Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Kristina Chew's False Autism Dichotomy

"But Kristina Chew also said she wouldn't change her severely autistic son Charlie if she could.

"We really try and understand him on his own terms," she said.

That is her advice for parents dealing with a child's autism diagnosis and feeling hopeless.

"Acceptance, to me, is the beginning of hope," Chew said. "I look at my son, even on the days, the most terrible, terrible days. I still knew that I love my son. That he was with us, and that he would be with us, and that the hope was really in him.""

ABC News

The above quote is from the ABC news feature on the "Autism" Rights Movement led, not by a person with Autistic Disorder, but by a person with Aspergers. This intelligent, articulate, media savvy individual presumes to speak on behalf of persons with Autistic Disorder, and persons with much more severe life challenges and say that they, like him, don't want a cure. New York Magazine and now ABC News has jumped on this misleading rights movement. And of course, there too is Neurodiversity mom Kristina Chew with her usual false autism dichotomy as set out above. Acceptance - as Ms Chew articulates it - is surrender.

If you truly love your autistic child you will stop trying to cure him or her and surrender. And, oh, don't worry about that self injury thingy, that head banging, hand biting, self starvation, running in traffic or just wandering away stuff. That is all part of acceptance. You either accept and celebrate your child's autism or you do not truly love him or her. That is the false dichotomy promoted by Ms Chew.

Here is news for Ms. Chew. Parents seeking to treat and cure their autistic children do love them. That is why THEY seek treatment and cure for their children. Even if you do not.


Maddy said...

I wouldn't attempt to speak for Ms. Chew but maybe it's more a question of addressing the self injurious behaviours that we see in our children in a manner that helps curb those tendencies which is really therapy rather than a cure isn't it?
Best wishes

Suzanne said...

What about things like helping a child develop independence, the ability to fulfill accomplishments, etc? What kind of parent doesn't try to improve his child? What kind of parent just blinds himself to his handicaps (physical, social and otherwise) and doesn't try to either try to eliminate them or help him work around them?

Besides, I am certain my daughter would love to be as fluent as her classmates. She tries so hard.

Anonymous said...

We can still hope that some day a cure may be developed or identified (or maybe that we understand the causes better so we can take preventative and corrective actions), but until then, we need to help our autistic children to learn, adapt, and develop strategies they can use to assist them in living in our societies and have a reasonable quality of life. Blind acceptance of "the way things are" does little to move our societies forward toward better understanding and ways to deal with serious issues. It only results in keeping the status quo. Is the status quo good enough? I think not. Our children deserve better.

Anonymous said...

I've never felt that Ms. Chew has advocated not treating children with autism- in fact, she has repeated several times on her blog that she has found that ABA therapy has been very successful in helping her son learn. Rather, I feel that she's arguing against the dietary interventions, the chelation therapies, the "supplements" and everything else that we're told will cure our children. We've put our child into an ABA program, and have seen progress, but he's not and nor will he ever be "cured".

Unknown said...

I disagree. I too have obtained ABA services for my son and advocated for ABA help at both the preschool and school years. Nor do I support non-evidence based treatments or believe that there is at present a cure for autism. The difference with Ms Chew though is that she argues against the possibility of a cure and criticizes parents who seek cure or advocate for a cure. I have read several of her comments where she distinguishes between education and cure. She is solidly in the anti-cure camp.

I do not believe that there is a cure for autism today but I do not at all believe that it is possible, particularly given the incredible research being done today, to say that there will not be a cure at some point in time. If there is a cure or a treatment which improves the lives of people with autism then I would want that for my son. As would most parents with autistic children. I think it is unfortunate that Ms Chew advocates with the anti-cure movement and appears with them in many anti-cure campaigns and efforts.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a child with autism but I used to teach at a school for autistic children. The parents of those kids were going through hell. They were literally living in a nightmare world because of autism. Teenagers who weren't toilet-trained, who bit and kicked their aging parents, who tore off their clothes and ran naked into traffic, who stayed up all night laughing and yelling, who head-banged and screamed, all these things and more were part of those parents' lives. Every one of them would have given everything they owned for their children to be cured.
It's nice that Ms. Chew's son likes to swim and can ride a bicycle, but his life is very pitifully limited compared to the lives of other boys his age. He has no friends, he has no hopes for an independent future, he has no way of explaining what's wrong when he's ill. I find it difficult to believe that if Ms. Chew were offered a "magic pill" that would remove her son's autism that she wouldn't grab it and administer it it him just as fast as she possibly could.
There's a difference between loving one's child, imperfections and all, and wanting that child to be relieved of a handicap that prevents him from participating fully in all life has to offer.