Monday, March 1, 2010


Well, I was having a decent week until I read this editorial by Nicholas Kristof. I thought it was only his articles with terrifying and awful details about South Asian prostitution rings that made me sad. But he also writes about environmental hazards. And he connects these hazards to autism.

Kristof, like all people who consider the possibility of links between autism and the environment, doesn't have lots of hard data yet. But he is among the people trying to get us - including scientists - to ask more questions and do more research. I'm glad he's using the platform of a popular newspaper to ask questions about environmental toxins and public health.

At the same time, I can't shake the feeling that someday I'm going to find out that my shampoo or my cooking containers or car fumes hurt Martin's brain when he was only a fetus. And that is a bad feeling. It's a bad feeling not only because there's no way to verify (or not verify), but also because if it has even a remote possibility of being true, we won't just have an autism epidemic, we'll have our hands full of devastated mothers. Like the Thimerosal moms of the 1970s. That prospect scares me.

I just have to remember that it's more important - for me, at least - to take care of Martin as he is. He is what he is and there's no changing it, no matter what the original cause. Since my hands are full, I'm glad that some scientists are trying to figure out this confusing condition.


  1. Hi Rainmom, as the mom of both a teenage Aspie and a son born with a birth defect (absent left hand) I empathize with your words and would like to offer my comments.
    I have Aspergers as well, and I can see that it is a stronlgy genetic trait in my family as my father, grandfather and great grandmother all had it. Do I blame them for passing along this anomaly? Of course not....they had no say in who would get it and therefore bear no blame or responsibility. Are there moments when I question and wish that I had not passed along this trait to my son, as his Aspergers seems a bit more challanging, well, yes. But could I have changed it? Again, things just happen and you have to take the good with the not so good. He is extremely brilliant and drop-dead handsome and he inherited these characteristics along with his mommas challenging Aspergers. Its a package deal :)
    My 6-year old and his limb difference, is probably closer to how a mom feels when she wishes that she could have prevented all the additional struggle that her child has to go through, if she could have. Oh yes, there are many tears of grief and wishes that things had turned out differently. And I would lie to you if I said that I have become completely at ease with his difference and my possible role n creating it. But it is all a process. And we are moms who love and adore our children and want them to have the smoothest road possible.
    My eldest will always have much more invisible challenges than my youngest with his very visible difference. Everyone Struggles....everyone. And some are just more visible than others.
    Martin is truly blessed to have a parent who loves and cares for him as much as you. Don't let the grief get in your way. Let it pass, accept it when you can, and grieve when you have to.
    And blame is always a no-win situation. I stopped blaming myself for Sebastians difference awhile back because it really had no logical value. It only served to bring me down. He needs me to be here for him here and now and the circumstances for his difference no longer matter to me. Things happen
    There are no victims in this life, only volunteers. Sebastian has pushed me to grow in ways that are far beyond my wildest expectations.I would not change a hair on his head or the number of fingers he has, for anything. He is so preciously perfect in every way. His difference is as large a part of who he is as my Aspergers is a huge part of who I am.....there is no fault, blame or burden.

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  3. Take heart Jen, as you know I have a daughter with autism no diagnosed autism in either side of the family but ADHD and bipolar in both sides. I agree with the genetic link but I also believe that there can be an environmental spark that makes one sibling on the spectrum and another not on the spectrum. I agree with your statement that it does not matter how we got here this is where we are and we need to love the one God gave us the way they are. Some of the best inventors and minds of many generations had autistic traits. Without those on the fringes we would all be the same and no "progress" would be made. God gave Martin just the abilities he wanted him to have. You will help him along his journey through life but he will be who God wants him to be regardless. God has a plan for each of us and I am SURE that his plan for Martin is WONDERFUL!! Miss you all, Leanna