Monday, March 9, 2015

Wanting to understand

A portion of last weekend was spent in my chair, a blank screen staring back at me. Long story short, I was searching for an angle. Knowing what to write about and how to go about it are two distinctly different things, as any writer will tell you.
In the past I've railed about anti-vaccination groups and their blatant stupidity for clinging to an already debunked myth. They insist they are trying to protect their children. Noble, but a bit too ridiculous. Parents with autistic children are looking for a scapegoat to explain their child's behavior.
Unfortunately these are two uncorrelated events.
Vaccines are not to blame for the rise of autism, but what is autism exactly? Between 1980 and 1994 the American Psychology association defined three new forms of autism. You read that right: we're getting better at recognizing what autism is, and understanding is the key.
Scientists have a number of working theories. Exposure to industrial chemicals while the child is in utero is one and the age of the parents is another. My youngest child has been diagnosed as having Aspergers, a form of autism. At the time this was post-head injury for me when we brought our little girl into the world. I can't help but wonder if somehow my damaged genetic code altered how my baby girl would live her life.
I'm not looking for a scapegoat, unless that person to blame is me. My dearest child is sweet and kind. I don't think there is a cruel bone in her being. She has difficulty reading and articulating, but she is extremely empathetic to others. Often times it takes a bit to get her words out, but wow, what words. She's simple and wise all at once.
There are other forms of autism, in fact, it is a broad spectrum of social interaction. If my child is on one end, then Dustin Hoffman's character in the movie, Rain man, is the opposite.
If I had to put a name on all this, I would call it the human condition. These people, children... don't process thoughts and emotions like we do. That doesn't make them better or worse than the run of the mill person on the street. In fact, it makes them gifted in my humble opinion. She sees the world in a different color than the rest of us. I won't be surprised if she grows up to be an artist or something.
A mutual friend has started a Kickstarter. They are trying to raise money for an app that helps rate Autism friendly businesses and places. The goal is 38,000 and they are well on their way. Finding a safe playground or a restaurant that has the specific type of food an autistic child likes to eat can be a challenge for many. This app would give families living with autism one less thing to worry about.
Next paycheck that comes around I plan on donating to this project. I feel it's a worthy effort and will make a lot of lives better.
This will make a difference to many people living with autism. Things like this inspire my faith in humanity. 

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