By Kim Stagliano
Today we celebrate my middle daughter's 18th birthday. She is beautiful. Funny. Bright. Anxious. Vaccine injured. Autistic.
Gianna had been "ex utero" fewer than 24 hours before a nurse at Doylestown Hopsital injected her with a vaccine for the sexually transmitted disease Hepatitis B. A disease I did not have. That vaccine had 12.5 mcg of mercury in it. I had opted for natural childbirth so as not to put a single chemical into my infant. And then I signed a piece of paper authorizing that toxic vaccine. I gave my consent, but it sure wasn't informed consent. I have the paper in a file.
Gianna's Apgar scores were high. She nursed within moments of birth. She slept. By the time we brought her home she was screaming a high pitched cry. She could nurse, but her mouth worked "funny." I called LaLeche so many times - she was biting me raw. Gnawing at me with an underbite that did not exist during her first feedings. I bled every time she nursed for months. When I read the infant primate study my jaw dropped. Baby primates lost their ability to suck after birth dose Hep B. So did my baby human.
I baked her a gorgeous cake (above.) And decorated it with gumball machines. Why? She sleeps with a toddler toy gumball machine next to the bed every night. She named him Charlie Fisher Price. It makes her happy. I respect her unique needs and wishes. She is a young woman. And I will meet her where she is - as best I can all while trying to move her forward to some level of independence. It's a rough road. It hurts me. It hurts her Dad. We think of what she should be doing - college this Fall. It's a constant process of grieving and that's the honest truth many don't want to hear. Are we blessed? Yes. By Gianna. Not her autism. We still want just the basic level of ability for our daughter and autism hamstrings her in just about every aspect of her life.
If anyone on IACC or supporting the current AUTISM CARES bill is reading this - ask yourself, "How can I help this woman with my current work, plans?" Billions spent on genetics. Eye gaze studies. Prevalence. Finding the elusive adult population. Hey! I have an adult you can count today! Her name is Gianna.
Next week her father and I will begin the process of guardianship.
She does not have Hepatitis B.
Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her new novel, House of Cards; A Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.