Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Unrecovered (response to the New York Times's "The Kids Who Beat Autism")

I have had a lot of reaction in the past couple of days to that Times Magazine article concerning “The Kids Who Beat Autism.”  Here’s about all I have left.

The parents, the teachers, the therapists and researchers without a clue who are celebrating “recovery” because in their heads they’re defining autism as a fixed set of permanent inabilities—

-Are not the people doing the work of passing, and are not going to be the ones to find out first-hand just how long it isn’t actually sustainable.

-Are not the people who get told we’re too articulate to be autistic but have to ration our hours of speech per day.

-Are not the developmentally disabled women who suffer a sexual abuse rate of over 90%, no thanks to the compliance training that teaches that allowing others to control our bodies is desirable behavior.

-Are not the kids pulling themselves through school without disability accommodations.

-Are not the kids getting their supports pulled out from under them when they lose a diagnosis.

-Are not the kids getting chided and belittled because their challenges and oddity are now seen as choices of defiance or misbehavior.

-Are not the people being lied to about who they are.

-Are not the people who are going to wake up one day 20 years from now with no idea who they are or how they got there.

-Are not the people who will spend a year and a half having a meltdown with no idea of what’s happening or why.

-Are not the kids being taught that accepting yourself as you really are and as you really work, would be the worst possible thing.

-Or that the “best outcome” possible for you is to spend the rest of your life pretending to be something you’re not.

-Are not the people who are going to have to re-learn where they belong in space and time and how to live there.

-They will not be the people giving these kids a community and a support system years from now.  They will not be the ones who know what to do when they start having breakdowns and burnouts.
They will not be the ones supporting their kids in learning self-acceptance when all their passing skills fail because they are actually incompatible with functioning in the long term.

We will.

They will not be the people there to pick up the pieces.

We will.

There is, indeed, hope for the kids featured in this article, for joy and authenticity.  This article could’ve come with a spoiler alert; we know the end of this story.  We know it many times over.

It’s just not that these kids live out their lives as non-autistic people.

(Crossposted from Chavisory's Notebook.)


  1. Indeed this post is really informative. I also read this in NY Times, even they had mentioned some names of the famous autistic people out there, who came over their problems and set examples for our coming generations.

    1. But the whole thing we're saying is that we don't really "overcome" our problems. That's an illusion. We grow up. We learn how to make them more manageable, or how to avoid triggering them, to work around them, or with them, to find or build communities where they're better accommodated. We work really, really hard at building up the things we're weak at, or overcompensating for them.

      But we never become non-autistic or non-disabled. Our challenges as autistic people are things we *always* have to be taking into account and dealing with, even if it does get easier over time. There's no point where we've overcome our problems and just don't have to deal with them anymore.