Sunday, November 6, 2011

Loving Lampposts -- and other illuminating things

I heard Todd Drezner speak at the Asperger's Association of New England conference last month. He had a lot to say about the tension between two autism camps: the neurodiversity crowd, and those who seek to cure their autistic loved ones, by whatever means available.

The neurodiversity folks, many of whom have autism themselves, say, "Accept me for who I am. I am different than you -- so what?" Autism, says one person featured in Drezner's compelling documentary, "Loving Lampposts," is a gift in disguise.

It's true that autism can be a gift. I celebrate the gift that is Benjy every day. And yet, for some families, autism is a catastrophe -- especially to those who have no or little support (from extended family, community, school, state and federal governments). It's easy to understand why they want so desperately to cure their loved ones of what feels to them a terrible affliction. Life for an autism family can be so very hard.

You can watch the trailer for "Loving Lampposts" here:"

I find it hard to decide where I stand on the issue of curing vs. celebrating autism. I can tell you that a person with high-functioning autism (or the parent of such a person) will have a different perspective on this question than someone whose loved one is more severely impacted. I don't want to "cure" Benjy of Asperger's. I love the way he is. But if I could make his life easier -- introduce more friendships into it, or eradicate his depression and anxiety -- I would do so at any cost. I just don't want to lose those things that make him the amazing and unique person he is.

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