The latest on my craw's radar: people who (appear to?) object to early intervention. Remember that my son is five. He is a product of early intervention. I believe in making sure that ALL people get the services and supports they need- that is, early intervention is not about telling other people it is "too late" or an alternative to providing service to older children or adults. Early intervention is identifying children who need services and support as early as possible and providing he service and support they need. It is about trying hard to get kids learning the skills other "normal" kids pick up on their own, and helping them learn to function, to play, to learn about their world and communicate with their fellow human beings.
Although this attitude may not be shared by all folks who believe in early intervention, I can only speak to the attitudes I know. Maybe there are folsk who believe they are curing their kid. I have no such allusions. I am teaching my autistic child to live in a world designed for people who are not autistic.
But the objections to early intervention seem to be something I can't put my finger on. I sometimes have this trouble between when my critical thinking alarm goes off ("there's something wrong with this argument...") and when I actuallyhave time to process what the other person is arguing to be able to pinpoint the problem ("Oh! I see. You think the sky is yellow. Well, that doesn't work.") At this stage in my processing, I can only say that when people scream very loudly and get very upset and start attacking other people because of their parenting choices and semantics of their goal, there is usually something wrong i the argument- especially when they suddenly seem to be in my face.
Sometimes there is something wrong with my own thinking. I'm learning all this too, after all. I am not a perfect savant about autism or even about Joey. I'm no mindreader, and I have to learn what he's thinking and feeling the same way other people do- I'm just better at understanding him than most other people. I understand that I don't know everything. But usually by the time I have ideas that get out here, they've been pretty thought through, so that they are at least reasonable, even if not always right. There is no need for shouting, or getting surly. Present me with new information.
But usually when I have someone surly and sharp telling me what an idiot I am, there is something wrong with that side of things. The assumption of stupidity is a huge red flag. The assumption of lack of research is another red flag. It makes me start to look very carefully at what is being said- and what is being implied.
Back to the case in point: early intervention. So far, there seems to be an anti-early-intervention segment, and they are very, very angry. So far, the objections to early intervention seem to be:
1. You shouldn't medicalize child development. 2. It is impossible to diagnose autism before age 2. 3. Children before age 2 often seem to be autistic. 4. Early intervention is intended to "cure" autistic children. 5. Early intervention services deny services to older children and adults (apparently because the services are intended to "cure" autism.)
Child development is already medicalized. That's why we go to a pediatrician for well-baby appointments every 6 months.
If we had been knowledgeable about autism, we could hav diagnosed Joey before the age of 2- closer to 18 months. He was showing signs while we were still in the hospital, but diagnosing based on sensory problems would probably be very tricky.
My non-autistic child is VERY different from Joey- even with the sensory problems my other child has. With them side-by-side, there is no mistaking that Joey was autistic from birth. I have not met a normal child who "seemed" autistic the way autistic children do before age 2. I have met children with other disabilities who present very similarly to autism. And for the record, Joey did have things like eye contact, smiles, and interest in people as a baby. No one sign is going to give you a diagnosis of anything, much less autism.
Early intervention helps children learn valuable skills and gain functional skills and education that other children "pick up" through imitation and normal processing. It helps autistic children learn how to learn. It does not cure autism.
Early intervention does not eliminate the need for future service, and does nothing at all for people who currently require support and service. It lessens the needs for specific types of service for children who are able to benefit from early intervention.
In Joey's case, the smiles were disappearing. The ability to communicate was not developing. He was becoming increasingly frustrated and upset. WE WERE LOSING HIM. That may be hard for some people to understand. It seems particularly difficult for some autistic adults I have met. From this point of view, I was watching a happy, healthy, loving child turn into a sullen, frustrated, angry child. As a parent, that means something must be done. Now. If I had not moved my butt and gotten him into some kind of intervention, what would have happened to him? I can tell you this: he would not be speaking. He would have remained rustrated and angry. He would have had less and less access to the world around him. I understand that some people think that this is what I should have done- allowed him to "be autistic" and do nothing. I can't please everyone.