I Have Special Needs Children and I Vaccinate

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I have been thinking about this topic for a long time now. I’ve been debating about whether or not to post my thoughts on just my personal Facebook or on my blog. After doing more reading though, I decided that I wanted to have my say. To speak the words that have been boiling up inside me for a long time.

VaccinateI have two special needs children. My son, Adam was diagnosed with a feeding disorder at age one, and Autism, SPD, and Apraxia at age two. Like Carrie Cariello, I have seen all the “explanations” for autism over the years….

Autism is caused by mercury. Autism is caused by lead. Autism begins with poor maternal bonding. Certain pesticides may trigger autism. Plastics. Gluten aggravates autism spectrum disorder. People with autism should eat more strawberries. Too much automotive exhaust is a leading cause of autism. Chemicals found on non-stick cookware may trigger autism.

I am happy to announce that I do know what caused Jack’s autism, and without further ado, I’d like to tell you. Wait for it… It’s kind of a big deal.

Drum roll, please.

Jack has autism because, as his 5-year old brother Henry says, he was bornd-ed with it.”

And like Carrie Cariello, I laughed over all the “causes” because like her, I also believe my son was born with autism. You can sit here and speculate what the causes are all day, but unless you are my child’s parent you really have no place to say “who” or “what” caused my child’s autism.

Some parents will ask me “Well how do you know for sure he was born with autism?” “Are all kids with autism born with it?” I am not here to argue about everyone else’s child, but for me, for my family and for our son he was born with it, and this is how it happened.

Adam was born right when he should have been – 40 weeks, 2 days. I had no vaccinations and no complications during the pregnancy. However, after he was born we noticed some problems. They were small at first, but as he grew we started realizing something was wrong.

Adam had severe problems with eating. He wouldn’t eat at the hospital – they said it was “failure to get hungry.” He couldn’t suck or latch and none of the doctors believed me. Later, around age one we found out that Adam had no muscle tone in his mouth with which to latch, suck, or chew with. This was just the beginning of our journey autism, but it all started from day one – the day he was born.

Since then, Adam has been in therapy for three years. He is doing great! No, the autism will never be cured or never go away, but the hours of therapy we have put in have helped him cope and helped him get up to where he needs to be right now.

About two years after my son’s diagnosis we decided to try for one more baby. We knew the chances of having another child with autism were pretty good, but we also knew we wanted to love one more child. We wanted one more to be apart of our family.

My daughter Elizabeth was born right when she should have been – exactly 39 weeks. I had no vaccinations and no complications during the pregnancy. However, right after she was born we noticed some problems. They were small at first, but then we realized something was very wrong.

Elizabeth had severe projectile vomiting less than 24 hours after she was born. The nurses told me it was fine, just a little spit up. I was incredulous because I had never seen any baby “spit up” like my baby girl just did.

We took her home and it only go worse. By two months she was failing to thrive, had severe GERD, and was aspirating on her food. By three months she had to have surgery, and since then has been on a feeding tube. By age one she had been hospitalized 7 times. This was just the beginning of our medically complicated journey, but it all started from day one – the day she was born.

I have two special needs kids, each with their own special needs, each with their own ways to see the world and to learn about the things around them. We love them both, and we would do anything in the world for them. But I would never not vaccinate them.

I have been accused of giving my son autism because I vaccinate him, I have been accused of making my children have special needs because our family chooses to vaccinate. And I disagree with my entire heart because both of my children were born this way. They are special and unique and we love them just the way they are.

In light of the recent news of measles making a comeback, I wanted to write this post. If  you are on the line today of whether or not to vaccinate, to get the vaccines the way the pediatrician suggests or to go your own path, can I just plead with you? There is nothing wrong with autism. There is nothing wrong with special needs kids. My children are wonderfully and beautifully made, and knowing what I know now, I would still choose to vaccinate. I still do vaccinate them.

The fear of autism cannot be bigger than the fear of mealses, the fear polio, and the fear of other diseases that have been eradicated through vaccinations. Autism isn’t something to be feared, it is something to be accepted. And if I had to choose again between my child getting measles and my child having autism. I would choose autism all over again. I would choose autism every time.

If you are on the line about vaccinating, please, please, please don’t let your fear of vaccines, of autism, of special needs, prevent you from vaccinating your children.

I have sat there in hospital praying for answers, I have handed my child over to surgeons, praying to God that He would help me trust because I couldn’t do it on my own. I have seen what diseases and sickness can do. It is not worth the hospital visits because your child has caught some horrible disease that should have not existed anymore. Nothing in the world is worth putting your child through that. It’s not worth not vaccinating.

I have two special needs kids. And yes, I choose to vaccinate.

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  1. Food allergies are not nearly on the same level as the kinds of special needs that you deal with on a daily basis. However, there is one similarity: a tendency to blame the parents (usually mom). We all want to believe that this won’t happen to us because we are doing A, B, or C. I’ve heard it all with autism and I’ve heard it all with food allergies. Some blame vaccines, some blame GMOs, some blame mom for introducing allergens too early or too late. Some say we should’ve breastfed longer. Other theories are that our children were not exposed to enough germs, which is why their bodies see certain normal things, like foods, as invaders and they attack them. We all want to blame something because if we blame something, then we can do the right things and know for a fact that our kids will never have autism, cancer, or food allergies. Well life just isn’t that simple. You can try to do everything “right” and your child may still have one of these things.

    1. So very true Gabby, a great thought to go along with my post. We can try to do all the “right” things, but it doesn’t mean things will chance. Thanks for sharing your story and your thoughts! <3

  2. So proud of you for sharing your story. It’s an important one, and I’m so glad that you are strong enough to help encourage other parents in your same situation. Thank you.

    1. Thank you Lauren! I have shared things on Facebook before and a huge war broke out so I have been not as excited about sharing more on this topic. I appreciate the encouragement and support! 🙂

  3. It’s every parent’s choice to vaccinate. But, you are right. YOU didn’t cause you’re child’s autism, and autism shouldn’t be the reason people don’t vaccinate. I, personally, don’t vaccinate because of a variety of reasons(mostly religious) and autism isn’t even in my top 10.(Here’s a link to a post I agree with about Christian’s not vaccinating: http://www.livingwhole.org/god-does-not-support-vaccines/ ) I know vaccines can cause complications, and that’s one of the major reasons why I choose not to vaccinate(in a nutshell). But, I disagree with one thing in your post:

    You said: “The fear of autism cannot be bigger than the fear of mealses, the fear polio, and the fear of other diseases that have been eradicated through vaccinations.”

    I disagree. Measles can kill, but it’s highly unlikely. In the last 10 years in the US(2004-2014), there have been 1000 cases of measles. How many died from it? None. How many died from complications of the vaccine for measles? 108. That’s a scary number. (Source: http://vaccineimpact.com/2015/zero-u-s-measles-deaths-in-10-years-but-over-100-measles-vaccine-deaths-reported/ ) I’d rather not vaccinate and have my child get sick from something even WebMD says after you get it just to relax and drink plenty of fluids(like the flu), then cause some horrible complication with my child.

    I’m glad that we all have the right to choose. But, I dislike when posts like this make it seem as though getting a disease like measles or chicken pox will cause imminent death or harm to your child. Scarlet fever and Typhoid used to kill many people in the past. You see little to no cases of them today. Why? There isn’t a vaccine…. it’s due to proper hygiene and increased living standards. That’s why these diseases declined to begin with.

  4. Hi Kathryn,

    Firstly, I am shocked that people have criticised you for vaccinating your children! That is your choice! Secondly, we are in the UK and have recently had a Measles outbreak at the school, which was very worrying for the minority of parents who had previously chosen not to vaccinate their children. Interestingly, one family I know (who had previously chosen not to vaccinate) took their children out of school for three weeks to avoid catching it and ended up vaccinating them before sending them back to school. And without doing on the spot research into it, I am pretty sure that the research paper suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine and autism was later discredited, but perhaps not widely known?

    Funnily enough we don’t routinely vaccinate children in the UK against chicken pox (varicella), however when we were posted overseas, my eldest had the vaccine, as was the norm in that country. The paediatrician there expressed his concern that the UK don’t vaccinate against chicken pox: not because it is dangerous in itself, but because of the complications it can -although rarely – lead to; which he had seen. One of my friend’s children was hospitalised because of chicken pox complications and I know many children who have been very, very poorly with it; itching all over (including inside the nostrils, mouth and private parts etc) and crying day and night.

    Clearly its a contentious subject – well done for sharing your story, instead of bottling it up!


    1. Hi Lou,
      Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your story! Yes, the story was later discredited, but people still freak out about it here. It is (like you said) a very contentious subject. I wish it could be discussed in better terms, but it’s very strong opinion for some.

  5. Yes, the research linking MMR with autism was totally discredited years ago. The media didn’t find that very exciting, so it got less publicity…

    One of the issues that is rarely mentioned in discussions about immunisations is that if all healthy children are immunised that makes the illness (e.g. measles) far less common and so protects the small number of children whose severe health problems mean they can’t be immunised. Also, it’s easy enough to write about measles as no big deal, but for children who are unwell for other reasons (and even some children who were previously very fit) it can end up being serious – as, incidentally, can real ‘flu, as opposed to the great variety of respiratory illnesses that people label “the ‘flu”!

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