MORE ABOUT AUTISM EVERY DAY
The criticism seems to take in two points: that the controversy surrounding the role of thimerosal and vaccines should have been dealt with forthrightly, and that the video could be seen as a solicitation for pity. One of the mothers who appeared on the video, Michele Iallonardi, posted a reply to some of that criticism on the Evidence of Harm board, and, with Michele’s kind permission, I am quoting her in part below.
I am the mother of three children who have autism. One has been vaccinated, two have been partly vaccinated. I am very interested and involved in biomedical interventions. They have been extremely helpful (we have been doing them for over two years) but my son, as you saw in the video, is far from recovered. My other two children, who are recovering, have been through no biomedical interventions other than changing their diets.
My point is this ⎯ when it comes to autism, there is no one answer for anything. Recovery is not only about biomedical intervention ⎯ maybe for some children, but not for everyone. Autism does have a genetic component (how do you explain three brothers with autism?). I do believe that thimerosal is a huge part of the problem (but not the only part) ⎯ my son with the most vaccinations is the most affected. But, no, I don’t think that all children can recover biomedically. And yes, some children do recover without any biomedical interventions at all.
My life is by no means “pitiful.” I wrote an article in TAP (the autism perspective) magazine last year entitled “I Have Three” talking about just how wonderful my life is with my children. Funny, I actually got flack about that article from some people (who have one child with autism, and were struggling to deal with that) saying that I was too positive (or delusional or crazy). I have written several articles since then about all of the wonderful things parenting children with autism has brought into my life. That being said, the reality is that life for my boys is difficult. Most people that I know don’t realize that. Happiness is a choice, yes, and we are happy. But being happy doesn’t mean that it is easy for my son to sit through glutathione shots, eat special food, or live in a world where he can’t effectively communicate. I’m happy, but I’m not happy about that. He is suffering ⎯ and I can never sit by and just be completely happy when all that is going on. I’ll never settle and accept it either. To quote another mom from the film: “I'm never going to say I quit. It’s just not in my vocabulary.”
To insinuate that I view my life as pitiful is just a hurtful statement that has no point. What I view as pitiful is the time and energy spent (or wasted) in our community criticizing each other. My own life is an example of both genetic and biomedical causes to autism. My own life is an example of how happiness is a choice ⎯ because we have certainly had four years from hell, with many medical problems, with three children diagnosed with autism in less than one year, but we are happier than most people I know. We are broke, we hate watching our children suffer, and we go through things that most people ⎯ even some on this list ⎯ could never imagine. That is the reality, and that is what the film wanted the public to understand.
Let’s be honest; life would be easier if our kids didn’t have autism, don’t you think?
One of my wife’s great phrases is that she’s not interested in a pity party; she wants to help our son get better. I think that’s similar to what Michele is trying to say.
Like many, I remain somewhat wary of Autism Speaks. But they seem to be saying the right things about wanting to find the truth about the causes and cures for autism. Could this video dealt more with the question of possible causes? Of course. But the point was to show one part of the spectrum. Frankly, I’m not too worried about the motive in making the film, because I just want people to know what life is like for some families with autism.
Thank you, Michele.