It’s a question I get asked fairly regularly, sometimes in slightly different ways. Sometimes its “do you not sometimes wish you didn’t have Autism?”, or “if you could get rid of your Autism, would you?”, and the answer has always been the same, “no, I wouldn’t”
The Autistic Community are dead set against the idea of a cure, as we see it as something that threatens our very existence, for a number of reasons I intend to explain.
Firstly, the idea of a cure feeds into the school of thought that Autism is this terrible affliction on the human psyche, this horrible illness that ruins the lives of those who suffer from it. “Wouldn’t it be great if people with Autism didn’t have to suffer from it”, they will often say.
The first problem with this idea is the idea that you can seperate the person from the Autism. In my opinion, I don’t think you can do that. My condition is part of my personality, its the lens I see the world through, and asking for a cure is effectively taking that lens away. What do you replace it with?
It has always been my firm belief that the idea of a cure and whether one is persued or not is to be left in the hands of the Autistic Community, it should not be forced upon us by non-Autistic people, who cannot understand the intracicies of the condition, the little things that don’t show on a medical report, or a school report. The Autistic Community has made it abundently clear that they absolutely reject any idea of a cure, and any attempt to push for one should be strongly resisted.
Secondly, the idea of a cure is directly at odds with what Autistic People want, in terms of support and assistance. We don’t want “cured”, we don’t need “cured”. What we need is acceptance. Acceptance that we do see the world differently, we do operate differently, and that it’s fine to do that! If we get to the same destination as everyone else, what does it matter if we take a different road to get there? This is where a lot of opposition within the Autistic Community to ABA (Applied Behavioural Analysis) comes from, as we see it as an attempt to force Autistic People to “conform” by trying to stop the behaviours Autistic people find normal and comforting. I’m planning a more comprehensive post on ABA at a later date so I’ll not go into it further right now.
Finally, the idea of a cure is deeply resented by the Autistic Community, because at the heart of the problem, is the underlying sense of exclusion and isolation that we feel from those who are supposed to be supporting us. We have said for years we don’t want cured, we don’t need cured. Please stop trying to cure us, because it is upsetting, it is damaging.
Imagine going through your life, with the very people supposed to be protecting and supporting you, campaigning to ensure that no one like you will ever be born? Because that’s how I feel when I read some of the more aggresive “cureists”. They try and undermine me by saying “but you can live a normal life, my son/daughter can’t”
I live a normal life because of the support I received as a child and a teenager. My parents didn’t try to “fix” me, nor did the medical professionals. They supported me, encouraged me, and gave me the support structures I needed to thrive and achieve my potential. I went from a withdrawn, confused, aggressive, isolated child who hid away from the outside world and lashed out at anyone who tried to interact with me, to a confident, outgoing, active young person. And I couldn’t have done that without everyone around me accepting the fact that I’m Autistic. I do things differently. And that’s okay.”
Please Accept us. We’re different, not less.