I sacrifice many words on this blog to complaining about mainstream medical professionals. Or if I don’t, I mean to. I have myriad gripes about “the mainstream” and, especially, Martin’s Track One team.
It’s only fair, then, that I disclose positive experiences with the mainstream, too. Today I had one.
Martin is vaccinated. Almost fully vaccinated, a choice I now regret. (I don’t believe that vaccines “cause” autism; it’s more complicated. That digression I’ll save for another post.) He’s missing one currently due booster, which I don’t want him to receive. His school, however, requires certification that all students have all vaccinations and boosters. I’ve been in a bit of a bind.
Martin’s pediatrician, Dr. S, satisfied with the near-complete vaccination protocol he’s already undergone, has expressed a willingness to move forward only at my comfort level. I decided to ask her for a medical exemption to delay this last shot until we have more time to consider how it will affect Martin’s treatment.
Dr. S, however, has been absent from the office for some days and will not return within the school’s paperwork timeframe. So this morning I ended up referred to the back-up pediatrician, Dr. R. She took my phone call immediately.
I was nervous about whether Dr. R would be as willing to work with me on a medical exemption. I explained the situation, and that I had previously discussed with Dr. S holding off on additional vaccinations. Dr. R pulled Martin’s chart, reviewed Dr. S’s notes, and agreed to issue the temporary medical exemption for Martin. I was hung up the phone happy and grateful.
Five minutes later the phone rang. It was Dr. R again. In reviewing Martin’s chart, she had noticed that we’ve undertaken a biomedical protocol for treating ASD. She has other patients on the spectrum, whose parents have asked questions about what they can do. Would I be willing to tell her about our experience?
Would I? You betcha! I agreed to meet Dr. R at her office at lunchtime.
We ended up spending an entire hour together. Dr. R knew virtually nothing about DAN! or biomedical approaches to autism, other than tidbits she’d heard about modified diets. I started by disclaiming any understanding of the science behind curing autism, and said that I can only relay our family’s experience: what we’ve done, who we’ve seen, and how Martin has changed. Then I prattled endlessly, pulling no punches about the challenges or the gradual, yo-yo nature of the progress. Dr. R impressed me with her willingness to listen. She wrote the names of books and websites for her own follow-up reading. She asked questions about what resources I’ve found most helpful, and where she might direct other ASD patients’ families. She never once raised her eyebrows or looked at me like I’m loony for giving recovery a try.
I came away from the discussion with renewed faith in the medical establishment. If ASD recovery really does work—and Martin’s progress so far suggests it does—then the way it’s going to reach more spectrum kids is one ear at a time. Practitioners like Dr. R who at least are willing to listen might may help turn the tide.