Health Blogs | Autism

It’s no secret.

October 21st, 2009 by Janna Willard

It’s no secret that I have ADHD. I’m open about it. I talk about it whenever it seems appropriate.

It’s no secret that I don’t think autism is The Worst Thing Ever. I’ve known a lot of kids and a lot of adults (both online and off) with autism spectrum disorders, and I have found them all incredibly interesting and entertaining (though sometimes frustrating) human beings.

It’s no secret that I don’t currently take medication for my ADHD. I stopped in May 2008. I’m reconsidering that decision, based on the difficulties I’ve been having in my life since I stopped working full-time - that lack of structure seems not to agree with me. I’m sure I’ll post once I come to a final decision about it.

It’s no secret that I don’t think autism is caused by vaccines. I think it’s primarily genetic, possibly with some kind of environmental trigger. Even if that trigger turns out to sometimes be vaccines, I don’t think that’s a reason to refuse vaccination for children, since I would prefer a live autistic child to a dead non-autistic child (and a lot of kids who don’t get vaccinated are autistic anyway, so it’s a crap shoot either way). I advocate intelligent vaccination schedules - check blood titers prior to vaccination (don’t give a vaccine if there are already antibodies in the blood), only give one vaccine at a time (and spread them out), and weigh the risks of actual vaccine damage for each vaccine. The risks of not vaccinating far outweigh the risks of vaccinating, in my opinion; herd immunity is beginning to dwindle because of the number of people who aren’t allowing their children to be vaccinated, and that means a rise in things like pertussis (which can kill infants) and measles (which isn’t fun and does, occasionally, kill people).

It’s no secret that I am a Christian. I was raised in a Christian home, and I continue to attend church every Sunday. I even wear a cross earring in my left ear, in addition to the usual earrings most women wear.

It’s no secret that I think that trying to teach autistic children to pretend that they aren’t autistic is damaging to their psyches and completely unhelpful. I think it makes a lot more sense to teach to their strengths, to focus on effective communication, and to ensure that the base reasons for disruptive and/or inappropriate behaviours are sought out and dealt with. (In other words, “task avoidance” is probably not the actual reason for a behaviour - figure out what about the task is distasteful and deal with that.)

It’s no secret that I am something of a writer. I don’t mean just this blog, I mean fiction. I have had an article published (Calgary’s Child in fall 2007), but no short stories or novels. I have participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) every year since 2001 (except for 2003), been a Municipal Liaison (ML) since 2005 (Calgary 2005-2008; now Saskatoon), and moderated the Character & Plot Realism Q&A forum since 2006. In 2006, I finished the 50,000 words that qualifies me as a winner. I achieved the goal again last year, in 2008. My novel last year was supposed to be the second in a series, but after some thought I have made it the first in the series, decided to rewrite my 2006 novel to be the second in the series, and this year’s novel will be the third in the series. I’m writing Young Adult novels about teens with disabilities. I’ll let you know when they start being published.

It’s no secret that I have a low tolerance for disrespect. One of the reasons I think as I do about how we approach autism is that I think many current methods are inherently disrespectful of the individual’s wants and needs. Arguing with someone who has a disorder over whether or not that disorder exists is disrespectful and devalues the struggles that person faces every day.

It’s no secret that I don’t censor people who disagree with me, either. Looking through the comments on this blog (especially my previous post) should make that abundantly clear. I don’t delete comments that disagree with me, I respond to them (when necessary). I am a fan of discussion. Of course, my preference is that it be done respectfully.

It’s no secret that I’m more interested in quality of life when it comes to disorders. I care less about what causes a disorder and more about how that disorder affects a person’s life. I want to help people have happy, fulfilling lives, whether that means they knit blankets, run a business, or volunteer at the YMCA. The point is that people with disabilities should get to decide what to do with their lives, whether or not it’s “productive” or “contributes to society.”

In essence, it’s no secret that I think that all human life is sacred and valuable, simply by virtue of the fact that it exists.

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Tags: autism work, Autism, ADHD


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