Can’t you just be normal and you know less autistic…
Difference. Humanity seems to not like it. Well, at least when humans gather together we don’t like it. We as humans have a great difficulty in accepting that we are not all the same, that we don’t all subscribe to the same values. Oftentimes this is focused on the colour of skin, or the shape of eyes, or the spoken language.
In response, homogeneity is seen as an ideal. An existence of sameness, likeness and harmony are envisioned. It sounds like the worst aspects of a gated community.
In racial and cultural circles we speak of integrating, of not seeing colour. And yet racial profiling by law and order organisations is a thing. If it wasn’t #BlackLivesMatter would not exist.
Recently we have seen this in terms of gender diversity. So fearful of difference, so concerned with maintaining a social construct of homogeneity has the controlling organisational structure been that laws have been passed in some states to prevent transgender people using the bathroom of the gender they identify with. Passed off as a concern for the safety of children from paedophiles.
The difference in sexual orientation is so feared by some that laws are actively passed in some circles to prevent LGBTIQ people from access to the same human rights that heterosexual people enjoy.
All of this is just a cover up for fear of difference and an elevation of one group at the expense and detriment of another. In the name of normalising, atrocities are practised on various groups of human people. Perhaps no more so than on the disabled.
Why can’t we all just be normal, able-bodied, able-minded, socialised etc?
Of course, the elephant in the room, which is taking up so much of the room that it must be addressed, is the question of who determines what normal is anyway?
Last night here in Australia the renowned ethicist Mr Singer, advocated the euthanasia of disabled children at the whim of their parents. On being challenged at this by a disabled person Mr Singer attempted to distance himself and minimise the disabled people he referred to as only the severely disabled.
Again, who determines who is severely and who is mildly disabled anyway.
Is it Mr Singer? Is it parents?
The quality of life is an oft-cited argument. But who decides that? Surely that is for the individual themselves to decide?
More insidious, though, is the rampant ableism in western society that disabled people are of less value than non-disabled people. In the area of autism, the rhetoric around this is thick and many layered.
Autistics need in order to be normal to:
Make eye – contact
To be taught social skills.
To use their mouthparts to speak
To interpret the unspoken implied messages
To not stim in public.
And so the lists go on. So the expectation and hope that the autistic can just be a little autistic for the benefit of the non-autistics of the world.
If you think I am making too much of this, consider where the research dollars have flowed in terms of autism, even in light of the fact that both Kanner and Asperger the first key writers in regard to autism were of like mind that it was a condition from birth. But where has the world poured the research dollars?
Finding a cure. Finding a cause. Finding a blame – such as vaccines.
So many dollars and so much valuable research have been wasted in attempting to discover what is fruitless and pointless.
Studies to look at eye gaze in infants, studies trying to find a link between autism and vaccines. So much money.
And while it all goes on, and sadly, continues to do so, autistics continue to be subjected to conversion therapy so they can be normal. Social skills programs so they can be normal, forced eye contact so they can seem normal.
And on it goes.
It goes on and on and on while autistic human persons stand by calling for support services, job assistance, accommodation of their needs.
But apparently, it is far more important that we just be normal. It’s far less embarrassing to the general population when we just act normal and just look normal and just be a little less autistic.
What the world needs is acceptance of disability as a normal variant of human life. That yes #DifferentNotLess really is not a problem. That no we don’t actually all have to look the same, talk the same, walk the same, be the same.
Normal is just a social construct. It’s normal that needs to be eradicated, not disability.