But You Use Therapies
Soapbox Mom got frustrated because she couldn't think of a good, quick answer to that argument. And to be frank, there isn't one. Acceptance is about love, understanding, and positive attitudes, not about the use or avoidance of particular therapies or diets or supplements or drugs. There is no list of Good Therapies with a Neurodiversity Seal of Approval. It all depends on the reasons for making the decision.
Like anything else, it is possible to choose speech therapy for the wrong reasons. Most parents who take a child to speech therapy want to help the child to communicate more effectively and to feel less frustrated. Certainly that is a good thing, but there are some scenarios where it might not be a respectful and accepting choice.
What if a minimally verbal autistic teen has been in speech therapy for many years, has made very little progress in learning to speak, finds the therapy pointless and depressing, and is much happier communicating in sign language or with a keyboard?
Or what if a child has no trouble speaking clearly enough to be understood, but the parents insist on speech therapy anyway because they are embarrassed about having an autistic child and want to get rid of all traces of his natural monotone voice and make him indistinguishable from his peers?
In the Deaf community, speech therapy is a hugely controversial issue. For many years, hearing parents were advised to teach their children to speak as clearly as possible, rather than teaching sign language. The goal was to help their children fit into mainstream society. Deaf activists contended that this choice showed a lack of respect and acceptance.
Can a parent who uses biomed treatments be a loving and accepting parent? I believe that this also depends on the family's particular circumstances and the reasons for that choice. There is a subculture of alternative medicine enthusiasts who take dietary supplements with every meal, chelate themselves periodically, and undergo other detoxification regimens to cleanse themselves of the pollution in the modern environment. If an autistic child happens to be born into such a family, he's going to get all sorts of biomed treatments, but that doesn't necessarily mean that his parents hate his autism, are cruel or uncaring, or lack respect for him. To the contrary, some of these families are crystal-gazing New Agers who brag about what a wonderfully spiritual and enlightened Indigo Child they have. If their child weren't autistic, they would still give him a gazillion supplements with every meal and treat every skinned knee with alternative therapies. That's just part of their culture.
Another point to consider is that many of the biomed parents are autistic themselves (heredity being what it is) or have significant autistic traits. So when they respond to arguments for acceptance by yammering on about the biomed wonder of the week, maybe that's just a perseveration speaking, rather than a rejection of the idea of acceptance. Such parents may be misguided, but they're not necessarily our enemies, and we should not assume (as to those who haven't said anything hateful) that they don't care about their children's feelings.
To be clear, I am not in any way suggesting that those who peddle bogus treatments should be given the benefit of the doubt. Quacks who prey on vulnerable parents by spewing horror stories about autism are liars, thieves, cheats, frauds, and total scum, and they deserve to be kicked around without mercy. But they are most effectively targeted by pointing out their lack of professional qualifications and their lack of sound science—not by questioning the motives of the parents who have been taken in by their slick schemes. We don't always know the parents' motives. (Unlike the quacks, whose motives are greed, greed, and more greed.) Ultimately, the best way to end autism quackery is to demonstrate that the horror stories are false and that there are large numbers of happy and thriving autistic children and adults.