Talking about preventing autism is offensive

[CN: Prevention of autism]

What’s offensive about talking about preventing autism?

I can’t even believe that this question was asked, but it was. On Twitter, I had to keep my response brief, but I have this space to put down detailed thoughts.

So, why is talking about preventing autism offensive?

What is autism?

Let’s consider what autism is, from an autistic person’s perspective.

“Autism is a genetically-based human neurological variant. The complex set of interrelated characteristics that distinguish autistic neurology from non-autistic neurology is not yet fully understood, but current evidence indicates that the central distinction is that autistic brains are characterized by particularly high levels of synaptic connectivity and responsiveness.”

– Read more on neurocosmopolitanism

So, we are born autistic.

(I know there are parents out there who say their children changed at a certain age, and they’ve decided that their children somehow became autistic. If that’s you, it’s worthwhile considering whether your child regressed due to external demands outweighing internal coping skills. This happens. It happens to autistic adults too. It happens to me. Often children are expected to be very sociable at a certain age, and this places stress on that child. But, I digress…)

Can you understand why talking about preventing us is offensive yet?

The only way to prevent another autistic person being born is to prevent their birth. Before you say “people would never do that,” consider that they do. Consider Down Syndrome which can now be diagnosed prenatally. While the abortion rate might be lower than the usually quoted percentage, 30% is still alarming. Please note: I am not against women choosing to abort for reasons related to bodily autonomy. I do have an issue with people choosing to abort due to ableist beliefs that abled is better than disabled.

So, that’s why talking about preventing autism is offensive. I look at my friends. If 30% of them weren’t born, how much poorer would our culture be? How much poorer would society be without the diversity that autistic people add to it? How much poorer is society already?