If You Watch TV, You Know:
posted by Amy

Autism was featured on Oprah and The View this week. I watched Oprah's show with my stomach in knots; apparently, it matters a lot to me how autism gets introduced to the public. And while I'd been hoping for something a little less dramatic than her usual fare, I knew to expect an emphasis on a few key words: "epidemic" and "tragic."

That all appeared, along with the hot controversy in autism circles: are vaccines to blame for some of the cases of austim? I tend toward the "we're much better at identifying autism spectrum disorders" school of thought. Kids with autism used to be misdiagnosed as schizophrenic, for instance, and institutionalized, so when I look at things from that perspective, a rise in appropriate autism diagnoses seems like a cause for hope, not despair.

Here's what some mothers/bloggers with children on the spectrum say:

Kristina Chew at Autism Vox writes,"I think of myself as a recovered 'recover my child from autism' mother." The focus on "curing" autism was a prominent part of that episode of Oprah, but as Kristina and others have mentioned before, curing doesn't matter much when you're trying to raise your child and making your way through a maze of IEP meetings and sorting through the varied opinions about what the "right" thing to do is.

Mom-NOS writes about being pleasantly surprised by how Oprah managed to give her viewers a glimpse of the joy their children with autism bring into their families' lives along with the challenges, but wishing that adults on the spectrum had also been there to talk about themselves. (It bothered me that most viewers would have walked away from that show thinking that kids with autism can't communicate, when in fact there's a wide spectrum of behaviors AND lots of growth happening throughout their lives, just as is true for neurotypical kids.)

Awareness is good. But there's a bigger picture out there than one hour of television can give us access to, you know?