Sunday, January 27, 2013

In My Expert Opinion

When I hear people talk about "autism experts" the phrase always gives me pause.

I find myself thinking first about what makes an expert. The dictionary says something like: A person with comprehensive and authoritative knowledge in a particular area.

My mind immediately goes to people who HAVE autism. In a way, to me, THEY are the experts. I am a mom to a boy on the spectrum, and I am nowhere near being anything remotely like an expert even on my case of one. 

Then I find myself wondering, can you be an expert in something you do not have? I always answer myself: Okay, I agree that you can, because doctors are experts in all kinds of things they don't have, like cancer and heart disease...

But inevitably I then consider if you can be an expert -- have comprehensive and authoritative knowledge -- about something that is so large scale and yet so ill defined.

I mean, what IS autism? I know my son has it, I know the boy at the park has it, and yet they are not the same at all. We don't know why they both have autism. We don't know what to predict about their futures. Is there someone with comprehensive and authoritative knowledge about both these boys?

If so, where are they, what do they cost, and what do they have to offer?
Can't these experts get together and do something to contribute meaningfully to the community?

I am not saying that there are not autism experts, but I can't help feeling like there are more people claiming that title than makes sense to me.

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