Autism is not a tragedy

A reoccurring conversation that I frequently see on Social Media is the dreaded Autism and vaccines debate.

This is a vehemently polarizing issue, but I’ll let you know my stance right off the bat: from my research, I believe that Autism is primarily genetic and/or caused by complications in utero, not by outside influences, such as vaccines.

Both of my identical twins are fully vaccinated. One of my twins is Autistic and the other is not (although he does have ADHD) My two other sons (4 and 2) are also fully vaccinated and are not on the spectrum.

Sometimes, against my better judgment, I get sucked into arguing with anti-vax supporters who believe that vaccines cause Autism. This viewpoint bugs me to no end; however, I sympathize with these parents in this aspect: they just want to do what’s best their children, and their choice not to vaccinate falls in line with this desire.

It is actually a statement from a pro-vaxxer that has bothered me the most recently, when one mother wrote, “I’ll take an Autistic child over a dead one any day.”

I’m pro-vaccine but there is so much wrong with this statement that I don’t even know where to begin.

First, choosing not to vaccinate your children does not mean they are going somehow be struck dead.
Second, this statement, when directed at a parent of an Autistic child, is like nodding sagely and saying, “Well, it could be worse. He could be dead. Just think about that!”

Just. NO.

 Autism is not “one step up from death.”

It is not a disclosure that requires an apology, like when your grandma dies and people say, “I’m so sorry.”

Yet, I have experienced this exact response many times after telling people that my son is Autistic.
“I’m so sorry.”

They mean well, oh, they mean well.

But they do not understand Autism. They have never loved a person who is Autistic, because if they had, I hope and pray that they would understand this truth:

Autism is not a tragedy.                              

I know it may seem that way looking from the outside in, and I felt that way too before we entered into this strange new world, but I know better now.

Autism is not a tragedy because people are not a tragedy.

People are people. Sometimes they have challenges and disabilities.

Sometimes their bodies do not work in a typical way and they need help and support from medicines and therapies.
Sometimes their minds do not work in a typical way and they need help from medicines and therapies.

But people are people, who deserve to be loved, understood, and cherished, not pitied as being “one step up from dead.”
My son is a person, with a body, heart, mind, and soul.
He loves eggs and soup, Pokemon and Harry Potter.
Sometimes he hums in church even though he doesn’t like to sing.
He’s learning about the Bible and Jesus.
He’s a great big brother and he loves his twin more than anyone in the world.
We’re still working on knowing how to give hugs (he gives great “leans”) but when he shares his affection, I know it is from his whole heart.

His brain works differently. He has some challenges, and yes, my husband and I struggle to know how to parent him many days.

I’m the first to admit it: I’ve done my fair share of grieving my son’s Autism because it shook me up and turned me upside-down, completely shattering my expectations of motherhood. We have struggled intensely and I know we will have more struggles as he grows into adulthood.

But I’m so over being stuck in my grief. I’m not sorry my son is Autistic and I don’t want any one else to be either.
Sure, I have moments of sadness and fear, but I don’t live there anymore. I don’t have time for that…

…because I’m too busy learning more about who my son is and how I can accept and support him each day as he grows into the person he was created to be.

PS. More posts on our Autism Story…
Dear Mom who is scared of an Autism Diagnosis
Maybe we aren’t meant to move mountains
When your motherhood story doesn’t begin like you thought it would

3 Comments

  1. Christy

    I have a 6 year old daughter who has autism. I don’t think of it as a tragedy, but I don’t love it either. It makes life hard for her. And hard for us. I have spent countless hours researching and talking to other parents and doctors trying to figure out how I can help my daughter. I just can’t sit back and say “Oh well, this is hand we were dealt.” Some of can. I just can’t. She has been in all kinds of therapies since she was 12 months old. I had to fight for a diagnosis because, being a “high functioning” girl, she was able to fly under the radar during all the (brief) screenings. Finally at 5 years and 4 months she had a full evaluation and was diagnosed by a team led by a psychologist who was up on the latest research on autism in girls. She was also diagnosed two weeks prior to that with a genetic disorder called 8p23 deletion syndrome. my personal belief, theory, what ever you want to call it, is that autism can be caused by environmental contaminates, and that these children are “compromised” in some way where their bodies cannot eliminate the toxins that they come into contact with like typically developing kids can. They could be exposed in utero, after birth, etc. I am not an anti vaxxer, and both of my kids are fully vaccinated. One has autism, one does not. I don’t have an issue with vaccines, but I do have an issue with the preservatives in them. They are neurotoxins. If someone has a genetic disorder, compromised immune system, metabolic issue, autoimmune disease, etc. These preservatives can cross the blood-brain barrier and bio accumulate, causing symptoms of the common neurological disorders we see today. But its not just vaccines. Its our food, water, cleaning products, personal care products, pollution, etc. I like to explain my theory in terms of a peanut allergy. Peanuts are yummy! My family loves peanuts. They are a healthy snack. But some people’s bodies react negatively to peanuts. Some people can even die if they eat a peanut. So therefore, people who will get sick or die if they eat peanuts should avoid them. Same with my daughter. Her body cannot properly eliminate the environmental toxins she comes into contact with, and they stay in her body and brain. Therefore, she should avoid those toxins. We go to great lengths to avoid environmental toxins and I have her on a detox protocol. She has been tested for toxicities and deficiencies, and I have adjusted her diet and supplements to give her body what it needs. She has come such a long way. She is sleeping great, eating great, and is mainstreamed in school. She is getting better socially, and is able to self regulate (for the most part) when she feels she is going to overstimulated sensory wise. She can think more clearly. She is my little girl, and I am glad I finally get to have real conversations with her. I feel like I can really get to know her now – now that her brain and body are finally able to work how they were intended. I completely respect other autism parents points of view on the issue. There has not yet been a definitive way to test for or to determine the cause of autism. We are all fighting a though battle. This is just my theory after 6 years of research. Thank you for sharing your story, and welcoming me to share mine! <3

    • Christy, thank you for writing about your journey! You are a great mom and advocate for your daughter. I don’t love autism either. It definitely makes life hard for mt son and our family. But, by God’s grace, I’m learning how to accept my son for who he is a little more each day. Sometimes it feels like two steps forward, one step back…but I keep moving forward.
      Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment.

  2. We all think differently. Your son is LUCKY! He gets to experience the world from a completely unique prespective. From what I have learned their minds are not limited to seeing. They see, hear, smell, taste, touch, you get the idea, simutaneously! Talk about a sensory overload.

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