Is Autism a disease?

Boing Boing asks if Autism is a disorder. Do I think Tommy is sick? No. Does Tommy need to be “cured”? No. Tommy is fabulous and I don’t want to change him. It would be nice if Tommy could learn some new skills to function better, but if he never learns or grows, I would still think he’s an awesome person. What about the children who are completely shut off from the world, unable to express their needs, completely dependent on others for survival? I would like to think that they can “learn” skills to cope with the overwhelming bombardment of sounds, sights and textures. I think we need to learn new ways to teach these children and new therapies to control their sensory defensiveness. I am sure that many of those parents would like a magic button to make their child suddenly like the precocious children on sitcoms, but I don’t think that is a possibility – ever. Autism is a spectrum, like sexuality is a spectrum. It is who we are, not what we have. There are as many differences as similarities. Only after we learn how to teach children with Autism, can we begin to understand the potential gifts of children on this rainbow.

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