This morning I had a meeting with a mental health professional in my area who is interested in having me do some presentations on autism for various doctors and clinicians, as well as parent groups and groups of AS individuals. We were getting along well, agreeing (seemingly) that autism is a natural variation and of value to humanity, noting the prejudice and bullying endured by autistics, discussing the need for improving self esteem among AS teens, and then suddenly...the "C" word. It wasn't "cure" this time, but "chelation" as in "my grandson gets..." that made my heart sink and my mind fill with chaos and my mouth forget how to close.
It seems that her grandson has "tested positive for heavy metals" and is "more himself" after being chelated. He has gastric problems, which otherwise keep him from reaching his potential. When I stated that autoimmune disorders are not autism, she disagreed. She said she would send me "the latest big study" suggesting they are one and the same. And here's the hard thing to admit. I didn't know what to say.
She is a nice person, this grandmother. She says that she wants the child to be the best autistic person he can be. She does't believe in cures. But she does believe that mercury, along with a genetic predisposition, caused her grandson's autism.
She thinks that I can be of service to a community of professionals whose knowledge and understanding are lacking. That I can do it on my terms. That I can talk about the rights of autistics and help alter negative views of autistic people. I don't know what to think.
When she sends the article, I'll read it, and send back a thoughtful reply, along with relevant studies I have read, IRB approved and peer reviewed. In writing, I'll know how to handle the claims, to present a logical, constructive argument, one that respects fact, common sense and the dignity of all people.
If she sees the lag in response time or written form as weakness, I'll know that she has not been honest about her respect for autistic thinking. I will then know how to proceed with her. What is less clear is how I might defend my position in the future. I do fine with a powerpoint or script. But do I really belong in the arena with the big cats, the curebies and chelators, who may see an unexpected silence, or hesitance even, as a "win" for their side? Or should I go out there with the data in my pocket, along with my little book of squares, and hoping for the best?