If there was a pill to cure autism…

pill 6

…would you take it?

This was the challenging and thought-provoking title of the art exhibition run by students Vicki Taylor and Robin Jackson to coincide with the recent Autism Residential Weekend (a bi-annual event for students on the non-campus based courses at the Autism Centre for Education and Research at the University of Birmingham). Based on the question – If you could take a pill to cure autism, would you take it? – autistic participants were invited to present artwork addressing this very issue in a variety of media. There were several submissions from autistic pupils at special schools or mainstream schools with an autism resource. All students attending the Residential Weekend were also given the opportunity to provide written answers to the question.

Here are just some of the many examples submitted (please note that artwork is not to scale):

Vicki 1

Vicki 2Vicki 3

 

‘Has anyone invented a pill to cure Neurotypicality?’

 ‘I would not want there to be a pill to cure autism. The world would be a bland and derelict place without neurodiversity. We are all expressions of humanity – all beautiful.

(Participants at Residential Weekend)

blog 5

By Jack, a pupil at a north London school.

 

 

Blog 2

Author, artist and autism consultant, Donna Williams

pill3

Blog 1

Callum Duckworth

‘On really hard days I’d be tempted. But I don’t know who I’d end up as which would be scary. I don’t know if I would be taking it just for me or to make other people’s lives easier.’

‘A pill to allow others to understand autism would be better.’

Blog 4

By Jacob, a pupil at a north London school

louis morel

pill4

 

John

By John, a pupil in a north London school.

Zaffy.art

Autism speaker and advocate, Zaffy Simone

Jordan Two Faces.jpg

‘Two Faces’ by Jordan, GCSE Photography student in Somerset.

‘No thank you. My son is perfect the way he is. If our society had evidence enough this question would not be asked.’

‘No pill. A person with autism is still that person because they have autism. Why would you want to cure individuality?’

Wenn1

Wenn2

Psychologist, researcher, speaker, writer and poet, Wenn Lawson

Dan.png

Dan is a GCSE Photography student at a school in Somerset

Robin Jackson and Vicki Taylor, the exhibition organisers, answered some questions about the event:

  1. Why did you decide on this question about the pill?

RJ: I am tired of having to wear a happy face and having to be positive about having Asperger syndrome regardless of how I really feel. I’m tired of hearing ‘who’d want to be normal? Look at the amazing things you can do.’ I am more than an autism diagnosis, that goes for the positive things about me as well as the negative. I wanted to give people the chance to say how they really felt. I wanted people to have the chance to say ‘yes’ without it being some kind of taboo.

VT: The pill question was actually Robin’s idea but I agreed to it because it is a controversial idea which could initiate conversations about autism.

  1. Did anyone take offence at the question?

RJ: Not that I saw, although I think a few people were a little uncomfortable with it.

VT: Not that I know of. In fact, it was received really well and was talked about in great optimism at the workshop led by Zaffy Simone.

  1. Do you think it would have been the same if a non-autistic person had put this question to autistic individuals?

RJ: Yes. Non-autistic people do put this question to autistic individuals! The difference is, when a non-autistic person says it, the only acceptable answer is ‘no’. Coming from non-autistic people, the question is meant to make you look at all the positives of being on the spectrum.

VT: I think that it might not have had the same response if it came from a non-autistic person because the concept may have felt like there is a right and wrong answer. Coming from an autistic student meant that there was an option to be open within the answers.

Well done to Vicki and Robin for organising such an interesting and successful event.

Post compiled by Becky Wood.

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9 thoughts on “If there was a pill to cure autism…

  1. VERY interesting question.

    I think that: I’m alive as I am alive because I exist as I exist.

    Autism sometimes creates some difficulties: this is real. Sometimes generates sadness in not being able to get in touch with others in good ways. Sometimes it generates an unimaginable fatigue because feelings are too many or too intense. Sometimes it forces me in silences that many people do not understand, to reorganize this illogical and disordered world.

    BUT I’m alive I’m alive because I exist as I exist. And if I could take a pill that would make disappear autism, I would not be more me.
    Who would I be? I would be another person! And I do not want to be another person: I love me, I’m trying to be gentle with me. I would disappear. Where would I end up?

    I would not be more me. I would not be more me.

    I think that people should accept that all other people have the right to live how they live and to exist as they exist, and that all people should rejoice with others, for this.

    One thing is the functionality in the world, other thing is to change people.
    But this is only a my idea.

    Thank you from Simone Knowing Simon S.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for this thoughtful and thought-provoking response. Robin’s comments at the end of the post make it clear that this was a genuinely open question, although virtually all replies – if not all, in fact – asserted the view that if such a pill existed, it would not be taken. Perhaps the important message is to be honest about the difficulties but to value the individual at the same time.

      Like

    • “I think that people should accept that all other people have the right to live how they live and to exist as they exist, and that all people should rejoice with others, for this.”
      I agree with Simon and I rejoice !

      Liked by 1 person

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