Talking to a facebook friend today, whom I have the utmost respect for, I realized that there are two types of autism parents out there. Those that are looking for a cure, and those that are accepting their child with autism and embracing autism as a lifestyle and call for an acknowledgement of neurodiversity. I think most parents experience both sides in their journey in raising a child with autism.
When Dayton was first diagnosed, I was definitely on camp "cure." OK, got the diagnosis, now what do we do to fix this? The psychologist just looked at me and said good luck. Good luck? Seriously?! Wha'da ya mean?! He told me there's many theories circulating out there on therapies, and I just have to find what works for Dayton. OK... Could you name me some examples? Nope. He can't do that because he can't encourage one over another, a "conflict of interest." He prescribed medication and sent me an invitation to a parent support group.
So off to the internet I go. Research, research, research.
At age 7, Dayton was to old for ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), which is the one therapies that has been scientifically proven to help. Unfortunately, it is only available to children from the ages of 2 and 6. So this therapy is out. In saying this, did you know that Alberta allows this therapy until the child turns 21? What the hell?!
Bizarre and primitive options such as hyperbaric chambers or electric shock therapy was definitely out of the question for my little guy.
There's special diets, which can get pretty costly, namely the GFCF (gluten-free, casein-free) and the specific carbohydrate diet. Some parents swear by these diets, and others say that it doesn't make a difference. Both sides agree that the diet requires many hours of work and that it is quite expensive.
Chelation, a process of administering substances that draw out heavy metals such as mercury or lead has been used by parents who believe their child's autism is caused by vaccines. Chelation is suppose to either reduce or completely reverse the symptoms of autism. The use of diet, vitamins, supplements and chelation is also known as a biomedical approach. Unfortunately, certain biomedical interventions have caused harm, even death (2005, Abubakar Rariq Nadama passed away as a result of an improper chelation procedure), so this is not an approach I feel comfortable taking either. The diet perhaps, but definitely not taking the change with chelation.
Today I'm sitting pretty in the "neurodiversity" camp. There's a sense of peace upon accepting the autism diagnosis. Prayer to our heavenly Father helps too. Psalm 46.10 says to "be still and know that I am God." Sometimes the most powerful act is to be silent... simply trusting that God has a purpose for my little Dayton. The less I fight the diagnosis, the more I am certain that this is true. The bible also tells us that man is made in God's image. This means Dayton is made in His image, not the image I had chosen for him, but the image God chose.
A couple of quotes to consider: "I know of nobody who is purely autistic or purely neurotypical. Even GOD had some autistic moments, which is why all the planets spin" - Jerry Newport (Let's not start a gospel war people, none of us have ever met God face to face. What we do know is that He is perfect).
One of my favorites: "If I could snap my fingers and be non autistic, I would not because then I wouldn't be me. Autism is part of who I am." - Temple Grandin
Acceptance to me is the act of "letting go." I love my son. Dayton is the driving force in my life. While yes, I need to ensure that he is as self sufficient as possible and a contributing member of society, I also need to ensure that Dayton feels accepted for who he is, and how he thinks. Dayton deserves happiness just as any other child does. If I can not accept Dayton myself, how on earth can I expect anyone else to? I've heard many parents say that once they reach the point of complete acceptance, their children blossom, and I'm slowly starting to see this with Dayton as well. I think that my acceptance of him is the most important therapy he could ever receive! It's not that I love Dayton in spite of his autism, it's that I love him because of his autism. There is a huge difference, and our children can feel it!
The second most important therapy is your child's EDUCATION. Manitoba's education system has much to be desired, especially when it comes to education of children on the autism spectrum. My goodness, with statistics at 1 in 150 children being diagnosed with a form of autism, you would think our province (all provinces, the whole country with the exception of Alberta) would do educate their school divisions on autism!!! With the rapidly growing numbers of people being diagnosed with autism, our government places little priority upon autism. Inclusion is wonderful in theory, but oh my goodness... It just isn't working! A fellow blogger who's son has Asperger's syndrome has pulled her son out of school last year after her little one sat in the middle of a circle, while his teacher had the rest of the class sit in a circle around him. She instructed each student to look at this poor little boy and tell him what they didn't like about him! This, this "they" call inclusion?! Shortly after this, his mom pulled him out of school and decided to home school him.
Camp cure and camp neurodiversity... One thing to remember is that what ever camp you belong to at this point in time, to ACCEPT EACH OTHER and be SUPPORTIVE of each other. We're all doing the best we can for our children, and our goal for our kids is the same - EDUCATION. This is education for ourselves, the people involved in their education, the people around them who love them as well as our kids, and we're all doing what we can to help our children be contributing members of society. Both sides love their children! Both sides feel attacked by the other, and this needs to change. Many autism parents feel judged and criticized by the world already, and the last thing that's needed is for them to feel attacked by the autism community. We need to band together, no matter what our views are, we still have one thing in common: Autism Awareness!!! What we need is one unanimous voice. We need to accept each other's work, we may not agree or see the relevance, or understand, but it is crucial that we accept and do not attack each other anymore!!!
Consider yourselves hugged!!!