Monday, June 18, 2007

Autism Wars

One of the most troubling aspects of the debate about the causes and treatment of autism is the hatred both sides feel for each other. The "Autism Blogosphere" has more posts devoted to vilification of the other side than serious, fact-based arguments. Too bad nobody seems to realize that both sides, anti-Mercury advocates and supporters of neurodiversity, are trying to look out for their children.

But let's not be too naive, either. Part of the conflict here is political and financial. Both sides want to get more money and resources for the type of research they support. Also, each side believes that if too much money is spent on the other side's research and not on their own, their children will be hurt.

Also, supporters of Neurodiversity, including autistic people, don't appreciate autistics being described as monsters by The Mercurys. The strong opposition to the use of chelation, a dubious and possibly dangerous method, is also understandable.

What made me write all this? The New York Times has an article about the Wright family, founders of the multi-million dollar charity Autism Speaks, where Katie Wright, mother of Christian, an autistic child, and her parents Bob and Suzanne, are fighting because she thinks they aren't paying enough attention to (and signing enough checks for) mercury research. This isn't quite a Mercury vs. Neurodiversity case, but it shows that there are even rifts between views that aren't exact opposites of each other.

Read "Autism Debate Strains a Family and Its Charity".

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