Sunday, March 23, 2008

Young woman with Asperger's journals about Disability & Difference

A young woman who calls herself chaotic idealism (great name, BTW) writes a live journal about her life as college student with Asperger's syndrome called Reports from a Resident Alien.

She wrote a wonderfully thoughtful analysis on "Disability & Difference" recently, explaining: "Just because you're not disabled yourself doesn't mean that you can deny that others might be, or insist that it's OK to be Aspie but not OK to be low-functioning autistic. Trying to shake the 'disability' label won't do you a bit of good, anyway; all it says is, 'I don't want to be seen as disabled' and in turn 'I think disability is bad.' It's neutral; all it means is unusually low abilities in some area or other, which says nothing about happiness or usefulness or all the other areas without a low skill level. I know that an Aspie who's never been held back by Asperger's (does that even exist?) might not know what it's like; but face it: If you fight to be seen as not disabled, rather than fighting for acceptance of every autistic person, you're leaving a lot of people--including a lot of Aspies, and most Aspie children--behind."

I totally agree. She says succinctly: "Better to convince people that being different--whether disabled or not--isn't bad, but something to celebrate. . . .Stop focusing on 'I'm not disabled'. Start focusing on, 'I'm different, and that's not a bad thing.'"

In the past, a few people have been upset when I referred to them as having a disability. I surely don't mean it as an insult. In fact, I know a whole community of people who have Disability Pride, so I sometimes forget that some people don't want to be associated with the term. So let me put it out there right now, that when writing my blog posts, I am just reflecting on what society and the media are saying about "disability," not trying to force a label on someone who doesn't want it.