I came here to touch upon a subject I may have touched upon briefly. It deserves another post given recent events. Judging by the title, you probably already know what this post will be about. If word play flies over your head, you’ve been living under a rock. Regardless, I need to explain a study that happened over two decades ago along with the present day consequences.
Twenty-one years ago, a pair of British scientists somehow linked the MMR vaccine to bowel disease. Three years later, one of these researchers would live on in conspiracy theory galore as Andrew Wakefield would magically link MMR vaccines to Autism due to the presence of Thimerosal, an agent that contained trace amounts of mercury.
Wakefield’s study would follow twelve children in a highly controlled study that established a relationship between Autism and the MMR vaccine. Though a direct link could never be established in the papers, they released a video along with the study that where they mentioned a causal link between both. It set the world ablaze, and started what we know today as the anti-vaxx movement, a movement that would have long term damage in a number of ways.
Decades of replicating this study would prove that it was impossible to link the two. Eventually articles were released disproving the prior study. The publication that put out the article retracted the study, and it was discovered that this doctor had been paid by attorneys looking to sue vaccine manufacturers. It was also found later that Andrew had falsified the conditions of many of the children.
Several studies would come through the years to prove that this study was total bullshit. Wakefield’s medical license was eventually revoked, and his study was pulled from just about every publication you could think of. The man was shamed by just about every credible scientist, the world was a better place, and those with Autism lived in harmony.
I’m sad to say that contrary to Shia LaBouf’s motivational videos, some dreams unfortunately stay as dreams. Wakefield’s work with the help of prominent celebrities has caused wide spread damage in the form of the anti-vaxx movement, an ideology where people believe the government is trying to poison children and introduce diseases via the very things claimed to protect them.
Now to be fair, there have been government sanctioned experiments designed to deliberately introduce people to diseases (*cough* THE TUSKEGEE EXPERIMENT *cough*), but if the goal was to create quirky savants with funky brain wiring, then the US government did more of a service than a misdeed. Many parents now refuse to vaccinate their kids because they fear that Autism will steal them away. People are so hell bent on not vaccinating their kids that they inadvertently reintroduced diseases that had been practically nonexistent for years.
This post isn’t a history lesson or a science on vaccines. I just want to stress the damage this one asshat Wakefield has done to our community. The fact that people are willing to leave their kids vulnerable to diseases capable of killing them because they don’t want their children to be Autistic is rather telling of what people think of Autism.
Despite our best efforts to show Autism in a positive light despite the complications, more and more parents are buying into a lie that has been debunked several times.
I do everything in my power to be a pretty dope person. All I’ve ever wanted is for people to see me, and realize that maybe Autism isn’t so bad after all. Sadly I turn on the news, see that there are more cases of MMR and realize that my efforts are in vain.
Some parents rather a dead kid walking than a quirky one with special needs. They want to preserve their twisted vision of “The Perfect Child” even if it means leaving them susceptible to a disease that is capable of killing them. Then again, there was that one author with two kids who rather them have cancer.
Autism is complicated, sometimes scary, tiring, draining, exhausting, and beautiful at the same damn time. It’s not your definition of perfect, but it’s pretty fucking perfect in its own way. It ain’t easy, but at least Autism never killed anyone. I pray for a day where people have a good enough understanding of Autism that they NEVER contemplate leaving their children vulnerable to diseases because of the fear of what they don’t understand.
Flemmings Beaubrun is an avid gamer and lover of music. When not working, Flemmings likes to spend his time whipping up dank beats for the masses. He also spends his weekends thrift shopping for rare video games and obscure electronics. Other times he’s in front of a TV with a giant bowl of cereal enjoying shows from the 90s.