This post reflects on my personal feelings on one of the most touchy subjects in the Autism realm: cure vs. no cure. It’s what I see as “the great divide” in our community.
Some say all Autism Spectrum Disorders are one and the same in this respect but I personally see this very differently. It may very well be the same diagnostic code in the future but I do feel that while people with Asperger Syndrome (such as myself) versus severe Autistic Disorder both have significant challenges and some are the same, the approach for treatment, in my opinion is not.
Some say that Aspergers is a lifestyle. I highly disagree with that. I don’t believe that a neurotypical person could live the life as someone on the Autism Spectrum or vice versa. I think its a matter of bridging the gap to understand each other better because after all it is a neurological condition.
Some say that there should be no cure for Autism. To me, that is sort of like saying “there should be no cure for foot disorders”. While they are all connected, as truly everything is connected, it doesn’t make it the same. Do I wish that those who suffer from severe autism could live with greater quality of life if they are suffering, especially with co-morbid diseases in the mix) of course I do! I don’t wish any sort of suffering on anyone for any reason.
Now does this mean that I believe that Aspergers should be cured? Define what the cure would be. Would it help me make more friends? Would it reduce my daily high levels of anxiety? Would it help with coping with severe sensory issues or perseveration? Or would it make me some one else?
There is the difference to me. To find a way for people with Autism to struggle less without being any less of who they are as a person. I grew up with a boy for a short time with severe autism and there were times when he seemed so happy and content, more so than many neurotypical people I’ve met. So it is hard for me to say that all aspects of Autism Spectrum Disorders are bad or cause suffering. I believe the intensity that Aspergers has given me has strengthened my writing, but on the flip side sometimes I would almost rather feel less of the intensity in exchange for a better level of social awareness and ability to handle social events.
With that being said, I am considered very high functioning, and I cannot nor would I ever attempt to speak for someone who cannot speak about how they feel on this subject. Why? Because I am me and that person, just as anyone else on this Earth does, has their own feelings. I cannot speak for others with Aspergers. I cannot speak on behalf of someone with Autistic disorder. But I can speak for me.
What I want in a cure is less of a cure when it comes to Aspergers and more of a better way to learn to understand the world around me. I don’t want to be someone else.
I want to be me – but more comfortable with being myself if that makes sense. I don’t take pride in having this disability as some might, but I take pride in the steps I have taken and personal growth I have made to better interact with others in ways I couldn’t have comfortably done so before.
So, in essence, I’ll bet you’re saying I am “pro cure”. That’s not exactly correct. I find myself somewhere in the middle. I don’t want a cure that would make us different people, no, but maybe better treatment options across the Spectrum for coping.
But I find myself wondering about if and when I have a child one day and if there was a vaccine that wouldn’t change who they were but would help them integrate more and live a fuller life (this is of course a subjective idea), then I think I might choose to vaccinate to prevent other forms of suffering for their children. It really depends on what it’s doing.
But here is the kicker, and please hear me out here, I believe that my personal belief about this doesn’t and shouldn’t reflect anyone else’s necessarily. I don’t judge any one who says “no cure” or says “Find a cure” because I believe that at heart the reason people say “no cure” is because of the idea that Aspergers is a piece of us and to destroy it would destroy quality of life and then I believe that those who seek a cure – seek an end of suffering. In the end, aren’t both ideals sort of a common ground? Both sides want greater quality of life but see it differently.
My greatest goal for this post is not to begin a debate. My goal is to suggest the possibility that this great divide isn’t as divided as some might assume?
Aspergers isn’t truly part of who I am on the inside. It’s a disability. I don’t think I would be less of a person if I didn’t have Aspergers. It’s not me, just something that highly affects how I function.
However, God made me the way I am, and therefore I am dealt this card. Would it be nice to have life be easier, sure. But as the cliche goes “No one said life would be easy” and honestly some of my challenges have made me a stronger person.
You’re waiting for me to go one way or the other here right?
That’s a shame. I really see an opportunity for both sides to stand united to honor and help those on the Autism Spectrum.
Both sides are fueled by the common bond of love for mankind or their loved one. So honestly, I don’t stand on either side personally. I’d like to stand right in the middle, and wait to see who can join me there.