Jim Sinclair gave a presentation at the 1993 International Conference on Autism which turned into the essay "Don't Mourn for Us."
Many people consider that presentation and that essay the beginning of the modern autism rights movement.
Autism isn't something a person has, or a "shell" that a person is trapped inside. There's no normal child hidden behind the autism. Autism is a way of being. It is pervasive; it colors every experience, every sensation, perception, thought, emotion, and encounter, every aspect of existence. It is not possible to separate the autism from the person--and if it were possible, the person you'd have left would not be the same person you started with.
This is important, so take a moment to consider it: Autism is a way of being. It is not possible to separate the person from the autism.
Therefore, when parents say,
I wish my child did not have autism,
what they're really saying is,
I wish the autistic child I have did not exist, and I had a different (non-autistic) child instead.
Read that again.
This is what we hear when you mourn over our existence.
This is what we hear when you pray for a cure.
This is what we know, when you tell us of your fondest hopes and dreams for us: that your greatest wish is that one day we will cease to be, and strangers you can love will move in behind our faces.
The rest can be read at: http://www.autreat.com/dont_mourn.html