Tuesday, 5 January 2010

The hypothetical cure question....

"If I could snap my fingers and become non autistic, I would not - because then I wouldn't be me. Autism is part of who I am."

And that is how I see C. Autism is part of who he is.
Therefore I have never given any thought to the hypothetical question of ’curing’ C of being himself. Autism is his way of being. So I feel it is not my choice to make. It is not about me.
Jim Sinclair says it very well in his article Don’t mourn for us.

I was thinking of giving up blogging as C is doing well. Or maybe just doing the odd post if I had something to say. So when I saw this post - as C and I were talked about in some of the comments I felt it warranted a reply. So I gave it some thought.

And this is what I ‘honestly’ think...
I see Autism more of a difference than a disability. But I do see C disabled by society by attitude and prejudice, exclusion, lack of resources and at times the wrong support, Etc.

So if I were to give C a magic pill – a brain altering drug. Would he become ‘normal’?? Or would he still be 1 of thousands of NT people who self harm? Or would he be an NT who goes to heavy metal concerts and head bangs?! Would he still have gastro problems? Still thrive on little sleep? Would he still prefer to be a nudist? Would he still have a foot fetish?! Would he still get excited standing on platforms in his anorak watching trains? Would he loose his passions and excitement of the things most of us don’t even notice?
These are all normal traits that C already has. OK so maybe a bit more extreme!

There are many tangents/debates around all this. Low and high functioning. What about other comorbid conditions. Children who have tragically died from various therapies or restraints. Or murdered maybe from fear or lack of support? Disability is normal. Parental genetic testing? Prevention. Eradication.

So what do we really mean by cure? To make someone conform? To be socially acceptable? Assimilated into the collective?!
Why can’t society accept everyone is different?

The journey to acceptance is different for everyone as we each have our own issues to deal with I have seen some parents get stuck at different stages (especially anger). And as a society we take even longer as we have seen with differences of ethnicity, gender etc. Diversity is overlooked within groups and produce stereotypes that can reinforce prejudice and discrimination. And so it goes on.

Yes life has been very difficult at times for C and so in turn for me. But there is also much joy.
From the first day C started head banging (he even does this when happy) i have looked for ways to give him other means to communicate. He had early intervention. Went to the best schools i could find and has been under a Challenging Behaviour specialist team. I continue to look for ways to help C communicate without hurting himself. And make sure there are people around him who understand him and want to support and help him to. And C continues to show progress at his own pace. Acceptance doesn't mean doing nothing.
We all struggle at times. No one is truly independent. C does have a quality of life even with severe challenging behaviour. Which is what I have tried to show through by blog rather than ‘blowing roses’.

Education is the key. Not only for our children to help them reach their potential but to society as a whole in raising awareness as one of the biggest problems that I see is the way many people view autism.
It’s such a shame that this hypothetical question divides our community.

Follow up

Harold has continued this discussion on his blog - Autism Cure? It's About Functioning Not Conformity.
Kev from Left Brian/Right Brain has offered his opinion - So what is ‘cure’?
And the lovely Starrlife writes about Removing the Essence