This is a controversial topic in the autism community. There are adults with autism who resent the fact that they need to be “cured”-they like who they are. Others will argue that there is a difference between trying to “cure” a child who is non-verbal with severe behaviors while leaving the scientist who has Asperger’s alone.
There have been reports from parents who have used a variety of different treatment that have seen great improvement in their child. Dr. Bernard Rimland, father of modern autism research, founder of the Autism Research Institute and the Autism Society of America, made popular the term “recovery.” He borrowed the analogy by Stan Kurtz, director of the Children’s Corner Schools in Van Nuys, California:
“Assume that a person is hit by a car. His legs are broken, and he suffers brain damage. At this point, he is considered disabled. Now let’s say after intense rehabilitation he is able to walk again with a slight limp and has some remaining neurological issues but can live a normal life-or maybe he heals so well that you couldn’t tell he was in an accident at all. That’s recovery.”
With appropriate services and supports, training, and information, children on the autism spectrum will grow, learn and flourish, even if at a different developmental rate than others. Some behaviors associated with autism may change or diminish over time. The communication and social deficits continue in some form throughout life, but difficulties in other areas may fade or change with age, education, or level of stress. Often, the person begins to use skills in natural situations and to participate in a broader range of interests and activities. Many individuals with autism enjoy their lives and contribute to their community in a meaningful way. People with autism can learn to compensate for and cope with their disability. For further exploration of “cure” and “recovery” refer to the following websites:
Defeat Autism Now Presentation (October 2005 – Long Beach)
“Can ABA Cure Autism?” – by Lisa Jo Rudy
“Interview with Temple Grandin” – (Dr. Grandin is the most well-known autistic individual in the world) talks about why she would not support a cure.
Center for Autism and Related Disorders – sells a 2 disk DVD, “Journeys Through the Autism Spectrum and Back.”