Sunday, August 11, 2013

Three Things Autism Cure Culture Does to Individuals and Families

Today’s world is bombarded by ‘autistic people’ and parents who claim they have been ‘cured’ or ‘recovered’ by diets, sauna therapies, and other home grown remedies created by parents with little or no training on autism.  Late thirties Raun Kaufman claims his parents home-grown play-based therapy helped cure him of his autism and has made a fortune on his group Autism Therapy Association while some doctor’s question whether or not Raun was ever autistic at all.  Jenny McCarthy, using her credentials gained from her being a Playboy centerfold, claims her son was cured after she gave him a chelatin diet.  Her claims that vaccines cause autism has caused thousands of parents to endanger and lose their children who subsequently were not vaccinated.  Anti-vaccine activists have ‘edited’ MRI vaccine inventor Paul A. Offit’s Wikipedia page to say he studied at a pig farm in Toad Suck, Arkansas when in fact he has a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and an M.D. from the University of Maryland (Jenny meanwhile proudly claims she has her degree from the University of Google).  Offit’s opponents have subsequently sent him death threats over the phone and envelopes filled with anthrax.  When I check my e-mails I will sometimes see e-mails titled Autism Lawsuits in my spam folder, against doctor’s who administer vaccines in America’s already crumbling health care system.  Cannabis magazine featured on it's front page an article called Autism and Cannabis: How Prohibition Makes it Tough on Parents.  Maybe the thousands of autistic people who have ended up on drugs have developed better social skills. 
Today many parents of autistic people feel guilt when their own child doesn’t develop as he/she should and struggle financially and emotionally to get their children the therapies necessary to do so.

                When put under a magnifying glass, maybe we should ask what these stories of ‘amazing recoveries’ really do?  For starters, here’s a few things you may have overlooked:

1)      Autistic people are maimed, injured, and even killed by applied ‘cures.’  An eight-year old autistic boy, Terrence Cottel Jr. was put under a blanket while a minister performed an exorcism to vanquish the demon supposedly causing his autism.  What this accomplished was Terrence suffocated under the blanket and subsequently died.  Despite widespread outrage over what the exorcism caused, the minister was given a slap on the wrist.

2)      Increased guilt among parents of autistic children.  When parents see these ‘cures’ shown in the media, the wonder Why can’t I do the same?  This guilt, already out of control by their children’s struggles, can make it hard for parents to give their autistic and non-autistic children the love and support they need to grow and develop.

3)      Increased financial stress.  Autism services, not provided by health insurance or schools, are expensive and difficult for parents to acquire.  Yet many gullible and unsuspecting parents, many with little education or income, will pay heavy for ‘therapies’ that supposedly cure their children’s autism.

Clearly it is questionable whether the cure autism culture has any real merit.  Moreover, Jenny McCarthy and Raun Kaufman clearly ignore the facts that autistic people are fully human with strengths, feelings, and talents like anyone else.  For more information on the subject, you can check out Paul Offit’s book Autism’s False Prophets, which unlike Jenny McCarthy’s and Raun Kaufman’s writings, is based off extensive research and training and does not rely on sex appeal, Wikipedia abuse, or death threats to doctors.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Will Autism Services Really Cost Us More?

…Freedom is much cheaper than oppression.
                                                -Desmond Tutu

                You may have heard of the idea of autism being covered by health insurance and them all being guaranteed the right supports in school.  You will undoubtedly have heard one thing involved in it: costs! 
                The notion that providing for or granting equality to certain groups of people has been used against every disenfranchised group whether gays, blacks, women, Filipinos-just about everyone you can think of.  With that, here’s a radical idea I could suggest: maybe it would be more expensive to NOT provide autistic people with equal access to society.
                It’s no secret that autistic people suffer from a wide range of social and cultural problems: depression, drug abuse, alcoholism, crime, unemployment, and underemployment.  Over the long term what all these can cost our society can amount to having to pay more than it would cost to pay for inclusion that could prevent so many of these things.  Unemployment and underemployment lower our per capita gain.  Autistic people too often possess all the professional skills necessary for many jobs, which grow businesses creating jobs, yet lack the social skills which autism therapies could rectify.  Furthermore, when people abuse drugs and alcohol, it costs our government a lot to prosecute, imprison, and convict them. 
The biggest myth ever proposed by politicians is that autism insurance coverage would cost insurance companies.  Yet the fact is the very things they can provide would actually prevent health problems among autistics that arise from lack of social development among autistics such as lack of independence leading to poorer hygiene and lack of good diet that often leads to diabetes and other health complications.  Stress and lack of toilet training resulting from unaddressed autism can lead to bladder problems and urinary infections.  Drug and alcohol abuse arise as a result of low self-esteem due to lack of friends due to lack of social development.  To be fair, being against autism exclusion is not being against budget cuts.  It’s merely against budget cuts that don’t include them.  Providing for anyone is costly but a question that has to be asked is Why are some people paid for while others are not.  Another question that deserves to be answered or at least be food for thought, is Would we rather pay more to keep a person out, or less to give them access to society.  It seems that the government doesn’t want to pay dues to the autistic rights movement it’s spent years opposing, not money.