Autism & the Vaccine Debate

downloadI haven’t written here for a long time. Life has been changing for me in a very good way and I haven’t felt the need to purge my feelings onto “paper”.

However…

My friend recently watched a film called Vaxxed and made a Facebook Post about it. It’s a film that was directed by Andrew Wakefield who continues to make money from his discredited & fraudulent research paper about MMR & Autism.

I thought long & hard about commenting on her post (I didn’t) because I know she is very knowledgeable and passionate. I strongly disagree with her stance on vaccines (but that in no way impacts on our friendship or my respect for her choices). I have been thinking about it for days and just wanted to express some thoughts of my own.

In the past, kids like my son would have been diagnosed as retarded. Some are now diagnosed as autistic (there are stats that show that where one diagnosis is declining the other is increasing), and generally speaking they receive help and care more suited to their needs. In my opinion the media hoo-ha, brouhaha & hullabaloo, about vaccines just perpetuates the myth that we (bad mothers) “did something” to our children either by allowing them to be vaccinated or by the hideous belief in Refrigerator Mother Theory.

I recently had need to seek out all of the original educational psychologist, consultant so & so and school behaviour reports collated before he was diagnosed. It was distressing to say the least. I have considered burning them, it details all the horrible things we went through trying to get people (including me) to simply understand him and the way he thinks and learns. I still have to passionately fight his corner to try & get others to understand that even a subtle shift in the way they communicate with him can make a world of difference. Is this really any different to how we (neurotypicals) learn how to shift our patterns of behaviour towards one another to make better relationships?

I was very aware that my son had autism, long before the official diagnosis and whilst it has been a challenge in our life, it’s definitely not a curse. It’s a neurological difference that makes him unique and I am privileged to be his mother. Even if I could have somehow prevented it, I wouldn’t have, because I genuinely love him exactly the way he is. He trumps most teenagers with his passion & drive, astounds me with his ideas, amazes me that he is so adventurous and confident and I could not be more proud of him if I tried.

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