Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Parental Rights Violated- The Nanny State

Well I am annoyed again. What has set me off today is something totally unattached to autism. It is a new directive from the CDC instructing hospitals to create programs to teach mothers to breastfeed. Now don't get me wrong I think if you want to breastfeed that is your CHOICE. But this new directive stipulates that in the end the hospitals will no longer offer mothers the choice of formula and force mothers to breastfeed. The CDC has decided that bottle feeding is the reason for the huge levels of obesity in this country and that they are going to do something about it from the git go. Read a review of the new regulations here.

Generation upon generation of Americans had been bottlefed and there was no obesity epidemic and in fact it wasn't until the last twenty years that there was even a concern about "fat" America. It was a rarity to be obese in this country. So the question becomes what is causing the huge weight gain in the USA. Somehow I don't think its the fact that we were all bottlefed. Something about our lifestyles, our food supply, our lack of education, contributes to the obesity epidemic. It could also have something to do with the fact that food that is unhealthy for you is cheap and that healthy food is very expensive. That family budgets are tighter in the last years than ever before and that quite frankly it is time consuming to make sure that what they used to call a proper dinner was put on the table. Life has gotten harder over the past decades for families not easier. Now add in quick food, with all the additives and chemicals and you have a better reason for your obesity epidemic.

It is not that I disparage breastfeeding, it was just not right for me and even today it would not be right for me. Is it actually better for the baby? Personally I don't believe that it is, but if you want to think that that is your right. I also don't care what the pediatric community says about it either. They have been so off the mark when it came to both of my boys I learned to use my own common sense decades ago when making choices for my children. (In fact these Pediatric mavens, in a nod toward political correctness,  were going to OK some forms of female genital mutilation last year, until there was a huge outcry from the anti-fgm organizations.) Here's another point: Sorry but with the uptick in breastfeeding we also have had an enormous uptick in autism in this country. So apparently, breastfeeding does not protect your child from everything. No I am not saying that breastfeeding causes autism, but it certainly didn't help protect any of my friend's children. By the way, my bottlefed children are also the highest functioning of most of the autistic children that I have encountered.

So what is my point in this post? It's not that hospitals would encourage breastfeeding. I have no problem with that. What I have a problem with is that the government is telling you you HAVE TO breastfeed. They are instructing hospitals to not give out formula under any circumstance. Somehow we are not intelligent enough to be able to make our own choices about how we raise our children.

I also find it ironic that in a nation that prides itself on abortion rights and the right to privacy when it comes to a woman's womb, somehow when it comes to your breasts the government has no problem telling you what to do with them. In fact women who would march to hell and back for the right to abort think its a great idea to force breastfeeding upon women. I guess your uterus belongs to you but your tits belong to Uncle Sam? Someone explain that one to me.

Unfortunately the issue is even more profound and I hope that people can extrapolate the problem. If the government can demand that you breastfeed, what else can they demand you do with your child? What other choices can they foist upon you when it comes to how you raise your child? Can they tell you what kind of medicine and how much to give your child? What if you didn't believe in medication for any of the issues surrounding autism? What if you didn't like the idea of certain therapies but the government decided your child had to have the therapies? What will the government do now, criminalize as unacceptable certain previously accepted parental behaviors so that you will lose your child to the state? What rules and regulations will they require that you abide by or the state will place your child in someone else's care?

No I am also not talking about the vaccine debate. Yes I know that many parents feel this is the same issue. I really don't. Vaccinations are for the entire society and are not directed at individuals alone. I see it as societal safety, akin to driving requirements and financial regulations. Society does make all kinds of decision about what is best for society. The government has created laws that states for the betterment of society your child must be vaccinated, because the illnesses protected against can cause death or quite frankly worse to not just your child but to everyone's child.

Heck I just received a notice that there was a mumps outbreak at the boys' college. A student came back from overseas and had contracted mumps abroad. Now even though both boys have been vaccinated and are not in danger, just think how bad that would be...a grown man contracting mumps is not only deadly but has other consequences and side effects that are life long. Plus, in most states there are religious exemptions for vaccination and in most states if you do not want to vaccinate you can homeschool your child too. (Not in every state, but in most). So you can disagree with me on the "forced" vaccine issue but I really think forced breastfeeding and vaccines are two different issues.

Frighteningly, we have already seen in Canada, with the removal of Ayn Hoare from her home, by the Canadian authorities, that a "nanny state" can come in and decide what is best for your child. There need not be any suggestion of abuse. There need not be any suggestion of neglect. There need only be a social worker, with a dubious background in autism who decides that a single parent has too much to handle and the child would be better off placed in foster care. There need only be a judge who listens to the social worker and not the parent. There need only be a government system set up to think it knows how to parent your child better than you do and your child is gone. I know this case has terrified so many parents of children that "wander." (Yeah "wandering" is now a certifiable diagnosis in the DSM.) Honestly because of some of the boys' issues when they were younger I worried constantly that some ignorant state social worker would see an autistic meltdown and decide that the state knew better how to parent. I think for parents of special needs children this is a real fear in the deep dark recesses of their souls even if they won't admit it.

You see these issues hit home for me and they should for you too. I remember when CM1 was very young and I wanted to sign him up for a soccer class through the county. It was part of the county program for children with disabilities. In fact the special ed director in my district said it would be good for him. There was no group for children on the autism spectrum and the director thought this type of inclusive program would be good for him. So I called the county social worker who was listed as the director and told her about CM1. This is what she told me:

"You parents think that putting your child in with ADD children will make them normal. I have calls from parents like you daily. Well it won't happen and you should just accept it," and with that she hung up. She did not ask me about his functioning level. She did not care that the district director sent me to her. She did not ask about his school, his IQ or what his issues happened to be. No she decided as soon as he heard PDD-NOS that I was an asshole of a parent and that she knew better than me. Well he ended up in another program and learned how to kick a ball like any "normal" child. Guess what he may not be an Olympic athlete but he can hold his own with anyone in a gym. Moron.

I also had CM1 in a day program at another county program when he was five years old. He was the highest functioning child in the group. At the time that wasn't a problem, because he received the needed attention from the support personnel. One day when another child had gotten upset and started to cry, CM1 who has always been extremely empathetic, went over to help the upset child. He brought him a towel and kept patting him on the head to make the crying child feel better. Well the social workers were shocked, shocked I tell you that my son would do just that. I said that he has always cared about others feelings. They thought I was an idiot and ignorant about autism. Oh no, he can't be that way...they insisted. Yeah I should send them the list of charities he has worked for and the charity that he stole my credit card to donate to, too. Morons.

Just in case you thought these individuals from years ago were a worn out anomaly, there is also the story of the original college disability director who I had to threaten with a lawsuit because she tried to bully me into withdrawing CM1 from his school. She kept telling me that she had been a socialworker/counselor for decades and she knew that he wasn't cut out for college. Of course, she ended up changing her tune once he started getting "a"s, (and I am sure the letter form the lawyer helped in that regard too) but still she thought again that she knew everything there was to know about autism and support and ability. However, later on she established an aspergers support program and I ran into her at the college coaching and transition certification course I took. So she did learn something eventually. But if I had given into her in the first place CM1 would not have ended up in school.

The problem is that in a nanny state it is people like these social workers who would decide your child's future. Not you, not your child, these people who have no idea about reality when dealing with an autistic person would decide who your child was going to be and if you didn't listen you would lose your child. That is why these breastfeeding regulations bother me. Not because mothers do not deserve to have the right to breastfeed but because the state has no right to tell us we can't bottlefeed. The state does not have the right to tell us how to parent our children and they do not have a right to decide our children's future and they do not have a right to take your child away because you do not agree with their approach to life. I am being hysterical you say... its not a slippery slope you say... just listen to Derek Hoare and then tell me I am wrong.

Until next time,