The Amish Don’t Get Autism, and They Aren’t Vaccinated


Bloggers are talking about the autism-vaccine link these days, and some of them have brought up a little investigation done in 2005 by United Press International reporter Dan Olmsted. Olmsted wanted to know whether the Amish, who largely don’t vaccinate their children, suffer autism at the same rates as everybody else.

Olmstead took a trip to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and embarked on looking for people with autism. If the prevailing theory that autism is genetic was correct, there should have been 1 in 166 people in that population with autism, he figured. (One in 166 was the accepted figure at the time. Now it’s more like 1 in 100.)

He figured there would be about 130 people in the Amish community there with autism, based on 1 in 166.  About half of those would have easily identifiable classic autism, he said. So, upwards of 50 with classic autism. And he started asking around to find them.

He found only three.

Coincidentally or not, at least two of the three had been vaccinated. One had been adopted from China and had received all her vaccinations on the same day.

Now, there are other variables too.  Amish eat a far-different diet from most Americans. They’re mostly from the same gene pool. And so on. So this isn’t conclusive evidence. What’s needed is a study matching vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals and comparing autism rates. No one with any money is willing to do this, at least so far. Since it would settle the question, I do wonder why not.

And what about the headlines a while back about a polio outbreak in an Amish community? According to the HealthWyze blog, it turns out that was a strain of polio that came from a five-year-old vaccine. It didn’t sicken the children, but was found in their stools only. Odd that this made headlines, isn’t it?

UPI report:

Health Wyze:


Phyllis Wheeler

0 thoughts on “The Amish Don’t Get Autism, and They Aren’t Vaccinated

  • @Absleydale – Absolutely true. I hate fatuous, dangerous articles like this…. and I hope that no more children die needlessly from pertussis or diptheria because of more statements concerning the possible link between vaccines and autism.

    Trust me… there is a FAR greater link between bad statistics and child harm than vaccines and child harm.

  • This is a great article and has greater truth than all of the so called medical research about vaccines.  All true research and CONGRESS HAS IT and KNOWS IT shows vaccines are the cause of Autism.  But dumb sheep are manipulated by creating doubt through a need for more research.  That is STUPID in the least. It is stupid to IGNORE this common sense evidence.  The medical profession DOES NOT KNOW the cause of all of the disease that VACCINES are causing?  THEY ARE TRAINED IDIOTS of mass confusion with NO ANSWERS. OK so I am hard on them, so then WHERE are the answers or the cures?  THEY HAVE NONE!  CLUE!

  • @ccmoki@xanga – That is just another LIE that people buy into.  THERE ARE NO RISKS of these horrible diseases unless you are malnourished and live in a dump and still vaccines only hurt those people whose immune system is already weakened.  God is not an idiot, but it is obvious those who do not have HIS WISDOM are so!

  • I have concluded that science is MAD!  It is mad at God, mad at truth and MAD at common sense.  It is the example of pure insanity as people actually cannot see the TRUTH in common sense evidence that AMISH do not have AUTISM!  People get a grip, make a decision and stop looking for science to tell you anything of truth.  How many times do they have to be wrong before you realize they are the STUPID ONES, and we with common sense are the SMART ONES.  Their science is rooted in the LIE of evolution and they dogmatically and violently attack any scientists who does not embrace evolution.  That is a clue about HOW BAD American’s scientists have become.  They can’t find a cure, don’t know the cause of ANY disease and you are supposed to blindly trust them.  NOT!  Vaccines are BAD because it is OBVIOUS you can’t make mercury, aluminum and all of the other toxic adjutants safe!  DUH!  

  • @Dee – And… seriously, where did you get the idea that autism is primarily a social disorder??? Since when are sensory issues a social disorder? Since when can an auditory processing disorder be caused by a lack of socialization? Since when can problems with proprioception be classified as a social disorder? Gender identification disorders are not a social problem, though they certainly CAUSE social problems. 

    These are REAL neurological differences in cognition and functioning… not merely social ineptitude. Yes, someone with Aspergers may have social problems, but the social problems stem from differences in how information is perceived and processed… not from lack of interaction with “real” people. 

  • @Dee – How does a child who has never watched TV and has “socialized” with lots of people (mainly family) show signs of autism before age 2? I don’t think socialization or lack thereof plays any part in whether a child is or is not autistic. I think some autistic children (and adults) might gravitate more toward the “artificial socialization”… but I do not think that is the cause or plays much of a part in a cause. Could the “artificial socialization” stunt the growth of an otherwise neuro-typical child’s social development? Absolutely, but that would not make that child autistic. It would simply make the child socially inept. It would not necessarily cause the sensory issues and other neurological problems that set autistic children apart from the neuro-typical world. 

    I could write a very well documented research paper with the information I have gathered about psychology, theories of consciousness, quantum mechanics, electronics, and autism… but a comment on Xanga isn’t the platform on which to present it. 

  • I have a strong opposition against articles that do not have their arguments based on well defined will controlled facts and aspects. At best this is an observational study and considered to be very weak on the hierarchy of practice for evidence based medicine.

    The is MUCH GREATER RISK of having your child not get vaccinated and die or suffer consequences of say polio. In addition, not getting vaccinated puts other children at risk and adults too for that matter, as we know vaccines, though very effective are not 100% fool proof.
    Autism has been a new field of study and we are only now starting to uncover the underlying mechanisms of genetic and environmental factors. It’s hypothesized now that autism has something to do with an autoimmune disease that attacks specific cells within the brain, or does not allow proper connections to form within different parts of your brain to potentiate and differentiate into normal social individuals. (That is why many times autistic children may begin life with some signs of normality in social situations such as eye contact, etc etc. but eventually lose it over time)
    Though this is still a hypothesis…but at least there are scientific studies as opposed to observational….

  • they are also very “religious”, why don’t you say it is their “belief” that keep them away from autism?

  • @keystspf@xanga – I don’t think it’s that complex, but you’re on a better track. Rather than electronic waves, I think it literally comes from the way we socialize from birth on. With less social substitutions, such as television and the internet, people are more likely to socialize with one another face to face and I think this is necessary in keeping people off of the autism spectrum. 

  • Correlation is not causation. There are a thousand other variables.

    I think a stronger connection would be: the amish don’t use technology, so their children grow up socializing with other humans, rather than getting their socialization from a television, computer, telephone, etc. For a social disorder, I think this is a far more likely cause than something so loosely connected as vaccination or even diet. 

  • The Amish also do not have nearly as many electronic devices cluttering up their homes… I am waiting anxiously for a study to show just how much interference all of this has on developing humans. Electromagnetic interference has to play some part in it, all things considered. Though, my guess would be that it is a combination of factors that ultimately work together to produce the rise in autism. Genetic predisposition, electromagnetic interference, diet, vaccine sensitivities, etc… 

  • I agree with the reader who said this is “idiotic.” Not only are the amish in their only little enclosed gene pool, they live largely separate from mainstream society, so their kids have a far lower risk of being exposed to mumps, measles, rubella & polio. 

    Not vaccinating your children on the basis of bad “science” puts our whole population at risk of contracting diseases that were once considered “history” in the United States.  

  • i was going to say the gene pool thing. thank you for not taking a correlation as proof.

  • They get six fingered dwarfism from all of the genetic inbreeding. That might sound a little unbelievable, but you can google it or learn it in a genetics class.

  • I am surprised that two of the previous commentators had “will not accept recommendation” pop up, when I tried to recommend.
    I think that two points should be further studied.  First, the Amish community does its best to keep to its own, as far as marriage.  Therefore the gene pool is not thrown wide open.  This might avoid the genetic tie from affecting the occurrence of autism.  Second, yes, they, like some other religious communities (we have one up here) deny that their kids have any problems.  I think that the occurrence of autism would be less noticed among the Amish, because all of them act a little more like autistic people than does the modern convenience enjoying public.

  • UGH… If vaccinations cause autism then why is being autistic not the norm?  And I’m sure there’s some autistic person somewhere that wasn’t vaccinated.  Nobody knows what causes it, just like nobody knows what causes some people to get various forms of cancer over other people.  Life’s a bitch.  Sure more research is needed, but its impossible to find the truth when everybody is wearing vaccination blinders. 

  • Its not even true.

    Firstly, the Amish do have autism, and has one poster says, she herself has Asperger’s and comes from and Amish background.  Secondly Americans diagnose all sorts of diseases at much greater rates than other places in the world where there is nationalised medicine. Medicine in the US is a business, and a business must grow, as must the therapy and drug businesses and so they diagnose at greater rates than Canada or the UK.  The Amish do not visit doctors very often.  
    I had a child who went to an American school, Out of the 17 children in his class 6 were on Ritalin.  When he later went to a local school there was only one child out of the whole school on Ritalin and he definitely had problems of a nature different from the other kids who seemed to be just rather wild little boys (who all grew out of it). I believe this is the same for the low diagnosis of autism in the Amish. They don’t run to the doctor for every little thing and the doctors and therapists can’t make the kind of money out of them they can from the general US population.
    This is about the REAL state of autism (and vaccination) among the Amish.
    I think that this blogger has a big thing about vaccination and autism. I do believe that this blogger suffers from cognitive dissonance. Despite all evidence they MUST believe that vaccination causes autism to they cling on to any old straw around.

  • In Loving Lamposts, a movie on Netflix, they state that they mentioned a study as well with vaccinations done by the United States and found that vaccinations do not correlate to Autism. The movie is really interesting.

  • Fact: The disease vaccines protect against kill more children than autism does.  Sure, we need to break up these shots different so as not to load a bunch on a child all at once, but still we need vaccines.  I’d rather my child (and I have 3) have autism than be dead. 

  • The Amish don’t use zippers, and they don’t have autism.  Clearly, zippers cause autism.

    I’ll grant that the concept may seem appealing.  But the reality is, the Amish community
    is so different from mainstream America, that it is impossible to
    account for all the variables.  There’s just no way to create a stable
    control group — at least, not ethically.  As a result, this just can’t rise above anecdotal “evidence.”

  • Fascinating information. I have wondered about this, and it certainly points to the Amish doing something right that we aren’t doing. Truth is, they are probably doing a lot of things right that we aren’t doing. We expose ourselves to so much toxicity and radiation in our lives that we are definitely doing ourselves harm. It’s not to say they couldn’t learn a few things from us, but we can certainly learn from eachother. It’s dissapointing to read so many commenters with such a pre-judgemental and closed view on the subject, to the point that it doesn’t seem many of them even read the articles. It’s a shame as much as anything due to the point it makes about polio. I’m not going to say the articles ends in the most professional manner, but there is considerable information there for people to really weigh what it all means, and try to think about what changes they need to make in their lives to improve in such areas as autism. It seems that instantly shutting minds to this is a neat way to avoid facing challenging questions as to what exactly are we bringing into our lives, while demonizing an easy victim in a group of people that lives differently then us. For a community so interested in autism, that doesn’t sound like a smart approach. I’m not going to say that this study proves that vaccines are exclusively the reason for far lesser autism rates in the Amish, but it certainly suggests that we need to look deeper at what we can learn from the way they live that can help us improve the way we live, including health.

  • ” If the prevailing theory that autism is genetic was correct, there
    should have been 1 in 166 people in that population with autism, he
    figured. (One in 166 was the accepted figure at the time. Now it’s more
    like 1 in 100.)”
    No, if it’s genetic then in such an isolated genetic population we would either see lots of autism or very little, depending on if the founders of the community contained the genetic risk factors or not.   The 1 in 166 figure is from a randomly selected group, and who is and isn’t Amish is clearly not random.

    That the Amish do not have the same rates of autism as a random sample from the U.S. only proves that somehow the Amish are a separate population, which we probably could have guessed.   Like I said, could just be the founders of their population didn’t have the risk factors, and like you said they have different diets, different exercise habits, different jobs, different everything.

    The Amish also die of obesity far less often so do vaccines cause obesity?   Of course not, correlation =/= causation

    Additionally, this guy was not a psychologist, he was a reporter.   How do we know he got an accurate headcount?   He may very well have missed members of the community exhibiting more subtle symptoms of the disease.

    So basically:
    1. It’s a correlation, nothing more
    2. There are a million other factors in the Amish that could also be correlated with it, like not wearing buttons
    3. It’s based on the false assumption that if the disease is genetic it will occur at the same rate in all populations, which is the exact opposite of how genetics work
    4. It was not a scientific study and no statistics on how significant the findings were were calculated
    5. It was conducted by a reporter, not a trained psychologist

    Therefore, this “study” tells us jack shit about autism

  • I’ve scanned the comments and I’m a little disappointed that only one person pointed out someone went to the


     to study a genetic link found in the general population. That’s like going to a china shop to find plastic ware. It’s not going to happen. And the


     way to study the connection between genetics, vaccines and autism would be to use the


    method we have for studying genetics: twins.

    You would have to get multiple groups of twins, withhold possibly life-saving vaccines from one and then hope, in 2-3 years, that one of them starts to show signs of autism. You can’t go to a segregated population to study genetic traits from the general population. That’s just ridiculous.

  • @Stacey@xanga – <= What she said.

    The study was done in 2005. We’re now on the brink of 2012. It is curious that the entry ignored the body of responses and subsequent rebuttal to reporter Olsted’s informal survey.

  • You might as well say, “The Amish have fewer deaths related to plane crashes and they aren’t vaccinated. Therefore, vaccination reduces your chances of surviving a plane crash.” Seriously? 

  • When your kid gets polio you’ll know for sure what vaccines don’t cause. That guy who led the research was a fraud. I think he’s been either charged or arrested.

  • He, “asked around”?? Sounds like a less than scientific sample collection. In a community who typically try to stay away from anything mainstream, invasive, or exposing their personal privacy I doubt they would jump in and readily provide family ailments to someone outside their community. I doubt they’d out a family member to an outsider for research purposes. Having spent less time invested in mainstream medicine news I doubt they have a lot of awareness about the finite details of autism. It’s not to say that vax or less chemical interaction couldn’t be a player here, I’m simply saying that it seems the sample pool isn’t large enough to make such a generalization nor does this article give any examples that would indicate his research practices were even mildly accurate. 

  • @eligio@xanga – It seems obvious to me that the rate of autism has rose because of the fact mothers are having their children much older than they ever have in the past. Not too long ago, it was completely normal to have a kid in your early twenties (and autism wasn’t as common as it is now). Now, however, a lot of women go to college and usually want to have their career path down pact before they have kids. So most women are having children in their late twenties and throughout their 30s. Sometimes, even in their 40s.

    Vaccines, however, have been around for a WHILE. And think about. The majority of children get vaccines. And yet the majority of children obviously don’t have autism, so I don’t see why people are still trying to make this vague connection. Correlation does not equal causation. You will hear this over and over and over again if you take any science class in college, especially in Psychology.

  • C. Friend

    First, I love how the media blew a single study claimed single vaccine caused autism way out of proportion, and everyone took it seriously. But few people heard about the multiple studies that discredited that first one as biased, unethical and flat-out inaccurate. And to this day people hold to the ridiculous claim that vaccines cause autism. Now this doesn’t mean that there is no correlation between autism and vaccine – there have been other studies that have shown there is, and statistics have indicated an increase in vaccines corresponded to an increase in autism rates. However, in real science, correlation does not equal causation. There is simply not enough scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism to risk not vaccinating children against fatal diseases and losing our populations herd immunity.

    Second, this Olmsted guy, and the author of this blog post clearly have little understanding of genetics. Yes, it is widely believed that autism is genetic. However, autism, like most traits and diseases, is believed to be multi-factorial. That means that both genetic and environmental factors are involved. Very few heritable things actually follow the model of simple inheritance we all learn in high school biology. Since the Amish are exposed to a multitude of environmental factors, medical and otherwise, from the general population, it is ridiculous to assume the Amish will portray the same rates of any disease as the rest of the population. Especially since they do have a very limited gene pool, which the author of this post only bothered to mention briefly.

    It is infuriating when people who have little understanding of science or medicine make biased, false claims and present “evidence” that causes panic among others with little understanding of science or medicine. Leave it to the people who actually know what they’re talking about.

  • I am Mennonite, I wasn’t vaccinated until later on in my childhood, at least 3rd grade, and I have had Asperger’s since birth.  I have made extensives posts on Autisble about this in the past.  Asperger’s seems to be prevalent in my Dad’s family, very noticeable social deficits, very brilliant inventions, etc, and he never had a vaccination in his life.  I’m really tired of people blaming autism on vaccinations.  I had a really hard time figuring things out growing up, I’ve been told my IQ is through the ceiling, and there is no history at all connecting my autistic behaviors with vaccinations.  I do, however (to once again repeat) have a cousin who suffered irreversible retardation from a rather severe case of measles, since his family didn’t believe in shots.  So stop saying entire groups of people don’t have autism, you don’t know, and it sounds stupid to say it.

  • In an epidemiological analysis in which one is trying to determine causation, you look at several different ratios. You look at those exposed to a factor who are ill, those exposed who are not ill, those who are ill but were never exposed, and those who are not ill and were never exposed. When you look at autism and vaccination through epidemiological processes, there is absolutely no reason to suggest causation.

    The fact that the scientific “study” that resulted in the paper (that should never have been published and was since rescinded) was incredibly flawed to begin with, it’s interesting that people still believe this. :/

  • This is how fanatical beliefs work.  One study is proof, and no amount of studies that contradict the desired conclusion will ever mean anything. 

    Please, people, stop providing a platform for vaccine paranoia. 

  • Umm. the way to know is to see whether there are the same rates of autism there were just before the story about the supposed link between autism and mmr vax came out.  Because ppl stopped letting their children have it, but the autism rate should have remained the same – dunno what the stats r, but the original study is the only one that supported the link.  Since then, numerous studies have been done that show no relationship at all.

  • Mercury is a known cause of cognitive impairment and although there is a trace amount of mercury in vaccines, it may not be enough to cause actual autism.  That is what has to be taken in consideration.  I tend to go with Ikwa, in that cloistered communities, like the Amish, do have the “nothing is wrong” attitude. Before Dawn has some good points as well.

    Diet may be a factor in some respect and up to about 35 years ago, most ate like the Amish still do today. Now, it’s pretty much fast food, in the drive-up or the frozen food section. Nutrition has taken a low place on the list of important things to be aware of.

    I think autism has always existed.  It’s just a part of the genetic code of the human being.  I can think of at least two kids in my class during elementary school that would most likely be diagnosed as having some form of autism today.

  • Amish people, I assume, also get married at younger ages & have children at younger ages as well. I seriously think the age of the mother is a giant factor in the development of autism and I’m really surprised not many people think of it.

  • They are also a substantially smaller population.

    Also, are we positive they are simply just not being diagnosed?

  • 249,000 Amish of whom about 116000 are children but.. they are from a limited gene pool.  plus they have far more problems than just autism to worry about and some of those are severe defects resulting from this very limited gene pool.  other of the probs are pedophilia, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, retardation of the learning process by limiting all those children’s schooling to just the 8th grade. and the list goes on and on…

  • This is idiotic.  I don’t know why people so desperately cling to this particularly brand of insanity.  No study that found a relationship between autism and vaccinations has held up to scrutiny.

  • Trust Me they do. They just don’t believe the child has a problem.

  • I’m not sure I believe the autism-vaccine relationship. Do we have reliable statistics on autism from before vaccines were used? When I was a kid, I think some of the kids that were thought of as “mentally challenged” were autistic. Sure, we were vaccinated, but it’s my belief that doctors are just more aware of the diagnosis now. It’s like celiacs. Until recently, people who had it were just “sick.”


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