What do I think about curing autism? I don’t know what it’s like to have autism. I’ve researched what autism is like, however a Youtube film, no matter how true to real life it is, is just that. Take Carly Fleischmann’s Café Video for example. I have watched that video on repeat just so I can see. But when I go to Dunkin Donuts for a coffee, I may think about the video, but I’m not able to feel the frustration Carly feels every time she is faced with a situation similar to this…which, I assume, is every day. Do I think autism needs a cure?
There’s no simple answer to this. I have ADHD, and I’ve often wondered what my personality would be like if I didn’t have ADHD…who would I be? Would I still speak so honestly and without a care or would I be timid? If my ADHD was suddenly gone, how long would it be before my perspective on the world was changed into a view I originally didn’t like? If someone gave me a pill that totally cured my ADHD, would I take it?
I wouldn’t. It would change who I am. With that said, I would change the negative impacts my ADHD has…low impulse control, lack of social awareness, inability to focus, getting off topic…err..getting off topic! What I’m trying to say here is that I think autism should be treated in a similar manner of which areas of concern are pinpointed then focused upon. It’s a lifelong battle.
Now, ADHD is a bit different than autism in the sense that autism occurs at such a young age, and it can negatively impact communication skills so dramatically. In this scenario, I’m talking about nonverbal, low functioning autism, not Asperger’s. I’ll do a little bit about Asperger’s later on. However, with autism, early intervention is key…with whatever supportive therapy it is. In my ideal world, a child with autism would only be “cured” if that’s what they wanted. Unfortunately, that child is too young to communicate what they want and they don’t have enough life experience to formulate a valid opinion on this topic. So, it’s up to the parents in this case. And I know many parents want for their child to live a normal life.
I’ve worked with autism across the spectrum and across the ages. I will always remember the first time I really worked with people with autism. I was working with adults in a group home setting. I became very attached to the people (being green in the field) and that was when I began to wonder…who would this person be without autism? And, to be completely honest, it wasn’t just me…it was my coworkers as well. And this wasn’t just the first place I worked, it wasn’t just the last place, it was every place. For this next example, I am going to use completely fictitious people.
Mary is serious and quiet. She’s also severely autistic. She occasionally is aggressive but she puts her family first and her love of books (there’s debates on if she is really reading or not) also first. If Mary was cured, she’d still be serious and quiet, but she wouldn’t hide away in her room all day. She’d be able to read without anyone questioning her ability. She’d be a teacher.
Miles is social, giving hugs and shaking hands. Miles does get frustrated as he can’t talk though and gets very aggressive. Miles chews on things all the time. Shirts, chewies, anything he can put in his mouth. If Miles was cured, he’d be a businessman, a baseball player, a baseball coach, and a beer-loving father. He’d sell cars.
Well, Mary and Miles only exist in my mind, and they don’t face any chances of becoming cured, but you become attached to the people you work with, there’s no changing that. A few years in the career and you learn professionalism, however you still wonder. But working with regular children also makes you wonder what they’d be like with autism as well (I’ve never talked about this one, I’ve just wondered). And that goes into the debate…how much of it is autism and how much of it is personality?
I’m leaning more towards autism doesn’t change personality. Yes, the person isn’t going to be exactly the same due to their upcoming (nature vs nurture), but autism doesn’t define the person as a whole. If my theory of autism not being correlated with personality is true, then yes, I would like to see a cure for autism.