Coming out of the Shadows of Autism through Poetry

I had the pleasure of meeting Ginnie Breen, co-author of I am In Here: The Journey of a Child with Autism who Cannot Speak but Finds her Voice a few months ago, and more recently the privilege of interviewing her about her experience as the mother of Elizabeth, her 14-year old daughter who has autism. Ginnie emphasized two things in our correspondence about the interview. First, that this is a story centered on Elizabeth–Elizabeth’s tenacity, poetry, and faith. And second, this is a story that goes well beyond the realm of “autism moms” and their children because it is a story of love and hope and perseverance that can resonate with anyone experiencing disappointment and discouragement.

My interview with Ginnie appears on her.meneutics today. In addition to the conversation (and beautiful poems written by Elizabeth) you’ll find there about faith and debunking the myths of autism, I also asked Ginnie this question:

You believe that Elizabeth’s autism was triggered by routine vaccinations as a child. What would you advise parents when it comes to making choices about vaccinations?

The medical community believes autism involves a genetic component and an environmental trigger based on the fact that autism is more common in families and there is no such thing as a genetic epidemic so something in our environment is causing the monumental increase.  Today, one in 88 children in the US has autism, a 78% increase in a decade.  For Elizabeth, I believe the genetic component is our family history of autoimmune disease and the environmental trigger was her 15-month vaccinations.  Within a week of receiving those five vaccines, she lost her ability to speak.  I am not anti-vaccine.  But I believe children receive too many, too soon, and all vaccines need to be cleansed of questionable ingredients. And for families like mine, with a history of autoimmune dysfunction, the vaccination schedule should be reviewed very carefully.  Parents can and should educate themselves to make informed, appropriate choices for their children.

To read the rest of the interview, go to “Advocating for a Daughter Stuck in the Shadow of Autism.”

About Amy Julia Becker

Amy Julia Becker writes and speaks about family, faith, disability, and culture. A graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, she is the author of Penelope Ayers: A Memoir, A Good and Perfect Gift (Bethany House), and Why I Am Both Spiritual and Religious (Patheos Press).


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