Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Unity in the Autism Community

The entire controversy over Curtis Jackson's remarks seems to have brought an interesting facet to my understanding of the autism community: When faced with a common enemy and a common goal, they were able to set aside the differences they had with each other and unite to accomplish their intended goal. This posed the question to me: How, then, can we retain this unity and move forward to have common goals accomplished?

Having talked to a close friend of mine, we pondered the situation together and came up with a rule of thumb for a common goal: The common goal should not benefit one facet of the community, but the community as a whole. Extended, an ideal goal, for universal support, should have a way of benefiting all of humanity.

Therefore, this means that anything there is a massive divide over, no matter how important advocates of each party believe it is, should be shelved in favor of the common goal that benefits all. Ideally, if said partisan goal is a means to a universal end, there should be deliberation given towards how to approach that end universally as far as can be done before partisan debates are needed.

Clearly, the universal goal everyone involved with autism seeks is for the children to lead a better life. However, not all sides agree on how the better life is to be achieved. The neurodiversity advocates argue for autism to be seen as a differing mindset to be accommodated to by the community, and the biomedical advocates argue for autism to be seen as a disorder to be treated. However, I think, with a slight amount of compromise, there can be a common goal to be found.

I believe that common goal is to see autism as something to not be afraid of or feel hatred towards. It is something to be looked at and handled on the individual level. Some will choose to alter themselves or their children with drugs and other means, some will choose to keep their autism close to their heart and live with both its benefits and its drawbacks.

The compromise, however, is that the neurodiversity advocates must take a step back and allow the biomeds to do what they feel is needed to help their kids live a better life, and the biomeds must speak out when rhetoric of autism is fearmongering and combative. We cannot be using “war on autism” or call it a “emergency” or “national crisis” when the rates go up. We cannot see these children as an enemy to be fought, or the part of them that is autistic as something that needs to go away. If we're to fight for a better future for these kids, let's do it together, not as enemies. The world is tough enough on them as it is without people claiming to speak on their behalf fighting each other.

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