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  • Writer's pictureSarah Swindell

Those Pesky M&M's

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

Lately I was starting to feel like I was running out of things to talk about without giving away too much about the book. But last week this subject kept creeping up and I was a little concerned how I was going to handle it, and as usual, it kept me up last night.

It started when I had one of my friends read the entire first draft, then emailed me after she was finished. She wondered why I didn't go more into detail about how I believe Dawson had an adverse reaction to a vaccine, which led to his autism.

The next day, my daughter Hayley, shared with me that she received an email from someone asking to be removed from her company mailing list because that person found out she was the daughter-in-law to Dr. Andrew Wakefield. I sat with those feelings of anger about the person that emailed Hayley for a few days, wondering how she would respond or if she should at all. I also thought more about what my friend had said, and changed my mind about something.

I have to admit I purposely did not dive in too much about my views on vaccine safety because I did not want all the vaccine controversy and strong opinions around it, to be the focal point of the story. But the more I thought about it, it IS so much of why I even have a story to tell in the first place, and owed it to my son to be that voice.

There is no reason why I should feel silenced about what I believe happened to Dawson, and have never been quiet about it before, why did I feel that need to down play it now? So I decided not to, and yesterday added more to the chapter about what happened shortly after that round of vaccines that is now added to the book.

When you have a baby, its like you're setting out on the ultimate road trip with no map or GPS to guide you. When we started Dawson's road trip, we got a nail in our tire before we even got out of the neighborhood.

I believe without a shadow of a doubt that he had a serious, and life changing adverse reaction to a vaccine. We saw it with our own eyes, and no one can tell my family it didn't happen so don't even try, you were not there. It happens all the time wether you want to believe it or not, and no matter how much it is covered up or dismissed as a false possibility.

I do understand that vaccines do a lot of good when given responsibly and one at a time. Not given in mass doses in the first two years of life, without really looking at the baby as an individual. Are they hitting milestone? Has the baby had numerous ear infections and antibiotic use? Is there family history of reactions or autism?

These questions are rarely asked and parents continue to be pushed into doing something they feel their baby might not be ready for yet, and shamed if they don't. Check out for the list if questions you want to ask before each vaccination.

It is known and accepted that childhood disorders such as autism and asthma are on the rise and continue to do so at alarming rates. Many experts conclude it could be due to the combination of genetics and environmental triggers like pesticides and other deadly things floating around our earth.

But why is it so hard to consider that live viruses mixed with other toxins and injected into babies, might cause harm as well? It is no different that believing stress can cause cancer.

I clearly love analogies, so I have another one for this scenario. If you were told that its totally safe for your child to eat red M&M's but soon found out that red M&M's might cause brain damage in certain children if they ate too many at once. Would you still feed them to your child? Maybe start with just eating green ones and see how that goes, and if your child does okay with the green ones, try the blue get where I am going.

Maybe your child is the lucky one that gets to eat the whole damn bag of red M&M's and goes on to be a rocket scientist, that is awesome! But for some reason we still don't fully understand, some children can't even have one.

Dr. Wakefield risked his whole career trying to explain my very scientific M&M theory back in 1998, and lost everything by doing so. Our family is proud to know him, and that we are a part of his amazing family. My daughter is even more proud to be a Wakefield herself after marrying his son, and happily removed that person from her mailing list.

Sarah Swindell's memoir, Rounding Home, is now available here!

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