Monday, March 17, 2008

The serenity prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

The above is the serenity prayer, which is said at the end of 12 step meetings which I occasionally attend. I believe that both parents of autistic children and those who cling to a belief in neurodiversity should learn this prayer and repeat it to themselves and take it to heart in their own lives. For those of them who are either atheists or agnostics (this includes myself actually) the word God could be omitted and it could be called a saying instead of a prayer. Parents of autistic children cling to figurative opiates like ABA as a treatment that will make their children completely normal in spite of the evidence to the contrary. They cling to a belief that thimerosal causes autism, not because of any scientific evidence but rather because it gives them the hope that some sort of treatment could be found on the basis of this etiology. They lobby for flawed laws like IDEA because of the mistaken belief that their children will get some sort of benefit.

Proponents of neurodiversity cling to the flawed notion that autistics need acceptance and not cure and that if society would only change to accommodate autistics, autism would not be a problem. The autism is still there and no problems are solved by this philosophy. Many parents of autistics and most persons who preach neurodiversity would be better off just accepting the things they cannot change. Whether the parents like it or not, their children will always be autistic, these treatments and flawed theories of etiology with the promise of a quick fix won't help them. They need to accept the things they cannot change. This does not mean all is lost, they might with certain types of teaching their children and being loving parents and raising their children to the best of their abilities, but be able to help their children achieve maybe more than they would without their parents trying to do the best for them, but it will take courage to apply this philosophy. It will take courage for those who believe in neurodiversity to stop bad mouthing parents and charity organizations run by people who only want a better life for their kids. It will take courage for the neurodiversity people to stop using psychologic defense mechanisms like denial and reaction formation and to just accept that their autism is really a medical (not social) disability and not just an alternative life-style or culture.

Above all, these people need to have the wisdom to know the difference between what they can or cannot change. Though their autistic children may be able to get somewhat better and overcome some obstacles, they won't be able to function as well as the parents would like in most cases. I don't think I can comment on wisdom as it relates to neurodiversity as it would just make me too angry and I would be accused of trying to start a flame war with anyone who happens to read this post who thinks that autism is just a social disability and not a medical one and who thinks that autism research to look for a cure or at least help those as much as possible is wrong or immoral or does not need to be done, so i will let it go at that.

Again, with the God part omitted for all of the non-believers out there.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.


Anonymous said...

Jonathan, I'm an agnostic who also loves the serenity prayer. I say it to myself quite often, without the God part, and it really helps me.

We talk about multi-cultural diversity, but I love your notion of neurodiversity. We don't all have to be the same. I treasure the differences in the different ways our minds work. I'm glad we're not all stamped out of the same cookie cutter. Normal shouldn't describe people, it's just a setting on a washing machine! Jonathan, you rock and long live neurodiversity! :=)

jonathan said...

I agree, we don't have to be normal or the same, but still I regard autism as a handicap and not merely a difference, so I don't really care for the message neurodiversity has to offer, though I will try not to resort to the tactics of someone like John Best.

I wish neurodiversity would die a rapid death, but i don't think that is going to happen anytime soon

jonathan said...

Hi Camille, I know that neurodiversity supposedly fighting for my rights is a point of view that both you and michelle dawson have presented to me. It seems to me that this is not what their purpose is about. I have read a number of pro-neurodiversity sites and they say nothing about rights or employment, only that parents who wish a cure or a better life for their child are doing something wrong or are even evil or even that they are only trying to find ways to deliberately abort autistic fetuses.

What many proponents of neurodiversity seem to forget is that these parents that force the kids to take the pills or even do treatments like chelation which I agree have no value have the best of intentions. But they often want to resort to insult and innuendo. Though autism speaks and other organizations may not be perfect, their ultimate goal is to help people who are severely disabled lead a better life and allow the parents to lead an easier life. Though many in the neurodiversity movement may not like hearing it, autistic children do cause their parents aggravation at times due to their disability, though I still think most parents geniunely do love their kids.

All the stuff i see on neurodiversity blogs is stuff by people like Amanda Baggs claiming the parents really don't love their kids or Jim Sinclair saying the parents are rejecting the kids. I am curious as to where there is anything written about helping autistics secure employment or rights.

If you read stuff on my web page and others, you will see that I have been a critic of SAFEMINDS and other organizations and people who do things I don't agree with, though I do think most of the people in these organizations who are parents have the best of intentions for their kids, even if they have been sometimes mislead by unscrupulous people. I criticize things that i see as wrong. However, organizations like CAN and autism speaks do fund some legitimate scientific research which at some point may cure or prevent autism (not talking about abortion) and this I do agree with.

As far as denying the existence of adults. This is a form of denial as the prognosis for autistic adults is usually so poor. In this respect, the organizations who seek to cure autism and neurodiversity people ironically have much more in common than they realize as they are both in denial about what the prognosis is for adults. I have written about this on my web page in my article the invisible autistic adult which you may have read, though i don't have the exact URL handy, you can find it on my web page.

Autism is a debilating condition and not a whole lot can be done for it in terms of the treatments that autism organization suggest, sometimes even going as far as saying they are panaceas or what I believe are neurodiversity's simplistic solutions of saying societal attitudes will solve everything. This is something the two diverse viewpoints have in common, they, in my opinion, need to take the serenity prayer to heart and learn to accept the things they cannot change, the courage to change the things they can and the wisdom to know the difference.

jonathan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.