Challenging the Public’s Perception of Life on Autism Spectrum: The Impact of the Vaccination Myth

  • Matthew BennettEmail author
  • Amanda A. Webster
  • Emma Goodall
  • Susannah Rowland


A popular myth about autism is the belief that vaccinations administered during childhood contribute to the development of autism spectrum disorder. This chapter will unpack the origins of this myth, beginning with a discussion of Wakefield and colleagues’ controversial 1998 study, which received widespread media attention. The media’s portrayal of the vaccination–autism controversy will then be examined, followed by a review of the research on known contributors or causes of autism spectrum disorder. The impact of this myth on creating a culture of fear will be discussed, and the ways this has resulted in the devaluing of autistic people and their potential contributions to society will be explored. A future perspective will be offered, which challenges the belief held by some that autistic children have limited potential because of their autistic differences and allows them to view autistic differences in a positive light. Finally, suggestions will be made for reworking this myth in the light of current research on the impact that autistic individuals have made in today’s world and the positive and negative aspects of life on the autism spectrum.


Vaccination Causes Outcomes Public perception Presentation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew Bennett
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amanda A. Webster
    • 2
  • Emma Goodall
    • 3
  • Susannah Rowland
    • 4
  1. 1.University of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  2. 2.University of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  3. 3.University of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  4. 4.University of WollongongWollongongAustralia

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