A couple of weeks back I started the cure series and, quite frankly, now I want to end it. We all know that right now there is no cure for autism, just better ways to manage it. I want to talk a little about what we thought may have caused it, mainly in the time frame of the 1980’s.
The first possible cause was that my dad is a Vietnam vet. He remembers drinking the succulent sweet water laced with Agent Orange. My mom thought that the exposure to this toxic chemical may have caused autism in a first born son. Some sort of chemical induced gene mutation. Or because my dad’s family worked with heavy metals and painted cars with no ventilation back in the day. I remember for a period of time having to bathe daily for a half in hour in apple cider vinegar to rid the body of toxins. My brothers and I bathed at my grandma’s house because my parents never finished the upstairs bathroom in the house they built 40 years ago. They attempted to remodel the unfinished bathroom which left it unusable for the past 15 years. This was a topic of argument between my mom and Luke last time he was home, but I digress.
When I was a teen, I blamed God while my mom felt blamed by God. Maybe she was being punished for something she did wrong or maybe something she didn’t do right. Maybe God was punishing her for being human or imperfect. I know that my mom struggled with this.
Then in the 1990’s came the vaccine scare. My mom jumped on this bandwagon pretty quick. At this time, I was starting my own family. I decided that it was worth a shot at being careful with vaccinations. The theory did have a lot of face validity. I structured my own vaccination schedule that included slowly vaccinating my children after they passed the age of autism’s typical onset. I thought that even if there was a minuscule chance that this causes autism that I would do everything I could to prevent it. After living with an autistic sibling, I would do practically anything to possibly prevent it as a parent.
The only other logical piece in the autistic puzzle was genetics. Fragile X had been ruled out. Looking at my mom’s large family with 8 total siblings and around 30 of their children, everyone would fall into a normal/average category. No disabilities or mental health issues. It is crazy how sane they are. When looking at my dad’s maternal side, they are all relatively sane too. My dad’s paternal side is filled with eccentrics. But out of 4 siblings, my dad is the only offspring. When the last sibling of that family died, we cleaned out the family house by putting a lot of stuff into my grandma’s newly vacant house. In the process of cleaning out my grandma’s house 6 years later, my brother stumbled upon an empty sample box of the antipsychotic med Haldol. Not a big deal, Matt was on that for his autism. Then my brother pointed out the expiration date on the box. The meds expired long before Matt started taking them. Hmmmm, another psychotic family member? Just another piece of the puzzle that doesn’t seem to fit anywhere.
There is no cure for autism, just puzzle pieces that came from a lot of other mismatched and jumbled puzzle boxes. I really relate to my dad’s eccentric side of the family. Yes, sometimes I question my own sanity. That does mean I’m sane, right?!? I’ve always thought that normal was boring. Who in their right mind wants to paint a picture only using the same shade of blue?