Category Archives: Health

Can we rid the world of Down’s Syndrome, of Pervasive Developmental Disorders? Would we want to? #autism #autismawareness

It’s been several years since I read Elizabeth Moon’s The Speed of Dark but it’s the first thing I thought of when reading this article about the forthcoming possibility of curing Down’s Syndrome. The Speed of Dark is about a man’s struggle with whether or not to participate in a study to “cure” his autism. Here’s the blurb from The Speed of Dark, via Elizabeth Moon’s website:

“Lou is a high-functioning autistic adult who has made a good life for himself and is, he thinks, content. But a new manager in the pharmaceutical firm for which he works decides to put pressure on the unit that employs autistic persons. Lou is pressured to undergo an experimental treatment that might “cure” the autism he doesn’t think needs curing, or risk losing his job–and certainly the accommodations the company has put in place for its autistic employees.”

The ethical question that both the article and The Speed of Dark poses is: If you could cure the disease would you be willing to risk the possibility of basically erasing [the person’s] personality?

To be short and to the point, I wouldn’t. My son has High Functioning Autism, which is basically the mildest form of autism under the “umbrella” of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Although his autism caused many difficulties for him throughout his early school years, especially in social situations, with continual therapy and much hard work he overcame those challenges, and along that journey he became one of the most kind-hearted and intelligent people I’ve ever known. (Yes, the possibility of exaggerating that, as his mother, exists but others have expressed this opinion too).

One of the characteristics I love most about my son is his insistence at questioning everything, and when I say everything I mean everything. At times that can be frustrating of course, (mainly when I don’t know the answer and am unable to explain something to him), but I am rather proud of his persistence in investigating until he finds the answers he seeks. This trait makes for terrific philosophical discussions, something I’ve always enjoyed, even when the particular subject shoots way over my head. (He is 16-years-old now and as he discovers more and more about life this is often the case).

Because of this “need to know” my son has developed a dogged patience that I quite envy. When he wants to learn something, (he is very interested in software design and such), he sits down, he studies, and he learns it, no matter how long it takes. He is also quite a talented artist, not only using software tools but also with nothing more than pencil and paper, (something else I’m proud of considering how many teenagers are averse to doing anything that doesn’t require a computer).

If this sounds like a “mommy brag post”, well, I suppose it is, but the point is: should a cure for autism suddenly be discovered and offered to all people diagnosed [with a form of autism] I would not want my son to take advantage of it, I would not be willing to sacrifice the personality traits that make him the wonderful person he is.

What about you? If your child is living with autism, Down’s Syndrome, Asperger’s, etc., or if you know someone who is, would you be willing to risk the loss of their personality to “remove the parts of them” that present the challenges of living with such an illness?

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Randomness: NaShoStoMo, Be Aware, and a Love Story – #nashostomo

Hi ya’ll! It’s been such a busy week that – I’m sorry to say – I didn’t have time to prepare a #fridayflash, though I did start what I thought would be a flash but has turned out to be much longer and isn’t finished. Be sure to visit the Friday Flash Community, and join in the fun as we celebrate NaShoStoMo (National Short Story Month).

short story month logo

Speaking of NaShoStoMo, check out this fabulous site where you can read bookoos of stories; you can sort by story title or by author – and it’s all free! And when I say bookoos I mean a lot, (there 199 stories by Chekov alone). What could be better than free short stories? I just don’t know.

I’m ashamed that I missed posting for Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, which was last Sunday, May 12th, but you can still find all the resources you need to learn more about fibromyalgia, how to help those living with the hateful illness and how to cope. The fibromyalgia series I did a couple of years ago on my former site, The Life of a Working Writer Mommy, is still available – visit my Wandering Wonderings page for links to the [five-part] posts.

And now, a love story for you via the incredibly talented, (and beautiful), Greta Bellamacina. I am so glad I discovered this gem of a video for it is absolutely gorgeous. Watch!

 

I hope you have enjoyed this bit of randomness to start your weekend. Have a great one!

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Pour it on chef!

Image via cliparttoday.com
Image via cliparttoday.com

“And here’s your gift,” my boss said, setting a large shaker of salt on my desk. He’d just returned from a trip to San Francisco. Co-workers who’d received t-shirts and coffee mugs were trying hard not to crack up, stupid grins plastered on their faces as if painted there.

I didn’t get it. I looked at my boss cross-eyed. “Salt,” that look asked, “Why do I, the woman who makes sure your work life is smooth as a baby’s bottom, get the cheapest gift?”

He looked like I’d just smacked his hand and sent him to the corner. Apparently a shaker of salt was a lot more important to him than it was to me. He let out a big Uh. “Because you love salt so much!” he said, incredulous that I wasn’t more grateful.

“Oh!” I smiled, picking the glass container up and holding it with both hands as if it were the most precious diamond I’d ever received. “Thank you so much!” I deserved an Oscar for that performance.

I sat the gift on my desk and thought no more of it until, a few weeks later, I picked it up to pour some salt on my fries and realized it was nearly half empty. “Wow,” I thought, “I guess I really do like salt.” I was touched then, truly grateful my boss had taken the time to notice such a seemingly small habit. But my next thought was frightening: should I be eating so much salt? Probably not. But did I try to cut back? No, I liked to be able to see the snow on my food.

In the twelve years since my cholesterol numbers have always been idea and my blood pressure only increases when I’m having a fibromyalgia flare. Yes, now and then I’ve felt I probably should cut back on my salt intake, despite those “good” numbers, but it’s such a hard habit to break!

Then I found this article: Salt, healthy? Why it might no longer be Public Enemy Number 1 on Reader’s Digest, and felt I’d been handed a clean bill of health. The article, written by Gary Taubes, argues that government recommendations for sodium intake are not only low, they’re most likely too low, and that we should all be consuming more salt than we are:

“…the evidence from studies published over the past two years actually suggests that restricting salt can increase our likelihood of dying prematurely.”

Because of the USDA’s and the CDC’s counsel, the average person takes in too little sodium to flush out the necessary amount of renin, (stored by our kidneys), which increases our risk of heart disease.

Huh……Of course the article ends with an editor’s note to talk to your doctor before either increasing or decreasing your salt intake, (which we should do when considering any change in diet), but because of all the evidence – or lack thereof in this case – I believe I’ll stop worrying about whether or not I should cut back on the salt. After all, it’s proven that worry in itself can increase our blood pressure, so I’m already taking a positive step, right?

The man who gave me the salt shaker has moved on to another company, but I still keep the salt on my desk, and think of him every time I pour it on my lunch.

I encourage you to read Mr. Taube’s article in full (its short) and tell us what you think. Will you too stop worrying so much about your salt intake?

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