Call me weird, but I am a fan of politics. As the presidential election season starts to heat up, I find myself more and more fascinated by the psychology of political arguments. I have always found it interesting how two reasonable, intelligent people can look at the same issue and come away with completely polar opposite opinions and stances. I have always appreciated the journalists and bloggers who simply present both sides of an issue and leave it to the reader to arrive at his own opinion.
When I was asked to become a contributor to Jersey Moms (thank you again, ladies!!) I thought it was an amazing opportunity to communicate some of the ideas, thoughts and emotions of a typical ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) family to “neurotypical” families. Sometimes I have to remind myself that my opinions may differ from other families dealing with the exact same issues.
We are not a homogenous group. The opinions in our little sub-community vary as widely as Democrats and Republicans. There are disagreements about every issue and topic imaginable. There are no absolute truths, and I have found that, much like arguing about religion and politics, there is little chance that you will be able to change someone’s mind. So, in the spirit of the political season, I would like to lay out some of the issues and disagreements we have in our little world:
1) Accept vs. Attack: In a recent post on my personal blog I wrote about this topic at length. The stark contrast in opinion in this area has always fascinated me.
The Attack camp believes their child was injured, altered or somehow affected by an outside force. They believe their child’s condition can be treated and even healed. They seek out biomedical treatments, homeopathic therapies and behavioral interventions in an effort to treat their child’s condition much like any other illness or affliction.
The Accept camp believes their child was born in God’s image. He is different, but equal. He sees and interacts with the world uniquely, but is beautiful and perfect in his own way. Their role is to love and guide their child through his path in life and educate the world toward more tolerance and acceptance of special needs individuals.
A Google search on these topics will reveal hundreds of examples of otherwise wonderful, caring people from both sides of the issue yelling, screaming and insulting each other. And that is sad.
2) Causation: Bring this one up at a party with ASD families and watch the sparks fly! Some believe vaccines and certain ingredients in vaccines administered in the first years of life are contributors to the increase in Autism rates. Others believe environmental toxins and pollutants are the culprits. Some believe genetics are the primary causative factor. Yet others believe there really has been no significant increase in Autism, it has always been with us, and the perceived rise in ASD rates is due to more sensitive diagnostic tools and broader definitions of the disorder. Nobody knows for sure yet. But that doesn’t keep people from screaming at each other.
3) Treatment Protocols: Another hotly-debated topic in our world. ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis), Biomedical, Gluten Free/ Casein Free diets, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Music Therapy: the topics are endless. One side of the spectrum argues that we should pursue CURES for Autism. The other side, often represented by higher-functioning individuals actually on the spectrum, argues that these people are not “broken”, are not “diseased” and deserve tolerance and respect for being exactly how they were born to be.
Right now I can introduce you to a blogger who considers ABA therapy akin to torture, and another who believes the doctors administering biomedical treatments for Autism are “snake-oil salesmen.”
Of course, I have my own opinions on all of these topics. Believe me, “middle-of-the-road” has never been used to describe me. But I will reserve my opinions for other forums and offer just one in this forum: Civil disagreement and debate are becoming lost art forms. When we become so entrenched in our views that we close our mind and begin personally attacking those with whom we disagree, we stop growing. And that is tragic.
Jerry is a Jersey Dad and also blogs at http://baconandjuiceboxes.blogspot.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @JTurning and on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bacon-and-Juice-Boxes/320474061331829
This is an original post to JerseyMomsBlog.