As I read this article on Slate this morning, I found myself at times unable to read the words. My reading comprehension problems weren’t due so much to the content which I was reading, but because of this persistent thought that kept going through my mind over and over again, as persistent thoughts do…
“I think I am glad I raised Teddy before there was much on the internet.”
Sure, without the internet and its blogs and forums we were isolated.
There just might be something to isolation.
Sure, without the internet there might have been less information available.
There just might be something to less information.
Because, oh my, we were spared the politics, the camps, the us v. them, the spreading of hatred, the spreading of lies. My goodness, I don’t think we lacked information, I think we were kept from misinformation.
It’s been 17 years since my son was diagnosed and it sure seems to me the medical, science and advocacy communities are as clueless about autism and how to get along as ever. But now the cluelessness is just a click away and can be brought into our homes at any time.
And there is so much anger. And so much grandstanding. And so many positions to be defended. And so much money to be made.
Instead, without the internet, I got to focus on my child without these distractions. I didn’t compare my child to anyone else, because in my world there wasn’t anyone else but the one other family we knew with an autistic son. We banded together, we needed each other too much. Although our sons were different, we didn’t compare. We couldn’t afford to. One other family with autism was enough for me because I didn’t have time and energy for much else.
And only since he has grown, in the fall of 2011, have I come to the internet. And even now that he is an adult, although I genuinely appreciate and enjoy the blogs of adults with Aspergers, I don’t use them to help me with Ted. No. Ted is Ted and he will do what he needs to do. I use them for me. To let into my life what I didn’t have before, to finally hear the opinions and experiences of a multitude of others and to be part of a community.
And I occasionally read what the mainstream media writes about autism, and when I do I am reminded of why I don’t do so very often. When I read this article today, and then ignored my own self-imposed ban on reading the comments left on Slate, I felt compelled to say something.
I wanted to reach out to the young mothers who are currently raising their children and remind them not to be internet dependent. Don’t get to the point where you need to read something written by someone else to allow you to believe your own instincts. Sure, read stuff, but as you do, make sure you listen to your instincts harder, and longer, and more earnestly than you listen to any doctor, any “expert”, any advocacy group, any author, any blog, any other person except your child.
You don’t need the internet to tell you about your child. You already know about your child. So please, please, trust yourself more than you trust anyone on the internet, including me.