FDA Approves the First Drug to Treat Irritability Associated with Autism Is that for the caregivers or the autistic person?
The assumption here is that autism is a disease in search of a pharmaceutical cure.
There was an interesting item on Quirks and Quarks on CBC this weekend challenging the assumption that autism is a mental illness needing a cure.
In the big dictionary of mental disorders known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM for short, autism is listed as a mental illness. According to the psychiatric manual, people with autism don't communicate well, have trouble interacting with others, and often have some unusual and repetitive behaviours. Scientists have been very interested in understanding what causes autism -- mostly with an eye to curing it.
Now, two autism researchers in Montreal are arguing that maybe autism isn't something that needs to be cured. Maybe it isn't even a mental disorder.
The two researchers make an unlikely team. One is Dr. Laurent Mottron, a psychiatrist and cognitive neuroscientist at the Riviere-des-Prairies Hospital. He has been studying autism for 25 years. The other is Michelle Dawson, who is autistic. Ms. Dawson has never been to university, but is working at the level of someone with a PhD. For the last couple of years, these two have been collaborating on research into autism. They argue that autism should be recognized as a different way of being human, rather than as a disease or series of defects to be eradicated.
The writings of Michelle Dawson
Michelle Dawson's presentation to the Canadian Senate
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