Earlier this weekend, my Twitter blew up with an argument over whether or not we need a “cure” for Autism.
It’s always interesting when you get into what I’d term “religious” arguments within the community. Since getting into the community with the Monster’s diagnosis, I’ve noticed that people get very deeply invested into their points of view, to the point of being unwilling to see any evidence to the contrary at times.
As I’ve said before, if someone could offer me a miracle cure for the Monster – something that would have him dealing with society in a ‘normal’ manner, either as a permanent ‘fix’ or as a life-long treatment that helps with the symptoms of the disorder – I’d probably take it in a heartbeat. (It’d depend on the price – I’m not irrational.) I’m also educated enough to know that there is no such thing as a miracle cure, and while I can hope… the best thing we can do is try to find something that comes most of the way.
What I don’t get is the side of the conversation where people are adamant that Autism doesn’t need a cure.
I do get that some of the high-functioning folks on the Spectrum don’t see what they have as an ‘illness’, that they resent having their neuro-diversity status termed as a ‘disorder’. I get that some parents of children on the Spectrum see their children as gifted, not needing to be ‘fixed’. And that’s fine… for them. If they don’t want to have the ‘cure’, they don’t have to have it. On the other hand, they’re advocating withholding a treatment – indeed, even stopping researching such a thing – from people who would be willing to have it and have their lives improve.
I think the most interesting argument that I’ve heard is that they can envision a cure being made mandatory. Are we going to start forcing people to have treatments for non-transmissible conditions? Are we going to start mandating that I take my allergy medication every morning, for example? Of course not – the only one who suffers if I don’t take my allergy meds is me. My wife and kids can’t “catch” my allergies from me. And the same with Autism.
(And, for the record, I chose those words carefully above: ‘Non-transmissible conditions.’ As I’ve laid out before, I am pro-vaccine – I believe that not vaccinating your children, unless medically contraindicated, puts others at risk through disease transmission. I have a feeling that much of the argument against a ‘cure’ is also an end-run for many anti-vaxers to portray any treatment as intruding on their rights to do as they please.)
So, please. There’s plenty of room for us to agree or disagree about whether or not Autism needs a ‘cure’ without insisting that there shouldn’t be research into one. When they find an effective cure/treatment, we’ll all be able to decide for each of our families what’s right…
Well-reasoned thoughts on an incredibly divisive issue within the ASD community.
I think it is helpful to understand not only the specific features of autism of your own child, but also the range of possible features that autism can take: nonverbal, preverbal, PDD-NOS, Rhetts, Aspergers in boys, Aspergers in girls, etc. The support needed and the post-school outcomes for each can be incredibly different, and even contradictory, and without that understanding there will continue to be gaps in needed supports for individuals with autism.