That is a silly statement. Though there are things that can be considered absolute, it is still considered absolute by those who believe it to be. Even in science, we see that one thing is proven to be the absolute answer and years later we find that it was not truly the absolute end-all answer to that particular thing. We are a force of people who challenge, redefine, go against the norm and try to prove that the absolute really is not what it claims to be. When looking through history, we discover that those who challenged authority, refused to believe that there was no other way, stepped out to prove the theories right or wrong, were the ones that have changed our entire world into what it is now.
I am writing this because I am having serious conflicting feelings.
My topic today is autism once again. Though I have said before I see the arguments in autism similar in religion, science, philosophy, education, music, art on and on, the arguments are always valid and true to the party arguing their case. In many of the things I am referring to, it is quite impossible to get an absolute answer. It drives me crazy and sends my head reeling into an abyss of unanswerables. However, when it comes to autism, it gets pretty personal for me. I cannot understand the methods that are used to bring “awareness” to autism. We have conflicting parties and camps that are attacking each other, we have people all over the spectrum attacking each other, we have both people off and on the spectrum speaking for us and our children. Then we have those who are unable to speak, who are not given a chance to express themselves and who are suffering in silence crying out to be heard.
But they are never heard because no one will be quiet long enough to pay attention to how they are trying to communicate.
I am disturbed by the images of a puzzle piece – thinking of a person who is low functioning and unable to speak a language that all of us can understand, do they really want to be referred to as a puzzle missing a piece? Are they not a whole person just the way they are? Do they not have complete and whole value just like everyone? It makes me sick to my stomach to see the websites, YouTube videos, commercials, and all other media outlets that continue to say that this epidemic has kidnapped our kids, has stolen them from us, that they are not there and making statements while trying to get a message across they are inevitably claiming that their child or no other person has value unless they are playing baseball, going to the prom, or able to get married.
Now I am not attacking anyone. I am not trying to say that those things are bad to want for your child of course it is not a wrong thing to desire those but can people truly not find value in what their child has to offer the way they are?
I do understand their point of view…to a point.
I know what it is like to have my child get extremely violent and out of control at what seems like a whim and having the frustration and pain of not knowing how to help them or what caused it. I know what it is like to have my child be nonverbal and have no idea what is going on with them. I know what it is like to watch him sit alone for hours spinning an object and feeling so desperate for answers. I know what it is like to feel helpless, alone, isolated, discouraged and just praising God to have him finally be able to feed himself at the age of three. The list goes on and on but I choose to focus on how to help him not holding on to the cant’s. I am not saying that these people do not do that but in the midst of their words and actions like making claims that autism can be healed, there is recovery, we have to defeat autism, they are condemning and devaluing those of us who are on the autism spectrum, child and adult.
They are making statements that devalue their own child.
While making these commercials or doing these conferences with their child right next to them, are they not making the statement that they are less of a person because of their autism? A child with autism wants to please and have the acceptance of their parents and family like any other child, and how are they feeling about this? What do they think about their parents videotaping their tantrums or outbursts then showing them all around the world? I understand that people do not get it unless you show them but to have campaigns centered around all of the negatives…what kind of image are we setting in the minds of the world? What kind of message are we embedding in the many people on the spectrum never diagnosed? Alone, isolated, feeling that they are less of a person because they are unable to communicate their feelings or they express their feelings in ways that seem so foreign to everyone else?
Each campaign on either side imply that they have the absolute truth.
The mercury caused autism, the food caused it, the chemicals in the environment caused it, NO! It’s always been here, we have evolved into superior beings, look at all the famous people who could have been on the autism spectrum…..is this really bringing any answers? Is this really helping the countless adults on the spectrum who do not have insurance or programs to help them? Then we have the children, the focus of mainstream media, what about affordable programs for parents where the parents are totally involved? How about educating parents to know how to help their child, why their child does what they are doing, how to make the parent feel that they can help their child, learn their child’s way of communication? I say empower us parents instead making the parents feel helpless. Let us spend the time and energy on building the parents up and changing the outlook a bit. How about inclusion groups for adults on the spectrum?
How about instead of saying there is no hope, those in the field loudly proclaim “your child has a unique perspective – let’s figure out how to understand it”?
Then equip parents and caregivers with the resources to do so. Give the children value and the parents value as well. As a parent I have been hit with bouts of failure, I somehow did something wrong to cause this. Well in a way that is true, my genes caused my son to have autism. So am I a failure? Am I a puzzle to be put together? Do I need fixing as well? Don’t we all? I do have compassion for the parents of children with low functioning autism (and I hate saying low and high functioning but I don’t have a better way to say it). There are so many other issues that they have to deal with as well, it is tiring, lonely, expensive, fearful and many other things. I totally understand wanting to find ways to heal your child, especially when they suffer from constant pain, seizures, epilepsy, are nonverbal, aggressive, and many other issues they can suffer from.
But this is my point.
Every person is different and every person is extreme in one way or the other. However, they still have value, they still need to have that energy wrapped around them that they are wanted. Though each parent feels that they are valuing their child, especially by trying to find the “cause’ of autism or finally “revealing” the truth behind vaccines, food, environment, my question is what are they truly fighting against or for? The image of autism has been very grim and because of that, those who are on the spectrum but are high functioning are left to be unaccepted. The “absolute truth” that autism needs to be defeated, leaves those of us who are already feeling defeated by society because our unusual ways of thinking, as though we have no value either. Though there may be people on the spectrum who want a cure, here lies another question, a cure from what?
I will go around and around in my head over all of this because there is no definite answer.
What one person on the spectrum may want a cure from another may actually be able to use it as an amazing talent. One person may be in extreme pain from noise and want to have someone fix that for them because they hear things with such intensity that they cannot focus on anything else, while another may thrive on loud noise and be able to hear things that others have never even noticed. Another person may be able to create awesome creations out of metal, while another person cannot even handle the gleam if it is struck by light or to touch it burns their skin. Yet, they are able to crochet or paint amazing pieces of art. Some may not be able to eat certain foods because of the textures but another can take the same food and make meals that would dazzle anyone’s taste buds. Then we have those who cannot step outside in the winter because the cold air feels like daggers in their flesh, while another doesn’t feel it at all and can lay in the soft pillowy snow as if in heaven.
There is no absolute truth to autism, its causes or its “fixes”.
Even if we do find answers to the questions it could be totally disproved in the next 10 years, more or less. I tear up when I see a video of a child on the spectrum who is in the middle of a tantrum or they are hurting themselves in some way, or they are staring at something intensely and the parent is in the background making comments. They are making negative comments, about how hard it is for them or how they wish they could have their child back. I am not dismissing the difficulty of their situation, but I feel for the child who is most likely capable of understanding what their parents are saying and doing by videotaping their “bad” behavior. I guess one of my points is that we cannot polarize one way or the other. We cannot take up the identity of something we are fighting for or against. Once we have taken that on as who we are completely, then we have lost our individuality and have adopted the fullness of whatever our cause is. When we take up the full identity and claim absolute truth, we are now operating in the mass and begin to have our eyes clouded to other people’s perspective.
I believe there are many reasons autism is at the forefront of our world today.
I believe that there can be valid points to each argument. I also believe that if we were able to come together in common ground, we would have some major breakthroughs on each side. It is very easy to begin to demonize people. I fall into this and have to continually keep a heart check. Although, when it is regarding my kids, I get overly aggressive in my thinking and that is when I have to start reading from different points of view, even when they make me sad or angry.
I really don’t know if any of this makes sense but I do feel much better that I got it out. I am still both hurt and offended by people demonizing autism or those with any disability. However, I do know that there is no talking to people when they are operating in a circular argument. People have to be ready to see things differently and the only way that will ever happen is to live life by accepting people the way they are, hope that they see it and respect us enough to do the same for us. I am discovering that people will not understand me, my husband, or my children, and I cannot force them to.
We have to live our life and let the offenses go even though it is a very hard thing to do.
If you have made it through this whole post, hopefully you can take about 8 minutes and watch these clips I just found.
Autism Talk TV Ep. 8 – Stephen Shore
Autism Talk TV: Ep. 4: Peter Bell from Autism Speaks
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