Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Question is How not Why

Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but the other week yet another debate about vaccines raged on my Facebook wall.

The story goes like this.

I posted a link to an article, which says that vaccines are not linked to autism.  I posted it not for the article itself but because of the Facebook comments to the article, which of were of course were road rage on a page a mixed bag but had enough of a preponderance of people believing the link between autism and vaccines to cause me to repost it.

And we all know by now that when I am irritated, I copy/paste.  Some people throw things, I copy/paste.

It's official, vaccines are autism's abortion.  Meaning, virtually no issue within autism is as polarizing as the vaccine debate and the very mention of it gets people's gander up, you believe what you believe to the exclusion of all other opinions.  My opinion is right and yours is wrong (add expletives here).

And within the world of autism, where just about any topic from diagnosis to therapy to diet sparks the polarizing void, that is saying a lot.

It takes very little to get autistic parents, including me flinging their righteousness.  But nothing so much as the topic of vaccines.

Now just to be clear, this is not a post about vaccines or about whether they are the best thing ever or evil incarnate (which is pretty much where you stand with no middle ground.  This is not a post praising or condemning either side of this debate.

You do or don´t want to vaccinate your kids?  Your choice.  I don't care.

What this is about is the sheer number of people who are focused on what causes autism.

My daughter has autism.  Yes, one day I would like to know what causes it, and particularly if it is preventable in some way.  I hope that one day science uncovers the mysteries of the human brain and will discover if there is a prevention for autism and other neurological diseases and disorders.  This is important work which needs to be done.  Autism,  in its most severe forms causes a lot of suffering, hopelessness and for most families dealing with someone with autism, autism can easily become the center of one´s life.  Even in it´s less severe forms there is much of the same suffering, hopelessness and worry that comes with not always knowing what the triggers are, not being able to shut them out or teach our children to cope successfully with them.  The worry that our children will spend their childhoods being ostracized and grow up to be adults who are isolated, alone and lonely.

It's a life full of challenges and roadblocks.

I do wish my child didn't have to go through it.  I wish her milestones were effortless, were nearly invisible and hardly even noticed.  My daughter has to fight tooth and nail for every milestone and each one is under the microscope.  And she is not severely autistic, her communication is not so impaired that she is locked up inside herself.  She can express herself verbally.  But still, she works very hard, being asked to put aside her own natural order of things.

I wish it was easier for her.

Yes, I would love to know what caused her autism and I would love it if science found a way to prevent it.  I hope that one day they will uncover its mysteries and that no children or parents will have to suffer.

But I can't control science (especially since I am not a scientist).  Sure I can Google and read with the best of them.  But every position is someone working an angle.  I can't get in the lab and prove whether a hypothesis is true. And neither can all those other parents.  The ones that are for vaccines or against, for casein or gluten free or against.  They all Googled same as me and adopted their positions.

I prefer not to spend my time focusing on why my child got autism but instead to focus on my child, on finding ways to understand her, to help her to advocate for her.  That is my job as a parent.

And while I will still read the science and the issues because I am interested in it, winning others over to my own views is not my purpose.  Proving myself right and someone else wrong doesn't do anything to help my daughter.

Although I still reserve the right to copy/paste.

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