Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Healing Autism...

The first day I ever read a blog (that I was aware of…I quite possibly had seen a blog in the past but wasn’t aware of what it was), I stumbled upon comments from this post and told myself that I was keeping myself out of the intense and passionate autism blogring. But then, obviously, I changed my mind…I, having been diagnosed with autism at age three and having worked with children being diagnosed on the spectrum for over 12 years, foolishly believe I have some insight into this subject…I am also blessed to have very few readers, which helps when expressing opinions on so the oh-so-controversial subject of causes and cures for autism.

I work in early intervention and have indeed witnessed what “recovery”. What I mean by “recovery”, is simply that the child has lost his or her diagnosis and lives what society perceives as a fully, inclusive and functional life, save the few idiosyncrasies that we still have, yet suppress or conceal since we have been told by enough people that they are “strange”. When people talk about a “cure” for autism, I often wonder what that would look like? Would a “cure” remove interests labeled to be perseverative? If a child who was 9 or 12 or 17 was “cured”, would he or she suddenly know how to communicate effectively, understand novels, politics, art and poetry, care about economics, understanding lying (my mom had to explain what a lie was to me and why people did this), care about being popular, name brands and getting good grades? Perhaps it is my own tendency to think in pictures, but I hear people say things, like “I want to be happy” or “successful” or “fulfilled”, I often think, “yes, but what does that LOOK like?”. What will your life actually look like if you have or are these things? I consider myself to be very “happy”, “successful”, and “fulfilled”, yet conventionally, I do not have what society traditionally expects for someone of my age, gender, appearance, etc. Yet, I really don’t care, because, as I mentioned, I am happy, fulfilled and my own vision of successful. Now this is turning out to be a long post, but I do have a point and believe I might actually get to it eventually…so back to the title of this post, I don’t believe autism needs to be cured. It needs to be healed.

I simply can’t wrap my head around what a “cure” for autism would look like. And I have yet to meet anyone who can effectively explain it to me. But I know what “healing” autism would look least to me…and in case you have read thus far, are not bored or irritated and still care about what I think, HEALING autism would include cleaning up the environment that is contributing to this diagnosis, detoxing our little friends bodies, removing pollutants, preservatives, hormones and mercury from our food, immunizations, cleansers and bath products AND creating a safer, more inclusive and less judgmental society who accepts and encourages what they now label as “strange” or “atypical behavior” (Whew! We have a lot of work ahead). Maybe, just maybe, we might want to try practicing less judgment and scrutiny within our own community.

Oh yeah, and by the way, if your wondering what caused my “autism”…it was my refrigerator mother who paid too much attention to my baby sister…How do I know this? Well, the doctor told her, and surely a medical doctor could NEVER be wrong.


Blogger Octoberbabies said...

I can't even in my wildest dreams imagine what your mother felt like when she was told she caused your autism. (shaking head in disgust)

I want India to grow up and create whatever happiness she desires. I have no interest in "curing" her. (I know you understand this from the comments you've left on my blog.) A while back I wrote a post (probably way too emotionally) in which I said that I wanted her to grow up and do whatever will make her happy. I just want to make sure she has the tools necessary to thrive in this harsh and often non-understanding world. I hope I'm doing the right thing - she didn't come with instructions :-)

Thank you, SquareGirl, for posting this.


4:29 PM  
Blogger Octoberbabies said...

BTW, I forgot to add - the concept of "recovery" baffles me. I don't really "get" it. That's like me saying I can "recover" from being female, or a brunette.

4:32 PM  
Blogger SquareGirl said...

I can tell you that you ARE doing the right things for India. In many ways you actually remind me a lot my own mom...a little frustrated at times, yet so loving, nurturing and nonjudgemental...she is why I survive in this crazy world, yet I know she feels like she failed because she will call me apologize for random things she feels that she did wrong when I was a child. I was inspired by a post of yours in which you wrote a letter to your son Isaac about things you wanted to know...I am planning to post a letter to my mom about all the things she did right, and despite my lack of the conventional 2 kids, a house and a husband, I am still very, very happy and very well loved by many people.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Wade Rankin said...

"Cure" has become such a divisive word, partly stemming from the inability of everyone to agree on what it is we're trying to cure. I like your alternative of using "heal" because it avoids the debate of whether we're focusing on autism itself or so-called comorbidities.

You've got a great blog going here, SG. Keep 'em coming!

5:15 AM  
Blogger Eileen said...

Thank you so much for this post! As a Mom who wants her son to grow up to be happy, fulfilled and his own vision of success, your story gives me much hope for my little Andrew! Thanks for helping us to "heal" Autism.

7:20 AM  
Blogger SquareGirl said...

Wade, I really enjoy your site as I believe you truly are injecting sense. Thank you for reading my post.

Eileen, I am glad I have inspired some hope for you...this is one of the things I want to do for parents of children diagnosed on the spectrum

2:33 PM  
Blogger OnlineMom said...

I'm glad you felt comfortable enough to share a bit about your personal experience. May no Mother ever again have to go through what your Mom did. Just thinking about it makes my heart hurt.

I have strong feelings about the curing/healing Autism thing. I, personally, don't see a parents' wishes to help or attempt to "fix" the problems their Autistic child faces as a bad thing. I am very proud of all of the things I have done to try and help my son (diet restrictions, supplements, occupational therapy, special-ed, speech therapy) and I will never feel guilty about pursuing them for him. I am very confident that he would not be where he is today (in a regular-ed K class with no special services save for twice/weekly speech therapy and annual IEP's) if it were not for all of the things we have researched and implemented for him in the 3+ years since his initial diagnosis.

I do not judge people who choose not to pursue therapy/treatment for their Autistic child - those who claim to just "accept them as they are". I, however, would've felt remiss had I not done everything in my power to try and help my son overcome things that curtailed his ability to learn, feel happy/satisfied/comfortable and thrive.

I accept my beautiful, thoughtful, sensitive, kind, loving son as he is and would never want to take away from or change his personality - his soul. I believe that those things are what they are and cannot be changed. However - just as I'd help my "neurologically typical" child with anything that might impede his/her quality of life (hyperactivity, inattentiveness, diabetes, anxiety, self-esteem issues, allergies, nocturnal enuresis, impatience) - I will do what I can to help my son who has Autism.

I see much of this "debate" as a matter of semantics. By definition - the word cure means Restoration of health; recovery from disease. A method or course of medical treatment used to restore health. An agent that restores health; a remedy. Heal means To restore to health or soundness; cure. To set right; repair: healed the rift between us. To restore (a person) to spiritual wholeness. Are they really that different?

10:39 AM  
Blogger Irish said...



yes...that's the word I've been looking for. It's been under my nose the entire time.

We're working on it.

7:48 AM  
Blogger Pia Talks said...

Just left a long comment on Queen Bitch's site.

I wasn't diaganosed as a child or even for most of my adulthood.

Thank you so much for your post

1:42 PM  
Blogger Lora said...

Bravo, Bravisimo,Excellent & Thank you! What great insight that you have and I couldn't agree more with you. I once wrote on my blog that I (in so many words) didn't want to cure Griffin because then he wouldn't be .....Griffin. He is who he is and I think that he is perfect just the way he is. It doesn't mean that I don't want him to grow, mature, and become independent because I do wish these things for him more than anything. I believe that his autism is a gift because so far he's the smartest little guy that I have yet to meet and I have learned a lot from it. This is way too long huh? Anyhow, come by and visit us and meet Griffin sometime! BTW, K.C.'s mom sent me over and I am so glad!

12:00 AM  
Blogger mommyguilt said...

You're kidding?! A DOCTOR actually said that? What a moron.

I can't imagine what a "cure" would look like for my SmallBoy. I don't know that I'd want one. Perhaps, a bit better socially so that he's not so naive when he grows up, but other than that, he wouldn't be himself. I want him to be happy, not cured. I want him to have a successful life and I will do what I have to to make sure that is available for him.

This was a wonderful post.
I found you through Sal, and a few others where I've seen you comment, but it was through Sal that I truly found out how absolutely incredible you are!

8:52 AM  
Blogger Estee Klar-Wolfond said...

Hi Squaregirl,
I'm and I think you have the most clever blog about autism I've read yet. I use terms like "be happy, to be fulfilled" as goals for Adam, but I think you said it well...the meter is your own and if you feel happy, or my son as he grows, is the ultimate goal. Life isn't easy, we are not always happy, but we can learn to live with ourselves and become content. Thank you for your wonderful posts. I'll be reading you a lot.


1:43 PM  
Blogger Astryngia said...

Just passing by to say 'hi' and looking forward to reading more of your posts. mommyguilt sent me. :-)

5:37 PM  
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

Beautifully written.

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sure you have heard the song "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club but have you ever given much thought to its meaning? While on Earth, you are living in a world of reincarnation which is governed by the law of karma. Karma begins to propel you as Soul on a personal journey through the universe. Karma ends when you have reached enlightenment and fully realise that this physical reality and the Universe itself is just an illusion. When you reach a state of knowingness that there is but One all pervading essence and that essence or consciousness is You!
So what is Karma and how does it work? While in the illusion you have a soul. This soul lives past, present, and future lives. To grow in love, joy, and awareness, you reincarnate into a series of physical bodies to experience different existences. This road leads to the experiences of being both sexes, all races, religions, and ethnic types throughout many lifetimes.
Karma in its simplicist terms can be described by the biblical statement "as you sow, so also shall you reap". Karma is the principle of cause and effect, action and reaction, total cosmic justice and personal responsibility. It brings 'good' experiences as well as 'bad' - a debt must be repaid and a blessing rewarded.
A more indepth esoteric look at karma gives us the following distinctions: Sanchita Karma: the accumulated result of all your actions from all your past lifetimes. This is your total cosmic debt. Every moment of every day either you are adding to it or you are reducing this cosmic debt. Prarabdha Karma: the portion of your "sanchita" karma being worked on in the present life. If you work down your agreed upon debt in this lifetime, then more past debts surface to be worked on. Agami Karma: the portion of actions in the present life that add to your "sanchita" karma. If you fail to work off your debt, then more debts are added to "sanchita" karma and are sent to future lives. Kriyamana Karma: daily, instant karma created in this life that is worked off immediately. These are debts that are created and worked off - ie. you do wrong, you get caught and you spend time in jail.
As a soul, you experience a constant cycle of births and deaths with a series of bodies for the purpose of experiencing this illusionary world gaining spiritual insights into your own true nature until the totality of all experiences show you Who you really are - the I AM! Until you have learned, you will find that pretending that the rules of karma do not exist or trying to escape the consequences of your actions is futile.
Although it may often "feel" like punishment, the purpose of karma is to teach not to punish. Often the way we learn is to endure the same type of suffering that we have inflicted on others and also rexperience circumstances until we learn to change our thinking and attitudes.
We are all here to learn lessons as spiritual beings in human form. These lessons are designed to help us grow into greater levels of love, joy, and awareness. They teach us our true nature of love. Where we do not choose love, show forgiveness, teach tolerance, or display compassion, karma intervenes to put us back on the path of these lessons. Quite simply, the only way to achieve a state of karmic balance is to be love.
Before you incarnated into your present personality, you agreed to put yourself in the path of all that is you need to learn. Once you got here, you agreed to forget this. Karma is impersonal and has the same effect for everyone. It is completely fair in its workings and it is predictable - "do onto others as you would have them do unto you" is a way to ensure peace and tranquillity in your own life as well as the lives of those you come into contact with. The law of karma is predictable - "as you sow, so shall you reap" what is done to you is the net result of what you have done to others!
Karma gives you the opportunity at every moment to become a better person than you are and to open up to the realization that you are the master of your own fate.
The goal of karma is to give you all the experiences that you need to evolve into greater levels of love, joy, awareness, and responsibility. Karma teaches that you are totally responsible for the circumstances of your life. They keep you on the straight and narrow until you have mastered your vehicle and can ride freely on your own. Once you understand that you are the master of your own circumstances and that everything you experience is a direct result of your past actions due to your thinking and emotional responses you can overcome its seeming negative effects by creating only 'good' karma.
Karma forces us to look beyond ourselves (oneness) so that we can see ourselves as we truly are Whole, Complete, at One with everything. Once we truly understand ourselves, we can see our divinity and our unity with all life.
Karma drives us to service. Love means service. Once you accept total responsibility for your life, you see yourself as a soul in service to God. Once you do, you become a fully realized being, allowing God to experience the illusion through you.
Belief in karma and an understanding of its workings will lead you to a life of bliss. Only your own deeds can hinder you. Until the time comes when we release ourselves from our own self-imposed shackles of limitation and fully understand who and what we are we will live under the mantle of karma. So until that day why not create some wonderful experiences for ourselves by "doing onto others, as we would have them do unto us". personal development

2:40 PM  
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8:57 PM  

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