A reader on the Autism Sucks Facebook page (which y'all should "like" if you haven't yet) recently asked me this:
"I read the Times piece with Jenny and was struck by her use of the word 'recovery'. Do you think about your son being on a road to recovery?"
It's a lengthy answer, so I thought I would blog about it.
As I've mentioned before, the Future is very uncertain with children on the spectrum. There is no template. "You've met one kid with autism, you've met one kid with autism" is a famous quote going around (if you know the author of that, please tell me). We've also established that to the Autistic Community, Jenny McCarthy is a dipshit, so take her use of the word "recovery" for what it's worth.
There is a huge divide in the autistic community on "treatment". One camp is looking to do everything possible to "rehabilitate" these children into mainstream society. The other camp takes a more passive stance; rehabilitation implies there was some debilitation in the first place. God (or whoever) gave us these children as gifts and who the hell are we to try to make them fit in to our society or standards.
With all due respect to the latter, I cry bullshit. If there is something you can do to try to better your child's life, why wouldn't you? Could you imagine having this conversation with a parent:
"The optometrist says Little Johnny needs glasses, but I told her 'fuck off' cause God made him the way he is. He doesn't need to do things like read, drive, or watch TV just because we think it's right"
My son has difficulty with change (hell most of us do) or "transitioning" as we call it in the shop. I can honestly say that 1 1/2 years of behavior therapy has helped him with that. More importantly, it's helped me to learn how to "transition" him. Would he have outgrown his aversions without therapy? Perhaps, but that's not a control group of an experiment I'm willing to be a part of.
When we think back to our childhoods, we probably went to school or knew a child that today would be labeled as "on the spectrum". I know I did. There was a guy in the orchestra (yes, I was in the orchestra... believe it or not, I haven't always been this cool) that was clearly High Functioning Autistic (formerly Asperger's), but we didn't know it then. He was just our quirky friend. If he had received behavior therapy at a young age, would he have been any different? Probably. On the other hand, we (the other kids) would have known that and most likely treated him differently... with either quiet disdain, or mellifluous condescension.
I'm off topic.
The answer to the question is:
There is no cure for autism. Therefore, recovery is a strange word to apply. There are therapies that are proven through scientific process to aid a child in adapting. We will do everything we can to apply them. I don't think my child will ever "recover" from autism. Hopefully, one day, however, he will just be your child's quirky friend.
In many ways, he already is.
Remember, Autism Sucks.