Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Experimenting on Children...

I've just read this over at Ann Althouse's blog concerning treatments for autism.

It's pretty sick. It's bordering on Spanish-Inquisition-sick. Doctor Menegle would approve, I'm sure.

First, a word about autism.

It's a truly debilitating condition...if your parents are convinced that it is. I know a couple of people with autism or Aspberger's Syndrome, and yeah, they are often socially awkward and they can creep you out some if you don't know they have it, and yeah, they can get pretty bad about hurting themselves, but there's nothing inherently wrong with them that a little love and understanding can't help 'fix'. A man I know is a mathematical genius who probably could have been anything he wanted to be -- if he hadn't been treated as if he were 'special'; instead he's spent his life performing low-paying, physical labor. A woman of my (very close) acquaintance was treated by her doctors and parents (and also severely medicated) to the point where she was little more than a bag of skin. Despite the fact that her 'autism' was a misdiagnosis -- that wasn't caught for over 20 years. She, incidentally, is a perfectly-functioning human being who simply needed some encouragement -- and then a personal accomplishment or two -- to figure this out.

I have yet another friend who has an autistic child and all she does is fight tooth-and-nail with her local school board to help create the conditions where her son may simply get a decent primary education without the We Care Brigade letting their good (but entirely misguided) intentions inadvertently pave his road to a personal hell.

Yeah, I get it; different people are afflicted to different extents, and not all autistics are capable of such (for lack of a better word) 'normal' lives. But I wonder how many actually are, or rather, would be, if the words 'autism' didn't evoke the kind of fear and stupidity that they do. I also wonder how many children are being diagnosed as autistics simply because they merely display a symptom of two --- without actually being autistic. It's becoming the Designer Illness du jour for parents with little sense and loads of disposable income.

Of course, once the word 'autism' entered the daily lexicon of most people, it's suddenly found everywhere, and every parent who gets upset because their tyke isn't speaking fluent Japanese by her third birthday is, in part, responsible for it. So are the doctors who simply categorize people without first making certain of a diagnosis because it's easier to tell a parent who is already convinced what they want to hear.

For many people nowadays, children are not a responsibility and a labor of love. They aren't tiny human beings who require love and guidance and life lessons to be taught by an attentive parent . They are a fashion accessory. Having kids is simply what you must do when you can't figure out what to do with your weekends anymore, or worse, they are the key to a whole new social world of Little League, the PTA and the Soccer Mom pre-school set. So, when the kid exhibits some sort of behavior which reflects badly on the parent, there simply must be something wrong with the kid, and the parent will take the little guy to every doctor, and subject him to every imaginable test to prove there must be some reason beyond bad genes and poor parenting skills to explain why Little Bobby hasn't built a Super Hadron Collider in the basement -- even though you bought him the kit for Christmas.

There must be something wrong with him, because the alternative is simply too embarrassing. Usually, the first 'hint' for these overly-sensitive parents is that Jenny hasn't talked by age 2, and Timmy would rather watch Power Rangers than engage in conversation with Mommy, tuning her out. It can't be because Jenny hasn't anything to say, or because Timmy's Mommy hasn't bonded with her child, what with him being left with nannies while she resumed her career, and all.

And so they drag their kids from one doctor to another, unwilling to believe that Doctors A-through-Y made a solid diagnosis of gross 'normality' -- until they find Doctor Z who agrees that 3-year old Sam's seeming inability to accept the basic premises of the theory of Anthropomorphic Global Warming simply must be a sign of autism.

Of course, Doctor Z is a child behavioral expert, but the fact that maybe she graduated last in her class, maybe after repeating her last year of med school and failing her State Licensing Exam twice, means nothing. She's more than happy to help the over-sensitive Parents realize their Worst Nightmare while taking their cash. Sometimes, Doctor Z has a vested interest in telling you what you're already predisposed to believe, whether it's true or not, whether or not she's competent to make that call.

Which begets fear about inoculations, medication, oxygen chambers and blood transfusions for no apparent reason other than the hope that something 'changes'. What changes they're expecting is beyond me. If your kid is a dope, then too bad. However, if your kid is really ill, or really is autistic, then what the hell are you trying to do? The science on these treatments is sketchy, at best, and any doctor who tells you they understand all the vagaries and mysteries of both genetics and the human brain is a flat-out liar.

In the meantime, children who really do need help are either having real treatments denied or delayed by this witchcraft, or the witchcraft is simply a substitute for what many of these kids really need -- parents who love them and who are willing to devote the time, and display the patience, needed to help them out. They aren't 'sick', they aren't 'abnormal', and yes, many have 'special needs', but the first need on that list is a parent with common sense.

Autism can be a scary thing. I've seen it close up at it's worst. I also know from personal experience that a good many doctors of the behavioral sciences sort are full of shit (six years on the couch for me, hence the name of this blog). But this sort of thing, subjecting your children to what, at first glance appears to be torture based on little more than a personal hope generated by your own vanity, strikes me as barbaric.

For those who have children with severe autism, I'm on your side. Really. I would rather pluck out my own eyeballs than see a child suffer, and would gladly give you everything I have if it eased your pain, and helped your child for as much as five minutes. For those of you who simply can't accept that you're really poor parents and look to this sort of 'medicine' to absolve you of this sin, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves...oh, right; you're incapable of shame, which is why you put your kids through hell in the first place -- to prove their 'abnormality' is really not your fault.

The Doctors who do this sort of thing ought to have their own heads examined.

No comments: