By Anne Dachel
I’m often struck by the stunning contrast between how autism is reported in the news and what’s happening to ordinary people everywhere. I recently had a conversion with a friend of mine whose personal experience is a chilling example of the truth about autism.
My friend works in a department of county government in New York State . It’s a county of about a million people.. My friend has two children with autism so it’s a big part of his life. He was stunned by the news around the office that a female employee just found out that her child had autism. We talked at length about the loss of a generation of children, no questions asked.
I asked my friend some questions.
Describe how you felt when you heard the woman’s news that her three-year-old had just been diagnosed with autism.
ANSWER: I felt terrible. This co-worker is an independent, mature woman who has worked hard to get this job and she is going to have a great career. She has been worried sick about her child and now she is going through what so many of us have: getting the diagnosis, wondering what treatment and therapy options will be available for her child. She’ll be asking herself whether her local schools wo;; help her child or will they fight her every request. And she’ll want to know how she will afford this - all of it.
Right now I urged her to focus on building a network of services and support for her child and her self.
How many co-workers do you know with a child on the spectrum?
ANSWER: There are 12 other families in my department with children who have autism. We have just under 200 employees. I find this shocking and if this isn't an epidemic, I don't know what is.
What kinds of problems are these families dealing with?
ANSWER: The parents I know are dealing with a myriad issues. They’re trying to negotiate school services that meet their child's needs. Some are dealing with adolescent children who are seeking some degree of independence (the higher functioning ones) and how difficult that is to work out. One family is trying to get their 18 year old into a group home. Many are struggling financially due to all the extra costs for autism and the cost of lost time at work. I see everybody meeting these challenges as best they can but the toll is undeniable.
How many of these parents describe regression in their child’s development?
ANSWER: All of them report that their child was born healthy and normal. Some report that their child's development just shuts down at a certain point. Others report a clear regression after a triggering event. Vaccine injuries have been the only reported triggers of these regressions that I have heard about. None of the parents who told me that they reported adverse events following vaccines to their doctors reported that the doctors advised them to notify VAERS.
Do these people believe that nothing’s wrong, that it’s all just better diagnosing?
ANSWER: The recent announcement of the rate of autism only confirmed what everyone seemed to feel; something is wrong. Very wrong. One co-worker wondered how all of the psychologists, developmental pediatricians, child psychiatrists and neurologists who were practicing 20 years ago could have missed all these kids. Many of us feel that the medical profession is mired in a permanent state of denial.
I personally feel that those who are saying that there is no real increase are doing a profound disservice their country because we have all have to start doing something to prepare for what is going to happen.
Now that we’re on a second generation of the autism epidemic, does any of this make sense?
ANSWER: We know our kids and we know they were not born this way. They became this way. That means something that our children were exposed to, injured them. What we are seeing does make sense to us because we are open to seeing the world as it is and we listen to each other. The national response to autism does not make sense. All the people I know are now trying to help their kids and that is a huge struggle. Nothing comes easy. The only people who get that and respect that are the people around us who have also been going through this struggle.
Watching our leaders abdicate responsibility, cling to denial and protect their policy interests when they should be offering reasonable assistance and seeking autism's causes is disheartening. These people should spend one day in our shoes. They might walk and talk a bit differently if they did.
I feel like I could talk to almost anyone about the people in their workplace and I’d hear similar stories of families dealing with a child who has autism—a disorder with no known cause or cure nor any expectation of a date when officials will know anything for sure. While experts are clueless and disinterested, the nightmare continues—everywhere.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism. Subscribe to her news feed at AnneDachel.com