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Autism Ethics: Accept or Cure?


There is constant debate on whether autistic people should be accepted by the community as a diversity of the society or a cure should be researched upon and developed. This debate is intense especially among the autism community itself. To be able to appreciate this rift, one has to first understand that autistic people can be grouped into two: high-functioning people (they speak) and low functioning people (do not speak). In the category of high functioning people, individuals with Asperger’s syndrome (a type of autism) can be classified too.

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This is due to their talkativeness but they are often given away by their narrowed interest in specific things. The high functioning group is strongly opposed to a cure as they feel they are able to interact with normal people. However, they just interact with what holds their interest despite having incomparable aptitudes. On the other hand, it’s the low functioning group of autistic people who in most cases just try to get to the end of a day without causing themselves any bodily harm. This group is constantly faced with a struggle to live each day and the possibility of a cure may be just what they need. (Volkmar, 2007).

Spatial dimension to the debate

An autistic patient is constantly faced with an uphill task of acting normal and fitting with normal people and life is just a constant struggle for them. Some autistic behaviors such as head banging, flailing, screaming, hurting yourself, biting and much more are usually uncontrollable in an autistic patient and really take strong willpower and time to suppress them. People suffering from autism are sometimes overcome with jealousy of people with normal lives.

This is because of the stigma from the society brought on them by autism and in most cases, they try to channel their frustrations and anger towards society. Social interaction for autistic people is not one of their strongest attributes whether it is the high functioning or the low functioning, they are constantly living in a world of their own, a world they create for themselves to run away from the reality where people are afraid of them instead of embracing them and making it easier for them to go through life. (Baron-Cohen & Bolton,1993).

Despite ongoing research in finding a cure for autism and the closing in on the cause of this strange condition by a scientist, there is increased practice of termination of feotuses that have Down syndrome. People suffering from autism are not against genetic research but want scientists to consider its ethical implications to the autistic community. (Tarq 2007).

The autistic community feels that the world does not want them within its normal people. They argue that autism is not a fatal condition but it puts them in a situation where they are sometimes labeled as freaks due to the unusual autistic behaviors such as pacing incessantly and flapping of hands. The question put out to the world by autistic patients is, should people who don’t suffer from it or have come into the first-hand contact with it be allowed to determine the quality of life of people that suffer from it.


Autism is not a fatal condition and all that is known about it by the common person is a misperception. Whether it is the high functioning or low functioning person affected with autism, they all have to put up with a life where they are always putting an act so as to fit in with the normal people. The question of whether a cure should be developed or autism should be accepted by society, does not have an answer and no one seems to have come up with a solution. High functioning autistic persons feel they will be done away with if there is a possibility of a cure while the low functioning feels that a cure would greatly help them feel normal. On the other hand, normal people feel that autism should not be left to develop when detected in fetuses. This now leaves the world in an ethical dilemma.

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Baron-Cohen, S., & Bolton, P., (1993). Autism: the facts. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Tarq. M., (2007). Autism. London: Marshall Cavendish.

Volkmar, F., (2007). Autism and pervasive development disorders. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

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