The MMR debate: ‘To look for blame is to look back’

The MMR debate continued to dominate headlines this week. I've shared my thoughts before here, but I don't have direct personal experience of autism. So I've asked the wonderful Kathryn Brown, aka Crystal Jigsaw and mum to 10-year-old Amy (right), to write today's guest post:  

'When we take our babies to the clinic to have their MMR jabs, there are so many questions we need to be answered, so many doubts about whether we are doing the right thing, especially when the time comes that we have to hold our little ones legs in order to watch someone inflict pain on their tiny limbs.  But since the MMR was offered, there has been a continuous stigma that this inoculation led to children developing autism, a lifelong and incurable condition which affects approximately half a million people in the UK. Many parents declined the MMR jab for their child, believing that they were indeed risking their child developing autism.  This has since been proved inconclusive however, even though the doubt has been planted.

As a parent of a child who was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, having already received the inoculation, I wondered if I had done the right thing.   But the link between MMR and autism does not exist. 

When a diagnosis is reached about your child’s condition, it is normal for a parent to want to find blame; to look around and search for the reason why.  I went through this stage, becoming desperate to understand the confusion which, if I had allowed, would have turned into anger, to later become a search for the scapegoat.  I spoke to doctors, health visitors, specialists, autism support groups, all of which reassured me that the MMR vaccine was simply that; a scapegoat.

If new parents hear from a medical professional that there is a chance their child will develop autism should they have the MMR, it is instinctive that they will feel apprehensive, wanting to question these claims.  Children have lived with autism for many years even without diagnosis and long before the MMR vaccine was introduced in the 1970’s.  Experts in the field of autism, still today, cannot confirm a valid reason why a child may be on the autism spectrum; be it hereditary or perhaps because of a brain injury in early childhood, it is, as yet, unknown.  As parents, we deserve the right to choose what is best for our children; we also deserve an explanation when suspicions arise, in view of lack of information given, to enable the safety and security we need to feel for our child. 

Autism needs a committed advocate to enable the child to move on.  To look for blame is to look back.  Our children are in front of us, they await our assistance, rely on our continuity to support their needs.  I stopped being desperate when I realised my daughter’s condition would never go away.  She is healthy, active, and my future.'

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written by Liz Jarvis