It’s Not Contagious (#338)

On the one hand, there’s Katie Grant claiming that parents are using an autism diagnosis as an “excuse” for a child “misbehaving”—a claim which reminds me of when I once got a surprised look from a mother of non-autistic children when she heard that Charlie “gets” free summer school. And on the other hand, there’s the threat of Autism Contagion.
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Maybe you’ve seen that straining to appear nice and calm, pinch-mouthed look in the parent of a toddler or a baby as you walk by with your autistic child, and more definitely if you are not walking by with your autistic child, but dragging him (screaming) by both arms, or bending over to peel him off the sidewalk. Mothers-to-be who had smiled at Charlie (“what a cutie“) seemed to present with an allergic reaction to, well, us after they had a babe in arms.

There’s enough conflict and controversy about the causes of autism, about how to “treat” it and about how to educate autistic children without having to have other parents yank their kids out of Charlie’s path for fear they’ll “catch” his dreadful disorder. (I will say that older people the same age as Charlie’s grandparents have often said “hi” and smiled kindly on him.)

And it reminds me that, for all the reams of autism awareness and the $$$$$ raised in autism walks, autism golf outings, autism silent auctions, autism bracelet sales, autism merchandise, autism books and websites and blogs and journals and conferences, the ignorance level–that you can “catch” autism, as if Charlie is the next Typhoid Mary–is more than high.

Our antidote to public autism ignorance: Take Charlie everywhere and be ready.


To me, that’s being an “autism ambassador.” Charlie must go outside. The world may not be ready for Charlie and the difference he makes.

So get ready, world.

For the boy who, dad Jim at his side, rode past a certain major avenue a few towns over.
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For the boy who got a big smile on his face as we drove into the hospital parking lot to visit Grandma. Charlie was not allowed to see her (he has to be over 12) but Jim came out, with a deep breath. “She’s a better today.” “Gramma,” said Charlie.

For the boy who grabbed the C and B hand bells (a gift from one of my aunts) and rang them; who played them by knocking them together or on the floor, by holding the clappers and ringing them. Before bedtime, Charlie asked me to put on his Wiggles “Yummy Yummy” CD and, for a few songs, rang the bells in time to the beat.

For the boy who looked at me winsomely and said his teacher’s name and “Monday.” I had to explain about Monday being Memorial Day and how we were going to take a trip with cousin Bobby and Charlie’s pal Hal to the beach. “And then, school on Tuesday.”

“Bobby Hal Monday.” Said Charlie and, looking me firmly in the eye, offered his teacher’s name again.

Maybe it’s too bad you can’t catch Charlie.

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Comments
10 Responses to “It’s Not Contagious (#338)”
  1. Anonymous says:

    There’s enough conflict and controversy about the causes of autism, about how to “treat”.

    I’d point out that conflict and controversy about cause should probably be conflict and controversy about “hypothesized cause”

  2. Dell Adams says:

    No, since in any case we can be sure that it has a cause. All things do.

  3. Estee says:

    What causes us to be human?

  4. Joseph says:

    I’ve been trying to teach my son (he’s almost 5) to ride his bike. I try to explain that he needs to pedal. But it’s hard to tell if he’s listening and understanding the instructions.

    When did Charlie start to ride his bike?

  5. Joseph says:

    > What causes us to be human?

    Genetics 🙂

  6. vincent says:

    I think there’s really only two choices:

    YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR CHILD FOR THE WORLD OR YOU CAN CHANGE THE WORLD FOR YOUR CHILD.

    Guess which is easier to do?

    Katrina, good job!

  7. Estee says:

    Joseph,

    Genetics and something else that makes us more than a pool of genes — spirit?

  8. Estée, soul?

    Joseph, Charlie was 4 1/2. He learned how to pedal when he was 3 1/2. One his home therapists stood in front of him (on our front walkway) waving something he really liked; Charlie was on his tricycle and pushed the pedal (right foot, then left) down to go forward. And was instantly given it, and hugged and cheered on. My husband got him a bike with training wheels soon after.

  9. Vincent, yes, all attention 1st to Charlie!

    And then—since we try to venture into it more and more–the world.

  10. Julia says:

    I notice older folk being more tolerant of my child, as well.

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