As the mother of a child with autism, there is one question that I am asked more than any other…. Do you think vaccines cause autism? I have to say that I am sick and tired of hearing (and answering) that question. The reality is that most people don’t really want to hear my true opinion on that subject, what they really want is for me to agree with whatever side they are on. It is the one question that can instantly change the mood in the room and start a fiery debate, and I find it interesting that it is always those who DON’T have a child with autism that seem most inclined to argue about it. Here is the thing…. I just don’t care anymore to engage in that whole debate.
When my son was first diagnosed, I played that game. I researched and studied, I asked lots of questions and formed my own “educated opinion,” and yes, I have earned the right to call my opinion “educated” (I live it). I needed to know what happened to my son. I needed something or someone to blame for this battle, but eventually I became so wrapped up in caring for my son and helping him through his daily struggles, that at some point, I lost the desire to focus on what was already done and couldn’t be changed. I no longer was researching, no longer asking the questions, no longer seeking the answers to the whys because I was focused on the what now and the what about the future?
I was caught up in raising a child with autism, as it should be. My time and attention was, and is, fully focused on how to help him. It takes a lot of time to raise a child with autism. There are doctor appointments, multiple therapy sessions every week, educational meetings. There just isn’t time to waste on anything that doesn’t make the lives of our children better. Maybe it was part of the healing process, I don’t know. What I do know is that if people put half as much emotion and passion that they put into the vaccine debate into raising autism awareness and acceptance, into teaching their children that kids with autism are more like them than they are different, if they reached out a helping hand rather than a judgmental word, the world could actually start a change for the better. If people stopped arguing over the whys, and started asking how can we help, families would be healed, children would be saved, and lives would be impacted in a way that would actually make a difference. My son and children just like him could live a life respected, and seen as equal rather than less, they could have a bright future.
So, if you are looking to learn more about my son or other individuals with autism, ask away, but if you are looking for an argument over the whys, ask someone else, because I am busy.