OK, my secret is out. I am a big fat load and my out of control eating caused my son's autism. The minute I found out I was pregnant I started eating all the food I could get my hands on. I ate a lot of tuna fish. My doctor says it is good for the baby and perfectly safe if I ate it 3-4 times week. I was 45 when my son was born and my husband was 70. I am told those are the typical ages of new parents who later have a child diagnosed with autism.
When I wasn’t eating I laid awake at night scheming how I could secure a disproportionate amount of ou r city’s educational services for my unborn child. If Christian had to have a disability so be it! I wanted those easily available free services given to all children with disabilities. In fact I actually sought out the autism diagnosis because I heard that a lot of families in my neighborhood had autistic kids and were receiving all these incredible therapies. As Dr. Peter Bearman says, autism is socially contagious! Don’t I know it!
As I got fatter and fatter I got social security to pay for a jazzy scooter. How I loved zipping around town, knowing I had, yet again, figured out a way to work the system!
I lived on the edge when I was pregnant. I watched a lot of TV (now I know TV is a major autism trigger.) I walked in the rain (apparently very dangerous to unborn children.) I knew I was playing with fire but I loved it!
Whenever I was slightly sick I immediately scooted over to my doctor’s office and demanded all the medication I could get. Like all Moms I liked to take a lot of medication during pregnancy. I never gave a thought to how it would affect my unborn child. Anti-biotics, SSRIs, you name it I took it! A healthy Mom is a happy Mom, right?
Then there was the stress. In retrospect I have learned that stress probably causes autism as well! Who knew? Stress was hard for me to avoid while pregnant. Do you think it’s easy dreaming up schemes to rip off the government? Well it’s not. Sure I loved my government paid for Jazzy scooter but getting around when you are obese turned out to be hard, stressful work. While I was pregnant I was really worried and stressed out that my child might not qualify for all the amazing, free educational services in my town. I needed a back up plan. I scouted out other towns with more services and made plans to move if I lucked out and autism was in the cards.
So imagine my shock when I had a healthy baby boy who reached all his developmental milestones on time and did not qualify for any free services! What a disappointment!
I had heard that postnatal factors are not relevant to autism causation. After all, almost all research is done on the prenatal period. So I accepted my lot. It looked like I would have a healthy, typical child with no developmental problems.
Despite the fact we almost never left the house and I only allowed about 4 people to hold Christian as an infant I decided that the CDC was right and my son needed to be immediately vaccinated for 6 different diseases at 2 months old. Measles is only a plane ride away you know! I have heard a lot of parents claiming that so many vaccines so early could be dangerous. What nonsense! I checked the CDC website and it assured me that lots and lots and lots of vaccines were perfectly safe for newborns.
Sure Christian had a day long super fever, felt really stiff and would not eat drink or sleep for 24 hrs after the vaccinations but that was just a coincidence. Plus my son kind of rebounded afterwards so I am sure there was no real damage done. After the 12 and 18 months round of mega shots Christian had the same bad reactions. This time the fevers lasted for many days and bad diarrhea started. It was such an inconvenience to me. I mean I did not want my son to be sick, just be quirky enough to get free services. However, pediatrician assured me that these fevers were perfectly normal.
Soon after that I started to notice that my son was sick a lot. Christian caught strep a bunch of times. His diapers were filled with really gross liquid BMs like 5 times a day. He developed eczema all over his body and seemed really “checked out” went I tried talking with him. This had nothing to do with autism but I wanted these weird problems to go away.
The pediatrician told me that these post vaccination problems were no big whoop and Christian would be fine. Strangely enough by the time he was about 20 months old a friend of mine said that Christian might qualify for special services after all. Naturally I was thrilled! It would be like getting a private school education for free!
Unfortunately the early intervention services did not seem to really help my son, maybe because he was sick all the time? Who knows? Well it turned out autism was a lot more than I bargained for. The sicknesses got worse and Christian started waking up for hours every night. Experts told me Christian would be fine and to stay away from “special diets and other unproven, crazy biomedical interventions.” Good advice I heeded!
It is really annoying that my son now has severe autism. It turns out that those “special services” barely pay for anything! I actually have to shell out a LOT of my own money most of the time. What a crock!
Some people tell me that all the negative reactions to the mega vaccines injections might have something to do with Christian’s autism. I say no way! First of all the CDC and the AAP assured me that his reactions were normal, secondly postnatal problems cannot cause autism. And finally everyone knows that those “anti vaccine” parents are just looking for something or someone to blame. Looking back I am certain Christian’s severe autism was, unfortunately, caused by my fat genes. Autism is a lot tougher than I thought it would be. I really regret being obese while pregnant. None of this was worth the Jazzy scooter.
P.S. Members of the CDC and I are holding a big fundraiser for more research on “how parents caused their child’s autism.” Hope to see you there!
Katie Wright is Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.