By Brian Lafferty
May 17, 2011 (San Diego) – A couple of months ago someone e-mailed me an article. A team of scientists used gene mutation to create Autism in mice. The study, which was published in the science journal, Nature, could potentially lead to a cure for Autism or reverse it. But you know what?
I don’t want to be cured.
There are some things that need to be cured. Autism isn’t one of them. Autism isn’t a disease. In fact, it’s an integral part of me.
The key word here is integral. I have been Autistic for as long as I can remember. The way I speak, think, and perceive the world has been fully ingrained in me from day one. Autism has had a profound influence on my outlook on life as well as on my writing and work in the creative arts.
A cure for Autism would not be a cure at all. It would wipe out everything I’ve worked hard on developing. I’ve been myself for over twenty-five years. I’m perfectly happy the way I am and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Why would I want to start over? Life’s too short.
Not only that but the most integral elements of my Autism would disappear. My ability to “see” images in my head would be no more. The thought of losing that is terrifying on two fronts. The first is that I cannot imagine any other way of thinking. It’s as natural as breathing.
Secondly, it would diminish all the memories I have. Family vacations and other significant events like weddings, proms, and graduations would never be as treasured. I would especially hate to lose the ability to “see” and remember my late mother the way I do. In fact, I would be devastated.
I also credit Autism with helping me become a great writer. In my early years it was hard for me to speak. I had difficulty communicating throughout elementary school. I could talk but it was mostly lines from movies and TV shows in place of original dialogue.
People often tell me I’m an excellent writer. My essays throughout high school and college frequently earned A’s. I’ve been a film critic for East County Magazine for a year and a half and I had an essay published in an anthology book three years ago.
I attribute this to my Autism. Looking back, I think it was my difficulty in engaging in dialogue that made me a great writer. There’s something about the fingers hitting the keyboard that makes expressing my thoughts and ideas much more coherent and cohesive than through speaking.
I do not “suffer” from Autism. Yes, there have been major tire-flattening potholes on the road called life, too many for me to list. Yet it is because of my Autism that all of my accomplishments, including becoming Student Body President at The Winston School, helping my softball team win two championships, and graduating from college With Honors, are made all the more life-affirming.