Autism-related websites are filled with parents of autistics clamoring: "A cure! We need a cure!" Good, I thought, when I first read such statements. These parents love their children and want to give them a family whose members are more like them. That's why they are hoping a cure for their neurotypicality will be found soon, so they can join their children in the world of autism. Just like the loving parents in Ray Bradbury's story about a child who was born into a different dimension.
Soon enough I realized that the "we" in these "We need a cure!" slogans refers to these parents' desire to pump their children full of drugs in order to make them more "normal." When they say "we", they mean that they have decided that their children need to be cured from their way of being. It's hardly surprising that a child would want to escape to a world of her own in a family environment where her parents are incapable of seeing where they end and she begins, where they confuse their own wishes with her needs.
The line of reasoning these parents offer for wanting a "cure" for their children is that it pains them to imagine their kids having to navigate the world that is hostile to autism and difficult for autistics to live in. They forget to mention, of course, that they are the ones who created this unhospitable society and keep it in place through their belief that there is something intrinsically wrong with the autistic way of being.There is no difference between them and the parents of gay or transgender children who subject their kids to all kinds of inhumane "treatments." You'll never hear them recognize their own homophobia and transphobia. "Oh no, I'm not homophobic," they'll say. "But so many other people are and I want to protect my child from their hatred. That's why I want to do all I can to make him not gay." A similar way of thinking inspires people who send their teenage children to plastic surgeons. "I love my kid no matter how she looks," they claim. "But it's objectively easier for a woman to live in our society if she has a bigger chest and a straight nose. I'm only doing this for her own good."
This is the pinnacle of consumerism. You create a child (who, mind you, never requested to be brought into this world in the first place) and then you find the product you got unsatisfactory and start paying for improvements. The "improve-your-kid" project allows one to consume an ever-growing number of goods and services, which is the only thing that can make a consumerist mentality happy. The plastic surgeons, sellers of treatments for homosexuality, pill-pushing psychotherapists, the pharmaceutical companies are always ready to oblige. And it's not that hard to find something worng and in need of a "cure" in your child if you look hard enough. She is too boisterous and active? Oh, she must have ADD, let's pump her full of Ritalin. She is too quiet and solitary? Oh, then she must have autism. We need a cure! We need a cure now!
The funny thing is that if autism were "cured," there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the very same parents who are now clamoring for the cure for autism would find something else wrong with their children and start demanding a cure for that.