The Mail loves to write about autism. Sometimes their articles are well balanced but more often they are stirring up even more hysteria over the MMR or promoting the latest 'cure'.
A friend has just led me to this. The article itself and the comments show what a wide range of views there are.
No, having an autistic child does not ruin your life. It profoundly changes it, certainly, in ways you might never have expected. You often do have to lower your expectations of what your lifestyle might be. But it is not that usual for both parents to have to give up work to look after the child. There is help out there in the form of specialist schools, many of which are residential, respite care from social services, foster care...
But these things don't just fall into your lap. Parents have to be proactive, above all they have to fight for what they need. It's hard when you are worn out, but it is worth the effort. When Son 2 was small I knew that if I could just get him into the right school our lives would be so much easier. With help I fought, I won, we have been supported. I started to work voluntarily for our local autism charity to help develop playschemes and other services, all of which we as a family have benefited from. My son hasn't ruined his grandparents lives, they live far away so rarely see him and we don't make demands of them. My husband has always worked, usually 12 hours a day, to support us and we deal with this on our own.
Of course every child on the autistic spectrum is different because they are a fascinating blend of varying degrees of autism with their underlying personality. For example my son displays quite different traits to Casdok's and is much less able than Crystal Jigsaw's daughter, yet we have all had to fight for what they need. There is no child who cannot be found care and an education, even if it means moving out of the family home. Often difficult autistic children blossom in the consistency of the 24 hour curriculum in a residential setting which understands their needs. Others do better at home. There is no right or wrong.
There are many journalists and writers out there who write about their personal experiences of parenting autism. Nick Hornby, his ex-wife Virginia Bovell, Charlotte Moore and many more. When they write they are honest, but above all their love for their children shines through, just as it does on so many blogs.
This piece, however, is written by an outsider, someone who just sees a child as a burden, as a barrier to a certain way of life. A child who, if a test had been available, should have been aborted.
(PS I haven't written yet about Simon Baron-Cohen's view that a antenatal test for autism is on the way, because I'm not really sure how I feel about it. Watch this space.)