Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Vaccine Against Autism?

Several weeks ago, a friend posted a question on Facebook - What if there was a vaccine against autism? (I'm sure spurred by all the vaccination talk in the news at the time.)  I rather impulsively replied in my comment, "Well, then Matthew wouldn't be... Matthew.  And that would be very sad."

I want to be clear that if you choose to keep reading, the thoughts I am about to say are solely mine.  It is not meant to be representative of the autism society at large.  Every child with autism is different and every family dealing with autism might have a different perspective.

Autism is a huge part of who Matthew is...his learning style, his thought processing, his perseverance, his uniqueness, etc.  If you read True Colors  I go into detail about just some of the many things that make him special.  So, it wouldn't be like you were changing just one part of him if you took his autism would be majorly changing who he is!

If I had a child with a disability that was painful; caused them physical or mental pain I would be first in line for something to ease their suffering.  But Matthew isn't in pain or fact he might be one of the happiest kids I know!  I realize that might change as he gets older and kids might not be as accepting of him as they are now, but hopefully everything we are doing now will help him deal with those issues later.

Are there things I would want to change for him?  Of course! If there was a way to make learning easier for him - YES!  A way for him to speak with words - YES!  A way to guarantee his safety and no running behaviors - YES!  But that's very different than wanting his autism to be gone completely!

In a previous blog post Did You Know? I talked about whether we knew if Matthew had autism when we adopted him.  I explained that I was glad that we didn't know, because what if the autism label had caused us to turn down his referral.  I think there are some similarities to this vaccination idea.  When he was first born or when we first adopted him if we were offered a vaccine against autism would we have taken it?  I am thinking we very well might have said yes. I am guessing a lot of people would.  But now we KNOW Matthew...we KNOW his autism and I would have to say "No thank you."

I don't even expect some people who read this to understand that.  I get it.  If I didn't have Matthew, I might not understand or believe someone saying they didn't want a vaccine against autism either.  My hope, though, is that by sharing this blog you get a glimpse of what it would be like to have a Matthew in your life.