31 March 2015

Autism Awareness Day... again

Well shit. March is over. Snap turned 20. Pop turned six. And Crackle will be 9 tomorrow. Yes, my boy is an April Fool's baby. I despise April Fool's Day, btw. I fall for everything, and it's not funny. My best friend (for OMG 30 years now) was also born April 1. When I was in labour with Crackle, I phoned her and left this voicemail, "I'm having the baby on your birthday. Happy Birthday, that's all you're getting".

And the day after Crackle's birthday is Autism Awareness Day. I am very ambivalent about Autism Awareness Day. On one hand, people know very little about autism, and it would be lovely to teach them. On the other hand, that doesn't happen. Instead, people "light it up blue" and raise money for the vile Autism Speaks. DO NOT DONATE TO THOSE ASSCLOWNS. So many reasons why not, but the biggest is that they still support electroshock therapy. It's cruel. It's dangerous. It's sick.

So no, no blue light. Fuck them. What exactly is the point supposed to be? That we're all grieving? Puhleeze. Have you met my kids? They're fucking awesome!

But there is a lot of work that needs to be done in autism awareness.

1) Autism is a spectrum. If I see one more fucking article about how autism is giving companies a competitive edge... Gah. Not all people with autism are super-duper at math or obsessive about details. Some are, some aren't. Pretty please stop asking me what my kids' special skills are. They're kids. Their special skill is making messes. And Snap is really really good at sarcasm.

2) Yes, it really is a disability. Even if they're good at math and are able to talk. Being unable to read social cues well is a fairly significant disability. You try holding a job while having no idea if what you're doing pleases your boss. Seriously, think about it. You know all those little cues that you get watching people? The grimaces, the warning tones in their voice, the little smiles, the "fine" that means "SO NOT FINE"? Imagine not knowing any of that stuff. See how easy you have it.

3) There are almost always physical health issues involved. Some call this comorbid to the autism.  That is, it's a separate thing, that happens to lots of autistic people, but it's not part of autism. Some say it's part of autism, as much as being non-verbal is. That is, it happens to some, and not to others, but it's not a separate issue. Gut issues are almost universal in autism. Arizona State University found that children with autism have less diversity in the types of bacteria found in the gut than children without the diagnosis. Unhealthy gut bacteria lead to all sorts of issues, including diarrhea, constipation, etc. It also means an unhealthy immune system. It is my firm belief that this is why it appears to so many autism parents that vaccines caused the autism. Because they had a kid whose immune system wasn't working properly when they received their shots, and that made the autism worse. And if they couldn't see it yet, that means it seemed to appear out of nowhere.

3a) Many, but not all, autistic people have epilepsy. To me, that says that their neurochemical processes aren't working properly.

4) There IS a genetic link. It runs in families. One of my brothers is autistic. One of my sisters is autistic. All three of my kids have autism. Some autism can be conclusively shown to be genetic. There is genetic testing that will show deletions and copies of genes where they don't usually appear. The bigger the deletion or copy, the more affected the person. However, this doesn't account for nearly all of the cases. Furthermore, almost all autistic people have MTHFR gene mutations. That affects methylation - a metabolic process. Certain types of this variant can be treated with folate and injected vitamin b12. I personally know the mother of one child who was severely autistic (he screamed for many hours every day, was completely non-verbal, and flapped and spun almost constantly). With this treatment, he's now a wonderfully awesome kid with friends, social skills, and a full vocabulary. Yeah, he's still autistic. So? The point is that some parts of autism can be treated medically. And SOOOO don't tell me this wasn't autism. Just don't.

5) No one grows out of it.

6) No, a good spanking won't help. (Insert joke here)

7) No, an iPad will not fix everything. But feel free to give me one.

So that's a bit about autism. What we need is tomorrow's topic!