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.

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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’.

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