A few years ago I was thrilled to be a part of a movement addressing the role of vaccines in autism. Parents all over the world submitted short videos discussing how vaccines affected their children in varying degrees. It began when a CNN correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, said on air in a condescending tone that “Vaccines are safe,” leaning forward “Autism is not a side effect of vaccines or to say it another way because some people don’t hear this well, vaccines do not cause autism.” Well as you can imagine, when thousand of parents of vaccine injured children heard this, we felt angry. We are not a weak community, rather, we tend to pick ourselves up after being constantly told we are crazy or what we witnessed with our own eyes didn’t happen. So, we rallied and told our stories. Some are hard to hear because they are about healthy children who become terribly sick and at times become non verbal or wheelchair bound in a matter of days following vaccinations. There are accounts which are less tragic, but still have a profound impact when parents recall traumatic events that lead to their child being changed forever.
When the “Hear This Well” campaign ignited, I was on my way home to New York and I didn’t even think about whether on not I should tell Liam’s story, I knew I had to. If we aren’t willing to speak up for what we believe in, change can never happen. As soon as we got home, I went upstairs into our bathroom (which was the only quiet space I could find!) and just spoke from the heart. I wanted to say more because I felt insulted but we had to make our video 90 seconds or shorter. How could Elizabeth Cohen flat out say vaccines do not cause autism when I SAW IT HAPPEN?! I’m irish and italian so getting fired up doesn’t take much for me. I kept my composure and made my video. Thousands of parents did the same and we were heard. So many of us had the same story. Our children were born healthy and regressed into autism after vaccinations. We have photographs and videos backing up our stories.
I was lucky to be featured on the website. I’m the last video in the “mother” category in the orange column. You can see the video by visiting the Hear this Well webpage.
If you’re not willing to take a risk and speak your truth, who will? Be the change you want to see in the world.