Vaccine History 101

 

In the 1800s and 1900s, many people in the United States lived in poverty and filth. In small, overcrowded, dark houses with rats, roaches, mosquitoes, and other vermin. Streets were filled with sewage and garbage and dead animals—often as much as two to three feet deep in places like New York City. Food and drinking water were diseased.

People were malnourished. They didn’t have clean running water and flush toilets. When they became sick, they ended up in hospitals that were also dirty and unsanitary, lacking in basic hygiene such as handwashing and instrument sterilization and isolating the sick.

Many worked long hours in dirty, unsafe conditions, without fresh air, exercise, and rest. Even children labored to the point of illness and sometimes death. Epidemics were rampant, with millions dying from diseases like typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery, diphtheria, pertussis, scarlet fever, measles, yellow fever, tuberculosis, puerperal fever, and smallpox. Mortality was high, and life expectancy was low.

This is the forgotten history. This is what was responsible for the spread of disease. This is the truth.

Then came the Sanitation Revolution. Everything changed. Sewage and waste was properly disposed of. Clean drinking water was mandated. Food was inspected and handled properly so it was no longer contaminated. Milk was pasteurized. Labor laws were passed to protect workers. Basic hygiene was implemented. The world was a cleaner, safer place.

Another piece of the forgotten history is the lost remedies. Vitamins, cinnamon, garlic, echinacea, jicama, fresh juice, apple cider vinegar, cod liver oil, silver, and other natural supplements were used to treat infectious diseases. And guess what? They worked very well.

The result? By 1940, measles, scarlet fever, pertussis, and diphtheria were practically a thing of the past. Scarlet fever—a bigger killer—vanished by the early 1900s, even before antibiotics were used to treat it. Tuberculosis, pneumonia, flu … same thing. Almost gone. When they surfaced, they were much milder. Mortality was rare. That’s a fact.

And this is important. This happened during a time when there was an almost zero vaccination rate.

As far back as the 1700s, although vaccines were being pushed, numerous medical journals questioned their safety and effectiveness. They cited the statistics. The mortality rates. The fact that they could be contaminated and often led to more disease than they prevented.

Doctors who spoke out were ignored and sometimes threatened. Parents who refused to obey vaccination laws were prosecuted, fined, and even imprisoned. Eventually, there were protests. And eventually, the laws began to change.

Here’s another fact. People who have healthy immune systems—because of basic necessities like sanitation, hygiene, clean water, and nutrition—are able to fight diseases. Vaccines do not cause immunity to disease and, in fact, harm the immune system. What makes you immune to a disease? The disease.

Fear is a powerful motivator. The thought of a child coming down with a “dreaded disease” is scary. The pictures of children in iron lungs—that frightening reminder of the crippling effects of the disease.

But what is missing, what we aren’t told, is that people who were crippled and paralyzed often suffered from something else, such as DDT or arsenic poisoning or even syphilis. We also aren’t told that polio was never eradicated with a vaccine.

The irony is that the very existence of a vaccine makes the fear greater. If there is a vaccine to prevent the disease, the disease must be pretty scary.

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Toxic Friendship?

Toxic Friendship?

We all experience toxic “friends” in our lives. How do you know if the person is actually toxic or if they’re just needy? What do you do? How do you silently slip away from such narcissistic nonsense?

Signs You Have a Toxic Mom Friend

If you’re asking yourself that question, you probably have a toxic friend. Other questions to ask yourself are:

Do you feel used by her? I used to have a friend whose kids were about the same age as mine. Eventually I realized she only called me when she needed someone to take care of her kids or wanted to complain about them. I could never get in a word edgewise, she didn't reciprocate with childcare, and didn't care what was going on with my life. Does she try to spread her misery? Mom Richele says she was understanding when her friend was going through a divorce, but when it was clear she was trying to make everyone else miserable and stir up trouble, it was time to & kick her to the curb. Is everything a competition with her? These friends are the ones who, as a mom called Mil puts it, minimize your kids compared to theirs or compare everything from toys to underwear." No matter what your child does, her child has done it better, earlier, or —if it’s a negative thing —not at all. Is she judgmental and/or insincere? Christianne’s toxic friend says she’s trying to be funny when she makes snarky comments, but they have an edge that makes it clear what she really means. And, after a decade of friendship, Jen T.’s friend became harshly judgmental once Jen had kids. So judgmental, in fact, that Jen is afraid of being stabbed in the back if she ends the friendship.

How to Deal With a Toxic Mom Friend

So, what do you do with these friends, love them or leave them? Barbara M. says you don’t have to ditch them. She points out that everyone has a toxic friend somewhere in their lives.

She says she handles it by remembering to inwardly acknowledge that the time she spends with them won’t be about her, not providing any information about her kids that can be one-upped, and reaching out to her true friends when she needs support.

Barbara's take on toxic mom friends isn't a common one, however. Most moms say it's not worth the drama to keep being friends with someone so negative. In fact, mom Alycia D. thinks experiencing and dealing with this is part of moving into the mom stage of your life.

I love her take on it and her thoughts on making a better life for yourself and your family. She says, "Creating a better environment starts with you, the choices you make, and the people you decide to have or keep in your life."

Revelations

As we quickly approach year four on our journey I have begun to re-evaluate some things in my life. Tonight it is “recovery” from Autism. I realize now that it’s only accurarate at face value. More appropriately a person builds the skills and develops methods that allow them to participate in life’s actitivities. It doesn’t mean they are cured or outgrew it. It’s not possible to change brain wiring. Although I still do believe in our ability to influence the pruning process. I will save that for another blog.

Another Broken Heart

Today I and several other Mommy Bloggers are dedicating ourselves to Mikaela Lynch’s family. Oh how my heart broke when I saw her beautiful face posted on social media. Another child on the Spectrum missing. Heart stopping, breath-taking panic overwhelmed me. I always envision my own gorgeous, gregarious five-year old, Toots, when I read of another child missing. So easily it could have been her. Regardless of the door and window locks. Despite the locks on our gates outside it could have been her. As I focused back on the news in front of me I began to read comments about Mikaela’s disappearance. Low and behold other people weren’t emulating the pain I felt as I read and imagined. No, people felt it was necessary, if not somehow, their responsibility to educate and chastise the Lynch family. Why? I will never understand.
Being vigilant or becoming vigilant goes hand in hand with being a parent but when your child has higher needs than you expected your parental awareness grows, too. You hear things others miss (“Was that the deadbolt on the backdoor??”).
What was that??
A child on the Autism Spectrum is usually synonymous for Escape Artist. A child, any child, determined to get a toy or go to a desired place (usually towards water for our Spectrum kiddos) will figure out a way to achieve their goal. Why not teach them to swim? Because some kids lack the muscle tone, the motor planning ability, or have sensory issues that prevent that child from learning such a skill. It’s no one’s fault. It just is. Do we, the parents like it? Not a bit but we adapt. Should this prevent us from taking a few moments to make lunch, go to the bathroom, read a book to another one of our children? No. We must continue with life while trying to expect the multitude of things that could go wrong. And sometimes they go horribly, desperately wrong. In these instances it may feel like some should accept responsibility. Surely it could have been anticipated.
Right?
Wrong.
Families that are aware their child has the propensity to elope take every precaution to prevent the situation. They also have to determine when it’s best to let the child be a child and play. Perhaps outside even. Fresh air and the outdoors is necessary for healthy development. So who draws the line between what is safe and what is not? The parents do. Period. No one has more invested in their child than the family.
Stay inside the fence, please.
Our family understands and supports the Lynch family in their choices and, now, in their grief. We don’t question (for even a moment) their decisions because they acted out of love for their child. They tried to protect her to the best of their ability.
Today my broken heart is with the Lynch family in mourning their tragic loss. I cannot wrap my mind around the depth of their grief. And with that I ask, please do not judge what you do not live. Our community suffers enough. Lift this family up and let them know we all feel the sorrow and loss of their precious baby girl, Mikaela.
We miss you!

The Final Day of Autism Awareness Month

ImageToday is the last day of Autism Awareness Month. I appreciate those that have stuck with me on my daily posts. Autism has changed my family’s life in so many unexpected ways. From big choices to miniscule descsions and everything in between. It impacts our relationships with each other and others. It has changed the way we view the world. It has brought us many good experiences that we have relished. It has also taught us life lessons that I’m not sure we would have had otherwise. It has shown us how significant the little things can be and the importance of celebrating them. It has helped us decide what battles we are willing to wage and which are not worth our time and effort. It has demonstrated who we can count on when everything doesn’t go as planned and who will fail us, possibly even kicking when we are down. All in all though, it has taught us the importance of our family and our support system of friends that have joined us so graciously on our journey. It has taught us how to build our own village of understanding, compassionate people that don’t question our choices yet support us.   It has shown us that a diagnosis doesn’t have to shape our future  and that we really do have the power to conquer any obstacle thrown at us. Most importantly it has taught us to never underestimate anyone or their worth.

That being said, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of early identification and intervention. In short, if you have a baby at 6 months old that is slow to pull his/her head up when raised to a sitting position from laying flat on their back (called “head lag”)- you may want to consult your Pediatrician. If you have a toddler that isn’t speaking, seems to trip/stumble a lot, has temper tantrums that can last for hours, refuses certain food/clothing/enviroments, doesn’t point or respond to his/her name, doesn’t seem to feel pain, and/or won’t make eye contact consistently – you, too, may want to have a professional evaluate your child. It could be nothing but the fact is that Autism rates are increasing (imho) in epidemic proportions. The oddsthat your child or one that you know could be on the Spectrum are escalating and are currently 1 in 50 children. A delay in recognizing the symptoms could result in losing precious time to intervene. Knowledge is power and it starts with awareness.

To Whom It May Concern

To Whom it May Concern,

I am the parent of a special needs child.  I was overwhelmed, confused, heart broken and struggling to unravel the complexities before me.

Please do not pass judgement of me without knowing why I did not attend the school PTA breakfasts or community picnics.  Please take a few minutes to understand why I did not take you up on your offer to have lunch or grab a cup of coffee.  Although we see each other in the supermarket or at school functions, I don’t think you really ever knew me, actually, I can guarantee that you did not know me because just as my child was different, so was I.

I was in survival mode to keep my family in tact and to give my child the best quality of life possible.

I was presented with parental decisions that have torn me apart and kept me up more nights than I can possibly remember.

I had spent most days of the week at therapy and doctors appointments and most nights up researching treatments and medication options.

I was forced into isolation at times due to the stigma and misconceptions that are epidemic in our society.

I became proficient at prioritizing my life and learning to let the little things go, to look at others with compassion instead of tabloid material and to turn a blind eye to the stares or ignorant comments.

I did the best I could.

I survived.

I am one of the lucky ones, my child has blossomed and has exceeded all our expectations.

I have now become strong, I have become confident and I have become a fierce advocate for parents of special needs children.  The growth did not come without much pain and many tears but it came.

So I ask you, please

The next time you see a parent struggling with a raging child, a child terrified to go into school, a child making odd movements or sounds, a child that seems to be in a world of their own… .Be kind.  Give a smile of recognition for what that parent is going through.  Ask if there is anything you can do to help, give them a pat on the hand or offer for them to go ahead of you on line.

The next time you have a birthday party for your child remember that their child has a hard time with a lot of sensory issues and social situations.  Please send their child that invitation and know that more times than not they will not be able to attend but appreciate being included.  Understand that in order for their child to go to the party they may need to stay for a little while and please make them feel welcome.  When they let you know that their child cannot make the party consider inviting that child for a one on one playdate or an outing at the park.

The next time you are grading homework papers please understand that their child struggles, some with learning disabilities others with the exhaustion of  their disorders or the obsession with perfectionism.  The Perfectionism is not necessarily to have the answers right but to have it “feel” right for them.  They have spent hours doing what most can do in ten minutes. A paper returned with red circles and comments only hurts a child’s self esteem and causes school anxiety. Please understand that when they see the school come up on their caller ID their hearts sink, remember to tell them about all the gains their children are making as well as their deficits.  Take a minute before that call and know that they appreciate all you do and want  a collaborative  relationship in their child’s education.

The next time you are in the teachers lounge, please do not discuss their child.  Please do not make negative comments about their parenting or their child’s behavior, it gets back to them and it gets back to other parents in their community.

The next time you pass the cafeteria and see their child sitting alone please consider inviting that child to eat lunch in your classroom and be your helper that period.  Consider working with a guidance counselor to set up a lunch buddy group in a different area.

The next time they are at the CSE meeting planning their chid’s IEP know that they are educated, informed and confident knowing special education law.  Know that they have found the courage to stand up to conformity and will explore every option to give their child the differentiated educated that will show their gifts and not just their disabilities.  Understand that educating a child with special needs is one of the most difficult tasks a parent can face,  know that the last thing they want is an adversarial relationship.  Please show them the same respect they show you.

The next time you are creating an educational plan please take into consideration that their child may have specific interests or obsessions.  Foster those interests, instead of taking away that art class for a resource class consider adding an art class instead. Think outside the box, these parents do.

The next time you see that child in a wheelchair unable to speak or control their movements, don’t stare, don’t look away, say hello.  Do not assume that because this child is nonverbal that they are not intelligent or do not understand the awkwardness that you feel.  Take a moment out of your day to show kindness, support a parent enduring incredible pain and just give them a smile.

The next time your child comes home telling you how Johnny or Susie is so weird, take the time to teach about differences.  Take the time to talk  about compassion, acceptance and special needs. Please remember that your child learns from you.  Be a role model, mirror respect and discourage gossip.

The next time you hear a comment about how out of style these kids are, educate about tactile sensitivities and the fact that these kids cannot tolerate many textures and fits.  Imagine what it would feel like to have sandpaper in your stilettos or tight elastic holding on your tie.

The next time you see an out of control child do not assume it is bad parenting.  Understand that many of these disorders have an organic basis, are biological and are real illnesses. When you hear the words mental illness, take out the “mental” and remember  ”illness”

Know that it is this generation that can stomp the stigma and create a world of acceptance.

The next time other parents are talking about “Those Kids” be our heroes, stand up for us.

The next time you see a special needs child know they are not just special in their needs but in their brilliance as well.

Take the time to meet our children.  Take the time to know us.

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So What’s it to Ya?

I don’t refer to my oldest child as Autistic. I speak of her just like any other child. I talk about her recovering. I dream of the day she no longer requires an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis In order to get therapy and services.

I have hopes and dreams for both of my daughters. Apparently, this is a problem for some people. And to you I say, “Who are you and why do you think your negative opinion is important? Are you jealous? Seriously. I did the hard work with my child by running her all over town for therapies, play dates, school, extracurricular activities, and home programming. I forced my way through many, many doors in order to open them for my child.

Did you do those things? Or did you sit on your ass on the computer complaining about your lack of support while your child spiraled down into Autismland? 

Don’t think it’s possible? 

Just keep sitting back, feeling superior in your judgments. That’s fine by me. Don’t be surprised when we pass you and your spiteful self leaving you and your sack of misery to keep each other company.”

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Who Do You Think You Are?

Judge_Hammer

This question has been weighing on my mind a lot lately. Who do I think I am and who do you (the reader and possibly the culprit) think YOU are? I mean seriously, I have never seen so much judgment placed on other people than I have since being involved in the special needs online community. It seems that quite a few people (and that estimate is very modest)  seem to think they have the right to determine whether someone else’s child  is disabled enough to meet their personal requirements. This applies to both special needs parents and to parents of “typical” kids, too. For one group my child isn’t disabled enough to satisfy whatever unspoken guidelines they’ve concocted in their minds and for the other my child is too disabled to be worth the bother of including her in activities. What a conundrum.imagesCARQLUQXHow in the world does anyone think they are justified in judging my child, my life, or our family? I am exactly where I am supposed to be and my child is exactly where she should be FOR HER. We are where we are and it’s where WE are supposed to be. And that is that. Is it better than where you are? I don’t know. Why would that matter? Does my child’s accomplishments diminish another’s shortcoming? Does my child’s limitation boost another child’s ability?

I am tired of this high functioning – low functioning, verbal – preverbal – nonverbal nonsense. Can’t we all just accept that the other person’s journey is pretty much a mystery to anyone but said person and their family? Can’t we just accept each other at face value and not have to quantify any of it? Just let it be? Why not go with the whole  “do no harm” thing?  What’s wrong with that?

Why Are You So Stressed??

Who? Me? Stressed?

I am often asked why I am so  stressed. Surely raising a special needs child and a toddler going through the Terrible Twos isn’t THAT difficult. Right? Well, let me tell you it is beyond stressful and then some. And let me assure you, comparatively to some of our special needs friends our life does seem much easier yet the question remains.

Why am I stressed? We asked the doctors for the first two years of our daughter’s life about her humming. “Some kids are just noisier than others,” we were told over and over again. Until finally a doctor mentioned lack of eye contact to us. By then our child that could recite her ABCs, count to 20 in English, and 10 in Spanish was verbally reduced to three words – Mom, Dad, and ball and a single functional phrase of “here ya go”.

Why am I stressed? We took her for evaluations and were put on waiting lists. Months long. Valuable time. Once she was initially evaluated it was on to another waiting list for treatment. In the meantime we are reading about the importance of early intervention and worried we could lose her to the world of Autism forever. Not knowing any other way to get her help I took on her in home therapy for 7 – 10 hours a day EVERY day for ten months. Did I mention that during this time I was pregnant AND had another baby?  By the time she was getting professional help her skills had improved to the point that more evaluations were necessary.

I assure you that this is no easy task in any sort of way. Think about a “typical” day. For instance, today we got up and went to the Rehabilitation Clinic for Physical Therapy. This is to learn things that most children automatically seem to know how to do. You know, like walk up stairs, swing on a swing, hop on one foot. While at the clinic there are always other patients. These patients are also children. They all have varying abilities. One day we met parents that brought their baby in for therapy. This little guy had no arms and no legs. Our troubles seemed much lighter in comparison.

We go home and it’s a battle to get kids to come play with her. Why? Because she isn’t typical. She misses their social cues. Sometimes it’s the parents deliberately excluding her because they don’t want the hassle of dealing with her despite our insistance of inclusion in our home. We do this day in and day out. Rinse and repeat.

Why am I stressed? Let’s try filling out paperwork for every new appointment or activity. I get to list her limitations. The collectors of said paperwork don’t care that she didn’t sleep the night before and neither did I or that I have a poopy, antsy toddler literally crawling up my head. They care about what she cannot do so I get to list it. Over and over again. Then we go shopping. Both of us have a hard time with the humming of the fluorescent lights. She starts to whine, I start to get irritated, people stare, point, and whisper. We are both over stimulated. We leave in tears.

Why am I stressed? My family and friends live seven hours or more away. Be it not for one family in our neighborhood we would be totally on our own for childcare. My husband’s family? Oh well my daughter’s diagnosis was “too much” for her paternal grandmother to handle and it was distracting her from spoiling her favorite grandchild. She has not seen either of my daughters in two years.

Why am I stressed? Because we have a neighborhood full of children and while most are accepting of our daughter it seems that there is the occasional parent that would prefer to make more excuses than effort. We try to be the home that all children feel welcome yet this is not reciprocated. Despite all of this, our beliefs will not change. To us all children are valuable.

Why am I stressed? I am tired. I am tired of explaining myself, my daughter, our life, and our choices. I am exhausted from dragging around a paralyzed foot, from the chronic pain of Fibromyalgia, and mostly from the constant feeling of my heart breaking daily. I am over-extended, under-appreciated, and plain ole worn out.

So now I am attempting to learn to let go of these things that bother me so much including the people that are not positive influences in our life. It seems our family has to do this sort of “purge” once every few years and now is the time. I do realize not everyone cares about us and our struggles. That is fine.  I will make it a point not to care about theirs either.

The Next Challenge

Next year Toots will continue to be fully mainstreamed. Although she’ll have a Para to assist her during a difficult transition or to keep any eye on her on the playground during recess since the area is unfenced. Our biggest challenge right now is the bus. I know it probably sounds insignificant if you haven’t given all of the aspects of Toot’s disorder much thought. First, how does she know which bus is hers? Where does she sit? How does she sit? How does she know when to get off? What does she do if another child were picking on her?

Sure, she can take the SpEd bus but I want her to ride the bus with her friends. She has several in the neighborhood and I’d love for her to ride with them. She’s looking forward with riding with them too. So that brings us to our current situation because she is strapped into a 5 point harness still. She knows this is for her own safety and isn’t interested in transitioning to a booster seat. You may as well forget NOT wearing a seatbelt on the bus. So this is our next process. Not everyone has to go through such a complex process.
First, this Summer we will work with her on first using the seat belt and booster seat combination. Then my husband or I are going to start riding city buses around town since they don’t have seat belts either. That will also five us a chance to explain what to do with her backpack. I think the more prepared she is the better.

Plus she is going to have a Bus Buddy next year. We know a fantastic family that lives down the block. They have a wonderful little girl that is a grade ahead of Toots. She will be Toot’s Bus Buddy and can help her find her seat and let her know when it’s time for them to get off the bus.

 

So much planning for something so simple.