His Autism’s “Cured” – Sowing false hope instead of acceptance & inclusion

It’s hard to read something like this and not get just a teensy weensy bit annoyed.

In case you don’t feel like clicking the above link and be transported to another web page, let me do a quick summary here for you.

This was a piece published some time ago in the form of a Q&A between a parent of a child with autism and his therapist. Clearly promotional and advertising in its overall tone and feel, the article held out an irresistible promise to parents like me. The promise that if your kid with autism can be put through the treatment techniques that this therapist and her centre can offer, then you too can have the success story that this mom had.

And what success story was that? After some two years of regular intensive treatment, the child was diagnosed to be ‘autism-free’ at the ripe old age of four! So yes, he was diagnosed when he was barely two.

First of all, this family clearly had the financial resources because there was nothing cheap about the diagnoses they obtained. How many of us can afford to fly our kid to three different cities in the world, including New York, to make appointments to see specialists for assessment and treatment? Other than to beg, borrow or steal the money of course!

Secondly, how many of us can realistically pay for all those weekly therapy sessions which can cost easily $150 per hour each time? And that’s not even the most expensive!

It can positively make one’s blood boil when you read such unrealistic and downright unkind testimonies because it offers impractical and false hope to hundreds upon thousands of parents out there struggling just to get through each day with our children and their special needs.

Thirdly, there is more than enough evidence in today’s world that no two kids with autism are exactly the same in terms of their ‘special inclinations’. Each will fall within one nanometer of an entire range of the autism spectrum disorder. That is after all why it’s called a spectrum. So if each kid is unique, can you really tell me that your ABC treatment is better than someone else’s XYZ treatment, even if you say you will tweak it to suit my kid?

In point of fact, research is already moving away from seeking ‘a cure’ and towards how best to manage and assist those who are either with autism or who is the caregiver of someone with autism.

For me and my family, what works is watching Caleb slowly but surely settle into the realities of daily life with greater and greater confidence and assurance. All the while with us by his side, supporting him and cheering him on.

Living with him and being a caregiver parent to him daily means learning everything that makes him, well, him! His constant fear of trying new things, of being in a place without us, of essentially anything unfamiliar. And of course, all the other quirks that makes him our Caleb. It’s, at the end of the day, just who he is. And the sooner we as parents come to terms with that, the sooner we can begin to enjoy his company, and simultaneously build into ourselves and our society the more authentic social value of inclusion. Any dogged attempts to simply seek ‘cures’ is missing their journey of growth and learning, and putting undue stress on the child to behave ‘normally’ or risk rejection by family and society.

So to the quacks out there still seeking for this or that ‘cure’, well you’re really missing the point, and missing on loving that special someone simply for who he or she is.

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