Main argument: Severely disabled
I don’t hate myself, I just wish there was a cure so I could function better […]
[Some people] would not want a full cure but would take half of one, perhaps lowering the impact of certain symptoms while maintaining the core traits.
“But if you took away my autism, I wouldn’t be me!” neurodiversity proponents cheer.
“Yes, you would, and no, you wouldn’t. And that’s all okay,” I counter. Every human on this planet […] ha[s] no inherent, independent, unchangeable, enduring selfhood as such.
[E]very time I see a post about anti-cure or use of “autistic” and the r-slur as insults, there are inevitably a few autistic people commenting that they would actually want a cure, or that they’re okay with people using “autistic” as an insult.
In a vacuum, these sentiments are fine. You’re entitled to your own opinion, and if you are autistic both these matters are of direct concern to you […]
But we’re not in a vacuum.
We are surrounded by ableists. […] if you present an opinion that aligns with their beliefs and goes directly against the held beliefs of the majority, they’re going to tokenize you. Because one autistic voice that agrees with them is enough to undermine the voices of literally everyone else. […]
I’m not saying you should never express that you want a cure or that you think using autism as an insult is okay. […] But you need to be very careful why and how you express these opinions, because ableists will use your voice as justification to hurt people […]
When we stop talking about ‘curing autism’ and start talking about ‘relieving autistic suffering’, the research takes on a whole new direction. When we stop using the cognitive shortcut ‘autism’ and start describing the exact problematic behaviors and traits that are experienced as a result of environmental, physiological, or social factors […] we may actually start having productive conversations about autism […]
On the one hand, I read about how people need to find the positives in their conditions to help maintain self esteem and find a balance, and that makes sense.
On the other hand, I think that if we define the condition in terms of deficits, then the creativity and energy belong to the person, not the condition. And then, the reluctance to be free of the condition (assuming such a thing is possible) disappears.
The truth is – if someone had offered me a ‘cure’ that would make me completely neurotypical in the first twenty three or so years of my life, I would have torn off their hand to get it.
That’s not an admission of defeat on the topic of neurodiversity, or a surrender to the idea that a ‘cure’ for autism is something that is wanted or needed. In fact, it’s one of the core reasons that I advocate so strongly against the very idea of finding a ‘cure’.
These arguments [that support the choice of a cure] fail to address the fact that the issue here is not being autistic or being LGBTQIA+. The issue is ableism, homophobia, transphobia and all those ways that the world crushes down on you, repeating again and again that you are wrong, that you are defective, that the word was not built for you; a world that demands that you cut off your corners to fit through the hole, when the true answer was to widen the hole altogether.
I’ve thought a lot about that mythical cure, and there have been days, many days, when I didn’t have to think at all – when I knew that, if I had a chance, I’d take a cure in a heartbeat.
I want the things a cure could give me. […]
Can you look at the list of things I want, and tell me if you see a pattern?
Every single one of those things I want?
Have nothing to do with being autistic.
In the end, there are really two things I want when I say I wish I wasn’t autistic or I want a cure. I want to not feel like a freak, and I want to feel safe. Those are hard, scary things to feel and to admit. And, because I’m being honest, I have to ask something even scarier.
What if being cured didn’t fix those things?
We need to rally for mutual respect. We need to rally for diversity. We need to rally for healing. And yes, some of us choose to rally for cures and therapies and miracles. But I think that can be done in a way that isn’t going to hurt others. I think it can be done in a way that makes people look at us in awe and think, “Wow, now there is a group of people that can disagree without bullying one another.” […]
I choose not to say SUCK IT AUTISM on my blog anymore. I mean, I will say it sucks in my head every once in a while, because truth be told, it’s just how I feel sometimes; I don’t want to lie to you. It really is how I feel sometimes. Not every second, not every minute, not even every day. But I do think and feel it sometimes.
But I know now what that particular phrase is capable of and while it invigorated me when I used it the other day, it brought other people to tears when they heard it. And I’ll tell ya, nothing takes the wind out of my sails like realizing just how much damage something I write can cause. […]
[…] And for that matter the whole cure topic gets oversimplified the same way.
While I strongly disagree with the notion of cure and all it represents, not all decent people have even heard of my point of view and not all decent people would agree with me once they did.
I have worked right alongside people who want cures (some of whom even did ‘biomed’), in order to fight for good adult services, against restraints and seclusion, against institutions in all their forms from huge to tiny and stereotypical to stealth, and a lot of other issues that we can agree on.
And I have met anti-cure people who are aspie supremacists, who do great harm to autistic people (especially those they perceive as inferior), and who I would rarely if ever find anything to agree with them on, not even the reasons for opposing cure.
Basically, if there were to legitimately be no pressure to become neurotypical, if being autistic were actually OK, if it were a choice a person made for themself and only themself, with informed consent […] in that world? If it existed, and they chose it, I would shake their hands and wish them luck.
In the world we actually live in, I expect that the cure would be forcibly used on children, […] on anyone who receives services, and for any portions of the autistic community who technically were getting it only under informed consent, choosing not to would be used as a sign of incompetence, at which point it would be forced. That means any organization that states finding a cure as a mission is inherently not trusted.
Unlike the porous and broad meaning of ‘disability’ – a word that has come to reflect the potential for community building and solidarity across difference in many disability communities – philosophical and medical framings of ‘severe disability’ presume undesirability, objective tragedy, and potentially a lack of personhood.