I Don’t Want a “Cure”

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Stock photo boy is cute, but I wouldn't trade my kid for him.

A lot of people, upon hearing that my son is autistic, assume I would like him “cured” of it. I tend to give people the benefit of doubt when I can, so I try to educate cheerfully and not show how offended I am. They usually have no idea what they’re implying when they say this.

They’re implying that my son is defective, that he’s flawed enough I’m entitled to a refund, like some thing. They’re implying that his autism has no value, that neither he nor I would want him to have it if we could choose. They’re implying my autistic son is replaceable.

The concept of a “cure” for autism is nonsensical. It’s not a disease or illness; it’s a difference in neurological processing. And it’s pervasive, meaning that every part of who he is has been shaped by it. I love who he is – funny and smart and passionate about children’s suffrage. He’s willing to fetch me things when I’m stuck in bed in pain, and he’s responsible for getting his own breakfast in the mornings. He’s a great kid, and he’s mine.

I wouldn’t exchange him for some other random child, and that’s who I would get if medical technology allowed me to remove his autism. Genetics and epigenetics are barely understood and even identical twins, with their shared genes and womb environment, have different personalities. The only sure thing is that whoever I got, it wouldn’t be my son.

If you would never suggest I go exchange my son for a non-autistic child at an orphanage, and I am assuming you wouldn’t, then you shouldn’t make this suggestion either. My son doesn’t need a cure; he isn’t sick. He needs accommodation and acceptance. He needs my love and provision. He doesn’t need to stop being his wonderful self.

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