Be the change, reflection

What Is Our Definition of Normal?

image from icanread

Once in awhile words stop you in your track, you take a breath, and then realize just how important those words are, whether they were meant to be or not.  Last night as I sat in bed with a tired body after the twins’ birthday party, I turned on the PBS POV documentary “Neurotypical” and only 2 minutes into the movie, I heard these words….

“I had been abused and hurt so much by people trying to make me normal…”  says Wolf, an adult living with Autism.

Normal – what is my definition?  I immediately thought to my own children and what I deem normal behavior, whatever society deems normal.  And yet, I know how tainted my view of normal is just from my upbringing, my culture, my experience.  To be normal, you must fit in, but to fit in you must be like me.

Later, a young adult says, “…if people are normal they are allowed to act however  they want to some extent, but if people have a syndrome everybody feels like they need to improve them.”

Another punch to the gut as I realized the truth behind these words.  People who we deem “normal” we give plenty of leeway when it comes to what we expect as normal societal behavior, but the minute a child comes to us with a label of some sort our leeway decreases in a sense.  We expect them to play by our rules because our rules are what is normal.

So I get when parents refuse the labels for their children.  I get when my friends are hesitant to draw attention to a need their child may have.  I get why I look at Thea and wish for her to be normal in every way, just so society wont try to change her.  That is what normal has done to me.  I wonder what it has done to all of us?



6 thoughts on “What Is Our Definition of Normal?”

  1. That is a great question. Here I was battling with “Who are you,” and “What do you want,” and now “What is Normal.” I sit in a business office most days. There aren’t many interactions with kids. This Sunday, I helped in the children’s ministry and met folks that are struggling with Autism and other challenges. It was eye-opening to see the different reactions from the kids in the room. Some reacted with verbal quips, while others reacted by distancing themselves.

    The kids reacted in ways that I know most adults would have reacted. It was very instructional.

    Thank you for the post, Pernille.

  2. I think about this a lot. Another blogger once said that his goal was to stop silencing behavior in his classroom that was annoying and just put a stop to behavior that stops learning. My own (very bright) son can listen and respond even while hopping all around the room. Why does he have to stand still? Who says that’s the “right” way? We’ve moved a lot and people always sigh and say, “well, I guess I should use pencil in my address book for you.” Why do people get an award for staying in one house their whole lives? I just don’t get it, but it still hurts to be judged against this so called normal.

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