Vaccines don’t cause autism.

In an ideal world, this article would stop with that sentence. Those words would be only an obvious reminder of a fact long accepted into the collective consciousness of civilization. This is not, however, an ideal world, and there are still those who believe there is a link between vaccination and autism. To these individuals, I could show the numerous studies and trials—involving millions of children from around the world—that show no correlation between vaccinations and autism. However, these individuals cannot and will not listen to logical arguments: arguments of reason, rationality or science. In a way, this makes sense. 

Many who espouse the connection between vaccines and autism are parents.  Mothers and fathers whose children are autistic, or who know parents whose children are autistic. To them this connection provides an explanation for why their children are different from the children they expected, or a reason why they as parents are protecting their children more than other parents. This thinking is misguided.

As an autistic person, when I hear the phrase “vaccines cause autism” I do not just hear a scientifically inaccurate statement. What I hear is the gravest insult I could ever receive.  The diseases that vaccines protect from—measles, small pox, flu—are deadly. They kill people. Entire communities have been wiped out because of these diseases. When I hear someone say that they will not vaccinate their children because it might give them autism, what I hear is that what I am, who I am, the very essence of my being and identity, is worse than death itself. I hear that they would rather have a dead child over an autistic child. I hear that I am broken.

As a child this was harmful for me. I took from this that I was mistake: something that should not exist. This is a not something a child should think of themselves.  When you walk into a restaurant, hungry and just wanting a meal, and find that you can’t eat anything on the menu because it is all too over stimulating; when every time someone grabs your shoulder—to congratulate you or comfort you—you tense and shriek and rock because even that touch is far too intense; when you realize in the dead of night that you do not know the color of your mother or fathers’ eyes because you have never made eye contact with them; when you feel isolated and alone and powerless because you are incapable of interacting with those you love in the way they so easily interact with one another, you do not need society telling you that you are broken. You need love and support and caring, a community with whom you can feel understood.

I do not fight for the truth that vaccines do not cause autism merely for the purpose of scientific literacy. I fight because I do not want children feeling about themselves the way I felt about myself. No child deserves that.