This blog is a way of sharing the information and resources that have helped me to recover my son Roo from an Autism Spectrum Disorder. What I have learned is to view our symptoms as the results of underlying biological cause, which can be identified and healed. I say "our symptoms" because I also have a neuro-immune disorder called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

And, of course, I am not a doctor (although I have been known to impersonate one while doing imaginative play with my son)- this is just our story and information that has been helpful or interesting to us. I hope it is helpful and interesting to you!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

How Can We Unite the Autism Community?

There are many things about Autism Awareness Month that are painful and hard for me, mostly that I feel like I already have more awareness than I'd like.  Most of us in the autism world feel that we live "autism awareness year" and don't have much energy to increase what we are already doing.  One of the most striking things though that I become more aware of at this time of year is how divided the autism community is.  Deeply, deeply divided.  Divided to the degree that we don't need outside criticism, we don't need outside judgement to bring us down.  We can do that to each other. 

You see, some of us have had the experience that our child was born healthy, suffered an insult or injury (often a vaccine but it can be many things), and abruptly changed.  Abruptly became autistic.  Sometimes the change is not fast, sometimes it is a slow change.  Some people have had the experience that their child was different from birth, can be said to have had autism from birth, but when they change things about their child's environment such as the food he or she eats, the child's autism symptoms are dramatically reduced.  Our experiences, and our research, lead us to the conclusion that autism is biologically based.  That while genes may be involved as predisposing factors, autism is not simply determined by genes.  There are significant environmental factors involved. 

There are other people who feel that their experience supports the idea that autism is simply another way of being.  Some of these people have Autism or Asperger's, some are parents or other relatives of people with autism, or teachers or other service providers.  I know that they have a variety of reasons for why they think this.  While I don't agree with them, I do feel that they have the right to their opinions.  I feel strongly that we all have the right to tell our stories in life however they make sense to us.  Mostly, I feel that it should be possible to work past our differences and work together.  After all, mostly we want the same thing.  We want the world to make room for people with autism.  To value them fully as people, to honor their needs, and respect their perspective.  People with autism have the same rights as everyone to be out in public, to be safe, to express themselves, to have their needs met.  For families who chose to send their kids to school they have the same rights to an education.  People with autism are a significant part of the demographic in many developed countries and our societies need to make space for them.  However our ideas may differ about the causes of autism or how best to support people with autism, we can agree that there is a great amount of work to do before the world is a hospitable place for people with autism to live and I believe this is a goal that we can work towards together.