Having an autistic child is not the end of the world--far from it. It is my hope that through this blog, at least a handful of people will get to understand that. My child is amazing, she brings us tremendous joy. We have good days & bad days, but we CHOOSE to focus on the good. Our belief is that by loving our daughter, giving her the most comfortable environment we can, and by most of all accepting her differences, she will continue to blossom--in her OWN way.

4/2/08

The Kirton Family RULES!

After several tense moments on Larry King (mostly Jenny, interrupting the sane members of the panel, yeah, she's a great public speaker), they introduced the Kirton family. They have 6 children who are all on the autism spectrum. Larry seemed disturbed by the fact that this couple continued to have children, he even asked that very question. He even seemed to throw in a little jab at Mormons.

They "keep having children" Larry King, because they LOVE children. They LOVE being parents. They LOVE their autistic children. That may be appalling or confusing to people who feel their autistic child kicked their butts, but indeed, this family actually loves having all of their beautiful, autistic children. Certainly, no one would tell this family to deny their deep-rooted religious beliefs. This, obviously, has been an important aspect for this family. We have freedom of religion in this country, and surely we can all agree that the Kirton family is afforded this freedom like the rest of us. It is cruel for any of us to judge this family.

Mom26children and her family have been subject to similar finger-wagging by those who feel they know better. Both families, by all accounts I have seen, genuinely love their children, acknowledge the challenges, battle through some tough times, and through it all they find happiness in their lives. I think this is why they are the focus of criticism. If the story was presented as these sad families, with multiple children on the spectrum, parents crying and pleading for help, lives out of control, I don't think there would be as much negativity. But when the media shows us a family who is making the best of things, with 5 or 6 autistic children, some groups shudder. It's awfully hard to argue how miserable your life is with your one autistic child, when a prime-time show has just profiled one of these families.

If one's main concern over the fact that either of these families has multiple children with autism is that they are a burden on society, that argument is off base too. Shall we put limits on how many children you may have based on income? Some families would struggle with 3 neurotypical children. Do we force them to be sterilized then, or have abortions should they become pregnant a fourth time? When it comes to families with autism, do we set a cap? Perhaps they can only have one subsequent child? What if that second child ends up not having autism, is this family allowed to have a third? What about families whose children have diseases, genetic disorders, etc? Shall we tell them also if and when they are allowed to get pregnant?

None of us have any right to judge these families or question their decisions. Personally, both are inspirations to me. I'm quick to say I "can't imagine how they do it." Yet at the same time, I know precisely how (some possible answers: love, acceptance, prayer). I applaud the Kirton family for stepping into the spotlight and telling the world their story (or, shall I say their 6 stories?). It was a nice contrast to have their video clips played during Larry King tonight.

The Kirtons are starting a foundation called AutismBites:

We are forming a non-profit, The AutismBites Foundation. We will be raising needed funds and passing them directly into the hands of Autistic parents for basic needs, home renovations to keep their children safe, for treatments and interventions to improve their children’s lives, etc... without a lot of red tape and hoops to jump through.
On causes, Mr. Kirton added that he feels there is a spectrum of causes, just as autism itself is a spectrum. Bravo to you!

**edited to add several paragraphs after I accidentally published this before I was finished. Also, I want to say the title for this, was because of how this family presented themselves on Larry King. They RULE because of the love they show their children, and how they move forward every day (doesn't appear to be many pity parties going on there).


ALSO...
Applause to the doctors (Drs. Harvey Karp & David Tayloe ) who are also on the show, trying their best to reiterate that the REAL science, real data, shows not vaccine-autism connection. If I didn't think that Kirby & Jenny could cause real harm to families, this would be comical. Between their lack of understanding for autistic adults, mantra of "you can recover your child/vaccines are horrible" (I loved when the doctor asked Jenny which disease she'd like her son to have!!!), and their abuse of the public forum for what is really needed for autistics (ADULTS services!!!!), they irk me beyond belief.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

When you say that Kirtons kept having children because they "LOVE" them, it sounds like you are talking about candy: I LOVE candy, so I am going to have more and more. But, we are also responsible for our own children. We are to judge our abilities and their needs and work hard to match these. Now, Kirtons do not have the resources to effectively provide for so many kids with very special needs. I can only imagine how exhausted they are by the end of the day from taking care only of the basic needs of their family. How can they help their children develop? How can they help them learn? Three of the kids aren't even covered by medical insurance. John has four children from a previous marriage. Did he feel he was going to be able to provide for more and more?
Having kids is not about "LOVE" - it is also about responsibility. And first and foremost, it is our responsiblity totake care of own offsprings, not the society's, not the community's, teachers' or volunteers'. I wish people understood that before letting LOVE take over reason 6 times in a row.

S.L. said...

Anon:

I added to my entry, I had published it accidentally. I doubt any of that changes your perspective though. Another thing worth noting is that some of the Kirtons' & mom26children's kids were not diagnosed until they were older. And, to these families, their children are blessings.

Last time I checked, we lived in America, where we area all afforded the freedoms of religion and expression. Women also have the freedom of choice here as well.

Are you recommending we follow China's laws on how many children we can have?

http://geography.about.com/od/populationgeography/a/onechild.htm

Anonymous said...

1) the incidence of autism has increased smoothly, implacably, from 1 in 10,000 worldwide - when my first child was diagnosed autistic - to 1 in 150 today, 19 years later. That is a doubling every 3.16 years. Implacably, annually increasing 20%.

2) Autism is not “caused by” anything genetic. Nothing in the human genome is doubling every four years. Changing the genetic structure takes tens of thousands of years.

3) Autism is not “caused by” Thimerisol in inoculations. We stopped that years ago, and the autism epidemic grows unchanged. Russia banned thimerisol 20 years ago, and Denmark banned it in 1992… and the autism incidence there increased the same as everywhere else in the world. It was banned in the US since 1999… and the autism incidence grows at 20% a year. THIMERISOL CAUSES AUTISM LIKE VITAMINS CAUSE PREGNANCY. Lots of people take vitamins before pregnancy strikes. Lots of people inoculate their children at 3, and autism is usually diagnosed at 3.

4) That leaves only a single possible theory: something in the environment, wherever plastic and cellphones and Teflon are used, is doubling in either potency or concentration every four years, worldwide.
There is not a logically possible alternative.

5) In closing:
Amish do not get autism.
1 in 79 Mormons boys in Utah gets autism.
Can we pay attention to the only important thing: look for the environmental differences?

S.L. said...

anon:

Actually, on my post "The Worst of CNN's Coverage," you'll find links to autism and the Amish. There ARE cases of autism in the Amish community. I strongly feel more awareness and better diagnosis is what's reflected in these higher statistics of autism cases. Children are no longer being labeled as "mentally retarded," "schizophrenic," or any of the other many diagnoses children often received, who would be be deemed autistic. Also, how many more children are being classified as having asperger's or HFA, that perhaps in the past would be seen as shy, quirky, etc? All of this must be considered when we look at these numbers.

I will also add, I am for the reduction in toxins in our environment. We eat almost all organic foods, use organic cleaners, etc. And, I also feel, some children are more sensitive to environmental factors. I also feel it's possible some children are misdiagnosed with autism or adhd, when they truly have severe allergies and/or sensitivities.

The bottom line is this: when it comes to autism, the questions raised far outweigh the answers.

Mom26children said...

We do love our children. We did not plan to have six children, let alone 5 of them diagnosed with Autism. We did, however, except each child as the individual they are.
People who call us names or try to discredit our families in any way are just insecure in their feelings about their parenting. People do not like the fact that we thrive as a family unit when they are falling apart.
Thanks for the kind words about our family on your blog....
Best to you and your family.
Jeanette O'Donnell

S.L. said...

Thanks, Jeanette, for your comments.

"People do not like the fact that we thrive as a family unit when they are falling apart."

Absolutely! You and your family have been an inspiration beyond words to me (and my family!). THANK YOU!!!

Dadof6Autistickids said...

I'm sorry that I did not find your post until today. YOU GET IT. Thanks!

We did not know about our Autism 'problem' until our youngest was nearly two. But even so we always prayed after the birth of a child to know if their were any more children to join our family.

Until Mary was born we did not get the feeling that we were done. Now we know why. For God's own purposes these children were to be in our family. To be loved by Robin and I.

We don't care what the rest of the world says. We love them and feel blessed to have them be our children.

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