The Super Brief History of Neurodiverse People
The number of neurodiverse people that have been living on our planet unbeknownst to society is astonishing. Throughout Human history, many neurodiverse people were widely misunderstood by society. Many were institutionalized or imprisoned in some form, while the remaining were regarded as nothing short of a genius. Today we attempt to “cure” them.
Recently, there has been an increase in diagnosing as many neurodiverse people as humanly possible. Some schools even provide treatments and accommodations in efforts to even the playing field between the neurodiverse and the neurotypical.
A bunch of treatments and accommodations have enabled the neurodiverse in several ways. ADHD has become the most treatable disorder in Psychiatry due to medicinal advances. Dyslexics can read without the need to decode as many words by using assistive technologies. Dyscalculics use calculators. And we are all provided with quiet rooms and computers to transfer our personal meaning system into the words we share. Then there are unfavorable treatments that force the neurodiverse people to behave in ways that are against their nature. They are trained to fake the neurotypical’s social behaviors, preferences, and mannerisms in order to be accepted in a society that is slow to accept differences. And that’s alarming.
However, what I find most alarming is the rise in small businesses who claim to “cure” children with autism, ADHD and dyslexia too.
The Industry of Curing Autism, ADHD & Dyslexia
These businesses are often championed by parents who claim to have “cured” their own child. The first concern I have is that the industry of curing the Neurodiverse exploits parents at their most vulnerable time. Their child may have just been diagnosed or has just been perceived as different. The shock parents go thru is well documented and the promise of highly improbable treatments to “cure” their child is simply unethical. They claim that doctors don’t know what they’re talking about and that an alternative solution, unique to the business itself, is the only one that will truly “cure” the neurodiverse child. After all, these businesses have “cured” their own children, haven’t they?
The Reality of Curing ADHD, Autism or Dyslexia
The fact remains there is no evidence that anyone has ever been cured of ADHD, autism, or dyslexia from treatments. Rather, any treatments out there serves to teach the child to cope and to develop survival skills in a society that does not accept differences. Sure, dietary supplements, exercise and meticulously following a ritual proposed by these businesses could help, but they won’t be curing children anytime soon. If anyone finds a “cure” for any of these disorders, the results will be all over the news.
But what about the countless children who have in fact outgrown autism? Or those children who would show the most hyperactivities but who are now calm. Those dyslexics who couldn’t read as a child but learned to read now. Some have been “cured”, haven’t they? When parents of these children have tried countless home-brew therapies and their child outgrows the disorder, these parents say they have “cured” their child.
The problem with these claims is that these so called “cures” would have happened even without treatment. Only a few children overcome their “disorder” by simply growing up. There have been studies trying to find out why some children with autism outgrow their neurotype. Researchers have not figured out the specifics yet, but what they do know is that some children outgrow their disorders regardless of alternative medicine, supplements, and what have you. For you Science geeks, you can read it here. Researchers also know that these children continue to show academic struggles in some form or another, and so they cannot have been entirely “cured”.
The “You Are NOT Normal, Let’s Cure You” Mentality is Morally Wrong
The second issue I have with the parents who attempt to cure their child is that they actively go against their child’s natural tendencies rather than embracing the child they have now. Parents have a tendency to plan and imagine their children during pregnancy. They have created the perfect little child in their minds — every parent does. What parents do is attempt to save their child from their disorder. Parents want their dream child back. Parents need to realize that the child they have dreamt of is not the child in front of them now. The dream child is simply that… A dream child. I recommend any parent who continues to yearn for their “dream child” to seek grief counseling; to mourn away from their real child and ready themselves to help the child they do have — the one in front of them — the child who needs their help
What parents do is attempt to save their child from their disorder. Parents want their dream child back. Parents need to realize that the child they have dreamt of is not the child in front of them now. The dream child is simply that… A dream child. I recommend any parent who continues to yearn for their “dream child” to seek grief counseling; to mourn away from their real child and ready themselves to help the child they do have — the one in front of them — the child who needs their help now.
Curing your child degrades them. When you attempt to cure your child, you are indirectly telling them that who they are deep down, their identity, and the way they perceive the world is wrong. Despite being neurodiverse, despite not being able to talk, despite not being able to look at you in the eyes — they are people like you and me who want to fit in and they care about their families who help them maximize their potential. Think about it for a moment. Do you think that you are creating a relationship based on support, love and most importantly a sense of belonging? When you attempt to cure them, you aren’t. The love you think you have for them is mistaken for the love you have for an imaginary child.
The child’s neurodiverse tendencies are ingrained in them as much as race, culture, and sexuality. So instead of curing them, support them. Support them in ways that maximize their potential, and support their emotional wellbeing. Only then will the child care about you, which you may be taking for granted. Because one day when the world is against them, at the very least someone will be on their side.
What Autistics, ADHDers, and Dyslexics Think?
I have spoken to many neurodiverse people with ADHD, dyslexia, and autism. And although, many reported that at one point in their life they wanted a cure. They only wanted a cure when…
- they were in a state of depression and desperation
- when odds were stacked against them
- when no one understood them
- when they repeatedly failed
- when they had to stay in an educational system that no longer believed in them
The same people who experienced this utter sense of hopelessness have pulled themselves out from the depths. They got over it, they embraced themselves, and they have accumulated a lifetime of experiences in the first quarter of their life. And most importantly 90% of neurodiverse responders reported that they would be insulted had their parent attempt to “cure” them as a child.
Embrace Neurodiverse People
We, the neurodiverse have strengths that go beyond our diagnostic label. We have unconventional ways of solving problems. We have a different perspective on life. We are creative. We are immune to the herd mentality. We are memorizers, visualizers, conceptualizers, engineers, scientists, linguists, artists and storytellers.
Don’t try to cure us. Help us achieve the potential that is meant for us — not the achievements meant for your imaginary child. Help us climb out of the depths in the darkest times. And we will achieve and you will be rewarded. Remember:
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. – Elizabeth Kubler Ross