Friday, April 11, 2008

Confessions of an Autism Walk-a-thon Slacker


April is autism awareness month, and Sunday is the Autism Walk-a-thon in Portland, sponsored by the Autism Society of Oregon. This year it was easy for me to come up with my excuse. The march is at Oaks Park amusement park and Sayer would want to go on the rides, but he can’t because of his broken arm. I don’t remember the excuse I used last year.

You see, I have never been to an Autism Walk-a-thon and I don’t plan to go. There is something about the idea that catches in my throat, although I have plenty of friends who plan to go with their families. It’s probably because I have ample autism awareness in my life. After a week of managing Sayer’s anxiety with picture schedules and sensory integration therapy, liasoning with his school team, plus doing my own work and handling other family responsibilities, I just want to go on a quiet hike in the Columbia River Gorge.

There is another reason I always avoid these walks. I am active in parent advocacy groups and socialize with other families impacted by autism – I certainly swam ashore from the river of denial years ago. But, I dread seeing the information booths and biomedical evangelicals that hawk their cures at autism events. At this stage of my life, I am wary of what my friend “T” calls the autism industry. Our family has tried the biomedical route without success, and I believe these treatments have opportunity costs for parents, such as dashed hopes and financial hardship. It makes me groan to see parents who are convinced otherwise.

So, this Sunday you will find our family enjoying our own walk-a-thon amidst the beauty that is the gorge. I’m not repentant. Middle-age means never (or rarely) needing to say you’re sorry.

4 comments:

ByJane said...

Middle-age also means realizing that there are people who get their identity from the particular disability. That's what ends up turning me off these (as I call them) Group Gropes. So much noise from so many needy people (and that doesn't include the kids!)

Carol said...

Group Gropes - what a great term! It can be hard to separate yourself from your own or your child's disability, but so key to do so.

Pam said...

Hi everyone, I absolutely agree. I sometimes use my son as an excuse not to do stuff more than I should. One time I even brought him along to a meeting, thinking, I can cut out of here quick. Wouldn't you know it : he was calm, looked interested, really relaxed, and wanted to stay............

Carol said...

Our kids are always full of surprises, arent they?