Friday, January 11, 2013

Should Children Be Treated for Their Cognitive Challenges

A number of people in the pro-life blogosphere have raised this question because Dr. Albert Costa is said to be on the verge of developing a drug that would stimulate the hippocampus that could raise the IQ of those who have Down Syndrome.

I like Dr. Nadal's response.

As the mother of three children on the autism spectrum, I'd like to speak my piece.

I think there is a fear that if you treat children with Down Syndrome, they might lose some of the personality traits that make them so special and lovable.

I can't say for sure.

But whatever treatment you give your kids, you have to weigh the trade-off. Perhaps it might be necessary to sacrifice some of those positive traits for more necessary ones. My four-year-old is musically inclined and I think it's due to her autism. If there were an autism treatment that guaranteed a good attention span and average cognitive function, but diminished her musicality, that might have to be the price she pays for adult independence. I don't think the trade-off would be worth it for my seven-year-old as she's very bright and functional, but my eleven-year-old's issues are significant enough that the negatives would have to be very serious to refuse treatment.

There's no one-size-fits-all on this. It's the same with many treatments. An IQ treatment might not be worth it for some kids, but absolutely necessary for others. There's nothing wrong with making kids more functional, and it doesn't mean they are any less special.

Kids are not obliged to live up to any kind of identity politics.  They're individuals, and their cases should be treated as such.