After a full-term, normal pregnancy, Jimmy was born with an APGAR of 10 and a negative PKU. He was a happy and playful baby and toddler who achieved all developmental milestones early. At 18 months, he was talking in complete sentences. He received DPT shots at 1, 2 & 3 months of age. With each shot he had a worsening reaction; a higher and longer lasting fever. But there were no other apparent reactions from these three initial immunizations. At his scheduled 18 month old checkup, the DPT Booster was not given because he was sick; his pediatrician prescribed antibiotics for 14 days. A month later Jimmy received the DPT Booster. What I did not know, was that he should have been off of an antibiotic for a month before receiving the DPT shot. But his doctor knew this, yet even though Jimmy had only been off of the antibiotic for 14 days, she gave him the DPT Booster anyway.
He slept on the drive home; was fussy for a while and then had his nap. I became concerned because he didn't want to get up after that nap, and slept the rest of the day and night. And when I tried to wake him to give him baby aspirin for his fever, he was difficult to awaken, and I discovered he could not move his left arm, nor could he move his head to the left. I called his pediatrician and, of course, nothing to worry about; just continue with the aspirin for the fever. By the next morning things were no better and I called Jimmy's pediatrician and I insisted that I bring him in so that she could examine him. By the time we arrived at her office, he was more awake, and she was able to get him to move his arm. The site of injection was swollen, red, hard and very hot, but the pediatrician said that this was a normal, local reaction and that I need not worry; just apply compresses and continue with the baby aspirin. However, she added that in the future Jimmy should not have the Pertussis vaccine, and that any DT immunizations should be given at 1/4 the usual dose. No, it did not strike me as unusual at the time. This was back in 1967 when I still believed that doctors were all-knowing and could be trusted.
Years later, when I received a copy of Jimmy's medical records, I was shocked to read that his pediatrician had written something entirely different than what she had verbally told me: "local and systemic reaction to DPT Booster". As I continued reading these records I could see the sudden, as well as gradual deterioration that followed that shot. Jimmy began rocking almost immediately; over the next few months, he lost all speech; and he would sit on the sofa all day, staring into space and rocking. If I touched him he would scream as though I had burned him with fire. My above-average child was now totally withdrawn and was fearful of everything. He had no interest in his toys, in playing, or any kind of interactive or social activities. He hated clothing and preferred being naked at home, and hated going out because he had to get dressed. The DPT Booster had changed his life forever.
Would Jimmy have been Autistic had he not received that final DPT Booster? In my mind and heart I know that the answer is "no." The stupidity and arrogance of many doctors, as well as the greed of pharmaceutical companies all contributed to this unnecessary tragedy; and until "we" do something to stop them, many more lives of innocent children will be lost or destroyed.
Today, at almost 31 years of age, Jimmy is unable to live independently, works in a hellhole sheltered workshop, has minimal social skills, and functions academically on approximately a third grade level. His self-help skills are very good, but, if he were not prompted, he would probably never eat and would seldom sleep. His ability to communicate is so limited that he cannot tell us when he's in pain (physical or emotional), or what his needs are, nor can he participate in a normal conversation. Questions have to be worded so that he is given 3 or 4 possible choices from which to choose, or the options of "yes" or "no" for answers. But for us, his family, the most difficult issue we deal with is what will happen to Jimmy when we are no longer here for him. It's something that I cannot think about without feeling cold fear in the pit of my stomach. And, as I feel the tears stream down my face, I try to shut out the reality of Jimmy's future without us - alone, misunderstood, and frightened. May God forgive them for what they have done, and continue to do to our children because I cannot.