Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Neurodiversity Nonsense

Oh no, blasphemy I have said the unthinkable. Here is a parent of two-neuro-disabled children and I think that the entire idea of neurodiversity is a sham. I also don’t need hate letters from persons in the neurodiversity movement who think I am now akin to the anti-Christ. There is wishful thinking and there is reality. There are societal codes and there are laws and regulations by which to live your life. I think in many respects I really don’t like the neurodiversity idea because quite frankly it’s about giving up.Listen I am not talking about those who are tremendously impaired, society has to make room for and help these people. I am talking about persons like my boys who have the potential to fight for the life they want and not have to settle for a life that someone else designs for them.

The neurodiverse crowd says, oh you as a neurotypical, even though you are the parent, you don’t understand what they go through. No, I do not feel the internal struggle of what my boys go through, but what I do know is that they need to function in life in order to have a life. The idea that because they have aspergers they can get away with inappropriate behaviors tells them that they are less worthy in life. There are rules for those who function in society and now there are rules for those who are outside the normal chain of events. This is not acceptance this is infantilization.

I wrote recently about the professors who don’t give collegeman the benefit of the doubt that he could perform in a classroom because there is group work involved. I wrote how I despise that attitude that he can’t do because of his autism. How is what the neurodiversity crowd want any different? How is it not infantilizing someone like my son? How is not saying that they cannot function in the real world? That the world must change for them or else the world is bigoted? The world isn't bigoted, the world is moving along at its own pace and its up to those with disabilities to keep up.It's nothing personal. It just is what it is.

The neurodiversity group says well, everyone should be accepted for who they are. True enough. That was the same language used in the civil rights movement. That is the argument against affirmative action today. Everyone should be judged by who they are not by what they are. They should be judged by the accomplishments. Everyone needs to be on an equal footing. Well they are not you say. Welcome to the world. Some people just really have to try harder than others. No one said life was fair and no one said that everything in life was going to come easy. You as a human being are not entitled to be handed anything in this world. The only thing you are entitled to is the right to try to make your life the best that it can be.

But if you tell someone for their entire life that they do not have to try because of their disability, their skin color or ethnic origin, they are not going to try. If you tell someone that they do not need to push and push and push to make sure that their life is a success, then they will not. They will accept their own mediocrity and the mundaneness of their existence. Those with neurodiverse disabilities have a right to try to make the most out of their world and have a right to say, I am capable without having to fight for it. They have a right to belong in the world and have a right to fight the good fight.

But once you start making excuses for people because of a neuro-disability then they have lost the right to be grown-ups. Once you start making excuses for our children in their behavior the next level is their ability to think, reason and excel. Oh, you say it won’t happen because they are so smart. Well wrong. There is a difference between being intelligent and being able to function in the world.

I like the saying that Dr. Temple Grandin’s mother used to use about being different not less. But she did not have her daughter use autism as an excuse for failure; it was something to strive against. That if her child was going to succeed she would succeed by learning how to understand the rules of the world and obeying those rules. There were no excuses here and there are no excuses in our world either.

I suppose that is why I am not so thrilled by the use of aspergers as a reason for malfeasance in courtroom proceedings. I don’t know about you, but my children know right from wrong. It is not an unteachable notion that you do not steal, kill or harm another of God’s creatures. It is not unteachable that you do not hack a government computer. It is not unteachable that you follow the law. I dislike it and I resent it. It is like when women used to use PMS as an excuse for murder. It demeaned and belittled everything that any woman would accomplish and gave traction to those that claimed women should not hold office, be police officers or fight in the armed services, for they may go off at any time and PMS someone.

I don’t’ think those in the neurodiversity crowd actually see the long term issues surrounding their movement. It is one thing to be accepted for who you are, and quite another thing when the powers that be pat you on the head and so, oh poor baby. Yes, make accommodations for testing, but remember in the real world, you do not get extended time for projects or an alternative location when working in an office. Sometimes you get a cubicle in the middle of a huge room and you need to learn to function within working parameters. Corporations are not going to function like babysitters. Society can’t function like that. It is one thing to put up a ramp for a wheelchair and an entirely different concept that because of a disability you can screw with a company’s output, timetable and other people’s future. It is why I always tell parents that there are accommodations and there are accommodations that infantilize your child. Make sure you weed out the wrong ones and make sure they set your child on the right path. Make sure that the school works on their behavior and that they work on functioning in society.

Today Highschoolboy told the vice-principal that persons at the school were bigoted against those with aspergers, because they don’t understand who aspies are. I truly don’t know where he got that one from. For all I know he may have come up with that himself. But it was given short shrift by me and he got a talking to right away. I won’t have it. I will never allow it, not in my home. You want to be a part of the world, well you follow the rules. You want to function and be respected, well you follow the rules. Is it hard for you to figure out how to follow the rules, too bad, work harder and learn and practice. Stop feeling sorry for yourselves. Get your head out of your butt and figure out an answer and a solution. If you need help ask for it, I tell him. (Of course, it doesn’t mean that in a learning environment that the school is not also responsible for the appropriate support, but eventually that gives way and the person with aspergers needs to know how to help themselves).

Yes, everyone is different, but the rules are the rules. No one has a right to keep you out. No one has a right to discriminate against you because of a disability. But you need to do your job, you need to perform the way anyone else would, you need to function appropriately. To do otherwise or to say that it is not necessary turns the person with the neuro-disability in to a small child and prevents their right to personhood.

Until next time,

Elise