When I was a little girl I used to look at other richer, more talented or prettier little girls and wish to be them. I would then immediately shout with my loudest inside-my- mind voice,"no, wait! I want to be ME but with more money and a better singing voice and no mustache!" There was a part of me that feared losing myself if my wishes were granted. I think as parents we are doing a similar thing when we say we wouldn't change our kids (autism or no) for the world. We would do anything--and families of autism will do just about anything out of love!--to help our child be themselves comfortably. But we want them to always be themselves.
We also want to help them find their voice or fix their bowel problems. To give them the gift of social skills and sensory comfort. And so very much more!
The disagreement between parents who voice a contempt for autism vs those that say they would never change their child, is sometimes just a question of semantics. But in my opinion, important semantics. When I say that I see autism as a gift (yes, I have said that) I forget that others aren't inside my head, knowing what I mean. Autism isn't a gift, but there are so many, many gifts inherent in loving someone with autism. For the autistic person, there are also gifts (thinking outside the box, laser focus are some possibilities) but I am allistic (not autistic) so I can only guess. My Autism Answers page is all about sharing the answers our family has been challenged to discover because of autism. But autism itself, is a developmental whole brain disorder. Not a gift. The reason I think the semantics are important is because the way we see things and talk about things will affect the choices we make and the way we present ourselves to the world. And, of course, it will affect the way our children and autistic friends think about themselves and their willingness to comfortably be honest with us.
I think that saying 'I wouldn't change my kid for the world' can be misleading to some, but it is a beautiful misleading that will eventually end up in a happier and more comfortable place for everyone. It's not that we shouldn't be honest, just be intentional.
For example, I wouldn't change my brother, Dar, for the world. But I will follow my mom's lead as she follows his, in the ever-important quest for helping him gain skills (like language!) and be a happy, comfortable him!!!