Would you Choose to Cure Your Child of Autism?

If you could cure your child with autism, would you? @ allpastmidnight.wordpress.com

It’s one of those perennial questions in the world of autism: if a cure for autism was made available, would you take it, or if you are the parent of a child with autism, would you choose it for your child?

The idea that autism is not a disability, but a different way of seeing the world is one that has been gaining momentum for a while now. Autism is so tightly bound up with personality, the idea goes, then if you remove the autism the person will fundamentally change. It’s a concept I struggle with. I see parents saying that they would not choose to cure their children’s autism given the option, and I feel myself floundering because I always thought that if I was offered the choice I would snap it up in a heartbeat.

Perhaps it’s because Wee Girl is pre-verbal, and the effect of her autism on her personality is not obvious, so I’m simply not aware of how autism is shaping the person she is becoming. Without speech, it’s hard for her to share her world with me. I know her eyesight is good — she can spot a chocolate wrapper at a hundred yards, but other than that it’s immensely hard to understand the way she sees the world.

For me, autism is the the barrier between Wee Girl and speech, and if removing it will mean that she starts talking, if it means that her life will just be that fraction easier, then of course I would choose to cure it. Of course.

Only it’s not really my decision to make.

Did you see Channel 4’s The Autistic Gardener when if was on? If not, try to catch it if you can. It was interesting and sweet and funny all at once, a typical gardening show, only the gardeners all have autism and it pokes fun at the inevitable created jeopardy these gardening and interior design programs indulge in. It was fronted by the appropriately named Alan Gardner, who has won awards for his gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show. He also has autism, and uses his ability to see the world differently in his work.

thoughts on autism would you cure your autistic child @allpastmidnight.wordpress.comBy turns, it was a delightful and difficult watch. Learning that only one of the trainee gardeners was living independently was a painful moment for me, as this is something that worries me a great deal when it comes to Wee Girl.

Perhaps if it is picked up for a second series (and it should be), the team could create gardens for children or less able individuals with autism. The moments when the trainees met with the neurotypical house owners were amusing at times, but I’m sure there are many many people with autism out there who would appreciate a garden makeover. I know in our case having a garden designed especially for my daughter, with play equipment designed for her sensory needs, would go a long way to improving our quality of life.

But I digress. The question was whether I would choose a cure for my daughter if one was available. While my first instinct would be an immediate and unequivical YES, thinking about it more closely I’m now not so sure. Not knowing how her autism has shaped her, or whether she would choose to cure herself when she is older, means this isn’t a decision I think I can make.

I am not sure that I believe, as many do about themselves or their own children, that her personality is so intrinsically entwined with her autism that the two cannot be separated, but then again, I don’t know. And until she starts talking she won’t be able to tell me. Perhaps Wee Girl will have something special to offer the world. Perhaps her autism will be part of that. I do hope so.

But even so if the offer came up and it was a one time deal never to be repeated, I honestly do not know what my answer would be.

What do you think your decision would be? If you have autism or have a child with autism, do you feel that their autism is bound up with their personality or not? All thoughts and comments are much appreciated.

A Cornish Mum
The Dad Network
Modern Dad Pages

About allpastmidnight

Hi, I'm Alison, I am a mid-thirties mum to two children, Little Man and Wee Girl. Wee Girl is pre-verbal and has autism, while Little Man is the sort of happy chatty little guy who gets into everything and sings at the top of his lungs — until the moment he makes eye contact with a stranger and he goes silent. I am cynical, sweary, and a bit disorganised, and I blog about parenting, ASD, food and just about anything else I can think of. Feel free to follow me on any of my social media. I can also be contacted by email at allpastmidnight [at] outlook [dot] com.
This entry was posted in Rants and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Would you Choose to Cure Your Child of Autism?

  1. Anna says:

    I wouldn’t get a cure for the world. As much curiosity I have about a neurotypical me, I like my autistic self even better.

    • Hi Anna. Thank you for visiting and for your perspective. It’s enormously interesting and useful for me to hear from adults with autism and I hope that my daughter will share your positive outlook when she is older. As a neurotypical parent it’s hard to see autism as anything but the thing stopping my daughter from talking but clearly it’s so much more than that. I have a lot to learn.

  2. How old is your little girl when you say pre verbal ? My friends son is 4 and not really talking and there is talk of a ASD but she has been told they don’t like to diagnose so young ? I’m going to get her to do a guest post on my blog at some point on her experiences so far.

  3. Eärthea says:

    I would not get a cure if there was one. I think there needs to be better ways of helping those with autism overcome the challenges associated with it, and more understanding from those who do not have autism, but I would not want to be “cured.” That might also be because I am high functioning and am married with a baby and doing fine. If my autism made it so I could not live my life the way I wanted to I do not know how I would feel. I do know that my autism has shaped who I am. It is just like being an oldest child, moving to a different state every year or so, and my church has shaped who I am. Without all of these things and many more I would not be who I am today.

  4. The Anxious Dragon says:

    This is an interesting question. I work with individuals who have autism and have an autistic nephew. My nephew is a bright sunny super clever little man. It is impossible to picture him without his autism as its a huge part of who he is and I would never want him to change. However some of the guys I work with are far more afflicted by their autism. Everyday life is so often too much for them, and day in I see them in mental pain. If I had the means to take that pain away for them, I think I would. #picnmix

  5. I can see why this is a dilemma. I don’t know what I would choose, as I believe that the individuals with ASD that I know have enriched my life in many ways. It is not necessarily their disability that has affected me so deeply, but I cannot say for sure whether they can be separated from their autism, as it is known to shape the way they see and interact with the world. Would they be the same people with the same passions if their autism was cured? It’s hard to say. I will say, though, that by seeing and experiencing others’ perspectives, my world becomes richer. By putting myself in others’ shoes, and attempting to see the world they do, I become a more inclusive, more affirming person. I appreciate disabilities because they have allowed me to experience diversity and introduced me to people who process the world in ways different from mine. I’m not sure I’d change that for anything.

    • Amazing response, thank you, and that it a wonderful way to look at it. Having my daughter has made me a better parent and also made me more aware of other disabilities; that’s not something I’d choose to change. Thank you for visiting and for your wonderful comment

  6. Silly Mummy says:

    What an interesting post. I’m really not qualified to comment, as I don’t have an autistic child – I was just interested! I think (in as much as you can really predict how you would feel about something you have not experienced) that I would probably base a lot on whether having autism made the child’s life difficult to the extent that they would feel they were suffering as a result. But I suppose even that is a tough call – is it intrinsically difficult to be autistic, within yourself, or is it difficult because it is different to how non-autistic people think and people don’t understand and things are not designed to suit autistic people so well? The question of whether autism is an actual part of personality or not is fascinating, and I can see would pose a dilemma if they ever do find a way to cure autism. Is it that removing the autism would change the person that they are/are meant to be, or that it would change the person you know them as? I’m not sure that is necessarily always the same thing. Really thought provoking. #bigfatlinky

    • Wow, another wonderful response. It’s an incredibly difficult question and I wonder how much the answer depends on whether the child is non-verbal or not; the more able to communicate they are the more visible the effects of autism on their personality. Thanks for visiting

  7. I wouldn’t do it because I think that it isn’t my choice to make. I think it is my sons choice. But I am sure he is too young to make that decision now as: when he’s had a bad day he would want the cure immediately but on good days he can see the positive aspects of his autism better. Like you I wonder what person he will become and if he will ever have independence. Who knows but I can only support him, he must choose his own life!
    I too absolutely loved the autistic gardener. What a fantastic program that celebrates neuro diversity so positively. I had the same thought too. I’d love them to do our tiny space. Come on producers! Great post! #wineandboobs

    • I think that’s the decision I’ve come to; it’s not my decision to make. I’m sure they will make a second series, possibly with different trainees, and I think that would be an excellent way to take the series. I’d like to see a wider range of people with autism on TV, including non-verbal children.

  8. acornishmum says:

    The struggling to communicate with her thing must be so hard. I really hope that improves for you lovely. Thanks for linking up to #Picknmix
    Stevie xx

  9. martynkitney says:

    Fab post. I’ve been asked that question for my disability. And I never really know. The thing is though that it really makes the people who they are and why we love them. The tough days are difficult and I’m sure it can feel like an uphill struggle. But day by day little things will change. Thanks for linking up with us on the #bigfatlinky hope to see you there this week

    • Thanks, Martyn. It really is an enormously difficult question, but maybe disabilities do ultimately make us stronger in some ways. Ultimately it’s up to the person. Thank you for visiting

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s