I don’t often notice many of the magnets we have on the refrigerator in our kitchen, especially the ones on the side of it. Collectively, they serve as a placeholder for pictures, calendars, and camp and school agendas.
Then, the other day, I actually took the time to notice two identical magnets that we have on the side of the fridge. I had no clue of when or where we got them, only that they were there (Amber later cleared up the mystery for me). The design on the magnets is that of the puzzle piece Autism Awareness ribbon (shown at right). On the ribbon, there is a message, and it states, “Think Autism, Think Cure.” It’s the message that really got me to crafting this entry today.
To start, let me be clear and unequivocally state that it is my belief, and Amber’s belief as well, that autism (and thus, Asperger’s) is not something that can be “cured.” Cures are for colds, the flu, and other diseases, and autism is not a disease of any sort. We also do not subscribe to the conspiracy theory that autism is caused by mercury in vaccines. Lastly, even if there were a “cure” for Kaitlyn’s autism, we would not explore it for her. Call us unfit or neglectful parents if you want, but to assert that anybody with autism would be better off “cured” is disingenuous at best. We love and accept Kaitlyn for all that she is, and pursuing some “cure” would tell her and us that we have a problem with her having Asperger’s, and we most certainly do not.
I do, however, think that the organization who sent us the magnets (it turns out that at some point I had expressed interest in attending an autism conference and as a result, was sent the magnets. Had I known that the focus of said conference, which I did not attend, was to try to raise money to find a “cure,” I would have never even expressed interest in the first place) is on to something. (That sentence is not nearly as contradictory as it appears!) Maybe there is a “cure” for autism after all, but some people have just been taking the wrong approach. Maybe those most in need of curing are those who remain blissfully unaware of what it is like to be someone with autism, or to be someone who cares for someone with autism. Maybe the “cure” for autism is blogs like this, or like my friend Ashley’s, or like many of the others out there.
Think about it for a second. There is no better way to “cure” the neurotypical folks out there than to raise awareness. Give people insight to the ups and downs of being someone or living with someone who has autism. Give people a chance to see things from the perspective of those they quickly want to cast-off or call “Rain Man.” Maybe the cure comes in the form of a parent of one of Kaitlyn’s classmates reading this and expressing to their child that, while Kaitlyn may sometimes be socially awkward, she is a sweet girl, and all she needs is some patience and understanding. From that patience and understanding comes acceptance, and the foundation for a cure is laid.
Who knows, I could be way out of my mind in even publishing these thoughts today (some will claim that I lost my mind a long time ago), and I am fairly certain that the approach I suggested is not new or unique to me one bit. But, that does not mean that I am not on to something today.