How Therapy Impacts Those With Autism: Therapize to Conformity


Should our goal be to do therapy with an individual until they conform to what is considered “normal” or should we find ways to help them compensate, be functional, and deliver their gifts?

Trying to make someone with autism behave like someone without autism would be disservice to who they are.

I would like to propose a new addition to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary;




verb: therapize; 3rd person present: therapizes; past tense: therapized; past participle: therapized; gerund or present participle: therapizing

  1. insistently do therapy with until their uniqueness and resulting difficulty are obliterated. “she had been successfully therapized into conformity”
  1. give psychological attention to; try to cure or make normal. “the goal is to therapize into normalcy”
  1. to teach the ways of the world in an effort to eliminate uniqueness and preserve conformity, which is easier for those around the individual. “they therapized him until he could conform to the norm”
  1. to drum out all areas that keeps an individual from conforming; the tendency to do therapy with the goal of conformity. “she was therapized and no one could see her differences”

In the last 20 years, many areas of autism therapy have been focused on reducing and eliminating the difficulties of an individual by leveling the playing field and making individuals with ASD perform “normally” again – helping them conform.

Parents, teachers, and therapists have sought … or been taught …to “therapize” kids on the autism spectrum in an effort to move them toward the ideal homogenous child who easily moves seamlessly through the school system with as little friction as possible.

Autism In History

When you google famous people who have autism, some of the greatest creative minds of all time can been found on the lists of people with autism. Also, some of those considered to be the oddest.

In 2014, Time Magazine published a special issue heralding Albert Einstein as a “Person of the Century.” It is believed that Einstein was on the autism spectrum, and stories of his unique behavior are legendary.

Other famous notables such as Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton and Thomas Edison are also believed to have been on the spectrum.

Some of the most talented artists who ever lived, the cream of the creative crop—Michelangelo, Mozart, Beethoven, Jane Austen and Hans Christian Andersen—are all thought to have been autistic.

“Today we know that many kids on the autism spectrum also have great gifts to offer the world.”

Brilliant innovators Jim Henson, Alfred Hitchcock, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Tim Burton also make the list. Famous comedians Dan Aykroyd and Jerry Seinfeld, who have brought entertainment to millions, round out the list of uniquely talented people with ASD. (Click here to read Limitations Redefined.)

Autism’s Great Gifts

Today we know that many kids on the autism spectrum also have great gifts to offer the world.

I heard Temple Grandin speak recently and she said that if we eliminate autism, we better like the laptop we have now, because we are not likely to have future improvements! She’s right! Silicon Valley is teaming with individuals whose creativity and oddity goes hand in hand with their autism – perhaps to the degree of being the earmark of the autism.

If having autism means there are more people of this creative ilk, shifting our focus away from therapizing to conformity and towards compensating for functionality will assist people with autism in delivering the gifts to the world. Failing to make this shift will likely result in those gifts being impeded or lost by the restrictions of conformity. (Click here to read Different Doesn’t Equal Bad.)

The Push For Conformity

Unfortunately to many people in the early 21st century, autism therapy’s goal has become to “therapize” the child into conformity.

Teachers wanted their students to behave like everyone else; parents wanted their children to have lifestyles like all their peers – friends, sporting success, academic success, etc.

We have come to relish the homogenous American lifestyle as the ideal, and want our collective children to have easy access to it by teaching them how to conform more readily.

We think it is only fair to help those who are struggling to make it in the social system by changing them. That’s why we therapize into conformity. (Click here to read about Therapeutically Developing Independence in Young Adults with ASD.)

Thank you for taking time to understand more, but knowing isn’t enough! Let us help you take the next simple step toward implementing your knowledge for your relief or the relief of others.

Feet taking the next step
Take the Next Step!

Stay Current on Autism News!

Receive insightful articles, personal stories, and reliable information for caregivers, teachers, therapists and other family members straight to your email inbox.

Share This