Is Autism a Disease?

Whenever I read or hear of autism referred to as a "disease," my back goes up.   In my mind, autism falls into the same category as issues like ADHD, or dyslexia, or deafness, or insomnia. 

Yes, it's a disorder... a set of symptoms...  a challenge of real significance... but a disease?  To me, the term "disease" implies hospital rooms...  thermometers...  and while I know some people with autism do wind up in the hospital, it's not the autism that sends them there!

To reassure myself that autism is not a disease, I looked up the definition in the dictionary.  It wasn't reassuring.  Here's how  Merriam Webster defines disease: "A condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms".

There's no doubt that autism affects living people, impairs normal function, and is manifested by signs and symptoms.

Evidently, that means my kid has a disease.  But honestly, no matter what Merriam Webster - or anyone else - says, I can't think of Tom as a "kid with a disease."  A kid with challenges, yes!  A kid with differences, for sure.  A kid with a long row to hoe, yup.

But a kid with a disease?  Or, as some say, "a horrible disease that devastates families?"

I know that, for some families, that's just how it feels...  and I know we're lucky to have the child we do.  Once again, I find myself on the outside looking in.  Because we're not living with devastation.  We're living with Tom.

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This entry was posted in Child Brain Development, Child Health & Development, Parenting & Education.

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