Prescriptions. ABA. Occupational therapy. Speech therapy. Music therapy. Gluten-free diet. Nutritional supplements. Sensory integration. Chelation. All of these words surround my head as I watch my 5-year-old son stacking Legos on the waiting room floor of yet another specialist’s office. Connor was diagnosed with autism one month ago, and my husband and I are still trying to decide the best way of approaching a “treatment” plan for him. It seems like everyone we talk to says something different. The pediatrician disagrees with the psychologist, who disagrees with the audiologist, who disagrees with the parent that I talked to at my other son’s school, who also has a child with autism. “Autism is very different for each individual.” I have heard this so many times – so how do I know that any of these treatments will help MY autistic son? How do I know for sure that these treatments won’t make things more confusing or scarier for him? I want my son to be happy, and right now he is happy, even if happiness for him means stacking legos in his own little Connor world.
Drawing from the Murphy and Sicile-Kira readings, I used the idea of other people (especially professionals) trying to influence the ways in which a parent raises, treats, or disciplines their autistic child, even if the parent does not feel that it may be the best thing for their son or daughter. While writing this, I tried to think of how confusing it must be for parents when there are mixed messages coming from so many directions, whether it be Jenny McCarthy, professionals, or parents of other autistic children. I feel like there is a stereotype that all parents with autistic children just want their kids to be “normal.” While that may be true a lot of the time, I do think there are parents who just want their child to be happy, rather than obsessing about how to normalize and “treat” him or her.