So recently a lady by the name of Adele Allen has been propelled into the public eye after announcing that she wants to raise £100,000 to move her family to Costa Rica. Adele and her partner yearn to live an ‘off-grid’ self-sufficient lifestyle with their two young children. They are, now very publicly, anti-vaccine, against traditional education and schools and they don’t use or believe in modern medicine. They give themselves and their choices labels such as alternative parenting, unconventional parenting and seem to favour terms like free range children.
Now this lady has chosen to go by the name of The Unconventional Parent, which as you know if you are reading this, is the name I chose to go by when I started this blog a few years back. I don’t mind her using the same name however she has accidentally published my website address on her fundraising page instead of her own and the fact that our Facebook pages have the exact same name has directed a lot of traffic to my page and site! A fair amount of those people have decided to continue following my blog despite it being a far cry from the one they intended to find. This is most complimentary, so thank you.
In light of this I have some issues I would like to address, hence the reason for this post. Firstly I feel it’s appropriate to mention that I couldn’t be more different from Adele, both in my lifestyle and my parenting practices. I love technology, modern medicine and all the wondrous advances our little species have made. I am grateful for all that I have available to me. I have four children; an eleven year old daughter with dyspraxia and severe dyslexia, an eight year old with a newly diagnosed hole in his heart, a three year old son with autism, vacant seizures and partial blindness thanks to a severe brain infection – bacterial meningitis and encephalitis – when he was just nine weeks old and a fifteen month daughter who so far is thankfully doing just fine.
Adele and her partner state that they do not believe in modern medicine. They have also stated that should their children get meningitis they would, and I quote, starve it out of them. Consequently I would like to ask her the following questions in the form of this open letter…
If you found your nine week old baby boy to be suffering with a 40+ degree temperature, extremely drowsy and with an unexplained rash would you simply treat him with cool air and monitoring? How about when his temperature increased and he began to scream with an unusual painful cry? Or when he became so drowsy he only woke periodically to scream out in pain? Would you seek help then? We did – both in the first instance and again when his condition worsened.
The second time the GP sent us to the Bristol Children’s Hospital where our tiny baby boy was rushed into Resus. His little heart was beating at over 200 beats per minute. He was fitting repeatedly. They spent six hours trying relentlessly to save our baby’s life in any way possible. Would you have declined the doctors, infection specialists and nurses help then Adele?
How about when his little heart simply couldn’t sustain it’s accelerated rate anymore and he was on the brink of death? Would you have turned them away and opted for holistic methods then?
Or the week long stay in quarantined intensive care with round the clock help to simply keep our baby alive? Would you have let your little boy die instead?
Or finally, would you have accepted the following three years of assistance from his Neurologist who monitors his brain damage and seizures, his Opthamologists who helped him regain his sight in one eye, his Paediatrian and Behavioural Psychologist who help us manage and understand his autism, violent outbursts and sensory overload meltdowns? How about his Visual Support Teacher and his Mobility Assistant who help us manage his lack of depth perception, 3D vision and all the hazards the world holds for him that are invisible to us?
Would you still support those parents who chose not to vaccinate their perfectly healthy children when their choice could result in further damage to your disabled child’s already weakened health? Or would you consider that simply survival of the fittest?
Would you decline the support of school to help your daughter not feel stupid and unintelligent when she is really smart but hindered by dyslexia?
Would you refuse the offer of a heart scan to determine if there was any chance the hole in your son’s heart could prematurely end his otherwise healthy life?
Unfortunately I fear your life choices, parenting practices and views on raising children are affordable to you purely because you have been lucky enough to not witness your children face unbearable pain and suffering or subsequent life altering disability. I can’t help but wonder should you find yourself in my shoes would you have altered your perceptions and made different choices? Honestly I sincerely hope you would.
I could not, in any circumstance, allow my children to suffer anything if there was even a single tiny thing someone could do to help them.
Mostly though, I hope that you remain as lucky as you have been so far, as I would not wish my experiences on my worst enemy let alone a stranger with alternative views to me.
The Unconventional Parent