Sunday, October 17, 2010

Battling the 'normal' mindset

I've always been bothered by the expression, "Things are back to normal", mostly because of the last word in the sentence (I won't use the word but for the sake of this post I'll make an exception).  Also I'm not sure but it seems it could be a substitute for "I like my routine and while at times it may vary, please don't do or say anything that calls my perception of normalcy into question".  I suppose my stance comes from cultural relativity more than anything.  It is important to respect other practices and beliefs because with all the different languages and religions around the world you should keep in mind that what you do or say may look weird to someone raised under another set of ideals.

How does this relate to autism?  Well, some of the stuff my son does would cause many to start the "that's weird" or "that's not normal" rants.  I believe that those phrases are helping to reinforce discriminatory views across the board.  It is ridiculous to think that what you say or do is 'normal' and when someone either acts or speaks differently than they are 'abnormal' or 'weird'.

This causes families dealing with developmental delays such as autism quite a lot of stress and worrying.  Not only are we trying to teach our children skills so they can catch up to their peers but we are also forced to deal with people who think our kids shouldn't even be in the same class as their son or daughter.  As if just by being in the room, a child with autism is going to cause other students to begin to struggle academically and socially.   This is something that causes me a lot of anguish.  No one really knows what goes on behind the scenes.  I don't know how much work you or anyone else puts in to help their child.  I cannot know because I'm not there.    As far as my son is concerned, nobody was around to see all the work he has put in to learn limited language skills and how to use the bathroom.  What about how long and hard he, his parents and his therapists worked just to get him to sit at a table and focus on the task at hand?  As far as we're concerned we aren't trying to normalize anyone.  In fact we are lucky to have a special person in our lives and we are helping guide our son on his journey as he acquires skills needed to make his life as fulfilling as possible.  I would also like to add that Diego is funny, sweet, and overall an awesome boy!  So you can keep your 'normal' tag, we don't want or need it.

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