Friday, January 9, 2009

Oh, Private Practice…autism and vaccinations

Oh my. It was real, it was raw, and it was true ... The power of television certainly does outweigh the power of words and of celebrity, at least in my opinion.

ABC's Private Practice aired a show last night about a mother with three young sons, the eldest child had autism and it demonstrated that this mother was truly commitment to her autistic son by revealing that she sought after new and innovative therapies to help him any way she could, but it also revealed that she had chosen to forgo immunizations for her other two younger sons for “fear” of getting autism. And, unfortunately, one of her sons contracted measles and died.

The show certainly spelled it out in black and white, at least for me. It was so heartbreaking to watch because you just knew how it was going to end, I mean the boy with measles just had to die to make “the statement” and it was a fierce statement about pro-immunizations.

The intensity of the drama grew even more riveting when the doctor treating the children took it upon himself to immunize the third child, even to the mother’s gross refusal

I think that this nighttime soap opera—drama—did a great job at showing us the “total” picture-- that not immunizing your kids could start an epidemic of sickness and death throughout the world--and a new fear. The show even demonstrated how others could so easily contract the disease because it is so contagious, including a pregnant woman’s concern for her unborn baby and the possible sickness and birth defect that the baby could be born with—just like that.

Personally, I am for immunizing children. I do not believe there is conclusive evidence that immunizations cause autism, and since there is no scientific or conclusive evidence, then why put a child and a society at risk for preventable disease and death, especially since the MMR does not contain Thimerosal (mercury based preservative that was suspected of causing autism), and since other immunizations, including the flu shot, can be given without Thimerosal, then …

What about you, did you see the show and what do you think?

15 comments:

annawritedraw said...

The show was heart wrenching but I too thought that the public health message was too important to skip. My kiddos got big hugs this morning

Mama Mara said...

I didn't see it, but like you, I am not in the anti-vac camp and think it's important people see the PROVEN risks of contracting measles vs. the UNPROVEN risk of "contracting" autism. But I've seen plenty of blogs from people who are HORRIFIED at what they see as a blatant media conspiracy to force parents to vaccinate.

Seems to me that the storyline -- oh the irony, I tried to protect my kid from autism and ended up NOT protecting him from measles -- has been done already (saw it on ER a long time ago, but it was Smallpox that time). And there are plenty of TV shows that push the autism-vaccine theory as fact (a show called Eli Stone apparently did this last year).

Let's hope for more depictions of autism that get at the real issue: how difficult it is for families and how important it is for others to accept and support them.

Em said...

I did not see the show....but as both a parent and teacher in the field of autism, I try really hard to look for interventions that have real data to back them up. The vaccine scare just seems to be that...a scare. I can't say it isn't related on some level, but at this point, there just doesn't seem to be any hard evidence....merely correlations and coincidence, at best.

TracyV said...

The show was certainly raw and emotional and once again brought me to tears about the question of vaccinating my children.

I am pro-immunization. They have saved lives! However, I am also for making informed decisions about the "stuff" we put into our kids bodies. The last thing I want is for my kids to become deathly ill, or pass on some horrible epidemic! However, my daughter had a seizure reaction to her first set of vaccines at about three months old. That was an eye opening experience. The 4 days that we spent at the hospital were the most horrific moments of my life and they changed the course of all my parenting decisions.

I felt the show was insulting! For the mother at the end to say that she "thought it would be like getting a cold" was absolutely ridiculous to me. My decision to not vaccinate my kids has been a very difficult challenge-risk them getting terrible diseases that can kill them, or give them a shot that actually might. I don't like the odds either way. But in my situation that what it comes down to, and to hint that I (and other parents who have made the same choice) have not considered all the possibilities and that I have made this decision lightly is seriously in error.

The answer would be change the odds. Change the vaccines! Take out all the preservatives-Green our Vaccines-Check out info on that!! Jenny McCarthy has some great info out there about it.

There were several other issues I had with the show. One was that the mother had traveled internationally with her children who had not been immunized. I don't know if the show was just trying to dumb the mom's character up or not, but traveling internationally is a no no if you don't have your vaccines! Also the mention of calling Family Services on the mother was positively insane. To suggest that her decision was child abuse was way over the line. Speaking from a Children's Services career of more than 10 years I can say that it does not constitute any reason for investigation. Vaccines are recommended not mandated and until they are, then they are an option not a requirement.

The most ridiculous part of the show though was the doctor taking it upon himself to vaccinate the brother against the mother's protest. Any self respecting doctor would have done a better job about educating his patients parents about the risks of not immunizing and that mother would have been making an informed decision and he would not have had to go to such an extreme action. (yes I know it was tv drama!)

I really hoped that the show would do a better job of showing both sides of the coin, instead it came off very judging and very pro-vaccine.

Jessica said...

Stumbled across your blog while searching. I have a 4 year old son with severe autism and I'm on the fence about vaccines. Both my children are vaccinated on a delayed vax schedule. I know that vaccines are important and neccessary, but that doesn't mean I still don't worry. I knew this episode was going to create a small fire.

Ashley said...

I am not anti-vaccine, but I am not blindly trusting of the schedule that we have. The show was an awful one-sided view that was so obviously one-sided, it is going to hurt the vaccine side. Vaccines are not 100 percent safe (nothing is). I think that it is important to look at each child and their health and individuality to see what their bodies are healthy enough to handle. The MMR vaccine is 3 LIVE viruses injected at one time, into a 12 month old baby, and the same amount is injected into a 15 lb. baby as a 26 lb baby. That is not right. Personally I am vaccinating my child, but I am seperating out the MMR. It is a pain in the butt, but worth it to me, b/c he cousin had a severe reaction to the MMR. I don't nec. know that the MMR causes AUTISM per say. but if parents are saying that it caused a reaction in their kids that mimics it, we need to pay attention. It is not only the mmr that babies have reactions to, it is Hep B, and all of the other ones. The APA and drs. need to take time with parents a create a schedule for each kid as an individual to limit risks and adverse reactions and make parents feel more comfortable if they truly want to see more people vaccinate. Measles was grossly portrayed as well. 1 in 1000 people die of measles statistically now, not the majority who get it. For someone to suggest that I am abusive to my child b/c I am giving his vaccines over time instead of all at once b/c I don't think his immune system should deal with all of of those diseases at once, infuriates me. I respect anyone's decision to vaccinate their child. Do not try to make me feel like a bad parent when I have done my research and seen adverse reactions to vaccines. It would be easy for the government and drs. and pharmacetical companies to take care of a lot of this angst if they would just make the seperated MMR Vaccines more readily available. That way parents could give them one at a time over a period of a few months and feel more comfortable with it. Last night's show disgusted me though and I won't be watching any abc shows again. It was incredibly offensive to me. No one knows better than a mother what affects their child and causes something, especially not a dr. who hadn't noticed he hadn't heard from them in 2 yrs.

Tanya @ Teenautism said...

I didn't see the show either, but I'm glad, because it probably would have angered me. How very tragic for that mother! I'm not anti-vaccine, but I think there needs to be some adjustments made to the infant schedules, at the very least.

Anonymous said...

I am anti-vaccines. I have done lots of research and still am not 100% confident in my decision. All I know is the rates of autism, ADD, ADHD, cancer, alzheimers, and many other diseases are climbing. There is a reason for this.

The show left me very disturbed. Just because I don't vaccinate does not mean I don't love my children. The show was very one sided and didn't depict the other side very well.

Basically, you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

Anonymous said...

Anon. I agree and I think by now most intelligent people who have done their own research understand the connection between vaccines and autism. The old, "well the MMR doesn't contain thimersol so it can't be the vaccines" is ridiculous. It is much more complex than that which most people understand. I would say read TACA's website or Age of Autism and you'll get a good view. Shows like this and so many in the autism industry have an agenda and it's up to the parents to watch out for their kids.

M. Christensen said...

It was one sided and not fair to people who have seen the true effects of a too intense vaccine schedule.

Allicia said...

I'm no longer watching Private Practice due to this episode. To each his own.

MimiTVA said...

My daughter is autistic and my son is not so this show really affected me because I saw the signs of autism after my daughter was immunized, all communications ceased. I am in a unique situation in my family because I have a neice who is deaf because she caught rubella in the womb when my sister was pregnant she was exposed to someone with the measles. Her daughter was born in 1976 with a valve missing in her heart and ears. It's heart wrenchingly true the effects of a non-innoculated society. And I agree with the need for immunizations. I struggle every day with "explaining" my child to others but I think it's a random thing, the autism. My son was immunized and has been regularly progressing. My daughter was immunized and it High Functioning but she is autistic. That was a hard show to watch and I cried like a baby but Shonda Rimes (The creator and writer of both Greys and Private Practice myst have someone autistic in her life because of the Aspberger's doc on greys) Anyway I beileive it was a phenomenal portrail of the reality that is... as they say it is what it is... great blog and thank you for being FEARLESS!

Anonymous said...

I really am stunned that anyone could "be on the fence" regarding the harm from vaccines. I mean, how much more information do people need? I think some people are just so intimidated by others who threaten not to accept their kids into schools, programs and so on without vaccines and the sheer guilt of thinking vaccines harmed their children may be a part of it.

Even Autism Speaks is coming around (thank God!) by getting rid of that deadbeat Allison Tepper- Singer, who not only believes in no vaccine connection but has stated that she had wanted to drive her child off a bridge. The the pro vaccine people really have stellar individuals representing them.

Anonymous said...

The rates of autism, cancer, etc.. have risen because our population is exponentially increasing.

Anonymous said...

well I dont know what to think...my son was diagnosed with high functioning autism when he was 3 and he wasnt vaccinated.