Why I Wanted Vaccines to Cause Autism*

*Controversial Blog Post Title On Purpose

Photo by Hyttalo Souza on Unsplash

Last year, yet another study of over 650,000 kids showed no link between vaccines and autism.  This article from Business Insider is thorough in the review of the study and the reason it is so important–mainly because we need to vaccinate kids. Parents who fear that vaccines cause any form of birth defects are not getting their children vaccinated and things like measles are on the rise. There is even a Wikipedia page about the issue. 

It’s a topic that deserves attention, but I want to talk about something else from a parent perspective. I want to talk about why I wanted the vaccine to cause autism.  

I don’t think I’ve admitted it to anyone besides my husband, but I’ll admit it now.  Around 2004, after my son had been diagnosed with Autism, I cut off a sample of his hair and mailed it to a lab out of state to be tested. The theory at that time was that they could detect whether certain levels of metals were “too heavy” in the sample, which could somehow show that his autism was caused by a vaccination. Please don’t use this as a scientific answer. I don’t really know how it all worked, but you need a basic understanding to talk about why I wanted the vaccine to cause autism.

The results came back quickly and they were negative. There was no link.

That’s good news, right? I suppose so, but I was still disappointed.  

It’s hard for some to understand, but when your child has a disability or a delay, one of the things that helps some parents to cope is to know WHY or HOW.  

My son was born with Autism. I know this now. But I wasn’t completely convinced when he was young. Maybe it was denial. Maybe it was first-time parenting. But he was so cute, so adorable, so happy, and, of course, so smart. So how could anything be “wrong” with him?  One of the things that I thought would aid me in my quest for understanding and acceptance would be to know the cause. So if spending $100 to get his hair tested would have given me answers it would have been worth it. I wasn’t looking for a lawsuit, but I definitely was looking for something to blame. Something to point at and say this is WHY.  

Maybe it’s part of the five stages of denial or grief. Part of the process I had to go through to get to the acceptance stage. Or simply part of my control issues, wanting to have something fact-based to help me be able to fix this or find a treatment.  

Just an ask then, for those of you strongly on one side or the other of the issue of vaccines and autism: please remember that people can act out of fear or because of misinformation (which leads to fear). Parents are often desperate to find the reason why their child has autism in the hope that it will help them understand and accept it. What may seem to be a far-fetched explanation to some, may actually be a parent grappling with a very tough diagnosis. 

Pam is the Executive Director of the Orange Effect Foundation. She worked in the marketing field for the past 10 years, serving as Chief Operations Officer for Content Marketing Institute. During that time she found her passion to build and lead amazing teams because of the commitment of the staff at CMI. Pam also helped to create Content Marketing World, an event where over 3500 marketers come together annually to learn and network with the best and brightest. Pam's background is in social work, and she is raising a son with autism so the opportunity to start and direct this nonprofit is a dream come true. She has been a key leader in the CMI Golf for Autism the past 11 years and a champion for many other nonprofit organizations.