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Curing Autism isn’t Realistic, Silly!
I wrote the following article a while back, then re-edited it after we watched the sensationalist news report from a local television station – talking about the newest possible cure for autism. Curing Autism … really?
I couldn’t help becoming angry … but I know that my point of view isn’t always the popular one. We have 3 boys with autism, one of whom is mostly nonverbal. We understand the hope that talk of a “cure” brings.
But it’s a false hope.
Why? Well, I encourage you to read on and see my reasoning. The point? Is that my boys are pretty darn amazing – they try my patience and sometimes having three on the spectrum is more than a little overwhelming.
But they wouldn’t be MY boys without their autism. It’s part of who they are. Also, autism isn’t a freakin’ disease, thank you very much. You cure disease, you treat neurological disorders and love the child who works their ass off to make progress. To imply that you can “cure” autism is to imply that our children are disease-ridden and in need of curing, that they aren’t amazing little guys all on their own – autism included.
And I refuse to do that.
Autism isn’t a Disease, People!
Our local news is all excited about a potential “new cure” for autism! It seems, *gasp*, that children who have intense behavioral therapy can be “cured” from their autism.
To this I have one response – I laugh.
First, this is hardly news – studies have been around for years talking about the importance of early therapy and the extreme difference it can make for some children on the spectrum.
Let’s be geeky about this for a minute, shall we?
A cure, or recovery even, connotes a type of healing that one would have from a disease, not a neurological, sometimes-genetically-based and scientifically proven disorder which is not in any way a disease. (the researcher in me is quick to point out that certainly some neurological diseases surely do exist which can do this, but autism does not)
As the mother to three boys who happen to have ASD, with proven genetic and neurological basis, anyone throwing around words which imply that autism can simply be cured isn’t someone (or a news station) I can have a whole lot of respect for.
While many awesome, marvelous children have made great progress in their therapy and have gained the needed social, emotional, and cognitive skills to appear supposedly “cured,” these are children, and adults, who have been profoundly changed by something about themselves which is fundamentally different from *some* other people.
The child with autism who has gone through intense therapy isn’t a child who is miraculously cured. Therapy isn’t a cure – it’s hard work. Not only that, but you can’t “cure” the neurologic basis for autism, only help address the symptoms of the disorder. To call years worth of therapy and hard work on behalf of the child, parents and therapists a cure is to disrespect the amount of work they all went through.
The autism disorder doesn’t go away because someone learns how to act in public, learns how to communicate, and learns how to relate to the people around them. They will always have to make adjustments in their routines, in their mind, for the thought processes that neuro-typical folks have without the same level of work.
I’m not autistic, I only have three boys and a husband on the spectrum – to think that the years of therapy and work our boys have gone through could be reduced to a “cure” is ridiculous — I can’t accept that. I won’t. My boys are autistic. They are awesome just the way they are.
They just happen to be one of millions of children who have worked for years to improve in small and steady ways instead of extreme ones. Don’t discount these children, who make up a far larger number of those on the spectrum, just because the thought of a “cure” is making news headlines. Again.
I’d love your thoughts about this – because I will NEVER say my children with autism need to be cured, that they are somehow less because they happen to be autistic. You?