April is always a little dicey when you’re a Thinking Mom. We’re all about awareness, action, and hope. But this year, it’s hard out there for a Thinker. It’s not just about blue lightbulbs and raising awareness. It’s about sticking to party lines and maintaining a religious-like fervor while minimizing the honest-to-goodness increase in autism. For me, this past April has been about gray areas, perception, marketing, self-determination, resiliency, hope, and truth.
A few days ago I was combing through the schedule for the upcoming
AutismOne conference (May 21-25 in Chicago) and was delighted to see — in a squealy fan-girl kind of way — that Dave Asprey of The Bulletproof Executive is going to be speaking. I regularly tune in to his podcasts and blitz up a little Bulletproof Coffee. (Really, you should try Bulletproof Coffee. It’s. the. bomb. Yeah, I’m totally old and not cool.).
What does Bulletproof mean to you? To me it means strong, resilient, flexible, and indomitable. Kind of like Wonder Woman, but more comfortably dressed.
Shortly after seeing the schedule, I stumbled across a little screed about biomed moms being cure chasers/child abusers for trying to fix their kids and not just accepting them as is. My bulletproof joy was tarnished.
Welcome to April, Autism Awareness Month. Can you feel the Love?
The first time I had a Recovery Denier (just joining in the labeling fun) dump on me, I was sincerely perplexed. We are all trying to help our kids, right? We’re all fighting tooth and nail to help them because services are delivered on a silver platter, right? We all work with our strengths, right? Because we all LOVE our children and we are trying our level best, even though my best and your best are two different things. Right?
Apparently not. The autism community seems to have drawn the line in the sand between mainstream and biomed pretty darn clearly. This year it seems nastier than usual.
If you are straight-arrow light it up blue, you’re thoughtful, measured, mature, scientific, and solid. If you are on my side of that line, you are desperate and emotional, and you probably need to calm down.
See what I just did there?
Here’s another one: on one side of the line, autism is a complex issue of unknown etiology with probable genetic involvement that drives all research. On the other side of the line, you are desperate and emotional, and you probably need to calm down.
This year, it’s been ratcheted up: we are desperate and emotional AND we’re dangerous because we have concerns about the safety of the current vaccination schedule. This is also where the words quack, crazy, and delusional get tossed around. And the fact that we are mostly moms is highlighted, rather than the gender-neutral term parents. Can you guess why? Probably because we need to calm down.
The particular anti-biomed parent who used the term “child abusers” was on a tear about the MMS/CD protocol, which I haven’t tried. I appreciate that it’s very controversial. I’ve read about it. I’ve thought about it. I know kids who’ve done well on it. Depending on how it’s pitched, it’s either potentially life saving or completely horrifying.
I’ve been trying to develop my research and discernment skills and got a little frustrated that I wasn’t able to find much about the protocol that wasn’t black or white. I have some smart, reliable friends and Facebook contacts with whom I can consult, so I decided that would be my course of action when it struck me that I was sifting through marketing material for facts and information.
You know what I found? Fear, uncertainty, and dread; classic marketing ploys.
I have a Masters in Communications Management and spent my pre-autism career producing marketing and sales material. And I still got caught up in the emotional manipulation and fear-based information. Once I realized that’s what I was looking at, the power of those messages crumbled.
As I flipped through more mainstream websites I noticed it wasn’t just negative and cautionary information about the CD protocol, either. An undeniable BEWARE ALL WHO ENTER HERE (cue creepy music) message precedes all information on special diets, alternative therapies, or therapeutic dose nutrients. It pretty much goes without saying that the vitriol against anyone who questions the current vaccination schedule is unprecedented.
What’s more, the autism community had adopted these same tactics. It divides and weakens us. We wage marketing wars against each other and our energy goes into that fight and not into helping our kids.
So the perception of biomed that is foisted upon us and the general public runs something like this: we are crazy; we are desperate; we are emotional; we have no sense; we are vulnerable to the vast alternative treatment machine; we are anti-science; we are looking for a silver bullet; we are living in denial; we need counseling because we don’t love our kids. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few gems, but you get the gist. Fear, uncertainty, and dread.
Just to be clear, all the biomed moms I know are profoundly loving, dedicated parents and they do everything: biomed, diet, therapy, IEP battles, ABA, juggling doctors, etc. Some moms use meds. Some use homeopathy. Some use energy medicine. Some prefer herbals and nutrient replenishment. The goal? Helping our kids and our families. That’s it.
I admit it: I’m a fixer and a maker. I come from a long line of fixers and makers. I grew up with lots of FIXING going on: decks re-built, do-it-yourself plumbing and electrical jobs, oil changes in the driveway, a homemade prom dress, torn clothing mended, costumes assembled from scraps, etc. The same applied to us kids: braces, glasses, custom orthotics, allergy shots, etc. All these projects never made me feel like I was lacking. I felt cared for.
When we started working with a Defeat Autism Now (now MAPS) doctor in 2002 and we got back a few tests, things like a Comprehensive Diagnostic Stool Analysis (CDSA) or a urinary organic acids test (OAT), there were issues highlighted that could be fixed. So we fixed them . . . and our boy’s level of functioning increased. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The more I thought about seeing Dave Asprey and wondering what he’s going to talk about, the more I realized we’ve been biohacking all along: taking what we’ve got and optimizing performance. We were bulletproof before bulletproof was cool. We eat clean (for us that means, gluten-free, dairy-free and allergen-free), use healthy fats, avoid brain-sapping additives, optimize sleep, and use neurofeedback. We even achieved an impressive gain in IQ. We track the data and tweak as we go.
That’s our reality, not a marketing pitch. If perception is reality, then biomed saved our son. I’d like all of us on this side of the line in the sand to offer an alternative script so we can shift the conversation: we are strong; we are optimistic; we are determined; we are science-minded; we are hopeful; we are ahead of the curve. We are Bulletproof.
So, will this stem the hatred flowing from Recovery Deniers and Epidemic Deniers and other deniers of our kids’ potential? Probably not. This particular battle in the ongoing Mommy Wars is not about who loves their kid more, because, frankly, that would be stupid. It’s about cognitive dissonance and denial. Because if the naysayers see that maybe they could have done something, they would not be able to function . . . talk about guilt. Then they’d have to DO something or be accused of not loving their children. It’s a really brutal trap. I bet they need a hug and a GF cookie.
Meanwhile, we can reach out to parents who are new to an autism diagnosis or who’ve heard about good results. I’d like to propose that we embrace biohacking and the language of optimization. I’m not here to fix my kid because he’s lacking in any way; I’m here to make him #Bulletproof because he’s amazing and he deserves a great life.
Zorro is a California mom with a point to make about autism (and ADHD and sensory integration dysfunction): It has biological underpinnings and it’s treatable! Kids can improve and some can recover when their medical issues and nutritional deficiencies are corrected. Mom to three boys with issues including anxiety, autism (her son has recovered!), ADHD, epilepsy, dyslexia, and mild attachment disorder, Zorro spends her days looking for solutions, geeking out over neurobiology, juggling schedules, trying to feed picky kids with a billion food allergies, and keeping up with celebrity gossip. She blogs at Recovery Road.