I usually try to take comments that people make on articles about autism or Asperger’s with a grain of salt, knowing full-well that the vast majority of the population is happily uneducated and blissfully unaware about them. But, I chose to make an exception today after reading an article online about a study that presents the possibility that as many as 1 in 50 children that are of school age are on the spectrum (read the article here).
Here is the comment that has gotten me going, and it is truly one of the dumbest things I have even seen written or have heard said:
That’s what can happen when you leave your baby alone with a tv or video game for a baby setter and care giver in the most critical period of their development. These young kids, babies need adult interaction to grow and develop.
Aside from the obvious grammatical errors (and my feeling is that if you want to come across as the least bit educated on things when making a comment, at least be grammatically correct and check your spelling), this commenter shows their ignorance fully in a hurry. Autism Spectrum Disorders are not “developed” because a baby watches TV or a video, but this commenter seems to be one of those who does not let facts get in the way of sharing their ignorance with society.
I guess why this comment stuck with me is because Amber and I have heard some of the same criticisms leveled at us with Kaitlyn. We have been told that we let her watch too much TV as a kid, or too many videos as a kid. Of course, this comes from people who happily keep their distance and critique our parenting skills. Maybe that fits their happy narrative of life, but it discounts the facts. Facts like Amber having stayed home with Kaitlyn for three and a half years and did not just plop her in front of the TV all day; facts like during the time she stayed home with her, Amber regularly took Kaitlyn to play groups and on play dates; facts like Kaitlyn has gotten significant adult interaction from the day she was born.
The truth of the matter is that Amber and I embarked on this endeavor knowing full-well that it was going to be a team effort, and knowing that we were on the same page. We made it clear from the outset that we would not rely on TV to raise our daughter, just like we insisted that people respected Kaitlyn enough from day one to speak to her like a human being and refrain from ridiculous “baby talk” and babble.
I find it absurd that people want to try to find a culprit or someone else to blame for everything. Is the rate of diagnosis rising? Yes it is, and that should be attributed not to some idiotic conjecture of a reason like “letting kids watch TV,” but to the fact that so many more indicators are being observed that allow those who are diagnosed to have access to things that would have been otherwise out of reach to them. Should Amber and I be forced to watch how painful it is for Kaitlyn to be in many social situations, just because she is highly intelligent? Or should we focus on the fact that we know what to look for and how to better integrate her into social situations? Parents do their children a disservice if they willingly ignore and do not explore every avenue to help provide every opportunity for their children. I am not saying that the person who made the comment that got me riled up is dumb, because I do not know them; but I will venture a guess that they would offer Kaitlyn little competition in any academically based competition.