One thing that seems to always be mentioned when autism is brought up is finding a cure. “I wish somebody would find a cure for autism,” is a sentiment that pops up all too frequently. Curing autism is, to many autistic people, a very insulting notion that for some reason people keep advocating, despite frequent objections. There are many things wrong with this idea of a cure, and I will try to address them by using bad comparisons and strawmen!
“I wish somebody would find a cure for missing a limb!”
The first thing you would want to do upon hearing this would be to ask, “what the hell are you talking about.” This idea is just so fundamentally wrong and stupid that you don’t even know where to begin debating it. Their heart is clearly in the right place, but their understanding of the issue is so off-base that they have no business talking about it.
Autism is, in some ways, like missing a limb. You can still participate in society, but your ability to do so is significantly hampered depending on how severe it is. If you’re missing one limb, you’re a higher-functioning amputee, and can still participate. If you’re missing both arms and legs, you’re a lower-functioning amputee and cannot participate without significant help, if even at all.
People don’t have a good idea of what a “cure” for autism would look like (because it’s a very poorly thought-out idea), and so far every idea seems to be either lobotomy or hefty amounts of medication. Lobotomy would cure autism like chopping off your left arm and sewing it where your missing right arm used to be would cure missing your right arm. Medication would cure autism like a prosthetic fixes missing a limb: it looks like the problem is solved at first glance, but the problem could easily come back if your forget to take your medication or you leave your prosthetic at home.
“I wish somebody would find a cure for your personality!”
Wait, what? Why would you say that, you absolute asshole? What the hell is wrong with you? Get the fuck out of my face and my life!
Yes, this is what it feels like when you tell somebody you want to cure their autism. I have not met a single autistic person, high- or low-functioning, that let me know they wanted to have their autism cured. Being autistic is a fundamental part of who we are, and curing that would make us completely different people. It would turn some mean autistic people into nice neurotypical people, but it would also turn some nice autistic people into mean neurotypical people.
Again, this is a very sensitive topic, and I’m sure that some of all of the zero people reading this will disagree and be offended by the mere mention of it. Regardless, I still needed to get my views on this out there. Anti-autism is ableism, and advocating for finding a cure for autism is also ableist. The focus should be on solving the individual issues of individual autistic people, not making a sweeping “cure”.