Many diseases during our lifetime have been, if not eradicated completely, at least greatly minimized. These include smallpox and polio, among others. But will there ever be a cure for Asperger Syndrome? For that matter, does there need to be?
Remember that A.S. isn’t a defect so much as a difference: That is, the Aspy brain is wired somewhat differently than that of the so-called “neurotypical.”
While those differences do cause problems in a neuro-typical world at times, they can also be very beneficial if channeled and directed properly. For example, Einstein probably had A.S., but in spite of, or perhaps because of that, he went on to fill his resume with accomplishments that would give anyone cause for envy. Would you say he needs to be “cured”?
If I weren’t an Aspy, I’m not sure I’d be able to do math in my head or play music by ear. I’m not sure I’d be able to relate to animals the way I do. Also, I doubt I would have the memory I do either.
To this day, if my family has a mathematics question, or if my brother is trying to figure out who sang a certain song on the radio, I’m the first one they consult. This might not be the case if I were “neuro-typical.”
A few years ago, I tracked down a former co-worker and sent him an email. This friend, an advertising executive, wrote back and told me how he was sitting in a business meeting with facts and figures flying, and he thought about how nice it would be to have my math ability. My friend has had a much more successful career in advertising than I did, but he still recognizes that I have abilities he could use.
The point is this: If I were “cured” of being an “Aspy,” I might function better in the world, have an easier time detecting non-verbal social cues, etc. But I might well be robbed of the very abilities that make life so much fun at times.
Think of what the world might be missing if Einstein were “cured” of what made him different. Or Isaac Newton. The world might be a much different place, and not necessarily for the better. No, there may never be a “cure” for A.S. And for that, we should be grateful.
By Ken Kellam
Ken Kellam III was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in his late 30’s, and has worked with Autism Treatment Center of Texas since 2003. He is currently the administrative assistant to the clinical director. He also helps facilitate three different self-advocate groups, and in the Spring of 2015 was presented with the “Angel Award” by the National Autism Association of North Texas for the works he has done with these groups. He has also done public speaking on the subject of autism/Asperger syndrome, and has spoken to various educational and parental groups. When not involved with autism, Ken has led the singing at the same church since 1988, and has also been the fill-in preacher at this same church. In 2006 he was called on to sing the National Anthem at the Autism Society of America’s national convention in Dallas, and performed the same song at ATC’s rodeo fundraiser. He also enjoys writing, and formerly wrote articles for a website dedicated to reality television. In 2011 he got married for the first time, and his wife Rachel works for ATC in Adult Services. Ken graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in 1987 with a Bachelor’s in Mass Communications, and once worked as a radio traffic reporter, interactive announcer and writer, and news producer in Dallas. He views Asperger’s as a difference, not a defect, and has come to appreciate the positive aspect’s of Asperger’s.
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