Vaccination Vaccilation

8 Mar

Several weeks ago, I got a letter in the mail from Toronto Public Health, informing me that if George’s vaccinations weren’t brought up to date, he would be suspended from school. There is a series of shots that he was due to receive when he turned six, and due to a number of logistical factors, including the retirement of our doctor and George’s phobia of anything medical, we just hadn’t gotten around to getting them. I called the number listed on the letter and spoke to a very nice lady who told me that the six required vaccinations could be administered with just two needles.

While two shots certainly seems more manageable than six, we have still not been able to get this done. Since our doctor retired, we have still not been able to get another one. There is a dire shortage of doctors in Ontario, much less doctors who are good with children who have autism. There is a walk-in clinic that we’ve gone to frequently enough for them to know us, and they do carry all of the vaccines, but it’s one of these first-come first-served places.

Jabbing needles into the arm of my child with autism is something that requires epic planning. We would have to find a doctor who we could make an appointment with. We would have to secure the very first appointment of the day to guarantee no waiting. We would have to prepare George, ourselves, and the staff at the doctor’s office. The whole thing would have to be done much like a military strike: go in, do what needs to be done, and then leave.

You can’t do that at a walk-in clinic. There, you show up and wait your turn, which could give your child up to two hours to have a complete meltdown and make dents in the drywall with his head (I ain’t kidding about that, by the way).

In between our phonecalls to locate a suitable doctor, we have been doing research on vaccines.

I should say at this point that I have never believed in the connection between autism and vaccines, and I still don’t. Whenever I admit this within my autism circles I create a bit of a stir, because it would seem that most people do not agree with me.

I would never presume to speculate on what does or does not cause autism in other peoples’ children, but looking back, I knew that something was not right with George from a very young age, before vaccines even entered the picture for him. If I were to guess at the root of the problem, I would say that it is a genetic roll of the dice combined with certain dietary elements.

Much to the horror of many parents (whether they have children with autism or not) I chose to vaccinate James even after I knew about George’s autism.  That’s how much I do not believe in the vaccine/autism link.

So the research we have been doing is not from an autism angle. It is from a general health and wellbeing angle. Some vaccines apparently (depending on which websites you believe) contain potentially toxic ingredients that really don’t need to be there. These ingredients can do things like challenge the immune system and create a propensity to getting mild upper respiratory complaints.

And as convenient as it may be, we are debating the wisdom of administering three vaccines per needle, all in one session. That is a lot of stuff to be putting into the human body all at once. I’m no doctor, but I’m not sure that the human body is designed to be blasted in such a manner.

We fully intend to get all of George’s shots updated. We may just take our time and spread them out. It will involve more trauma for George, but there is a chance that it will be better for his long-term physical wellbeing. When James turns six, we will have to make the same decision for him.

In the meantime, while we are waffling around trying to decide whether to get George his shots, the Toronto Public Health deadline is upon us. With just two days to go until imminent suspension, we decided to apply for an exemption. We completed a Statement of Conscience, which basically says that we believe vaccinations are not the right option for us at this time.

It just buys us a little time to do this properly, without pressure bearing down on us.



7 Responses to “Vaccination Vaccilation”

  1. S Club Mama - Randi March 8, 2011 at 1:51 PM #

    You’re not alone in the autism circles in believing that vaccines don’t cause autism. Perhaps in some children, vaccines may have triggered something, but I’m with you. Although Moose didn’t show his autistic signs early, they also did not show up with his MMR shot or any shot. He just simply stopped climbing that milestone of speech. Anyway, I think you’re doing what’s best for your sons (and we’ve vaccinated our little guy too even after knowing about big bro’s autism).

    • runningforautism March 8, 2011 at 8:51 PM #

      Sometimes the Mom instinct is spot-on. We knew very early on that there was something wrong with George, but unfortunately, getting our doctor to take us seriously was like getting blood from a stone.
      Thanks for reading!

      • Jacquie March 9, 2011 at 9:15 AM #

        That’s exactly what we went through with Eric.

  2. Kim March 8, 2011 at 4:17 PM #

    My youngest has autism. Asperger’s to be specific along with a variety of other labels that do not bring him services such as sensory processing disorder and a specific learning disability. The most current research has again ruled out vaccines as a cause for autism. I feel it is environmental but since they are still researching the cause, it remains unknown.

    I do think as a parent of a child with special needs that I still would not wish to give a large cocktail of anything. Our kids are extra sensitive often times to all change and I think that the injection is trauma enough. I do so understand your wish for less sticks however.

    My child is now 15 and thank goodness we can reason with him a bit more now, but going to the doctor is still a very scary place where promises can be broken so easily. (ex. I promised no shots today only to find out that he is in need of one). We generally choose to return later than to bully him into the shot now.

    I enjoy reading your blog.


    • runningforautism March 8, 2011 at 8:56 PM #

      You’re exactly right. Excessive stuff being injected plus the trauma of the shot itself is like a double whammy. One thing I’ve noticed is that George definitely reacts to things more strongly than James, whether it’s shots, illnesses, reactions to bad food etc.
      Thanks for sharing your views.

  3. Ruth March 9, 2011 at 2:23 PM #

    I can relate to the military strike analogy. Ethan had to get two shots in one visit last year, and expecting the worst, we had him on my lap facing me, head buried in my neck (his usual doctor’s office posture now that he’s too big to curl into a ball around my head), gave him a lollipop, and had two nurses attack simultaneously, one in each arm. We had done all of our check-out procedures in advance so we could leave the building in disgrace and take our meltdown to the car, but…. he barely flinched. I’m not sure he noticed. The lollipops were a godsend. He said bye to the nurses, got his jacket on, and walked calmly to the car.

    I really think sucking on something and not watching are the keys to success. With my NT’s I always tell them that if it hurts, to yell, “Ow, stop it,” and the nurse will stop. Makes them feel like they have a little control over the situation. Don’t know if that would help for George or not. But one of these days, you’ll be surprised to find that you’re more stressed about his doctors visits than he is. Ethan’s doing so well with his doctor/dentist stuff this year, and I’m still going in wanting Valium and a bullet-proof vest.

    • runningforautism March 9, 2011 at 11:17 PM #

      LOL, I think this is very true. I already find myself getting all worked up in anticipation of meltdowns that never happen!

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