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:
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.