By Kent Heckenlively, Esq.
In an interview with Cookie magazine when Amanda Peet first called parents who didn’t vaccinate their children over fears of autism “parasites”, I thought I should be angry and upset with her.
When she went on Good Morning America to say much of the same thing I figured maybe I should take her advice and not listen to celebrities.
But the more I thought about it neither anger or apathy seemed like the appropriate response.
Instead I find myself looking for some word which probably doesn’t exist in the English language, but if it did would probably mean something along the lines of, “you poor, ignorant fool! I was once in your shoes and I can’t believe I was ever so stupid!”
Because most of us started off like Amanda Peet. I know I did. I’m really not the rebel type. My parents were Catholic. I’m Catholic. My dad was a lawyer and my mom was a teacher. I was a lawyer and am now a teacher. My parents voted . . . and I pretty much vote the same.
That isn’t to say I didn’t have a few independent thoughts. I was an English major after all. And then there were those girls I brought home who never quite fit the parental ideal. But for the most part I towed the party line on things. I certainly did when it came to vaccinations.
Do you know the first time I heard that vaccinations might be related to developmental problems? It was from a good friend who worked in epidemiology for the California public health system. Hell, I think in a few years he might end up running the damned thing.
And do you know what I said to him? I said, “those people are crazy.” I couldn’t think of anything more irresponsible than not vaccinating your children.
It was only reading Karyn Serrousi’s book on the gluten/casein free diet and having my then 18 month old son Ben go mute after receiving his shots that I started to change. All right, let’s be honest. When that happened I became a radical. I’m sure for every one of you there was a similar moment. We remember it like we remember where we were when we heard about the 9/11 attacks.
If it was “coincidental” that my son went mute after his 18 month vaccinations, then why did he recover after putting him on a gluten/casein free diet. He was only mute for 12 days, but it took a year for him to catch up to his peers in language, and two years for his sensory problems to go away. Ask his mother. She’s a speech therapist with nearly 20 years experience.
My daughter started to have problems after her 6 month round of shots, right after going off of breast milk. I didn’t make the connection with her. It makes me shudder to think of our ignorance. We continued to vaccinate her, even when she was having seizures in the doctor’s office! There are times even now when I can’t fully comprehend the holocaust which is happening to our children and how for so long I was blind to it.
But I trusted the experts, just like Amanda Peet is doing now. Who among us, with a healthy child, had enough chutzpah to disagree with the medical community? I didn’t.
And so I won’t be angry with Amanda Peet, and I won’t ignore her. I doubt I’ll ever get the chance to meet Amanda Peet in person, but on the off-chance that any of you do, I hope you’ll take the opportunity to educate her. I hope you’ll remember how much you trusted the medical community before your beautiful child was brought into the world and harmed so grievously.
Because that’s where Amanda Peet is right now.
To her we’re the barbarians, the flat-Earthers, the renegades from science who want to bring back the deadly plagues of mankind. In reality, we’re like those cautious scientists from every science fiction movie you’ve ever seen, who say, “maybe it’s not a good idea to bring back dinosaurs”, or “maybe we shouldn’t build that bio-weapon”, or “maybe we shouldn’t put computers in control of nuclear bombs.”
I hope we will try to educate Amanda Peet. I hope we will show her our best, that part of us which remembers when we too, believed in the medical community. I know it will be difficult, but the legacy I want to leave my children is that in this struggle we displayed our very best selves.
Fight hard. Fight fair. And say a prayer for Amanda Peet.
A prayer that she’ll soon see through the lies of people like Dr. Offit, and others in the medical community, without having to lose a child in the process.
Kent Heckenlively is Legal Editor for Age of Autism.