Autistic Spectrum individuals and Parents/Family members of Autistic Spectrum individuals tend to rankle at the following statement.
- It occurs in both disabling and non-disabling forms.
Whether or not it is a disabling condition is not part of the definition of disease, nor should it be. Vitiligo, exzema, psoriasis, diabetes and lichen simplex chronicus are all diseases. Each of these are also non-disabling conditions. They are no less diseases because of that.
- Autism is a disorder – autism isn’t an illness.
Technically… it is an illness. The World English Dictionary defines an illness as “a disease or indisposition.” Again, I will go back to the definition of a disease… “an impairment of the normal state of the living animal… that interrupts or modifies the performance of the vital functions.” So, this argument is belied by the definition of disease.
- It just means the brain is wired differently – not better or worse just… differently.
This is the part of the definition of disease that states “that interrupts or modifies the performance of the vital functions, is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms.” The fact that Autism Spectrum disorders have a set of symptoms fits into the distinguishing signs and symptoms. This argument typically comes from family. Speaking as an Autistic Spectrum individual… it is worse… over stimulation, stimming, meltdowns, tantrums, excessive cognitive dissonance and comorbid conditions make it worse.
- Some people insist on labeling autism in a negative light.
I have made this point before, but there are often emotional connotations placed on words that have nothing to do with their actual definitions. I have often cited the words whore and prostitute. They both mean a person who has sex for money. Whore has an emotional impact that prostitute does not. If you call a prostitute a whore… they will become angry, often to the point of becoming enraged.
Obviously, the word disease has negative connotations that are not inherent to the word. Applying these connotations to a word defeats the purpose of having a dictionary.
- Autism is not a disease – it can’t be cured.
Again, nowhere in the definition does it mention that a disease can be cured. Diabetes is a disease. Lupus is a disease. Marfam’s is a disease. None of these conditions can be can be cured. Therefore, curability is not a deciding factor as to whether or not it is a disease.
- It is a syndrome, not a disease.
The dictionary defines a Syndrome as a “group of symptoms that together are characteristic of a specific disorder, disease, or the like.” Look at that definition… I mean read it… A syndrome… is a group of symptoms that define a DISEASE… Just for the heck of it… the definition of symptom is ” a phenomenon that arises from and accompanies a particular disease or disorder and serves as an indication of it.”
The mantra of “There is nothing wrong with me.” is essential for the self esteem needed to function in NT society, but it is detrimental to our cause – which should be finding treatment plans and skill training that can help us survive the minefield of the NT world around us. If there is nothing wrong with us, we are (to the last of us) destined to end up miserable and alone. Our friends and family accept us… we should do ourselves the same courtesy.
Images in this issue SHAMELESSLY stolen from the following sources: