Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Autism Controversy: The Cure

In this series of my blog articles I am going to talk about the most controversial points in autism. These are points that divide us and cause us to attack each other with abandon, especially on the internet. Not just the internet though, as it has gone as far as picketing and lawsuits. But what does all that really achieve?

People of the autistic society can be very dramatic and overly driven people. That's an important first point to understand. We suffer from tunnel vision when we set our sights on a topic and what we feel about that topic. We can be driven into a "let's get'em" mentality with our over developed sense of justice and what wrongs us personally. To that note, we are famous for over internalizing situations to a point that taking offense is all too easy. As a disclaimer, I'm not saying that every single person with autism is like this, but I am saying it's quite common. We are also very driven by our senses that have us off balance much of the time.

As you can see by the title, the first area of controversy that I'm going to discuss is the ever aggravating "cure". This one may be the biggest area of autism controversy every. It's incited huge divisions of our community to go against each other with as much mudslinging, malicious ads, picketing, and hate as any religion or politics could hope to show. Now I'm going to make a very general statement that both sides may not care for: This is wrong on all sides. Now I'll impart the reasons why.

1: There is no cure: We spend a lot of time getting very bent out of shape over something that doesn't exist. Whether it's because we "want" a cure as some do or because we don't want one forced on us. What this comes down to is the argument of even looking for a cure. Half of the community takes great internalized offense at this while the other is labeled as "curbies" (a hate term, people, think about it). All of it is fueled by fear and mistrust. The bottom line, however, is that a cure simply does not exist. As it is, I don't see one happening in our lifetime or maybe even ever at all. We need to stop internalizing the seeking of a cure as a threat and consider the people who are looking and the life stories of the people that want one. I would love to "cure" some of the issues that I deal with as an autistic person and don't believe I would be lost at all. Having my senses more leveled out would be nice so that the sun doesn't give me migraines and some sounds don't bring me to my knees, think about that. On the other side, those who want to cure "Autism" as they don't tell you what areas they are trying to cure, need to be more specific to help calm the waters here. Curing autism is not a threat, cannot be forced on anyone and as of now, doesn't even exist.

Like the Unicorn, just not real.

2: It's invasive: Both sides feel invaded by the other. Another point to think about carefully. Why do you think that is? Take a family with a 13 year old boy who cannot talk, dress himself, feed himself or otherwise care for himself at all. Put them at a "cure" rally and have a non-cure type approach and lecture them for trying to "cure" their son. That's wrong. First of all, no one has the right to condemn anyone or any family for their medical choices.

If you do this and don't know them personally, don't know what they are dealing with, don't know how they feel or what any of their struggles are, you are out of line. Same goes with anyone lecturing you that you should cure yourself. You simply don't have enough facts to make a judgment. Also, just because someone wants to "cure" themselves or a family member for what ever reason... it doesn't mean they want to cure everyone. Yes, it's folly for organizations to talk like they have acceptance of everyone when they don't, but that's the psychology of an organization for you. You're better off ignoring it.

Put those together and what you get is a colossal waste of time and energy for us all. What the autism community needs is more moral support and acceptance, not infighting that will ensure nothing gets done for anyone. As of me writing this article, our government is on the brink of a shutdown thanks to a room full of politicians with the exact same problem. Is that where we want to go?

So here is what we need to do;

1: Stop worrying about the scientists who aren't just looking for "cures" but trying to understand how it works for the sake of everyone (educational).

2: Stop fighting.

3: Remember that NO ONE can force you to take any cure and just because someone else wants their (very different form of...) autism to be "cured" or "adjusted", doesn't mean anything will be directed at you.

4: Allow other families the freedom to make their own choices for themselves without all the excess judgment. If you don't like their decisions, just leave them alone. That's no matter what "side" you are on.

5: Remember there is NO cure. All that can be treated or "cured" are the comorbid side issues that can come along with autism. As it is, how many of those are there? Go try and count them.. good luck. That's why autism as a whole cannot be cured. Many of them are seriously debilitating. Those are the real targets, not you.

Next time: Andrew Wakefield and Vaccines.


Brian@bothsidesofthecoin said...

Well said, summarized what I've thought through our brief time knowing about our son. Good points about not attacking each other.

Thewildeman2 said...

Thank you Brian. I think it holds true especially with the problems the world already faces today.

John Makin said...

Well said Brian. I feel particularly amused in a sad sort of way for the way that I was labelled as a cure lover.
As I said in one of my posts I am not.
My personal take on it is that it is the last thing that I would want and obviously want it forced on no one. But I would hate to tell anyone that it is wrong to wish for a cure ...