If I could snap my fingers and become nonautistic I would not do so. Autism is part of who I am. – Temple Grandin
This topic tends to come up a lot and tends to cause some tension between people when really it shouldn’t. The truth is that, just as much as Autism is a spectrum, so are the thoughts on whether or not to cure Autism.
I mean, obviously there’s really only two answers.. yes or no… but the reasons for these answers are quite wide ranging. And none of them are wrong.
Understanding the reasoning
There are some people who benefit from the way their brain is wired, becoming known as savants. They are extremely gifted in math, music, art… usually one specific thing out of a wide range of abilities.
However, that’s not usually the case. Still though, many Autistics and even parents of Autistics feel that there is nothing to cure. Autism is a part of who they are, who they will be and is perfectly natural. Yes, it may present some challenges but removing their Autism would be like removing their sense of humour, or their unique way of thinking.
Sadly, this isn’t true for everyone. For a very large part of the Autism community, Autism is a very real disability that renders a person unable to speak, function… live an independent life. It can make a person very aggressive, fearful and even, as some would call it, locked in their own world.
For people like that, for the people who have to make the hard decisions on behalf of those people… it’s quite easy to understand why they would want a cure. It’s quite understandable that they’d see very little to no benefit of having Autism and would never hesitate for a second in wishing they could go back and take it away.
These are just some examples, as I said, there’s actually a LOT of reasons for answering yes or no.
None of this is really new to anyone, however it should be pointed out that a big part of understanding and acceptance also includes doing so with each other. We can’t judge and condemn those who would choose differently from us when their circumstances are very different from our own.
When my wife asked me
My first reaction was, and I’m sure if you’ve read my blog for a while, you’d agree with this: “Have you met me?”
The truth is though, from a strictly curiosity stand point… like, let’s say there was a preview button, where you could simply see how different your child would/could be without Autism… I’d love to hit that button and see.
But would I remove the Autism? Or, to put it another way… would I take Autism away from him?
The answer is no. I would not.
I believe, for me and for Cameron anyway, that he’s actually doing very well and will likely have a good life ahead of him. It will likely be filled with his fair share of struggles and maybe even some very depressing moments… I know my life was… but I think he’ll turn out just fine.
The thing is, I do believe that Autism is a part of who he is. It shapes how he sees others and the world around him. It shapes every bit of the input that he takes in as well as his output.
It will give him unique insights into the world, a very different point of view.
For better or worse, the struggles and turmoils that he’ll very likely have to endure, thanks to that Autism, can make him a stronger person.
With proper guidance, lots of love and tons of encouragement… he can learn to focus the negatives into positives, in time. He can learn that all the greats throughout history saw the world differently, it was that gift that made them great.
And those people were outcasts, they were seen as different.
Would I go back and remove Autism from him if I could? No. He has the potential to be great with or without Autism. He has the potential to overcome any adversity that life presents him.
You may feel differently than I do, I can respect that. It’s a personal opinion that each of us makes for different reasons.
My answer comes with a responsibility
I say no because I believe that Cameron can be a wonderful human being because his potential is limitless.
I also say no because I dedicate my life to being there to help him up when he’s down, to help him see the positives in the negatives, to help him recognize the opportunities and to help him learn how to break down the walls that try to get in his way.
And I know that my wife, his teachers and the people that we have in our lives will support Cameron in the same way.
The reality, the way I see it
One day his dog will die, one day he’ll have his heart broken, one day he’ll feel very alone, one day he’ll have financial trouble…. one day, me wife and I won’t be here any more.
And as much I’d like to protect him from all of that… I can’t. And I shouldn’t. These things are a part of life and these things can build character or ruin a person. They’re the trials of life.
And as much as they suck, they’re a part of life.. and for Cameron, that includes Autism too. For all it’s benefits and even for all the incredible drawbacks, it is what it is and protecting him from it would be taking away a part of who he is and who he has yet to become.