I visited a new adult neurologist yesterday who specializes in autism to try to transition my daughter Lily from her pediatric neurologist. As Lily has seizures, it helps to have a neurologist with the relevant experience.
For the first time in many years I was asked about when the autism was first diagnosed and whether there had been any regression. Recounting for the doctor those early months of life when everything seemed so filled with possibility, I remembered Lily as a newborn with her sweet breast milk smell and how perfect she was to me. Even when I examined her so carefully and saw some skin and hair patterns that I vaguely remembered from a medical school lecture to be associated with abnormalities of the limbic system, I still thought she was perfect. Her pediatrician, a young doctor like me, recently finished with his residency training program, also thought she seemed perfect. He did say that she was exceedingly strong and strong-willed, too! She received all the required shots available in 1986 with only a little mother’s worry about adverse reactions.
I was a teeny, tiny bit worried when she was ever so slightly slow in meeting her developmental milestones. She was still with in the normal range, though, and so no one was worried. She loved to look at books and was very social. When she met a friend’s baby at 6 months she crowed gleefully in her face. The other baby girl cried.
Then we moved to Maine so that I could start my new medical practice. Our new pediatrician saw no problems at all our check ups. Lily began the usual baby babble and had several words like “doggy” “daddy” mummy” “cat” “juice” etc. that she would gleefully point to in person and in books. We thought that she was very smart, indeed!
We were a couple of months late in giving her the MMR vaccine and when we did I wished immediately that we had not. She developed a very high fever and began having night terrors. Then the change in behavior followed. Her pointing to things or people became taking my hand to use as a pointer and then ceased altogether. Her words slowly stopped and the night terrors became day terrors. The regurgitation, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain and screaming fits began; terrible twos that never ended and are still here today at 24.
So, this is why I think that vaccines may play a role in the autism epidemic. There is no way to know at the present time whether my daughter would have developed differently had she never had any vaccines. Perhaps she did show some subtle abnormalities at birth and before, even in-utero. We may never know or genetic studies may shed some light on these issues in the future.
She is still my perfect baby girl no matter what.