Autism: More than a bad name

Cassidy McKnight, Staff Writer

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Several reputable scientific studies have disproven the idea that vaccinating your child would cause them to develop autism. It was a “scare” for many parents when fake studies were posted all over social media, and as a person who lives with a young autistic child, not only could I think, “Well, that’s not even true,” but I was also baffled by the way people were in complete fear that their child may end up like the one I go home to every day. Why does the idea that people with disorders are inferior still persist in our society after hundreds of years? Sure, we’re not discriminating against them for voting purposes or jobs, but living in fear that your child may develop autism from a vaccination that will prevent life-threatening diseases for them and other children, is a subconscious way of saying that children with autism are inferior or undesirable.

As a person who has a young autistic child living in my household, I am unable to understand the fear that some people have of bringing an autistic child into this world. I love my “Nugget,” which is his nickname, more than life itself and he has taught me so many things about this world-things I would have never understood without him. I understand that he has developmental issues and struggles with learning, and that may be a big part of this “unjust” fear, but there are programs in place to help them develop the same as neurotypical children.

These programs will help autistic children learn to adapt to and overcome their differences compared to other children in their schools or in public.  Yes, they will struggle, but neurotypical children struggle too and it is your job as the parent to help your child, with or without a disability, get through these struggles.

Another thing to think about when debating about vaccinating your child, even though science has disproven that vaccines cause autism, is autism is not a chronic illness. It is not a disease. It is not something that will affect your child’s health. It doesn’t involve any pain. It’s not fatal. It’s just a difference in your child that others may or may not be able to see. It’s simply having a unique child with gifts that will continue to amaze you every day. It’s having a child who gets excited about things that neurotypical children tend to simply be happy about. It’s having a child who loves and hates really hard. It’s having a child you may have to explain feelings to, in ways you normally wouldn’t have to. It’s having to teach the people around you that your child is unique, different and special, but they are not inferior.

People will judge, even with simple glances in the grocery store. People will talk, behind your back or “nicely” insulting you to your face. It’s hard, don’t get me wrong; it’s very hard. But parenting is hard in general and I wouldn’t take back helping my mom raise my Nugget for anything. He’s the reason I chose my major. He’s my inspiration to change and reform special education programs. He’s my tour guide on all things autism: things I didn’t know before him. If you take nothing else from this article, take this: vaccines do not cause autism, but would it really have been so bad if they might’ve?

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