Neurodiversity vs. Bio-Med: Do you really have to choose?


As parents, we know that our autistic children are capable of far more emotion than stereotypes portray. I know the gut-wrenching experience of seeing “typical” kids ignore my son, or, worse yet, seeing idiotic adults assume my son is mentally retarded. Members of the neurodiversity community know that same pain, but they seem to feel it is caused as often by the actions or words of anti-thimerosal/biomedical advocates as much as it is by unfeeling members of the general public. It is incumbent on all of us to learn why they feel that way, and perhaps look at ourselves.

For those of us who believe strongly in biomedical treatments, it is easy to think it is “the answer” for everyone. Most of us who practice biomedical do so partly because we know that, absent some form of intervention, the odds are that our children would never reach the extremely high functioning level of communication practiced by the teen-aged author of the above-referenced blog [Invisible K]. We want our children, when they reach their later teen years, to be able to tell us how they feel about the choices we make in their lives.

A while back (before my extended absence) I posted a couple of pieces on the subject of curing autism, or not. For parents of autistic children, in large part it does come down to the question Wade asks, “What will our kids think about what we’ve done for them once they are older?” Our big fear, of course, is that we will have done it wrong, but this is a fear that ALL parents have (or at least should).

As parents, it is our responsibility to help our children through their early years and to help them grow into the person they will become. While I do adhere somewhat to the neurodiversity claim, I do not believe that as parents we should just live with it. No more than I believe I should just “live with it” if my neuro-typical kid has troubles, be it in socializing, academics, whatever. All kids need the guidance and nurturing of their parents, friends, and family to become the “best” (wow, what a loaded term) they can.

It’s just a bit more challenging for parents of autistic children. (Do I have a gift for understatement, or what? 😉

One thought on “Neurodiversity vs. Bio-Med: Do you really have to choose?

  1. Brett’s comments — both here and on my blog — state very well why we do what we do. It’s not because we consider our children to be “defective.” My concerns for my son on the spectrum are not that different than the concerns I have for my two neurotypical children. Thanks Brett.


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