Saturday, March 30, 2013

Awareness vs. Acceptance

As Autism Awareness day approaches, I have seen many arguments that we should call it "Autism Acceptance Day" instead.  In fact, many people in the autism community question whether we should be searching for a cure at all or just seeking acceptance.  Many of the people that feel this way are adult autistics who are happy with their lives.  As with so many other controversial discussions everyone feels like it should be all or nothing.  Personally I say both.

For those that think we should just accept them, quirks and all, I say that is wonderful.  If you are truly happy with how your life is, then by all means keep leading it.

But let's consider the other side for a moment.

Do you think that the 10 year old who is not potty trained because of all her sensory issues is happy with that?  Should she just be accepted as she is?

Do you think that 16 year old who cannot talk is thrilled that his only form of communication is his iPad?  Should we just accept that as his only means of communication and stop trying to teach him to talk?

Do you think that 20 year old who still requires his mom to shave him daily is getting everything he wants out of life?

Is that kindergartener who lashes out regularly at anyone and everyone ever going to be accepted by neurotypical kids?  Should he be?  If a neurotypical child was taking a swing at your son or daughter would that be accepted?

Maybe some of these adult autistics are thrilled with their life as it is now, but if they had a child would they wish these hardships on him or her?  I think not.

These are my primary reasons for wanting a cure.  If Alan would learn to communicate his wants and needs with an iPad I would be extremely happy.  But if there was a way to eliminate his autism, I would be ecstatic!!!  Unlike a lot of people, I don't think he is the wonderful, funny (not so little) guy that he is because of his autism, I think he is the wonderful person he is in spite of his autism.

If he truly thinks in pictures like the great Temple Grandin then I would be terribly sorry for him to have to give that up, but if he were able to speak, not have so many required rituals and could understand other people's emotions at least as well as many of my engineer friends, well I think that would be a fair trade off.

Is my reasoning selfish?  Perhaps.  But aren't most parents selfish when it comes to their children?  Don't most people want their children to have more than they had?  Don't most parents want their children to be intelligent, attractive and have wonderful personalities?  Does it mean I don't love Alan that I want more for him?  I don't think so.

Even Joe who has so much going for him, struggles with some things that I would love to be able to eliminate.  As an avid reader, it pains me that Joe cannot just sit down and lose himself in a book.  If he could actually make and keep real friends how could that not enhance his life?  I truly do not believe that if a cure were found for whatever is incorrectly wired in his brain that he would lose the essence of what makes him Joe.  I believe he would be more -- not just different and certainly not less than he already is.

So while I accept the adult autistics who just want to be accepted I still want a cure for my boys because I think so much more is possible!

1 comment:

  1. Julie, it must be so hard to be told to be 'aware' of autism. Like you wouldn't be! I think you are right, acceptance is needed. However if we ever reach the acceptance it does not mean we stop looking for a cure.