Autism is controversial on many levels. This being autism awareness month, and the recent release of the newest data (from 2008) by the CDC on the rising prevalence of autism is making me more conscious of just how controversial it is.
- To begin there are several different viewpoints: adults with autism who self-advocate, parents who advocate for their children, teachers, therapists, doctors, scientists, and the celebrity spokespersons. Everyone has a theory, everyone has their own idea of what is best. Everyone has a different perspective. So far I am fine with all of this.
- There is a lot of mystery surrounding autism. No one even KNOWS what causes it (though some people claim special knowledge on this.) Genetics or environment?
- Treatment options are limited and not 100% effective for every individual. There are those who argue that no treatment is necessary. There are others who think everything should be tried in order to find a cure.
- Because autism is a spectrum disorder, even the symptoms are hard to pin down. Each individual has their own set of unique challenges, and although there are broad similarities, the details can be quite complex.
- Even describing the spectrum is hard – high-functioning, though part of the diagnostic lexicon, is falling into disfavor because it is vague, and hard to quantify.
- Add in the people first layer and the word autistic suddenly becomes an insult, unless it’s not.
- Acceptance or awareness?
- Over-diagnosed or under-diagnosed?
…I’m probably leaving out a few debates, too.
Mystery breeds controversy. I think that much is safe to say.
I tend to shy away from all of the debate. I do have my opinions on most of these issues, but I recognize them as opinions, not dogma. I don’t have a corner on all of the answers for autism. If I did I suppose I could write a book, make lots of money, and head out on the speaking circuit. My guess is the truth lies somewhere in the middle on most of these issues. I choose to stay out of the fray, not because I am above it, but simply because I really don’t have the energy for it.
I am too busy trying to keep our little family moving in a positive direction. Every day is a battle of its own making. Yesterday perhaps was about finding the money to pay the bills. Today maybe we focused on getting the laundry and the errands done. Tomorrow we ponder how to get work done while getting the children to all of their activities. Finding the library books that were due today. Monitoring Grandma from afar. Attending marathon school board meetings. Making soup from leftovers in the fridge to stretch the food budget just that little extra bit…all of this while keeping tabs on the child, her moods, her needs, her education, her health, and the wonderful person she is becoming. My energy is poured into making things as good as possible for all of us every day. There just isn’t any energy left over for throwing venom at people who may disagree with my opinions.
I am dismayed at how we (the autism community) chew each other up sometimes. I don’t think much good comes of it. I think our energies could be better spent trying to solve the mysteries and making things as good as possible for all of us. What do you think?