If you were to take away my Autism, it wouldn’t just be the unacceptable behaviour you’d be taking away.
The thing about Autism is, it’s a name, a list of traits which describe the way a person acts. It also describes how the person thinks and feels. Autism, when you think about it, describes a lot. Most importantly, it describes the way our brain and bodies are different from that of non-autistic people.
Some people think Autism describes a bunch of behaviours that the person displays, and that if they were to be able to remove those behaviours, that a normal person would appear underneath. Those people are ignorant. Ignorance can be educated though.
Autism actually describes what people see about the way a certain human is put together. The way our bodies take in input from the outside world and communicates it to the brain. It’s the way the brain makes sense of everything. It’s the way the brain and body respond to input and communicates needs and wants to the outside world.
Autism isn’t just meltdowns and sensory overload, stimming and the way we speak (or don’t speak). Autism is who we are, because who we are is based on our personality, and our personality is affected by how we see and interact with the world, which is affected by the way our brains and bodies have formed.
My brain takes in information in a set way, it’s done that since birth and will continue to do so until I die. My brain was formed a set way which means the way I interact with the world is done in a way that is seen as Autistic. It’s different to non-autistic brains, because their brains were formed differently, in a way that is describes as ‘normal’.
So what would happen if someone had the ability to take away my Autism? Basically, unless they were to replace the parts of my brain that they take away (which would probably be most of it), I would essentially be brainless, so dead. There’s no cure for Autism for this reason, because curing Autism is the same as a lobotomy. Autism isn’t something that can be seen, it’s not something that is tangible. It’s a list of behaviours which are caused by the brain being different to those people’s brains who don’t display that behaviour.
I have the amazing ability to do jigsaws without needing the picture on the box. My brain can register the differences in the colours on every piece and can find matches even amongst a mass of pieces. This is one example of the way my brain works, an example of an Autistic brain. I can hone in to the small differences and similarities of colour on small bits of wood. If I wasn’t Autistic then I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to do this. Non-autistic brains can do something similar with body language in social settings. They can relate movement of the body to an emotion. That’s how their brain has formed that allows them to do that. We wouldn’t be able to remove the part of the brain that carries out that function, in the same way, we can’t remove or add in the part of the brain that doesn’t do that in Autistic people. We can no more change what makes someone Autistic any more than we can change what makes a non-autistic person not Autistic. We shouldn’t want to either. It’s what makes us who we are and it wouldn’t be right to try to change the whole of someone just because we don’t like some of their ways. I’m sure non-autistic people wouldn’t like it if Autistic people campaigned to get the parts of non-autistic ‘cured’ from them. Things like lying, bullying, being mean, cheating, lack of empathy etc. Those aren’t the nicest of behaviours, yet we can’t remove them from people. So why do some try to remove behaviours from Autistic people. Things like lack of social understanding, flat affect, stimming. We have to take the good and the bad points from people. Yes some people and children are hard to be around, Autistic and non-autistic alike. There are plenty of non-autistics who constantly lie and cheat others yet no one tries to cure them of their bad behaviours. But we can help them to manage those behaviours. You can use CBT to help the person understand why lying and cheating are unhelpful. We use CBT to help Autistics learn to use not violent stimming so they don’t hurt themselves. Surely everyone should be treated equally regardless of how their brains work. We should take each person as they are and provide help if the individual needs it. We shouldn’t be trying to cure anyone of being who they are simply because other people don’t like them. We need more people to understand that Autism isn’t something you can have, it’s the way the brain works. We can no more cure Autism than we can cure non-autism. They are both the same, both ways of being, just in different ways.