Since Anna’s diagnosis, I’ve read books, got on a number of waiting lists, watched documentaries, and searched the internet.
I’ve run into a wall. I’m waiting for her therapies to begin. Waiting to hear back from government agencies that are supposed to “help”. Waiting to figure out what I can do to help her.
Ultimately, I’d like to be her primary “therapist”. But without spending an incredible amount of money that we don’t have, I simply have to wait to find out what I can do for her at home. I’ve looked at websites, asked around on internet forums, and read a few books on the subject.
And that is where I’m torn. Some documentaries and books insist that Autism is merely a variation of the human experience and while the child should be taught how to function in a Neurotypical world, there is no “cure”, per say. Others insist that it is an illness in need of a cure. Still others fall somewhere in the middle where they say that while “some” ASD kids are able to recover or be cured, since some experienced a trauma or toxic overload of some kind that caused the Autism symptoms, other children are simply “born that way” and cannot ever overcome their Autism. And it’s not simply the “experts”–doctors, parents, researchers, teachers–taking these opposite ends of the spectrum (pun intended), but people with Autism staking a claim in either camp.
Some of the more famous individuals with Autism who now speak out as advocates have taken a stance of “This is simply who I am, and I will always have it, but there are ways to teach Autistic persons to be self-sufficient and self-advocating.” And yet there are few others (very few in comparison, actually) who say they have overcome Autism and consider it something of their past. Since I would consider an Autistic person the truest of all experts on the subject, I would like to follow their lead. But how can I, when even they are split?
And then there is my own divide, as a crunchy Christian. As someone who is crunchy, I am not opposed to the possibility of a natural remedy for almost anything. I am also of the mind that an overload of toxicity is a very real thing, and that some are more sensitive to these things than others. I have known–or heard accounts from trusted sources–of people treating mental illness, cancer, and a number of other “chronic” illnesses with diet and lifestyle changes. Even I have managed to adjust and rebalance my hormones using diet and supplements.
And yet with this… With the mystery that is Autism, including the plethora of possible causes (vaccines? pollution? ultrasound? mother’s toxicity from previous habits and medications? food allergy? electromagnetic field disruption? Lyme disease? leaky gut?… I’ve heard it all), there is part of me that wants to simply accept it. With so little certainty, do I really want to waste my energy and money trying this alternative therapy or that supplement? And if Anna is the type of child who simply has Autism that was caused by nothing but her own genetics, do I want her to think that I’m desperate to change her, insisting that she has some kind of disease?
This is where the Christian in me comes into play. I believe she is who God created her to be. Her Autism isn’t easy, to be sure, but I must say, her version of it is one of the most beautiful, affectionate, happy, and sweet versions I have ever seen. God has given me such a precious jewel in her, and I don’t want to be angry or unaccepting of her. I don’t want her to have the impression that I think there is something “wrong” with her, or that I need to change who she is fundamentally. I do want to give her the skills to be independent and to learn, but not at the expense of wasting my too-short time with her searching for a cure that will never come.
But if it CAN be resolved with a supplement or special diet or some other natural remedy, why would I want to avoid that?
But if there is no cure for HER, do I want to spend the better part of her childhood trying this, that, and the other thing on her, taking her from one person to another, spending money we don’t have, all in vain?
I don’t want to discount a possible cure, but neither do I want to chase that mythical pot of gold to come up empty.
So where does this leave me?
I have no idea.
I have no doubt I’m in the same position that many ASD parents have been in before me. Surely many others have gone through this process, unsure of what is best for their child, and how their time, money, and effort would best be spent, and at some point, feeling absolutely lost and having no direction at all. We want what every parent wants: To do what’s best for our daughter, but in a way that she knows that we love her and accept her just as God created her.
And what that means in a real, practical way? I still have no idea.