Monday, April 29, 2013

Neurodiversity [and disability]

There was a post on wrongplanet asking about neurodiversity and disability. Are they mutually exclusive? How do they relate?

And really, looking at how people talk about it, it doesn't seem like people understand disability as part of neurodiversity.

So I responded. I responded the following:

Neurodiversity is about saying that disability doesn't mean lesser.

I am disabled. I am not a lesser person because of my disability. I cannot do everything that others can. I will never be able to. I will always have needs that others will not. I will always be disabled and not just different.

But that doesn't mean that I'm not good enough. It doesn't mean that I'm not human. It doesn't mean I'm less than someone who's not disabled. It doesn't mean that I need to be cured.

It means that I'm a disabled person.

And neurodiversity means embracing those differences. All of them. Disabled or not. It means saying that someone who needs to read to learn and someone who need to listen to learn both matter. It means someone who can't see a florescent light without getting a migraine matters. It means that someone who needs to use tools to remember what they're doing day to day matters. It means someone who doesn't know how to interact socially matters. It means that we're all people.

It means that disability isn't being broken. It means that disability isn't being wrong.

But its a concept larger than disability.

It means that being different isn't being wrong. Disabled or not.

That's what it means to me.

I'm disabled. I'm not less than someone who's not. I'm just me.

And people agreed. And people disagreed. People either said that high functioning autistic people weren't disabled, or they liked what I said.

But disability is what it comes down to. And its a scary word. And it doesn't have to be a scary word. An neurodiversity is saying its not a scary word.

I am not capable of the same things others are. I just cannot do things others can. This is not a question. This is just a statement. There are things I cannot do. There are major things I cannot do. The fact that its not a big deal doesn't matter. The fact that there's a lot I can do doesn't matter. The fact that I work around it doesn't matter. There are things I can't do.

That's what disability means - that there are things you are limited in doing or can't do. Not that you can't do anything. Not that you aren't good enough. None of that. I am disabled. I am disabled by the same stuff that calls me autistic. By the stuff that makes me deal with a sensory system most people can't imagine, and by the stuff that makes my nonverbal communication a mess.

But neurodiversity says I'm good despite that. Neurodiversity says I'm not wrong. Neurodiversity says embrace those differences because differences are good, even if it means I'm disabled. Disability isn't wrong . I might not be capable of everything. But I'm capable of enough.

I'm capable of being happy. I'm capable of enjoying life. I'm capable of making a difference. Sure, I need help. Sure I'm not capable of everything that's normal. That doesn't matter. I'm not a lesser human despite that. I don't need "fixed". I don't need pitied.

I need helped. I need accepted. I need treated like another person, and a person who's needs aren't the same as everyone else's. I need acknowledged. I need to be me not someone else.

So yes, I'm disabled. But accept me anyways. I'm not broken. I'm just disabled. And disability doesn't have to be scary.

1 comment:

  1. I agree completely! I think I tend to be adverse to neurodiversity because most people don't explain it like this. Often when I hear about neurodiversity it feel like people are trying to say there is no disability and just a different way of being., and when I hear that it scares me. I don't like to think of it that way. I fear it because that kind of message is wrong and can be dangeous. if we promote the idea that we are just "different," and not disabled then we risk loosing the help that we need. i worry it could lead to less funding for services. I like the way you explained it. That is what neurodiversity should mean and what it means to me. This is the message people need to hear and this is what people need to think of when they. Think of neurodiversity.