The other day in my seventeen minutes of free time I happened to run into Barnes and Noble, and as usual I headed back to the kids section to see if anything new was out. As I perused the shelves of books ranging in subject from ADHD to bullying my eye stopped on the autism shelf (yes we merit our own shelf), and I had to laugh. Sitting right next to Jenny McCarthy’s Louder than Words was John Elder Robison’s Look Me in the Eye.
This may be the only time in recorded history that these two individuals will ever be close together on anything.
The placement of the books brought to mind the many divisions that still exist within the autism community. To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, ABA as a valuable tool or a torture device. Autism as a different neurology or brain development gone awry.
To cure or not to cure, that is the question.
And I realized as I stood there contemplating the fact that these two books were actually touching each other that I can honestly say twelve years ago when my eldest of two autistic kids was first diagnosed that sometimes I was confused about what to think, what to try with him to alleviate some of the very distressing symptoms that came along with his severe autism.
I find, more than a dozen years later, I am no longer conflicted about much anymore. Here is my “state of the union.”
I do believe autism is an alternative neurology.
I believe that sometimes it is a gift.
I believe it’s not a gift any time either of my sons suffers.
I believe both in assuming competency and being realistic. My eldest has intellectual disability. There are skills most of us have that he will never master. Accepting that does not mean giving up on him.
I believe that ABA done right can be an invaluable tool.
I believe ABA in the hands of the wrong practitioners, as with any therapy, can have disastrous consequences.
I believe my youngest is not disabled by autism.
I believe to my dying day I will wish for a treatment that would enable my eldest boy to live independently, not strip him of his autism, but enable him to care for and protect himself.
I believe in my right to write about my family’s struggles and triumphs.
I believe autism often has severe financial, emotional, and physical effects on other family members as well as the individual. We family members need to take care of ourselves too.
I believe both of my boys are fabulous human beings and that the world has much to learn from them.
I believe in remaining open to everyone’s opinions, autistic or not.
I believe being autistic is not the same as raising an autistic child.
I believe most of us parents of autistic children are doing the best we can.
Most of all, I believe in supporting one another, autistic and non-autistic alike in an effort to help our kids be the best they can be.
For more on my family visit my blog at autismmommytherapist.wordpress.com
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