Autism Treatment and Acceptance Are Not Mutually Exclusive

Oftentimes, there seems to be a dichtomy between those autism advocates who want treatment, and those who want the autistic to be accepted. Usually, parents of people with more severe autistic symptoms and/or intellectual disability want their autistic to be cured, while those autistics with more intellectual and communicative abilities advocate acceptance. This is not always the case, of course, but often it is. Therefore, it is somewhat understandable that autism parents tell autistics that we are not like their child.

What I want to discuss in this post, however, is whether treatment and acceptance are truly mutually exclusive. Of course, a cure that will fundamentally change a perosn’s information processing, is contradictory to accepting that processing difference. However, at this point there is no such cure, like genetic engineering or neurological rewiring, which is what it would take to make autism go away entirely.

Do these autism parents who advocate cure, truly want their child’s every autism symptom to go away/ I do not know, but it is possible that what they truly want to go away are certain aspects of autism that are debilitating to the child. I do not disagree with this. I, too, take medication to help curb my irritability, for example.

Truly, would you want your child’s autism to go away if it made them a very much in their interest invested professor, if a quirky one? It is known that Temple Grandin is autistic, and yet she reached Ph.D. status. If I have to believe her own statements, this is largely due to her special interest and her good ability to empathize with animals. The same likely goes for other “higher-functioning” autistics, but then again these are discredited for disagreeing with the curebies.

Now I get to acceptance. As I wrote in a previous post, accepting the person is different ffrom accepting their every behavior. Hardly any autistic would want themselves or another autistic to be continually aggressive or self-injurious. Also, most parents tht I’ve met online who advocate treatment for their children’s autism, actually love their children to pieces. There are a few who wish their autistic child were taken back by the changelings, so to speak, but these are rare.

So really, is it hypocritical to want treatment for autism if you want to be part of the autistic acceptance movement. While a complete eradication of autism, and thereby autistics, is contrry to acceptance, treatment for the most severe and disabling symptoms, is absolutely not. And this is where views often clash: those with more severely autistic children, want to pretend that treatment will eradicate all autism, and they at the same time pretend that those who disagree, are not autistic at all. Well, fine with me. If you want your child to be like me in terms of functioning, that’s okay, but that is not curing them.

ETA: with my sentence about my understanding that parents want their kids to function like me, I didn’t mean to place myself above autistics who appear to be “lower-functioning”. I realize that’s how it comes across. I do want to say that I understand, for example, that parents want their children to have a meaningful way of communicating or have minimal aggressive or self-injurious behavior. I do not feel that any autistic should be forced into neurotypical appearance.

8 thoughts on “Autism Treatment and Acceptance Are Not Mutually Exclusive

  1. The anger and anxiety is for a large part due to learning how to deal with really confusing things, like overwhelming sensory input, conflicting emotions, unspoken social rules, and generally living in a world that isn't all that accepting of differences. It's a bit like how people in a wheelchair can get angry sometimes when they find their way blocked by yet *another* two-step staircase that nobody had thought about. Or how a blind person can get angry sometimes because despite all the times they've asked, their house mates still leave the doors of the top kitchen cabinets open.The first step is to let go of the idea that the anger and frustration is unreasonable. You'd feel a bit unreasonable too if you were expected to live in a situation where nobody thinks about your needs until you ask or even beg them to think about your needs. And for kids, asking is even harder because they haven't been taught yet how to do that in a socially acceptable way. So they withdraw and act like it's not that important anyway because who cares about what they want. Nobody listens anyway.Recognise that feeling? When people don't listen or don't take you seriously or tell you to stop being so difficult or overly dramatic? Does it make you angry when that happens? Now add to that the feeling of not knowing how you really feel, what are all these emotions swirling around in my brain, that confusing feeling you had in puberty… times hundred, about everything. Everything. Even a feeling as "simple" as sadness at the death of a beloved pet feels overwhelming because maybe I'm sad but I'm also feeling guilty that maybe I didn't care for him well enough and angry that he's no longer here and yes, sad sad sad but also I'm a bit bored now can I go play with my Xbox but anxious because I'm not sure if I can say that. Whew! A lot to process. And harder, much harder, if you haven't yet learned the ways to identify and separate those emotions for yourself.This comment is getting really long, sorry about that.What I'm trying to say is, your child is still learning to deal with all of that. He's still growing and learning every day. That's not something that needs a cure, although medication may help in the more extreme cases, but only if the child says it makes him feel better equipped to deal with things. It's just something that needs time, a lot of patience, a guiding hand, acceptance and support.


  2. I was going to say, the same kind of patience and support that you would give to a neurotypical child learning how to walk. Just because autistic children experience a developmental delay in certain areas doesn't mean they're incapable of learning things at their own pace.


  3. Just for clarity's sake Autisticook, but were you directing these coments at me? They are very thought-provoking and I'll probably make a blog post in reply to them, but I wanted to say I'm not a parent. I'm autstic myself and was speaking about my own irritability that is curbed by meds. Sorry if you directed your commen at someone else; I didn't see t hreaded replies except on your two comments.


  4. No, sorry, I should have made that clearer. I was responding to the parents in the comments who were saying their child would feel happier if they get rid of the anxiety and/or anger. Which is probably true, I just disagree on the cause and therefore the way it should be treated. Anxiety and anger are NOT an intrinsic part of autism. They're a response.


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