Why "Cure" an Asset?

A new article (Chris Tachibana, MSNBC) has investigated into tech companies hiring medium- to high-functioning people with autism/Asperger's Syndrome. These people do stuff like assembly, data entry, and other computer tasks. It's better than the current grocery store job they may have, and it's perfectly suited to their skill set: they are able and willing to do long, repetitive tasks quickly, and they can catch mistakes far easier than other people.
In short, these companies see an asset rather than a liability in these people's conditions.
It's something a lot of more vocal autism advocates (most of them autistics themselves) are trying to convince people of; such people have long thought of autism as a liability and a mental illness, while such autism advocates have argued that autism is an asset and simply a different mental makeup no better or worse than the "standard" brain (i.e. autism is not an "illness").
Many months ago, there was an article in Wired magazine about this topic: higher-functioning autistics (autism is a spectrum condition, after all) who have become much more vocal about how they are treated because of advances like the Internet, portable computers, and tools like webcams and text-to-speech synthesizers.
On the contrary, many other autism advocacy groups like Autism Speaks advocate a "cure" for autism, calling it a "preventable tragedy".
Now, I understand that there are still many low-functioning autistics who cannot do anything without assistance and cannot communicate at all even with the help of technology do not fall in the category of autistics I am talking about in the context of working at tech companies.
My other problems with the organization Autism Speaks are numerous. For one, it seems to regard every autistic person from the outset as a lost cause after birth, explaining the need for a "cure" to end "preventable tragedies". As shown from the autistics working at tech companies, the autistic vlogger/advocate Amanda Baggs, and the mid-level autistic neuroscientist-advocate Michelle Dawson (who has more than 1 paper to her name concerning the diagnosis of autism and the testing of autistics' intelligence), this is patently absurd. Furthermore, the people being hired by these companies are as low as the lower-middle end of the autistic spectrum, so these people aren't just those rare autistic savants.
Also, Autism Speaks seems to solely focus on childhood autism (to the detriment of adult autistics) and speaks of a supposed "autism pandemic". The problem with this reasoning is that while autism may have increased slightly in proportion to the population over the decades, as the diagnoses of autism have only come about in the last few decades (previously, autistics were likely labeled "mute" and sent to insane asylums), the diagnosis of autism in children has exploded as a result. The only pandemic is in the diagnosis, and to add to this, a few parents are now saying that their children who were previously diagnosed as autistic were actually misdiagnosed. Due to parental fears of autism, this has probably been a driving factor for overdiagnosis of autism.
Finally, why does Autism Speaks want to "cure" an asset? I'll leave that to you, the readers.

No comments:

Post a Comment