One of the multiple problematic things happening in our government is Trump appointing Robert F. Kennedy Jr, an anti-vaxxer who believes there is a conspiracy to hide the effects of thimerosal on children, to chair a panel on vaccine safety and to revive the “debate” on vaccine safety. As the parent of an autistic child, this angers and worries me.
Buddy was born autistic. Often early signs of autism are not noticeable in young children to untrained people. I trained myself before he was born to look for them and started to become concerned when he was 7 months old. Everyone but my pediatrician thought I was worrying over nothing. They saw a typical baby.
Buddy never regressed, yet, he appeared to have regressed to some people because as he grew older the gaps between where he was and where he ought to be became more noticeable. A lot of young children catch up on developmental delays by the time they are 3, and any delay can be explained away as different children develop at different rates. Yet after the age of 3 it can’t, and this can be startling and frightening to people who aren’t trained to monitor child development.
Both Buddy and Sissy are fully vaccinated. I have an autistic child, and I am pro-vaccine. I moved from fence sitter to pro-vaccine after readings tons of material from both sides. And hands down, there is no credible case for vaccines causing autism. Autism is genetic, period. Worse, these continued vaccine witch hunts have consequences for families like mine, namely, so much time and money gets spent researching the vaccine issues that things that would help families like mine get swept under the rug .
All of the time that was spent blaming vaccines was time and money wasted in developing early screening programs and interventions, in providing therapy for autistic children that does not threaten to bankrupt their families, in developing programs to help autistic adults navigate life, in developing job training and placement programs for autistic adults. Every bit of time and every cent of money wasted in this debate is time and money not going to help families with autistic members.
As the parent of an autistic child I am furious that we are going down this path. None of this will help my family or other families. But then, I guess we’re all getting screwed over in Trump’s America.