As far as “autism parents” go, there seems to be two starkly different schools of thought.
The first one goes something like this: neurodiversity is a gift. Autism is a gift. Parents who wish for a cure to autism are wishing they had a completely different child. If you are wishing for a cure, you don’t love your child. Curing your autistic child would be child abuse.
The second one goes something like this: my autistic child is suffering. Her life shouldn’t have to be this hard. I’d do anything to make her life easier. If there were a cure in existence, not curing would be child abuse.
I’ve thought a lot about these two schools of thought. Which group of autism moms is right? Do the claims on either side have merit? Is there a middle ground?
As the mom of 4 year old autistic twin girls- whose autism presents in completely different ways- I can honestly understand both schools of thought.
Let me explain.
My older-by-one-minute twin is verbal, social, super smart, sleeps all night every night, eats well, and is generally happy. (Of course she has her challenges, as well: stubborn; rigid routines; eye contact difficulties, stuff like that.) Her level of neurodiversity is beautiful. I wouldn’t change anything about her.
My younger-by-one-minute twin is almost completely different. She is nonverbal and is completely unable to communicate even her most basic needs and wants, has difficulty interacting with people and the world around her, has sensory needs which are off the charts, has great difficulty sleeping, has severe food aversions, and has had severe stomach pains most of her life. Her level of neurodiversity is crippling and detrimental to her happiness and well-being. I wouldn’t change her sweetness, her laugh, her brilliant mind, or our amazing bond, but you’d better believe that I would change a lot of that other stuff if I could. What parent wouldn’t want to take away their child’s pain?
Let me be clear here, I love both of my daughters equally with my entire heart. Part of that love is accepting them for who they are, which I absolutely do. And the other part of that love is wanting to do anything I can to make sure they are pain free, happy, and thriving. If there were a cure to autism that would: give my daughter the ability to speak, sleep, eat, interact with people, and live pain free, (you know, live how any human should be able to live), you better bet I’d take it without a second thought and thank God every minute of every day for it.
I think the moral of the story is that all cases of autism are different. Maybe there isn’t just one “right” school of thought. Maybe let’s end the great autism mom divide. Maybe let’s stop taking sides against each other and judging each other; and instead let’s just accept that all of us moms know our own kids best, and have their best interests at heart. ❤️