We struggled with the conflicting diagnosis. A psychologist suggested autism. The Chief of Neuro-Psychology at the Children’s Hospital disagreed. I knew something was amiss. This particular daughter had something extra. It wasn’t until my grandson received an official diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder that it set in. When his sister came, we were dealt the same blow. Autism became a family affair.
In the 1970s and 80s, one in every 2,000 children received an autism-related diagnosis. In the last twenty years, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention began reporting an alarming increase. Currently, one in every 42 boys is placed on the Autistic Spectrum and one in every 189 girls.
Eventually, my daughter found her place as well.
Is there a genetic link? Some research says there is. However, studies also reveal only 2-4% of those on the spectrum have pinpointed, genetic mutations or chromosomal anomalies. Those that do, present autism as just one symptom of an overall syndrome. It is believed that 17% of women having autistic children, were exposed to environmental toxins during pregnancy.
Are vaccines the culprit? Autism Speaks says – no. But not everyone is convinced. Vaccine ingredients can include mercury and aluminum-based preservatives and derivatives of human blood. All have been under the microscope but their effects on the developing nervous system are sometimes inconclusive.
Autism in the house
Autism, as a family affair, presents its own dilemmas. We rely on science to give us their findings and social arenas to practice compassion. And we meet each day with fresh resolve and a spirit of teamwork.
Suppose science found a preventative or even a cure for the heartbreak of autism. There would be some changes to make in many families; mostly for the better. But there’s nothing like those “light bulb” moments when our disconnected children break through.
Sometimes it’s in the form of a smile. At others, some splinter of unexpected knowledge shines brightly. And the house fills with joyful exclamations.
Because for some of us, autism has made its way into every portrait. It’s a relentless part of the family tree.