Toni Braxton’s son was not cured of autism and it’s irresponsible for her to say so

A few days ago, Toni Braxton claimed that her son had been cured of autism. There is no way that what Braxton said is true because there is no cure for autism. While early intervention and therapy can certainly help individuals on the spectrum live productive lives, autism is a lifelong condition. By claiming otherwise, Braxton is not only spreading misinformation, she is damaging the autism community in multiple ways.

While being interviewed on Access Hollywood, Braxton said: “My youngest son, everyone knows, suffers from, or I should say, suffered from autism.” When asked to explain, she added “I’m one of the lucky parents. Early diagnosis changes everything. I will tell you this. I will shout it from the rooftops. My son Diezel is off the spectrum.”

First of all, by implying that all parents need to do to “cure autism” is get an early diagnosis and enroll their child in the right programs, Braxton is essentially blaming parents whose children haven’t been “cured” of autism. It’s 2016 and I’d like to think that we’ve gotten past mother-blaming, which was unfortunately a common belief decades ago when the refrigerator mother hypothesis first gained traction.

Toni BraxtonSecond, the idea that autism can be cured before adulthood is not only completely false, it is also damaging because it gives the public the dangerous impression that autism is only a childhood disorder. There is already a tendency for the media to focus on children with autism and forget about the millions of adults living with autism, which has created the misconception that autism is a childhood disorder. This fallacy has resulted in there being far less support for autistics once they reach adulthood, a tragic state of affairs because transitioning to adulthood is a time when autistics need a lot of support.

This is certainly not the first time that celebrities have been irresponsible when talking about autism. For many years, Jenny McCarthy has spread misinformation by repeatedly claiming that vaccines cause autism and convincing many parents to go along with her in refusing to have their children vaccinated. This not only hurt those with autism but caused dangerous outbreaks of diseases such as the measles. Later McCarthy made a similar bogus claim that her son had been cured of autism.

Celebrities have a responsibility to be informed when speaking about important issues because they have a lot of influence on what people think and can impact the lives of those of us with autism. We need to urge more celebrities to speak about autism in an accurate and productive manner and we need to call out those celebrities who spread false information.


117 thoughts on “Toni Braxton’s son was not cured of autism and it’s irresponsible for her to say so”


    • RabidFox on August 10, 2016

      I wonder what has made her think that he has changed so much. Does she believe that he is no longer engaging in the typical behaviours? Did a team of people force her son to stop doing things that he really can’t control? It’s an interesting question, because I would think that a child’s mother would be aware of her child’s behaviour unless she has him in some boarding school somewhere. I just have a really hard time seeing what could make her think that. To my understanding, autism is something that is so damaging that it never totally goes away. However, I would like a "cure" if that ever became a possibility.

      To me, it sounds like she has put her son in a metaphorical straitjacket.

    • alex on August 10, 2016

      Her son has become more social because he got a lot of support. That doesn’t mean that he’s no longer on the spectrum. It means he has gained skills to do better in life.

    • somanyspoons on August 10, 2016

      Its really painful for me to watch videos of these "cured" kids. At least the kids are relatively happy. But they are so obviously still on the spectrum. A trained eye can see the signs – the very strong, narrow interests, the tenency to go on and on, the subtle ways they are using their bodies. So, instead of acknowledging how well they are doing and how great it is that they are reaching out to other people, we say they aren’t autistic anymore. And then what we have is a child working really hard and not getting the supports and understanding that they need.

    • Jacoby on August 10, 2016

      Obscene amounts of money can ‘cure’ a lot of things(think Magic Johnson and HIV), I imagine early intervention + tons of supports probably does produce a better less disabled outcome which in the eyes of parent may be considered cured. Most people do not have those means.

      My therapist when I was diagnosed wanted me to go to this specialized private school, I don’t know but I feel like it would be been a lot better for me than the non-education I got in public school in the big urban city. Funny story tho, in Wisconsin it is mandated for these districts to pay for special education outside the district if the student’s needs cannot be met in it for all but one county in the entire state and guess which one I lived in? I will be forever bitter towards these people, they left me to die essentially.

    • ASPartOfMe on August 10, 2016

      What those selling miracle cures and gold standard treatmemts NEVER, EVER seem to take into considiration is that autistic people mature and learn skills from the experiances of life.

5 of 117 comments displayed

View the Discussion