I think I’ve mentioned only a few times how I was raised….”outside of the box” by reasonably odd/progressive hippies. Dad was a musician/jack-of-all-trades, and mom was a social worker/teacher/angry feminist. Add my dad’s parents, who were Christian Scientists, to the equation, and people basically thought of our family as “the freaks”. Most people thought my grandparents belonged to that “Creepy Hollywood cult that Tom Cruise is a member of,” to which I would respond…. “HUH?”
My mom put me in cloth diapers, tie-dyed my onesies, added tofu to my tuna sandwiches, threw the TV in the garbage, and refused to get my vaccinations. Yeah, we were total radicals, but mostly just freaks. My mom was outspoken, serious, smart and most of my childhood friends were scared of her. My dad was silly, goofy, “in his own world” and most of my high school friends were convinced he smoked pot.
But the decision to be shot-free never seemed like such a big deal (thankfully, my sister and I were healthy kids, and never traveled over seas), until I became a mom myself. Then I realized what a HUGE decision it was NOT to vaccinate. I’ve had moms tell me straight up that they don’t want their kids around my daughter because she didn’t get her shots, like she’s some kind of carrier monkey. Like we live in the days of the Bubonic Plague.
Growing up in a idealistic bubble of positive energy, I’m used to rude awakenings by now. In high school, I wasn’t so prepared. Not only did my parents refuse to give me my shots, they also forgot to tell me that during adolescence, you should probably start wearing deodorant. To them, its not what you looked (or in my case, smelled) like, or how you presented yourself, its whats inside that counts. Needless to say, most of my freshman year of high school was spent in the bathroom crying, trying to figure out why no human being would get within a 3 foot radius of me. I have subsequently developed a phobia were I’m convinced I stink all the time.
I know there’s such thing as good health, and that all parents should teach their kids how to follow social norms, but does getting your kid vaccinated fall into that basic group? Are you putting your kid at risk for permanent damage if you refuse to get their shots? Yes, but I would say that MANY decisions you make for your child put them at some sort of risk. My parent’s decision not to place “typical” social expectations on me, has definitely caused a little emotional damage to my self-esteem. Some could say that letting a teenage girl who didn’t realize she may offend people with her “all natural” aroma into public high school, is selfish, cruel and dangerous.
Do I hate them for the decision they made?
Well, not anymore at least.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist, and believe me, I grew up with a lot of crazy hippies ranting about the Moon’s position with Mars, and how the end of the world is coming. My dad has friends who believe that you shouldn’t pay your taxes, because there is no law saying you have to. I was told by my first boss that according to the ancient health philosophy of Ayurveda, all I needed to clear up my acne was to eat 3 limes a day. Yeah, I’ve heard some stories.
I’m not convinced that vaccinations cause Autism. I’m not one of those hyper-health-conscious moms who only let their kids drink soy and have gluten-free diets. However, I cannot deny the fact that the Autism rate has gone from 1 in 10,000 in the early 80’s to 1 in 150 currently. That fact FLOORS me. What has changed in our world during the last 25 years to make this such a crazy statistic? 1 in 150? CHRIST that’s a lot of kids. Is it a change in our environment? Our society? Our health care system?
I was reading about a class action lawsuit that over 5300 families are involved in. A lawsuit that is against the government, trying to prove the link between Autism and Vaccinations. Yeah, I know, we Americans are a sue-happy country, but there was something about this case that got to me. The government apparently has a fund set up, a fund with over 2 billion dollars, in order to protect itself from lawsuits ONLY involving shots and vaccinations. Its called the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. When I heard this, I was like WTF? The government has a fund with BILLIONS of dollars JUST to pay off families who have been injured by vaccinations? Why have a fund if you knew you weren’t gonna use it? I don’t wanna go off on a government rant, but obviously this fund is in place to protect the vaccine manufacturers from getting sued, and such an overwhelming amount of people have apparently been injured by vaccinations. If you go to the federal website, it still claims that “there is no link between vaccinations and Autism.” But the government also claimed that DDT wasn’t responsible for killing off wildlife, and we also once believed the world was flat. I’m torn when I think about those 5300 families, searching for answers as to why their kids are afflicted with such a mysterious disorder, but is it just coincidence that so many families feel the exact same way? 5300 is a lot of people.
For me, there are too many unanswered questions about Autism, and until the link to vaccinations are completely ruled out, I’m probably going to remain skeptical. However, I’m not going to judge anyone who decides to get their kids shots. I’ve heard lots of cases where both kids got shots and only one is Autistic, or both kids got shots and neither are Autistic, so how can you prove anything?
I’m not trying to discredit any Doctor’s recommendations here, but I definitely don’t trust pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies or the government’s relationship to either of them. If we lived in a perfect society, where nothing was corrupt, I may be less suspicious. Until then, I consider it my job as a mom to do the research, compare the facts, and trust in my own instincts. Also, to send my daughter to high school wearing deodorant.