So first of all, it’s Autism Awareness Week. This is why I started the blog. To raise awareness not that autism exists but how it feels to be autistic. My personal experience of autism wrapped up in words so that the non-autistic world can understand it (because we don’t have telepathy yet, so words are all we have to try to navigate this).
Theme of the month seems to be vaccination. There’s been an outbreak of measles in the USA, we’ve had anti-vax facebook campaigns, and some fairly funny counter-campaigns by folks like CollegeHumour. So I’m going to throw my two-penneth in.
Anti-vaxxers suck. There. I said it.
Before I bother digging out a load of links, I’ll tell you why I personally think the anti-vax movement sucks. The tactics. I’m a thinking, feeling person. I also have autism. I hear and understand every word you say about people with autism, and what anti-vaxxers say about us sucks. We’re “damaged”, not as good as a neurotypical child. What we autistic people have is so bad that parents are willing to risk polio, measles, rubella, meningitis C… just to avoid their child… what, having a difference in how their brain works?
Let’s look at that for a second.
Polio is incurable, it can paralyse you to the point you need to be on a ventilator. Measles can cause brain inflammation that can leave patients severely brain damaged, can cause blindness due to measles ulcers forming on the eyes, and even death through pneumonia. Rubella, whilst not a serious illness in children, can cause a pregnant woman to lose her baby if she becomes infected. Mumps can cause decreased fertility in males, and can result in meningitis infections. Meningitis, left untreated, is frequently fatal.
So what anti-vaxxers are saying is that my difference, and the difference of others like me is worse than the combined risk of all these complications, and they’re so terrified of their children being like me that they’re willing not only to risk their child’s health, but all of the children around them who aren’t protected.
It’s not just anti-vaxxers who don’t vaccinate. Some people can’t have vaccinations due to health problems, allergy to components of the vaccines, or just because they’re too young. Vaccines are also only 97% effective, so there’s the few people whose vaccine didn’t work at risk too. All because you don’t want your child to be different? Really? What I have is worse than death, paralysis, the chance of never having children or grandchildren, causing the death of someone’s unborn fetus, worse than painful blisters, permanent scarring and potential blindness all put together? You bet I’m upset. You’re calling my life a fate worse than death.
Then there’s the fact that there are an abundance of studies disproving any link between vaccination and autism. Just the Vax have helpfully compiled a list of these studies. Hooray, we don’t even have to go looking for them. 75 studies, and still you want to believe that one disgraced doctor, who later admitted that he fudged the results, is right over repeated peer-reviewed studies?
“Oh” I hear you say ” but autism is on the rise!” No, it’s not. Think logically for just a moment. There are two ways autism can go. What they call “Low Functioning”, and what they call “High Functioning” (and there’s a post all about why I don’t like those terms here). Now way back in history before vaccines, unless a child was affected by autism such that they could not look after themselves, there would have been no need to diagnose the child with anything. Before children were educated as a matter of course, as long as they could do a simple job like being forced down chimneys, or picking up in cotton mills, nobody would have noticed anything. It also wasn’t called autism back then, it was grouped in with other learning difficulties and called “mental retardation”. While you’re analysing the “increase in autism”, you might want to look at the accompanying decrease in diagnoses of “mental retardation”.
Next, there’s the interesting fact that unvaccinated children can still have autism. Yep. Because there’s increasing evidence that autism is genetic. What can you do to reduce the risk of your children having autism? Nothing. It’s not something you can change. They got mummy’s eyes, daddy’s nose, grandma’s chin, and granddad’s smile, and at least one of you gave them autism. While we’re on the topic, there’s nothing you can do to “cure” them of autism, either, because it’s genetic, unless you can rewrite your child’s DNA, the best you can hope for is learning acceptance. Not enough space for that rant here.
Vaccine ingredients, don’t they sound scary? Yes, unless you read the information about how much of them you’ll find in a vaccine vs how much you’ll find in everyday food, drink, and even naturally produced in small amounts by the body. Here’s a list of common vaccine ingredients, what they do, and in what quantities.
And then there’s the “adverse effects” consideration. Your child is more likely to get struck by lightning than have a severe adverse reaction to the MMR and Hepatitis B vaccines.
Seriously, nobody’s died of autism. The nasties in vaccines are in smaller doses than your kid gets from his or her daily veggies. There’s no evidence of a link between vaccines and autism. We created vaccines because people were dying of diseases like polio and measles. Vaccinate your kids.