As time had gone by, I’d ended up consenting to vaccines here and there—“just the most important ones,” I’d said— because little by little, the doctor’s words had started to make sense. I couldn’t deny that my daughter had developmental delays well before she was ever vaccinated. I also couldn’t argue against an increasingly large stack of evidence confirming that vaccines were safe and effective.
I started to understand science. How the peer review process works. The difference between a study and a systematic review. How you can tell a good study from a bad one. How groups like the American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics form consensus statements. How easy it is for people peddling pseudoscience to pass themselves off as experts. How often a parent, struck by grief, will look for a reason to blame an outside force when her child doesn’t turn out the way she expected.
By the time my daughter was three, I could no longer deny three things: she was developmentally different, she needed to be vaccinated, and vaccines had nothing to do with her differences.
I’m now the mother of a beautiful, brilliant, eccentric six-year-old who is both vaccinated and autistic. She’s clumsy and awkward and a social disaster. Other kids don’t understand the complex sentences and grown-up words she uses. She tends to have meltdowns at the worst possible times, flapping her arms and making high-pitched noises. She has trouble understanding boundaries and social norms. Her motor skills are still on par with a three- or four-year-old.
And there are wonderful things, as well—things that make me proud. She reads on a fourth-grade level and writes amazing stories. Her greatest passions in life are kittens, fuzzy blankets, and her baby brother. She dreams of opening a cat rescue when she grows up and hopes that her cat, Happy, will live long enough to be a permanent resident and ambassador. She insists that Happy must be autistic like her, because he shares her love of fuzzy blankets “and because he’s weird.” I feel proud of my autistic daughter every day.
It’s funny, but it’s turned out that autism, the thing I feared most, became one of the most wonderful and important things in my life. It’s not a curse. It’s not even a disease. It’s a neurological difference that makes my daughter unique and makes me proud to be her mother. Even if I could have somehow prevented it, I wouldn’t have, because I genuinely love my child exactly the way she is.
I think it’s worth your time to read the whole article. It’s one insightful person’s journey, but I found it interesting.