Does Autism Need A Cure?

I know personally I would not want a cure for my autism.  Even as it stands with all the anxiety, the pain and all the sickness, I like the way I think.  I don’t understand how neurotypical (normal) people think.  I want to be me!

Personally I think there are contributors to what we know as Autism Spectrum Disorder; a genetic component and  the reactions of the autistic body/brain to the world.  I have mentally catalogued my symptoms ascribing them to one of the two branches.  I believe my social diffidence, sensory over sensitivities and way of thinking are all probably inborn.  There seems to be evidence that ASD has a high correlation with immune system and gastrointestinal problems, I believe this is because people with autism just react more strongly to the toxins in our food, air and water.  I think a lot of the social & emotional problems experienced by so many people with autism are exacerbated by misunderstanding & misdiagnosis.  We are different, it is hard to be different, but with help & support this can be greatly mitigated.

I like the way I think, even though it causes me lots of problems, I’d love to understand better how other people think but not at the cost of losing what I have.

Not having oversensitive senses might be easier, but having tasted the faults in some of the things we consume would I really wish to eat, drink and inhale toxins, artificial junk or old things.  I like the warning, I can’t  relax in ignorance now I know the truth.  I would also  be reluctant to lose the nuance of fragrance I can experience when I’m not flooded by perfume, room deodorisers, cleaners etc.  Bright (normal) light  causes me physical pain, but I couldn’t risk losing the range of vision I have in the darkness, too much white or pale colour causes pain, nausea, dizziness, disorientation & heightened anxiety, but I’d rather have that than risk the nuance of colour I can see.  If my sense of touch was less acute I could tolerate a much wider variety of food, fabrics, clothes and surfaces.  Then maybe the clothes I do wear wouldn’t hurt at all rather than just causing pain at a tolerable level.  But what wouldn’t I feel?  Ignorance may be bliss, but it is too late could I be comfortable blunting my senses so I was less aware of what was happening around me.

Sure, I would love to be able to direct my hearing to what I want to listen to.  Apparently other people with ASD also often hear “background” noise better than “foreground” noise.  But possibly this is only a major problem during conversations with normal people, because our apparent behaviour doesn’t conform to their expectations.  Because of their  impaired listening, the neurotypical subconscious assigns ASD person as inattentive, impolite, unfocused, etc.  With understanding, patience and better communication on both sides the hearing thing is not actually a big deal in my opinion.

Tics, fiddling, repetitive behaviours, self damage, stress mutism, echolocacia and uncontrollable vocalisations (weird sounds) are all very embarrassing & inconvenient.  They can also be extremely painful in some circumstances; for instance if I have a pre-existing injury or ache, if the repetitive behaviour starts causing damage or if I try too hard to stop a vocalisation (sore throat, neck and head).  But for a great many years I controlled these behaviours rigidly and I had blinding migraines, vomiting, diarrhoea or fainting, these symptoms could occur in seconds after a stressor.  It is not possible to leave the house or deal with things if you are unconscious, blind or expelling noxious substances.  I still have all these symptoms but a lot less and I have some control and warning.  By the way I never actually intentionally swapped symptoms; I started therapy and suddenly my tics etc. got so much worse, but then I noticed the other symptoms got so much better.  I’ll keep my tics, but I would like it if the people around me could understand and not be insulted or frightened.

Of course I could do without the anxiety and racing thoughts.  But I fear that without my anxiety I would be less nice to others, less conscientious.  My free floating anxiety has made me physically ill in so many different ways & even makes me lose consciousness so fast that I can’t even guess what is causing it.  Racing thoughts have prevented me from writing, art and many other activities, I can not physically record or communicate my ideas bigger ideas without forgetting them as they are replaced by new thoughts.

Big news, after 45 years I have found a cure for my limbic anxiety and racing thoughts; Neurofeedback.  I spend less than an hour a week hooked up to an EEG (electro encephalograph) while my subconscious is taught to encourage alpha waves & discourage anxiety and deep sleep waves for the reward of pretty pictures.  Don’t hold me to any of this I am the patient not the expert.  I’ve had seven sessions and I feel great., I’ll probably need at least 20 to make it last but that’s fantastic.  I have more energy, fewer ‘naps’ less pain, less nausea and I am more organised.  The prettiest nuances of colour from my youth have returned (I hadn’t realised it was me not my things that had become murkier) and my sense of taste has become even more acute (okay 1 negative).

Major unexpected bonus, I can write!  I can produce more than a page without losing my train of thought.  I can write down words the firstish time I think them, not grab bits & pieces every time I can force myself to remember what I was thinking.  I can draw!  I can make the lines appear approximately where I want them to be. Now I’m not saying I can do any of these things well but I can do them.

And I found out about this change almost by accident.  I was sitting at my mother in law’s table after a lovely lunch on Mother’s Day and I had some funny ideas.  My mother thinks I am brilliant; at least she seems to; so she is always complaining that I don’t write my ideas down.  So I decided to write this one down, a note written point form for the magical day that I could make the voice recognition software on my computer work and start laboriously trying to create some meaningful sentences.  Before I realised it I was writing sentences (in my own weird version of shorthand).  In the next 4 hours I wrote 6000 words, played with two nephews, umpire 4 fiends, gave presents to two grandmas & ate two sets of cake. I then typed the words up  and my Mum liked them; I can not describe the joy I felt.

Anyway back to my original point, for me the important thing is although there are aspects I would like to work on & symptoms I’d like reduced, I like the way I am.  I don not want to be cured of Autism!

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3 thoughts on “Does Autism Need A Cure?

  1. Keep writing! I’m learning so much about why you do some of the things you do. I work with autistic teens and for years the theory was to try to “normalize” our students. It soon became apparent this made things worse, as you discovered. I wish the world would just understand better and with your writing, I’m hoping more people will.

    Liked by 2 people

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