Sunday, December 27, 2009

whose genes do you blame?

We watch each other slyly, hubby and I. We note the family issues. Got a history in the cupboard of depression? Is that aunt acting weird? When you're told it's genetic, you spend a lot of time filing all the partner's misdemeanours away in the 'autism' box.

Especially males, poor creatures -- autism parents love to trot out the 'extreme male' theory, and laugh at hubby's probable autism. Oh gee, does your husband do that? Yes, mine does too! Autism! (Like an ugly baby, everyone chucking its chin, its faults making them even fonder.) At parent get-togethers everyone seems okay with the idea that males are on the spectrum. I wonder if this is just a female bonding kind of thing? Or are the males doing the same sort of slander elsewhere? You know, I kind of hope so, because the world would be a thoroughly depressing place if the 'extreme male' theory were true.

But even if I don't engage in 'my husband is autistic' feminine bonding, I can admit to having done worse. I've secretly blamed my partner for our girl's predicament. In fact, it was so secret, I didn't even consciously admit it to myself; I just resented him quietly, without thinking it through. If we hadn't bought that pesticide ridden house (he does love the old fashioned country charm). If only he'd bothered to find out he had a nephew with autism. If only he'd been better at eye contact (not sure what that would've got me, but the unconscious mind doesn't worry about logic). If only I'd known the symptoms of mild aspergers before I'd decided to have kids.

Of course, in the light of day I saw that it made no sense to single my partner out; practically everyone we knew displayed some signs of autism, to some degree. (Though this doesn't necessarily point to genes: everyone I know is vaccinated; most people use or accept pesticides.) Trouble is, if you have a child with autism, the difference is you collate these signs. They count toward the picture of its being genetic. Because of this weight of apparent evidence, it takes a pretty rational mind to spot the conundrum that, if autism is genetic, offspring shouldn't display far worse symptoms than the parents, and numbers shouldn't be escalating (a fact you have to go to the Department of Education to find out, since the Health bureaucrats are studiously not counting).

Fortunately it's fairly easy to step off the guilt bandwagon. Even if a syndrome is largely genetic, it makes no sense to blame the ancestors. More likely, their genes worked in certain environments that no longer apply now. Unfortunately the modern western environment is a neochemical cocktail, so we'd never know to what degree these 'genetic' syndromes might never have existed.

So even if the hubby of the piece is slightly aspergersy, don't blame him (even unconsciously) for what's probably in your genes too. It may be that our environments are simply too ubiquitously affected for most of us to cope without some degree of damage.

Genes or toxins, something causes autism.

1 comment:

  1. My son is five and was diagnosed at age three. I have been where you are... I wanted to know why, why, why... I discovered that even if I could point to something in particular, it wouldnt help. It is my job now as a parent with a child with autism to do what I can now. To fix the system for my son and for other people's children to follow him in school and in life. I know that while JJ did have some of the shots that people like to blame, and that could contribute to it... that for some reason or another he has autism and my girls do not. I have done them all the same so I will just put in my personal opnion here... there are several contributing factors, much like a coctail. I am so blessed to have my son in my life, he provides me with a different kind of view on life that I wish everyone in life could have... It is important to remember that while knowledge is wonderful, sometimes its just not that easy. Moving on from why and where do we go from here is more constructive and important. I wish nothing but the best for you and your family, I know that it is a hard situation, but I would not change who my son is for anything... check out my blog sometime, maybe we can help each other.