Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Not Sorry

I've been blogging since K was a baby. At first, I was just a typical mommy blogger. I chronicled our daily trips to Target, playdates, and other inane things. I had no "cause" at the time, and so it served as a way to keep family updated when we lived in another state. After K was diagnosed, it slowly turned into an autism blog. I discovered Twitter, met a lot of other parents, and started blogging about life with an autistic child.

It was rough in the beginning. I wanted any other life but the one I'd been handed. I wanted a cure. I wanted my dreams back. I can't say I'm proud of the blogs I wrote those first few years, but I don't really regret them. They were my truth at the time. My blog connected me to a lot of fabulous people, with whom I developed good friendships even though we never physically met.

I won't lie. It was nice to commiserate with other parents about my daily struggles. To know I wasn't alone. To have a support system, when I felt like I was falling into the deep, dark pit. I was desperately trying to find my footing in this new, unexpected life, and social media helped.

From the beginning, I befriended other parents who weren't exactly like me. Who tried autism therapies and treatments that I did not. There was a time we were thisclose to going down the chelation road, but I read about a child dying from it, and quickly crossed it off our list. I knew there was a whole world of "stuff" out there, when it came to autism, and unless someone was downright abusing their kid, someone having a different path than us never bothered me.

We never did GFCF, but I had many friends who did. We never saw a DAN doctor, mostly because of the cost, and me wanting a "for sure" cure before going broke. But I knew people who said these types of treatments really helped their kids, and who was I to discount that (and because of B's medical issues, biomedical treatments are something I have thought about recently. Who doesn't want to ease their child's physical symptoms, related to autism or not?)

I knew people who did ABA and Floortime. Those who homeschooled, public schooled, and private schooled. I knew people who saw autism as a gift, and those who saw it as a curse. But I also saw parents as more than that. More than just their autism treatment plan. As people who listened, who cared, who were good friends. Their particular belief system didn't have to match up with mine in order for us to have a relationship.

For me, however, there are some things I just can't abide. There is a line I draw that separates parents trying to do right by their kids, and parents harming their kids. Certain treatments that can only be viewed as abusive, at least in my own mind. I think we all have that invisible line, that point where we shift in our seats and get uncomfortable. When we hear about a treatment where the risks seem to outweigh any benefit. Things tried by desperate parents, who will believe any snake oil salesman that comes along.

I get the desperation. I was there once, myself. But, I can't get behind blindly following someone who claims they can cure your child, without doing any actual research, or stopping to think if death is a side effect you can accept. And, obviously, murder is something for which I will never make an excuse. But I've made that clear on this blog before.

So there's a line, but up until that line I don't really care what you do. As long as you aren't harming your child, based on my personal opinion of harm, we can be friends. Unfortunately, this isn't true for everyone. I learned this lesson recently when I came up on the receiving end of the "blocked" function on Facebook.

Honestly, I am surprised I am not blocked more often. I don't mind giving my opinions on social media, or this blog, and that means there is always someone who might get offended. Someone who doesn't agree with me on a particular issue, and not being able to move past it hits the block button without a second thought.

But, even I don't block people, because if I blocked everyone I don't agree with (due to religious views, political views, or autism views), I would have very few, if any, friends. I always joke about how controversy is never ending on my personal Facebook page, but that's only because I have a diverse group of friends...who like to fight with one another. But what's life without diversity, right?

But, getting back to my point, there are some who unfortunately cannot handle when someone disagrees with them. I think that when you post something on Twitter or Facebook, or write a blog, you need to understand there will be those with different opinions. Being active on the internet means having a thick skin, especially if you are trying to parlay your internet presence into a career (I am not, and there are times my skin is very thin, but then blogging isn't my life/job, so it's not a big deal.)

I guess it just shocks me when someone decides they can only surround themselves with those who believe exactly as they do...about anything. Some of my closest friends differ in their opinions on autism (and many other things), but that's OK, because I see them for who they are...good people who have impacted my life in a positive way. Whose children I cheer for when they succeed. Whose shoulders I cry on when life gets rough. Whose friendships I value, even though we aren't the same person.

Life is too short and too precious. We are never going to agree on everything, no special needs community ever will, but we must be there for one another. Sure, we all have that line in the sand, but I think it's important to examine where that line rests. The last thing we need is another reason to fight.

So, am I sorry I got blocked? No. My true friends accept me for me, and understand we can be friends without being on the exact same page. For them, I am truly grateful.

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