Monday, April 07, 2014

April is Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month and people are making me mad about it.  I feel like most people are great about it, truly wanting to be more aware of how they can help people with autism, families with Autism, etc.  My cousin Bridget posted a cute picture of her and her son Liam wearing blue for World Autism Day.  I have friends who are moms of kids with autism who post facts about autism, Anthony's school is doing a blog post a day ( I wrote one ) about it, these are all good things.  Not so good things include the ongoing love for Autism Speaks, a corporation that I really think is more damaging than good for people with autism, and just people in general.  Also, it seems like Autism Awareness Month sometimes turns into Vaccines Awareness Month and it drives me crazy.

Here's what might happen - a Facebook friend of mine might post something about vaccines.  Sometimes, the article has a disgusting picture with it, I won't post an example, because it's DISGUSTING, but like a child covered in welts and bumps, with a headline about how mumps is making a comeback.  It's so patronizing and insulting because I don't think that's what mumps looks like and also?, don't try and scare me with pictures!  I can't unsee those things!  Anyway, so the friend posts it and then someone else will comment that the government can't be trusted, or they don't want their child getting AUTISM and this is what really makes me mad.  Because while I agree that the government can't be trusted, I really feel like my pediatrician can be trusted, and if I didn't feel like he could be, then I think I should get a new pediatrician!  But what kills me is that there are people who compare having mumps or measles or whooping cough with having autism.  Having a disease which can KILL their child with having autism.  The mind boggles.

Also what might happen is an Autism Advocacy group I follow on Facebook (The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism) might post an article about how they are not supporting Chili's Restaurant supporting some Autism group which mentions that maybe vaccines cause autism.  The advocacy group says that any comments which say that vaccines DO cause autism will be deleted, and then so many people get SO MAD and what about their RIGHTS?, they ask, is this SOVIET RUSSIA, or AMERICA? and I think go to hell, dummies!  Why should you get to keep perpetrating this MYTH of vaccines causing autism on an autism advocacy page?

I have Facebook friends who believe that vaccines cause their child to have autism.  One friend posts pictures of her infant child making eye contact, saying that he didn't have autism then!  Ugh, it drives me crazy, but what can I do?  I can't post and say, um, yeah he did, because I don't really know and it's none of my business but man, I wish she would shut up about it.  They post about how much they HATE autism and they don't want to call it Autism Awareness Month but Autism ACTION Month.  They want to take action and get rid of autism, because they hate it!  And I think, I don't know what kind of wizards they are but I can't separate autism from Anthony enough to abolish it without thinking that Anthony might go, too.

I try and be patient with people -  I am lucky enough to have four kids, so I have a very clear example of how four kids with the same parents can have the same vaccines and if only one out of that four has autism, maybe vaccines didn't cause it?  Also, if maybe another child out of the four is kind of a weirdo, sensory-wise, maybe that can prove to me that genetics might be a cause of autism.  I read another comment from a 'scientist' at Autism Speaks which said that 'probably' the mother's age might have something to do with autism and I mean, I'm no scientist but do we say probably in science a lot?  Without any actual facts to back it up?  Because if we do than my scientific statement is that since I was the youngest when I had Anthony and he is the only one with autism, I 'probably' disagree with that 'scientist's' theory about the old moms.  But anyway sometimes when people have only one child and that one child has autism, maybe it's easier to blame vaccines, since they have no built in focus group like me.  I know it's really hard to have a child with autism, I want someone to blame sometimes too!  But then I think - and this is the KEY - I think what good does it do Anthony if I find someone to blame?  In what way does that help him or enrich his life?  And then I think, it doesn't, not one bit and then I forget it.

Anyway.  Here we are in April again, Autism Awareness Month.  Funnily enough (ha ha boo hoo) Anthony is having a VERY hard April so far.  He has had two terrible weekends in a row, but I am just hoping it's the darkness before the dawn.  I dream someday maybe the mud in the back yard will clear up and we can go outside and get fresh air and be happier.  It's been a long winter.


Stacey Nicole said...

Oh my, the autism topic can get heated, can it not? I recently read a post (shared via FB) stating that it was a gut issue that is probably causing autism. Um, sure. I don't know.

As for vaccines causing it? I don't know either. My husband and I discussed vaccines and possible effect at length with our oldest son's doctor, and trusted her enough to give them to him (husband's identical twin has a severely autistic son, so yes, it was a major concern). Our oldest (six in July) hit every milestone on target, except speech. Two weeks after he got his four year well-child visit (at which time, his doctor finally diagnosed him as speech delayed), and therefore shots, he completely changed, so much so that he was recommended to be tested for autism. He was noted to instead have sensory processing disorder.

We have some friends who think there is nothing wrong with our son and some people who barely know him assume he is autistic because of his traits (the speech therapist he got when he started kindergarten this year was surprised that our son was not put on the spectrum, or at least given a diagnosis of PDD-NOS). Were his changes caused by his shots? We'll never know. I say not, but hey, anything is possible.

You made a comment about a friend saying how her son was making eye contact and therefore was not autistic (at least, that's how I read it). We have a friend who has a son the same age (within a month) as our younger son. She sees every little thing he does as being autistic, including stacking up blocks. She could be right. I am not an expert, but I see that her son does almost everything that my SPD kiddo does not do (use public bathrooms, play in large groups, go in bounce houses, et cetera), and it makes me wonder how many parents are quick to want their kid labeled.

I guess I have no room to talk, because I have plenty of concerns about our three year old and he is not as severe as his brother (the three year old shows more OCD and ODD behavior). Every kid presents differently.

P.S. your concern about getting rid of autism means getting rid of your son is, in a way, legit. We have a friend with Down Syndrome. Her parents have been asked if they wish their daughter were normal, but as they put it, "K would not be K if she did not have Down Syndrome." Changing what a person has changes them too.

Joanne said...

Anthony has pretty profound SPD, too, only he is a sensory seeker. Honestly, I think SPD is harder to deal with than autism and I give you credit for finding out and doing what you can to help your son thrive, I know it's hard when people can't really put a name on it. I mean, I don't know how Anthony got autism, I can't imagine it was his shots and I can't imagine what it was. I worry that it was me, that I did something, ate something, just - DID something wrong when I was pregnant with him but I don't know! All I can do now is ask myself my age old question, which is does it help to wonder about it? Does it help Anthony? The answer is always no, so I have quit worrying about it.