This past weekend, my husband and I attended a screening of a documentary titled, Vaxxed. The film chronicles the link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Some of you may know that we have a son who was diagnosed with autism in 2001. He was twelve years old at the time of diagnosis. Prior to getting the official diagnosis for him, we had seen countless psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, doctors, and school specialists. All agreed there was something awry, but none could really tell us exactly what that might be. Socially, he struggled beyond belief. Several times I received a phone call from the school, asking me to come in to brainstorm how we could help him interact more with other students. One year, his teacher called me to tell me that, as strange as it sounded, he was reading too much! He retreated into books instead of wanting to be on the playground during recess. Hmmm…I was like that too. I would still rather read than socialize. But I digress. Numerous times I received a phone call from my son, informing me that I would need to come get him because his glasses had once again been broken “by someone kicking/hitting/slapping him in the face by accident”. One time, his sister came home and informed us that someone two grades above him had threatened to kill him. His self esteem plummeted with every day spent in school until we finally took him out to homeschool him. Before that, a teacher who I knew from our local soccer club, called me and told me if it were her son, she would get him to Fraser Center for evaluation. I called immediately only to find the waiting list was a year–a year! When his turn finally came, we spent nearly an entire day with specialists there. At the end of his testing, we were given the official diagnosis of autism. At that time, while the number of cases was on the rise, there were still few resources available to us that would help us navigate the rocky waters of autism. One of the most difficult parts of the Vaxxed movie, for me, was watching a teen boy, Billy, who had suffered a reaction to the MMR shot that caused his autism, threaten to kill his dad because his dad had used the video player in Billy’s room–Billy’s routine was upset and, given the way his brain no longer processed things correctly, he knew no other way but to react with rage. It was a scene that brought back haunting memories for me as I recalled fits of rage from my own son. During these fits, it often took both my husband and me to subdue our son–while our other three children would watch in horror. The tears stung my eyes–and the anger boiled inside. I came away from this film with emotions that ran the gamut from thankfulness that my son was not as nearly as affected as some in the film to anger that by being what I thought was a responsible parent caused my son to suffer with this disability.
Lest you think that the producers are completely against all vaccinations, I will say that is not the case. They do a great job of presenting evidence that there are alternate vaccination schedules that will protect children while avoiding the consequences faced already by so many. I believe, for the most part, that pediatricians and doctors really do want what is best for their little patients. I wonder, though, if most are blindly trusting the CDC. I hope not, as this film proves that the CDC knew and knows about the dangers of these vaccines and hid said dangers from the public. I appreciate doctors who allow parents to vaccinate on a non-traditional schedule. They are out there. And, if you think this is only an issue that affects children, think again. The producers point out that soon adults will be required to be vaccinated. The drug companies cannot be sued for vaccine injuries; they can, and have been repeatedly, sued for other drug injuries. I’m sure you’ve seen those commercials
If you have kids in your life, whether they be your own kids, your grandkids, your nieces or nephews–however they may be a part of your life, I urge you to go see this film. It is playing in Minneapolis through June 2nd and possibly longer if enough tickets get sold. I know it is also playing in many other major cities across the United States. Google the title and I’m sure you’ll be able to find if it is playing near you.
Despite the challenges our son both faced and continues to face in his own life and the challenges he brought to our lives, he is such a gift to us. He has a tender spirit. He loves and is kind and gentle with animals. He has a heart the size of Texas. I wouldn’t trade him for anything or anyone. Still, the hand he was dealt has been largely unfair. First and foremost, it has been unfair to him. He simply doesn’t process things as most people do, and because of that fact, he is deemed as less likable by many people. It only took one year of full time high school attendance to prove the fact that the popular kids will always look down on those not considered as such. It has been unfair to his siblings. Countless times they watched as their brother threw fits of rage that were terrifying or wondered why suddenly he didn’t want to talk to anyone when just minutes ago he was playing a game with them. A child born with a disability or birth defect is sad, but when that disability stems from something that a parent has been assured is safe, it causes tremendous guilt. The judgmental stares of people who deem you a poor parent when your ten year old is having a “temper tantrum” in the grocery store because one little thing upset his routine are often unbearable. The disapproving looks in the restaurant when your-child-who-certainly-looks-old-enough-to-accept-the-fact-that-they-are-out-of-chocolate-milk-but-instead-screams-and-thrashes just serve to drive the knife deeper into the heart. So often, I have cried, both during his childhood years as well as his adult years, at the daunting task of how to be a good mom to this son who thinks differently than most. Just as often, though, I have thanked God for choosing me to be his mom. I know I didn’t always do a great job, with him or his siblings. I often retreated to the bedroom, the bathroom, even the car, just to get a sanity break. Mom guilt is real and never fades…I can think back to something I did or said 20 years ago and feel hopelessly guilty over it. Somehow, though, this vaccine injured son, along with his siblings, have grown into adults that bring smiles to my face on a regular basis. Would I choose to do things the same way if the opportunity presented itself? Probably not. I would definitely delay vaccinations if not omit them altogether. One of the most telling parts of the movie was when a family physician, upon being given the evidence of the CDC coverup, was asked if she would give her children the MMR shot. Her response was, “No. If one of my patients asked me if I would give this to my own children, I will say no.”
Her honesty was refreshing.