March 26, 2012

The Plea

Posted in My Take on Autism tagged , , , at 8:22 am by autismmommytherapist

I’ve been writing this blog for two years now (happy anniversary to me!), and of course, over time, I’ve altered a few things in its format. When I was just starting out, I decided it would be a great idea to ask people to “guest blog”. While all of my requests were met with gracious permission, I eventually felt I was just adding one more thing to a long “to do” list of incredibly busy women, so I abandoned the effort. On occasion however I still link to other pieces of writing, those that either cover an incredibly important topic, or just knock me flat with their eloquence, or both.

Today is one of those days.

It’s been almost eight years since my eldest son was diagnosed with autism, and in those early days of discovery, acceptance, and grief, I initially found myself turning to the internet for solace and information. While at that time autism was becoming a more prevalent topic it certainly wasn’t a household word, was in fact an issue I’d never even worried about while carrying my son. Still, when I found myself eager for more information than my pediatrician had handed me on Justin’s “diagnosis day”, it was simple to locate websites discussing the many potential causes, treatments, and outcomes for a child on the spectrum.

After exploring many of these sites I found I wanted to hear from parents going through the experience themselves, so I could garner opinions on everything from what type of therapy to use, whether or not to dabble in the biomedical arena, even how I should approach teaching my child how to communicate. I dove into the chat room forum, reluctant to post my opinions, but eager to learn from others. In many of those rooms I found incredibly respectful discussions on the merits of one type of therapy over another, and thoughts on the pros and cons of the gluten-free casein-free diet so widely used in the autism community. I even discovered suggestions on how best to take care of oneself after the initial autism diagnosis, some of which I should have explored more thoroughly. Many of the threads were thoughtful, kind, and non-judgmental.

And many of them were not.

I rarely drop into those virtual dialogues anymore, due in part to the fact that some of them were upsetting, but mostly due to the fact that keeping two young kids on the spectrum alive while trying to write about the experience pretty much sucks up all of my free time. I’m well aware however that while some progress toward a more civil approach to our differences has been accomplished, that we as a community still have a long road to travel. It’s something I think about often, and is the genesis behind everything I write. This is why when I saw this post being recommended on the Autism Speaks website not too long ago I actually remembered to bookmark it for later, then surprisingly recalled having done so and read it that evening.

These days, that is a major accomplishment for me in and of itself.

It’s an amazing essay, written by Leigh Merryday on her blog “flappiness is…”. As I read it I kept wondering if she was going to address this issue or that, and at every paragraph I was happily rewarded with a cogent discussion on each particularly divisive factor so rampant within our community. She called it “Silencing Ourselves”- A Plea for Civility in the ASD Community”, and it is one of the best-written essays dealing with this topic I’ve come across in years..

In fact, I’m quite jealous I didn’t write it myself.

I know we all have just so much free time on our hands, but if you have a few minutes, please check out her writing at the link below. It’s a great read, and an important one. And while I’m a great “purger” of bookmarks, this is one I’m keeping around for a long, long, time.

Thanks for writing this Ms. Merryday, and may everyone who does so please take it to heart.


1 Comment »

  1. Cindy Toomey said,

    That was excellent. Thanks for sharing Kim!

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