NVIC Vaccine News

Counting Blessings, Remembering the Children

By Barbara Loe Fisher
Published December 15, 2010 in Science

Every Christmas and New Year, when I give thanks for the people who have blessed my life, I remember the mothers and fathers of severely vaccine injured children, who have taught me the most about love and courage. I know that my son, Chris, who developed brain inflammation within hours of his fourth DPT shot in 1980, could have been hurt so much worse. 

Chris’s vaccine reaction at two and a half years old left him with milder forms of brain dysfunction - multiple learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder - but he and I both understand that he could have suffered medication resistant seizures, autism, profound mental retardation, or he could have died that day.  So when I meet parents, whose children have died or are more seriously affected, I always wonder what kind of mother I would have been and what kind of choices I would have made if Chris’s brain inflammation following his DPT vaccination had been much more severe.

This past fall, my husband, Paul Arthur, and I traveled to a family wedding in New England and, on the way, we stopped in Connecticut to visit Kim and Mark Stagliano and their three daughters, Mia, Gianna, and Bella, who have autism. Kim is the managing editor of Age of Autism and the author of a new book, All I Can Handle: I’m No Mother Teresa. Like Kim’s fascinating, irreverent, often touching book that I could not put down, the time I shared with Kim and her family was a reminder that great courage is often defined by great love.

How many mothers and fathers with healthy preteen and teenage children can imagine what it is like to spend every waking (and sleeping) moment helping their children navigate the smallest details of life? How many can imagine doing that with joy and not despair; with purpose and not resignation; with a sense of humor and not bitterness? It is hard to imagine what we would do if we were responsible for raising not one or two, but three children with  autism spectrum disorder, the kind of brain and immune system dysfunction that has exploded among American children in the past three decades and now affects 1 in 110 of them.

When Kim and Mark welcomed us into their warm, inviting home in Trumbull, Connecticut, we soon felt like we were part of their lively Irish-Italian family. Over a home-cooked lunch, we laughed a lot and talked about how they met; their early days as newlyweds; and when Mia, their first daughter, was born in 1994. Then Kim told the all-too familiar story I have heard so many times before: how she took a perfectly healthy baby into the pediatrician, where multiple vaccines were given at once, and everything changed.

In Mia's case, her head started to swell after her first round of vaccinations at two months old; and it became more misshapen after the second round of vaccinations at four months old; and, by the time Mia was six months old, the doctor was worried about Mia's head size but still gave her another round of vaccinations. By nine months, Mia was showing signs of brain dysfunction that would eventually be diagnosed as "autism." 

What is it about doctors not understanding that the first vaccine – smallpox – and every vaccine created since smallpox vaccine has had the ability to cause brain inflammation followed by a range of mild to severe chronic brain dysfunction? Why don’t doctors know that it is very risky to give more vaccines to a baby if the baby is getting sicker and regressing after each round of vaccines? Why do doctors unreasonably assume that every vaccine is safe for every person rather than understanding that every vaccine carries a risk that can be greater for some than others? 

Kim and Mark talked about their ups and downs, the adventures and near-misses, of raising three daughters with autism. They talked about their faith and their determination to never give up searching for ways to help their girls learn, grow and heal. I found myself waiting for the inevitable sadness for “what might have been” to emerge during our conversation but it never did. Then I realized that this was a man and woman, a mother and father, who had chosen to rise above “what might have been” and had moved on to exploring and celebrating “what can be.” 

When it was time for the special ed buses to arrive, we waited outside as, one by one, the girls got off: I met the stunning 16 year old Mia, who has big blue eyes just like Kim’s and loves to watch Sesame Street on the computer; and cute, bubbly 14 year old Gianna, who never stops moving and lights up a room with her bright smile; and the pensive, dreamy 10 year old Bella, who is fascinated with running water and struggles to communicate. 

I watched Kim patiently and resolutely juggle the whirlwind of after-school activity with Mia and Gianna, while Mark rushed upstairs to rescue the flooded upstairs bathroom from Bella, and I was spellbound by the symphony of controlled chaos. All through it, I could feel how genuinely happy these three girls with autism are because they know how much they are loved. 

But I could not help think about what could have been. The thought of what could have been took my breath away. 

Why some people face adversity with love, faith and courage, while others do not, is an age-old question. Kim Stagliano, with her remarkable husband by her side, is a very human woman who may be no Mother Teresa, but has chosen to face adversity with the kind of strength and good humor that we all want to believe we have inside of us. Her fearless, funny autobiography is not just for families raising children with autism. It is a book that everybody should read because it allows us to imagine that we could do it, too.

You can get a copy of Kim’s new book, All I Can Handle: I’m No Mother Teresa by going to the website of the National Vaccine Information Center and ordering through Amazon.com, which helps support NVIC’s public service programs. And while you visit our website, please stay for a while and learn more about how to prevent vaccine reactions to help protect the health of those you love.

During this holiday season, in memory of the many families across America, who are meeting the challenges of raising vaccine injured children with hope, and  for a healthier future for all children: Merry Christmas and may you have many blessings to count in the New Year.

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16 Responses to "Counting Blessings, Remembering the Children"
Commenter Name
Posted: 12/16/2010 8:35:49 AM
I was born in the late 50’s, I remember being sick with the measles, chicken pox and rubella. All my friends also got these diseases, why is it that none of them died or were permanently damaged from these "deadly" diseases? I went to a 1-8 grade school of about 1000 kids, at that time probably less than 15% of my classmates were native to the State. With that diverse of a group from all over the US and Mexico, you would think I would have heard of many being disabled or dying from one of these childhood diseases. My heart goes out to all these families who are victims of Big Pharma.
Commenter Name
Posted: 12/16/2010 11:30:35 AM
Thank you for this article & touching story. I am curious to know, after the experience with the first child's vaccinations and subsequent development of autism - did the family go the exact same route with the other 2 daughters and receive the exact same results? Maybe I just need to buy the book to find this out, but I am so curious as to whether the other 2 girls also contracted autism from vaccinations. I am very new to exploring this issue, as I am considering starting a family of my own & whether or not to vaccinate is a big issue to me that I need much more education on. Thank you for your help!
Commenter Name
Posted: 12/16/2010 12:01:40 PM
This is a sad story and my heart goes out to Kim and Mark. But my question is, after the first daughter completely changed after her shots at 2, and then 4 and then 6 months and showed signs of autism at 9 months, why did the subsequent two daughters receive their vaccinations as well? Since it is implied that the parents knew and realized that the vaccinations were what made Mia autistic.
Commenter Name
Posted: 12/16/2010 12:02:40 PM
I, too, was born in the late 1950's and, just as with LoveLB, I had the measles and chickenpox and sailed through just fine. These were not termed deadly diseases back when vaccines did not exist to suppress these diseases. In fact, parents were told how to care for their children when they contracted these diseases in much the same way as Dr. Mendelsohn lays out in his book, "How To Raise A Healthy Child In Spite Of Your Doctor." And, as with us, most children recovered completely and were conferred natural immunity, as well. Our son suffered a reaction to his whole cell DPT vaccine at the age of four months, in 1993. He's been left with extremely mild brain dysfunction, but is otherwise doing beautifully. My heart goes out to the Stagliano family, but I am encouraged with their warmth, sense of humor and vitality.
Commenter Name
Posted: 12/16/2010 3:57:47 PM
I don't understand why after the 2 round of shots, she didn't question or was afraid to take her baby girl back to the doctor for more rounds. Unless she was coerced by the doctor? I guess I will have to read the book! I am SO glad I did my research and read Dr. Mendelsohn's book. That is my bible whenever my kids get sick, which is rarely at all! So thankful my children are heathly! I have so much to be thankful for!
Commenter Name
Posted: 12/17/2010 12:49:07 AM
I have sympathy for the parents, Kim and Mark, but I don't understand why they continued to let Mia be vaccinated after the first couple of times, and whether it was the same situation with their other two children. It makes me disturbed and angry when I hear that vaccines are safe and that vaccines don't cause autism. I was born in 1944, and I don't think that I or most of my seven brothers received any vaccines. Measles, mumps, and chicken pox were considered normal childhood illnesses--not deadly diseases. One of my brothers, born in 1958, was vaccinated, and came down with whooping cough after his third DPT shot. He was very sick, but survived. My youngest brother had no vaccines and was always very healthy and intelligent. Parents should trust their intuition and not their doctors! Whenever I have taken medication at the advice of a doctor, such as Fosomax, for osteoporosis, I've had bad side effects.
Commenter Name
Paul Arthur
Posted: 12/17/2010 10:20:09 AM
I think it is very important to remember that doctors have insisted for more than a century that vaccines are very safe and most parents have believed them. Many, many parents do not know what a vaccine reaction looks like. That was true for me when my own son had a serious reaction after his third DPT shot, a reaction that neither the pediatrician nor I recognized. Then, after his fourth DPT shot in 1980, he suffered a more severe reaction to his fourth DPT shot that I witnessed but had no idea that the symptoms he was suffering were associated with brain inflammation. All of that happened to my son, like it happened to Mia, because doctors are not honest with themselves or patients about vaccine risks. They don’t tell mothers how to monitor their children after vaccination for reaction symptoms beyond mentioning there might be a little fever or soreness at the injection site. So, when infants and young children start to exhibit unusual symptoms, we don’t understand it could be connected to the vaccinations just given. Then, when a child is left with brain damage following vaccination, most pediatricians deny it has anything to do with the vaccinations and claims it was all a “coincidence.” Back in the 1980’s and 1990’s when my children and Kim’s children were born, there was not as much public awareness about vaccine risks as there is today. Even today, there are children in the same family, who are being vaccinated over and over again despite obvious deterioration in physical and mental health. The doctor giving the vaccines is in denial while the parents are unaware that there is a connection between their children’s regression and the vaccinations they are being given. It has been my experience that, unless you have walked in another person’s shoes, you cannot know what you would have done in the same circumstance. It has taken three decades of work to raise the consciousness of the public about the fact that vaccines carry significant risks, which can be greater for some than others, and there is so much more that needs to be done. ~ Barbara Loe Fisher
Commenter Name
Posted: 12/28/2010 2:30:01 PM
My daughter is 25 now and I was lucky to have been educated by mothers and books available in the mid 80's on breast feeding and vaccines. I was an older mother in my late 30's who grew very skeptical of those so called conservative pediatricians who degraded breast feeding and conformed with the medical books of the past who have not expanded their knowledge to recognize another side of medicine, just plain old common sense to see when there is something not right with the patient. But they continue to inject and inject these vaccines to their young patients even when it was right in front of their eyes that something was drastically wrong after the inoculation. Doctors still insist that these vaccine affected children need additional vaccines. Are doctors conditioned like Pavlov's dog? Most do not take the time to question the system. Do the pharmaceutical companies have such a hold of these doctors that their expensive dinners and golf trips become more important that the Hippocrates Oath they took in medical school? Gosh, I remember so vividly a friend I met in Atlanta who had a gorgeous daughter the same age of mine. According to her mother, she had a perfect pregnancy and her baby was healthy.....until she had started with the vaccines. That beautiful child rapidly became abnormal and by the time she was 5 it was easy to see that she would never see even kindergarden. There were so many red lights about this child and the first to come in mind was that initially she was normal and later after a few vaccines she changed drastically. I encouraged Mrs.K not to allow further inoculations and to take this child to a neurologist. She didn't. Mrs. K then became pregnant again. I also encouraged her to have a natural childbirth just in case the epidural caused too severe of a contraction, but she insisted in having it. I visited her in the hospital and was holding the new baby. It had turned gray while in my arms and I called for help. What ever happened to cause this gray is questionable, but again, I encouraged Mrs.K not to have her pediatrician give this baby any vaccines. She again did not listen. Now Mrs. K has two damaged children who will never normally functioning nor will they will ever have the opportunity to have gainful employment or fulfill a normal life. My daughter is a healthy 25 year old who only had the injectable polio, tetanus, and diphtheria vaccine.
Commenter Name
Posted: 12/29/2010 9:12:07 PM
I'm just amazed that Kim and Mark continually chose to ignore the obvious symptoms of vaccine damage that their daughters experienced after each round of shots. And to have 3 daughters damaged! You would have thought w/any common sense, that after the 1st child had suffered vaccine damage, which doesn't take a rocket scientist to see, that they would have refrained from allowing their second and third daughters to be vaccinated. Hello!! Before my 1st child was born, I asked a nurse friend what was in a vaccine, wanting to make an informed decision. She brought home an insert label and she read off the list of neuro-toxic and carcinogenic ingredients and I said 'no thanks', I won't be putting that toxic serum into my newborn baby. Neither of my children have ever had one shot and are now young adults who are very healthy, and bright young individuals. I ask parents if they read food labels and they say 'yes' and many are aware of what goes into and onto their babies. However, when it comes to allowing an inoculation of a toxic serum, they go brain-dead and give up their power to their doctor. They fail to realize that 'they' are the boss and call the shots, so to speak. Caveat emptor!
Commenter Name
Dawn Turner
Posted: 1/6/2011 5:43:47 PM
My heart goes out to this family and I applaud and admire their courage and strength. I don't even question how people can keep vaccinating when a child (or pet) has what appears to some to be "obvious" reactions to vaccinations. I went through it with my pets as well as myself. I heard all the lies - "coincidence" and "unrelated" are 2 of my favorites. Finally, I stopped believing the lies dished out by medicine and started seeing those things as connected regardless of medical "professionals" told me. The medical industry in both humans and pets has unbelievable control over the masses. Unfortunately, most never see that until it's too late and their child(ren) or pet(s) have been damaged or killed. I'm one of them. :-(
Commenter Name
online masters in education
Posted: 1/8/2011 9:12:44 AM
Thank you for this article & touching story.
Commenter Name
Online MSW Degree
Posted: 3/1/2011 4:24:59 PM
It is unfortunate that vaccines that are intended to help children can have these types of adverse affects. Thanks for sharing your experience..
Commenter Name
masters in health administration
Posted: 7/25/2011 8:34:25 PM
Great great story, those stories are sometimes the hardest to share, but doing so certainly helps others.
Commenter Name
Grow Hair Faster
Posted: 9/25/2011 6:07:30 AM
What a story of courage, love and generosity. It so touching and inspirational.
Commenter Name
Basement Waterproofing
Posted: 9/25/2011 6:10:05 AM
Doctors should know exactly what they are doing, it's about safety for children and people. With one single mistake, it's another life's suffering for life.
Commenter Name
Patent application
Posted: 1/24/2012 5:15:57 AM
thanks for sharing such a heart touching story

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