THERE ARE TIMES WHEN IT DOES HURT TO BE DIFFERENT
In today’s day and age, a lot is being done to promote neurodiversity (or to promote acceptance of people with disabilities). We have come a reasonable distance in a very short space of time. Thus as a person who has disabilities myself, I am in truth very thankful that I wasn’t born in an earlier time. However as life for people with disabilities was exceptionally difficult a mere century ago (and nothing much was done to improve those conditions until recently), we are still a long way from living in a world that is even close to perfect.
Despite every person with and without disabilities being encouraged to accept neurodiversity, I frequently cannot help getting hurt by the fact that I’m different from most. The occasions when this happens to me may be somewhat surprising to read at first, because the misunderstandings I experience very rarely come from people acting in an ignorant way due to me being disabled. In fact, it’s more rather that they don’t understand the challenges that my disabilities give me, and very often it’s not understood that I’m disabled at all. This creates an enormous amount of problems.
Firstly, it hurts and offends me whenever people out in the community assume that my glazed look in the eyes is a result of me being intoxicated. It’s so hurtful when I’m told (even jokingly) “I can see by your face that you’ve had a bit to drink”. As a result of having been on various kinds of medication since childhood, I have never to this day been able to drink alcohol. There have also been two seperate instances when strangers have tried to relate with me by discussing the inconveniences of using and attaining drugs (not including the medication I have been prescribed). In these circumstances I always say that I don’t do drugs, and that I sincerely hope that they themselves don’t either. Yet those two people emphatically said that they didn’t do drugs, but they assumed that I myself did, as I looked “foggy and confused”. From that, I was even more offended.
Something else which is very challenging for me is that I have difficulties with speaking and understanding the style of communication that is considered to be the norm. Despite being assured that I mustn’t pressure myself to be able to communicate this way, it does give me pain whenever my sentences and questions get mistaken as sarcasm, or that I’m just a rude person in general who doesn’t have any interest in considering/listening to other people. This makes me feel so guilty and ashamed of myself. What makes things worse too is that I struggle to both find and fix those errors that I made.
Additionally, society as a whole is designed for a language that I have very little understanding of, which is another reason for why it’s difficult for me to give up on making any attempts. Thus areas of life including education, community activities/services, therapies and even the legal system (which is very frightening) are affected for me.
Nowadays it is very fortunate that the world is promoting more acceptance for difference, and this has moved us forward in comparison to how it was even a few decades ago. Though whilst we are being told to accept neurodiversity in general, very little is being done about educating the community in regards to recognising what certain differences exactly are.
Therefore, without the recognition of differences themselves, how on earth is it possible to successfully promote acceptance of neurodiversity? The two must always work in unison.