So today, after carting my oldest daughter off with her father after her doctor’s appointment(which is a blog post for another day, just not ready yet), I went to the Walmart. Cup of Starbucks in tow, short list of foods to get, I embark on my adventure into Wally World. Needless to say, the usual people that I see on my Wally World jaunts were there as I walked through the door. I made my way up the aisles as usual picking up spaghetti noodles and sauce when I saw a person wave at me out of the corner of my eye. Now when I am in Walmart, it is hard to distract me from the task at hand because this is serious business making sure my coupons match and are appropriate for the store and that I’m getting the best value, yet I digress. This mom, from my past, was standing about five feet away looking leaner than the last time I saw her. We exchanged pleasantries and remarked on how each other’s children have grown so much. Of course, we are Facebook friends, or should I say were, after today, she unfriended me. She proceeded to fill me in on all the details of her life I had not asked about and I filled her in on surface level stuff that I always choose to share. You know this child is in first, this child is third, and this child will be in high school next year.
As this torture, yes I said torture, went on, I smiled my polite Southern smile and then she dropped the hammer. “I have been following your post, tweets, and blog and I do not think that it’s right for you, an advocate in the Autism community, to tell parents that it’s okay to vaccinate. There are so many danger out there and we have to prepare families for these dangers when their children are born.” So as I stood there, I tried to think of a gentle Southern way to tell this young Northerner, Southern implant that she was wrong and had no right to question my position when I make my decisions for me without using a string of four letter words, she continued. “How can you tell parents that it is okay to vaccinate when you have two children on the spectrum? Do you think that this is what was best for your family? Haven’t you heard of vaccine court? Vaccine injury is a real thing.” By now, she is getting louder, other women on the aisle are looking in our direction and one man stops outside the aisle to stare, of course, I wasn’t embarrassed. For those of you that know me on a personal level though, you know I’m hot headed and smoke was probably coming out of my ears. I was already fresh off of an emotional weekend. I knew I didn’t have bail money so I chose my words carefully.
I asked first if she was done with her statement. I took a deep breathe and proceeded with this question, “Where did you get your research that states that vaccines are unsafe and please don’t say google or some book some mom handed you at a PTA meeting?” I asked next “When did you become a Doctor and discovered that vaccines are indeed linked to autism?” Lastly, I, of course, had to remind her in a not so polite way, don’t push me. “When I make decisions for my kids, you are not there. When I made the decision to vaccinate, it was based on science, not on Jenny Garth or any other person’s interpretation of vaccine injury. Does vaccine injury exist? Probably. Do I feel that vaccines caused my children’s autism? Not at all. Until it is written on the CDC’s and the APA’s websites, or further more, my good friends that are pediatricians tell me other wise I will continue to fight to give children a Shot at life. The damages from those disease are far worse than the antibodies that prevent them or the possible injury that may occur because after all you would have a child and you would not have to bury a child. And lastly, don’t educate me based on some one else’s attempt to make money off of people like you.” Of course, she told me that she wished me luck, thought I was wrong, but that she wished me luck and walked away.
Of course, that is the scaled down less vulgar version, but in the end, both of us have positions. Both of us make decisions for our children. Both of us do what we feel is right, but I am a parent that goes on the science, this mom, she was the mom that introduced me to Jenny Garth’s first book. She is the mom that has tried diets and unproven treatments for her child’s autism and I tried proven methods such as ABA, OT, and SPT early on. Our son’s are the same age and my son is in a typical classroom, her son is not. Now am I saying that our decisions, had they been the same would have turned the tide for her child, no, but what I am say is we as parents, as advocates make choices that are appropriate for our families. We have beliefs and I’m sorry if you have a belief and choose not to share, it is not a belief. I am open and honest about my children, I am open and honest about vaccines. I am open and honest period. I can not tell one person that what they believe is wrong, all I can do it present the science. In the end they choose to do what they choose to do, but what I can say is that I believe a child has a right to a shot and we as people have a right to live in a world where we do not have to worry about measles and polio and the like raging through our country again.
As friends, we have to respect our friends decisions if we do not agree with them. We are in fact spectators in their lives, unless they draw us in and ask for our help, but you are still a spectator. Even then you are providing an opinion. We are not them and we can not make the decision for them. We live in a society that we have to admit that we are often sitting on the sidelines of someone’s life thanks to social media, but we have to be careful of how we approach another person’s decision. I am no one’s judge at all, by no means, so please try not to be mine. Every child deserves a Shot at play grounds, swings, sand, and just growing up and living a life. Any one that thinks that they don’t due to fear, that is your opinion, but death due to a vaccine preventable disease should never be the other option in today’s modern world.