Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Autism....join the club
While driving yesterday evening, I was brought to tears unexpectedly. That is pretty rare for me. I was following a pickup truck (which is pretty commonplace here) and on it's tailgate was an Autism awareness ribbon (becoming more commonplace). My eyes have been trained to recognize this sign, sort of like a badge in this club that I was brought into, kicking and screaming, unwillingly, and now with some acceptance. My thoughts turned to "how many more?". At what point will we (families with Autism) be the majority? What will change our course, collison course it would seem, between our children and our environment. I am tired of the debates. I am tired of the lies from the CDC and the AAP, that vaccines are completely safe. I am tired of the debate that rates continue to rise even though thimerisol has been removed. It is NOT just thimerisol. When you look at toxic burdens, do we not think formaldehyde and aluminum are also toxins (which are still in vaccines)? Do we not think the prevalent use of bleach, pesticides, herbicides, irradiation of our veggies and nuts with jet fuel byproduct, etc. are to blame too, are these not toxins our young are saturated with? And what of aspartame, MSG, and other neurotoxins. Evidently sugar is the enemy but our allegience to "sugar free" is so much more deadly to our brains. This is SO different than my early childhood. I can remember when many of the "convenience" foods were starting to be born. Rice-a-Roni, boxed Mac-n-cheese, more fast food restaurant, many things with several forms of MSG. So, although some of the toxins have been removed from vaccines, there are SO many more forms we are not looking at. We now think of things like swiffers and clorox wipes as "must haves". But, what are they leaving behind, unseen? Once you have a child with Autism, the more you learn the more you want to go backwards. Go back to the old way of cooking, less convenience but more real ingredients. Growing our own food, using only vinegar and baking soda to clean with. Maybe extreme to some but facing Autism can strip you of your desires for convenience and leave in its wake an unending burning desire to find out what has caused this in your child and fix it, no matter what the cost. How can you convey that to someone carrying their first child? My mind goes there, everytime I see a pregnant woman. How do I tell her "Be careful!!". You can't, but I wish I had some clue, an understanding of our human frailty. The human body is miraculous and yet not impenetrable. We all have our paths but 1 in 150 children will be diagnosed with Autism. The rates just keep rising. Without some change, understanding, we will soon be the majority, and that is not a good thing. I have seen a look inside my son in a way few have without Autism in their life. I have seen the test results showing chronic inflammation, including in his brain. I have seen the signs that yeast has dug its way into his stomach lining, leaving holes that allow undigested proteins from wheat and dairy to get through. I understand better the intimate relationship between the gut and brain. I understand why "one bite of cake won't hurt him" is so painful to hear, because yes, just one piece can hurt him. I know the looks of people not understanding why my 5 year old throws himself on the ground screaming and crying when our 3 1/2 year old neighbor isn't out to play. Their development is probably closer than I would like in terms of milestones. Although dealing with the tantrum is not fun, I rejoice at his desire to even play with someone to that level. So I feel like we need a secret handshake. So when I see another mom, struggling with their toddler in the parking lot of school, the shame and frustration and pain evident on her face, I can approach and help with the understanding of "I've been there, I can help". I had this scene a few weeks ago. A little one, who was in M's class until he transferred out, on the parking lot ground, screaming as if he was on fire, the mother, young and slight, struggling to get ahold of his thrashing body. I didn't get to know the mom like I would have liked and so I was afraid to approach, having been in that situation before, just trying to get through it and back to your car to cry in peace. I wish there was a sign, an understanding, we are the same, I know what you deal with, even if it is not exactly like what I deal with. My heart has been broken too and is healing in new, different ways. We have been sewn together, in this quilt of Autism. Each our own patch, unique traits, gifts and challenges, but coming together to show the world we must change our ways. How many more squares to be added to that quilt before we are done?