Is Autism a Gift or a Curse?

I saw a meme on Facebook last night. It said, It’s wonderful that autism is a gift for you, but respect that my experience is different – Just like our kids.

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credit: fb/I’m Simply a Dad

I immediately stopped scrolling to look at the comment section. It’s always interesting to read what other parents think about this topic.

Some of the parents hailed their child’s autism as a wonderful gift, insisting they wouldn’t change it for anything.

Others argued that autism was a disease, and that their children were sick. Of course they loved their kids, but they would cure them in a heartbeat if they could.


So which is it? Is autism a gift, or is it a curse?

I say it’s neither.

And although I can empathize with both points of view, I’d like to share a different perspective…


I’m a mom of autistic twins. If the spectrum were a straight line (which it’s not), my boys would be sitting on opposite ends of the stick.

Dominic, my oldest twin, is what used to be called “high functioning.” He has incredible splinter skills, with deficits in other areas.

He’s outgoing, but struggles with attention and coping skills. He’s great at math, but he learns english as if it’s a foreign language.

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He taught himself how to use the Xbox when he was four years old, and has been playing Grand Theft Auto (GTA V) ever since. I’d be appalled if he wasn’t so good at it.

I can feel you judging me, but I really don’t care.

Julian, my youngest, is severely autistic and nonverbal. He recently started using an AAC device to communicate. His needs are extensive across the board.

We have to work hard every second of the day to simply keep him safe. He’s also the silliest, sweetest kid you’ve ever seen.

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Back to the topic. I don’t see autism as a gift or a curse. My kids are who they are, and being autistic is an intrinsic part of them.

Whatever feelings I place on autism will only change how I experience it (and ultimately how my kids will start feeling about themselves).

If I feel sad or depressed about autism, that’s what it will be – sad and depressing. If I feel like autism is a gift, well… you get the picture.

Did I mention I also have two teenagers? My experiences raising them adds a whole different layer to my perspective.

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My older boys are neurotypical. But that doesn’t mean my job is easier with them. It’s just different. They each have their own set of individual needs.

In addition to being teenagers and all that encompasses, one of them is severely allergic to peanuts (and everything else you can imagine). To top it off, he also has severe, acute, and chronic asthma.

The last time he had a little cough, it turned out to be a severe case of pneumonia, and one of his lungs had solidified. I’d stick him in a bubble, but his brother doesn’t want to roll him around. 😉

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Do I hate his lungs? No. That wouldn’t do any good. Those are the lungs he has, so I just work hard to support how they function.

I take him to doctors and specialists. I give him medicine to help ease his symptoms. And I listen for his little cough. All. The. Time.

Placing a negative feeling on his asthma won’t help him or me. If anything, that would model a negative attitude for him. He may even start to feel like a burden because of something that’s not even in his control.

My point is that it’s all relative. While my twins are struggling in many areas, there are some children who can’t even leave the hospital. And others who have less than a year to live.

I’m not making light of the more serious aspects surrounding autism. Many children suffer from seizures and other co-morbidities, which are undoubtedly traumatizing.

I’m just arguing that our attitude or approach to these circumstances can change the way we experience them. Yes, I get frustrated. I even cry sometimes because I get so overwhelmed.

Parenting is hard. Parenting children with disabilities is hard. Parenting autistic children is hard – and confusing.

But continuously having a negative attitude about this one condition – that is such an integral part of my children – will only make me miserable. And my kids will undoubtedly pick up on those feelings, whether they can express it or not.


As a writer, I follow countless bloggers, vloggers, and authors. I’ve seen every perspective out there.

It pains me to see public figures using their platform to continuously talk about their own disappointment and grief surrounding their child’s disabilities. I’m not referring to people who vent every now and then.

And I’m not talking about people who toss around ideas and start important conversations. Those things are essential for increasing awareness and acceptance.

But parents who are new to Autismland can supply their own frustrations and heartache. They don’t need help adding to that.

These parents already know that it’s not a walk in the park. They can join private support groups to vent and validate those feelings.

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What I really needed as a parent new to the world of autism was hope. I needed information and resources. I needed humor, and a sense of normalcy.

I needed perspective and advice from seasoned parents and actually autistic adults to help me sift through the information and misinformation surrounding autism.

If you’re a parent who’s just starting your journey, remember… It’s okay to have rough days. It’s okay to grieve the perfect life you thought was in store. But don’t stay there.

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Pick yourself up. Life is a journey. You get to decide how you react to its twists and turns.

Talk to a therapist to support your own mental health. Work hard to find the support you need, online and in your own city.

Realize that you’re not alone. With an average of 1 in 59 children being diagnosed, you can find your tribe.

Start following autistic bloggers and pages. Read some books written by autistic authors. And steer clear of negativity. Misery loves company, and there’s just no time for that.

Autism isn’t a gift. And it isn’t a curse. It’s just part of your journey. Your attitude and mindset WILL make a difference as you go through.

Follow our journey on Facebook at Not an Autism Mom.

16 Replies to “Is Autism a Gift or a Curse?”

  1. As a mom of a child with autism and a realist, here’s what I will tell you. Anyone who claims autism itself is a gift is ignorant. Those who claim autism offers gifts is right. For example, my daughter’s autism awards her a hyperfocus on dog training that puts her in a league of her own. To fully realize this gift however requires a round the clock, available mom. The gift therefore for me from a spiritual perspective is that it assists in the transcendence of ego. When I consider autism from a medical point of view however, I see autism as the biggest tragedy to ever hit mankind. Thirty years from now, one in two children will receive an autism diagnosis. Ask yourself what you think that means for humanity. Even bigger, ask yourself how humanity will look once the one in two become parents. In my humble opinion, the best question to ask therefore is not whether autism is a gift or curse but instead do you want to wait until your child is diagnosed with autism to decide if it’s a gift or curse or would you rather educate yourselves now on what’s true about the causes of autism as well as the corruption behind the causes?

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    1. Phoenix,
      I wrote two poems in reference to Autism…
      The first one is called Autism:
      ” Autism”
      Awareness that others cannot separate
      Uniqueness that fascinates others
      who cannot anticipate
      Tenderness that evaporates into the
      hearts of others who insinuate
      Irreplaceable memories that awakens
      mentalities that have tunnle
      vision and cannot captivate
      Souls which equal breath that each
      and everyone takes
      Magical minds that that are able to.
      create.
      By: Lydia Elizabeth Holloway
      Date: November 1, 2015
      Time: 11:46 am

      The second one is called Challenge…
      “Challenge”
      Creative individuals whose abilities are.
      beyond belief
      Heroic hearts that never deplete
      Autism is a gift even when others.
      define it as weak
      Loving oneself with open minded.
      mentalities’
      Lessons that one delivers without.
      fatalities
      Empathy to all of life brutalities
      Notable to all because individuals are.
      not focused on disabilities
      God’s gift and beauty for the world to.
      embrace magically
      Engaging in all aspects of life’s moral.
      dignities…
      By: Lydia Elizabeth Holloway
      Date: November 26, 2015
      Time: 10:07 am
      As far as you feeling that anyone who feels that autism is a gift is ignorant well that is your opinion and that’s it… I am Autistic and instead of many who look or feel that autistic are the R word, weird, stupid etc. The meaning behind autism is a gift, is to advocate spread awareness and educate that just because and individual is autistic does not mean we are not capable and do not have gifted abilities… The spectrum is very broad and being Autistic I do not wish there were a lower end or higher end spectrum we all have our struggles and differences but choose not to be divided… I was diagnosed at the age of 42… Being bullied at a young age for my repetitive behavior which is rocking back and forth, I had to line my things up and still do, not interacting with others because playing by myself I felt more at ease… Lights and noise have always been a big factor for me… My twin sister is the opposite and if it was not for her I would have never understood why I am the way I am… So “NO” saying autism is a gift is not ignorant… There is NO CURE for autism and who ever thinks that is ignorant… As far as autism being a curse no its not what makes some feel as though it nays because of individual who lack knowledge and understanding and want everyone to be the same…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Lydia, these are both beautiful poems. As far as what I said, I believe you misunderstood. Please allow me to clarify. What I said is that autism DOES offer gifts. My daughter’s gifts are beautiful, as I’m sure yours are. What I said is that saying autism itself is a gift was ignorant. In my opinion, nobody wishes to be non-verbal, to be low-functioning to the point that they cannot go to the bathroom on their own, for example. THESE travesties are entirely AVOIDABLE by understanding the cause. My daughter was vaccine injured. Had she been diagnosed with a 5-HTP deficiency at birth, she would have instantly received a vaccine exempt. Because the CDC hid this and allowed doctors to instill the standard vaccine schedule, my daughter will forever be injured. This IS ignorant on the health leaders part. It’s WELL documented and can easily be found. If we do not educate the public on these facts, we ARE facing a society with more than half of its people affected. Gifts such as you describe ARE beautiful. I do not see a child trapped inside herself a gift. I see it as a tragedy—one should never happen. I appreciate your thoughts and beautiful creative gestures. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on what I’ve said here. My goal is NEVER to offend, but rather to support and enlighten. My artistic teenage daughter feels exactly the same. She never wants anyone to experience what she did. And, both of you would likely still have the gifts you have minus the sensory stuff, et al. Sorry, had to type quick. My apologies for errors. XO!!

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      2. Phoenix, are you not troubled by the fact that children who are in fact vaccine injured, are given an autism diagnosis?

        I try to steer clear of the vaccine debate, but sometimes I feel like people are arguing about two different things…

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      3. I was pro-vaccine while pregnant and post-pregnancy. I was anti-conspiracy theories always. But then, my daughter started presenting with autism symptoms. When she was 7, her stomach blew up like a balloon. I assumed she had food allergies. We took her to an allergist at Yale and the doctor informed us that she didn’t have any vaccines in her system and asked me if I was sure she was vaccinated. Of course I was sure! Still, he said her titer reading showed an absence. His recommendation was re-vaccination. We complied and she was revaccinated over a few months for EVERYTHING. By everything I mean, ALL the vaccines a child gets from birth to age 5. In a FEW months! Chloe got worse! She stopped speaking! And I started to question vaccines and autism. I sought her medical records and saw that every single time she’d had a vaccination, her temperature shot to 104 and she had a variety of symptoms from vomiting to diarrhea to ear infections. Like clock work. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t connected it. Then again, why would I? Our pediatrician assured me there was no connection! The light dawned for us after re-vaccination when Chloe received a second titer test. Chloe still showed NO sign of having been vaccinated. And here’s what the doctor recommended. “Let’s vaccinate her again.” WHAT! It was the turning point in my life. Conspiracy theories became something that might have some merit. Vaccine/autism correlation may have some merit. And we now had our own personal experience. We left the doctor’s office, switched our pediatrician and said no to revaccination. Years later, we learned that Chloe has the 5-HTP genetic mutation which automatically exempts her from vaccines. Today, the CDC knows that ALL people with this genetic mutation CANNOT be vaccinated. So, for me, it’s not a theory. My kid was injured by vaccines because she was never tested for 5-HTP prior to vaccination. It’s taken us years to reverse the damage and at the end of the day, we’ll never 100% reverse it. All we can do now is educate others. So, yeah, I know for some vaccines is the cause.

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      4. I’m so sorry for your experience. My son had a developmental regression and i know it is so hard to see your child lose skills. It must be hard to know what caused your daughter’s symptoms and wish you could go back and change it. It’s also hard to not have any idea, and to have medical professionals tell you they don’t know either, and to just watch as the child you knew slips away. For me, that’s the thing that is truly not a gift about autism. It’s the terror of not knowing if my child will progress or regress… and remembering his voice and when he would look at me and talk to me, and hoping that will happen again but knowing it might never happen again and that he may not be able to communicate or care for himself and what will happen to him when I’m gone… and there’s nothing that can be done about it. It’s frustrating and depressing. And in places like a blog or FB, that’s where I go to vent. That doesn’t mean I wallow in sadness all the time. Sometimes I go to the zoo, or have a tickle fight, or a dance party. And I love my boy more than life itself. He is my greatest happiness and my greatest hope, but also my greatest heartbreak. And writing is my therapy. Sometimes I write sad, depressing stuff. And sometimes I write about Candytopia. Sometimes I see the amazing things about autism (I wrote a post called The Brain of the Future, suggesting that autism is some kind of next stage in human evolution) and sometimes I am in a pit of despair because my son is going backwards while everyone else is progressing and it makes me so very scared for his future (and mine). As a parent, and a NT, it can be such a challenge to come to terms with having an autistic child and learning how to navigate the “new normal” that is your life as a family, which I think is especially challenging after a late regression in my case or injury such as your daughter’s. But thank you all for you’re point of view—the original post was really important for me to read and the comments were equally informative. I’m learning more every day on this journey.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Oh honey! I’m equally sorry! I do have empathy and entirely understand what you are saying and where you are coming from! As far as “medical professionals” are concerned (and I would place educational professionals here as well), they’re all educated in the same system receiving the same information that the higher ups want them to have and give. In order to find “answers,” it requires investigating the info yourself and then finding out of the box professionals to help. It took me years to meander all of this. My daughter is on the rebound and recovery now, but she’s only here because my gut told me there HAD to be a cure—there HAD to be a way to recover her. I fought and searched until I found what I was looking for and ever since I’ve been implementing it all. Each case of autism is very different though. How each child responds to various treatments is different. It’s why it’s essential that we be our children’s best advocates! I wish you well with your child. XOXO!

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  2. This is so helpful. Autism is a part of who our kids are and they need acceptance and positivity just like neurotypicals. I do grieve the reality of our lives, but also try and be proactive about things and speak well of him even though it can be really tough.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about Autism. My daughter just turned 12 today, and I was telling her that is a very special gift to us. We did not know it until she turned two years old and she was diagnosed with Autism. You are right at first the gift is so massive and has so many parts to it that it is so easy to get lost in some parts and never recover. For example going home every day crying because of having to explain the diagnosis to strangers because of her behavior or sounds in public.
    Few months in I learned very quickly that she is nonverbal and it will be my daily job to be a strong advocate for her.

    I have been standing up for her ever since. I have fought principles, and School Districts. Thus, I think she is a Special gift that is teaching me every day. It has been a challenging time but I can not imagine how it is for her.
    Thank you everyone for sharing.
    Sally AJ

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  4. I think what you shared is so important. I love this especially: “Whatever feelings I place on autism will only change how I experience it (and ultimately how my kids will start feeling about themselves).” We have a lot of choice in how we experience different aspects of our lives.

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  5. I’m autistic and my child is on the spectrum. My mother was likely autistic, too. I find the stark differences in your two children very interesting. I think people who say autism is a “gift” are glossing over the struggles we have. My attention to detail lead me, on the one hand, to awards and praise for fixing problems in health care that others didn’t “see;” but at the same time, on the other hand, my autistic directness in communication got me in trouble (and fired on some occasions). A lot of the causes of autism are looking like a combination of environmental toxins and genetic changes. So some of the alleged “curse” is actually that the child’s gut is inflamed and needs a different diet and likely vitamin and mineral supplements. In some cases, there’s heavy metal toxicity, also. The “curse” can be reduced. I have an MPH degree so I am a big believer in vaccines–but I also think that the number of vaccines has gotten out of hand and the “immunological load” needs to be looked at. I think the babies are getting too many vaccines in too short a time span. That said, I find some of the anti-vaxxers frustratingly clueless (NOT the ones where their child has a genetic mutation or other medical issue that prevents the child from getting vaccines) but the ones who think the decision to vaccinate is nothing but personal choice–who are ignorant about how disease is spread in populations.

    Liked by 1 person

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