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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Parents Aren't Causing Autism. Quit It. - Contributor Post

Janel over at Pollychromatic takes on some of the more persistent autism myths.


You want a rant? I’ve got one.

This was shared on my feed and I pretty much had my brain spasm all over the place. Here’s what I said, try to ignore the twitching anger:

I can’t with this. I mean, I can’t even read it. I mean, I can’t read it and continue to not be seriously heated.

You want to celebrate diversity? Here’s one for you: people on the Autism Spectrum? They’re people.
Here’s another shocker: not all of them are “difficult to reach.” 

Autism is a spectrum “disorder.” It’s a collection of learning disabilities, and neurological conditions. Not all of them present, or at the same levels with all people on that Spectrum.

We haven’t really delved very far into where ASD comes from as much as we have a new scare every month about what’s causing it, and how we’re being bad mothers if our children are affected by it. As though, somehow, we are the sole gatekeepers to our children. As though they are our possessions, and everything that happens with them, or everything they are is a reflection on us. 

This is a tool that has been used to beat women for centuries. It is a tool that women use to beat other women. It is a tool that women use to beat themselves.

Early in the history of ASD as a disorder it was believed to be caused by mothers who were too cold to their children. Not surprisingly this was during much of the early 2nd wave Feminism when women were beginning to discover identities outside of only being mothers. 

You want to have a career, or a life outside of the home? You’ll cause your child to be irreparably damaged. Now take off those shoes, get back in the kitchen, and do your duty to your family, or else your children will suffer, and it will be your fault.

Much has evolved since then, and we have come to learn more, but so much of that knowledge is a chaos of continued blame sourcing that seems to end nowhere other than hocus pocus faux scientific “medical” quackery.

What do we know? There seems to be a genetic link for Autism. It runs in families. 

We know that the numbers of those with ASD have likely been underreported for decades. So many people lay in the wings of Autism Spectrum and were so “lightly” affected that they simply were never reported. They were considered late talkers. Exceptionally picky eaters. Late bloomers. Shy. “Weird.” Etc. Parents simply never understood what they were seeing and never reported it if they did suspect. Perhaps fear of the stigma of a diagnosis that would follow their child around for life gave them caution. More likely that they just truly did not know what they were seeing. “Uncle so-and-so was a late talker, and then he went on to be successful,” went family legend and the friendly advice of neighbors. And so they put their suspicions on hold. 

Lord knows the backlash that I incurred when I put my son in Early Intervention at age 2 was bad enough. I can not imagine how bad it would have been if I had not had the wherewithal of my own knowledge and the courage to listen to my own inner voice AND the luxury of time that comes with being decidedly upper middle class to back me up. If I had been fighting the daily grind of a 9-5 (or a 3-11 for that matter), and trying to put food on the table, keep the gas turned on and water running, and the kids in clothes? Would I have fought so hard? 

It’s pretty hard to say.

I’m pretty insulted by this whole essay and it’s tone. I’m being frenetic and chaotic in my refutation of it.

What I have to say?

ASD isn’t the end of your child if your child has it. Not all ASD looks alike (my son could not be more sweet, more open, more funny, more loving, or more empathetic toward others). Mothers aren’t “causing” Autism.

Continuing to feed any of the three beasts I have named right there? Not. Very. Awesome.



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