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Dad in Autism-Vaccine Case Speaks Out

Jon Poling, Father of Hannah, Explains He's Not 'Anti-Vaccine'

Vaccine Safety: What Can Parents Do?

His advice for parents?

Poling says they should demand to know a vaccine's safety record before agreeing to give it to their child, including any known links with metabolic disorders and susceptibility to injury from the vaccine.

Coming to Terms With Autism

Although Poling has an MD and a PhD and is trained as a neurologist, he admits it was very difficult to come to terms with his daughter's diagnosis. In his neurology practice in Georgia, some of his patients are children with autism, so he is very familiar with the condition. His wife, Terry, is both a nurse and an attorney.

Even so, he says, they had some trouble initially getting doctors to take their concerns seriously. When Hannah exhibited symptoms after a series of five immunizations including nine vaccines, doctors initially passed them off as nothing serious. But as the symptoms didn't abate and in fact got worse, as parents, the Polings knew something was wrong.

"After six months of essentially our daughter being a zombie and gone, we knew this wasn't going away," he says. "This was chronic. And we had to come to grips with that."

In the beginning, it wasn't easy, he says. "We had denial," he admits. She had previously been treated for middle ear infections. "When Hannah got sick, we thought, 'Her ears are clogged. That is why she is not responding.'"

As he heard from other parents dealing with the same diagnosis, the initial denial, followed by difficulty in accepting the reality, was a common thread, Poling found.

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Would the fear of autism keep you from getting your child vaccinated?