Mom Interviews

Mika Bradford

Nutritionist, consultant, and autism activist

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This controversy should be about the science, not about biased science or big business. We want to have happy, healthy children just as much as anyone else. As a community we also believe that there are many contributing factors leading to the autism epidemic. To name a few ... we know that air pollution and chemicals from refineries as well as pesticides may very well play a part. It is my opinion that we can not afford to leave any stone unturned. The future generations of children depend on us.

According to US Department of Education data, the number of autism diagnoses in children in the US has risen 644 percent from 1992-1993 to 2000-2001. Are doctors simply more aware of autism, and so are able to better diagnose it? Are things previously dismissed as "quirks" now considered symptoms?

The diagnostic criteria have not changed that drastically in the past 10 to 15 years to account for the monumental increase in Autism Spectrum Disorders. If this was a condition that has risen due to better diagnoses, then where are all the adults with autism that should be accounted for? If the increase were due to children being reclassified, we would see the autism diagnosis increase and other disabilities decrease -- this has not been the case. The children who are now being diagnosed would never have "passed" as just being quirky. These children clearly have significant communication and social deficits that are debilitating.

What has been the most challenging part, for you, of balancing (or juggling!) work and family? Has this changed as your children got older?

The greatest challenge I have had has been trying to find the line where work ends and my personal life begins. When first entering the world of autism advocacy, I would find myself giving every minute of each day to parents and professionals who were seeking information, support, and hope for the possibility of a brighter future for their child. As the years went on, I found myself searching for a better balance where autism was a part of my life but not my life in its entirety. I began focusing more on my own family's needs and began the process of creating healthy boundaries. With that being said, I can easily admit that I am still very driven and passionate about my work and the people I serve within the autism community. I believe the difference is that I take the time to be involved with my children and my husband in times when they need me the most. Working from home is a trade off. Most people think that it will simplify their life, but if you are driven and passionate about what you do then it can actually become more difficult when trying to end the work day.

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