"Your son lives in a parallel universe." That was the first blow. A harsh sentence uttered by the teacher in charge of the little family daycare center my son had been attending for a few months. It was announced that our son had a "problem." That was in February 2012. A lot has happened since then...
For all the Duffys, Harpers, Harbs, Wallins and Brazeaus, there are the quiet, reasoned and compassionate voices of the Segals, Dallaires and Cowans, and, yes, the Munsons, fighting for the humanity of Canadians instead of the loyalty of their base. They have tackled the political order in both houses and in every party to restore this country's image in the world.
In reality, you need to be extremely rich in order to try all the possible interventions that claim to have had children recover from autism. Biomedical treatment such as chelation, which is the process of removing toxic metals from the body and hyperbaric oxygen treatment are some examples of costly alternative medicine that most insurance companies do not pay for.
We live in a province where language is a huge issue. I can't even begin to tell you how many times people have said to me "Oh your son doesn't speak French?! Do you realize you live in Quebec"? Really, thank you kindly for pointing that out. Do YOU realize my son is autistic and for the first five years of his life barely spoke?
What gets me so upset is the dehumanization of an autistic child when they are put in a cage or dungeon-like living quarters and treated worse than you would treat a dog. While I do sympathize with parents who have to handle a child with violent behaviour, I will never understand how a parent can murder their own child.
Today, science is making it possible to remove "genetic errors" by changing the DNA in the ovum. I am left asking what constitutes a genetic error. Missing a limb? Cleft palate? Down syndrome? Autism? And who will be the arbiter of these decisions as we learn more about our genes and heredity? Do YOU want to be God? The point is who decides who is perfect, normal, and genetically acceptable? And when? In utero, at birth, later in life when an "imperfection" shows up? Perhaps in later years when one becomes a burden to family or society? Quality-of-life and utilitarian ethics (greatest good for the greatest number) could make for dangerous bedfellows.
On Thursday May 9, I was one of 10 speakers who was given the opportunity to grace the stage of the Winter Garden Theatre. This was the "Top Ten Event," in support of Autism Ontario. Each speaker had 10 minutes to offer words of wisdom on the "one thing you should know before you die!" Read on for my five survival tips.
Raising awareness is often a good first step, and functions well as a means to an end -- but it cannot be viewed as an end in itself. Activism simply does not end with the sharing of a Facebook post or a retweet; it's great to tell your friends that something is important enough to share with them, but it's virtually meaningless if it doesn't lead to further action.
At the coffee shop, 10-year-old Clara sits across from me, trying not to let the frustration show on her face. "Do you know," she asks, "what it's like to have to call the police, because your brother's threatening your father with a knife?" Support for people with autism has grown in recent years, but is still badly lacking in many ways.
One late spring day, there was a party invitation from Laurie on my desk when I walked into French class. Laurie was the "funny one" of the very popular girls. She was snarky before snarky was a thing. She had a quick wit that stung. I'd seen girls driven to tears by her so often I lost count. Our only conversations had been her asking me for help with algebra, so I had no idea why I was invited.
While volunteering and working with autistic children, Lisa Fraser noticed one of the key therapeutic devices of the day was, in her eyes, really ugly. The weighted vests was like slapping a label on kids and saying "Hey, look at me! I'm different." She believed that bringing a better design and even some style into these kids' lives, was an endeavour worth pursuing.
It used to be that modern medicine was a thing to be venerated, a doctor's words regarded like golden nectar of wisdom. Now, not so much. Once upon a time vaccinations were seen as miracles in a needle, warding off potentially life-threatening illnesses. In the States, the unvaccinating movement has turned epidemic, with as many as one in 10 parents refusing to vaccinate their children.