I get all that because autism has been a part of my family's life for many years now. And after all of these years, I think I can say that I truly understand the frustration and occasional hopelessness that that goes with it. I don't think that you can really understand what autism can be like unless you live it day after day.
I get that and so I normally don't comment on what other parents say about their experiences. I understand that these parents are under tremendous stress and are simply trying the best they can to deal with an unfortunate situation.
But (you knew that was coming, right?), there are times when someone takes it too far. In my opinion, Kent Heckenlively did just that in a post over at Age of Autism entitled "When I Can Do Nothing". In this post, Mr Heckenlively talks about his feelings of helplessness when it comes to the getting the world to accept his view of autism. He talks about how he has turned to religion to help him deal with his inability to make a difference. He says, in part -
I've been very busy lately.
Unfortunately, I can't talk much about it. What I can say is that on some level, my prayers to God for an understanding of the autism epidemic have been answered. I now know why they fear us so much. I can't prove it, and as a lawyer I understand that's the real show. But I know.
And yet, as thankful as I am for an understanding of what has happened to my child and so many others, my heart is heavy. The Dark Forces which in the past have destroyed the careers of those who have found clues to the afflictions of our children and other disease communities are once again on the move. You may very well read about their actions this week. And I can't do anything to stop them.He goes on to talk about Stephen King's book The Stand and talks about how the forces of good in that book fought against the forces of evil. And from there he goes on to quote Psalm 94 from the Bible, a passage entitled "A Prayer for Vengeance".
I think the message he is trying to get across is pretty clear.
Now, I have absolutely no problem with religion or someone turning to religion to help them through a difficult time. It isn't my cup of tea, but I can understand why some people are religious and take comfort from their beliefs. But here is the problem.
There is no enemy here to smite.
There are no "Dark Forces".
There is no vast conspiracy to cause autism or to cover-up the cause of autism.
What there is is a large number of people who are doing what they think is the right thing. You might not agree with what they are doing and you might think that be acting out of their own self-interests. And who knows, you could be right.
But there is no demonic Randall Flagg who is in need of smiting. There are just mostly good people doing what they feel is the right thing to do. Which is exactly the same as what most parents do.
I can understand that scientific progress towards understanding exactly what autism is can be painfully slow. I can understand that, after over thirty years worth of research, science is not much closer to understanding what autism is let alone understanding how to fix it.
But the answer is to work together to try and advance our understanding and to help those that we can deal with the problems that autism causes. The answer is not to retreat into religion platitudes and to encourage your readers to engage in some holy war.
Doing that makes you look like you are nothing more than a cult.