This past Friday night the girls were out of town and it was just the hubby and me. We went out for a bite of dinner then decided to walk it off by browsing through Books A Million. I had been looking for a particular book a friend told me about to help me with my youngest daughter who's on the autism spectrum - Asperger's. I wondered over to the family and special needs section to look around. There were dozens of books about raising kids with special needs. As I picked up books and flipped the pages to see what morsels of information lay on the inside, I started noticing a pattern. A disturbing pattern. These books were not aimed at little 'ole me - mom, working mom, tired mom, no time to pee mom, breast cancer dealing mom, no patience mom - yet they wanted me to think they were with colorful covers touting the latest and greatest information and best "practical" tips to raise a happy, healthy child. As my eyes glazed over at the small type I began to wonder what kind of parent would I have to be to actually read one of these and glean from it some tips to help me with this or that or when 'whoah!' happens. Nope. Nothing. Nada. I need clean, crisp sound-bites. That's how news is put out so effectively - sound bites - quick information you can read and then put into practice or use or whatever you need to do with it. I'm all for textbooks but they belong in schools. Even the one book that I picked up that was written by an Aspie teen read more like a "this is what happened to me and how I felt about it" rather than "this is what happened, this is how I felt, this is how I dealt with it, and here's my advice for you." I need something I can use people. Sound bites. Give it to me quick and dirty and let me take it from there if I want to read more.
What was even more disturbing than this trend was what I read in one final book that I picked up. In short, it's my fault my child has autism because apparently I didn't send her out to play outside enough when she was little. Let's just throw the poor over-tired parents under the bus shall we? You think I'm kidding - I'm serious! The author, and I can't remember who, spent the first 50 pages or so 'labeling' all the 'presentations' of autism and related disorders. The second part started with the author stating that parents are asking why the increase in diagnosis of autism, ADHD, etc. His answer? Look outside and what do you see? Nothing. No kids. Not because there are less children but because they're all inside watching TV, playing video games, etc. And so because of the lack of outdoor and imaginative play, they now have these disabilities. Yes, he said it. I quickly closed the book and put it back.
So it's my fault that my kid didn't play outside "enough" to avoid getting an ASD. Never mind the fact that ASD's are NOT caused by the environment or disease. They refer to the brain's hardwiring which is formed in infancy. So apparently I didn't play outside enough and didn't send my newborn outside enough to play to avoid this. And apparently the bridges can be fixed with therapy and medication. Really? We are advanced enough to re-wire the brain? I admit with therapy an Aspie kid can do anything anyone with fancy built bridges can do, but the bridges in my daughter's brain will always be hand-built, board by board and nail by nail as she grows. And I think she is amazing and much smarter than this author. I don't need him to put more guilt on me than any other parent carries for their children.
So in the absence of a decent set of sound bites, I'll continue to love and cherish her and her amazing abilities!