Day 6

What do people with autism need most: acceptance or a cure?

Neurodiversity pushes us to see autism as a genetic difference, not a disorder or disease, but the movement has divided the autistic community.
Sue Rubin, a non-verbal autistic woman who learned to communicate using a keyboard in her early teens, and her assistant Rene Gonzalez (Sue Rubin)

Is autism a disease or disorder, or is it simply a neurological difference? Should we focus on finding a cure for autism, or should the emphasis be on accepting people as they are? Those are the questions raised by the movement known as "neurodiversity." It challenges us to redefine autism and other neurological conditions not as problems to be fixed - but as natural human variations like gender or ethnicity. To some people with autism, it's a powerful message of empowerment. To others, it misrepresents the real challenges faced by people with severe autism and their families. Day 6 examines the range of opinion within the autistic community. Kingston, Ontario's Corina Becker is a proponent of neurodiversity on her blog, No Stereotypes Here. Harold L. Doherty is deeply skeptical about the movement. He chronicles his life with a severely autistic son on his blog, Facing Autism in New Brunswick. Novelist and blogger Jonathan Mitchell is a vocal opponent of neurodiversity on his blog, Autism's Gadfly. Neurodiversity advocate Ari Ne'eman is the co-founder and president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and the first autistic person to serve on the U.S. National Council on Disability. Sue Rubin is a non-verbal autistic woman. She wrote the narration for the Oscar-nominated documentary about her life, "Autism Is A World" , and she's also the author of the essay, "Acceptance Versus Cure".