We have ourselves as nice, tidy measles outbreak here in Central Indiana.

Wait. Measles? The disease we had nearly eradicated ten years ago?

I hold Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy personally responsible. Wakefield’s bogus research on a connection between the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine and autism, and McCarthy’s incessant advocacy of the link are directly responsible to how we got to a point where a should-be-dead disease is suddenly closing activities at whole school districts.

Not vaccinating your kids should not be an option. It’s a) dangerous for your child and b) dangerous for society at large.

Not vaccinating your child puts their life at risk (measles still kills 164,000 annually [as of 2008]).

More importantly, it puts all of us at risk. Your selfish decision to not vaccinate your child decreases the herd immunity we need to protect our youngest and most vulnerable. Some locations in California are seeing vaccination rates below 50%. My daughter’s too young to be vaccinated for measles … had we been downtown that day, I’d be hunting down patient zero. If we’d been to any of the other infection vectors, I’d be hunting down those people, too.

Parents of kids on the autism spectrum are often left looking for answers: For things they did wrong, or, even better, someone/thing to blame. Wakefield and McCarthy’s crusade of misinformation feeds right into that need for answers.

I know this because I’ve been there.

My son, Benjamin, was diagnosed with autism nearly a year ago. We were lucky. We got the diagnosis early enough (around 2 and a half years old) that we could get him into therapy and get him the help needs at an age where that therapy is at its most effective. The amount of progress he’s made already is astonishing, and we’re well on track for him to be completely mainstreamed.

But, when we got the diagnosis, we didn’t know that. We didn’t know that we’d ever hear him talk, or be able to imagine him having a normal life. We didn’t know if his obsession with numbers would only grow and consume his life or if he’d ever notice when I came home from work or walked into a room.

And I know we spent a few days racking our brains, trying to find out what we did wrong, where we went wrong.

We blamed our parenting, our genes — everything but vaccines.

You spend so much time groping for answers when you could accept that you have a new reality, through no fault of your own or anyone else’s.

These things happen … and I know from experience that the quicker you stop asking why — a question without an answer — and start asking what — What am I dealing with? What can I do to help? — the quicker you can accept that new reality and start giving your child the help and support they need.