Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Response to "But We All Are!"

(Almost) Every damn time I assert  my Autistic identity, I get this thrown at me: "Everyone's a little bit Neurodivergent!" No. Well, kind of? I can agree with this--to a point; Neurodivergency occupies a very big tent.  Let's deconstruct this.

Reasons for saying this: 
-Asserting your own identity: 
This is something someone who is Neurodivergent might say to assert their normality. Why would someone do this? Because people don't exactly like people who are Neurodivergent. Neurodivergents are often harassed, bullied, and in many other ways harmed by neurotypicals. The real threats to Neurodivergents include institutionalization, expulsion from schools, lost job opportunities, police brutality exacted on them, and a myriad of other things that degrade and malign them. Identifying as one means knowing people want to do this to you. Asserting normativity is a technique used in the LGBTQAI communities as well.
-Denying another person's identity: 
This is something someone who is neurotypical might say to refuse to acknowledge the systemic oppression Neurodivergents face (see: above). It is also associated with calling Neurodivergents "lazy" or "defective" because they can't do x thing in y situation (though they may be able to in z situation) or whatnot. You might be asking: do people do this? Yes. I hear it AT LEAST every day. It is a commonality for Disabled people in general, for that matter (covered more and better here: http://www.autistichoya.com/2013/01/disability-and-impairment-get-it-right.html).
Why It's Bullshit: 
-Neurotypicality is a social construct, but it's still real.
Think of it this way. If I go to school wearing parachute pants, what would happen? Well, this depends, did the Breakfast Club just come out or is about to soon? If so, awesome! Popularity here I come. Did the Breakfast Club come out three decades ago? Damn. I'd get laughed out and possibly be shoved in a locker I don't have because I hate my back or something! Why the discrepancy? Well, in 1980, parachute pants were considered cool...by society. (As far as I can tell.) See where I'm going with this? Now they are most definitely not. Parachute pants basically have no bearing on literally anything ever. The social construct of parachute pants coolness is entirely made up, but it has consequences. This means there are people who are neurotypical and people who are not, as defined by our society. Still, there is a spectrum of divergence. This brings us to my next point: there is a point at which you are neurotypical.

Neurotypicality occurs when you have a brain that functions the way people deem acceptable. Acceptability is behaving in a set of ways that people will not care about. People will care if I flap my hands or if I have severe anxiety (I do/have both), but they won't really care if you are slightly more adept at language than math or whatever. (People with dyscalculia are neurodivergent, though, because their brains process logic/math in a non-normative way.) At some point, you are considered normal--like everyone else--and you will not be discriminated against because of it. That is when you are neurotypical. We are more alike than different-- but erasing the stigma does not mean ignoring its existence. Thank you.

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