Updated: May 12
There are many people who would argue, with passion, that Autism is a ‘gift’ and that the difficulty resides with a society who is unable/unwilling to accommodate a different way of looking at the world. There are others who see it as a ‘disease’ state, something which we should strive to cure, although no single therapy has yet been discovered which can do so.
My own view lies somewhere in between these two extremes. It is true that there are many aspects of Autism, particularly the higher functioning side which are truly wonderful. The ability to see things clearly and logically. An unwavering desire for truth and to play by the rules. In some cases, an extraordinary gift with numerical information or musical ability. In fact, most of Silicon Valley is run by those on the spectrum and I feel sure that there is a high proportion of classical musicians who are also autistic.
However, pretending it is all a bed of roses is naive and purposefully blinkered. There are also many very debilitating traits, such as the chronic gut problems and ongoing pain experienced by all those with a diagnosis (coincidence??), dysregulated immune systems, frequent meltdowns, inability to accept change, hyper or hypo sensitivity to different stimuli, chronic anxiety, stimming/head banging, increased risk of suicide, higher than average risk of epilepsy etc.
To say that it is all ‘a gift’ is, to my mind, a collective form of Stockholm’s syndrome, brought on by an inherent disillusioned belief that we cannot actually do anything to help improve things. Stockholm syndrome describes the tendency of those held in long-term captivity to ‘befriend their captors’, projecting onto them the belief that they are, in fact, lovely people who mean us no harm. It is the brain’s way of coping with what psychologists call ‘cognitive dissonance’. ie If we really believe Autism to be a difficult cross to bare and we believe we cannot do anything to actually help improve things, then the solution must be to pretend it is really not all that bad.
The truth is that, while there are many wonderful aspects of the autistic mind and while I agree, we should all be more embracing of different ways of seeing the world (who is to say the neuro-typicals are right??!), nor should we become complacent in the view that things cannot be significantly improved.
A combination of special diets to remove neuroexcitatory chemicals; highly targeted nutrient therapy to balance neurotransmitters, detoxification to reduce toxic load and oxidative stress; auditory training, to reduce hypersensitive hearing, neurodevelopmental exercises to help remove the Moro reflex, can all help take away the more negative symptoms.
So, yes, let’s celebrate the fact that we do not all see the world from the same perspective, but let’s never give up on trying to help improve the negatives.