Monday, January 22, 2007

Angry

OK, now I'm angry. Really angry at a person I've never met. Her name is Nicole Sperling and she has the by-line on an article picked up by Reuters about the showing of the autism documentary, Autism Every Day, at the Sundance Film Festival. Why am I so mad? Because the opening line of her article reads like this: "The horror films on display at the Sundance Film Festival are nothing compared to every parent's fear that their child could be diagnosed with the mysterious developmental disability called autism."

You know, receiving the dx of autism for your child would be a whole lot less difficult if the opening line of just about every news report about the subject didn't tell you how horrible autism is! Discovering that your child has autism is hard enough without misplaced analogies to horror films. No wonder there is so much fear and stigma out there. She isn't just reporting about it, she is perpetuating it.

Hey, Nicole! My son has autism. And there is nothing horrific about my life. In fact, there is a special kind of joy to it and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

7 comments:

  1. I was very surprised to read that first line-----based on the NYTimes article, I didn't feel too surprised that someone came away with that impression.

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  2. kristen7:35 PM

    Here here!!! I am with you 100%

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  3. Christine, thanks for posting this. I'm angry, too. When journalists write things like this, do they ever stop to think that there are people on the other side of their words?

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  4. oh no. i haven't heard anything about the new, expanded film but now i know i won't like it.

    more fear. fear fear and distortion. we can't move forward and most importantly, help our kids, from that perspective.

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  5. When the Eldest was diagnosed with hemophilia, he was ten days old. We were in shock - we'd only had this kid for a little more than a week, and now he's trying to bleed to death?

    To comfort us, the docs, the nurses, the social workers said, oh, it's moderate hemophilia. So much better than severe. And went on to give examples. Bloody, nasty examples.

    A month later, we were back in the hospital with another dangerous bleed, and the docs had to come and eat crow: the kid *was* severe.

    In retrospect, it's fine. Hemophilia, severe or otherwise, has all the joys of childhood. But if only they could have started the conversation with: You can still love your child. Or, your child will be happy, if you let him. Or, or, or. Why did they think that happy by comparison was good enough?

    In a survey of Americans with and without disablities, it was clear that Americans with disabilities (a vague word) are happier, more content with their lives. Hmm. I'd like to see *that* on the evening news.

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  6. Here! Here! I recently read a newspaper article that my mother sent me from Sarasota FL about a school for autistic kids and they kept describing it as children "suffering" with autism. It made me so irritated.

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  7. The label doesn't seem to be given an ounce of hope lately does it? I think twice sometimes at the idea of telling people Gabe's diagnosis, due to the stereotypes that follow it.

    Kristin

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