Let’s be clear. Autism sucks; it certainly sucks for my son. (And I don’t lump the Asperger’s group into this: I have met Aspies who are cogent, gainfully employed, capable, present in the world, and able to self-advocate; Dylan wasn’t at all like that before getting high-quality ABA and has a long way to go, so the two are worlds apart.) We want our son to be able to control his own destiny, to arrange his life according to his own choices about what makes him happy, and to be free from having to rely on the kindness of strangers to survive. I won’t fault the Wrights, any of them, for anything they do in trying to help their own family. I won’t fault parents for trying to help their kids. I wish that it was as simple as stopping vaccines, eliminating milk and bread from our kids’ diets, or giving them yogurt in a pill. I wish it were that easy because then, even if my son isn’t helped, there would be literally tens of thousands of kids saved this year.
What we have to do as parents, the only way we can realistically expect to arrange our affairs, is to recognize that we only have limited resources in time and money for our children and to demand reliable, testable, proof from the people asking us to spend our time and money with them. There are therapies and treatments for ASD that are supported by research, and those that aren’t. Just like you shouldn’t be spending money on herbal remedies shown not to help your cold, you shouldn’t be spending your child’s precious hours on therapies that haven’t been proven.
It’s no different than asking for a proven reading program when a child with more advanced skills needs extra help learning to read: these same parents wouldn’t accept a teacher simply saying “this is what I do, it works a lot, plus, I’m a teacher” and sit by without progress. But anecdotal evidence isn’t, as I’ve said before.
Conveniently, my position as a lawyer allows me to support parents regardless of their beliefs about cause because my role in the process is to help them get a FAPE (free appropriate public education) for their child, to assist them in accessing other resources, such as health insurance, for related and ancillary services, and to help them plan ahead for the uncertain futures we all fear.