Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Do I need this?

I have just been reminded after reading Aspie Bird's blog, that I saw the late Genevieve Edmond's guide for sale recently alongside Marc Segar's guide.

I could not bring myself to buy either of such guides considering the unfortunate history of both authors.

On the other hand it set me to think, not only do I want to buy this guide, but would I ever need such a guide?

Perhaps it contains advice I might have found useful at one time, but then when I needed such advice there were no such guides, because there wasn't any 'asperger's ' back then to write guides about just socially different and 'dysfunctional' people.

Nowadays in a way perhaps I find the label of 'asperger's' sufficient as an explanation.

One of the first autobiographies I read was Lianne Willey's "Pretending to be normal" I was not really impressed, I didn't go around pretending to be normal, because I did not know what normal was. I may have worn more or less socially acceptable 'mask's' at times. The conventions of a suit for an interview, black tie at a funeral and a formal dinner, that sort of thing but I doubt I was ever less than me in such clothes.

I think the problem with such guides is that they accept the notion that we are foreigners in our own native lands. It may be a good analogy for attempting to understand the customs of 'neurotypical's' but it also says something far more damning and negative about that society which we are by accepting the definition that it is 'foreign', not a part of. That it is a society which is not welcoming to what we truly are.

If I were to go into a Roman Catholic Church I would take my hat off, and if I were to go into a Mosque I would take my shoes off. However since I subscribe to neither of those particular belief systems I would still feel uncomfortable and unwelcome even though I had obeyed the customs.

I would like to think if I were inviting a foreigner into my house, that I would extend the tolerance in the other direction, to allow them their customs,* for we cannot always assume that there is a guide book on hand.

Anyway it is not really about showing respect to the customs of others so much as an issue of disability accommodation. More is perhaps expected of those whose difference is invisible on the surface. There is at least an inbuilt notion in most societies (even if it is not universally practised) to be accommodating to someone who cannot see, or who cannot hear, or for whatever physical reason cannot come up to the norms of behaviour (eating with a knife and fork when your hands don't allow you, you get the picture ...)

To me the notion of accommodation is that the most flexible ought to yield. I tend to lead a life with my friends where they know what I am like, and I know what they are like. That is why they are friends, I wouldn't really want someone who only knew the picture I had painted.

To know the rules maybe is an advantage, but to know that you need not have to live your life by them if you do not chose to is equality.

* footnote (I might draw the line with Borat )


abfh said...

I think the problem with such guides is that they accept the notion that we are foreigners in our own native lands.

Absolutely right. We need to make it clear that our customs and social preferences are just as valid as the majority's. That's why I called my blog Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Phil Schwarz said...

A propos Borat: somehow I just have to conclude that there is some Newtonian equal-and-opposite-force kind of thing going on, for Simon of the double-barrelled surname to be doing what he does in his field, and for cousin Sascha to be doing what *he* does... There's a sort of (bidirectional!) poetic justice to Sascha being Simon's cousin (and vice versa) :-).

S.L. said...

Thank you for this. Your last 3 paragraphs especially spoke to me, you are right-on and I hope many others (especially us parents and others in society) will read and understand. People, including family, have thought us nuts at times for accommodating our daughter and not forcing her into a cookie cutter mold.

Anonymous said...

I am so confused about labels and expecting people to understand what they are when most don't have a clue..
It's hard to have self worth when I think the thoughts that if I say I have aspergers then people will think it is an excuse or that I am excusing away my nature that has me unaware at times of the complexity of human social interaction... "a thought" I just had is that communication disorder or comprehnsion disorder or something with a bunch of other junk tacked on like sensory disorder , hearing disorder ect .
To the outside world my actions affect others and they don't understand sometimes... and I have no idea where I am going with this except to say that things are really muddled in my mind...
But what did you expect from a muddled headed wombat! :)

abfh said...

Hi again -- I've tagged you for the Five Things Meme.

(You know you want to.)