I have a friend, who I love and respect, who thinks that people who support finding a cure for autism are awful, hateful, discriminatory people who are just afraid of people different from them. Because there is nothing wrong with her or her boys, each with autism. And I get that. I can see how her experience with autism makes her feel protective of neurodiversity.
And then there’s me. My son has the kind of autism you don’t see on TV. He isn’t a savant. He can’t do impossible math or speak six languages or paint landscapes from memory or memorize medical information and perform intricate surgeries. He can’t even fully dress himself yet. It’s not “cool” like those with special abilities. It’s not something to be in awe of.
He cannot speak, save but a random word once a year or so. We haven’t had much success with augmentative communication devices, PECS, or sign language. It is exceedingly difficult for him to communicate his most basic needs. He has behaviors as a result of this lack of communication ability. And now that he’s 12, it’s not cute anymore. He’s not the sweet kid in the shopping cart giggling uncontrollably at the toy he’s holding anymore. He’s the massive man-child naked and screaming in the middle of the grocery store check out lane. Yes, it’s happened. His autism is a true disability, and he will need care for the rest of his life.
And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with my boy, either. However, I would take his autism away in a second if I could. Why wouldn’t I want to make my child’s life easier? Why wouldn’t I want him to stop suffering? Why wouldn’t I want him to be comfortable and happy?
So would I be okay with an autism cure? You bet your ass. If my child had juvenile diabetes, I’d want a cure for that… and if my child had cancer, I’d want a cure for that. When my child has a pain or illness, I take steps to alleviate that… so why wouldn’t I hope for something to ease his autism symptoms? It doesn’t mean that autism scares me or that I think people with autism are weird and don’t belong or any of that nonsense.