Here’s something refreshing: an autism post on the Huffington Post that I would recommend people to read. Shifting Focus: 8 Facts About Autism the Media Is Not Covering is by Holly Robinson Peete.
I don’t agree with everything there. But, hey, I don’t agree with everything anyone writes (even some of what I’ve written!). Ms. Peete is known partly for her association with another celebrity autism mom, one whose methods and stances I find little to support. But, so what? Ms. Peete is a supporter of biomed. But, so what? Read her post. That is far from her main focus. Ms. Peete’s post is largely from a parent’s perspective and focuses on child autistics. Again, so what? She has some good things to say.
Here are her eight points:
1. Autism Is Unaffordable
Ms. Peete doesn’t put this in terms of being a burden. Instead she points out that therapies can be expensive. She doesn’t mention which ones specifically, but just speech and occupational therapy can be well beyond the means of most families. Figure 3-4 sessions a week at $100 or more a session.
Getting insurance to help out is far from easy.
2. Parental Guilt
So if you are blessed enough to afford it, in my experience it seems that some kids can improve tremendously with a mix of intensive behavioral, biomedical and other treatments. But the fact is so many likely will never be “recovered” and nothing, I mean nothing, makes a parent feel more guilty than thinking you could’ve “fixed” your kid but… well you didn’t or couldn’t afford to.
OK, I would have felt better with “helped” than “fixed”, but the idea is there. And, yeah, we could get into the whole “guilt is what drives the biomed movement” thing, but let’s not for now.
3. Puberty Plus Autism Can Be a Volatile Mix
Still in my future, but it is a future I have strong worries about.
4. Minority Children are Diagnosed with Autism Years Later Than Other Children
I think I’ve made it clear in the past few years that this is a major issue for me. Minority children are diagnosed later, and often never diagnosed. This is just plain wrong.
5. Autism Can Be Tough on A Marriage
This is a subject that I won’t go into. Ms. Peete points out that her husband has a book on the subject coming out.
6. Autism’s Effect on Siblings
Again, I won’t go into this much. I wish Ms. Peete didn’t put it in terms of what the siblings of autism “endure”, but life as the sibling of a disabled child is different from what we read about 99.99% of the time
7. Adults Living with Autism
Ms. Peete points out that the “face of autism is changing”. Well, let’s take it that the face the public sees is changing. Whether one believes in the “epidemic” or not, one thing everyone should be able to work together on is making life better for autistic adults.
8. Autism Advocates Who Actually Have Autism:
Hey, we just had a post about one. I wonder if Ms. Peete would join me in welcoming this
That said, my view is that it is time to shift the balance in advocacy. Autistic advocates should be the standard, not something worth commenting upon. Autism is spectrum, and there must be room for non-austistic advocates who stand for autistic family members or friends.
Again, I think it is easy to fixate on what divides us. But, for me, if more of the biomed movement sounded like Ms. Peete, I think coalitions would be much easier to form.