Autism is a lifelong difference that cannot be removed or "cured." Treatments for autistic people focus on the individual's specific difficulties, so that (s)he can live a happy and potentially productive life.
- Behavioral and communication therapies: A number of programs are available to manage the problems associated with autism. Such programs focus on managing and reducing behavioral problems and improving the learning skills. Some programs address the problems pertaining to social and communication skills.
- Complementary approaches: In a number of cases, some sort of complementary approaches are also applied with above two types of treatments. Such complementary approaches "include art therapy, music therapy, special diets, vitamin and mineral supplements, and sensory integration — which focuses on reducing a child's hypersensitivity to touch or sound." However, these therapies are still in experimental stage, and their affect on autism has not been conclusively proved.
Many members of the autistic community are worried by research into the origins of autism. They argue that this research is not done on their behalf, but on the behalf of family members who don't like putting up with their differences. They believe that autism has shaped their identities and perception of the world, and that it is a fundamental part of who they are.
One autistic writer explains:
- When you’re talking about ‘curing’ autism, you’re talking about getting rid of human beings. The attitude is reinforced in the kinds of ‘awareness’ campaigns [that Autism Speaks] is involved in, which routinely position autistic people as a burden to their parents and society in general. The overall message sent in these campaigns is that autism is a terrible, bad, no-good, horrible thing, and that people saddled with an autistic child live in misery and woe.
Some parents fall into the mindset in which autism "is personified as a demonic foe that must be defeated at all costs. The child ceases to be seen as a sentient person and instead is treated as if he [or she] were a battleground for a cosmic struggle between good and evil." The attempt to separate a child from autism has led to lower self-esteem and even suicide.
Autistic people are also concerned that if the cause of autism were discovered, it would lead to eugenic abortion and deprive the world of neurodiversity. Ultimately, they believe that autistic people are not lesser than neurotypical people, and that autism research should focus on helping autistic people, not eliminating them.
- Autism - causes - a page from the Mayo Clinic
- Autistic Spectrum - A resource for High functioning Autism and Aspergers syndrome