Right now some of you are probably confused as to what I may be alluding to for this next legendary entry and others probably already know what I’m going to be ranting about. To get the concept across however, I will have to educate you on a scenario from one of my favorite video games of all time that will hopefully serve as the perfect analogy for tonight’s rant.
The video game in question is Star Ocean: The Second Story and during the game you have the option of recruiting a very unlucky warrior named Ashton. Ashton is in the process of fighting a two head dragon when by some bizarre turn of events, the dragon gets cursed to him causing him to have two dragon heads popping out from his back who will make jokes every now and then but become somewhat of a burden to Ashton. You travel around trying to find a way to purge Ashton of these dragons but through the process he grows to adapt to the existence of the dragons and eventually forms somewhat of a bond with them. With time the pair of dragon heads become a part of who he is and when it comes time to purge the dragons he refuses. He realizes just how much part of him these dragons are and to get rid of them would be to eliminate a part of himself plus they were pretty damn cute.
I bring this tale up because as I’ve grown over the years with my Autism diagnosis, it has become an essential part of who I am and my struggles define me. My unique personality is a result of everything I’ve had to endure and I honestly wouldn’t trade it for anything else. Over the years I’ve heard talks of solving the mystery of Autism in the complex of one day finding a cure. The word “cure” bothers me greatly because honestly I don’t feel sick. You cure Tuberculosis, heart problems, diabetes, cancer, Hepatitis, Meningitis, influenza, bronchitis, polio, and things that make people sick and have the potential to shorten life expectancy. Autism isn’t a sickness or a virus or a plague, it’s another one of the mysteries of the mind that need to be understood with time and patience. If any doctor ever came to me and asked me if I wanted to participate in a trial for a drug that rewired the brain to that of a Neurotypical, my answer would always be HELL NO! Would I like to be able to flirt with women with ease? of course I would, would I like to be able to more outgoing and be able to feel comfortable around people I don’t know very well? hell yes, would I like to be able to process speech at a normal pace? yes I would but to be cured of my challenges is to run from them. I didn’t get to where I am today simply by running away when the chips were down.
Everyone has their own cross to carry for a very important reason, that cross defines them and molds them into the person they’re meant to be. Jesus could’ve dropped that cross and use his superpowers to decimate all the soldiers and incinerate Pontius Pilate and High Priest Caiaphas but he didn’t as painful as it was he knew exactly what he had to do and that was to die on the cross for people’s sins (whether you’re Christian or not). Before I go all evangelist on you and drive you a way let me get back on topic. If I was ever stupid enough get cured of Autism them my life would bare no purpose what so ever. I wouldn’t have the persistence I’ve developed, I wouldn’t be as skilled at math, physics, and music, I wouldn’t be as funny and blunt, I’d fail to be unique, I’d be everyone else but me. There may never be another me so until that time I have to live my life to the fullest.
Sadly there are parents who would cure their children the moment they found out the had Autism. I don’t blame parents for being afraid that their child my not be like the rest of the world or that they may not be the dream child you hoped to have. Before you go around looking at Autism as a death sentence you need to remember that every person on the spectrum’s life has meaning, even if it isn’t in the way you expected. So what if a fulfilling life for your child only consists of stacking blocks, or running around or flapping their arms or talking to themselves or blowing bubbles all day or watching the same movie everyday at the same time for the rest of their lives? It’s fulfilling to them and most importantly it makes THEM happy. I know a lot of this is easy for me to say but there was a point of time where I wanted nothing to do with this diagnosis. I screamed to God in anger constantly asking why I was such a defective human and I why I couldn’t function the same way everyone else did. I couldn’t stand to look in mirrors because it turned into several minutes of me asking my reflection why he sucked so much and. As tough and painful and lonely as this journey was, life just wouldn’t be as fulfilling as it was. Graduating from middle school, high school, and even college wouldn’t be the same triumph, getting a girlfriend even though the relationship fell apart after six months wouldn’t be much of a crowning achievement.
My diplomas wouldn’t be something that I now get to rub in the face of my fifth grade teacher if I ever see her again. Most importantly I wouldn’t be me. Some people could look at me and say wow, he had Autism and now he’s cured but this is further from the truth than Bill Clinton denying he got blown by Monica Lewinsky or OJ Simpson’s Alibi or Casey Anthony’s Not Guilty plea (too soon?) I got to where I am because I corrected a lot of my quirks through a vicious trial and error process that at times felt like a game of Russian Roulette that I seemed to always lose. Even if someone in your family or close to you on the spectrum doesn’t behave or see the world in the way you’d like them too, there life is still full of meaning in ways you couldn’t imagine but in order to learn what that meaning is, you need to endure that journey with them. Curing Autism isn’t how we discover this purpose.
P.S. I personally think that Autism is just a new form of evolution that has yet to reach maturity, when done right you wound up with a person who sees the world in a way you never could and quite frankly has a substantially higher IQ than a lot of people without.