One of the largest class-action court cases in quite a while is going on right now. About 5,000 families are suing for the right to get money from the federal government’s special vaccine fund. . These funds were set aside years ago to compensate parents whose children were adversely affected by vaccines.
See one story on the case at: click here
While this is an important case, my concern is not about the specifics, but the emotions surrounding the issue.
There is no consensus or conclusive findings surrounding the link between autism and vaccines. Equally knowledgeable and sophisticated people fall on both sides of the issue. I’ve talked to some parents who are convinced of a link and doctors who aren’t.
I don’t have a child with autism, so I’m somewhat removed from the subject, but I do have one question.
What if it is the vaccines? If parents win this particular case, how does this change your child’s condition?
I know some of these parents are just trying to get resources to help their child. Therapies and doctors are expensive and can put an incredible financial burden on a family. Wanting the best for your child or even wanting your child to achieve their full potential is a noble goal.
But some have spent a lifetime looking for someone to blame. Others are just angry and want someone to be angry at.
I know I am hitting a nerve, but I want to talk to the parents and ask them a question. Are you working hard to acquire the resources your children need or are you working to feel better about what was “done to them”?
I was watching an older movie with my children. It’s called “The Princess Bride”. One of the characters spends his whole life looking to avenge the death of his father. When we meet the character, he is depressed and alcoholic because he’s been unsuccessful at finding the killer for twenty-years. In the end, he finally finds the guilty man and takes his revenge. A curious comment follows the act.
“I’ve been in the revenge business for so long…” he laments, “I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.”
Are we fighting the system to the detriment of our families? As parents of special needs children, we’re fighting daily for what our children need. But I hope we know what we are fighting for. Don’t fight to the point that your family is destroyed in the process.
And what if these families win the case? It won’t cure the children that have autism, though it might make the government pay for some of the care and teach them a lesson they won’t soon forget.
But it won’t really fix anything. They will still have to get through their days seeing progress that is slower than they wish it would be. They will still have to come home to a family that needs them. And if you’ve been putting all your energy into fighting, what will you do when the fight is over?
There will always be something to fight for; lets make sure our families are more than just another battle in a long war.
And what if these families lose the case? I know this will not stop those who believe they are right. Convinced of their cause, they will appeal and re-file and appeal and re-file until every option has been exhausted.
But I hope that all of these things are secondary to raising a child who needs them. All of them!
Don’t think your child will fare well without you. They won’t. Don’t think they will understand your absence. They can’t.
Federal cases are always a marathon and never a sprint. Don’t give the government all your energy - save some for your family too.
Your best should always be saved for those you love and for those who love you.