People who prefer to find blame in vaccines, often look at us who embrace neurodiversity as being unrealistic. We even are accused of not having our children's best interests in mind. First and foremost, after years of studies continue to find no link between vaccines and autism, why is there still a debate? Why is anyone wasting their breath on this? All the money and media mention--for what?
Those who hold onto the hope of a cure for autism and support pouring millions into such research, also look at us in this same light. Let's be brutally honest here: there will never be a true "cure," not in the traditional sense of the word. What will come in the next several years, most likely, is a prenatal screening for well-documented "autism genes" or other markers for autism. Then, just like we've seen with Down Syndrome, pregnant women will be counseled to abort their fetus based on the positive autism test. A secondary "cure" would most likely be a combination of medications and supplements. There will never be a "magic pill" or procedure to "rid" someone of autism.
So, with all of that in mind, these same people continue to attack those on the ND side of things. We are called every name in the book. There is plenty of confusion as to what Neurodiversity means (as well as what Autism awareness should be), and what so many of us are fighting for. For me, and for most of the parents I know, we are fighting for better services for our children. We want programs created and funded now for teen and adult autistics. We demand better teacher training, employer seminars, first-responders' awareness on autism. We see a dire need for better options for autistics and their families: living arrangements, vocational and education programs, and so on. We also desire our children to be accepted by society, and at the very least tolerated in our communities. We want the world to embrace our child, and see all the gifts we see (for all our children, all over the spectrum).
Our concerns stem not only out of the love we have for our children, but from our fears that arise hearing about stories of abuse. Talk about intervention and treatments (that are respectful to autistics), yes. But how can any of us spend another minute blaming vaccines and promising cures, when our children are being abused, neglected, and killed?
Gabriel Poirier was nine years old when he was suffocated to death at his school. The details of his death are horrifying, and we yet to have all of the facts (like, why the teacher thought this was a viable option?). From The Gazette:
On April 17, Gabriel began to disturb his class with loud sounds. After being told repeatedly to calm down by a teacher, he was rolled in a weighted blanket. With his arms by his side, he was left on his stomach for over 20 minutes with only his toes exposed.
When the teacher went to check on him, he was "listless and blue in the face," the Coroner's report said. The teacher called 911 but the boy was already in a deep coma and passed away the next day in the Sainte-Justine hospital.
"He was a very gentle boy. Sometimes he was loud, but he was never aggressive or violent," Gilles Poirier, the boy's father, said today.
The parents' lawyer, Jean-Pierre Ménard, said vulnerable children like Gabriel need better protection.
"We're asking Minister Courchesne to implement a legal framework to regulate how these children are handled," Ménard said.
To think of how terrified Gabriel must have been as he gasped for breath, and the pain his parents are feeling--we cannot look the other way. My heart goes out to his family and friends. We must all learn from Gabriel's story, and not let his death be in vain. This is yet another wake-up call: our attitudes toward autism and autistics needs to change. What is it going to take to for all of us, autism parents and society, to come together and ensure such a tragedy never happens again?
In the words of Gabriel's father:
"Things, or action should be taken to prevent this, to never happen again."
For more information on how you can get involved, please visit these sites:
APRAIS - The Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions, and Seclusion
CAICA - Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse