Different not less
This is the phrase coined by Dr. Temple Grandin’s mother.
- Temple’s mother used this phrase as an affirmation to her daughter
- A daughter that she loved and believed in
- It was a source of regular, perhaps daily encouragement to Temple Grandin
- Today it is an affirmation used by millions of people in the Autistic community, around the world
Sadly however, the true message of this phrase is being misinterpreted, distorted and hijacked by some!
Something rotten in the State of Denmark
A small minority of people seem to believe that in order to advance the cause of Autistic people, or at least their own personal agenda, it is necessary to berate, insult and even vilify the Neurotypical population.
I don’t see how this stance has any place in long term, strategic Autism Advocacy for several reasons.
Depending on your definition of neurodiversity, the Neurotypical community comprises at least 70% of our species
- That’s approximately 5 billion people, which looks like this;
- Of these people, most are likely be living at or below the poverty line
- and not just in the developing/third World!
- Others may be struggling to make ends meet, maybe just one paycheck away from skid-row
- Many will be living with physical challenges; severe handicaps in some cases
- Others will be struggling with poor health, perhaps without the luxury of health insurance
- Leaving out all of these ‘exempt’ groups, those who remain are likely to be living in another country
- and will never come into contact with those who have chosen to be their adversaries!
For those verbally attacking the Neurotypical community, one has to wonder who exactly their attacks are directed at?
- and what exactly are the ‘crimes’ of the INDIVIDUAL Neurotypical people that make up their target group?
Pouring scorn on and expressing hostility to the majority of our species just for being created neurologically different is:
- At best ignorant, the result of mal-education, cultural prejudice etc
- At worst, for those with the education and intelligence to know better, it is an intellectual crime against humanity!
- It is an abomination
Different not less
This term is best know as a affirmation in the Autistic community and other Neurodiverse communities
- But the Neurotypical community are also entitled to equal ownership of this term
Autism and Neurodiversity are very well represented in all creative fields
- But we do not have a monopoly on talent and intellect as some radical elements sometimes seem to suggest
- There is no shortage of Neurotypical geniuses
- Neurotypical people have skills and talents that we lack and without which our World would be poorer
Declaration of friendship
My adolescent school years were a living hell.
- You can read my account of some of that in this post I Exist
I grew up when Aspergers was still undiscovered.
But this is how I choose to reconcile my school years.
- I do not blame my teachers or the school systems for failing me and being unable to hear me
- I have forgiven my teachers for punishing me when I was unable to understand them
- I have forgiven the school kids who tormented me and ostracized me
- Statistically, most of these people would have been Neurotypicals
- A fact which I see as purely incidental and therefore a completely groundless basis for holding any form of grudge
Neurotypical people deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect that the Autistic and wider Neurodiverse community asks and expects of the Neurotypical community.
Building bridges is much more likely to advance the cause of the Autistic community than throwing rocks at billions of unnamed people.
I am Autistic and if you are Neurotypical, I would like to celebrate and explore our common humanity.
- You deserve the same respect and dignity that I do.
- You and I are BOTH different, not less
My friends in the Autism social media community, share this vision.
My main goal in Autism Advocacy, is to support the Autism community through my writing and networking.
- To provide encouragement and hope to Autistic children, adults and those who care for them
- Sharing some of my hard learned experiences, to perhaps offer them a glimmer of hope
- Letting the Autistic community know that others have trod the same, lonely rocky path that they now tread
- and survived
- Sometimes perhaps helping to ease the despair of a mother who has just survived another IEP meeting
- or is in the grips of an anxiety attack as she prepares for one!
I do not engage directly with those using social media as a platform to attack our Neurotypical brothers and sisters and nor will I.
- I choose instead to support and encourage the Autism community and
- To participate in building bridges with the Neurotypical community
Many parents of Autistic children are Neurotypical and are an integral and vital part of the Autism community
- Some have made career changes into Special Education after the birth of an Autistic child
- These Advocates possess a very special perspective
- I call them Connectors
- They bridge the Neurodiverse and Neurotypical Worlds
- I am blessed that some of them are my friends
Some of the social media comments that are aimed at Neurotypical people are so offensive and relentless that I have unfollowed the authors!
- But I would be happy to extend a hand of friendship to them and refollow, if they could beat their swords into plowshares
- Because I want to build bridges with everyone
If you are part of the Autism community, I hope this post has given you a better understanding of my Advocacy goals and vision.
If you are one of our brothers and sisters in the Neurotypical community, I hope you are encouraged by this hand of friendship.
- Mine is just one hand of friendship, there are so many more of us
Different, not less – one and all
Richard Dreyfuss articulating the essential qualities of civility