Autism, Asperger’s, and Chicken Broth

Chicken BrothAnyone who has been in the online “autism community” for any length of time, whether they’re autistics or parents, knows that there is a sort of person who trolls autistic advocates’ blogs, and gives them a hard time, often being quite nasty in the process.  The better ones say things like, “You’re nothing like my son, you have no right to speak for him”, while the worst ones think that it’s for them to define just what it is to be autistic, and since we can type and most of us can speak, maybe other assorted abilities, then we obviously have nothing in common with their “classic autistic” offspring.  It’s these types, and those who have some sort of “martyr complex” who are the most obnoxious.

In the first place, no one is attempting to “speak for” any 10 year old child who can’t speak for himself.  What we would like to do is to help that father understand his child, because he doesn’t seem to have a clue, and we do have a clue, because we’ve lived it.  I would tell that father, “You don’t know what we were like when we were children, what we were able or unable to do.  You also have no idea what things we still have difficulty with, because you only know what you see here online, and that just isn’t enough to know anybody.”

Now, you might think to ask us, “Why would you even care?”  Answer: Because we know what it’s like to grow up entirely alone, not understood, misunderstood, not invited to other kids’ birthday parties, left to watch TV alone because you don’t know how to talk with us, picked on and abused by family, close relatives, kids at school, teachers, everybody one comes in contact with who has a chip on his shoulder and wants to make himself feel better.  We’d like to help you to have a better relationship with your son, because you’re the one he depends on, the one who can help him the most, and you (and your wife) are all he has.

And you sit there moaning, “Why Me?”  You spend a fortune on ABA “therapists” who are only too glad to take your place in teaching him, their profession is well-paid, and they’ve sold you a bill of goods.  You’ve already missed out on a lot of good things you could have shared with him.

As for those who think they know all about autism, that it’s a terrible thing that leaves a child without any sense, smearing his feces about, never learning anything of value, and that’s all there is to autism, they don’t know a damned thing.  They refuse to recognize that Asperger’s has anything at all to do with it, think that we’re all “fakers” who have glommed onto a popular Dx, as I suppose “Indigo Child” was at one time.  (It was never a serious diagnosis, just a crazy fad.)  Some have even suggested that autistic advocates are actually shills for the pharmaceutical companies, who’ve paid us to “glorify” Asperger’s, confuse everyone about autism, all to cover up their continuing misdeeds, (which may or may not be a Commie plot to overthrow the US).  Trust me, there is at least one mad hater and a few online groups who tend to think that way.

As for the relationship of autism to Asperger’s, that’s where the relativity part of my story comes in.

Statement: In essence, they are the same.  I just can’t say it any clearer than that. I’ll offer an allegorical representation of their relationship.  Go open a can of Campbell’s chicken broth.  Put it in a sauce pan and heat, and then taste it.  Now fill the can with water, and pour it in the pan.  Let it heat up again, and now take a taste.  Did it change?  No, I dare say that if you gave a spoonful of each to a blind-folded person, s/he wouldn’t be able to tell any difference.  That’s because they’re made of the same stuff! Does that mean that I’m saying that Asperger’s is watered down autism? Not at all, and anyway, the broth was already mostly water to begin with.  What I’m saying is that the essence of Asperger’s is the same as the essence of autism, whatever can cause the one can cause the other, and though it’s all the same, it manifests differently in each of us, because - because we’re all different anyway.  There never was anyone exactly like you, and there never will be.  Sometimes I think that genetics is an exercise in statistics, with endless permutations.

Alright, call it “The Theory of Relativity of Autism and Chicken Broth”.  I don’t care.

Disclaimer: I’m not a Doctor in real life, and don’t even play one on TV.  😉

Note: It’s rerun season, and the preceding was a rerun originally scheduled on 20 Sept 2009. Hopefully, new readers will find it interesting. Andy Warhol would be pleased.

Autism, Asperger’s, and chicken broth first appeared at Comet’s Corner, and is reprinted here by permission of the author.

on 02/2/10 in Autism, featured | No Comments | Read More

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