What causes autism?The latest "This is related to autism" study really struck a nerve with me. You know, the one the other day that found that babies born close together have a higher risk of autism? Normally, I read the articles and think, "Hmm. Okay. That's interesting." And then put it out of my mind and forget it.
Forget it? Yes. Because until they come up with more definitive links, I'm not going to worry my pretty little head about it. Mostly because I don't really give a rats arse what causes autism.
Was that harsh? I'm not sorry. It's true. I don't care. And I live it each and every day with my two sons. One is fairly high-functioning and we mostly deal with anxiety, sensory issues and lack of eye contact (Okay, he has social difficulties, too. But he's happy). I have one that is just about as severe as you can get, complete with toileting issues, sleep issues, self-injurious behavior and being non-verbal. I've had feces and urine in every room in my house. We've had to replace every piece of furniture because he either breaks it, bites through the fabric or pukes/pees on it. Our walls have holes in them. Nothing survives here long.
And I still don't care what causes autism.
See, there are constantly studies going on linking autism to everything to what color hair you have to your shoe size when you give birth. I just made that up, but seriously, some of these studies are REALLY REACHING HERE. While I'm pleased they do so much research I also take it all with a grain of salt. Some sample sizes are smaller (or larger) than others. Sometimes data is fabricated. And just because a study shows a possible link or shows that they haven't found a conclusive link, doesn't mean there is or isn't a link. Confused? Most people are. One thing is certain: We still don't know what causes it. And more research needs to be done. I, for one, wish they'd stop rushing every freaking correlation straight to the media. And don't get me started on the Internets, mmkay?
Let's look at some of the things that have been blamed, shall we?
- Living near a freeway
- 100 possible genes
- Gene mutation
- Having babies too close together.
- Allowing your infants and toddlers to watch television
- Being old when you have your baby
- Wheat and dairy
- Metal poisoning
OH NOES! I'm not trying to make a joke out of this (because, it is serious. I guess), but can you see why parents are confused and upset? Every five minutes we're finding out that something else we did, or didn't do, caused our child's (children's) autism. And new parents? Heck, if I was pregnant or planning a baby right now, I'd be scared to death. I don't blame them. I still get questions from well-meaning relatives about what I did to cause my kid to be the way he is. You know, because it's all my fault. Maybe I was a refrigerator mother? Talk about feeling guilty. (To be fair, there are a few genetic causes of autism such as Fragile X or Rett's).
Look, we all want what is best for our kids. We want them to be healthy and happy. And, while I don't go around telling folks, "It's great having autistic kids! Get some! They're awesome!" I do tell them that they are awesome and our life is a life worth living. There are no guarantees in life and you have to make the best of what you're given. I view autism the same way. No one ever said it would be easy. But we're fulfilled and we're happy.
Until they come out and say, "We've got it! It's this thing right here!" I will remain skeptical. I'm just going to go through life as I always do, focusing on my sons and their well-being. I'm not holding my breath, however, because the cause/cure thing is a long way off. If it ever comes.
Do you feel like I feel? Are you sick of all these studies that really don't help?
Image via Marj Hatzell