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Autism Recovery Vs. An Autism Cure: There is a Difference

Brooke Price with son

The importance of an individual clarifying their words has been made abundantly clear to this author as of late. There was an interview with my husband published in which we open about our oldest and youngest children’s diagnoses.

We have always been very open about our life with our severely autistic 10 year old. We rarely speak about our youngest son who holds the diagnosis of “recovered high functioning autistic." It never occurred to this author that some choice members of the autism parenting community would become very irritated by the terms used in that diagnosis and in turn become defensive as well as insulting. This author admits that it can be seen why an individual would be irritated by the use of the word “recovery” in that diagnosis. After all, the word recovery is literally found in the definition of the word “cure”. “Cure” is defined as: 1.Restoration of health; recovery from disease. 2. A method or course of medical treatment used to restore health. So, yes, the source of the friction can be seen; the reason for the confusion and irritation understood. However, we all know that there is no cure for autism.

A Few Facts

It is wondered how recovery is defined when applied to autism. Surely it is that so much that is unknown about autism that must be a key reason the term isn't used on a regular basis among parents and some professionals. Just because it isn’t used widely yet doesn’t mean it isn’t possible or doesn’t exist. There are studies proving that recovery is possible in high functioning children. Being “recovered”, in some cases, may mean that your kid no longer meets the diagnostic criteria for autism. In other cases, recovery may mean that your child is now considered “neurotypical”, either way, simply put, you can take it as meaning they basically progressed off the spectrum.

Truthfully though “recovery” isn’t the only term that is utilized by this community that doesn’t mean what we are applying it to mean. The all too common term, “Meltdown”, really has no relevance to autism what so ever. The actual meaning of “meltdown” can be found here. As a community we have even invented words of our own and they have become socially acceptable and broadly used. For example, the term “Neurotypical”, it wasn’t used before our community. We coined it. The fact is that we have used it so much that it has become accepted and has started to be extensively used. So, why is it so hard to accept the term “recovery”?

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The Point

The fact that a child can be effectively taken off the spectrum does not automatically indicate that the child was misdiagnosed. It also doesn’t insinuate that the parent claiming it is mistaken or doesn’t know what they are talking about. That type of behavior and name saying divides us as a community. No one should stand for that. We are already fighting a battle that few know more about than us, turning on one another can’t be an answer and shouldn’t be an option.

Possibly what is bothering this author most is that it seems believing a child can't be recovered to the point of being able to function like a NT [neurotypical] in life is naive & redundant. If “recovery” isn’t possible in any form then what are any of us fighting for? Honestly! Isn't that what the main goal is- certainly not to liberate our children of their autism but to have put in such effort and love trying to help them function that they do it so well they don’t need pills or weekly therapy. So well, in fact, that a “normal person” wouldn’t be able to tell what they've overcome by simply observing their behavior.

Studies now say that one in ten of our children can be recovered if their autism is caught soon enough. We happen to be some of the parents that were lucky enough to see this happen with our youngest son. That doesn’t take away from the work our son put into getting to this point or from the sleepless nights, sweat, and tears we put into getting him there as well. However it does bring forward the need to understand why so many parents are so opposed to these findings when they prove what we fight so hard for is feasible.

Aren’t we parents supposed to be in this together? Aren’t we suppose to learn from each other seeing as though medicine isn’t giving us the answers fast enough? Instead of fighting over terms why don’t we accept each other’s differences, embrace everybody’s life lessons, and love one another’s struggles. After all, isn’t that what each of us are asking society to do for our children, don’t we in turn deserve the same from one another?

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