By Abdulkadir Khalif
I am writing a response and a rebuttal to Maura Lerner’s story of 03/17/2011, (HERE) concerning Measles and unvaccinated Somali Kids in Minneapolis. This story, like so many others before it on this newspaper and others across the country, highlights the issue of autism and Somali kids. There is an increasing sense of desperation in medical circles and the media concerning the causes of autism and how to delink it to vaccinations. It is the wish of every parent in this country and around the world that causes and cures of autism are found quickly, and hopefully without forgoing the benefits of vaccines. I am a Somali parent, resident in Minneapolis and a father of a 6-year old boy who is severely affected by autism. He is still non-verbal and horribly dysfunctional.
As a parent, I am desperately looking for answers from my son’s doctors. I am looking for a cure for my son’s conditions, or at least a treatment regime that would make him function as a human being and hopefully live an independent life once we are gone. I am not finding hope anywhere and obviously no answers for my many questions. Our doctors and scientists agree on a few things:
- That they have no idea what causes autism.
- That there is no known cure for autism.
- That autism is a life-long condition for which there is no hope.
- That behavioural therapy if administered early, consistently and over a long period of time may give some good results.
- That vaccine and especially the suspect MMR is perfectly safe for all kids irrespective of their genes, diets, background and lifestyles.
- That the rate of autism is increasing every year all over the world.
- That autism has always been around and better diagnoses is giving it the attention it is getting now.
- That some research has shown that some communities are more vulnerable than others.
- That more research is needed to disprove earlier research.
- That there is no money for autism causation research.
- That they are still too ignorant about what autism is, and that instead of admitting that they would rather just deny its prevalence, rise etc.
To me that sounds like a bunch of contradictions. It is sad that we have to trust our lives and that of our kids to a few technocrats and uncertain scientists who are voting with their pockets instead of their guts.
I have a gut feeling (trust your gut feelings always) that my son was affected by what got into his body around the time he was 18 months. My son grew up a normal, healthy and bouncing baby. He started speaking a few words by the time he was about 15 months. He waited for me at the door everyday as I got back home from work and welcomed me inside. He knew how I opened the door and the approximate time I came home each day. He raced down the stairs and hugged me, then held my hand and led me inside. I looked forward to those moments and they were perfect moments as they relieved me of the day’s tensions and small workplace frustrations. Then one day, I came home and he did not welcome me as was his wont.
A few days earlier, Abdimalik got his 18 months MMR vaccine as scheduled. I still remember that day. His mother was coming back from his appointment and passed my place of work to give me a ride home. Abdimalik was sitting in his car-seat, very quite, subdued and absent minded. As I took my seat I glanced back wondering if he was asleep or not. He was seated squarely in his seat but was looking straight ahead at a point in space. I called out to him and he did not respond. I shook him and he did not move. I looked at my wife and asked what happened and she explained where they came from and that everything went well. She explained how he thanked the nurse as she put a sticker on his chest before the injection in order to build rapport. After that we rode home in silence and life was never the same again.