Autism “cure” culture and normative violence

TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains detailed discussion of harmful “cures”. It also mentions ABA, MMS, Chelation, and has in depth discussion around normative society and the murder of Autistic people.

For as long as I have been an advocate, many of my fellow Autistics have spoken out against cure culture. From Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) to Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), there are myriad “treatments” that claim to purge the autism from autistic people. I could speak at length about the direct harm that these quack interventions inflict, but there is a deeper level of conversation to be had.

We are engaged, at present, in a culture war. On the one hand, we have Autistic culture which teaches us to be neurologically queer in every sense of the words. Be ourselves, connect with the self and express it in a way that honors our neurocognitice style. On the other hand, is cure culture.

Cure culture teaches us that who we are is broken, deficient, unrelentingly burdensome. Curists would have you believe that our lives are empty, broken, that we are trapped in a living death. Alive but somehow non-existent. The discourse around autism “cures” is dominated by non-autistic people who believe they are performing acts of mercy by pouring bleach solutions down our throats, and chelation drugs into our veins.

All of these things are a form of violence against a minority group that simply wants to live in peace. A minority group that intersects with many other oppressed demographics.

This is why Autistics get angry, this is why our lives revolve around our Autistic identity. Not only do we have to be Autistic in a world that desires normativity, we have to justify why we shouldn’t be tortured and murdered by people that are often (incorrectly) described as “well-meaning”. We constantly have to justify our existence. We are begging to be allowed to live while the world at large seeks to destroy us.

And yes, my Autistic self is defined by that which they seek to remove. Remove the autism, and you remove the person. Autism doesn’t even exist, only the Autistic-self exists. I am Autistic, not a person with a fucking carry-on bag where I store my quirks.

Do you want to know why pretty much every Autistic person you meet is at some level of burnout? It’s because we are dealing with this bullshit every second, of every minute. Every hour, of every day. By their nature, our lives require us to educate people on why we should be allowed to carry on existing. Have you tried to every account while teaching literally everyone you meet why being Autistic is not something to be grieved and/or corrected? It’s exhausting.

This is the culture war that we are fighting. We have no choice but to join the frontlines. We have to raise our voices above those who would speak over us.

After all, isn’t the whole point to leave a better world for our progeny?

Published by David Gray-Hammond

David Gray-Hammond is an autistic mental health and addiction advocate living in the South East of England. He is in recovery from addiction and psychosis, as well as other complex mental health conditions. He was diagnosed as autistic seven months after achieving sobriety, and is resolved to share his experiences with the world in the hopes of being the person that he needed when he was younger.

2 thoughts on “Autism “cure” culture and normative violence

  1. Wonderful post, thanks for sharing this. Learning how to stop putting negative labels on ourselves and our beliefs is something that’s been coming up a lot for me lately. I am not autistic, but I have learned how to stop framing neutral to positive traits/beliefs as bad. Fatness, old age, the term “pro-abortion”, are just some of the things that I’m proud to say I no longer have negative stereotypes about.

    Like

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