My wife, Lisa, and I never started out with the goal of being lightning rods in the national debate over autism and vaccines in the United States. We just wanted to understand what happened to our 2-month-old son Jamison and how we could help him.
The year was 2002. After Jamison received six separate vaccines, his health deteriorated and he never rebounded. He developed eczema all over his body. He didn’t sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time. He developed dark circles under his eyes. His stomach became distended, and he looked skinny and frail. He sweated profusely at night.
By the time he was 18 months old, Jamison was sick, needy, rarely sleeping and his behavior was changing. His speech regressed. Lisa and I decided to have him tested and he was diagnosed with autism.
As time went by, we absorbed the grief but decided we needed to know more about autism and vaccines. The more research we did, the more we realized that the medical community was split into two camps. One believed autism was a genetic condition, sort of like Down’s Syndrome. If a child had autism, he always would. They believed parents should accept their child’s fate. The second camp believed autism was an environmental illness, mostly (but not only) caused by the recent massive uptick in the number of vaccines given to kids.
Luckily, we both had significant research experience, so we decided to dig in and see which camp we would believe when it came to our son’s health. We were fortunate to find Dr. Lynn Mielke, who was a member of a group called “Defeat Autism Now,” known as “DAN!”
Dr. Mielke, a graduate of Indiana University’s medical school, had completed her psychiatry residency at UCLA. She had been a practicing psychologist until she watched her son disappear into autism after his vaccine appointments, just like our son. Her research led her to the DAN! movement. Her son’s symptoms improved, so she opened a clinic to help other children.
Unlike other doctors we had seen who had dismissed our questions about the relationship between vaccines and autism, she answered our questions and said frequently it is the vaccines that “pushed them over the edge.”
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