Sometimes I think about what a shallow and silly person I used to be before I had autism in my life. I am sure parents reading this can look back with me and remember when we thought we had “real problems.”
So I watched, with great amusement, Dr. Nancy Synderman’s recent tour de force of histrionic self-pity during her on air profile of pal, Dr. Paul Offit. We heard, breathlessly, of poor Dr. Offit’s struggles with angry parents. I know, I know, it is a broken record already. Every Offit interview is the same: man/scientist bravely battling forces of evil and ignorance as he selflessly yearns to save the world from disease!
Dr. Offit complains how hard this is on his wife and family! How his children suffer! How they just bought a new security system! I mean, the suffering of this man is endless, how he stands it we will never know. At least the Offit family has the comfort of those million dollar checks coming in from the rota vaccine to soften the blows.
Dr. Synderman also angrily recounted how she too has been “verbally and physically” assaulted by angry parents. I was more worried about Matt Lauer in that moment! Poor Matt looked like he was the one being assaulted by the end of that segment. Dr. Synderman’s face was clenched, her eyes glaring, her fist shaking as she described her victimhood. “Autism and vaccines are not controversial Matt!!” Dr. Synderman yelled over and over again. I swear, she seemed nuttier than Tom Cruise, I was just waiting for the “you’re glib, Matt, you’re glib” comment.
Of course, we all condemn violence of any kind. Violence has no place in our community and no role in this discussion. Period. End of story, no ifs, and or buts. I just do not think the “Today Show” or the media in general are the best places for Synderman and Offit to get the assistance or help they are apparently seeking. I would encourage them to deal with the threats via the police instead.
My Dad was the president of NBC for 20 years. A lot of crazy things happened to our family over the course of his tenure. When lay-offs happened there were angry picketers screaming at us in front of our house for days. We needed police to get in and out of the driveway. We got mail from seriously furious and disturbed people. When NBC aired a TV movie about “Roe vs. Wade” our family got death threats and had to hire security experts to guard us. We repeatedly got phone threats about “blowing up our house.” We just hung up on them. And you know what, life went on. My parents gave us good advice. They said, yes there are crazy people in every walk of life, just deal quietly with it, be smart and most importantly, stop complaining! TV gave us a nice lifestyle and this was a small price to pay. Are you listening Dr. Synderman because I am sure my Dad would give you the same advice if he were still your boss.
What IS a big deal is the terrible suffering of the millions of Americans with autism. They are the ones truly suffering. They are the people who need our attention and compassion. Children and adults with autism need better medical interventions, insurance coverage, a decent education and their families need money to pay for all of it. No one should ever threaten Nancy Synderman or Paul Offit but I think they can take care of themselves. Let’s encourage the media to put the focus back on the real victims of the autism epidemic, our kids.
Katie Wright has two young boys. Her oldest son, Christian, is severely affected by autism. He developed normally; smiling, talking, walking; only to lose every skill and every word by the age of 2 and a half. Upon the advice of medical professionals Katie and her husband were advised to pursue only high quality behavioral therapy, speech and OT for Christian. It had no meaningful impact on Christian until his parents sought help from DAN! doctors who treated the underlying causes of Christian's descent into autism. Christian has improved but still has far to go. He has Inflammatory Bowel Disease, the measles virus in his gut and an immune system akin to a late stage AIDS patient. Christian does not have a psychiatric disorder. Before autism, Katie Wright was the Clinical Director of Sexual Assault Crisis Center in Stamford Connecticut. Katie is proud to serve on the Boards of NAA and SafeMinds.