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Please Stop Trying to Cure My Autism

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Before I start I want to preface this by saying that I am going to refer to myself as “autistic” and not as “a person with autism.” Many of us in the autism community feel that autism is a fundamental part of our identity and therefore feel more comfortable with “autistic.”

Recently there has been a growing trend in the neurotypical community of parents trying to cure their autistic children with various pseudoscientific methods, and it has got to stop. When I talk about “cures” I am not talking about legitimate attempts by science to identify the real causes of autism (no, it’s not vaccines) and therefore reduce its prevalence. Scientists identifying causes is another issue that I could write a whole other article about. No, what I’m talking about are the methods that are not at all based in science that you may have seen popping up on your Facebook timeline. I’m looking at you, Miracle Mineral Solution.

This disturbing practice has seen autistic children being fed bleach and having bleach administered via an enema. Why, you ask? Because the parents have been convinced that parasites are causing their child’s autism. Most of us in the autism community have heard some pretty wacky explanations for our autism from the graduates of Google University, but this one is particularly disturbing because it is actively harming children in a very real and life-threatening way.

To me, this highlights a fundamental problem the autism community is facing. We don’t need autism awareness. Most people are aware of autism these days. What we need is autism acceptance. Through their actions, the people applying these “cures” to their children are making a very loud statement saying that they believe autistic people like myself are broken or damaged, and we shouldn’t exist. This is a deeply ableist attitude that seems to have evolved out of the anti-science movement and moved out of the shadows and closer to the mainstream.

I’m not saying I don’t suffer. Even as a so-called “high-functioning” individual (side note: many in the autism community don’t appreciate the high and low functioning labels) I still have some profound disabilities. Sounds and smells that seem innocuous to others are like someone setting off a stick of dynamite in my brain. I am sometimes paralyzed by anxiety and fear, and not always for reasons that are apparent to me. I find eye contact to be like holding my hand over an open flame, and my executive functioning (the part of my cognition responsible for planning and completing tasks) feels virtually non-existent at times.

As always, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Despite all these disabilities, I also have positive attributes. I have an eidetic memory, a very high IQ and great ability with academic matters. Despite negative stereotypes, I also have a deeply ingrained ability to empathize, which I have been able to use to help others. Society needs people like me, not just because of my academic ability, but also to add diversity to the human race. Diversity is incredibly important both from a biological and cultural viewpoint.

Sadly, the pseudoscience crowd seems to see us differently. Many from the pseudoscience crowd would have you believe that people like me offer nothing to society. That we destroy our families’ “normal” lives and lack the ability to take care of ourselves, let alone contribute to society. This is a lie and it has to stop. Those of us on the spectrum are as diverse and beautiful as the neurotypical individuals who condemn us. We have a right to exist, we have a right to acceptance. We have a right not to be fed bleach or put through “chelation therapy” to “remove” the imaginary toxins that some falsely believe caused our autism.

If you take one thing away from this little rant of mine, please take this. Yes, I am autistic. Yes, I do suffer sometimes. No, I don’t want a cure. Please stop trying to cure my autism. It’s time for the world to accept autistic people. Leave the cures to the scientists and doctors.

Getty image by Stockbyte.

Originally published: March 6, 2018
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