The Real Truth About Vaccines and My Child’s Autism

The Real Truth About Vaccines and My Child’s Autism December 22, 2018

When my son received a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder in May 2017, I knew that there would be an onset of questions from friends and family about what could have caused his Autism. I knew people would tell me his vaccines caused his autism. However, I know with certainty vaccines did not contribute or cause my son’s autism.

When I gave birth to my son, my husband and I went through a crash course in raising a child with disabilities. My son has a neural tube defect. The neural tube is the first portion of the fetus to develop. My son’s neural tube did not fully fuse which caused several issues.

As a result of the neural tube defect, my son has a host of neurological disorders, neuro-muscular issues, and congenital heart disease. Despite extensive testing, we have no idea why the neural tube failed to develop properly. I’ve learned that there is not always an answer to why things happen in the human body.

Instead of searching for a reason for his neural tube defect, we work with doctors to find the best ways to help him. So in May 2017 when he received his autism diagnosis, we applied the same logic.

When psychologists told us that there was an explanation from many of his behaviors, developmental delays, and global motor processing issues, I felt this overwhelming sense of relief.

I knew the Autism wasn’t the cause of the medical problems.  However, I knew it was the cause of so many of his difficulties in socializing, sensory processing and his rigid, repetitive behaviors.

Tears fell down my cheeks when he received his Autism diagnosis. To finally have a name for what his struggles provided me immense relief.

Following his diagnosis, our family went public with his diagnosis. After sharing the news, I expected to field a lot of questions. The number one question I got over and over is about vaccines. Friends shared articles, documentaries, and books on the vaccine and autism supposed link.

However, I knew with certainty that vaccines did not cause my son’s autism.

(If you have wondered if there is still a link between vaccines and autism, you can search the internet and find articles on both sides. The truth is the major publications, government and autism support networks all believe Autism and Vaccines do not correlate. Here are a few Articles for your pleasure:

Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism – CDC

New Meta Analysis Confirms: No Association Between Vaccines and Autism

Vaccine Myths Debunked

MMR Vaccine Does not Cause Autism

Do Vaccines Cause Autism?

The list above is from reputable sources. The government has done hundreds of studies and has looked at over 1.2 million children to try to see if this link exists. Everything that is found on their end and by private studies is there is no associated link between vaccines and autism.)

Before I had my son, I did watch a movie called “The Greater Good.” The documentary contained compelling anecdotes of parents in the documentary that believe that the MMR caused their child’s Autism.

If someone watching the movie has limited scientific knowledge, the film can easily persuade someone to believe the conspiracy theory. However, the documentary is nothing more than a fear-mongering, biased, anti-vaccine movie that pretends to be a balanced documentary. However, if you have a limited understanding of science, vaccines, or autism, the documentary could persuade you.

In fact, this documentary almost caused me not to vaccinate my child at birth. However, my son spent most of the first four months in the hospital after his birth. During his hospitalization, I spent considerable time with doctors and nurses who taught me about vaccines.

These practitioners helped me understand from a public health standpoint the importance of vaccines and how it prevents the spread of diseases that can cause severe illness and death.

Due to my son’s health, our vaccination schedule was incredibly delayed. Our delays were not because my husband and I wanted to do it, but because he was so sick that he couldn’t get the vaccines on time. Due to the severity of his diseases, his doctors developed a vaccine schedule that would reduce his overall risk of side effects.

Fevers are a common side effect in most infants from vaccines. However, a temperature for my son with Adrenal Insufficiency can kill him if we don’t manage it appropriately. Our pediatrician wrote out a schedule to spread out the vaccines so that he would come in more frequently. She did not want to overload his immune system with too much at once.

The schedule meant he would not get his MMR until he was closer to age two and the pertussis vaccine was several months behind which increased our risk of contracting whooping cough. Unfortunately, he contracted pertussis before becoming fully vaccinated.

At home, my son remained delayed, and we thought it was from his health issues. He had spent a week on life support, and we believed he might have a brain injury. We associated most of his delays to that critical illness.

However, when he was about a year old, he did start to talk. His speech, babbling, and communication were age appropriate and on pace with children his age. He was saying some words, looking at us, engaging with us, and we were hopeful the illness didn’t damage his brain.

Then at about 15 months, all his development stalled. He lost all of his words and most of his communication became grunting or babbling we couldn’t understand. I noticed he would stare at fans, wanted to be in a swing regularly, lined up his toys, didn’t play with toys appropriately, didn’t show empathy to anyone, and didn’t understand basic instructions.

We had him evaluated by Early Childhood Intervention through the school district. The team came to our house, and the speech therapist said the word Autism almost immediately. She watched him line up cars, ignore her instructions, and refuse to make eye contact.

At the time, I was reluctant to see it or believe Autism was there. I shared the information with his doctors, and they also weren’t convinced. We tabled the discussion to give him additional time to catch up.

In the midst of all of this, he got his vaccines and was up to schedule. We were already in the thick of therapy by the time he received the vaccines. He got a mild fever, slept most of the day, but there were no marked changes to him by the vaccine.

My son still regresses from time to time. He went from eating by mouth to refusing almost all food and being tube fed. When things change in our lives, I notice he loses skills. I also know the skills aren’t lost, but that he’s not accessing the skills.

Often the skills will return with help from our therapists, or he will eventually get back to doing what he was doing. It’s an aspect of Autism that definitely can be frustrating for a parent because you feel like you make progress and then lose it just as fast.

Regression is not an aspect of my son’s development that is easy to navigate. However,  I know that through his therapy team it’s normal. For more on Regression click here: Researchers say regression in autism common, variable, maybe universal

We knew from a very early age he was different, and his difference was evident before vaccines were a part of our lives. The anti-vaccination movement puts out compelling propaganda for the ill-informed. However, their propaganda is based upon no scientific evidence and plays off the fear society has about disabilities.

However, none of their content is scientifically based. Additionally, the study that previously linked autism to vaccines has been discredited, and the doctor lost his medical license.

My son was autistic before he was ever born. Instead of focusing on what caused his autism, we focus on helping our son. In truth, all I want for my son is to have independence and happiness. I have to focus on that as my long-term goal. Due to these goals, I refuse to listen to anyone that tells me vaccines caused my son’s autism.

I encourage any new parent of a diagnosed child to research autism and vaccines. Go to sources that are reputable like the CDC or the National Institute of Health. You will find so much information that will help you understand Autism.

Understanding the disorder is the only way you can help your child. The more you know, the better you can prepare your child for the future.

Children with autism don’t need to be fixed or restored from ‘vaccine damage.’ Our children need patience, acceptance, and love. Vaccines did not cause my son’s autism. Nor do they cause any child’s autism.


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Rann

    I also know the skills aren’t lost, but that he’s not accessing the skills.

    That is a very key incite! I worked at a summer camp for medically-challenged youth 40 years ago. I noticed most of the kids with ASD regressed “instantly” upon arrival….. sometimes several years’ worth. Most regained those skills without intervention as they got comfortable with the flow of camp life. Change is one HUGE challenge for those on the spectrum….. and let’s face the bitter truth – life IS all about change.

  • Michael Neville

    As someone on the autism spectrum you have my sympathy and empathy. With therapy and family support your son can live as good a life as possible. I am thankful that my parents supported me through what was a difficult childhood. There will be frustrations and difficulties ahead for both him and you but preparing your son for the future is an achievable goal.

  • Knitting Cat Lady

    Adult Aspie here.

    I got the MMR when I was in my 20ies. I most likely didn’t get it as a kid. The illegibility of my vaccination record was the reason I decided to get it, and my GP agreed. I also got a pertussis vaccine with my last Diphtheria and Tetanus booster. A common name for pertussis is ‘100 day cough’ over here. That’s something I can do without.

    Considering the cumulative strangeness that are my blood relatives I’m pretty sure that genetics are mostly to blame for my autism.

    And your son is really lucky to have you as his mother. You treat him like a person, and not like a problem to fix…

  • Cozmo the Magician

    I almost wish there was a hell just so that I could sleep better knowing that evil prick Wakefield would spend an eternity there. Him and that bitch who I will not even name.

    A) They cause so much pain and suffering from the diseases they spread.
    B) They want parents of Autistic children to feel BLAME and SHAME.
    C) They HATE reason and science.

    Yeah, there should be a special level of hell for these evil assholes.

  • Jennny

    This is from The Guardian UK, this week.***
    Measles cases are at their highest level for 20yrs in Europe thanks to anti-vaxxers.
    ***I want to add, The Guardian is one of the UK’s more reputable and serious newspapers. Elsewhere on P/NR today, a blogger quotes The Daily Mail’…which is a big mistake….it’s been nicknamed ‘the daily hate’ for a century…check your sources that blogger.

  • Jim Jones

    Nope. I’m still good.

  • Jim Jones

    Jenny McCarthy Body Count

    ANTI-VACCINE BODY COUNT – From June 3, 2007 to July 18, 2015

    Number of Preventable Illnesses: 152763

    Number of Preventable Deaths; 9028

    Number of Autism Diagnoses Scientifically Linked to Vaccines: 0

  • persephone

    My grandmother, my mother, myself, and my older son all exhibit similar behaviors. We all have tech fixations and sensory issues. I know it’s genetic. I’m glad we’re high-functioning, but it doesn’t mean it’s been smooth and easy. I’d rather spend time with my computer than most people I know. Having the internet makes me so happy.

  • I know my daughter was autistic before she was born, even tho she was not diagnosed formally until age 12, because she was super sensitive to loud noised in utero same as she is today. However, I have entertained the idea that vaccines may play a causal role in autism. I have seen The Greater Good and Vaxxed. I have read many books about vaccines being the cause of this that and the kitchen sink. I read every link people share with me, pro or anti vax. I have blogged about this for a long time, at my blog called Vaccines Work. I have read hundreds of studies and books, including this list.

    Vaccines do not cause autism.

  • A friend of mine is a pediatrician, and he says the past 5 years have shown a big increase in the number of parents questioning the efficacy of vaccines. He says he spends a lot of time educating parents on why vaccines are safe and necessary

  • they sure don’t!

  • me too! I’m a major introvert with ADHD. I don’t like being around a lot of people.

  • Rann

    The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto has been doing genetic research into the genetic basis for ASD. To date, there have been well over 150 gene defects connected to forms of ASD – researchers suspect the number is closer to 400+!!! So,each person with ASD is essentially a “snowflake” ….. very similar to the others but different as well.

    I’ve been working with youth with autism for over 40 years now (I’m a member of the “Old Goat Patrol” in Scouts Canada)…… it’s a running joke that when one of our youth is officially diagnosed, we hear ” You know, it was when the doctor was describing my son/daughter’s autism that I realized that I’m autistic….and uncle Joe, Gramppa……..”
    Probably the funniest was when my fellow leader (whose son is Aspergers) commented the Doc was going through the list of his son’s ASD behaviours and he was “I do that…yes…yes….. I don’t do that….” His wife chimed in “You want to bet???”

  • ObstacleChick what

  • what part of vaccines are safe and necessary did you not understand?

  • Mickey2942

    I find this very interesting. Having worked with many parents, who seem unable to accept the reality of a child with a disability, they latch onto anything that absolves their “perfect world” of being “tainted” by having had a disabled child. Any external explanation will suffice.

    I think that you are very perceptive in correlating your child’s reactions in utero to her disability now.

  • I think it is also hard to have a baby who seemed “perfect” at birth and then changes in late infancy or toddlerhood. There are many genetic conditions that can cause a change or regression or whatever you want to call it but autism is the only one that antivaxers routinely blame on vaccines. I keep reminding them that there is also Krabbe Disease, Prader-Wilii, and more but that often falls on deaf ears.

  • Mickey2942

    Of course. And “Autism” is so vogue now. 50% of the children “diagnosed” with Autism barely meet clinical definition. It is easier to just nod, sign the paperwork, than fight with parents who are chomping at the bit to fight back. They are angry that their perfect child isn’t perfect. And usually the one who gives the news is at fault.

  • My son’s hydrocephalus is likely why he’s autistic – and as it got worse – he regressed.

  • what are you talking about?

  • As a special ed teacher and mom of a girl on the autism spectrum, I disagree that autism is “vogue.” In USA, we only started thinking about what might cause children to not learn in the 1970s when several big laws were passed. That has led to an explosion in diagnoses but not an explosion in actual real rates. We no longer diagnose people mentally retarded. We use the terms intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder for those same behaviors. We no longer ignore kids who are odd or weird. We once thought of them as having Asperger’s Syndrome but now we say they are on the autism spectrum. We diagnose a whole host of issues, like learning disabilities and ADHD, that we once ignored. We save premies more then ever, even tho they sometimes have a lifetime of disabilities.

  • Mickey2942

    I don’t agree. Parents no longer accept “developmentally disabled”. Or Mental Retardation. They want the label of “Autism”, like that is somehow less offensive. They see their child as “Rainman”, with the right teacher.

    It is as unlikely as every deafblind child is “Helen Keller”, with the right teacher.

    But, I defer, as I am no doubt jaded and cynical. It is a good thing I retired from teaching. It wasn’t the kids, I got tired of the parents and the CYA paperwork.

  • Developmentally disabled is not a federally accepted disability category for special education services. Neither is mentally retarded. MR was stricken from federal register during Obama’s time. These are the 13 disability categories for special education services from birth to 22.

    emotional disturbance
    hearing impairment
    intellectual disability
    multiple disabilities
    orthopedic impairment
    other health impairment
    specific learning disability
    speech or language impairment
    traumatic brain injury
    visual impairment (including blindness)

    These are examples of developmental disabilities. DD is far too broad to be a category.

    Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
    Autism Spectrum Disorder
    Cerebral Palsy
    Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
    Fragile X Syndrome
    Hearing Loss
    Intellectual Disability
    Language and Speech Disorders
    Learning Disorders
    Muscular Dystrophy
    Tourette Syndrome
    Vision Impairment

    ADHD would fall under other health impairment for services. Intellectual disability would mean an IQ of below 65, I think. I don’t work with those in that group so I am not 100% sure. And we teachers don’t diagnose anyway. That is done by psychs and MDs

  • oh and my child 100% meets the clinical definition of Autism according to DSM5

  • so does mine

  • B.A.

    Looks like we have something in common! Though I’m also an Aspie. 🙂

  • darnel11