Behind starburst eyes

Dear Mental Health Professionals:

on April 9, 2016

dsvm cover

I am aware that the DSVM (all editions since the 3rd) include Autism as a mental illness/disorder. However, just because they are included does not make the mental health field correct in their assessment of Autism as a disorder. It is included because Western society has a serious lack of acceptance of anything different. All things different should be treated and minimized to the greatest degree possible, is often the misguided thinking with Autism and many other neurodiversities.

The Ontario government has released a statement that they are pledging $333 million dollars towards treatment, but that the maximum age for treatments of IBI will decrease to 5 years old. This is said to be because the greatest chance for changing these children is until they are 5 years old. After that, it becomes harder to help change their behaviors to mirror neurotypical behaviors.

Autism is looked upon as something to correct, or at least to help intervene as much as possible and push towards encouraging the person to act as neurotypical as possible. I’d like to ask you why this is? I’d like to ask you why someone has to behave the way you do for you to see value within them? I’d like to ask you why biodiversity in the world is a plus, but neurodiveristy within humankind is not? I’d like to ask you why someone has to live in a predetermined manner for it to be the right way to live? I’d like to ask  you what is so bad about allowing someone else to live their version of a happy life, even, especially if it’s not the same definition of happy as yours? I’d like to ask you what will it take for you to see that my sons do not have a disorder, they have a different neurological structure. What are the words you need to hear to understand that their value is not to be based upon how well they can become chameleons in society, but that their value is based upon the person they truly are when they stop trying to fit into your rigid, substandard predetermined cookie cutter shape of humanity…The Autistic Person they always have been and always will be does not need to be fixed, they just need to be loved, respected and appreciated for who they are, just like every other living creature on this biologically diverse planet.

3 responses to “Dear Mental Health Professionals:

  1. mommy2mummy says:

    Interesting post. As an occupational therapist, the people I treat on the Autism spectrum have difficulties in their day to day functioning that makes participation in meaningful activities challenging. Sensory integration impairments that often accompany ASD might limit a person from accessing mainstream education, reduce opportunities for age appropriate play activities, or present dangers such as self-harm or decreased safety awareness. Through therapy, we can help regulate the nervous system, teach compensatory strategies, and make recommendations to the environment to promote independence, flexibility in thinking and mastery of skills. On the highest end of the spectrum, you potentially have an argument against intervention- if these folks are satisfied, by all means this population has contributed massively to their respective fields. However, for many people with Autism milestones like dressing, feeding, self-regulation, cooperative play, driving and career achievement are massive obstacles that may not be realistic goals without significant intervention from multiple professionals.

    • I can completely see your perspective. When I speak/write about not changing them, I don’t mean in terms of not getting them additional assistance in learning how to dress or feed themselves. But then I believe that one does that with any child; they find the ways to teach them those skills.

      If we were to take potty/toilet training as an example, there are many different books, methods, videos, even apps for children (regardless of neurostructure) to help them learn this skill. Plus there are many sites/books/blogs that detail many a parent’s struggle with potty training a neurotypical child. I wouldn’t dream of saying to not try and teach something like toilet training to a neurotypical child just because they were born not knowing how to use a toilet. It’s the same for an Autistic child, it’s okay to teach them skills that will help them to live a life that has happiness and meaning to them.

      I mean more in terms of not forcing eye contact during conversations. It’s more of a distraction with how their brains work, and limits the amount they can focus on the actual conversation, as they tend to become hyper focused on if they are doing it enough or too much and how uncomfortable it is for them.

      I mean in terms of allowing stimming. It’s helpful for someone that is Autistic and therefore so long as no one is being hurt, why can’t they flap their arms, or randomly dance about? Yes they look different from a neurotypical child when they are doing it, and that’s okay. They are different, but I truly believe in the saying that different is not less.

      I mean in accepting that maybe socialization/age-appropriate play isn’t what they want, at least not to the extent society states they should want it. I understand that if it’s something they want to do but are struggling with doing then yes by all means help them to learn the social skills they need to do so. BUT on the other side of that coin, accept that many people they meet, might not interest them. And that those that DO interest them, just might be people who’s neurostructure is like theirs. After all, isn’t it through shared interests, shared experiences, similar values or goals or desires that human beings bond? If that is accurate, then why not encourage things like their version of play with another child who’s version of play is the same. Why make them believe they have to be fake and uncomfortable to interact with someone. That the only way another person might be their friend is if they put on a mask and pretend?

      I mean in terms of embracing the concept that one should focus on the message more and less on how it is communicated. Such as accepting that verbal communication may not be their go-to form of communication and that is okay. (Even ones who are verbal, when stressed or trying to communicate something they find difficult often prefer written communication or ASL.) Those types of communication, and others are equally valid and should be accepted as such.

      I mean in refusing to accept gas-lighting of these individuals when they are bothered in a situation that would potentially not bother a neurotypical person. They should be allowed to feel however they do, without being told to “just relax” or that it’s not that big of a deal.

      I mean in not making them feel like they are less just because they are different. Which I will fully acknowledge is something that many people who do not fit mainstream society’s mold struggle with.

  2. […] via Dear Mental Health Professionals: — Behind starburst eyes […]

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