Monday, November 9, 2009

I Do Not "Suffer From Autism"

Excellent post by fellow aspie Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg:

I do not suffer from autism.

I suffer when someone calls my way of being a disorder.

I suffer when others invest time and money to prevent people like me from being born.

I suffer when anyone suggests that I might recover or be cured.

I suffer when others feel sorry for me or for the family I have created.

I suffer when I fear that people will consider me broken.

I suffer when my being autistic scares people away.

I suffer when others try to silence me.

I suffer when people suggest that I do not have all the same feelings they do.

I suffer because I must describe my way of being by referring to a medical diagnosis.

I suffer because I live in a society that does not celebrate difference.

I suffer because I live in a culture that does not cultivate sensitivity.

I suffer because I live in an environment that values appearance over substance.

I suffer because I live within a social order that calculates human worth based on productivity and conformity.

I suffer because I live in a world that does not honor the gifts that autism brings me.

I suffer because I have learned to apologize for who I am.

But make no mistake: I do not suffer from autism. I do not suffer from who I am.


  1. I'm just curious, you honestly wouldn't want a cure? I'm 18, thought for most of my life I was just ADD and had the sensory issues to go with it, but recently found out I am in fact on the spectrum, though like you it is Asperger's and I feel lucky to be as high functioning as I am. That being said, I would be all for a cure. The rest of that is right on, I'm for the right to life act, no baby should be killed regardless of how "differently abled" they are, and people should be much more tolerant and accepting, but if they could find a cure, or at least better treatments, I'd be all for it.

    So I guess my question is whether if they were to find a cure, or a very helpful treatment, would you turn it down, or go for it? I hope my questions don't affend you....


  2. There is nothing objectively "wrong" with me. The "positive" and "negative" sides of my Autism are two different sides of the same coin. It is exactly my difficulties in social cognition that makes many forms of injustice in our society obvious to me. Our sensory and Cognitive differences give us autistics a different perspective on the world, which is in and of itself valuable. It was Einstein's Temple Grandin-like powers of visualization that was so important in his scientific ideas, for example.

    My autism is part of who I am, not something I have. "Curing" me would make me into a different person.

  3. I don't really know what to write lol. I really hope I didn't affend you. I only recently found out I had asperger's, and have spent a lot of time googling different autism treatments. I think I really just want the best of both worlds so to speak. I really wouldn't want to change who I am, just the added difficulties I guess... I hadn't really thought about the positives of some of the Aspie differences... I really just hadn't even considered them, I was so busy trying to find a way to get rid of my sensity to noise, or my difficulties being able to focus, etc.
    I think I really needed to hear that, to be able to understand why people say they wouldn't want to be cured. I think for me, I will get to that point, with time I think I will realize that I just maybe need some better coping techniques, to make things a little easier. I really appreciate you writing back to me, and I have one more question, if you don't mind.
    Was this always the attitude you had about having asperger's, or did it take time for you to be okay with it?

  4. No problem, I wasn't offended! :) There is absolutely no problem with developing coping mechanisms, after all, there are a lot more NTs then there are of us so expecting everyone to bend over backwards for is is simply impractical. that said, there is a real need for tolerance of neurodiversity.