Next in our journey through the ten principles of Âû, is the fourth principle, which boldly rejects the need for any kind of cure for autism. As I like to say, autism doesn’t need curing it needs accepting.
Depending on your knowledge and experience in autism circles your response to such a statement can be anything from wholehearted agreement and solidarity through to utter dismay at such a statement. I stand by it. Over the 80 odd years of autism history, there has been a major push to seek the cause and find the cure for autism. It has only been in the last few decades that there has been an alternate voice declaring no need for such a thing.
Being autistic is not a bed of roses…
For certain it’s no walk in the park being an autistic human in a largely allistic world. Issues are encountered that impact quality of life and experience pretty much every single day. Things happen, it could be sensory overload, it could be a misunderstanding in communication, it could be any number of issues that impact in ways that are difficult as an autistic to negotiate through.
The thing is that does not mean autism should be or could be cured.
If the natural response to anything that is a challenge was to simply eradicate it, the world would certainly be a poorer place.
We’ve already been down this road…
In a sense, we have already been down this road and discovered with horror what a cure really means. I recall growing up in a world where it was quite common to come across down syndrome people in everyday life. A cure of sorts was developed but in reality not a cure but a way of avoiding it. I pre-natal screening test for the condition. Since then so many downs humans simply never have the chance to be.
Who gets to judge the quality of life anyway…
A key argument heard in regard to curing autism and other disabilities and conditions is an argument for the quality of life. That’s all very well, however, who gets to make that determination?
Surely that should be in the hands of the person with the condition themselves? Surely it’s in the hands of the autistic if they want to be cured or not?
Unfortunately, history shows that rather than place this in the hands of the one that can make the determination we place it in the hands of an apparent wish for “normality” or sameness. A preconceived idea of what it is to be a complete and normal human being.
When Ivaar Lovaas conducted his ABA projects he asserted that autistic humans were not in fact human but more like empty shells needing to be filled with humanity. One of his stated goals was to fill them with humanity and make them appear indistinguishable from the non-autistic child.
What authority did he have to make such judgements?
Not a disease…
Perhaps the most potent argument against any cure for autism is the very fact that it is not a disease to be cured. It reminds me of the old saying “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. I as an autistic am not broken I am different.
Autism is listed in the DSM as Autism Spectrum Disorder. Surely that settles it. There it is in black and white, something wrong that needs to be cured.
Yet, until 1978 the DSM listed a disorder of homosexuality disorder. Thankfully this is no longer the case. It took though the brave activism of the early gay rights campaigners to have it removed. Prior to its removal much terrible therapy and treatment were imposed upon the members of the LGBTIQ community. Conversion therapy, chemical castrations, aversion therapies to name a few.
It’s a declaration of humanity…
To me declaring I need no cure and ascribing to this tenet of Autistic Union is, in fact, a statement of humanity. A declaration that I am fully human and assert my human rights.
Whilst we continue to allow the narrative that says a cure is possible or desirable we act as enablers. We enable the terrible eugenic and damaging work of organisations like AutismOne and Cure Autism Now and Defeat Autism Now to continue. Also we allow the flocking of abusive treatments like MMS to thrive. We allow dangerous Chelation to continue.
I am convinced that until we move on from the narrative of cure that we thwart a lot of work that would actually help us as actually autistic people with better life outcomes.
Better understanding by the broader community.
Higher chances of meaningful employment.
Acceptance and celebration of our skills
I embrace the belief that Autism does not need any “curing”.
Yes, I embrace this belief. With absolute certainty, I declare and believe that autism does not need curing. It doesn’t need curing because it isn’t wrong. It’s a different way of being human, not a lesser way.
We have learned a lot about autism over the years and there is certainly a lot more to learn, just as there is with any outworking of being human. What we do know is that there is certainly a genetic and hereditary link to a person being autistic. There may be many genetic factors in play and there may be environmental factors also.
There are many cliches about what would happen if autism was cured and eradicated, or never existed. They centre around the idea that there would be a lot of people being social and no one creating the innovation that we rely on to make our way in the world, things like, electricity, the internet, the computers and phones and tablets we use as a matter of course.
How true some or all of that is can never be known in reality, as we will never cure autism, you simply can’t cure something that isn’t wrong. So let’s stop wasting time, money and effort on a fruitless endeavour.
I wear my Âû with pride knowing with certainty that I don’t need any curing and I embrace my humanity as an autistic human living on this blue-green planet called earth.