Fantastic piece – very well-put, with a lot that I can relate to.
Many of the attempts to prevent or cure autism are promoted in humanitarian terms: they are attempts to “end suffering.” Sounds great, right? Who wouldn’t be against ending suffering? What are you, some kind of monster?
…As with so many arguments around autism, though, this one is sloppy as hell in its word choices. Specifically, what it means by “suffering.”
Autistic people who protest cures or prevention are frequently told that the cure or prevention is not for them (who are sufficiently “high-functioning” to lodge a protest). It’s for those “other” autistic people, the “low-functioning” ones, who are “trapped” in their bodies with no way to “communicate,” and so on. Inevitably, the cure/prevention proponents assume that “severe” autism, in and of itself, is a form of suffering – that no one could, say, be unable to form mouthnoises into words or perform the motor skills necessary to daily living tasks…
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