Reggae/dancehall artiste and producer, Mr G, just celebrated the 17th birthday of his first son, Chad-Antonio; however, he sums up 15 of those years as a “challenging and rewarding journey”.
When Chad-Antonio was two and a half years old, he began to show developmental delays, which Mr G, whose given name is Chad Simpson, believes is linked to vaccinations. “The scientific question of whether vaccines cause autism has become a legal battle, there are many parents suing the US government, filing claims with the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Programme since it was first alerted that the three-in-one vaccine (the MMR for mumps, measles and rubella) was causing neurological harm, although them deny it over and over again,” Mr G said in an interview with The Sunday Gleaner.
“I for one, believe it is linked because Chad-Antonio was developing at the rate he was supposed to until the night after he received the vaccine, the doctors warned that a fever might occur, but his fever was 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The next morning I woke up to a different son; he didn’t even remember how to climb or walk,” he continued.
While waiting for an official diagnosis, Mr G conducted his own research and invested as much as possible to ensure of his son’s developmental success by paying for speech and behavioural therapy which he said was very costly. Mr G found programmes and schools for his son locally, such as the McCam Child Care and Development Centre which he described as “one of the best”.
“It became clear that Chad-Antonio was going to need speech behavioural therapy for most of his school life. Right before the pandemic he was still doing one-on-one with a speech and behaviour therapist. He doesn’t like school work, but is a young man that likes do a lot with his hands. He is a beautiful spirit who has taught me so much in terms of being a good father to all four of my children,” shared Mr G, who is the father of two boys and two adult daughters.
He added, “It has been a challenging and rewarding journey because as a parent you get frustrated when you’d like certain things and achievements for your child, but it doesn’t come as readily as it does for other children. There was also a time when he was going through aggression, destroying household items, and not understanding how to control those emotions, but he is calm now. At least McCam actually had people who were qualified to deal with the children.”
He said he is not part of an anti-vaccine movement, but would fall into a pro-safe vaccine group because, “if vaccinations are needed for different reasons, what we need to do then, is do it in the stage whereby the brain is more developed”.
“I don’t second-guess my belief because I tested the theory with my last child, the youngest son, Tyler. He didn’t get the vaccine until he was six years old and that was only because the Ministry of Health visited the preparatory school he was attending in Jamaica and issued the vaccination without my permission. It made me upset, but he did not have the same reaction nor results,” he said.
The veteran entertainer is calling for greater integration of persons who are diagnosed on the spectrum (ASD) and is planning to join forces with other parents of children diagnosed with autism.
“I think it’s time I organise and start a support group for parents. Since my recent post of Chad-Antonio, several parents have reached out asking for advice or just offering their own words of encouragement. We have to pool together and be there for each other. Together we can bring enough attention and make up enough noise for the rights of our children, because some of them literally cannot speak up for themselves.”
Mr G, formerly known as Goofy, was raised in the Jones Town community in Kingston. Music was his first love and he has contributed to the careers of several dancehall artistes including TOK, Chico, and Mr Vegas, among others. His creativity was behind the collaborative hit single, Leave People Business Alone by Christopher Martin and Romain Virgo. He has revealed that another collaboration with the two star crooners is in the making.
“There are quite a few projects coming. I must say while my son doesn’t show musical tendencies he does like to be at the studio when work is being done. None of my children show interest in music, but one of my daughters who I diverted her attention to ballet has a voice like Whitney Houston. Everything I do, I do for them. I’m forever on a mission to secure the needs of Chad-Antonio, and want to help others to do the same in terms of the services and assistance children diagnosed with autism need,” Mr G said.
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