This is a post where I decide to come clean. I realize that this may destroy my credibility, but I just want to be honest. One year ago, I wrote a paper and did a presentation on how autism is not a disability.
I hope you don’t stop reading there, because that is honestly what I thought at the time because I needed to think that. My definition of disability was influenced by my time being a special education teacher (both in college and in the actual teaching) and it was a terrible, horrible definition: disability, at that time to me, was a bad thing.
But I don’t think that anymore. My view of disability was the bad thing, not disability itself. My thought process was that disability is a bad thing, autism is not a bad thing, therefore, autism is not a disability.
After writing that paper and doing that presentation, I met my thesis advisor who encouraged me to read Paul Heilker and Melanie Yergeau’s article “Autism and Rhetoric.” As I was reading through it, I began to realize that my definition of disability is fucked up. I needed to change how I viewed autism, but I especially had to change how I viewed disability.
The neurodiversity movement seems to be saying that disability and different neurological wiring are a naturally occurring diversity that must be accepted and embraced in much the same way as race, religion, etc.
I feel terrible for the way I thought of disability and I just want to say that I’m disabled and there is NOTHING wrong with that!