Folks, do you think there should be a cure for autism? Numerous studies are conducted to find for example, a cure for cancer, but should we hope the medical scientific community finds a cure for autism? Many in the neurodiversity movement are opposed to preventing or eradicating autism itself, and go as far to say that any push towards finding a ‘cure’ is eugenics. I had this discussion with my daughter’s dad, and his first question was—is autism a disease? After which he emphatically stated that yes, he wants our daughter, Soa, to have a good quality of life, but would curing her autism change her personality or character? Would she no longer be the same Soa we know and love? Definitely food for thought.
I read a recent article about Spectrum 10K, the U.K.’s largest ever study into autism spectrum disorder (ASD), in which 10,000 people with autism were invited to join. The study, (conducted by the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge in the U.K., in collaboration with the Wellcome Sanger Institute and University of California Los Angeles), was launched to examine the role genetic and environmental factors play in an ASD diagnosis. Also, a dual aim is to improve diagnoses, support, clinical care and quality of life for autistic individuals and their families.
What jumped out at me was: “The researchers say they view autism as a form of 'neurodiversity' and are opposed to eugenics or looking for ways to prevent or eradicate autism itself.” They stress the Spectrum 10K project is “not searching for a cure,” and they do not “in any way support that approach.” The project’s website adds: “Every member of the Spectrum 10K team values and respects autistic differences and are working to promote inclusion, acceptance and dignity for autistic people throughout society.” The researchers are also hoping to pinpoint support and treatments that alleviate unwanted symptoms and co-occurring conditions such as epilepsy, anxiety or depression.
My daughter’s sometimes uncontrollable energy, stubbornness in refusing to listen to instructions and settle down—I understand and manage the best I can. However, when others seem to lose their patience, get angry, and shout at her, I become overcome with sadness. It’s not her fault. However, despite the daily challenges, would I want her autism to be cured?
Yes, some days I want to cry and even run away. However, I don’t see her as a burden, but instead a blessing. Folks, I’m not in denial. Yes, some days autism sucks and I wish I could will it away, but my love for Soa and her reciprocated love and affection make my heart sing. So as for eugenics and its association with finding a cure for autism, I simply can’t advocate for. Eugenics is the belief that we can improve the human race by eliminating undesirable genetic traits.
The modern eugenics movement began here in the U.S. Among its proponents were Margaret Sanger, (an American birth control activist, sex educator, writer, and nurse, who popularized the term, "birth control;” opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S., and established organizations like today’s Planned Parenthood. As stated in an opinion piece in the Christian Post by columnist, Chuck Colson: “Eugenics is so dangerous and pernicious because it represents a radical disrespect for every human life, not just the life of the unborn. Adolf Hitler, an open admirer of the American and German eugenics movements, began eliminating the mentally and physically handicapped years before he started killing Jews.”
Finding a cure for autism is not on my wish list. Autistic individuals bring so much joy and love, and their unique personalities add to that. I just want us as a community to build autism awareness and acceptance, and discover avenues to support them in enjoying a wonderfully fulfilling life.
By Kami-Leigh AgardBLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS