This is not a news blog.
Occasionally, however, newsworthy articles capture my attention by just how close they hit home. Take the recent proliferation of articles dealing with autism and other social/cognitive disorders:
There are many, many more. All of these articles have appeared within the last week. The focus of the majority centers around the possibility that childhood vaccinations are, in some cases, responsible for the upsurge in diagnosed cases of the autism spectrum of disorders.
So, why do I care? Along with my concern for the many families who are suffering and struggling with understanding the needs of their autistic children, is concern for the needs of one of my own children.
At the age of 10 months, like all of his siblings before him, Gawain received a series of vaccinations. This large, healthy baby boy who had such a lovable disposition and sweet smile, who was beginning to coo and babble; became an uncommunicative, shrieking child, who ceased to talk or smile. The images of my dear baby boy (for a few years) are those of an unsmiling child, one that spent a good deal of time watching the coffee maker, or the washing machine. A child whose moods were unpredictable, whose night terrors were the most frightening thing anyone in this family had ever experienced. One who became obsessed with watching the “snow” on a television screen. Afraid of any kind of new experience. At the age of 18 months he was using the computer and didn’t want to interact with people at all.
Coincidence? Perhaps. The CDC will tell you that vaccinations play no role in the rise of childhood autism. Parents of autistic children will tell you a different story. Gawain’s problems have never been formally diagnosed. He has come a long way, simply by being surrounded by his family at all times, loved for who he is and pulled into interaction at every opportunity. Gawain falls into the Asperger’s spectrum…a gifted child, who is a mathematical genius, obsessed with facts, figures, statistics…he is a walking computer. He would spend all of his time on video games and computers, never interacting with anyone, if we let him. We don’t.
During the brief time he spent in public school, his regression was a terrible thing to observe. Once he returned to interaction with the family, his demeanor changed. Most people are simply unaware of the struggles he undergoes. How hard certain things are for him. We continue to remain encouraging, refusing to allow him to be labeled. We never use the word autism around him, we speak of challenges and crosses. Of overcoming adversity. Of praising God for giving us all different personalities and means of coping. We love each other and demonstrate that love daily.
On an interesting note, my dear friend Hilaire, sent an article from the UPI that was written in 2005. It presents an observation that I believe has escaped many of us: there are no instances of autism amongst the Amish. The same seems to be true amongst homeschooling families who have eschewed vaccinations due to a variety of concerns, autism being one of them. You may read the article here:
The Age Of Autism: A pretty big secret
I’m not opposed to vaccinations. After the age of five. This is how this family has chosen to best protect our children. It the CDC were to include in the list of warnings “may cause autism”, would anyone take that risk?
I think not…