There Is No “Normal” for Someone with a Disability.
Recently, a friend told me that her family had an idea that struck me as completely wrong and, to use the colloquial expression, old school. They seem to have the belief that is summed up in the question,
“Why can’t you just be normal?”
This really rattled my cage and I had to write about it. I have the core belief that there is no “normal.” In this case, my friend is on the autism spectrum. Now, I admittedly don’t know the details of her diagnosis (E.g. how long she has had an official diagnosis, her family’s understanding of autism as a spectrum disorder, and potential co-morbidities that exist, Etc.) but I know that it is a complex story. So, with that in mind, I went on a relatively small tirade and then decided to write these things down.
For some of you reading this, who may or may not have a disability, you might be shaking your head and thinking, “well, of course there’s no normal, we are all different humans and individuals.” Others of you may agree with this family’s belief. I cannot, nay, will not, dissuade you from your personal opinion, otherwise I would not be practicing what I preach because i would be attempting to, as President Coolidge put it, force some sort of “normalcy” into the present discourse.
I explained to this person that, as a blind person, I will never have a “normal” life. I am always dependent on someone, whether they drive a bus to get me somewhere or they read me a label on a jar of olives. That’s just how my life is. In that respect, I have adapted to a world made by sighted people, for sighted people. The same can be true for someone with an “invisible disability.” We can adapt our specific situation to attempt to align with our circumstances, but there is no “normal” for us as people with disabilities. I don’t think there is a “normal” for anyone as I stated above. But I will always take a firm stance or as FDR put it, “assert my firm belief,” that the “normal” that people expect to find is a more pronounced dilemma for someone with any kind of a disability. Period.
I thank you for reading. Perhaps this will spark controversy or, hopefully, a lively diplomatic discussion to share ideas and opinions.
Owner and founder of Present Momentum Coaching. Life coach, accessibility specialist, musicologist, singer, and advocate for persons with disabilities.