Yesterday I was targeted by someone whose name I am not going to divulge because doing so will only further engagement and unnecessary dialogue. I am going to keep this about my reaction to being attacked and will not engage in a counter attack. One of the things I have learned over the years is that when someone attacks, my knee jerk response is to attack back, but this never actually does anything to further the conversation, encourage discussion or an exchange of ideas. Nothing changes when two people angrily engage in self-righteous, self-justified shouting matches. So why do it?
Sadly, within any community, positions are taken, an “us” and “them” mentality which serves to separate each other from the very people we appear to want to engage. I do not completely understand this desire by some to engage others with their anger. However I do know first hand the feeling of frustration when I have believed something and had those beliefs questioned, judged or argued with. When someone says with absolute conviction that they know for a fact that a certain therapy, treatment or way of supporting another does or does not work, I figure it’s worth investigating. I do my best to look at the pros and cons, I try to read the various scientific studies, the anecdotal stories, and control studies if there have been any. I take into account how many people were used in the study, I look at who conducted the study and whether there were any conflicts of interest in the study’s results. I read any controversy surrounding the therapy.
If I know someone personally who is using whatever the therapy, treatment or support is, I reach out to them, ask them questions and observe. If what I am observing counters the conclusions of some of the scientific studies done, I take that into account and look at why that might be. Beyond wanting to do what will prove best for my daughter I try to remain open to both sides. However, if a number of Autistic people have PTSD because of a particular therapy or speak out about it with their reasons why, I listen to their accounts and place more weight in their experiences than I do in studies conducted by neurotypical “experts”. I also listen to those who are Autistic and have found something particularly helpful, even if many neurotypicals suggest otherwise.
These are the things I do. Others may have different approaches, but this is what has proven most helpful for me. When someone then attacks me for doing a particular therapy, treatment or support with viciousness, it hurts, but it does not make me change my opinion, in fact it does the opposite. When someone personally attacks me with sarcasm, condescension and aggression it serves to make me wonder why they would do so. When they then back their vitriolic, venomous statements by saying that “science” is behind them and that I cannot possibly have read the studies they cite, when they dismiss opposing studies as being “shoddy” and “poorly” done as non-science or “pseudoscience”, there is no point in responding. When they then further their comments by saying that I am being “unethical” and suggest that by engaging in such support I am hurting those who cannot speak by putting words in their mouth, it crosses the line of being about ideas, opinions, science or anything else, it is a personal attack.
I come here day after day and share my thoughts, feelings, views. I try to be honest, above all else and in doing so open myself up to attack. I know that. I cannot do this any other way. I am vulnerable in a way that those who attack me are not. That’s okay. No one is forcing me to write a blog or to be as honest as I can be. These are the decisions I’ve made. I try hard to keep my side of the street clean, as they say. Some days I’m more successful at that than others, but I always keep showing up and trying as best I can. In the end that’s all any of us can do.
Unrelated photograph taken Christmas Day on the ranch