I knew nothing of the so-called ‘anti vaccination’ movement until 18 months ago.
Since the late 70’s I have worked with adults with special needs, and for the last 15 years specifically in housing. Helping adults with disabilities to live as independently as possible in the community is my passion. Families of adults with disabilities have a different focus from those with young children, their energy is geared towards the rights of adults and how to ensure that they are safe and well cared for their entire lives, especially once the family members are gone. It is an all-encompassing endeavor. Vaccines are rarely mentioned.
In the last ten years, the housing group meetings that I have led have gone from:
Cross-disability… an almost even distribution of family members in need of housing who were living with physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, mental illness, and autism…
...to meetings that are now 80% autism families.
When I met with these families individually in order to develop an individualized housing plan for each young person, almost every family with an autistic member had a story of regressive autism… a child who appeared to be developing typically and who changed almost overnight. These families were not activists, they were not outspoken. They were not part of any movement. Quite the opposite, they did not elaborate but rather talked quietly of ‘moving on’, ‘putting it behind them’, ‘not their focus now’.
So we focused on housing.
Then in the spring of 2013 I was asked to give a housing presentation at a national conference of Autism One. I had never heard of the organization. Before doing any research as to who they were, I agreed to present. However, I did do my research in the weeks following the phone call request…. ANTI-VAXXERS! Crazy People! Dangerous therapies! Autism Haters! Pseudo Science! QUACKS!
What was I getting myself into?
I had people calling and writing to warn me against participating in this conference. I considered not going, I thought about losing whatever credibility I had built up over the years.
I also thought about the gentle voice of the retired English professor who had called and asked me to present at this conference. Oh well, I was never one to believe hearsay anyways, even when the hearsay was deafening, as in this case. I went to the Autism One conference.
What did I find there?
I found PEOPLE. regular PEOPLE.
Smart people, concerned people, highly educated people. Happy people, really funny people, really serious people. Innovative people, progressive people. Quiet people. Loud people. Regular people.
What I DID NOT find is crazy people. I did not find ANY haters of autistic people. I did find many of the same people that I would have met at any of my parent’s meetings. Families struggling to find housing and a future for their young adults with autism. And THAT was the focus of my interactions.
The vaccine movement is not my battle. I do believe that many of the people that I met at the Autism One conference that week believe that vaccines can cause autism. Most have had personal experiences that have shaped their beliefs. I really really like these people. I respect these people. I BELIEVE these people.
But my battle is HOUSING. Just in my state of Pennsylvania, there are thousands of people with a disability who are in need of services and housing. The numbers of young autistic people aging into the adult disability system is unprecedented. There is so much work to be done.
However, the hatred in this country that is aimed at the ‘ANTI VAXXERS’ has put me over the edge this week.
So WHO does everyone think these Anti-Vaxxers are, anyways? Do they really deserve this hatred, this mockery, this ridicule, this BULLYING? Because that is what it sounds like, it sounds like bullying. And most of them have retreated, afraid to admit that yes, it happened to their child too. They are afraid of the bullying, and they have no voice. No matter what your stand is on vaccines … and whether you believe them or not … the question is about bullying.
Everyone deserves to have a voice.
A small percentage of them are speaking up this week. I want to introduce you to some of them. Here are 14 families who believe that vaccines hurt their children, that vaccines not only caused regressive autism but also seizures, mitochondrial dysfunction, encephalopathy, and permanent severe gastrointestinal pain and dysfunction, among other medical issues. There are over 250 of these videos now posted, with hundreds more yet to come.
But first, let’s take a look at what is being said about these people… in the news, social media, talk shows. And after you have a laugh, I want you to listen to a few of these families, and see how it makes you feel. Most of these families, they tell their story in less than 2 minutes… so please give them a listen below the memes.
And by the way, the one thing that they all have in common, is that they DID vaccinate their children.
Here are some things coming across my Facebook news feed:
HaHa? LOL? Funny stuff?
OK that’s enough. It’s easy to find these memes, if you want more.
Now, listen to these families and hear their stories. Look at their eyes while they tell their story. Because honestly, until you actually do…
what you believe is just hearsay.
Hear this Well…
Read the story behind this campaign…