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Dear Elon Musk: I Don't Need a Brain Chip to 'Solve' My Autism

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Dear Elon Musk,

I am writing this letter today because I am appalled by your claim that your company Neuralink can “solve” my autism by implanting an AI chip in my head.  

You said this on the podcast “Artificial Intelligence” on Tuesday when asked about Neuralink and its potential impact — a company thats goal, according to Business Insider, is to “develop an AI-enabled chip that could be implanted in a person’s brain to record brain activity and potentially stimulate it.”

So Neuralink I think at first will solve a lot of brain-related diseases. So could be anything from, like, autism, schizophrenia, memory loss — like, everyone experiences memory loss at certain points in age.  

First and foremost, autism isn’t a “brain-related disease,” as you said. It’s a developmental disability — and it doesn’t need to be solved. This kind of thinking is dangerous and unfair. Autism is a huge part of who I am. It pervades every aspect of my life. Sure, there are days where being neurotypical would make everything so much easier. But I wouldn’t trade my autism for the world. I have the unique ability to view the world and experience senses in a way that makes all the negatives of autism worth it.

The fact you think I would want to be “cured” is like saying I would rather be nothing than be myself. People with neurodiversity are proud of ourselves. For many of us, we wear our autism as a badge of pride. We have a culture within ourselves. It is not something that needs to be erased.

The person with autism is not the problem. Neurotypical people need to stop molding us into something they want to interact with. We spend so much time and energy adapting ourselves to a neurotypical world that’s not meant for people with autism. It’s bright, loud and confusing. It’s time for neurotypical people to learn our language and understand how our brains work. They need to learn how to adapt to us. It would make everyone more compassionate and better people. 

Don’t look at us as broken neurotypicals — we are awesome people with autism.

If you are interested in helping us, here are some great ideas:

Help us find jobs. Many of us are woefully under or unemployed. Create job initiatives within your company to hire more people on the spectrum.

Find ways to help us communicate with and be accepted into the neurotypical world. Help build more communication methods that can allow everyone on the spectrum, especially non-verbal people, to live comfortable lives. You have the position and the technology to really create some amazing things.

We wouldn’t have any of the technology that made your company successful if people weren’t able to think differently. People with autism have always led the charge on cutting edge and innovative ideas. If you take away autism and other neurodiversity, what kind of world would we have? As your company moves forward with its goals, keep this in mind. Although people with autism need and deserve support, we don’t need our autism to be “solved.”

Image via Creative Commons/jurvetson

Originally published: November 15, 2019
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