We watched our child's personality and ability to interact fade away in front of our eyes. MMR shot or coincidence?

This story is about Joey Masella, an autistic 6-year-old from Southington. But it's also a story about kindness, generosity, and caring.

Joey is the son of Karen Masella-Chartier and Jason Chartier. He was born in September of 2010, and was developing normally until his mom and dad took him to the doctor at the age of two for his MMR vaccine shot, which keeps kids safe from measles, mumps, and rubella. According to Jason, within a week, Joey had lost all speech and eye contact. Jason also told me:

We watched our child's personality and ability to interact fade away in front of our eyes. MMR shot or coincidence?

Because it's what I do, I clicked on many different websites trying to find a link between the MMR vaccine and the onset of autism. Cdc.gov says there's absolutely no link, but webmd.com seems to think there might be. The bottom line is that the Chartiers watched their son Joey's personality and ability to interact fade away before their eyes.

Credit - Used by Permission from Jason Chartier's FB Page

Because Joey doesn't get invited to many birthday parties or has many friends because of his inability to interact, Joey's mom, Karen thought it would be a nice idea to place a post on Facebook asking for birthday cards from their friends to help celebrate Joey's sixth birthday.

The post went viral and the cards starting poring in. And not just from their friends, but from all over the world! WFSB 3 produced a special news feature about Joey and his amazing birthday. This is what Joey's step dad, Jason told me over the phone when we talked this past Friday:

Joey has danced for the first time in his life and has been in much better spirits than usual from all the new found attention. I didn't realize there was this many good people still left in the world.

The last word I received from Jason was that Joey's received almost 3,000 birthday cards. On Tuesday morning, I will talk with Joey's mom, Karen about her autistic son and the outpouring of kindness and caring. Everyday, there is so much negativity and tragedy in the news that we hope you will stay tuned for the rest of Karen's story.