Wednesday, March 29, 2006


This week saw the launch of two sites that are worth drawing your attention to: a new blog and a new resource page. Both are from familiar voices of reason who are more interested in finding right than being right.


The bloggosphere has become the great marketplace of ideas. A blogger throws out his/her thoughts and opinions, and a discussion starts among readers who leave comments. Sometimes the ensuing discussions are thought-provoking; other times they are just provoking.

I have been very lucky to receive the comments I get on this blog. For the most part, they have been intelligent and civil. Among the comments that have impressed me the most ⎯ on this blog and on others as well ⎯ are the thoughts of Canada’s Ian Parker. Indeed, I once devoted a post to one of his comments. We do not agree on everything (I am certainly more liberal, maybe more aggressive, on the issue of appropriate interventions), but Ian is one of the most level-headed and open-minded individuals I have come across in the on-line discussions.

I am delighted to report that Ian now has his own blog, A Shade of Grey. His decision to do so stems from his frustration at the sorry state of the debate:
. . . I also see a discussion that is increasingly polarizing, in which accepting that others have different views is giving way to an advocacy that rejects other viewpoints as unenlightened, wrong, or not yet at their level of “awakening”. This used to be a hallmark of the more activist element within the anti-vaccine crowd, but is also becoming increasingly apparent in the “autism is natural variation” crowd too. It is one thing to oppose some of the more contentious attempts to cure autism, e.g. chelation, or lupron (which IMHO is just nuts), or to reject the concept of treatment for oneself. But as this challenge to the more contentious bio-med practices is morphing into a more direct challenge against even mainstream accepted methods of investigating and potentially treating autism, I think it is time for more moderates to join the debate.

Ian’s first post, “Autism ⎯ It’s Not Always A Natural Variation,” is an easily understood lesson in genetics and epigenetics, focusing on the incidence of autism in identical twins. He readily admits that his analysis does not support a specific environmental factor that may act in concert with genetics, but his conclusion is that there may often be an external factor at work. That being the case, Ian’s opinion is that “investigating and potentially treating autism in those cases in which it is ‘caused’ rather than inherited is not a priori an ethical violation of one’s natural genetic expression or right to ‘be’ autistic.” I recommend the entire post to one and all.

Just as there is a wide spectrum in the manifestations of autism, there is a wide spectrum of opinions regarding the causes and proper interventions. I do not think of myself as being “anti-vaccine,” but I am probably closer to that “crowd” than Ian is. Ian seems to be exactly what he pronounces himself to be, a moderate who is tired of the mindless and counterproductive rancor. Honestly held opinions must be subject to challenge if they are worth holding. I, for one, am delighted that Ian is here to keep us all honest.


Brett, from 29 Marbles has consistently been one of the most balanced autism bloggers around, often pushing his own views to the side to ask the questions to which there are no easy or pat answers.

Being one of the few people who seems to fit in with all of the different sub-communities in the autism world, Brett is probably the ideal person to create a resource page, and that’s what he has done. It's too soon to say what will set his new page, Autism for Parents, apart from other resources for parents. This what Brett says about his purpose:
My purpose in creating this site is to hopefully help parents navigate the challenges of raising an autistic child. Parenthood is challenging enough when you think you know what to expect from your kids, but when you really don’t have a clue it can feel like you’re breaking new ground that no one has been on before. I’m here to tell you that there are many others who have trod this ground. My hope is that those experiences of other parents (myself included) will help finding your way a bit easier.

In the past, Brett has written of his hopes for what some of us call “cure,” “healing,” “alleviation of dysfunction,” and/or “[insert favorite euphemism for ‘cure’ here].” At the same time, he understands that there are social, cultural, political, and economic issues that transcend the scientific possibilities. Sometimes the question is not can we cure autism but should we cure autism. For my family, the answer is “yes,” but I have to acknowledge the same may not hold true for everyone.

My hope is that Brett stays true to form, and that he provides solid information and links concerning the interventions many of us are using, as well as a balanced guide to the debate on whether such interventions are the right thing to do.


Blogger Brett said...

Wade, thanks for spreading the news abaout my new site. As people will see, it is still in its infancy, but I have high hopes for this 'child'. As it grows, I hope that the rest of the 'autism village' will help me raise it. Though I'm the one that has brought it into the world, I want to make sure all the many experts out there help shape it into something of value.

We will all have some differing opinions, but if we can put together a site that helps even one family to understand their new diagnosis of autism and figure out the best way ahead for them (whatever that way may be), then I will consider the site a success.

Autism for Parents

3/30/06, 8:11 AM  
Blogger kristina said...

I only discovered Ian's blog through yours and am looking forward to what Brett's new site contains. I read a few months that, in this day and age, rhetoric in the classical sense--the art of persuasion--has gone the way of black and white (so to speak) debates, as being pro- or anti- vaccine, or chelating the everything out of a child and doing constant intensive ABA vs. acceptance of autism as "human variation." It's a truism, but the truth must lie--must be swinging inbetween, and thanks for never fearing to treat an opposing view with the proper eloquence.

3/30/06, 5:16 PM  
Blogger Wade Rankin said...


I am, first and foremost, a fan of good writing (which, of course, explains my fondness for your blog). What I appreciate about Brett and Ian is not just that they are talented writers, but that they use their writing to explore rather than proclaim.

3/30/06, 6:24 PM  
Blogger Ian Parker said...

Wade, Wow, thanks for the great plug. (blush) I really appreciate it.

3/30/06, 7:59 PM  
Blogger Estee Klar-Wolfond said...

I must say that I am appreciating your blog even if we don't always share equal views. I also appreciate balance. In autism as in people and parenting, there are no absolutes.

Thanks also for plugging Brett's site. I found it tonight because of you.

4/5/06, 12:19 AM  

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