Around the tracks of autism communities you come across lots of different terms and phrases, there are many of them. Acronyms, slogans, hash tags, and others. It’s really easy to get to a point of reeling them off without any real unpacking of what they mean.
A great example of this is ABA. It has become synonymous with any early interventionist therapy for autism. This is so very far from the truth and there are a bunch of reasons why it has to this point that are not the focus of this post, suffice it to say it helps no one when the situation is that people are thinking they are saying one thing when they are saying something completely different.
Speaking of different, there is another phrase, it was coined, I believe, by Temple Grandin, and it goes “different not less” it is often used as a hash tag and a rallying cry for autistic people and their allies and families. What does it mean, do people just use it because it sounds good or is there something more to is?
Three little words. Different not Less. so simple yet so much more than simple. When I think about this I realise just how important and powerful this little phrase or hashtag really is.
Supremely powerful. Subversive. Counter cultural. So many things that run contrary to the so-called accepted wisdom of the western world in which we live. This western world the envy of all time, the so-called pinnacle of human existence. This pinnacle which does not in fact celebrate difference and diversity but works to strangle it and force us to live a life of homogenous existence our neighbours and friends.
Different not Less. Simple yet rich with power and meaning. What does it mean for a person to own this phrase, to take it on themselves as a moniker that goes someway to explaining their way of being?
I don’t accept that I am just like everyone else. I am claiming that I have a difference of neurology. That I am not “normal” whatever the heck normal means anyway. Normal is a statistical term why do we apply it to human ways of being. Really.
Let’s be honest we are all different. Difference abounds not just in neurology but in every aspect and facet of life. Different genders, different shapes, sizes, heights. Different skin tones, Different facial features. Different in our intellectual capacities, our physical capacities.
Yes. Every. Single. Person. Is. Different.
It’s an affirmation of the simple truth that is the reality of humanity.
Just that small little word making the negative comparison.
Does not compute to.
Won’t be categorised.
Must be tied to the Not part.
Different Not Less.
Powerful. when all put together. I am Different Not Less. But.
Different Not Less.
I am different not less. Are you?
I am different not less as an Autistic man, what about you?
Many could say I am different not less as a neurotypical man what about you?
Different Not Less I am. I will not be lumped, labelled and thrown into a box of mediocrity and half arsed categorisation. I will not conform to that.
I am Different Not Less! I am in fact Never Less Than Everything!
How about you?