14 March, 2010

No, no, no, no, no

I don't know what to say, you guys. Once a week I'm going to get to go into a school and hang out with kids who can't talk and can't do some other stuff. I guess I'm glad that I know some people who can talk, because talking can be fun, but sometimes I feel like the ratio in my life is a little too biased towards people who can talk, and I'd like to have more people who can't talk, or at least talk differently. The more I think about the kids I met on Thursday who can't talk, the more excited I am for my summer job where I'm going to spend a huge amount of time with people who talk differently or can't talk! And do other kinds of stuff that I think is interesting.

I think I'm not a very good person and I've felt this way for a long time. I think that it's helpful for me to be around people who don't do some of the things that we sometimes incorrectly assume everyone does, that we sometimes assume are part of being a person. This isn't some Lovaas shit, never fear; it's awesome because they are people, because it reminds me of how stupid and fallacious my concepts of existence are. Also, I invariably get reminded of how arrogant and blinkered I can be, when I make some assumption about how much a person can do or understand...and then they do the thing I thought they couldn't do! Which is wonderful. It's amazing to feel so happy about being proven to be a jerk, and I feel like it's sort of the essence of being Christian, or being the kind of person I want to be.

Being with people who don't pass for nondisabled is exciting because I don't have to worry as much about passing, and can sometimes even experiment with trying to go in the opposite direction, to see if the person responds to stimminess and stuff. Overall, it just feels sometimes like a much better, deeper way of being with people, better than the way I feel about being with anyone normal, except my really good friends.

So, I am really prone to flip a shit when I hear or read anything that seems insulting to people who are more severely disabled than people with an Asperger's Syndrome diagnosis. I try to be nice but it's really hard to worry about being nice to the person I'm talking to when everything they're saying seems either like it's mean to more severely disabled people, or like it's trying to erase them. I don't see Michael John Carley, Temple Grandin, et. al, as people who just have a different opinion that I should respect. Because if everyone's being so respectful, where the fuck is the respect for people who can't talk and wear diapers? Talking about respect just implies a world where everyone can do those things, where the only people being insulted are hypothetical. That is not the world I live in, or even want to live in.


  1. Thanks for your post. I have been working with and learning from and about people who don't use speech as their main communication mode for, well, for your entire life actually (hmm). It gets very tiresome to keep hearing the assumptions made with regard to what people know and don't know, what they can and can't do. I regularly remind people that just because someone is using speech doesn't mean they understand what you have to say. Glad you're enjoying your experience!