The word “cure” in regards to autism is a controversial term, and often brings up a heated debate about what this word really means for autism. But, what about the word “recover”. Does this have its play in the language of autism treatment?
So the phrase that starts this debate…….“Autism is curable.”
Before we get to far into this, I am not meaning to stir up the hornets nest, but interested in no kidding educational conversation on the topic. Leave out emotional responses and just have a friendly conversation.
This is a statement some people use to indicate that autism is a disease or health condition that can be overcome. Others have vehemently argued that autism is not a disease process at all, and therefore there is nothing to be cured from. The traditional medical community viewpoint is that there is no cure for autism and only supportive treatment such behavioral modification and drug therapies are options worth pursuing.
So in this aspect, it depends on who who talk to when bringing up this conversation. In my experience, when you talk to a family, there is no magic pill, no cure, as it shouldn’t be identified as needing one. My family for example, choose to see Carter as gifted and intelligent.
To fully understand the concept of cure we need to make a distinction between what is commonly called ‘cured’ (a return to a previous state of health before a change had occurred) and ‘recovery’ (the act of regaining health that was previously lost). Traditional medicine, and even those in the autism medical community realize that there is no known cure for autism, although there are different treatments available including biomedical autism interventions that can help individuals on the autism-spectrum such as diet, i.e. gluten-free and casein-free diet and/or the specific carbohydrate diet, nutritional supplement intervention (including multivitamin/minerals), Methyl-B12 therapy, Respen-A, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, detoxification, anti-fungal treatment, and much more, as well as non-biomedical therapies including applied behavior analysis (ABA), speech and occupational intervention. Traditional medicine even has treatments which are mostly drugs such as Risperdal to suppress aberrant behavior. However, none of these treatments are curative.
I despise using the word ‘cure’, and I don’t in my internet postings, lectures, or writings when discussing experiences with Carter on the autism-spectrum. Here is an analogy. If you have an accident and break your arm, and overtime your broken arm heals to the point that movement is restored and it appears indistinguishable from before the accident this would indicate a recovery from your injury. However, your arm would still have suffered the injury and therefore an absolute cure from the accident (and subsequent broken arm) is not possible. You still had the broken arm. However, normal function in your arm has been regained…you recovered!
With that being said, there is the Brain Tumor portion of Carter’s life in addition to the Autism aspect. However, we are still careful on how we choose our words. We do not say Carter is cured from his brain tumor, we feel as though he is recovering. We feel as though he is healed, from a religious standpoint, and we thank God everyday for this. Carter was hurt, he was broken, now he is not. However cure would say that the tumor will never come back, and he is back to his regular self when he was first born. In that case, we would Not continue to return to Chapel Hill every year for MRI’s and Neurosurgery consultation, but we do. We actually leave in two days on July 4th for his next one.
Some say similar concepts applies to autism. Children (as well as teenagers or adults) are not cured from their autism. However, some individuals are said to recover, losing their diagnosis, and appear indistinguishable from their peers. In these cases, medical providers state that their autism was reversed, most or all symptoms of their disorder have disappeared, and they now function typical of other people but they will always have had what is classified as autism. Again, highly controversial and debated topic.
So what do you think? Is autism curable?