I read something disturbing over at Respectful Insolence today. The father of a little girl with autism has taken to all manner of nonsense to try to “fix” his “toxic” daughter.
I am officially done feeling sorry for these parents. And here’s why.
Conventional treatments for autism include behavioural therapy, and depending on comorbid conditions and symptoms, some medications.
The “alternative” therapies in this case? Repeated chelation-provoked urinalysis, stem cell injections into the lumbar spinal CSF, eliminating gluten from the diet, measuring excretions for metal, nifty gadgets like the Doctor’s Data Lab, lipophilic detoxification, EDTA and glutathione pushes, stress detoxification systems, and graphing the progress of all this — because if it’s in a graph, it’s science.
If any of these barbaric, torturous treatments were magically legitimate (for the sake of this argument) and were practiced within “Western medicine” you better believe, as one commenter said, that “the AoA [Age of Autism] people would be up in arms about the ‘torture’ of ‘allopathic’ medicine!” They sure would. And vaccines are toxic? Right.
I understand that having a child with a disability is hard (as much as I can, not being in that situation myself but seeing it second-hand through my job). I understand that this can be a great stress on parents and families as a whole. Sometimes people get divorced due to the strain. Sometimes parents develop depression and anxiety because of the child’s frequent and special needs.
But one of the worst things about these sorts of parents specifically, is that they seem unwilling or unable to accept their children as they are within the context of caring for their needs. They seem more interested in changing them to make them more “normal” and when that inevitably fails, they continue to see their child as “broken”, to be fixed with any tool available one after another. This attitude is profoundly dehumanizing to autistic people. All of the time spent with these misguided attempts to fix their kids is time not spent getting to know them and time not spent helping them with established effective treatments.
[Keep in mind that I’m not saying that they don’t love their children. That is absurd.]
Children with autism can be helped, but they are not “toxic” or “broken” kids in need of “fixing” with frequent invasive “treatments”. Putting these kids through all this twice victimizes them — 1) they are associated with a stigma of disability and 2) it is assumed that they will never be happy, and their family will never be happy, unless they can become “normal”.
At first I thought “It’s hard. I get that they are just trying to do their best for their child, however misguided” but then I stopped to think about the motivations of these particular people. It is a subtle distinction that ignites my wrath. Rather than provide as much adaptation as possible for the child to reduce strain in daily activities (accepting the fact that the child may always live with some level of disability), they strive to fix them no matter what the necessary endurance as long as the child comes out 100% normal as compared to other kids in their age group. They are not doing this necessarily maliciously, but it is certainly awful.
And that is why I no longer feel sorry for these parents. I do not approve of their coping mechanism, I do not approve of the way they dehumanize their children, and I do not approve of torturing kids who are already dealing with hardships associated with the sometimes challenging nature of autism.
There are countless parents of autistic children that work just as hard to do what they have to do to accept their child and help them overcome their challenges, all the while realizing that their child is an individual with individual needs who is not toxic, but rather afflicted with a neurological disorder. Would we subject children with cerebral palsy to this nonsense? Why do we continue to torture our autistic children?