I am always saddened by the divisive nature of the autism community. It seems that we parents need to pick sides on plenty of issues, or be ridiculed, or even better “educated” by those who hold differing viewpoints. For or against vaccines? Autism Speaks? Medication? Jenny McCarthy? Chelation? We are even supposed to pick sides on whether the “Trip to Holland” allegory is touching or insulting.
When The Boy was first diagnosed (at age 5), I was handed a brochure, and told to contact the Autism Society of America. And that was it. I obviously needed more support than that, and looked to the Internet to join a group in which I could participate to the extent that I wanted to on any given day. I joined a yahoo group of autism parents, and thought, “This will surely help.” I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was confused by all of the differing opinions on things I had never even heard about, and saw actual arguments unfold, in this group of adults whose supposed sole reason for existing was support. I did not remain a member long.
I think we do our children a great disservice by not recognizing that just like autism is a spectrum disorder, the treatments, causes, documentation, and people attempting to assist us are all a part of a larger spectrum, as well. There is no one treatment, no one cause, and no one group that can satisfy all of our needs. If you think that, you are shutting the door to so many other possibilities for your child.
We must trust ourselves to do what is right by our children, as no one knows them as well as we do. But we must not abuse each other in the process, as no one knows what we go through each day better than another parent of a child with autism. We must agree to disagree so that we can move forward, creating better treatments, finding causes, and building better organizations for our community. The divisive nature we have shown thus far is quite possibly holding our cause back, and it will continue to do so, unless we make a change now in how we treat each other.