Human Strengths, Human Weaknesses
That reminded me of a passage from Amy Harmon's article two years ago, How About Not Curing Us, which suggested that children could be taught "to use their autistic strengths to cope with their autistic impairments."
I've never had any objection to the idea of improving one's weaknesses generally. All human beings have to work on developing new skills; otherwise, nobody would ever learn anything. I do have a problem, though, with the description of some cognitive traits as autistic strengths and the characterization of others as autistic weaknesses. Yes, autistics (like any other group) tend to be stronger, on average, in some areas and weaker in others. But an average is just that—an average. When we go beyond talking about statistical averages and start to characterize certain traits as belonging to certain groups, that's stereotyping.
When this sort of language is used to describe other groups of people, the stereotyping often is painfully obvious. For example, women, on average, tend to score higher than men on tests of verbal ability and interpersonal skills, while scoring lower on tests of mathematical and spatial skills. (This is where Simon Baron-Cohen's "extreme male brain" description of autism came from.) But when we're talking about gender, most of us would be sensible enough not to say that verbal ability is a female strength or that math is a male strength. We understand that there is a broad range of ability across both genders and that stereotyping unfairly constrains the potential of both.
And we certainly wouldn't advise girls to use their female strengths to cope with their female impairments. Nor would we suggest that there ought to be a cure for female mental weaknesses.
When an autistic person who has limited speech ability works on improving his or her speech, I'd put that in the same category as a woman with poor math skills making an effort to learn more math. It's probably a good thing to do (assuming that it isn't pursued so strenuously as to cause high levels of stress), but it's not a cure for anything, and no one should ever be treated as an inferior or defective human being on account of a lack of speech skills, math skills, or whatever.
We're all just people, with human strengths and human weaknesses.