Editor’s note: This is not a debate about whether vaccines and Tylenol cause autism but a true story written by a mom about her son Liam who was born healthy and now has severe autism. Liam’s health was destroyed after his family did everything the doctors told them to do, including giving Liam the vaccines on the current childhood schedule, as well as Tylenol before and after the shots. As Susie Olson-Corgan, Liam’s mom, explains in this story, she followed all of the doctors’ advice she and as a result her son ended up with severe autism. I met Susie at a conference about the future of immunity in Seattle, Washington. She left her son for the first time to attend the conference, needing two caregivers to be with him while she was gone. Susie looked familiar and I realized I had seen her in a Vaxxed video called Seattle Moms Rock. She has generously agreed to share what happened to her family on this blog. ~Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D.
My Son’s Stolen Childhood
By Susie Olson-Corgan
I was 22 years old, healthy, and active when I got pregnant with Liam. The pregnancy was pretty easy. The first trimester I had morning sickness, but after that it was a breeze. We moved twice while I was pregnant and I would overdo it sometimes, but a few days of downtime was all I needed to recover. I loved walking around our local lake with friends. When it got colder I turned to mall walking and doing pregnancy exercise DVDs. I felt great. I was so excited to become a mom.
Liam was born strong and healthy at 10 pounds 3.1 ounces. His Apgar scores were 9 and 9 at one and five minutes. Right after he was born, they gave him antibiotic eye ointment, then put him on my chest. He started nursing immediately. He knew just what to do.
Liam was given vitamin K at birth and a hepatitis B shot despite my request that those not be given. The staff apologized afterwards. They told me they were changing shifts and had not communicated well. I had forgotten my birth plan at home so no one had it in writing that I did not want vitamin K or hep B. It was an unfortunate mistake.
After that, I didn’t let them take him out of my sight for anything. We were released from the hospital within a day of the birth and went home to enjoy being a family of three.
By two and a half weeks Liam was rolling over. He gained head control and was able to sit up early on. At six months, Liam was waving, saying, “Hi,” “Momma,” “Dada,” “Nana,” and “Meow.”
By eleven months he was walking like a pro.
At a year he could climb, run, jump, and get into everything!
But when he was a year old is also when things started to go wrong. When Liam went to his 12-month well baby visit, he had a fever.
I called them before we came in. I told both his doctor and nurse that he was sick.
They said it wasn’t a problem and they would vaccinate him anyway and I should bring him in. Since he had been acting fussy all day, they told me to give him Tylenol before the shots, which I did.
“He could die of the flu,” the doctor said
The only vaccine I knew I didn’t want Liam to have was the flu shot.
Several people in my family had had negative reactions to that vaccine.
I myself had never had a flu shot, and I had never had the flu. Liam’s dad agreed. He had never had a flu shot either.
But the doctor was visibly upset when we told her we did not want the flu vaccine.
She actually told us Liam “could die of the flu” if we declined the shot.
She left the room and returned a few minutes later saying we were in luck, they were out of the flu vaccine.
Then she joked that if she had had the vaccine in the clinic that day, she would have just slipped it in with the rest of his vaccines without telling me.
An inconsolable baby
As soon as he was administered his 12-month vaccines, Liam started screaming.
That night he had a fever of 105.
He also started having explosive diarrhea that covered his body. It was so acidic and painful that he screamed until I put him in the tub. The diarrhea ate away at his skin until it bled. He started arching his back and wouldn’t let me hold him.
He was inconsolable.
I didn’t know what to do. I called the pediatrician.
She advised me to alternate Tylenol and Motrin. She also reassured me that the reaction her was having was “normal.”
Never the same again
But after that night Liam was never the same again.
He recovered from the diarrhea, but he stopped making eye contact. He no longer seemed curious about things like he had been before. His physical demeanor changed so drastically that it was obvious, even to people who rarely saw us.
Liam stopped breastfeeding around 15 months. When I took him in for his next well baby visit, at 18 months, I expressed concern about Liam’s sudden decline in health after the 12-month vaccines.
The doctor literally laughed at me.
She told me his previous reaction was “typical,” and made me feel like I was a just a nervous first-time mom being paranoid about nothing.
She was the expert.
I was just the mom.
What did I know?
So I let the doctor give Liam another round of shots that day, vaccinating him against eight diseases.
I don’t know if I will ever forgive myself for that choice.
This time it was much, much worse
The same series of events happened with this round of vaccines but this time it was much, much worse.
Within a couple of hours Liam’s leg swelled, his eyes became swollen and glassy.
He started screaming, arching his back, and kicking.
Like the last time, he was completely inconsolable.
I called the pediatrician who once again reassured me what was happening was “normal,” and advised me to alternate between Tylenol and Motrin.
I gave him the painkillers as she advised but he got even worse.
His breathing became labored and I called again and told the doctor I wanted to bring him in.
I could tell by the way she spoke to me that she thought I was being dramatic. We showed up at her office anyway.
After examining him, she acknowledged that she thought he was having a bad vaccine reaction. She ran blood tests. She saw with her own eyes that she was burning up with fever, had a high white blood cell count, an increased heart rate, and concerningly high blood pressure.
Now she started taking me seriously.
She told us we needed to take Liam to the ER.
In the Emergency Room they gave Liam oxygen, steroids, antibiotics, Benadryl, and Motrin.
Despite what his doctor had said, the Emergency Room doctors insisted Liam was not having a vaccine reaction! They did not have any explanation for what was wrong with our son, but they were sure it was unrelated to vaccines.
After that day Liam stopped making eye contact.
He could no longer walk.
His words decreased to just “Momma” and “Dada,” and then to none at all.
He used to sing the alphabet song. Now his singing was replaced with screaming.
Liam no longer wanted to be held or touched or to interact with anyone.
He would crawl into his closet and close the door.
At night he would scream for hours at a time.
Nothing we did helped.
He started banging his head on everything: his crib, the walls, the floor.
He would hit himself in the head with his hands, with his books, with his trucks.
Over the following days and weeks our phone calls to the doctors were answered less and less.
Every time I called they told me to give him Tylenol for the fever and to stop being so paranoid.
They told me he was acting was “normal.”
I knew this behavior was anything but normal but I had no idea what to do about it.
My son was in pain.
He had left our world and entered his own.
Signs of autism ignored
Child Find is a public service that identifies and evaluates children with disabilities. We asked them to assess Liam when he was two and a half years old. When they came to do an evaluation, he wouldn’t come out of the closet. He wouldn’t talk, acknowledge them, or interact with them at all. I answered their questions. Then they interacted with him for all of fifteen minutes and concluded he was normal.
I still wonder how in the world they thought this behavior was normal. They kept assuring me that boys are “slower to develop,” and he would “come out of his shell” in his own time.
I explained that he used to talk, make eye contact, sing his alphabet, and play with friends.
This wasn’t a lack of development, this was a loss of development, I told them.
They said I was being worried for nothing and I would see that what they said was true.
We were told to “just give it time.”
Vaccines caused my son’s severe regressive autism
After being laughed at and having our fears dismissed by doctors for more than two years, we brought Liam to an autism clinic at our local university. At three years nine months old, he was diagnosed with severe regressive autism. He was completely non-verbal.
We wasted more than two years not helping our child because medical professionals ignored our concerns.
The doctors failed our son.
We failed our son.
Looking at videos of my boy and photographs from when he was a baby, you can see the light leave his eyes.
The curious little boy who once ran to the door every time Daddy came home no longer acknowledged either of us.
Vaccines were the trigger that took away my child’s health.
Vaccines caused his autism.
A good day for Liam
Liam is 10 years old.
He never really has a typical day, as things are constantly changing with him.
While Liam eats breakfast, I massage his feet with oils to relax the muscles. First his feet, then his calves. He has cramps in his feet and problems walking from having been a toe-walker for so long, an issue associated with autism.
After breakfast we move on to our school day. Liam is still non-verbal. Most of our structured time is spent matching colors, letters, and shapes. We also work on speech, coordination and small tasks. After lunch we usually do art and sensory play, and practice life skills such as getting dressed, pouring water in to a cup, going to the bathroom, brushing teeth.
Then Liam gets a couple of hours of free time while I make dinner and clean up. During that time he plays with his cars, his iPad, interactive books, his sensory table, and his stuffed animals. He also likes to jump on his trampoline.
At 7:00 p.m. I start the bedtime routine with him and by 8:00 p.m. I have him in his room for the night. He gets to pick out two or three books to read with me.
While he is looking at the pictures, I massage his feet or rub his head. Whatever is hurting him the most.
He likes lavender essential oil so I mix that in with magnesium to help calm and relax him.
Then it’s lights out.
Liam spends the next 4 hours or so trying to wind down for sleep.
That’s a good day for Liam.
Not the life I had planned
One of our biggest challenges has been around diapers.
The diapers on the market for larger children aren’t made for kids like mine. He is chemically sensitive so most diapers cause him angry, painful rashes. The ones that don’t, leak. So they have been leaking throughout the night, which makes him agitated and aggressive when he wakes up in the morning. On those days I get him in the shower as quickly as possible, which helps to diffuse the meltdown. Then I strip his bed, put new linens on, and get his breakfast ready.
Watching him go through life facing these difficulties on a daily basis is hard.
Some days I feel despair. If there were a magic pill to wipe out all of his suffering, I would give it to him immediately. But since there isn’t, I try to find the best in this situation.
My life is nothing like I had planned, but better than I could have ever hoped.
When I look back to who I was before his diagnosis, how I stressed about the smallest things and didn’t appreciate my life like I should have, I know that I am better off now.
Liam finds such glee in simple things: sitting in a tide pool at the beach, watching the waves, being bounced on his trampoline.
He has taught me to find glee too.
I have become an advocate for my son.
I have shed the insecurities I once had.
I no longer allow other people’s opinions of me to stop me from moving forward in helping him. I have left my ego behind. I ask for help whenever I see an opportunity that could benefit him.
I have become outspoken in my community. When he and I are in public and people make snarky comments, I take the time to educate them about vaccines and the damage they caused our family.
My son’s stolen life
My son should be in school, making friends, playing sports or in band.
He should be going off to summer camp and enjoying his childhood.
Instead he stays home with me, trapped in a body that has been damaged by modern medicine.
I do the best I can to bring him joy, but it pales in comparison to what he deserves.
This is avoidable.
Please, do better for your children than I did for mine.
Do your research.
Never give your child Tylenol or any product containing acetaminophen (these Duke and Harvard researchers explain why).
You can always vaccinate later, but you can never un-vaccinate.
My son’s life will never be what it was supposed to be because he was injured by vaccines.
Now I fight for your children, to protect their futures, to give them the chance mine doesn’t have.
Readers, did something like this happen to your family? Do you think vaccines and Tylenol cause autism? Are you feeling concerned about vaccines and Tylenol or do you think it is just an unfortunate coincidence? Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.
Susie Olson-Corgan is a children’s health activist and a stay-at-home mom of one. She lives with her family in Seattle, Washington.
Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is an investigative journalist, book author, and Fulbright awardee. She is the author of Your Baby, Your Way: Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenting Decisions for a Happier, Healthier Family and co-author (with Paul Thomas, M.D.) of The Vaccine-Friendly Plan. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can hear her explain how Tylenol may be implicated in the autism epidemic in the series, The Truth About Vaccines.
5 Places to Find Help If Your Child is Diagnosed With Autism
Generation Rescue – a non-profit founded by J.B. and Lisa Handley dedicated to recovery for children with autism spectrum disorders. Participation in their Family Grant Program was the first time Susie saw improvements with her son.
Thinking Moms Revolution (TMR) – an amazing website and accompanying Facebook page that connects moms and dads and grandparents whose children have been over-exposed to toxins and injured by vaccines or other medically sanctioned health interventions. Their blog, which is updated regularly by a group of hardworking volunteers, contains a wealth of information about autism, SPD, PANS, and more. TMR helped Susie’s family learn how to access information and connected her with other parents. It was one of the founders of TMR, Alison McNeil, who first explained how vaccines and Tylenol cause autism to Jennifer Margulis.
The Canary Party – A movement created to stand up for children who are the victims of medical injury and environmental toxins. Our sick kids are the canaries in the coalmine. This group also keeps you informed about legislation that could impact your family.
Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) – A non-profit dedicated to educating, empowering and supporting families affected by autism. For families who have just received the autism diagnosis, TACA aims to speed up the cycle time from the autism diagnosis to effective treatments. They helped with Susie’s family with information about helpful diets and with other resources.
The Arc –A community-based organization with nearly 700 state and local chapters that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Arc of Washington State helped Susie set up play dates with other families facing similar challenges.