Originally Posted by Smokering
Interesting topic, and one I've thought a lot about. I'm a self-defined Aspie, never officially diagnosed--I've considered pursuing a 'vanity diagnosis' just for interest's sake, but I frankly can't be bothered. DH is likewise self-diagnosed... well, me-diagnosed!--Aspergic, as are most of the members of my family, with the exception of one 'full-blown' autistic sister. Even glancing back through my family's history, I suspect many of my ancestors were Aspergic or autistic. My mother certainly has suspicions about her late father. So I've sort of grown up around neurodiversity, and as a result have had an extremely cushy ride as an Aspie. My family has always understood my quirks, DH even more so; I homeschooled throughout high school, thus avoiding a lot of the trauma I might have encountered in a predominantly social, neurotypical environment (DH wasn't so lucky); and I can certainly 'pass' for normal, or at least for geeky, well enough to do whatever I've liked--Uni, having a job, making friends (more or less), and so on.
So I certainly have no cause for complaint, or any personal reason to consider Asperger's a burden or a curse. It's the way I am; it has many undoubted benefits; and if someone were to offer me a 'cure', ie. a radical rewiring of my brain, demolition of my personality and sense of identity, and disappearance of many of my talents, I'd be absolutely aghast.
On the other hand, I have worked as an ABA (applied behavioral analysis) therapist with an autistic boy. This is therapy, not 'cure', although some people involved in ABA use 'cure' terminology, not necessarily as a result of ideology, but simply because many autistic children who do ABA therapy ending up losing their clinical diagnoses (for better or worse). I don't believe that this equates to those children 'no longer being autistic'--I don't think that's possible, or the purpose of ABA--but I can understand why it might come across that way to some. And because of this, I can understand why some might consider I had 'betrayed the cause' of neurodiversity by participating, as a 'high-functioning' Aspie, in ABA.
In that particular instance, I don't think I did. I watched the boy I worked with learn, flourish and grow; become happier and more content as he learned to manage desires, behaviors and impulses which were not 'autism' or 'autistic', simply things which had different causes and functions. For example, he didn't panic when he heard a hot air balloon fly overhead 'because he was autistic'--what a copout!--he panicked because the sound overwhelmed him. We worked on it (we had to, hot air balloons were holding a festival in our city!). He got over it. That didn't make him 'less autistic'. Does that make sense?
Anyway. My point, and I did have one! I am Aspergic; that's a fairly fundamental part of who I am, just as being female is a fairly fundamental part of who I am. But just to shake things up, I am also a Christian--and my faith is even more fundamental to who I am--more so, I would say, than either my neurological status or even my gender. So I view neurodiversity through the lens of Christianity, and this brings an interesting perspective to the discussion which I rarely hear.
Most neurodiversity arguments are based around rights--the 'who are you to say' arguments which point out that it is unfair for one segment of society to impose its particular social expectations on another, and so on. Rarely do I hear the other side of the coin acknowledged, that of responsibility--from a Christian perspective, that of sin. My view is this: every type of neurology, from neurotypicality to autism, comes with its assets and weaknesses, its tendencies to good and to evil. To go with the stereotypes for a moment, a neurotypical person may have a greater capacity for empathy, while an autistic person may have a greater capacity for logical thought. What seems to get lost in the rhetoric of being true to oneself is that very often, one's tendencies, morally speaking, suck. I am Aspergic; I frequently have difficulty being polite to people, especially in social situations which involve much small talk. I could blame the one on the other. But to say 'I'm Aspergic, therefore I don't have to be polite' is simply selfish. I may have to work harder on being polite than the average person; it may be a chore for me; heck, it may, at some point in the future, require therapy or interventions. Tough cookies. My first duty is as a Christian to holiness, not as an Aspie to self.
Now that doesn't mean I have some sacred obligation to attend every social function I can lay my hands on. And of course, it goes both ways. I have often observed in the neurotypical a tendency towards emotionalism and irrationality during argumentation. I see no reason why 'Oh well, I don't have a logical mind' is any excuse for intellectual sloppiness on their part either. (Of course, many might disagree with me in labelling intellectual sloppiness a sin, but that's another discussion!).
In other words, I am for neurodiversity; but not for selfishness, or a lack of charity, or any other sin. If my children turn out to be Aspergic or autistic--a very real possibility!--I will not seek to 'cure' them or force them into conventional ways of behavior for the sake of being conventional. But on the other hand, I will expect them to behave morally, with respect for others. If they are avoiding their chores--whether from the 'neurotypical' diversion of reading a book, or the 'autistic' diversion of watching patterns of light on the wall--they will be expected to complete them. If they are deliberately rude to a guest, they will be made aware in no uncertain terms that this is unacceptable. If they prefer to spend their spare time lining up spoons, that's fine; but they will not be permitted, because of their 'neurodiversity', to line up spoons when they are meant to be eating dinner or doing their maths. Depending on the children, this kind of approach may require only gentle encouragement; it may require intensive therapy and diet changes. But it isn't about 'curing' or anything of the sort--in fact, it isn't about their neurological makeup at all, because I would treat neurotypical children in the same fashion!
I hope this made some sense. Just trying to add another perspective to the argument, because I find that the argument as commonly argued is both impractical, and prone to missing the point. Hope I don't stir up too many flames here... we shall see!