As the mother of an Autistic child, I can’t help but put my two cents worth in on the recent uprising of controversy surrounding the outbreak of measles and the risk of administering the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination. I do believe I have a rather uncommon perspective on the matter. Unique? Maybe not. Nevertheless, here it is.
When my first son (who is completely “normal”) was one year old we went in for his MMR shot and the doctor suggested that I be immunized at the same time. Much to my regret, I did; I found out a few weeks later that I had been two weeks pregnant with my second son when I had the shot. When my second, Chris, was born everything seemed fine. He was developing according to his milestones and even beyond them. He spoke a few words and played normally. Then, at one year of age he had his MMR. He didn’t speak another word until he was four and a half. He was diagnosed at the age of four with Autism.
It wasn’t until after his diagnosis that I heard about the correlation between the MMR vaccine and Autism; for me it all fell into place. What else could it be? I had one perfectly healthy child and another who wasn’t and there are cognizance issues in the history of neither mine nor their father’s families. Then a study was done. It was “proven” that there is no medical evidence that the MMR shot has caused Autism in anyone. I remain skeptical to this day.
When Chris was five years old I had another child with a host of different problems. Alex was born with Noonan Syndrome. In the 1960’s Dr. Jacqueline Noonan discovered a set of characteristics when, put together, proved to be a congenital disorder. My baby’s most life-threatening symptoms were those of his heart: an atrial septal defect, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and the pulmonary stenosis that was bound to end his life within a year if we didn’t have it corrected with open heart surgery. We were told he had a 50/50 chance of surviving the operation. We went through with it when he was a mere two months old, and yes, it nearly killed him. When the surgeon came into the room and told us that he had just resuscitated our son with open-heart massage and that if his heart stopped again they’d just let him go peacefully we were both frightened and devastated.
Here is what gives me my uncommon perspective on the MMR controversy. I had Alex immunized when he was a year old. Measles, mumps and rubella are all life-threatening illnesses. Having the choice between a healthy Autistic child (which I have) and a dead child (which I almost had) there was no contemplation on my part, even given the suspicion I have that the MMR shots both I had whilst pregnant, and Chris had at the age of one, caused his Autism.
Alex was rendered Deaf during the course of his surgery due to a prolonged period without oxygen. He is not Autistic. I wouldn’t hesitate to have him vaccinated again if it was called for.