The “vaccine injury” community has been buzzing over the press conference and release of Holland et al’s supposedly earth shattering “study” published in the Pace Environmental Law Review. Some of them proclaim triumphantly that they have proof the government has lied about the lack of a link between vaccines and autism. Now, here, they have the evidence. Some parents feel it’s time for a revolution, time to make the government pay for their lies. None of this rhetoric is new. Not even the information supposedly revealed in this non-scientific study published in a law review.
Some books you read and forget about before you've even put it down. Some you cast aside midway through. Every now and then, though, you find a rare gift of a book that continues to move you days, weeks (and those really wonderful ones: years) later. Priscilla Gilman's book is certainly one of those rare ones with the power to move a person days and weeks later. It's too early to tell whether that will remain so, but I strongly suspect it will be one that remains a treasured book years from now for me. And sure, I'm biased: I sense a kindred spirit in Priscilla, a kindred love of words, of poets, of language in general, and for the majesty and transport that the specific melding of words by a skilled craftsman can bring a person.
It's a natural proclivity to play the what-if game. What if we could go back and change things? What if we could alter some particular trait about ourselves or an event? Would we do it? It's a favorite plot device in fiction. In the disability community, especially in the autism community, it takes on a whole new edge. Instead of posing these what ifs about ourselves, many parents engage in the what if question about autism: what if there were a magic pill that would remove all the negatives our children face? Would we give it? Just as many of us would not change our past experiences, recognizing that who are today is fundamentally built upon the experiences of the past, so too do many autistic adults who have incorporate autism into their personalities as a core feature of who they are.
In my American Literature course this semester, I worked to weave Joseph Campbell’s vision of the purpose of mythology throughout the pieces we read, to get students to consider the role that literature, in its many mediums, plays in providing the bedrock on which we live our lives and derive meaning. In a world in which religion no longer dominates our culture and for many people no longer lives and breathes, providing the answers for all life’s mysteries and meanings, the stories we listen to, watch, or read often become the essential framework on which we hang our own life narratives. Even when we maintain a religious belief structure, it is often not the dominant feature of our lives, and the stories we enjoy are often much more immediate and relevant.
Mike Rangers has a post called "14 signs that the collapse of our modern world has already begun." If it weren't so scary to think of how easily people can be conned, it would almost be funny that he's so wide-ranging in his all-knowingness. That's the beauty of instant expertise, isn't it? Just google it, or even better, just pronounce it on your blog with complete and utter confidence in your competence, regardless of your knowledge-base. After all, isn't that why those heavy hitters at AoA believe they understand complex science that most experts, in order to be experts, spend a decade or more in intense, competitive study, with even more intense testing to prove competency? If you write it down, it makes it real, and it makes it right.
Have you ever noticed that you function better when you feel comfortable and confident in your surroundings and that when you are unsure of yourself, you are more likely to stumble? The same is true for our kids. In their element, where they are sure of all the important variables and comfortable expressing themselves, they make better eye contact, engage more willingly in communication, show attachment, and function at their best.
Remove them from their comfort zones and we have vastly different children. We have children who may have been singing at the top of their lungs only an hour before now displaying selective mutism when we take them somewhere new, or who were happy and cheerful now pensive and moving towards serious meltdown.