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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Writer/Curator/Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project. Contributing Author to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, and Concepts of Normality by Wendy Lawson, and soon to be published Gravity Pulls You In. Writing my own book. Lecturer on autism and the media and parenting. Current graduate student Critical Disability Studies and most importantly, mother of Adam -- a new and emerging writer.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.” -- Baruch Spinoza

Saturday, June 03, 2006

 

The Purpose of Life

"Cultivate more joy by arranging your life so that more joy will be likely."
--Georgia Witkin, American Professor of Psychiatry


What causes us to be human? Genes? Spirit? The ability to ask “why?” Human beings tend to define themselves in social, spiritual and biological terms. So no, it ain’t all in the genes.

There are many who are intent on finding the cause and cure for autism. They don’t need my energy, money or help. A cause may be found, even if only because man’s ego is at stake if he doesn’t. He will find an answer, even if it is wrong. It is the desire to ask, and to answer the “why?” A desire for order, mechanisms, understanding, and control, even if the mind itself is to forever remain, in all its complexities, an eternal puzzle, perhaps rigged to remain elusive to man. So, a cure may one day be purported, even though the many autistic adults I talk to say they don’t care about the cure for autism – that they wouldn’t take that little “pill.” Like life, this is their challenge. They also say that it is their strength, even those who would be classified as more “severe.”

If people with autism can speak for themselves, if they say they don’t want to be cured, we have to listen. If they are denied the right to speak for themselves or advocate or direct research by big organizations that fund research, then they are denied their basic human rights. For those who can’t advocate for themselves, we still have to listen to the autistic community to guide us in our actions and decisions that effect the well-being and quality of life which extends way beyond mere physical care.

Goethe said
“Der Zweck des lebens ist das lebens selbst.” (The purpose of life is life itself). Life is in the living, the challenge, and the choices we make. So in keeping,

Autism is not
A tragedy
An illness
An epidemic

Autism is
A way of being
A different perspective
A sensory difference
With strengths, abilities, intelligence and something to offer society.

I say that “something” is humanity. What is our responsibility to humanity, and in this context, to those who are autistic?

5 Comments:

Blogger Sharon said...

Thank you!

I agree and now I understand why I cannot find a group with which to join which feels the same way. I want my boys to be healthy and happy, but I still want them to be who they are. I want to find a way for the world to deal with them, not change them to suit the world.

12:14 PM  
Blogger María Luján said...

Hi Estee
I appreciate your post. I sent to you some comments to your mail-because they were long. I hope I did not disturb you anyway.Thank you

María Luján

2:23 PM  
Blogger 888 said...

Autism is a problem with "resistance".

"A child who has what is termed today autistic traits, or a man who has come to severe mental breakdown, have suffered such a great imbalance of resistance-non-resistance, where their capabilities in this regard are for a time, completely haphazard and non-discriminatory. They are, for whatever reason, (and there can be many) thrown into a condition of utter resistance, finding that there is too much pain and no selection. It is a sorry turmoil of an individual who seriously cannot cope, cannot function and cannot 'hinge' safely or comfortably upon any reality, any sympathy."
God Bless You All,
-Bruce

6:07 PM  
Blogger Estee Klar-Wolfond said...

I disagree Bruce. This is society's opinion and view of autistic people.

If you talk to autistic adults, what is painful is society's stigmatization of them and their so-called "behaviour."

How do you view dylexics today? The deaf community? Years ago society used to also view these communities as cognitvely delayed.

It is time we move beyond autism belief, myth to learning what autistics say of themselves as well as the accurate science that supports cognitive abilities in autism. Once we understand these abilities and ways of sensing and perceiving, everything else will make sense to us "outsiders."

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Bonnie Sayers said...

I agree with the blog and the post by Sharon. I read of many adults on the Spectrum saying they do not want a cure. Why isn't any of the organizations listening to them or showcasing their words?

I have two boys on the spectrum as well.

Bonnie

10:31 AM  

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