Autism isn’t just a “wonderful difference”

 

I get asked about my views on Neurodiversity every so often. Yes, I do believe it’s wonderful that there can be different kinds of human brain wiring. The world would be a pretty boring (and unproductive) place if we didn’t have different kinds of minds. However, I don’t agree that we should just label Autism a “wonderful difference” and end the conversation.

We live in a world where sometimes Neurodiversity gets in the way. A child who has no way of communicating needs help. We can still value his/her differences while teaching him/her ways to communicate with others. Perhaps through speech therapy or ABA. If it isn’t hurting the kid, I don’t oppose treatment for those things that prevent somebody from having a good quality of life. Yes, the kid may be happy at the moment, but 20 years down the road, it would be terrible if the kid was now an adult in an institution because somebody decided “hey, he’s neurodiverse, let’s not change a thing”. A kid who is self-injurious or hurts others presents a problem and NEEDS help for their sake and their family’s sake. It’s just not reasonable to “let the kid be” in a case like this.

There’s a fine line between helping somebody and trying to make them somebody else, so it takes a bit of thinking on what to treat and what is just “quirky”.

And surprise, there are people with Asperger’s who WANT treatment. I don’t want a treatment, I feel happy where I am. But it’s not my place (or anybody else’s) to deny a person the right to seek treatment for what they feel impairs their quality of life.

I do however want to point out, I greatly dislike snake oil salesmen and people suggesting dangerous/unproven “cures” for Autism. No, it’s not okay to put anybody’s life at risk to treat Autism. Please do plenty of research from valid sources before trying anything.

Brandy Wilson
I am a Christian with Asperger's Syndrome, Septo Optic Dysplasia, and Bipolar Disorder.
Brandy Wilson

shesmorethananumber

I am a Christian with Asperger's Syndrome, Septo Optic Dysplasia, and Bipolar Disorder.

17 thoughts on “Autism isn’t just a “wonderful difference”

  • July 9, 2010 at 4:10 pm
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    Andres is a friend’s kid, and he’s autistic. He is the most random sweetie I know, but I wouldn’t change a thing. He communicates pretty well, but I think people don’t understand or appreciate his weirdness or what he has to say. I honestly don’t think it will affect his way of living, he has people who care about him very much, and people who will help him through stuff. 

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  • July 9, 2010 at 5:49 am
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    Well, I have a completely different mind and most people can’t handle it because they think I have an advantage.  I do and I don’t. 

    The reasons my mind is complex has more to do with survival than an unfair “advantage.”

    Now that they’ve messed with me, I have an uber advantage because I’m no longer plagued by emotions but have the rules of them.  No more interference, though I have to reprogram because I’m learning a different way now.  No more fear, so…   

    The last attempt was funny; my robotic voice was like “you are going to die.”  It’s the same people.  They’re all stupid garbage.

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  • July 8, 2010 at 10:30 pm
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    This is a very thoughtful post and I’m impressed that you managed to keep it concise. 🙂 I agree with what you’ve said. And I’ve rec’d. 🙂

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  • July 8, 2010 at 8:31 pm
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    A deaf child,..who can’t hear,..is in the same position as a noncommunicative child with autism.  People are communicating around him/her and the child can’t plug into the communication.

    Would you consider it a proper thing not to treat the deaf child’s “neurodiversity” by not getting him hearing aides?

    If it would be wrong to NOT get a deaf child hearing aides,..why would it be “right” to call a noncommunicating autistic child,..neur-odiverse” and not give the autistic child the treatment that he needs to learn to communicate with other people?

    “Neuro-diversity” is a silly reason not to give a child the tools he/she needs to learn to communicate with the rest of the world!!

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  • July 7, 2010 at 11:03 pm
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    I totally agree.   I’m in the process of becoming a psychologist and it bothers me that someone might be opposed to me searching for a cure just because they’re happy the way they are as a high function autistic person.   As you said, no matter how happy that individual is, it does not give them the right to dictate whether others should be able to get help for debilitating problems.

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  • July 7, 2010 at 1:04 pm
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    I dont think Speech Therapy and ABA Therapy are intended to change the person. At lease speech therapy does not. I work with children with special needs, and my intentions are not to change who they are, but rather to help them with their difficulties. Modifying behavior does not change a person’s personality. But I do respect your thoughts on the matter, and can see why you would think that. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, it is always nice to know that individuals with ASD are willing to share their experiences with it. I write blogs on http://www.myspeechtherapycenter.com feel free to visit us!

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  • July 6, 2010 at 12:32 pm
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    Thanks for the comments. I appreciate all of them, especially since you remain respectful.

    I am not really that opposed to special diets, although I don’t believe in them, it’s more when people want to give their children things like OSR#1 that upset me. I will literally cry when children get hurt, especially autistic children. I’m not anybody’s enemy (well, maybe the people selling snake oil).

    As for never hearing comments like that from people with Asperger’s…yes, I have. More than once. I’ve left one autistic run group because of an elitist attitude where they spent a good deal of time talking about how autistic people are “better”.

    I work with a child who is considered “low functioning”. (not my term) He does not speak, uses few signs, and is not toliet trained. I don’t think some people with Asperger’s have actual met somebody who is further along the spectrum.

    It’s a complicated issue. I really just want what is best for everybody, safety and support.

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  • July 4, 2010 at 10:40 am
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    I think there are a lot of Asperger’s people who like who they are but not how other’s don’t like them. They would like to overcome these social difficulties but can’t even perceive what they are whilst remaining the same people. A bit like always being dressed in the wrong outfit at any social or formal event, all those people want is a bit of advice on how to turn up correctly dressed. So some Asperger’s people would just like to know how to get on with others better. 

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  • July 4, 2010 at 10:00 am
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    @Morningstarrising@xanga – Hi, What I was trying to say is that I had never heard neurodiversity as being the idea that you don’t help your children. We have done all that we could to help them and they thrive..My older son who has pdd (nos) knows that he is autistic-He also likes how his brain works. That doesn’t mean his life is easy and we hold hands running down the street singing an ode to autism..He works extremely hard..social skills , speech, o.t. This also doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to follow rules-or that he is somehow above the law. What we do is to help him understand those rules and to recognize the situations around him.

     My other son has autism (nos) We don’t know that he will ever be able to live independently..We have spoken to him about autism-and the fact that his brain works differently.He likes who he is. We have also stressed(to all my kids) that this does not mean they are “less” or undeserving of acceptance or accommodations. Yes I have heard the rant that neurodiversity means that autistics don’t have to follow the law-or deserve special treatment-which is silly.My (long winded-sorry) point is that I would never treat my children as if they were less than-undeserving-broken-or needing to  be fixed. I can’t imagine how they would think of themselves if I did.  I can’t imagine them working as hard as they did if that was my opinion.  As for adults saying they don’t want “a cure”-that’s fine..but how does it affect  how you work with your child? Why should it?  

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  • July 4, 2010 at 4:12 am
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    I really don’t like it when people just promote autism as something wonderful.  It really isn’t.  Especially for the lower functioning autistic kids.  I think some people forget that there’s a lot more medium and low functioning autistic people out there.  I don’t see what’s so awesome and wonderful when my brother is crying and he can’t even tell us why.  I would love a safe and proven cure.

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  • July 4, 2010 at 12:12 am
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    @autismherd – I have actually heard this from a good number of adults who have Asperger’s.  My daughter has PDD-NOS, and while she’s extremely social, she has very minute communication skills. Every time we get into a debate about what treatments are good or bad in any online forum (not this one, since it’s quite small and not very many people comment on a regular basis), a few adults with Asperger’s pop up and say that they don’t WANT treatment and make generalized statements about how people with Asperger’s just wanted to be treated normally.  That’s all fine and dandy, but how does that help my daughter function in the world? 

    And for the author of the OP – I have a feeling that you’re putting all of us who use naturopathic (as opposed to allopathic) therapies in one group.  Removing common allergens from our children’s diets isn’t putting them at risk (at risk for what? Lack of explosive diarrhea 10x’s a day?).  It is helping them.  If my daughter had already been in school when we removed certain aspects of her diet, I may have thought that the therapy she was receiving in school was the reason for her miraculous improvement.  But since it was still another 3 months before she began school and therapy, I know that it had to be the dietary changes we made (removing gluten, taking out many artificial foods/additives).  Sorry, but a nonverbal 3 1/2 year old doesn’t just start to talk randomly when she’s previously gone to almost a year of speech therapy.  While I don’t think it’s the answer for everyone, it is definitely worth a shot, since removing gluten isn’t typically harmful. 

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  • July 3, 2010 at 8:28 pm
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    I actually have never heard-“Hey he;s neurodiverse lets leave him the way he is”   I believe that my children are neurodiverse..Which simply means they look at and experience the world differently.  I help them in every possible way that I can.  I don’t know where the idea started that neurodiversity meant not helping your child-or that they were somehow above the law. To me it has always meant accepting them for who they are AND at the same time giving them all the tools and supports they need in order to navigate a world that is difficult for them.

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  • July 3, 2010 at 1:37 pm
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    I think it’s really important to remember the person behind the behaviours. It helps to see those differences, like you said, between the behaviours needing treatment and the behaviours that are just quirky. We really have to see who the person is, not just what needs treatment, to understand why those behaviours are there. There’s a reason for many of them.

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