And here we are again! Sorry it's been so long. Exams coming up. But I promised you one of my FAVORITE myths. Pay attention to this one. It’ll help a lot.
Myth 3: If you just teach a non-neurotypical person, they can learn how to be "normal."
Brace yourself, because I am about to say one of those really offensive things we are repeatedly told NOT to say.
You are not normal.
problems with the assumption that a person with any kind of disability
can be "taught" to function appropriately by a kindly and patient person
who does not have
a disability are so numerous that I could write several thousand words
of rage covering the subject and still not be quite done with it. I
promised myself I would not rage in this post, so I won't be doing that.
What I do want to focus on with this is the assumption that any person
with a disability obviously functions at a lower social level than any
person without. Enabled people, round the world, listen up:
You are not
have your own hang-ups, habits, and fears. You are sometimes
over-sensitive. People have hurt you. Your expectations have been
challenged. You have self-esteem issues. Your sense of self can be
threatened. You can be passive-aggressive. You can have a morality
message you deeply wish to impart. You are flawed.
Whatever the reason, you are not always good mirrors of society as a
whole. People who are non-neurotypical tend to try to behave toward
individual people, the way they have been treated by those individual
people, which goes back to why putting on social roles is so difficult
for us to master. It also explains why we cannot treat you as you would treat other people.
I once had a very passive-aggressive friend. She was one of those girls
raised by women to believe that the reason those women did not treat
her well was because, deep down, all women hated each other. So she was
always very snarky and sharp with me, and unconsciously combative or
competitive with me in public. I of course, could not, and did not
compete, because I was mostly uncomfortable, but in private, when I was
snarky, sharp or combative with her, she suddenly found that behavior
offensive, and took to telling me the way I spoke to people was
rude and I really needed to follow her lead, because I had no idea how
horrible I could be. This came about because I honestly did not
understand, in my high school years, why someone who considered me a
friend would want to hurt me. Assuming she didn't intend to hurt me with
things she did and said, as she said she didn't, I didn't think of my
behavior toward her as being hurtful.
sort of thing, my dad and I had a hell of a time in my teenage years,
because he was constantly telling us off for tiny little things, while
regaling us with stories of his misspent youth driving motorcycles,
tormenting college kids, smoking pot and dating three girls at once.
Compared to him, I was a relative saint, but most kids know not to
remind their parents that. Not so much me.
you are hurt by something a non-neurotypical person does or says, I'm
not saying, "Don't say anything, they can't help it." I"m saying watch your language.
Lots of people with mental disabilities or other neurological
differences take things far more literally than the rest of you.
Ignoring it completely does not make it null and void, there are going
to be times when you're going to be embarrassed by something zie has to
say, or does, and just like with other people, you have to pick your battles. Say things like "I am pissed off right now." not the kind of thing I hear most often, which is, "I know you can't help it, but other people..."
Because firstly, you don't know every other person, and
non-neurotypical people are likely to take that literally, and assume
every other person in the room is pissed at them, and secondly, we don't
need you to do us any favours by putting up with us. It's just as hard
for us to be friends with you. Social interaction is hard. We think you're worth it.
we are not worth it to you, don't bother, we'll get over it. We don't
look to you as teacher or as inspiration for what could be possible in
our lives. Some of us are lonely, but it's not because there aren't a lot of people in our lives. There are a lot of people in our lives, and many of them take liberties they shouldn't. If we like you, it is because we think you are a good person
we actually have things in common with. If you refuse to see a
non-neurotypical person as an equal, well, my personal feeling is you're
a pretty shit person, but experience has taught me, more than that, you
are not worth the effort you require of me.
I'll be elaborating on the complications of the notion of the "teaching" and "inspirational" models of people with disabilities, as soon as I can get off my behind, and am not neck-deep in essays.
See you soon then!