Creating Inclusive Societies for Autistic Individuals: Negating the Impact of the “Autism Can Be Cured” Myth
Since Kanner completed the first study describing a group of individuals who demonstrated “extreme autistic aloneness”, the debate about the innate characteristics and aetiology of autism has raged. In the years following the publication of Kanner’s study, researchers have made vast strides in identifying the core features of autism, but have not been able to definitively identify any physiological marker for autism. As a result, diagnosis is still dependent on behavioural measures and subjective evaluation. This has resulted in an inconsistency in diagnostic processes and support service provision for autistic children and adults. More importantly, researchers continue to expend a great deal of time and effort on identifying biological markers and causes of autism, rather than finding ways to maximise outcomes. This research focus is often driven by professionals and families who feel that finding a cause will generate a cure for autistic children. A different approach is needed in order to support and empower autistic individuals to capitalise on their individual strengths and learn the skills necessary to be successful in education, employment and community environments. This chapter will explore the myth that autism can be cured and will examine the origins and impact of this myth, which relates to a medical model of disability. As an alternative to focusing on a cure for autism, this chapter will present a more proactive and productive perspective by illustrating ways in which the community can support autistic children and adults to be their most successful selves.
KeywordsModels of disability Acceptance Support and empowerment Physiological and behavioural characteristics
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