Why do the principles of neurodiversity require that every autistic not want to be cured or treated?

Do you legally have to give back an engagement ring in Georgia

They dont.

We dont have to all be having the same experience of being autistic, nor do we have to feel the same way about the whole thing.

If there were a cure, Ive no doubt lots of people would take it.

,However, thanks to some ongoing narratives about disability, the disabled, autism in particular (the unpleasant side o popular attention), and reaction to patterns in autism diagnoses, this conversation is not happening in a vacuum.

,There are several on-going issues that make discussing a cure really difficult.


Many of the groups asking for a cure are asking on behalf of their children/dependents, due to their desire to cure their children of something that keeps their child from being normal in some way.


Curing what we think may be a copy error during mitosis is not possible after that stage in development.


Differences in the autistic brain (which are structural and go down to the way connective tissue is generated, pruned, and structured) are not able to be excised.

You cant cut an autistic brain enough to make it normal.


The biology involved is not secondary to the person.

Changes to the brain change the personality, behavior, thoughts and cluster of characteristics we think of as the individuals identity.


Autism is being treated as the equivalent to cancer, or diseases which are fatal in prognosis, and allow a certain amount of leeway in medical ethics.


Theres a long and sordid global history in terms of the way people with intellectual disabilities or physical disabilities are treated that suggests discussions of that intellectual disability which shade toward getting rid of it are also shaded toward getting rid of them.

Or worse making them of some use to society.


It continues ongoing narratives about the inability to have value of people with disabilities, and, like the previous narrative, is a part of a long a sordid global history.

,Ill be responding to these in order below.

,NOTE: I am NOT a lawyer, nor a doctor.

Im just over-educated and well read across a variety of fields.

A lawyer or doctor, of course, will know better than I, and if theres one floating about, they should feel free to correct me.

,The first issue has some precedent in law, but extends several precedents that are troubling.

First, while it is a parents privilege under the law to provide care for and make decisions on the behalf of minors, the right to do so for medical reasons is typically invoked under providing for their welfare, or under saving their lives.

The state has an interest in this in as far as the parent continues to provide care for the child that is judged to be adequate under whatever standards are set by the state.

The state usually steps in where it is found that the parent is causing issues with the physical or intellectual development of the child, and sometimes in response to problems with the emotional development of the child.

,Children with autism represent a special challenge to the benchmarks of the state, since their performance on those benchmarks is highly variable: in my case, the state could have stepped in under any of the previous categories, but I performed best on intellectual measures.

I aced every academic test they threw at me.

,However, emotionally speaking, I went to pieces whenever there was any sort of uncertainty in my environment, and a disruptive environment knocked at least 10% off my academic scores (still does).

Gym class was a nightmare for me, and I was bounced back and forth between grades in elementary school because of the discrepancies between my performance on intellectual benchmarks and performance on emotional ones.

,Under-performance on any of these metrics should cause alarm bells to ring, and should draw the surveillance of any of the state bodies whose jobs concern these benchmarks.

However, in cases of autism, these benchmarks and the surveillance have to be tailored, a difficult feat when youre talking about blanket rules for millions of children.

,As such, children with autism get lumped together under the category intellectual disability.

Where those parents get something right, it is to notice that children under that heading are often exposed to an education which is a poor fit for their capabilities one way or another, as well as to narratives which tell them that theyll never be able to perform well in society.

They are often as not treated as trouble-makers in the system, exposed to and not protected from physical, intellectual and/or emotional bullying.

,This should alarm parents, and they should be active in the school systems and lives of their children to counteract that narrative and oversee their childrens development.

(This is also, as far as I can tell, the states position on the issue.

),However, certain inabilities are inferred to people in the category of intellectual disability that extend the domain and responsibilities of parents with respect to care taking the intellectual, physical, and emotional well being of their children--one of them is that the more profound the inability is inferred to be, the less participation in their care the child is assumed to be able to have.

This may or may not be true in individual cases, but its assumed to be true in all cases.

The time of custodianship may, for that reason, be extended indefinitely, past childhood and into adulthood.

,Between the narrative of prescriptive inability, pressure placed on parents to perform to those benchmarks, pressure placed on parents by active state surveillance, parents knowledge of the probable fate of people unable to perform to those deadlines, the stress of caring for the child in question without necessarily understanding or being able to engage in communication with the child, and the normalized development stages in which the child is supposed to leave home, parents often clamor for an end to what they perceive as an untenable situation.

,The problem, of course, is that all of this is entirely beside the point of individual capabilities in the child, and makes the expression of those capabilities more difficult.

,In essence, it creates a situation in which the child is less likely to be able to go about learning and practicing self-care or independence, if they are capable of doing so, and biases the parents against recognizing the ability to do so (as well as making it seem, to the child in question, that they are never going to be able to do some set of totally central skills for achieving recognition, independence, the ability to participate in their own lives, or any other act that affirms their humanity by the metrics we tend to use to measure it colloquially.

) Doesnt help their sense of self, either, which feeds back into their anxiety and makes meltdowns more likely, which causes parents and professionals to assume a lower level of functioning, and around it goes.

,In terms of those issues around the discussion of the cure, it makes it seem like theres nothing to be done until theres a way to get rid of autism--it makes the situation seem impossible, and systematically robs those children of the ability to engage in their own lives.

If were waiting for a cure to fix anything, the ability of parents and the state to make decisions for autistic individuals will continue to ignore the individual.

,On the second point, a cure is not possible under our current medical technology, nor would it be possible any time soon.

,Were still debating a cause for autism, but the general gist of current modelling is that it is a copy error which occurs during mitosis in the cellular mass that becomes a zygote.

Theres some evidence that there are also environmental factors involved, but we cant always control for those.

,This means that a cure could only be applied to the gametes at the time of combination--were still isolating the involved genes, but it is currently conceivably possible (should we manage to isolate those genes), to manipulate them.

,Of course, youd have to destroy the zygotes that you messed up in the process, that cure would only be available to people who could afford in vitro fertilization, and there are a host of medical ethics issues there, but thats pretty much it for total cures, at this point in medical technology.

,We can suppress symptoms through medication, and teach behaviors, but theres no way to get rid of autism once the person already exists.

,The medical ethics issues here include those around genetic engineering and the importance with which we view individuality, with respect to humanity.

The short version is that because we think individuality is central to humanity and genetic engineering allows us to tailor that individuality, it is very possible for this to create social classes that would be a combination of all the worst issues of slavery, eugenics, and social engineering, either for the genetically engineered or for those who are not.

As such, the question of a cure is absolutely a question about how we define and value humanity.

,Historically speaking, the disabled are generally not considered human in the first place, so this runs the risk of aggravating an already problematic issue.

,For the third point, to the best of our knowledge, the autistic brain is structurally different than more normal brains.

In laymens terms, theres extra connections in weird places, some areas are bypassed almost entirely during tasks that wouldnt be in someone without autism, and used for tasks a normal brain wouldnt use them for.

Theres really just not much we can do to change that.

,On the fourth point, research done on people with profound brain injuries has pretty conclusively demonstrated that the things we think of as the person (their emotions, memory, reactions, ideas, etc) are changed when their brain is changed.

A head injury can literally make a brand new person, if it is severe enough.

,If we managed to somehow change the structure and functioning of the brain (more than simply blocking some neurochemical receptors, as many psychiatric drugs do), we would be creating a new person who may not even remember things from before those changes.

,They may be, in essence, a total stranger in the body of the person before they suffered a traumatic brain injury.

,The personality changes in question tend toward less desirable traits: sudden mood swings, rage, confusion, paranoia, substance abuse, anxiety, and threatening or violent behavior.

,They do NOT tend toward making people more socially acceptable.

,We are, quite literally, the mess of connections and chemicals in our heads, and a cure would have to somehow reorder that stuff.

We dont have the correct technology, as far as I can tell, to do that.

,Experimenting on people with ASD until one finds a way to do that is all the possible types of inhumane and illegal medical experimentation.

,On the fifth point, the law, the interest of the state and caregivers, and the measures able to be taken hinge, among other things, on risk to life and health.

Autism is not fatal, by itself, and as such does not require the kind of intervention one might use on a child who refuses to be treated for cancer or a fatal disease.

Because a disabled person may not be considered under the law to be able to participate in their own care or make meaningful decisions about it, treating intellectual disabilities as if they were potentially fatal diseases greatly extends the scope and actions possible on behalf of someone.

,It extends them so far that it verges into human rights abuses territory.

,Even assuming a case where autism and other intellectual disabilities collude in the individual and render them unable to substantively understand or make decisions with regard to their care, the state and caregivers have a limited right to force invasive medical procedures on them.

If autism is, in and of itself, of a category with fatal diseases, it both limits the rights of an autistic person to engage in their care and allows caregivers or the state the right to make decisions about medical procedures for them with a broader scope.

,I refer you to the modern results of that sort of thing: ,Sterilization of Women and Girls with DisabilitiesAssuming that the person will not notice nor care nor are they worth consulting before performing surgery on them is pretty much the stuff of medical nightmares and malpractice suits.

,For the sixth point, Im afraid Im going to have to go some unpleasant places in US history.

Some of this, I learned from the class I had to take on human experimentation to be allowed to formulate experiments, and some from teaching courses with a heavy load of history.

,Im going to be a bit long-winded here because I find that people are much less aware of this history than they ought to be, and I will get to a point about the discussion around curing autism at the end of it.

Until then, consider me to be warning readers that the following is just about the most depressing content imaginable.

,The beginning of the 20th century saw a rise in the eugenics movement, along with programs aimed to prevent the feeble minded from breeding, among other things.

States passed laws designed to prevent these groups from access to individuals of the opposite sex, and to allow the sterilization of individuals who were designated feeble minded, as well as to institutionalize them broadly.

For a run down of those laws in the US: Social Origins of EugenicsIndividuals considered feeble minded included people with intellectual disabilities, criminals of any kind, people with the wrong nose, people who were not white and of particular European descent, anyone considered chronically ill and poor, liars, epileptics, people with birth defects, and anyone who did not obey the byzantine social conventions of the time (including women they thought were slutty).

,The first case of sterilization for eugenics in the US was a Supreme Court case: Buck v.

Bell (1927).

The deciding opinion (8 to 1) included this infamous line, which characterizes the policy toward people with disabilities or personal qualities considered undesirable at the time:,,It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kindu2026Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

,nBuck v.

Bell was adopted by the Nazi party, which had a lively exchange at that point in time with many of the eugenics institutions in the US.

They got some of their laws and ideas about racial purity from people in the US.

*,Buck v.

Bell has yet to be overturned.

Text of the decision is here: Page on princeton.

eduThe state of Virginia issued an apology in 2002 for its role in passing and enforcing the policies rising from Buck v.


,The definition of unfit, as previously stated, was quite wide and included racial characteristics as well as class characteristics.

Let me just familiarize people with a few more examples from US history:,Until Loving v.

Virginia (1967), it was illegal and punishable by jail time to marry anyone from a lesser race, under the argument that those with pure blood or heritage ought not be allowed to ruin their genetics by mixing with people who did not have the same heritage.

Text may be found here: Loving v.

VirginiaThis case was part of a series of cases in 20th century history forbidding marriage or relationships that were thought to dilute good blood.

,Arguments like those used in Loving had their genesis in pamphlets like this one, written in 1917 by a doctor: Eugenics marriage and birth control practical eugenics**,The following quote starts on page 181:,,Marriage with a feebleminded person not only should be advised against, but should be prohibited by law.




As any instruction in the use of contraceptives would be wasted on the feeblemionded, the only way to guard the race against pollution with feebleminded stock is either to segregate them or to sterilize them.

Society could have no objections against the feebleminded marrying or indulging in sexual relations, provided it could be assured that they would not bring any feebleminded stock into the world.

n,nThis popular adage had an effect on a variety of racial groups, including Native Americans, who became wards of the US state under the assumption that they were, in essence, congenitally feebleminded.

The seminal decision on that front slightly pre-dates the previous pamphlet, Lone Wolf v.

Hitchock (1903) Text is here: FindLaw | Cases and CodesThis case declared Native Americans et al to be wards of the state, and as such affirmed their inability to own and defend territory of their own.

It also set a strong legal precedent for the continued use of Indian Schools.

If you dont know what those are, heres a very small primer: History and Culture: Boarding SchoolsThe US forcibly abducted children from Native families in order to Americanize them, and it didnt stop until the mid 20th century.

,All together, cases like these, law and practice created conditions until very nearly the end of the 20th century which allowed not just segregation and forced sterilization, it also allowed medical experimentation.

,Im so very sorry for what Im about to list.

This next section involves medical experimentation on children, most of whom were either disabled or not white.

,In 1895, Dr.

Henry Heinman deliberately infected several children (a four-year old and a sixteen year old) and a man under his care with gonorrhea to test vectors for disease.

Since both boys were, in his words morons, and the man was dying, it didnt matter if they were infected.

For text: Children As Research Subjects : Science, Ethics, and Law, page 7.

Similar methods for experimentation were rampant in the US and other countries, and were often performed on children in orphanages, children who were considered to be morons or stupid, and the children of the poor.

Experiments involved deliberate infection, but also involved exploratory surgery or, in the case of Dr.

Eli Long and Dr.



Caldwell, repeated serial X-rays in order to study bone development in children.

(page 9),Techniques like the spinal tap were also tested on infants and children at the end of the 19th century without anesthetic, and frequently on children who were wards of the state and otherwise considered essentially disposable.

Other treatments involved withholding medical treatment to infants in orphanages who were already sick, in order to follow the progression of the disease.

Famous experiments included inducing the rickets, scurvy and other diseases due to malnutrition in infants and small children by withholding food that included necessary nutrition.

,From 1940 until 1953, Dr.

Lauretta Bender used children institutionalized in Bellevue Hospital in New York to test the effectiveness and necessary voltages for electroconvulsive therapy, running various strengths of current through them sometimes several times a day.

The childrens ages ranged from less than three years old to twelve years old.

She also experimented extensively on schizophrenic, autistic and non-white children, using methods that ranged from ECT to inducing diabetic shock, amphetamines, and inducing convulsions.

,Children were not the only group of undesirables to be experimented on because they were wards of the state, or otherwise assumed to be unable to participate in society.

,Ill briefly mention the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments here, but bring up others.

From the early 20th century until 1972, the CDC supervised a study in Georgia on Black men, both those with and without syphilis.

The men were told they were being treated for bad blood, but were either infected with syphilis or simply prevented from getting penicillin to cure their syphilis, in order to allow doctors to follow the course of the disease.

The only reason the experiments stopped is because of a whistle blower who pestered newspapers until they carried the story.

The men were poor, Black, and assumed to be generally disposable.

Timeline here: CDC - NCHHSTP - Tuskegee Study - TimelineDuring the 1950s, with the boom of the nuclear era, experiments were conducted internationally using bodies snatched from morgues to measure tissue decay and reaction in the presence of ionizing radiation.

Experiments were also performed in the UK on pregnant women and newborn infants during this period, and papers written on those experiments are contained in the following report to President Clintons Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments: Page on scot.



Eugene Saenger was successfully sued in the 1990s by the families of poor, Black patients whom he tested the effects of high doses of whole body radiation.

(See his obituary: Eugene Saenger, 90; physician conducted pivotal studies on effects of radiation exposure) In his words:,,These people were sick.

They had far advanced cancer.

We gave them this treatment to see.



whether we could improve their condition.

It was called pallative therapy.

It was not intended to be curative therapy.

n,nI have a reason for dragging the reader through the horrors of medical experimentation.

It is no easier for me to go look these things up than it is for you to have to read them.

,First, to point out that much of these cases were recent in history.

,Second, to point out that the ostensible justification for using people as human guinea pigs was consistently that they were morons, or feeble-minded, or otherwise considered to be unable to participate in their own lives.

This should sound familiar from the other list items.

,Third, to point out that, quite frankly, the history of designating a group of people as unable, due to mental conditions, to participate in their own care is at least a hundred years of crimes against humanity.

For fucks sake, the Nazis, at the Nuremberg Trials, pointed to the US and said, essentially, why are you picking on us when were doing what theyre doing over there?,What does this have to do with a cure?,There isnt a cure.

There is no way to make someones brain not be different than it is without getting in there and repeating historys mistakes.

We still have no idea what the cause is, let alone what to do about the whole thing.

A little time spent on the National Institute of Health site will net you thousands of results that squabble over cause, treatment, and what to do with autistic children.

,ECT is back, by the way, as a potential treatment for autism.

Considering the side effects--brain damage, memory loss, personality change, burns, oral trauma, facial fractures, prolonged seizures, pulmonary or cardiac complications and, finally death--that should scare readers.

,Is autism worse than that list? ,Is it worth risking killing the patient or causing heart and lung damage in case they might be less autistic after giving them brain damage?,The discussion around the cure, as I discussed earlier, radically extends legal arguments about the inability of groups with intellectual disabilities to participate in their own care, and assuming enough pressure to fix the unfixable, medical experimentation on groups unable to have consent or say in their own care will pick back up.

,The more pressure parents and public anxiety put on legislators and medical researchers, the more extension of those legal arguments one will see.

And since were already recycling history to fix autism, the cure discussion is not simply a matter of personal preference.

,Were discussing a complex set of issues around the ability of individuals to make their own medical decisions and to be treated humanely by the state.

,If I and others bristle, its because we know a bit about that history and legal precedents.

,And because what were talking about, when were talking about the cure, is risking our lives to make us more socially acceptable.

,_____________________________________,* We may like to kill Nazis in video games, but they had a whole lot in common with us during that period.

,** Google hosts the entire book for free.




an educational look into medicine at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Do you have to give an engagement ring back in NY

If you actually went through with the marriage, and did not consummate the marriage, then it should be able to be legally annulled.

Im not familiar with NY statutes, but in most states an annulment acts the same way as the marriage never happened.

In those cases, an engagement ring has to be given back because its considered a gift directly tied to the actual marriage.

If the marriage is called off, the engagement ring is legally the property of the person that bought it.

In this case, if you had not actually gone through with the marriage, you would never have received the wedding ring, so the court would most likely order the ring returned.

As far as damages, he could file a civil suit to recoup the lost money for the reception and any other losses incurred from the marriage not going as planned.

If it goes to a jury, I would venture to guess he would have the sympathy factor on his side, and have a pretty decent chance of success.

Like I said, Im not familiar with NY statutes, so they may do it differently.

However, that is the way the majority of states handle those type of cases.

There is one huge exception to all of this.

If you can prove that he lied about something substantial and is covered under reasons for annulment(unknown impotency at the time of marriage is one in virtually every state) then you would have a very good case at least not to owe damages even though youd probably still have to return the rings.

I wish I could give you more encouraging information.