Scarlett’s 4-month Well-Baby Checkup, and Our Pediatrician’s Curious Take on Autism and Vaccines

So Scarlett had her 4-month well-baby checkup this morning.  She weighs in at 11 pounds 10 ounces and is 24 inches long (or 2 feet tall, which is more fun to say).  She is perfect!

After the routine physical exam, the doc says to me, “So, still no vaccines?”  “Nope,” I say.  Okay, you’re not really surprised at this, coming from a home-birthing, cloth-diapering, extended breastfeeding mother, are you?  Not that not vaccinating necessarily goes hand in hand with those other things, but, well, it is true that “crunchy” parents (and I only consider myself to be “crispy”) tend to be less inclined to vaccinate their children, or at least to be choosy about which vaccines to go ahead with and on what sort of schedule.

Without going into a whole song and dance about our reasons for not vaccinating (because I wrote about it a while back here), I’ll just say briefly that, although our five older kids are vaccinated, Finn remains unvaccinated, and at least for now, so does Scarlett.

So here are some things the pediatrician had to say to me this morning (paraphrased):

  • First and foremost, autism is NOT caused by vaccines!
  • Autism is genetic, and by genetic, he means hereditary.  He said that he can almost always tell, by observation, which parent the kid got it from.
  • Autism is caused by parents not being connected enough to their kids.  (However, this is also a doctor who has been telling me since Kevin was a baby that babies should not sleep with their parents and parents should not pick their baby up every time he/she cries, and babies do best by being left to cry it out.)
  • He knows a kid (a patient?  Not sure . . .) who WAS vaccinated who caught meningitis from a kid who was NOT vaccinated.  “If he was vaccinated, how did he catch meningitis from someone who wasn’t vaccinated?” I asked.  “Vaccines aren’t perfect!” he exclaimed.  “Which is why you have to get as much of them as you can!”
  • There is a “family of autistics” who live in his neighborhood – a grandmother, a mom and a dad, their kids, and the mom’s sister who comes to visit occasionally.  They’re all autistic, according to the doc.  He did say that none of them has ever been diagnosed, but it is his feeling that they all have autism.  And apparently, the grandma is the “most severe” – and she was never vaccinated because she was born in China!  According to him, each generation in the family has received more vaccines, and yet the autism has lessened in severity with each generation.  No, he really said this!

After relaying all of this to me, he asked me again, “So, you’re sure you don’t want to vaccinate Scarlett today?”  “Yep,” I said.

Also, this is the same doc who insisted to me a month or two back that Finn’s eye turning inward is all in my imagination, it’s an “illusion,” but then Finn was diagnosed with strabismus by a pediatric ophthalmologist shortly thereafter.

Now you may be asking why we stick with this pediatrician!   Well, habit, I guess.  In all honesty, we’ve been with him for almost 16 years – since Kevin was born.  And generally I like him.  But it does seem that the older he gets (and he’s only a few years older than me!), the more radical his idea become, and the more we differ in our approach to certain things.  I guess I’ve learned to take it with a grain of salt.  Take what works, and leave the rest.  I’m okay going to him for routine stuff, but, yeah, obviously I don’t rely on everything he says.

As for vaccines, I’m not some nut job, and Jenny McCarthy is not my role model.  I wish people would give those of us who don’t vaccinate the benefit of the doubt, and instead of assuming we’re deranged, assume that we’ve given the issue careful thought, we’ve done our own research, and have perhaps just come to different conclusions than other parents have.  I don’t know what causes autism, but neither does anybody else to date.  When someone figures out what does cause autism and how it can be prevented, if the time ever comes that all vaccines are deemed completely safe for all children with no risk of side effects or neurological injury, when there is no longer any need for the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program – then come and talk to me about my parenting choices.

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46 Comments on “Scarlett’s 4-month Well-Baby Checkup, and Our Pediatrician’s Curious Take on Autism and Vaccines”

  1. adoptionista
    November 7, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    Love your approach. I’m not sure where parents got lost…seems like the “norm” now is to just do whatever a pediatrician or parenting magazine says without thinking about it. We’re still parents, despite all the “help” and information – we should act like it! These things are our decisions, not that of the medical community or conclusion of “experts” printed up in a colorful American Baby spread. Woot! 🙂

  2. Kara
    November 7, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    We go to a group practice, and the differences between the pediatricians within that single group is staggering. One of them really pushes for starting potty training “by 18 months at the absolute latest” while the others are more child-led. One is very Dr Sears/AP another is almost Ferber method. My personal beliefs put in the middle of most things, and I find myself lying to the doctors at times, just to end the conversation “Oh, yeah, absolutely I’m going to start potty training my 14 month old who can’t walk yet, no problem” or “yes, we absolutely have a set in stone bedtime routine, even on the weekends.”

    We vaccinate, on a traditional schedule. The only one I’m a little scared of is the HPV vaccine, just because I don’t think there’s been enough of a long term study done on it. That said, I have a close family member who is an OBGYN and she had both her daughters get it as soon as it was available, and has recommended I get my oldest daughter vaccinated as soon as she turns 10. I have a year to do more research on it.

  3. Darla
    November 7, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    My youngest children have not been vaccinated either. Many vaccines, along with Rho Gam used to prevent auto immune reactions still contain thimerosal, a preservative containing derivatives of mercury. My first children had reactions to the meds, one son had his arm hang paralyzed like a stroke victim and with a high fever of 106 for two weeks. Doctor’s said it was all because “The immunization bruised the bone.” There ARE injuries, that’s why you have to sign a waiver.

    So, they say that immunizations don’t cause autism, but I’d like to challenge this by saying that: I saw my playful, outgoing 2 year old relative go from speaking and interacting to losing language and drifting farther away following immunizations.

    Though they have compared brains of neurotypical and “autistic” children and can usually find no basic difference between an NT and true autist ( and by true autist, I mean someone who does not have any other notable organic difference, such as cerebral palsy etc that just gets thrown into the autistic spectrum ) they can find no difference except that autistic people have up to 67% more neurons in their brains.

    Based on this, here are two *possible* hypothesis of a relationship between the two:

    A: There are many “normal” people who are born with 67% more neurons and these people are more predisposed to becoming damaged by thimerosal because having more neurons, (More neurons, more electrical activity) the mercury, a heavy metal which is an electrical conductor and cause an electrical overload and short circuiting of the brain. An estimated 20-40% of children with autism also have seizures.

    B. The extra neurons are actually a result of the brain trying to repair itself to regain lost connections after a chemical/electrical injury.

    There are realms of possibilities…It’s still the unknown. Hang tight Lisa. I’m far from convinced they are safe.

  4. Becca
    November 8, 2012 at 2:08 am #

    I *do* believe in vaccinating on-schedule, BUT…I am very surprised you’re still with that doctor after the eye thing…maybe now is the time for a new ped?? What an ignorant man!

  5. Sue
    November 8, 2012 at 5:12 am #

    I can’t help but weigh in here on the vaccine issue. I have a PhD in genetics and my research area is developmental neurobiology. I say that not because I think that makes me smarter than anyone, but because I believe my education affords me a deeper understanding of some of the biological issues that you and others here have raised. There are documented differences in brain structure between autistic individuals and neurotypical individuals including changes in synapse connections and overall neuronal morphology. Whether or not any of these differences is CAUSATIVE for autism remains to be determined. For the record, my kids were vaccinated on the traditional schedule.

    There is no evidence that vaccines cause autism, it is a genetic disorder. I could go on and on about the evidence, but suffice to say that at this point, believing that vaccines cause autism is akin to climate change denial or saying that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS (remember when that was popular a few years back?). No reputable biomedical scientist or physician believes it, and the harm that has been done in terms of scaring people away from vaccinations is enormous.

    Vaccinating your children is probably the second most important thing you can do for their long term health, right after buckling them into a car seat.

    Two examples-whooping cough (pertussis) outbreak in CA in 2010 killing at least 10 infants.

    Then there’s the little known facts about the complications of some of these diseases. For example, if you get measles (rubella) as a pregnant female, there are significant complications for the fetus.

    Also, children and adults who get measles can suffer from encephalitis (brain inflammation) immediately to years after the infection. This encephalitis is progressive, ultimately fatal, with no treatment or cure.
    I’m betting your adult children won’t be grateful for not having been vaccinated if they suffer some of these complications down the road.

    Also, along those lines, many of these diseases are a lot more prevalent outside the US so if your kids ever plan on traveling abroad they’re probably going to end up getting all these vaccines anyways.

    But hey, you don’t know me, why should you listen to me? Your doc sounds like he’s not on top of his game at the moment. Do you have another trusted health care professional you could ask about this? A friend who’s a doctor or nurse?

    • Lisa
      November 8, 2012 at 5:48 am #

      Even if vaccines don’t cause autism – and I’m not saying they do! I’m saying nobody seems to know for sure what does cause autism; it remains largely mysterious – vaccines DO cause various injuries to some people – including, apparently, encephalitis. Also, I understand that my kids will very likely get vaccinated as adults, especially if they plan to travel. But I think an adult’s immune system is probably much more capable of dealing with vaccines than tiny little babies.

      I appreciate your take on this.

    • Kris M
      November 13, 2012 at 5:32 am #

      Amen. Thank you. This is one of the best replies to the vaccine debate I’ve seen. As a pediatric nurse I’ve seen the catastrophe of whooping cough and meningitis on children who were unvaccinated. Heartbreaking and preventable.

  6. Sue
    November 8, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    One last thought and then I’ll shut up (I think! My husband would claim this is an impossibility!). An infant’s immune system is designed to develop after birth, in response to the antigens (i.e. germs) it encounters in the environment. And in fact, vaccines or no, your infant’s immune system is being challenged all the time every day, all day. We know that the brain develops enormously after birth and in response to stimulation, kids living in an unstimulated environment have horrible cognitive and motor deficits. The immune system is the same way-it’s designed to be challenged and ‘learn’ so infancy is the exact right time to be vaccinated. And maybe (and this part I’m completely making up, I don’t know if anyone thinks this is true, but I just want to play devil’s advocate) adult immunizations over-trigger the immune system and lead to autoimmune disorders like MS.

    • Lisa
      November 8, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

      Sue, I understand what you’re saying about an infant’s immune system being built up by being challenged, and I agree. It’s ridiculous to keep babies in plastic bubbles, so to speak – they need to encounter germs and so forth so that their immune systems can build up immunities. I don’t, however, believe that that means that an infant’s system is designed to take on synthetic toxins in the amounts presented by vaccines. And if an adult – whose immune system HAS been “challenged” and HAS had years to develop and mature could arguably develop something like MS from receiving vaccines in adulthood, that, to me, is all the more argument against infant vaccines.

      Just for the sake of friendly argument, what is your take on the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program? If vaccines are completely safe, why is such a program in existence? And what about the known link between flu vaccines and Guillain-Barre syndrome (a nervous system disorder)? Is it your assertion, then, that all vaccines are completely safe and risk-free for everyone?

  7. pherd
    November 8, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    Another way to think about this is in relation to risks and benefits. Can vaccines cause harm? Yes. Hence, the injury fund. It’s also why individuals with compromised immune systems can’t be vaccinated. In terms of autism, there is no current evidence that can support the link, but can we rule it out with 100% certainty? No. But there’s a lot of research at this point testing the vaccine hypothesis and nobody has been able to demonstrate that link. The likelihood that a link will be found in the future is very, even infinitesimally, low given the magnitude of the existing evidence.

    But what’s the counterfactual? The risks associated with measles (or even whooping cough for infants–who are protected by everyone else being vaccinated) are much higher in terms of the probability of injury relative to these other risks. The tricky issue is that my choice to vaccinate or not vaccinate does affect other people. So as long as a large fraction of the population continues to vaccinate, those who don’t remain somewhat protected. But there’s a tipping point. Once a certain fraction of the population is no longer vaccinated (and clustered together, say in the same city or even county), the risk increases exponentially–both for those who choose to not vaccinate, but also for infants and individuals with compromised immune systems who cannot be vaccinated.

    I love your blog!

    • Lisa
      November 8, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

      I absolutely understand and agree with what you’re saying, Pam. “Herd immunity” is a delicate balance.

  8. CJ
    November 8, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

    I would be completely happy to not vaccinate. My wife would be happy to vaccinate on schedule, including the flu shot and whatever else is out there.

    Our compromise? We selectively vaccinate on a seriously delayed schedule. And yes, I have “forgotten” shot appointments a time or two. Woops.

    When I brought up my concerns with our ped once, she seriously looked at my square I’m the eyes and said, ‘I can PROMISE YOU this child will never be autistic.’

    Can I get that in writing?

  9. Sue
    November 8, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    Yes to everything *pherd* said. And as a scientist, I would never say never/absolutely/definitely about anything. We like to say things like, “these data are most consistent with the following model…” You can see how anti-science people can have a field day with that!

    And to be perfectly clear, I don’t know of any connection between adult vaccinations and MS, that was just a story I made up to point out that there might be unintended consequences of adult vaccinations. The adult vaccination scenario has not been tested in large numbers the way infant vaccinations have been (that I know of–see scientists always qualify!). I also don’t know what “synthetic toxins” you are specifically referring to in vaccines? Do you mean the antigens themselves-e.g. killed virus?

    As for ASDs (which of course is actually many disorders so age at onset of symptoms can be different)–the data are clear that it is a genetic disorder. Meaning it’s present from birth but doesn’t manifest until the brain wires up more. Like cancer, it’s complicated–many genes are involved, there are almost certainly environmental influences, etc. But clinicians now realize that instead of waiting until a 2yo isn’t speaking to diagnose autism, they can now recognize some autistic features very early, like not making eye contact. So I don’t doubt that CJ’s pediatrician, having seen many autistic patients at this point, has a very good feel for behaviors in her patients that correlate with a later diagnosis of an ASD.

    See, told you I couldn’t shut up.

  10. Sue
    November 8, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    One more thing I have to add. I have never understood why the ‘crunchy’ people don’t vaccinate. If you’re driving your Prius to Whole Foods to buy fair trade coffee which you bring home in your re-usable bags, you care about the earth and other humans. Vaccinations are part of that same spectrum of altruistic behaviors.

    • Lisa
      November 8, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

      Well, generally speaking, “crunchy” people aim for as “natural” as possible and see vaccines as toxic. And like I said, I only consider myself “crispy” 😉 As for the toxins in vaccines that I mentioned, I guess I mean the preservatives and additives.

  11. Sheila
    November 8, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    My 2 cents…
    My parents generation took every word a doctor said as gospel, and still to this day don’t even ask questions about mixing medications they take between specialists.

    I think there needs to be a longer look taken at what immunizations are being expected today. When I was a child, I think I had one handful of vaccines, today kids are expected upwards of 20-30 (forgive me, I know these numbers but am speaking off the top of my head, not from my notes). All the studies my dr. pointed me toward were from the early 50’s when the sheer volume was not equivalent to children today. At one point, mercury was considered a safe ingredient, but today it is avoided. Who is to say aluminum will not become the next mercury, down the road? Whooping cough seems to be a big example, yet there is no vaccine strictly for pertussis. It is packaged up with diptheria and tetanus, which aren’t remotely as high on the priority list, even among drs.

    Sue – I’m not “crunchy” or even “crispy” frankly (and you are generalizing), but because I question injecting aluminum, formaldehyde and other chemicals into my infant child, somehow I’m considered a crazy mother who doesn’t care about the well being of her child.

  12. Maddy
    November 8, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    This question is for Sue. I would love to get feed back on your take about my 5 year old. I have given my (2) girls their vaccinations as needed per their pediatricians orders. I myself grew up with them and until my (3) year old had her (3) year chicken pox shot all was well. Two months after receiving her Chicken Pox shot she developed shingles (which I understand to be the Chicken Pox Virus). She will be 6 in February and for the past two years she has gotten Shingles near her eye (which is a very dangerous place) since her sight could be effected. Anyway, she has had shingles 5 times. She has been checked by specialist and all kinds of bloodwork taken to make sure she doesn’t have a Immune Disorder such as (Lukemia, etc.).

    A specialist at a very well known Children’s Hospital here in Charlotte, NC.. told my husband and I that there is a BIG possiblity that the shot triggered something in her immune system and she may or may not grow out of it. I am not saying that I wish I would of never given her the shot, because my oldest has done well. However, it does make me think “I Wonder”.

    • Lisa
      November 8, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

      Maddy, I had shingles on my face as an adult – super painful 😦 Can’t imagine having it FIVE times, and as a child.

  13. Stacey
    November 8, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    The myth about flu vaccines being linked with Guillain Barre syndrome, with the exception of the 1976 “swine flu” vaccine, has been thoroughly debunked. It’s actually an influenza infection itself, or a flu-like infection, that triggers GBs, not the flu vaccine. Here are a couple of sources, one a huge study in China encompassing nearly 90 million people and another in the UK looked at about a million children. The UK study actually found that the flu vaccine probably had a preventive effect on GBs!

    I started to write out what we did about vaccines. I decided instead to make my own blog post about the subject. Thanks for the idea! Here’s the link:

  14. Jody
    November 8, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    Wow – it’s hard to tell she is part of your family – HAHA! What a clone! She is simply adorable and sooo big! I have a lot of friends who do not vaccinate – their worlds have not come to an end…it’s all good!

  15. Janet
    November 8, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

    Thank you for this. I have an autistic child who suffered from severe vaccine damage. The doctors have a financial interest in vaccinating (and over vaccinating because that is what is happening to the kids in this country) and I would challenge any one of them regarding how harmful vaccines can be. Not going into it here but I would NEVER vaccinate any of my children again.

    Age Of Autism has a good site (and I too can’t stand Jenny McCarthy so I ignore her part of it!) and there is a wealth of information regarding over vaccination. The number of vaccines an immature immune system is supposed to tolerate by the time a child is three is absolutely ridiculous. And Sue, I would run far away from someone like you. You my dear, are full of it.
    Even Vets recognize and admit to vaccinosis in animals/pets (they are seeing a similar vaccine damage pattern from too many vaccines) yet apparently children don’t get the same concern from doctors because all of them deny the vaccine connection not only to autism but to many other medical issues as well. How sickening is that?

    And before the pro vaccine crazies come on asking the usual…. well then how come every child who receive vaccinations is not autistic?….the answer is we don’t know who can tolerate the amount of chemicals and insults and can successfully rid their body of them until they are vaccinated. By then it is too late for those who do receive damage.

  16. Life After Grad School
    November 9, 2012 at 4:58 am #

    As an immunologist who has spent the past 17 years studying the immune system, I’d like to clarify a few things based on some of the comments. First, thimerosal was only ever used in the US in 1 vaccine – the flu vaccine. It was, however, used in vaccines in Europe. To my knowledge, all of the studies linking thimerosal to autism have since been shown to be fraudulent. However, I don’t think that thimerosal is necessarily safe or a good idea to be included in vaccines – anything that breaks down into ethylmercury has the potential to be toxic. As of the last time I checked (back in January), thimerosal is no longer used in any vaccine in the US. Second, the formaldehyde in vaccines is a by-product of inactivating the virus. The general public does not want to risk contracting diseases from vaccines, so the virus is deactivated, removing the risk of disease. It is not added to the vaccine as a preservative – it is the by-product of making the vaccine safer. Third, alum is only added to “sub-unit” vaccines like the Hepatitis series. These vaccines do not contain any infectious material, but proteins that are found on the outside coat of the virus. These proteins will not stimulate an immune response on their own, so alum is added to activate the innate immune system so that you’ll get protective adaptive immunity to the vaccine. If the general public doesn’t want live virus (risk of infection), inactivated virus (trace amounts of formaldehyde), then subunit vaccines (requiring alum) become the next best alternative. Oh, and alum has been used in vaccines and cancer therapies since 1912 (they really didn’t have any reason, it was one of many compounds tested that enhanced immune responses), so if there was going to be a huge adverse reaction to it, we likely would have seen it by now.

    That being said, I do think that delaying vaccination or choosing to give only one vaccine at a time (what I’m doing with my own child), makes sense. Reason I think delaying makes sense – to be honest, the cells needed for adaptive immunity aren’t truly developed until the child is 18-24 months. Yes, they are present, but they aren’t yet capable of mounting the proper response (hence the need for so many boosters!). However, if you need to have your child in daycare as I, like thousands of other women do… Reason I think giving one vaccine at a time makes sense: I’m not convinced the studies of giving multiple at one time were properly controlled. Besides, my own research demonstrated that you get a better protective immune response to each vaccine when it is given by itself.


  17. Sue
    November 9, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    I continue to be amazed that something that has proven so safe and effective and vastly improved the lives of MILLIONS of people can be so controversial in this country (among white upper middle class individuals that is). Women in 3rd world countries will march their kids hundreds of miles to get to a vaccination clinic, yet we scoff at them. Vaccines save lives. They save your children’s lives, and your friends’ children’s lives. Are vaccines entirely risk free? Of course not, but they do not cause autism. And Janet, I have no vested interest in saying that–I’m not a physician, I don’t work for big pharma, I do basic neurobiology research on brain development and so I read the scientific literature as it pertains to neurodevelopment disorders of which ASDs are one example.

    As for Maddy, so again I”m not a physician, but my take on your daughter’s shingles situation is this. Shingles is reactivation of the dormant chicken pox virus, which she was exposed to when given the vaccine. I can understand why the docs wonder if she has an immune disorder because it seems like her body isn’t doing a good job of keeping the virus in check. However, I don’t necessarily see the connection between the vaccine per se and the shingles. The same thing could have happened if she had just come down with chicken pox at the age of 3, just like people who have had the chicken pox as kids (like I did) and get shingles years later.

    Nothing like a good vaccination controversy to get the blood pumping!

    • Lisa
      November 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

      Let’s talk about home birth! Or better yet, the recent election!

  18. Sue
    November 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    I couldn’t be happier with the election results, especially in MA where we are sending our first woman to the Senate (Elizabeth Warren) and as a result, we took back a seat from the Republicans!!!! I fervently hope that for at least the next two years, the Republicans will stop being so damn obstructionist and let Obama actually govern.

    As for home birth, my philosophy is to each his own. Unlike vaccinations, your choice on that matter doesn’t affect anyone else :-). And, I really don’t know how you did it! My birth plan was “get an epidural.” (One thing I’ve always wondered about home birth, who cleans up after? When I was having #2 and my older son would ask why you go to a hospital to have a baby I’d say, “Well, it’s very messy and it’s nice to have someone clean up afterwards.”)

    • Lisa
      November 9, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

      You know I was being facetious, trying to steer the conversation to other controversial topics, right? 😉

      That said, I am VERY happy with the election results, and agree with what you say about obstructionist Republicans.

      What do you think is so messy about birth? I’ve had three home births, and none of them were especially messy – especially since I gave birth in a birth pool all three times. The midwife and her assistant clean up, and when you’re talking about a water birth, the pool just gets drained with a sump-pump. No biggie.

  19. Sue
    November 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    There wasn’t a lot of blood? Both times, I was surprised at the amount of blood and the OB said it was normal. I don’t even know what it was from. Maybe the tearing…? There wasn’t a placental rupture or anything. I also threw up a lot both times, and not always in that handy little pink container. Loved the result but geez, I hated labor.

    • Lisa
      November 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

      The only time there was a lot of blood was the one time (out of seven!) that I hemorrhaged after giving birth, and even that happened in the birth pool, and was quickly remedied by a shot of pitocin in the thigh. Despite what your doctor says, no, there should not be a lot of blood under normal circumstances. Normal postpartum bleeding shouldn’t begin until the placenta detaches and is delivered (however, if the placenta is “helped along” by force – using cord traction, as is typical in hospital births), and even then it’s not like it gushes or anything, it should be no more than a heavy period for the first couple of days.

  20. Sue
    November 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    And yes, i got that you were being facetious but I do love a good controversy! Clearly.

    • Lisa
      November 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

      Well, we could always talk about God, too 😉

  21. Sue
    November 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    Talking about God’s no fun as by definition, the opposing view point doesn’t have to produce any evidence :-).

    BTW, as way of introduction, I started reading your blog a while back when a good friend of mine had a son who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome at birth. I appreciate you giving us all a glimpse into your life. I have learned a lot from reading yours and others’ blogs, and from getting to know my friend’s son, who is a complete joy.

    • Lisa
      November 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

      Thanks, Sue 🙂

  22. Sue
    November 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

    I found your posts about the abuse you suffered at the hands of your former husband particularly powerful. Have you ever done any public speaking or mentoring around this issue? You know, in all your free time?

    • Lisa
      November 9, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

      No, I haven’t. Nobody has sought me out for that, for one thing! And, in all honesty, it’s not as if I have the answers. I just know what it’s like to live like that, that’s all. I am writing, though . . . trying to recollect experiences from that volatile and tumultuous marriage. For a long time after Finn was born, I thought I wanted to write a memoir about having a child with Ds, but I realize now that that’s been done to death. There are so many of those memoirs out there, some good, some bad, a few really wonderful, but certainly enough that anyone interested has plenty to choose from. I think now I’d like to – and what I’m working on – is a memoir about being a battered wife.

  23. Sue
    November 9, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    Wow, that must be so difficult, unlike writing about Finn whom you love dearly. I was just thinking that you would be a great mentor for battered women still in their dysfunctional relationship…showing that people survive and are happy and have healthy relationships and families.

  24. all done here
    November 9, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    Again Sue I would run far from your bullshit but you are from MA. so it certainly doesn’t surprise me. Home of the one way thinking in the Boston area medical field when it comes to vaccine damage. You know what Sue, MANY moms and dads see right through your bullshit and I am glad they are wising up.

    Love your blog Lisa but the Sues of the world are what is wrong with our kids today.

    • Lisa
      November 9, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

      I’m not going to speak for Sue or anyone else, and I hate to moderate comments because I really feel that in order to have honest, authentic discussions, everyone who wants to have a voice here should. However, I also hate to see it get combative, so can we please try to express our feelings and opinions here without attacking anyone?

      As I’ve stated, I have plenty of reservations about vaccines. That said, I understand that there are people who do not agree with me, and who base their belief in the overall benefits and unlikeliness of vaccines causing harm on their own research and life experiences. I don’t think anybody who has commented here is out to bullshit anybody else.

  25. Sue
    November 9, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    I’m not going to waste my time trying to convince people who have already made up their minds about vaccines and autism (unlike my impression of Lisa’s position, which is why I bothered to comment in the first place) that they’re wrong. Just like I’m not going to try to convince anyone that the earth is billions of years old, that gravity exists, that genes are made up of DNA. If you choose to willfully and irrationally ignore the overwhelming scientific evidence, there’s nothing I’m going to say that changes your mind. Just like I’m never going to convince a believer that God doesn’t exist.

    But I do have one request. The next time you have strept throat or some sort of cancer, please do not waste other people’s time and resources at the doctors office asking for antibiotics or chemotherapy. And put down the motrin when you have a fever. Because the same biomedical establishment that you are convinced is perpetrating some huge fraud on you with this vaccine business is by extension making up shit about antibiotics and chemotherapy, too. It’s the same scientists and physicians, the same scientific methods, the same medical journals and the same FDA. You can’t have it both ways.

    • Life After Grad School
      November 10, 2012 at 2:18 am #

      Here here!

      On a side note, I’d like to bring up the topic of animal research – I think it’s the only controversial topic that hasn’t yet been mentioned… 🙂

      • Lisa
        November 10, 2012 at 2:32 am #

        Don’t forget same-sex marriage!

      • Sue
        November 10, 2012 at 3:57 am #

        Lol! I’m done being controversial, but I’ll give you one guess as to where I stand on both issues!

  26. Sue
    November 9, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    Lisa, I thought you may want to post this, too, in case there are some people who are just starting to think about this issue and find their way to your blog.

    This is from one of the leading Autism advocacy groups.

  27. jen
    November 11, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    Wow, best blog comment debate ever.

    For what it’s worth, Jen says:

    Vaccines: the good far outweighs the bad; few people deny their benefits on a populational level (minimizing the prevalence of these diseases out there), but many reject on a personal level (their own kids); that’s all fine and good until the number rejecting gets too big and disease bites us in the ass

    Autism: bad, but nothing to do with vaccines

    God: of course not

    US election: it ain’t my country so my say doesn’t count, but the right guy won

    Same-sex marriage: sure, if they want, but why sign a legal contract? it’s an antiquated practice (regardless of sex preference)

    Animal research: okay if strict, carefully controlled, and for medical advances (not cosmetic)

  28. Nancy
    November 21, 2012 at 6:43 am #

    The medical community has determined that there is no link between immunizations and autism. (and you do seem to be in favor of using modern medicine. I see that you take your children to the doctor and I am fairly confident that your husband is alive today because of it). Still you choose not to immunize. Not to take the advice of the medical community,

    It is a proven fact that your odds of having a Down Syndrome child at the age of 45 are 1 in 30. Wow, the medical community does actually know something! As in this is a fact! You know all to well that this is a real statistic. You Have A Child with Down Syndrome!
    Still, you continue to bring children into this world knowing full well the risks involved. Hmmmmmm……yes Miss Lisa, the proud atheist, your thought process is ridiculous.

    You don’t immunize for concern of autism but you continue to have children knowing full well the risk of Down syndrome.

    Is this the same thought process that you used when you decided to become an atheist ?

    • Lisa
      November 21, 2012 at 7:12 am #

      Nancy, so what you’re saying is that the “medical community” is infallible? That everyone should blindly put their faith in everything the medical community endorses because they’re never wrong? Seriously? Because my husband is alive today thanks to science and medicine (and NOT God, thank you very much), I just just roll over and trust without question every recommendation the medical community makes?

      Yes, I put my faith in the medical community to a point. You’ve undoubtedly noticed that I’ve also had three home births – so clearly I’m not an unquestioning fan of the medical community.

      By the way, I was 44 when I had my last baby (I assume you want to get all your information correct since you seem big on details) – not 45. I didn’t think I could get pregnant thanks to my husband’s cancer treatment – but I guess by your logic, I should have just had an abortion? My odds of having a baby with Down syndrome were actually 1 in 28. But guess what! I DIDN’T have a baby with Down syndrome. No, the baby I had with Down syndrome was born when I was 40 – when the odds were actually lower in favor of having a baby with Ds.

      And one doesn’t CHOOSE to “become” an atheist (it’s not like I adopted a whole new set of beliefs and customs associated with those beliefs). One merely comes to the conclusion that all those stories about god are actually nothing more than myths and fairy tales.

      Your comment seems rather personal. Why the axe to grind with me?

    • CJ
      November 21, 2012 at 11:44 am #

      Wow, regardless of your religious views, if EVERYONE withheld from procreating because of the posibility of having a child with DS, Autism, diabetes or any of the countless “issues” one can pass on or gamble with…..VERY few children would be born. And since you’re so big pointing a finger at her being an atheist, I ASSUME your a bible believer…in which case, aren’t women (as stated in the bible) supposed to take ANY and ALL children given to them by God and abstain from preventing the conception of any intended child?!?

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