Since my son (JR) was diagnosed almost 8 years ago I have to come to realize the importance of the internet. The day he was diagnosed (August 29, 2000) the developmental pediatrician told me to go to the internet for information. I sincerely hope the advice is better than that now, however her words were taken to heart. For what I thought, was going to be a short period of time, I hit the internet hard; VERY hard indeed. Prior to JR’s diagnosis I used the internet for social networking primarily. That, and playing games.
It was due to the internet that I was able to network with other parents who have autistic children. I thought my family was alone in this struggle. Keep in mind that back in 2000 there wasn’t a lot of local families living with autism. Our local chapter of the ASA might have had 50 active families. When looking at the numbers of their yahoo group that number has risen to 376.
Knowing that you don’t walk this walk alone is very therapeutic and empowering. It was via the internet that I learned of supplements, vitamins and the bio-medical approach. It was also via this powerful tool that I learned of the connection between vaccines and autism. Again, because of the internet I also learned of the other environmental triggers that are assaulting our children on a daily basis. I also learned of the close association between autism and ADHD. Something that I myself, JR’s older sister and several cousins have.
Most important though is the solidarity that has manifested among those living this life. As a community we have made it possible for others to avoid this situation and at the same time get national media coverage for the issue. In June the largest turn out for an autism rally took place on the 4th, with numbers ranking close to 8,000 (some estimates are higher). That was the by and large the biggest turn out for a rally in the history of this movement.
That is not to say that we don’t have major supporters for our cause. The people to thank number in the hundreds if not thousands but it all comes back to the same medium and that is of course the internet. I can’t imagine walking the autism walk without the power of the internet.