or being in front of a computer for 8+ hours a day.  A similar theory was explored in the documentary The Human Experiment and is worth watching if you’d like to learn more. For me, to be safer I try to do simple things like limit my food to “organic”, I avoid wearing shoes in the house, and I choose the non-toxic cleaners.

If you disagree, let me know in the comments so I can continue to improve my thinking.


Chris Castig Chris Castiglione is an educator. His mission is to use storytelling as a tool to inspire positive change in the world.

3 Replies to “My Thoughts on, “Where Does Autism Comes From?””

  1. Thiomersal does not equal mercury. Based on your strawman argument, table salt equals poisonous sodium and poisonous chlorine. Chemistry matters, and how atoms are combined matters. Thiomersal does not disintegrate into elemental mercury and an ethyl group. It stays locked together, and the body just eliminates the tiny tiny amount in a few hours.

    Furthermore, there is absolutely no evidence that vaccines or thiomersal have any link to autism. None. Yes, you are right, we don’t know, but it’s certainly not vaccines.

    You’re using the Argument from Ignorance, a logical fallacy, by claiming that we should be worried by what we don’t know. There is no evidence, after looking at the data for decades, what may or may not be linked to autism. What we do know – it’s probably genetic. Maybe it’s triggered by an environmental issue, but we don’t know. Falling for the Argument from Ignorance is really not what a good scientific person would do.

    Otherwise, good article. I like seeing how you moved from one thing to another by using logic (mostly, I need to nitpick of course) and evidence.

    1. Talk about a mis-characterization. While the author might, in an extremely distorted reading, confuse ethymercury with methylmercury, your analogy is far from apt. You take an inch and run a mile, so to speak, by making an even worse opposite fallacy. Just because ethylmercury is not methymercury does not mean it is harmless. Not like it matters either way since the debate is asinine due to the availability of non-Thimerosal containing variants of every vaccine.

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