Special Education

Autism Ruling Blow for Activists

By Christina A. Samuels — February 23, 2009 1 min read

Although a special federal court has rejected claims that vaccines cause autism, the decision is not likely to tamp down the assertion.

Diagnoses of autism, a developmental disorder marked by impaired communication and social interaction, have been on the rise, and now affect one out of every approximately 150 children, according to studies from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thousands of parents maintain that their children were healthy before receiving vaccines that contain thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative. Parents have also said their children were injured by the combined vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella.

Thimerosal is no longer used in childhood vaccines in the United States, with the exception of the flu vaccine, but the MMR vaccine is still given routinely.

Three families were chosen to be test cases before a special federal court that hears vaccine-injury cases. But in a recent ruling, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims rejected all three cases, saying the parents did not show a likely link between their children’s illness and the vaccines.

One special master in the case, George Hastings, came out strongly against the witnesses gathered by the parents of Michelle Cedillo, a 14-year-old with autism.

“Unfortunately, the Cedillos have been misled by physicians who are guilty, in my view, of gross medical misjudgment,” Mr. Hastings wrote.

A statement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said officials hoped the Feb. 12 decision reassured parents. The department also said it was continuing its research into the causes of autism and the best ways to treat the disorder.

About 5,500 U.S. families were seeking compensation through the federal government’s vaccine-injury fund. The families in the three test cases have not indicated whether they will appeal.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the February 25, 2009 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Addressing Learning Loss: What Schools Need to Accelerate Reading Instruction in K-3
When K-3 students return to classrooms this fall, there will be huge gaps in foundational reading skills. Does your school or district need a plan to address learning loss and accelerate student growth? In this
Content provided by PDX Reading
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Special Education Opinion Five Teacher-Recommended Strategies to Support Students With Learning Differences
Four educators share strategies for supporting students with learning differences, including utilizing "wait time" and relationship building.
11 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Special Education The Pandemic Made It Harder to Spot Students With Disabilities. Now Schools Must Catch Up
After more than a year of disruption for all students, the pressure's on to find those in need of special education and provide services.
13 min read
Aikin listens to her eight-year-old son, Carter, as he reads in the family’s home in Katy, TX, on Thursday, July 8, 2021. Carter has dyslexia and Aikin could not help but smile at the improvement in his fluency as he read out loud.
Kanisha Aikin listens to her 8-year-old son, Carter, who has dyslexia, as he reads aloud in the family’s home in Katy, Texas.
Annie Mulligan for Education Week
Special Education What Employers Can Teach Schools About Neurodiversity
The benefits of neurodiversity have gained traction in business, but college and career support for students with disabilities falls short.
8 min read
Special Education The Challenge of Teaching Students With Visual Disabilities From Afar
Teachers of students with visual disabilities struggle to provide 3-D instruction in a two-dimensional remote learning environment.
Katie Livingstone
5 min read
Neal McKenzie
Neal McKenzie, an assistive technology specialist, works with a student who has a visual impairment in Sonoma County, Calif.<br/>
Courtesy Photo