Autism. Where I Stand.

I’m not one who courts controversy. I have strong opinions, and will often get fired up about things. Just ask my husband or online bestie Lisa. I often write a ranty blog post in my head whilst lying in bed at night even going so far as to put notes in my phone so I don’t forget.

Then by morning I’ve calmed down a bit. Confrontation is not in my nature. Truth be told I’ve had enough drama in my life, I don’t need to be inviting it onto my blog by arguing conflicting views on controversial issues.

But sometimes enough is enough. Today I got pushed to a point where I was literally in tears. All those fears and that guilt that parents of children with ‘slightly left of the norm’ needs are constantly battling were brought to the surface. By a person who I don’t even know. A person with no medical background, a person who doesn’t know me or my child. Maybe they were just the tip of the iceberg? The tip of an already very very fragile iceberg.

They made a claim that anti-depressants taken during pregnancy cause autism, amongst other things. Those that are regular readers here will know that I have been treated by medication for severe clinical depression for over ten years now. I continued to take this medication whilst I was pregnant because my Obstetrician told me it was safe and it would be detrimental to my health (and possibly my baby) to stop. I also did my own research and everything I read (all backed by science) agreed that the particular medication I was on was safe in pregnancy.

It shocked me today to read these claims, that THIS COULD BE MY FAULT. And you know why it took me all of 15 seconds to break down in tears and start madly googling for evidence? Because not a day has gone by since Milla was diagnosed that I have not blamed myself for something relating to Milla’s autism. Was this my fault? Did I do something wrong during pregnancy? Did I not do something that I should of? Am I feeding her the right food? Am I choosing the right therapies? Is this the right kinder to send her to? The right school? Should I have said that, should I have handled this situation differently? Should have, Could have, Would have… I don’t think that this sense of guilt will ever completely leave me. I think I am destined to always question everything, second guess every decision I make.

So all I have to hold on to, to ground me, are the facts.

FACT- After speaking to my doctor today, I can tell you that that taking anti-depressants whilst pregnant does not cause autism.

FACT- There is no medical or scientific evidence that the chemicals in immunisations cause autism.

FACT- I have been diagnosed with severe clinical depression. I have a family history of mental illness and post-natal psychosis. Un-medicated I would be a danger to myself and in turn any child I may be carrying. Even if there was a link between anti-depressants and autism, it would have been dangerous and irresponsible for me to have stopped.

FACT- Even if there was evidence that linked immunisations to autism, I would still choose to immunise my child.

FACT- My daughter is an amazing, beautiful, intelligent, hilarious little lady. She just thinks differently to some people. She learns differently to some people. When you tell me that you don’t immunise your child because you believe there is a risk of autism, you are telling me that you would rather risk your child’s health, risk your child’s life, than risk the possibility that your child could end up like mine.

So that’s where I stand. Believe me when I say that I have enough guilt and anxiety to deal with on a day to day basis without worrying about conspiracy theories and the entire medical industry lying to me to protect the pharmaceutical companies.

My daughter has autism. I can’t change that. Even knowing what ’caused’ it, wont change the fact that she has it. She’s a pretty amazing kid. She makes me laugh every day and teaches me far more than I teach her. So before you argue with me about vaccines or anti-depressants or whatever other possibly life-saving medication you believe may have caused her autism, maybe you should meet her? Get to know her before you tell me you’d risk her life to make sure she was ‘normal’.

25 comments on “Autism. Where I Stand.

  • Ree Hansen , Direct link to comment

    Most anti vaccination folk started ramping up when a UK doctor Andrew Wakefield linked vaccinations to autism in 1998 in a research paper. This research has never been replicated in numerous follow up studies and it was found that much of the research he conducted was falsified. He was also found to have subjected developmentally challenged kids to abuse during this research. He is now no longer allowed to practice medicine. Anti vaccination advocates still hold Andrew Wakefield in high regard and he is pretty much a poster boy for their cause – and they claim his demise was due to “big pharma” and anyone who disagrees are just “sheeple”.

    I see this issue in black and white – and it gets me SOOO angry. So to add to some of what you wrote – Here are some of my facts!

    FACT: Anyone who makes a choice not to immunise is compromising herd immunity.

    FACT: Anyone who makes a choice not to immunise is risking the lives of those too young to receive immunisations and risking the lives of those who are unable to be immunised for medical reasons.

    FACT: Deciding not to immunise your children makes you a selfish, and dare I say, bad person.

    FACT: It is NOT a personal choice when it effects other people, unless of course you are intending on keeping your children away from all other children (yes, that means no day care, and home schooling, and I don’t want your kids coming anywhere near a public playground or shopping centre either)

    I never normally comment on your blogs, but I do regularly read them and think you are a very brave mumma with an equally brave beautful little angel.

    Sorry to hijack you a little :) Moving on!

    *takes hat off to you*

    • Lila , Direct link to comment

      FACT We choose not to immunise because vaccinations are full of bovine (cow) products which our daughter is allergic to and becomes very ill from them.
      So yep I will be selfish thankyou very much.

      • Ree Hansen , Direct link to comment

        Lila, I was not referring to your situation

        In your child’s case, an allergic reaction is quite obviously a medical reason. I apologise if you mistook me but your child is the exact reason I get my knickers in a twist about this issue, because your child is one who relies upon herd immunity to keep her safe from diseases preventable by immunisation. I have family members who are immunocompromised and cannot be immunised on medical grounds. This is part of the reason I am so passionate about this issue.

        I need to be clear that I have no issue with your child not receiving vaccinations, obviously you have consulted with medical professionals who feel that the risks outweigh the benefits.


        • Lila , Direct link to comment

          I totally understand where you are coming from, I’m just a bit touchy about it as people often feel that it’s my responsibility to protect their child by immunising mine regardless of the risk to mine. In an ideal world everyone would choose to immunise but I don’t feel we have the right to force it on others.
          I was not immunised as a child and suffered through measles, mumps and chicken pox and would not recommend it to anyone!

  • Elephant's Child , Direct link to comment

    These so-called experts trip our guilt button so very easily. And, speaking for myself, if I knew where my guilt button was I would disconnect it. Permanently. It gives me a LOT of grief, and I cannot remember a benefit.
    I hope you manage to slap the anxiety hag down for a while. You do a brilliant job (with no manual) and have a glorious daughter.

  • Kate , Direct link to comment

    My oldest child has ASD and anxiety and I wasn’t on meds. You are so right that even if we knew what caused it it doesn’t change anything. My son is a beautiful young man who is so helpful and caring. Where as his younger brother non ASD is a horror at the moment, rude and unhelpful! Interesting! Then we move to my 3rd child at 3yrs, who is not looking like ASD but has severe speech delay, maybe dispraxia (1st child also had severe speech delay) and my 4th is 2 and not speaking much… I’m on the guilt train majorly… What’s wrong with me that my kids don’t talk?? Why can’t they just talk and everyone will leave us alone?! I’m sick of ‘do this do that’ I just want them to be kids and enjoy their childhood. I understand them and their communication! And then we could start on toilet training… :( thank you for your blog, it was a great read. I too don’t like confrontation. Your feelings matter and that person has NO Idea.

  • Andrea , Direct link to comment

    I agree with you and thankyou for putting it into words.
    Why does Autism have to mean there is something wrong?
    Why cant it be that we are blessed with individuals that see the world differently and can share with us joys we may otherwise miss.

    My Mr13 is a bundle of joy with a few challenges thrown in, but we learn together.

    It is our family and we are blessed to have 3 individual children whom bring their own bit of excitment to our life.

  • Melanie , Direct link to comment

    Well said Chicky!!
    My Daughter had a stroke (around the time of birth, we can’t pin point exactly when) & I constantly ask…was it something I did? Didn’t do? Mumma guilt is always there & you’re 100% allowed to rant whenever you want

  • Lisa , Direct link to comment

    Well said honey.
    All children no matter how they think or learn are beautiful in their own unique way. Milla is beautiful, gorgeous and most of all a happy girl.
    She has parents who love and adore her and are thankful they are her parents and that is all you can ask in this world.
    Like many things there may never be a known reason as to why or how something has happened or why Milla is on the spectrum but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter she is beautiful for who she is.
    Good on you for standing up for it.
    People who believe these things and often preach them don’t know the FACTS and are just following a crowd.
    No matter what your daughter is your daughter and nothing you do can change that. No one should make you question what you do or have done in the past. I applauded you for your strength in it all. For continuing with treatment whilst pregnant because the risks are often far out weighed by the benefits. We need to trust our doctors and that is what you’ve done and good for you.

  • Kirsty @ My Home Truths , Direct link to comment

    You can beat yourself up forever about this stuff. I was on anti-depressants too for the pregnancies of my 2 ASD kids but I don’t blame them for their autism. Everyone has to accept there is no one single reason for autism. I believe it’s a combination of genetics and the environment and every case results from a different combination. What we need to focus on instead is how to best to help our kids to give them the best chance to find their groove and achieve some level of independence in life.Because they are awesome and deserve the chance to shine!

  • Nathan , Direct link to comment

    Hey Jane, it’s pretty clear you’re doing a great job – keep it up! I spent a long time feeling guilty for no good reason about our son having autism. Our kids have autism, so we roll with it and we do the best we can and enjoy the ride. It can be hard enough without clueless people demonstrating their lack of understanding and compassion. When I read articles about the “dangers” of immunisation I get really angry for all the reasons that you and other commenters have given.
    Our little man with ASD turned 10 today. It’s been a tough decade, with it’s ups and downs, but it wouldn’t have been any less challenging or any more rewarding if he didn’t have an ASD – he’s our little boy and he is a beautiful treasure. I thank goodness that we have a supporting family and a community around us that understands our kids and works at keeping us emotionally safe.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Lila , Direct link to comment

    I’m so sorry someone made you feel this way. Try not to let this sort of thing get to you (it’s hard I know), as you said your daughter is wonderful and amazing, autism is just one part that makes her the awesome person she is. It doesn’t need to be a negative label just another special detail.

  • Nicole , Direct link to comment

    Let’s imagine for a moment that you were somehow responsible for Milla having ASD. Wouldn’t that be amazing? To know that you’re totally responsible for creating the person who makes you laugh and teaches you daily. That instead of having a kid who is completely “normal”, your actions have given you someone who thinks outside the square and sees things in ways that challenge the average person’s assumptions. You would be super proud of yourself.

    Instead it’s probably down to chance, which is harder to take credit for. Luckily you’ll always know that you’re the one shaping her into the adult she’s destined to become, which is definitely something worth being proud of.

  • Lauren @ Create Bake Make , Direct link to comment

    Clearly you are doing a FANTASTIC job raising your beautiful little girl, the smiles and happiness on the faces of you both in the picture are obvious. I’m so sorry you were made to feel this way by someone who really has no authority to comment on your life. You are a strong woman, and an incredible Mother, don’t let anyone make you think otherwise xx

  • Seana - Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel , Direct link to comment

    I think we mums of kids on the spectrum just have to go through the fire of self blame and then we come out the other side… it’s like a process that we all go through… and we try not to incinerate ourselves in the process. My own guilt trip was that I took the morning after pill… which didn’t work and my son was born and we were actually delighted… thank goodness these guilty feelings pass so we can get on with looking after the kids, and ourselves.

  • Renee Wilson , Direct link to comment

    Ahh I can’t imagine how you must have felt when you heard the latest conspiracy theory. My heart goes out to you. As you say, things are what they are and they can’t be changed. I have no doubt you are an amazing mother and have done and will continue to do everything in your ability to continue to raise a happy and healthy child. You know your facts and you know in your heart you did was right, so just tell everyone else to eff right off ;) xx

  • Annaleis , Direct link to comment

    As a mum with a child on that spectrum I know how you feel, the stupidity of some people and their off hand comments can reduce me to tears and then anger. Hugging my little man and seeing what a wonderful addition to our family he is – makes it all better. I am trying not to worry about the people of the outside just the ones right here.

  • Jodie , Direct link to comment

    As an adult on the autism spectrum, it breaks my heart to think about Mums (or Dads) being made to feel guilty about us. I wasn’t diagnosed until adulthood (Aspergers wasn’t even a thing until I was in my teens) and I suspect that now, with the benefit of hindsight, Mum feels guilty about how she raised me and feels like she could have done more. But throwing blame around (especially blame based on bad science or wild theories) doesn’t help any of us.

    For what it’s worth, I feel guilt from my end too. My parents only had one child, and she could have been charming daughter with friends and boyfriends and the prospects of finding a partner and starting a family of her own. Instead they got me. And it’s hard not to feel like they were short-changed.

  • Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me , Direct link to comment

    Please try not to listen to those people Jane, I’m sure it’s not easy, but there will always be knockers out there. Just as there are those who think we have to blame someone for everything. Makes me mad. I don’t read or watch anything on TV, magazines etc well unless it’s SBS or ABC because most of it is sensational crap said to get attention and made money. Know you are the best mumma in the world. Your princess is so fortunate to have you, and you her. Hugs x

  • Mel B , Direct link to comment

    I’m so sad to hear that someone made you feel that way. It shuts me to tears that people feel that they need to squash people with their own opinions. Unless this person has undertaken years of research, trials and studies, what gives them the right to say such things. Even then, they shouldn’t give their opinion unless asked. People like that get my hackles up :( Mums’ suffer enough guilt over everything without other people stuffing their opinions on top of that too.
    You are doing a fantastic job xx

  • Sonia Life Love Hiccups , Direct link to comment

    Oh Jane I just want to give you the biggest hug. I just cant believe anyone would make you feel this way. You are an incredible mother who made educated choices led by Professionals. Your mental health is so important – how dare anyone make judgements that leave you in tears. I am so sorry you were made to feel this way hun – I really am xx

  • Sammi , Direct link to comment

    I have 4 beautiful kids, no anti depressants, all immunisations up to date. Our oldest is HFA/GAD and our youngest has just been diagnosed mild-moderate ASD. Only thing that I did was have gall bladder removed when pregnant with number 4 (didn’t know he exsisted) the others I was not a drinker or drug taker i did not smoke, I was a young when we started (had child 1 just before 21st birthday) and yet we still have 2 out of 4 on the spectrum.
    How dare this person say such a thing. It makes me so angry these bandwagon jumpers who swear they have the answers. I say well done to you your doing a great job.

  • Wendy Doyle , Direct link to comment

    Jane, you sound like a caring and responsible Mum with a gorgeous little girl. There are times in life where we feel we are surrounded by negativity. You owe it to yourself and your daughter to keep yourself well and happy. Avoid reading or dwelling on this negativity or it will bring you down. Focus on having positive, happy days with your little one. She will thrive and love you for it. Best Wishesx.

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