Potentially, if a cure were to be developed, what might some of the risks be both to the individuals who choose to take it, and to the autism community in general?
Whose hands would it be in? – If this were to be developed, who would have control of it? Doctors and medical staff? Pharmaceutical companies, or the Government? I think that this is an important point that often gets overlooked. But it is quite important when you actually think about it. Is this something people would have to save up for, and pay for privately at various clinics around the world? Could you be prescribed this cure at your local doctors?
Let’s say the doctors, and medical professionals were in charge of it, then depending on where you are in the world and how expensive it is, this might be free, or private treatment. Again, depending on the cost of the procedure, or the drugs involved, would medical professionals have the ability to deny somebody a cure if they felt autism wasn’t affecting their life significantly enough to justify the cost? And on the other side, would they be able to forcibly prescribe somebody who had perhaps been sectioned this cure, in the same way that people used to be prescribed ECT and lobotomies?
If a cure were to be developed by a pharmaceutical giant then it would be a very strange situation indeed; it is well known that those companies don’t invest in drugs or treatments that they don’t believe will be profitable. They have certain markets globally that they sell to, and the diseases, conditions, and illnesses that are prevalent in those countries are the ones that they put their time and money in to researching, and developing for.
The vast majority of autistic people don’t want a cure, so if a pharmaceutical company were to come up with something they could market as a cure for autism, would it even sell? It is not out of place to say that they operate solely on a profit based system – they are businesses. But if they were to be in control of this hypothetical cure would the minority who want it even be able to afford it?
Potentially, what I find the most unsettling is the concept that the government would either have control of this cure, or be able to exert influence over when, and how it was used. I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but I know that in the UK a lot of autistic people who are on benefits are already struggling; for example somebody might only be able to make one journey out of the house on their own to and from a certain place, and yet they can have their benefits taken off them because rules state that if somebody can travel independently at all they are not eligible for certain benefits.
Now maybe this is just my imagination running away with me, but imagine this: a cure for autism has been discovered. Some people take it, some people don’t, somebody chooses to remain autistic, and due to this they are unable to work, and continue to claim benefits. Would it be too much of a stretch of the imagination to say that at some point an ultimatum may be issued: if you take this cure you will no longer be autistic, and you won’t need to claim benefits.
I can imagine it being a subject of debate in politics as well as with people on the street “Those lazy autistic people, choosing to stay autistic and claim benefits …. “ Again, perhaps this is a bit presumptuous, and maybe it is based on a slightly cynical view of modern day society, but ask yourself, is it a plausible scenario? I for one think that it is. Of course, many autistic people can and do work, but for those who are unable to, would a cure be forced upon them?
Part 2 will look at the issue of ensuring that the person remained whole, should a cure be possible.
Comments on individual articles in this series are closed but we encourage readers to add their thoughts on the opening article to this series that can be found here.