Shh...Mum is Thinking

Friday, September 29, 2006

Something From the Cupboard

I’ve been a bit scarce lately. That’s partly due to the number of things I’ve been juggling. But ‘busy-ness’ isn’t the only reason. I’m having one of those overload periods I think, similar to when my son was going through his diagnosis. Back then I was staying up late every night reading books, papers, research, opinions…gorging myself on information till it felt like my head would burst and eventually none of it was making sense anymore.

Do you ever feel you’ve read so much stuff and have so many thoughts to sort through that your head is becoming the equivalent of the messiest cupboard in the house? Too much stuff in there, put in too quickly, shuffled through by searching fingers until nothing’s in the right place anymore. That’s how I feel lately.

One of the things I have bouncing around in my messy cupboard of a head has nothing to do with research papers, and perhaps isn’t even directly related to autism. It’s a story my husband repeated to me, something he heard last week from a workmate, and to me it seems very relevant.

Here it is:

Workmate, lets call him Fred, goes to a large science think-tank type place for a visit, for a reason not of any interest to this story. While there, he remembers there is a man working there who he very much admires. A scientist. A Great Man. Lets call him Barney :-)

Fred says to his escort…”Oh, please, would it be ok if I meet Barney? I’ve always wanted to meet him, it would be such an honour.”

The escort says “Sure…he works over there” and points at an office.

Fred walks over. Looks in the door. The office is empty. He returns to his escort disappointed. “Darn, I must have missed him. He’s not there.” Escort stops in his tracks….”Oh, yeah, he’s there.” he says, and leads Fred back to the office of the great man. Escort walks into the empty room and knocks on top of the great man’s desk…and Barney sticks his head out from underneath. They all greet each other. Fred was pretty happy to meet Barney :-) Smiles all around.

Turns out Barney ALWAYS spent the first hour of his day under his desk. Sucking his thumb. He has to because it was the only way he could ready himself to deal with the world. He wasn’t particularly embarrassed about it and his workmates weren’t worried or upset by his *gasp!* ‘inappropriate behaviour’. That was just Barney. He was a great man, and great men can have their quirks. It was part of the package. If you want Barney, you take him quirks and all.

I don’t know if Barney is autistic, though I suppose it’s a distinct possibility. But, see, that’s not whats important about the story, at least to me. He could be bipolar or schizophrenic or even neurotypical. I dunno, I don’t care. The fact is he was able to contribute something to the world simply because his ‘quirks’ were tolerated and accepted by his fellow human beings.

This story has been bouncing off the walls of my head the last week, ever since my hubby shared it with me. I was so happy when I heard it, so happy to hear the evidence that it IS possible for people to accept the quirks of others. Even, perhaps, with affection!

But the more I thought about it the more frustrated I felt.

After all, why do you have to be a Great Man for your quirks to be tolerated? There are probably heaps of people out there that would be able to contribute to society and have a shot at supporting themselves or could simply live a happier, healthier life if only we were more willing to allow each other a few quirks. Personally I’d be a lot happier to see more quirky people around, they make me feel comfy. I’d be very happy to have a quirky cashier wait on me, or see a quirky doctor, or a quirky garbage man or have a quirky neighbor or...

It's the social butterflies that make my heart sink, because I know they're not going to think too highly of my own quirks.

I’m moving my blog over to Lori’s excellent Autiblogs. She has purty themes…thank you again, Lori, for your kindness! I’ll publish this one last post on both Autiblogs and Blogger, and from this day forth, you’ll find me only at:

Friday, September 15, 2006

Weary of Lack of Acceptance

I started writing this as a comment to Soapbox Moms latest blog entry, and ended up tying in a few issues that have been weighing heavy on my mind lately. It grew to such monstrous length that I’m embarrassed to post it to her comments section, and hope she won't mind my publishing it here. It feels a bit embarressing to do this, but there are things I want to say here and some issues I think are important. So…here it is:

From someone who has to take an occasional break from blogging due to all the intensity...

To Soapbox Mom, I don't blame you for feeling frustrated and discouraged. It's hard to write about the things you love and care about most in the world knowing there are some people out there who will refuse to understand. The lack of respect and downright bile some parents show towards acceptance of autistic people can become disheartening. When you look in the face of your beloved child, it can also feel personal.

I find it especially hard to see autistic adults and parents who seek acceptance for their children ridiculed for speaking up about the things that really matter. They are brave to raise these important issues in the face of so much rabid opposition--and it's hard to see them slapped down time and again by militant biomed fanatics. When I see that it makes me feel a bit like watching someone ridicule my own son, because I know the issues important to autistic adults will one day be important to him. Seeing that can be very discouraging and more than a bit scary...I don't want to see him treated the way I've seen autistic adults treated recently. What makes the whole situation REALLY upsetting is that the very people who attack autistic adults and parents who speak out for acceptance on forums and blogs are also the parents of autistic children. They should KNOW BETTER for the sake of their own children, if for no other reason.

For my own sake (as an autistic adult) I don't care so much. I'm a crusty old gal and most of the time I can take it. But I don't want to see that sort of ridicule and dismissal in my SON'S future. And I especially don’t want to see that sort of treatment meted out by the very people who have the most reason to understand: parents of autistic children. I don’t care what their belief system is in terms of curing autism, they should show respect to all autistic people in the same proportion to the respect they would like given to their own children someday.

I cannot fathom why some people do not understand that very simple and basic point.

I also think it's unlikely that those very vocal biomed zealots are in the majority. There are probably more of us out there than there are of them. We are less visible simply because we are not fanatical.

For me personally, this is a long term labour of love, not a war campaign to be won in a quick short battle as it is for most fanatical biomed people. What I see with that crowd is the need to win as many people over to their side as quickly as possible to allay their own doubts about how they're handling their child's autism.

I think they know deep down in their hearts that the 'cures' of today will be one day be viewed in the same way as the ‘cures’ of yesterday...ineffective at best, abusive at worst. Theirs is a fanaticism of fear. What if they are wrong in their assumptions that autism is a horrible disease? What if the cures they espouse actually turn out to do more harm than good? Instead of contemplating those issues and thinking about the long term ramifications for their own children they turn to ‘faith’ in what they can not see and can not prove.

So there is a difference of tactics between us and them. I think we're in this for the long haul while they're in it for the quick victory. It’s frustrating and tiring to deal with people like that. So (to Soapbox Mom) yeah…I understand why you’d want a break.

But I do hope that as some point soon you'll return. There are many people who will be REALLY happy to see a new entry on your blog sometime in the future. Whenever you feel like writing...because even if you don't know we're here listening, we are.

And you ARE making a difference.

And to those parents of autistic children who think it’s great fun to disrespect autistic adults and parents who seek acceptance for ALL autistic people…look in the face of your own child, and remember this: those who fight for acceptance for autistics are paving the way towards a better future for your own child.

Mum Is Thinking

Friday, September 08, 2006

Taking the French Toast Cure

Are you a person living without a soul, disconnected from the wonders of the social world around you? Do you find idle chit chat, fashion magazines and social machinations as interesting as watching paint dry on a rainy day?

Are you in fact suffering in the miserable abyss that is… (gasp!)… autism?

What you need is French toast.

No, really! I’m serious. Check this out:

In the interest of helping all those poor suffering autistic souls out there, I’ve decided to share a secret recipe I made up a couple of months ago. This should have you making eye contact like a used car salesman in no time flat:

Baked French Toast with Ricotta

8-10 slices good quality bread (not the kind you can roll into a dough ball, ok?)
9 eggs
1 ½ Cups full cream milk
½ C Cream
½ Kilo (1 lb) good quality full cream ricotta, drain in a sieve lined with a coffee filter beforehand if it has a lot of whey, it should be fairly dry
Vanilla extract

Mix 1/3 C sugar, ½ tsp. vanilla and one egg into ricotta cheese.

Spread this mixture very generously (about 2 heaping Tbls) on half the bread slices (you can spread a thin layer of jam or conserve of choice on bread before hand if you like, I’d recommend seedless raspberry or blackberry jam, mmm) place remaining bread slices on top making sandwiches. Carefully cut each sandwich in thirds lengthwise, place edge up in a buttered deep dish casserole (about 12x10 or 13x9” size). If there is any ricotta mixture remaining when all the bread is in the pan, spoon it in between bread slices where ever you can stuff it.

Whisk the 8 remaining eggs with the milk and cream, 1/3 C sugar and one tsp vanilla extract. Pour evenly over bread slices, smoosh it down with the back of a fork so the bread soaks up all the egg-y cholesterol laden goodness. Dot generously with butter (about 2 Tbls total) cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Next morning preheat the oven to 350 F (about 180 C), bake French toast for about 50 minutes, till it is hugely puffed and crusty brown on top and a knife inserted into the middle comes out dry.

Serve with syrup and strawberries if no jam was used.

Serves 6 generously

Oh…ok!!! I know what you're thinking, and you're absolutely right! This recipe will definitely not turn you into a neurotypical fashionista talk show host type person. But at least it isn’t dangerous, like chelation or treatment with a portable hbot unit or lupron shots. It doesn’t cost a lot, like supplements, creams and potions. It isn’t goofy like having your electrical field adjusted or wearing funky crystals to change your aura. And it doesn't insult your intelligence, like the thousands of quacks out there with their thousands of theories and 'cures', all with their hand out looking for your money. tastes good.

But the best thing of all is that mum can make a nice brunch for the fambly on a weekend morning without having to do anything harder than turn on the oven.

Now THAT is useful.