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Monica Pickard spent twenty years of her adult life as a child care provider. During that time, with the help of her husband, she raised her son who has been diagnosed with Autism and Developmental Delay. She learned to navigate a world that was new to her – the world of Special Needs. She now shares these experiences and the wisdom they taught her, with love and heartfelt compassion for the human condition.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Living Our Beliefs: Integrity and Vaccines

            In the last post, we explored our evolving consciousness and the herd mentality. In this one, we will delve further into the role of the media regarding the vaccine messaging we hear and we will look at our beliefs as parents of special needs children.
            All over the mainstream media, I hear the terms, doctors say… doctors believe… All over the media when doctors are asked the same questions about safety and efficacy they repeat the same mantra over and over, in every interview, on every channel. I can’t help but think of the old cigarette ads featuring doctors who said smoking was safe. 
The cigarette companies did their own research, which was later discovered to be flawed and misrepresented. Science and scientific studies can help us understand things, but when scientific studies are performed by people with profits riding on the outcome, society loses because the results of those studies cannot be trusted. Let us examine a finding that is not in dispute. Doctors say and studies show that vaccines are effective. They are counting on a misunderstanding of what they mean by effective. We assume it means that after our child is vaccinated they are immune from the disease. What it actually means is that an antibody has been created that may or may not prevent the child from getting sick from the disease. Effectiveness equals antibody, not prevention or 100% immunity. I won’t dispute the claim that 90% of people vaccinated will not get the measles if exposed to it and that 10% will get it. That sounds pretty effective. It’s a great thing! That is why many parents wish they could vaccinate their children safelyThe way an antibody is created in a child is through the use of heavy metals in the vaccines and I won’t go into it here, but you can find out by clicking here if you wish to know. The link provides interviews of doctors who believe that vaccines cause injuries to children. From the mainstream media, it is difficult to know that these doctors even exist, but they do. The interviews will give you more insight to why some parents refuse to vaccinate and what these doctors and researchers have discovered.
            As I said in the last post, we still don’t know who the first patient was that visited Disneyland with the measles. It could have been one of the people who received their shots and fall into the 10% that can still get the disease. Even so, there is a popular open letter being floated around that tugs at our heartstrings because it is a passionate letter, full of emotion, written by a father who happens to be a doctor whose little girl has leukemia. The letter is called, To the Parent of the Unvaccinated Child Who Exposed My Family to Measles.” Dr. Tim Jacks is the author of the letter. We feel so sorry for him and his family after reading his words and we become angry at the person for making the “bone headed move,” to quote his letter. There’s just one very significant problem… He does not know who exposed his children. That little piece of information is left out of his letter. I heard him admit it in an interview on The Rundown with Jose Diaz-Balart, on February 10, 2015. When asked specifically if the child who exposed his children was unvaccinated he replied, “I do not have any information about the patient that exposed my children.” He is assuming the person who exposed his children is unvaccinated, but acting as if it is fact. It is unclear whether the person he addresses in his letter is the person at the clinic where his children were exposed or the person at Disneyland but, either way, this is a big assumption based in hysteria, not fact.
            In his letter, he writes that his children were able to receive some vaccinations after their exposure to gain some temporary protection against getting the disease. He says of them getting the shots, “They screamed, but now they have some temporary protection against measles.” They screamed; as if the only reason parents refuse to vaccinate their children is because they want to avoid the screams of their children. I think there is a little bit more to it than that, Dr. Jacks, and belittling them is not doing a service to anyone, including your vulnerable children.
            Another thing that strikes me is that Mr. Diaz-Balart did not question Dr. Jacks’ assumption, but went right along with the interview and ignored that point. If you’re going to write a letter to someone, and give it a provocative title, you better have your facts straight. Furthermore, if you going to do a seemingly unbiased interview, you better be prepared to challenge inconsistencies as they arise. The parents opposed to vaccines are required to stick to the facts that can be proven, but we give passes to pro-vaccine parents. I feel horrible for Dr. Jacks and his family, as his daughter battles leukemia and now must worry about getting the measles on top of that. These horrible things do not give him license to ignore the facts or to make assumptions or to belittle another parent’s decision or liberty to make that decision. I read the letter he wrote and found many inconsistencies, in addition to the title, but I will not go into all of that here. He was understandably emotional when he wrote it and I will leave it at that. Here is the link so you can read it if you choose. 
            In another news clip on The Reid Report, on February 10, 2015, I heard Elizabeth Warren, at a Senate Committee meeting on childhood vaccinations, asking, “Is there any scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism?” An official from the CDC answers: “No.”
Elizabeth: “Is there any scientific evidence that vaccines cause profound mental disorders?” The answer: “No, but some of the diseases we vaccinate against can.”
        Exchanges like this serve to keep the fear of vaccinations from spreading throughout the herd and allow the fear of disease to motivate parents to vaccinate their children. I have discovered that words matter. The word that matters in the exchange above is the word cause. It is a simple little word full of much significance. It is the buzz word in the media, but there is another word you need to know about, but won’t ever hear spoken in interviews. That word is trigger. I will write more about this in the next post and show you how congress, the CDC and the FDA have acknowledged links between injuries and autism as well as other profound mental disorders. For now, I will tell you that if Elizabeth Warren had asked if there was evidence that a vaccine can trigger autism or profound mental disorders this would have been a very different conversation.
            Right after that segment there was a segment about parents in California who are thinking of throwing measles parties to expose their non-vaccinated children to the measles so they will become immune. That sounds crazy. It is crazy and it helps to spread fear by lumping healthy children advocates in with people who are more extreme. Now every parent who chooses not to vaccinate is painted with the crazy brush, even if they do not support such behavior. Dr. Alexander Van Tulleken, who was being interviewed about the measles parties, said of the communities that are not getting their vaccinations, “I think we are really failing to engage with them, we are failing to understand them, are failing to communicate with them properly.” It was clear he meant that they are failing to convince them that vaccines are safe and effective, but he hit the nail on the head when he said we are failing to understand these parents. Authorities understand healthy children advocates perfectly, but they are making it difficult for anyone to understand them by spreading fear through the use of the mainstream media.
What do we really believe about our abilities, as parents?
            Evidence of a child’s vaccine injury is easily disputed by folks who don’t have a love connection with that child but try telling that to the child’s mommy and daddy. As parents of children and adults with disabilities we tell each other that we are the experts on our children; that we know better than anyone about our kids. We advocate for each other with doctors because we understand that the doctor does not always know best for each individual case and that the doctor is looking at the disability in generalities. When we start to question our own judgment we, as parents of children with special needs, remind each other that we are the experts on our own children. Why not now? Why are we vilifying each other when it comes to vaccines? Lately, I have read many blogs and many forum comments of pro-vaccine parents of autistic children who have joined the herd in telling everyone that evidence should be ignored; that the claims of parents with vaccine injured children should be ignored; that vaccines don’t cause autism. Even the well-known organization Autism Speaks has started saying that vaccines don’t cause autism. There is that buzz word again: cause. It breaks my heart because these parents are doing the opposite of what they normally do. They are telling other parents they are wrong about their own children; the very thing we are trying to get doctors to stop doing! Our failure to listen to our fellow parents and to vilify them is a real problem. Once we start down that road, we can never be taken seriously by doctors or anyone else. We want doctors to listen to us, but we are failing to listen to and stand up for each other on this issue.

Our Precious Children
            Every child matters. We believe that. The vast majority of children get vaccinated without incident, but some children are harmed. These children matter. They should not be viewed as collateral damage. The notion of children being harmed by vaccines is under dispute, but maybe it is time to err on the side of caution, say… for the sake of every child, because every child matters.

And we believe that.

"As I have loved you, love one another." ~ Jesus

            No child is disposable, so let’s look back, once again, at how far we have come to those few brave voices that said people with disabilities are not damaged, and are not sinful, and are important, and have feelings, and that they matter just as much as everyone else. In the next post, I will examine why some parents are afraid to vaccinate their children. Maybe they know something we are afraid to look at. Maybe they are the siren we wish would go away so we won’t have to act, or be inconvenienced, or feel guilty for vaccinating our own children blindly and timidly. I get that. I once was a mother who would have vaccinated my child even if I had known the risk because I was too timid to stand up to a doctor with a medical degree. I might even have ignored that risk and vaccinated because I also know, as the healthy children advocates do, of the risks of not vaccinating. But why can’t we have it both ways? Why should we have to ignore the risks? What is wrong with getting safe vaccines and schedules? What is wrong with trying to figure out which children are at a higher risk of vaccine injury so that we can do something different for them? It will be expensive, but we must ask ourselves what we value more, money or our precious children? Expensive does not equal impossible.
            I commend the healthy children advocates for their bravery and willingness to stand up for their children in the face of all this controversy and name calling and belittling. Maybe they are the wake-up call we need just like the first brave people who changed the destinies of people with disabilities. We may disagree with their decision, but they don’t have a better option. Let’s help them get one for the benefit of every child. Striving for safety in vaccines and schedules is the right thing to do. It is the moral thing to do for the already injured children, their families, and for every child’s future because

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