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Mitchell Stokes Malcolm Campbell English 1103 September 12, 2012 Vaccines: Helpful or Harmful? Introduction/Overview My extended inquiry project's central focus will be on new research that is being conducted in regards to linking vaccines and autism. This controversial information has created a debate over whether or not vaccines that are given to young children is the reason behind their autism. It cannot be denied that the rates of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has skyrocketed in recent years, however scientists have not been able to define the exact reason behind this. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) has found that in just eight years, from 2000-2008, the number of individuals diagnosed with autism has changed from 1 in 150 to 1 in 88. Many believe that this rapid increase is due to harmful additives to vaccines that are given to children as they develop throughout their first two years. This belief has even led many families to choose to go without vaccines, antibiotics, etc. because they deem it harmful to the body. I do not necessarily believe either side completely, but having worked with children who have special needs, I can see how both sides are influenced. This topic was first brought to my attention during a training session for my job where I worked with children who had special needs and autism. I found the subject very intriguing which is why I have chosen it as my topic for the extended inquiry project. It was during that seminar where I formed the basis of my knowledge on the subject and began to become interested in the topic. Outside of that, I have done little research on the subject but have

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continued to think about the potential outcomes of what this research could me for children who have autism. Autism has been a long standing research topic, and while they have learned “the what” that causes it, they have yet to learn “the why?” Although there are many theories, there is no definitive conclusion to why people have autism. This topic cannot be looked at from a merely scientific viewpoint either, simply because it is also a very emotional subject. I have worked with children who have autism and I have seen how much the child's autism effects the parents. The complexity of the emotions that parents go through has got to be overwhelming. On one hand, of course they want answers and then again they just want to love their children and for their children to be happy. It is a very unique situation that has to be approached with a certain delicacy. Initial Inquiry Question My extended inquiry project will focus on many different topics while will all be focused around one specific debate: Are vaccines that are given to developing children the reason behind their autism? My Interest in this Topic I am interested in this topic because I have seen and worked with children who have autism. I have seen how lovable and caring they can be which led me to wonder why something like that would happen to some of the most adorable kids. I think that I am most interested in this topic because working with these kids has quickly become one of the greatest passions that I have and I feel like by learning this, I can also in the process learn more about better working work these kids. Not only do I want to learn more about this topic, but I also feel that the general public also needs to be educated as well. I hope that if I can do well on this project, that I will be

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able to help make others understand more about this disability and the abilities that these kids have. It pains me to hear my generation use derogative terms like “retard” because of my work with kids. I have learned a lot by working with children who have special needs, mostly because they taught it to me. I want to help people realize that these kids are capable of a lot more than people give them credit for. Next Steps My next steps will be doing a lot of research in order to accurately gage both sides of the debate at hand. I will use the library to try and find older reference articles on autism for background purposes. I also want to use internet sources such as the Center for the Disease Control and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders (DSM) for the most recent up to date information on Autism. I then would peruse research journals from both scientists why agree and disagree with the debate topic. I would also like to find interviews from people on both sides that approach the topic of the link between vaccines and autism.

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