Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cure is an inane concept.

At least, it is when it comes to most of what I've got.

It means "restore health; recovery from disease". That assumes that we have a disease. It assumes that we are unhealthy. And, ok, there are a few labels I carry that could be seen that way. But my neurology isn't unhealthy or diseased. It's different.

But then people talk about 'finding a cure' and that is just such a simplistic idea. It sounds like they're expecting a compound to be discovered or developed that ennormalfies people. It doesn't work that way. The rainforest doesn't have a puzzle piece printed tree waiting for the leaves to be made into an autism-be-gone pill. It isn't that simple.

Something that would cure all the autistic people living right now doesn't exist. It cannot exist, not in the magic elixir form. Autism does not work that way. As much as I would love it to, neither does epilepsy.

"Curing" a neurodevelopmental condition would involve a series of risky and complicated procedures. There's a partial fix for some forms of epilepsy, and that's risky and complicated-they find the place where seizures originate, do a bunch of tests to map vital systems, and they remove the recalcitrant tissue. That's a complicated thing to do.

Autism would be more complicated. There's so much more directly effected in the brain. They'd have to rewire everything, then teach the victims patients how to use their own mind completely from scratch. Doing it all in one go would be more than a mind could handle, I think-can you imagine culture shock related to your own cognition? Because that's what you'd be dealing with. Totally changing someone like that could have quite the devastating consequences-depression, anxiety, suicidal behavior, whatever they call that feeling of alienation from yourself...

You can't just change someone's operating system and expect it to work. Autistic traits are part of the very fabric of our being, if you had these procedures and your victim patient survived, no one would recognize them. They'd be a stranger and an outsider in their own body.

This started out as being "THERE IS NO AUTISM BE GONE PILL IN THE FOREST" and kind of went on a tangent.

Being me can be difficult sometimes, but I know me. There's no guarantee that the hypothetical invader would be an easier person to be. Changing the entirety of who someone is cannot be ok. Ameliorate the difficulties, but don't try to do that by erasing all of us.


lurker said...

Not many are really implying that a cure would be in a magic elixir or pill form. Current lack of certainty over the form cure will have doesn't mean it's impossible, even if it needs varying designs to target varying etiologies to be remedied. I think lots can be done with the rapid advances in technology that are occurring.

Why would there have to be rewiring? The brain isn't completely static in its connections. I wonder if cure will involve some kinds of gene therapy and something that would increase the neural connectivity that is lacking.

Cure advocates aren't considering or devising cure to be an entire changing of someone/their traits etc. It's supposed to increase functioning level/ensure ability in basic skills for those on the spectrum who are impaired, through procedures that deal with the neural basis of the impairments, bringing the resources necessary for abilities. I don't see how anyone is wanting to change someone into someone else. Many think that if someone is cured, the person they are can do the things they really want to do and live as they want.

Neurodivergent K said...

What you are discussing is ameliorating the difficulties, which...neurodiversity advocates are all for as well. No one is opposed to teaching people the skills to work with their environment-I'm in favor of the environment doing some of the adapting, but I'm also very much in favor of teaching skills, advocacy, working with AAC, sensory integration, etc.

A 'cure', making someone non autistic, is changing our very cognitive framework. If that isn't what cure-seekers are looking to do, they may wish to find another word.

Anonymous said...

@Lurker, I think the point is Autism no more needs are 'cure,' in the medical sense, than being gay does. Sure, there are many things that can be done (and are being done) to make being gay in a heterosexist world easier. So too with Autism, no? Or similar to finding a 'cure' for coloured skin. The issue is patholigizing constituent parts of a person's identity and trying to cure it.