Friday, October 26, 2007


There's been a lot of talk about acceptance lately. Let me just share something that really ticks me off. The magazine Scientific American Reports has a special issue on child development. In this edition, they discuss things like child development, Downs syndrome, and of course, Autism.

First, check out the titles of the Articles:
The Downs syndrome article is called Just a Bit Different.
The Autism article is called Broken Mirrors.

In the articles...
Downs syndrome is described: People with Down syndrome don't "suffer" from their disorder- only from bad treatment by others.

Autism: Some children may not be "doomed at birth"; some children have a genetic predisposition, and something in their environment triggers the disorder.

And we wonder why people are so afraid of Autism? Why they feel so sorry for our kids?
Well hey- didn't you know your kid is DOOMED?
Sorry, I didn't realize that. I wonder if Jaysen knows.
Should I tell him before or after dinner?

There was of course the overtone that these children are suffering, that they are empty, with no hope, and if you don't receive early intervention, your kid is doomed to a non fulfilling life-

"By the time a child is three or four, deficits can still be reduced, but fundamental changes are no longer possible, because the critical period during which speech develops, has passed by."

So which is it? Three or four? I need to know! What if I miss that opportunity? I want my kid to be smarter than mashed potatoes! What happens if I read this article, and my child is six? Crap! I missed it!

There were some other things in the article though, that of course I had a smart-assed laugh at-

Children's brain activity stayed the same when they were asked to perform an activity. Their brain activity increased when they observed another person doing the same activity on a video. I thought that was hysterical. Did you catch that? On a video! Hey- maybe brain activity increased because it was on a video?! If the kids were anything like Jaysen, video is the magic word! His brain activity would increase as soon as he saw the television, just in anticipation of a video.

I'm not downplaying Downs syndrome, I just find it interesting, the different exposures of the two disabilities. One definitely is presented in a light of hope and encouragement, of social acceptance and promise. The other is presented in a light of desperation, and inadequacy.

That's all for now, I have to go make a bunch of big black A's to sew on all of Jaysen's shirts.


Sabrina said...

I have not read the article but it doesn't surprise me of all the flaws the article would contain. People are so misinformed about Downs and Autism as it is. I understand your frustration!

Jodi said...

I am wondering if scientists or other people are viewing Down syndrome as important to accept becuase it cannot be "cured." It is something the child is born with, the extra chromosome is visible on a karyotype, etc. There is a faction of parents out there that say that autism can be cured. They paint their children as "suffering" from autism because they want research to happen to cure their kids. It's all very interesting...

mommy~dearest said...

The attitude I got from it, was more like- we need to accept Downs kids because they're more socially acceptable. They can learn the rules of society and are trainable to achieve a meaningful life (actor Chris Burke was shown as an example). Autism kids, however, are not socially trainable because they cannot interact socially, are not capable of empathy, and lack the theory of mind. They are doomed to a life of solitude and help unless early intervention (before age 3-4) is obtained.

Also, it may be important to note that communication is a huge part of social acceptance. While Downs kids may struggle with communication in their earlier years, if an Autistic kid is non-verbal, or low-verbal, chances are that he will improve slightly, or remain that way. Lack of communication cuts people off from society, and society from them.

As I said, I'm just stating the presentation of these articles, and am not at all shocked that society has such a negative attitude toward Autism.

Pickel said...

yes, but as much as we treat...autism can't be cured either and people are listening only to certain people out there. Autism can be treated imo.

I think kids are born with autism...their methylation systems are messed up.

P.S. he keeps asking for the duck

Casdok said...

A really good post, my sentiments exactly.
What do scientits know!
We should accept everyone.

mommy~dearest said...

Yeah, well the duck is doomed too. Hahaha! ;)