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24 of 36 people found this helpful
admirable, but flawed
on August 21, 2012
Ms. Whiffen's dedication and sacrifice for her son is without doubt admirable. Likewise, the positive effect ABA therapy can have on early intervention for children with autism is worth documenting. However, I was terribly bothered by the author's view of autism as something that "got" her child, and that she had to "pull" her son out of. WIth all the intensive therapy, she succeeded in strengthening neural pathways in her son that needed development in order to help him function in a more neurotypical way as he grows- wonderful. But there is no "cure" for autism, nor should there be. Throughout the book, even at the very end, this woman views autism as an ugly word, a disease that gets unsuspecting children and families. Autism is a challenge, and heartbreaking, but she never seems to really understand that autism IS a part of the child she loves, not something that took him away from her. I must quote Jim Sinclair, a man with ASD who spoke at the 1993 Intenational Conference on Autism: "Autism isn't something a person has, or a "shell" that a person is trapped inside. There's no normal child hidden behind the autism. Autism is a way of being. It is pervasive; it colors every experience, every sensation, perception, thought, emotion, and encounter, every aspect of existence... It is not possible to separate the person from the autism. Therefore, when parents say, "I wish my child did not have autism," what they're really saying is "I wish the autistic child I have did not exist, and I had a different (non-autistic) child instead"... This is what we hear when you mourn our existence. This is what we hear when you pray for a cure." As a mother of a child with autism, I completely understand the feeling of wanting a "normal" child, and for the autism to "go away." But I understand now that the autism is what makes my wonderful boy who he is, and makes him so special. Do I seek out ABA therapy for him? You bet! I want to give him every advantage he can possibly have to succeed in a neurotypical society. Do I think it will "cure" him? That question just doesn't make sense. I wonder if the author understands this yet.