Writer's Workshop: The Path of Least Resistance

     Everyone has heard of cancer clusters. You know, where several individuals within a town or small area are diagnosed with cancer? Usually there's a toxin or a contaminant problem behind the outbreak. Well sometimes autism works like that too. It runs in families and I'm sure that many of you who are familiar with autism know of families that have multiple children on the spectrum. I'm sure you have shaken your head and tisk, tisked that family's misfortune. But did you know that statistically speaking, having a diagnosed case of autism in your neighborhood raises the risk of YOUR child having autism?*
     Now it's not because autism can "spread" like the common cold! Most scientists will tell you it's because knowledge will allow you to recognize the symptoms. So in this case, familiarity breeds diagnoses. Knowledge can be a powerful thing... but it can also be horrible.
     I don't know about you but I have a "friend" whose kids always seem to have something wrong with them, and the more exotic the better! It's like she's not content to just have the one child that's autistic--they all have to have SOMETHING wrong with them! One of her kids has a problem with chewing on paper and books. Oh God! It's probably pica! (Pica is where the person eats non food items compulsively. It can be very dangerous.) Another kid occasionally makes this weird face. It has to be Tourette's! (Tourette's most commonly presents itself through muscle ticks not cursing.) Maybe my friend has some strange form of Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome or maybe she just has too much knowledge?
     They say doctors make horrible patients and even worse parents of sick children because they know what can go wrong. They know how a scraped knee can lead to gangrene and then the loss of a limb. The worst case scenario is their everyday.
     If you haven't figured it out, I am the Munchausen Mom. I worry about the smallest things because I, like the doctor, know what can go wrong and how important early intervention is. I've come to find out that I'm not alone. This behavior is quite normal for a special needs mommy. This is the road I walk daily and it is a fine line between vigilant Mommy and Put-Me-Away-Now-For-My-Own-Good. I don't want to make the mistake with the boys that I made with Myriam. I waited too long to begin the process with her. I wasted a whole year when I could have been doing something, anything! Early intervention is KEY! This is my cross to bear....
     Would it have made any difference? Yes! No. Maybe? Who's to know? I will forever carry that guilt. But I won't hide from the symptoms again.

Peace out!
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*It is a true stat. I paraphrased it but I read it in one of those So-You-Think-Your-Kid-Is-Autistic brochures I got from my doctor's office when we first went for help. Don't panic if you have an autistic kid in your neighborhood. You can't "catch" it like the flu. I promise!

And as always (on Thursdays) this post was inspired by Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writing Workshop.
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