Yes, I vaccinated Ryan and yes he got a bump on his leg with each and every vaccine. Does that make me a monster? Did my continuing the vaccines cause Ryan's autism? How was I to know? I'm not an autism researcher or a doctor, I'm just cruising in the Mom Lane with all the other moms who have traveled this same lane for years and always vaccinated their kids. I AWEnestly was freaked out enough by Jenny McCarthy and others who shared her view in terms of the alleged vaccine autism link, that I waited to vaccinate Emma until she was three. That was right about the time I watched an episode of Private Practice where a child died from the measles because the mother feared vaccinating him due to her older son's autism diagnosis. Seriously? Where was the Botox laden, wrinkle free face celebrity touting the importance of vaccinations in my People Magazine? After watching that child actor succumb to measles on a made up television show with wrinkle free, beautiful celebrities, I was even more freaked out that I hadn't vaccinated Emma, so I immediately called the pediatrician's office the next morning and made an appointment to got Emma the suspect MMR. Then for weeks, I watched Emma's every move like a hawk, terrified she would disappear. Emma is perfect, happy and healthy and I have no idea if waiting to vaccinate her did that or not.
All I know is a complete and total stranger who once bared it all as a Playboy Centerfold, switched lanes and totally sideswiped this average, freaked out Toyota.
Since picking the Mom Lane all those years ago, I have tried not to drift into other lanes. I have no idea if vaccines, toxins in the environment, the feta cheese from Greek salads I ate or the flu shot I received before knowing I was pregnant caused my son's AWEtism, because I don't have the research experience, the medical know how or the time to waste on how or why it happened. I'm too busy making sure I am doing what is best for Ryan in spite of what the latest and greatest treatments, therapies, etc the celebrities of Autism Advocates are shouting from their Mercedes sun roof. I know that most of us driving our Toyotas and Hondas will never travel in the same lane as the Jenny McCarthy's of the world, so chances are, we will not be given a platform to promote our belief that children and adults with autism do not need their own "special" lane, they just need to find the lane that fits them, and regardless of what lane we are in, or what car we drive, we need to give these people living with an ASD the space on the road to do so.
Autism Spectrum Disorders do not discriminate. They effect the rich and the poor, the famous and the average Joes. With 1 in 54 boys receiving an ASD, and with a 1 in 11,500, chance of winning an Academy Award, there are a lot more Toyotas chugging along the highway than there are Mercedes' lane hoppers. Even though the Toyotas do not have all the bells and whistles and safety features of a Mercedes, they are reliable, safe, and people depend on them. While traveling down the road, you may occasionally glimpse the shiny, beautiful Mercedes and all the perks that having one entails, and just for a second, you might picture yourself behind the wheel in THAT lane, but, keep in mind, that those driving the Mercedes are not the mechanical or design experts who understand the ins and outs of the vehicle. Just because someone has been fortunate enough to drive the Mercedes does not make them an expert and we Toyota drivers must keep in mind that what works for a Mercedes does not always work for a Toyota and this should not ever make us feel less.
Whether you have been traveling in your lane for quite some time, or this lane is brand new to you, keep in mind that you know the occupants of your car better than any lane changing celebrity in their Mercedes, Ferrari or Jag. So unless a celebrity is touting the latest shoe trend for fall on the page of your People Magazine take what they have to say with a grain of salt, mumble, "Pick a lane!" and flip the page. Then go and find a real celebrity, one who has suffered scrapes, dings and dents while searching for the lane where they eventually found happiness, contentment and a sense of belonging. This celebrity may not be on the cover of People Magazine, have 3.2 million followers on Twitter, or be able to find the words to share their success with you, but their smile, their joy, and their success gives you hope that one day, your child will find his lane, and he won't care who is in front of him or who is behind him, as long as someone he loves is beside him.