Peggy HallidayPeggy Halliday is a board certified associate behavior analyst who has specialized in autism education for the past ten years. She is the Director of Outreach Services at the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA) in Charlottesville, VA. VIA is a non-profit organization which provides a day school and other resources for families, educators, and other professionals seeking services, training or information about autism and evidence-based interventions. The Institute operates a year-round school for students ages 2-22, a 700-volume library, training workshops, internships for undergraduate and graduate students and teachers, and customized trainings for schools. Peggy supervises a wide range of outreach services, including development and supervision of comprehensive, home-based early intervention programs incorporating naturalistic, incidental, and structured teaching using the principles of applied behavior analysis; training for parents and home instructors; skills assessments, functional behavior assessments and intervention plans, and consultation on Individual Education Plan goals. She has presented trainings and workshops at state and national conferences.
Host: Is there any evidence that autism can be linked to certain vaccinations? Peggy Halliday: Research has not shown a link between autism and vaccine.
This is then a huge cause of concern for parents because we are giving our children so many vaccinations these days. The MMR vaccines, the measles, mumps and rubella, was originally thought perhaps to have a link between vaccine and autism because it is given to children at about the same age as some of the symptoms start to show up but a comprehensive study by the Institutes of Medicine in 2004 looked for a relation between vaccines including the MMR and autism and they did not find a relationship. The other cause of concern has been the preservative by Thiomersal which is metabolized as Methyl Mercury and there was a sign of that perhaps, this was the cause of some of the neurological problems including autism, but again there have been no studies that have been found to support this link between Thiomersal and autism. To reassure parents a little more, however in 2003 Thiomersal stopped being put as a preservative in any vaccine except for the Flu shot and it is available as an alternative without Thiomersal.