On finding a cure for Autism and Aspergers

 

After getting into yet another discussion on twitter with someone who wants to find a cure for Autism I knew I had to post about this. You can see the twitter conversation as well as a great commentary by a fellow member of the ASD community here:
pletifulpluk twitter review

My son and I both have Aspergers, high functioning Autism. I could write an entire book about all the things we deal with every day. We have sensory issues; my son has to wear ear plug when the church choir sings because the sound is so overwhelming. We have a very difficult time looking people in the eyes; how many times in school was I called a liar because there is some stupid rule that says you must be telling a lie if you can’t look someone in the eye? Our brains process things so fast that we often appear distracted. Our handwriting is unreadable. And we have melt-downs; to anyone not used to kids with AS it looks as if my son is a spoiled brat having a temper tantrums when he melts down. He will yel, scream how much he hates you, throw things around, and lash out! And me as a grown man, I have been called a total jerk (and worse) when I melt down. I totally lose control; I yell, I cuss, it isn’t pretty. By the way these melt downs are seldom emotional out busts of anger as you perceive them. They are more like an emotional overload. You see we have very intensive emotions and thoughts and sometimes we have to get it all out. Those melt downs actually scare us because we get blinded and we lose a little control.

Pills

Pills (Photo credit: The Javorac)

Most of us on the Autism spectrum have a similar story. We can be a challenge on our best days. It takes a very special and loving person to get close to us and to understand us.

And here is where the argument begins. I listen to so many parents say they can’t handle their Autistic children. I hear so many parents say it breaks their heart to watch their kids suffer. These are well intended people who want to ‘help’ their children by finding a cure. These are the ill-informed people who listen to organizations such as Autism Speaks, and they bite off on the illusion that we need to be cured. Or worse we should be diagnosed in the womb and aborted. All in the name of helping us to avoid suffering.
BUT, this is a colossal BUT, we don’t suffer near as much as THEY do. You see I know who I am and I know I have abilities that NT’s will never comprehend. I see thing clearly. I logically solve problems. My IQ is typically higher than most Neuro-typically or NT’s. The problem in every single discussion I have with NT’s is the fact that THEY don’t understand us. They CAN’T understand us. So they measure us by THEIR standards. Much like calling a fish a failure because it can’t climb a mountain. Their true desire to finding a cure always comes down to making them comfortable by making us like them.
Think about it….

I have never heard on single adult on the Autism spectrum say they wish they could be cured.

We have some difficulties. We have some days we don’t fit in. We have days we get frustrated. But if you’re an NT, I bet you can say the exact same thing about yourself.

Now I have heard the same old argument that I have High Functioning Autism and I have no right to say that people with ‘more severe Autism’ (their words not mine) don’t need to be cured. My answer to that argument: ask these two if they want to be cured: Autistic and in Love

If you’re a parent of an Autistic child, think for a moment about what these cures and these drugs are doing to your child. Are they curing him or are they slowing down his mind and trapping him in a mental hell just so he can appear ‘normal’?

I know I probably just made a lot of NT parents mad at me. I expect to get a few nasty comments. And that’s okay.
In ancient times men believed in sea monsters because they didn’t understand what was out in the oceans. Don’t blindly believe in sea monsters. It is easy to try and label the unknown. It is difficult to set sail and go out to sea in and effort to understand and find the truth.
We don’t need a cure. We are not sick. All we need is a little understanding.
We don’t need to conform to the labels you need to place on us.
We spend our entire life trying to understand the NT world. Is it wrong of us to ask you to try to understand our world just a little?

 

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11 comments on “On finding a cure for Autism and Aspergers

  1. 1funmum says:

    I just wanted to say thank you!

  2. ~Drea says:

    This is laid out and well-explained with nice links – especially the one near the top ;)

    The starter of this conversation later tweeted that it’s better to adjust us as there’s more of them… I stated we should continue to teach tolerance and the reply was that this was behavior, not skin color… I actually didnt like my reply because it appears that I failed to validate multiple cultures with the US… sigh.

    Twitter makes it complicated! I can articulate myself, but not in 100 characters! lol

  3. Stephani says:

    I love this point that you wrote: “So they measure us by THEIR standards. Much like calling a fish a failure because it can’t climb a mountain.”

    While I agree with you that we don’t need a cure or medication, I do believe that there are things we can do to help those on the spectrum cope with their difference and not have such extreme emotional outbursts.

    My son (12) with Aspergers is much like you described, with extreme emotional outbursts when overwhelmed. Except that he is much different when he follows his diet – an all natural, non-drug method we’ve been using for years. He can stop himself from “seeing red” as we call it when he loses control. He is calmer, patient, and able to handle his environment.

    Does it cure his Aspergers? No – it helps him handle his differences. He says that he feels like a different person when he doesn’t stick to his diet. What I see from dietary change is more of his brilliance and amazing qualities when he isn’t troubled by his sensory and emotional struggles.

    I work with families to manage dietary methods to help their children and countless other parents say the same thing. I’ve never had the privilege of working with an adult on the spectrum to get a first hand account from the adult, not the child.

    If you would be interested to see if this could make a difference for you, I’d love to talk with you about it. If not, that’s great, too.

    I hope you aren’t offended by my suggestions. I agree that we shouldn’t try to change who you are, but if you could cope easier in a world not set up to support you, would you be interested?

  4. [...] On finding a cure (aspiewarrior.com) [...]

  5. RM says:

    Amen to that! My son was diagnosed with autism 2 yrs ago, and for the first year I was unfortunatly caught up in the whole “cure autism” thing. Some good things came out of it: I learned alot about different ways to help him like OT, we started the GFCF diet and his functioning improved alot, and then we also discovered he had PANDAS and treating that helped tremendously. But in retrospect it was a miserable year for him, feeling like it was not okay anymore to be him. When I finally accepted his autism and started really trying to understand him instead of “curing” him he did so much better and felt it was okay to be autistic, and even kind of cool.

    • aspiewarrior says:

      What an awesome story! Yes it is totally cool. Just like anyone else we have problems but I wouldn’t want to change for anything. And my son is simply AMAZING just the way he is.

  6. AspieAngel says:

    I am a single Aspie mom with a teenage Aspie son. I was bored and typed in Aspergers I don’t need a cure and your blog popped up. It’s so nice to know I am not the only one who feels this way. My entire life when people learned I was ASD I’d hear “oh I;m so sorry” and I immediately ask them why which they do not know how to respond to [ this truly amuses me] . I am not sorry, I am proud to see the world from a different view. Though my son and I are both Aspie, we couldn’t be more different from one another. . Hard to imagine where the world would be without the brilliance of Autism.

  7. Alaine says:

    hey. i am a girl in my twenties with aspergers. ive been loved and accepted my whole life, by my parents, my brother, at school, even at work. im also very good at a lot of things, and i finished school with good grades and so on. ive never found it hard to make friends, boyfrirnds…the only problem i have is that my life lacks meaning. i cant feel anything. i cant maintain relationships and i dont want to. i cant have dreams. i honestly dont know what makes you happy with life or what gives you meaning. i wish i would have been aborted, but the only thing that im living for is waiting for a cure.

    • Spencer says:

      Please, Alaine, get rid of the negative thoughts. I made this huge comment over in another blog post on here, but what you need to understand is that higher-functioning autism and Asperger’s don’t need cures. Furthermore, I think it’s impossible and unnecessary. Autisitic people have very uniquely wired brains, and no medicine can force the brain to be that way. There is an interesting theory regarding re-wiring one’s own brain, but it’s complicated and it might not work for something like autism of any sort.

      Would a cure that would make me more easily able to make friends be nice? Certainly. Would a cure that would make me a bit more understanding of how other people think or be able to read social cues be nice? Definitely. Would a cure that would be able to have better balance and coordination be nice? Very much so! :)

      But…people like those in Autism Speaks seem to see no value to having at least a minimal portion of society being autistic. People on the higher end of the spectrum are very much needed. We have our role in society, even if the rest of society doesn’t seem to understand that. But collectively, we have certainly contributed a lot to it, and some of it came from the fact that we had little else to do like be hedonists or engage in riots or any other foolhardy behavior, aside from maybe meltdowns and babbling about obsessions.

      A hypothetical cure might also take away my amazing discernment and observational skills, my love of learning, honesty (who knows how many lies I’d tell upon being able to do it?) or even worse, my affinity for gratuitously advanced diction. And even though I’d technically be “normal”, I wouldn’t feel normal. I’d want to change back, I think!

      Normality is subjective, Alaine, dictated entirely by society. Autism is no social construct, and for complex reasons I wouldn’t want a society in which EVERYBODY has it, but what you need to understand is that there are many other people who feel “abnormal” for other reasons. But what people seem to fail to understand is that “abnormality” has one of two causes: sin or God. God designed my brain purposefully so that it would be “autistic” (although personally I just say I have Asperger’s, autism implies low-functioning autism in most circles) because He had a plan in mind for me. And chances are He has one for you, too, if you’re willing to undertake it.

      And as for things like a lack of friends, social skills, coordination, etc, remember that while all of these might be hard to acquire, they can be learned through time. I would encourage anyone “on the spectrum” to learn social skills–not because they “need” to or else they have “failed life”, but simply because they could benefit from it. The good thing about having autism of some kind is that all of the things we lack or have difficulty with can be learned if we choose. Don’t get stuck in this mentally deterministic mindset that as an autistic person you’re simply “stuck” the way you are. People change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse, and sometimes it’s voluntary and sometimes it’s not.

      A cure that inhibits someone’s mind is no cure at all; it’s just an inhibitor. Although, to be fair, medicine like anti-depressants or something to help with emotional outbursts is good, so long as you aren’t pacified into being some passive, dull creature.

      And as for low-functioning autistic people, all that they really need that they lack is the ability to speak. I’ve heard many parents tell about how the Lord “cured the autism of our child” (It did not, their child simply acquired speech and moved up on the spectrum), and regardless of the matter, several low-functioning autistic people have been able to acquire speech. There is hope even for them, too.

      Finally, one last thing I want to say: Most autistic people don’t like the puzzle piece thing. They think that it represents the idea that they must “fit in” to society’s standards, and that they have to obey some rules they don’t understand. But I like the puzzle piece. I, for one, enjoy puzzles and the challenge they present to the brain. I also look at it as a puzzle piece that represents myself, a piece among so many others in God’s Kingdom. I must simply place myself in the puzzle, exactly where I need to be. And God already knows exactly where I should go :)

      Remember that you have so much value to Him. No one was made to be able to do everything, but through Christ’s love and forgiveness of our sins–and most importantly His acceptance of autistic people and their condition–we can do anything that we need to do if our faith indicates that we are willing to let Him “cure” us. But instead of curing our brains, He cures our souls.

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