A Letter From Larm

I am writing to express concerns on behalf of the autistic rights and neurodiversity movement about the implications of recent breakthroughs in genetic research into autism, and also much of the journalistic coverage of this research.

While such research could potentially be of benefit to parents and autistic people in planning to ensure their needs are properly met, much of the discussion surrounding these developments centres on the possibilities for treating and eliminating autism.

We are again being bombarded by references to autism in terms of disease, disorder and suffering. Worst of all is the raising of the possibility of genetic testing, and perhaps of pre-natal testing. Again, in principle this might be useful as a means of ensuring parents have advance knowledge of the needs of their child.

However, without in any way prejudicing the rights of women to make their own reproductive choices, the abortion clinic should not be seen by society as the solution for autism, as has happened with Down's Syndrome.

The London Autistic Rights Movement, and the wider autism rights and neurodiversity movement of which we are a part, believes that it is the economic, social and attitudinal barriers in society that are the true disablers of autistic people, and not their condition in itself.

We take the view that the most important thing for autistic people is to remove these barriers, and not to medicalise autistic individuals and see the only option as therapy or other treatment aimed at normalising the autistic person.

We recognise that for many parents caring for an autistic child can be very difficult and extremely stressful, particularly in cases of those with behavioural difficulties, but believe that most of these problems are the result of society's failings.

There has been some research, notably by Laurent Mottron and Michelle Dawson in Canada, into mapping out what autism is and what autistic people's needs are which have come up with surprising results. They suggest that in many cases autism has advantages as well as disadvantages, irrespective of supposed severity, and it is our view that such research is much more important than genetic research into autism's causes.

The autistic rights movement therefore calls for more funding for work into investigating what could practically improve autistic people's lives in the here and now, rather than research chasing after miracle cures and treatments.

Roderick Cobley

London Autistic Rights Movement

PO Box 63703, LONDON SW3 5SW

0 Replies:

Post a Comment