I am so confused as to why people still believe that vaccinations cause autism. I’ve had parents corner me and preach about the evils of vaccinations; mostly I treat them like an angry wild animal where I try to avoid eye contact and slip away as quickly as possible.
Let me makes this perfectly clear. My son has autism. We also vaccinate him. There is no correlation or causation between autism and vaccines.
So, why do we still hear about the horrors of vaccines? One major contributor to that big bag of bull was Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his co-authors of a case study in 1998. Dr. Wakefield deliberately wrote a fraudulent article because he was working with a bunch of lawyers who were trying to sue doctors for causing autism. He was eventually found to be a liar and stripped of his medical license.
Even though subsequent studies have proven that there is no correlation or causation between vaccinations and autism, people still believe it. I find this interesting. I feel like there has always been this underlying tone of blaming the mother for a child’s autism.
At first, when children were first being diagnosed with autism in the 1940’s, the burgeoning theme was that “refrigerator moms” were to blame; basically, it was the mother’s fault because she didn’t give her child enough love. We have blamed what the mother ate while pregnant, what medicine she took while pregnant, what the child ate after they were born, and now, we blame the mom for giving their children vaccines.
It is so time we stopped blaming mother’s for their child’s autism. First of all, in order to blame someone for something, you have to believe that autism is bad and that you would want to change your child. I can understand how people can hate autism; there are many people with severe autism that may not have the quality of life we want them to have. For us, though, we are okay. Caleb is high-functioning and just simply amazing. He has said that he likes being autistic. He likes himself. How can I argue with that?
Caleb and I are lucky in many ways:
1) My husband has a job that pays enough so that I can be a stay-at-home mother.
2) I did my Master’s and Ph.D. work in Instructional Technology (how people learn), focusing on motivation.
3) My husband also has a Master’s Degree, so we both know how to do research and figure out if the information is true or not.
4) We three want to work together and help each other.
5) Caleb is insanely smart and will probably have a fairly normal life.
When Caleb was first diagnosed, I read everything I could about autism. What particularly struck me were how many people had to institutionalize their child because the child was violent. Caleb was diagnosed at 2-years-old; I had no idea what was in store for him. I didn’t know if he would ever talk, have a life of his own, find love, etc. Now that I see him growing at a velocity that just blows my mind. So, yeah, in the beginning, I hated autism. And I can totally understand why some people do.
People who hate autism have a difficult time, because we don’t really know how autism is caused. There is a new theory about the change being made while the child is in their second trimester, but still autism is defined by its symptoms. And when some people don’t have something to blame, they find something.
To be honest, when I found out about Caleb’s autism, I felt anger toward my husband; he has a sister with used to be called Asperger’s and I thought that his genetics were to blame. I feel so horrible that I used to have that mind set. Caleb is a blessing, and we love him as is. And to be honest, with his smarts, he has the ability to leave a real footprint on the world.
So, moms, this isn’t our fault.
Working moms: it isn’t your fault that you have to make money to support your family.
Stay-at-home moms: it isn’t your fault that can’t help financially support your family.
It isn’t our fault that our children are different.
The only fault to be found would be a) deprive your child of therapy, and b) deprive your child of vaccinations.