Thoughts on curing autism

Research into autism’s causes and a cure are very important, and I hope for success sooner rather than later. There is a lot of work going on towards finding a cure for autism. The most obvious example comes from the appropriately named organization Cure Autism Now, (or CAN, for short).

But what would happen if, all of sudden, they did find a cure?

“We can give your child a shot now, and when he wakes up tomorrow he will no longer be autistic. Would you like us to give him the shot?”

Pose this question to a group of parents of children just diagnosed with autism, and chances are you would get a very quick, passionate, and unanimous response of YES!!! Ask this question to those partents of older children, though, and the responses would likely be more hesitant, not quite as passionate, and definitely not unanimous. Ask this question of autistic adults, and you may be surprised at the answer you get.

In the forward to her book Thinking in Pictures, Temple Grandin is quoted as saying the following on the subject:

If I could snap my fingers and be nonautistic, I would not – because then I wouldn’t be me. Autism is part of who I am.

Unlike a cure for a physical ailment, which fixes the body so it works properly, a cure for a neurological disorder such as autism fundamentally changes the nature, the personality, of the person suffering the disorder. As autistic children get older, their personality becomes more and more not just a product of their disorder, but inseparable from it. If you take away the autism, what else do you take away?