Sunday, September 30, 2007

Yes, Autism Should Be Cured

Autism should be cured.

Most parents of severely autistic children will answer that question as I have just done. There are some high functioning autistic persons who argue that autism should not be cured. There are some parents of high functioning autistic persons and professionals who work with them who argue that autism should not be cured. Some simply ask whether we should seek to cure autism. The answer to any such question is yes, yes, yes, we should.

We should seek to cure autism so that severely autistic people can be cured and their lives enhanced. That is really all there is to it. This is not to suggest that the higher functioning autistic people who push their views on the internet should be forced to be cured. Absolutely not. But for severely autistic children, whose parents, legally, morally and practically speak for them, the answer is yes they should be given the chance to be cured. What other medical condition do we not seek to cure, or at least to give people the choice of being cured if they are capable of making the choice; or of having their care givers or guardians make the choice if they are not capable?

My son Conor is 11 1/2 and did not have access to 40 hours of ABA between the ages of 2 and 5. He has received ABA as much as possible though particularly since trained UNB-CEL Autism Training Intervention Program began graduating Autism Support Workers; some of whom now work in the school system. With ABA we are able to communicate at a basic level with Conor and he has learned some reading, writing and math skills. (He loves Dr. Seuss and Pinky Dinky Doo) We have also been able to moderate his self aggressive behaviour using ABA and knowledge of what environmental factors are likely to prompt frustration and self aggression.

Would we accept a cure for Conor if one were available and did not involve serious risk to his safety? Yes, if I could cure Conor's autism with the wave of my hand I would stop typing this commentary and do it now before finishing this sentence. I know that Conor is more than his autism; that his personality, his identity, are not dictated by his autism, that Conor would still be Conor. With one major difference. His opportunities to experience and enjoy life would be enhanced immeasurably.

The high functioning autistic persons who oppose curing autism have every right to decide not to be cured of their autism - for themselves. They have absolutely no right to do so for my son and other severely autistic children. They can argue until the sun ceases to shine but they will never convince me, nor most parents of severely autisic children, that we should not cure our children of their autism, that we should not enhance our childrens' lives as parents have strived to do since the beginning of human existence.

Yes, autism should be cured. And the Autism Knowledge Revolution which jumps almost daily onto our internet pages holds out great promise of doing exactly that.


James Bender said...

Actually, autism will never have a cure, unless it is in the womb before birth...
The problem here is that not many poiticians have any idea what it is they are talking about.
The strategy needs to focus on long term care, one on one support, and how to deal with the increase in autism rates in Canada.
The cure for autism is likely in the building blocks of our human entity.The structure of our DNA, and perhaps somewhere the environment will factor in.
Re-adjusting these blocks after assembly is impossible. Once someone is diagnosed, they can never be cured, but they may be helped through a series of early interventions, such as IBI programs which seem to have good results in many cases, but not all.
Dealing long term with the issue is possible, but difficult.
Society first needs to determine that they want to cover these additional costs, and then they need to determine how these programs will be delivered in a fair and equitable manner across the country.
This should be a federal measure...but they are too busy spending money on arresting pot heads, and silly other things.
Autism will undoubtedly fall by the wayside.
I recommend lying to the government. Tell them your kids have downs or some other trendy disease. They'll pay the bill then. Hell, in ONtario you can get a sex change...but no helkp for your suffering kids.
I guess having a same sex married minister of health made the difference in having sex changes re-listed as a paid for government service here in Ontario.
Too bad he didn't have an autistic child first.

Suzanne said...

I suspect that autism has many causes. Even if there is a genetic component, it doesn't mean there can't be a long-term treatment that effectively does away with the worst symptoms. If I could wave my hand, I'd cure my daughter's autism, too. The thing that makes me saddest in the world is that I can't have a bona fide conversation with my daughter. Oh sure, she talks, but so much of what she says is repetitive or scripted. The only time we can talk is during her bath when she pretends to be a different animal every night (of her own selection). I hope someday we can talk about how she feels and what she thinks in a complex manner.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the initial comments from Conor's Dad. Some high functioning autistic persons who oppose curing autism have every right to decide not to be cured of their autism but they have absolutely no right to do so for other severely autistic children. Some of this opposition is directed at parents and can be blunt, even allowing for their autism, to the point of being rude even aggressive.

They claim to speak for these children as they 'know' what autism is like. They know what their version of autism is like but not that of our son, Conor or any other autistic child.
Every caring parent has the basic instinct to do the best for their children and fear what will happen to them once they are unable to care for them.

A cure ? That is a long way off I fear but we may see new treatments to ease the 'side effects' of this condition.

..... and to those high functioning autistic persons who oppose a cure .... lay off us parents we are all on the some side but have different points of view. Try thinking about our views and concerns.

Anonymous said...

You do realize there are non-high-functioning autistic persons who also argue their autism should not be cured, right?

Unknown said...

Joseph - there are many low functioning autistic persons who do not have the ability to communicate and have limited understanding of language. To say that these people ARGUE that their autism should not be cured is nonsense.