Why is There So Much Hate Surrounding Autism?

by in Autism, Kitchen Sink, Reader Questions May 6, 2009

By Dr. Nicole Sundene
Since everyone is always asking me questions, I thought I would turn it around on my readers for a change. Can you please help me understand something that I am absolutely baffled by?!??!!
Why is there SO Much Hate Around Autism?
When I first thought about hosting “Autism Awareness Month” at the kitchen table, I truly felt honored to have the opportunity to do so. I truly felt if one little tiny thing that I might have to say or contribute in my research and quest to help parents understand their child a little bit better…..that the whole month would be worthwhile.
My heart goes out to autistic children because I am sure I fall somewhere on that spectrum myself, and understand what it feels like to not be able to express that which you are thinking in your mind. I was a very quiet, shy, little toe walker myself once.
So I invited a panel of moms to share their stories.
I nagged a bunch of my colleagues to contribute their own articles and research on autism. I contacted many different professionals in the field of autism and conferred with them over this disease that not only doesn’t have a cure….it doesn’t have a known cause either. We can only begin to speculate at this prudent juncture as to what autism is actually caused by.
I then had the privilege of becoming introduced to many parents that blogged either professionally or through their Facebook accounts and became awe inspired at how truly powerful this thing called “The Internet” actually is.
Look at how easy it is for people to connect with me, to find others fighting their same challenges, to congregate….and what better place to do it than at the kitchen table.
But then things got ugly. I try to avoid negativity when at all possible, and learned on the debate team that the best way to diffuse your competition is to kill them with kindness, but that still didn’t work, and I grew exceedingly depressed by the anti-Jenny McCarthy haters attacking my website (until I learned how to close comments and block IP addresses…he he.)
I don’t necessarily agree with Jenny McCarthy because I don’t necessarily agree with myself half the time, I am sure if you are a doctor you can empathize at the difficult decisions we are forced to make at times.
As much as the attack upset me, I decided to carry on with the rest of autism month, someone told me that “if they aren’t hating you then you aren’t doing anything.” Which was somewhat scary but true….so I have decided that, in spite of all the hate mail, to carry on for the rest of the year with autism research.
My passion is researching nutritional biochemistry and if one little thing that I discover, or help explain…. helps just one little child challenged by this disease….then all the negativity is certainly worth it.
As it says in The Hippocratic Oath that I once raised my right hand to, “I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.”
Maybe the hate mail, the profanity, the discrediting, and the verbal stone throwing got my Tinkerbell down for a bit….but she is back up and ready to fight!!!! Autism Month is now destined to carry on for all of eternity at the Kitchen Table. God brought these families and their children to me, and I will work hard to help them understand all perspectives.
What the people attacking me unfortunately don’t understand is that just because I was kudoing Jenny McCarthy for not taking a back seat to her child’s health care, as well as simply discussing the nutritional hazards of the gluten free casein free diet if you choose to try it on your child, doesn’t mean I was agreeing with every word that has ever come out of her mouth. That was a giant presumption.
However, I learned that there is a whole website dedicated to hating on Jenny McCarthy….wow and I was just upset by a bunch of nasty emails! I learned from this incident and as far as I’m concerned this woman should be applauded for sitting in the hot seat.
Has anyone else famous come forward to advocate for autism?
Does the research prove without a doubt that immunizations play a role in this disease that appears to have a multifactorial etiology?
When and if it does show reasonable proof, Jim Carey and Jenny McCarthy will continue their quest on something else. However, doesn’t every parent and person want greener vaccines?
I know I do. I get my tetanus shot every five to ten years and don’t need the extra aluminum burdening my already “big fat angry liver chi.”
Jenny and Jim should be applauded for coming forward with a disabled child openly…..something that many families are afraid to do.
Whether you agree with her physician’s treatment philosophy or not she is still a role model mother that deserves everyone’s respect.
I would have welcomed a thoughtful “High School Debate Team” level guest post on why these cruel people (probably paid by big pharma) don’t like Jenny McCarthy being an advocate for autism.
When we apply the rules of Mensa (super nerdy organization of high IQ individuals….and Mensa just happens to coincidentally mean “table” in Latin) then we can ALL work together to find a cause….find a cure….or even just find that someone else is fighting our same fight. I don’t mind if you disagree with me, I do mind if you disrespect, or heaven forbid use profanity or name calling at the kitchen table. Elbows off please! (you can kick back and put your feet up though….)
As a former member of the debate team, I have no problem with people disagreeing with my opinion. I often disagree with myself. They say at Mensa that if you have 12 Mensans in the room, you likely have 13 different opinions. The same could be said about physicians.
Related reading:
Autism Awareness Month
Autism: 10 Strategies for Implementing Diet Changes
The Autism Diet Connection
Autism: 10 Tips for Everyone

  1. Is there a connection between toe walking and autism?

  2. One of the most wonderful things I’ve learned from my son is how to stop trying to conform to everyone else’s standards, and the importance of standing up and speak out about my beliefs and opinions. Doesn’t mean we can’t be open to trying to learn about each other.
    Good for you for not giving up when you know in your heart your opinions and ideas are as valid as anyone else’s. And in a lot of cases, more so, given your passion, education and experiences. Great job expressing the confusion that a lot of us feel. Keep going, TINK, no matter who cusses you out !!!

  3. Hi Tom, Strangely many symptoms of autism include toe walking and I was always a toe walker as a child, also many of the personal journey stories you will find in our autism category mention that their children walked on their toes.
    Now of course all toe walkers are not autistic, and all autistic children aren’t “toe walkers” but it is something to think about.
    My sister has always joked with me that “You have Asperger’s Syndrome” which is the “label” for “highly functioning autistic”….
    Being label oriented is a Western Medicine kind of thing and I think we should just look at the individual as a whole person and not a label.
    It was claimed that Einstein had austism, which I will be writing on in a bit here, but the rebuttal to that statement was that he had too much of a sense of humor for that to be possible. And that his annoyance with other people was just because they were so “stupid in comparison…” LOL
    I don’t know interesting stuff to think about.

  4. Thanks Tara, I have plenty of articles in the works to keep going on this topic and I really appreciate your efforts in helping me research things like prevalence, geoggraphy, etc. I have always been a puzzle solver, and this certainly is quite the puzzle. I hope the take home message for all parents from autism month is that….
    No doctor is the expert on YOUR child, and if you feel uncomfortable with a treatment there is no harm in saying to your doctor, “can I have a little time to think about this?” then get a 2nd opinion, a 3rd opinion, etc….until you are satisfied.
    And for all you anti-Jenny people out there, we WILL be writing about why some moms don’t feel that Jenny is the best choice for representing them….I welcome all viewpoints here as long as they are polite, I have no problem with someone disagreeing with me on something that has no known cause and no known cure….I just hope that we can all work together and find SOLUTIONS!

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