Sunday, January 17, 2010


A good friend of mine who is also an advocate for those with mental illnesses, that is everything from depression to schizophrenia, recently pointed out the flaw in the approach many have to community advocacy.

Essentially, there are so many different conditions each of which is unique, and each of the individuals with each condition are equally unique, advocacy becomes utter chaos. Autism, as an example, is a condition where no one can agree on the cause and cure. Some parents want research for a medical cure; some want better diets, some want social cognitive training and other behavioral improvement programs, and within these the pro-ABA, anti-ABA, and Ed Phipps modified ABA. In essence everyone is after the same piece of the metaphorical pie and each group has a different agenda for it. We pull in all different directions and eventually we will fall.

What can we do to get on the same page? Not just the autism community but the mental health community as a whole? It is a very good question. If we all banded together we might move slower toward our goals but we would be marching together without stepping on each other's toes. It is also important to note that if we all work together, we can grow our piece of the pie, but if we continue to act haphazardly, the pie will eventually shrink.

One problem is that Autism is the "diagnosis of the day." Right now everything, everywhere is about Autism and Developmental Disabilities (DD). Interestingly enough, Asperger's and similar mild forms of autism and DDs seem to go virtually unnoticed. What will happen when another condition or series thereof becomes the "diagnosis of the day?" When Childhood Apraxia and selective mutism are the big conditions tomorrow, what will the Autism community do? The same thing the schizophrenia community is doing now: clamor again to get a seat at the table. Why not simply agree to find more chairs?

"A house divided against itself cannot stand." ~Abraham Lincoln

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