I am the father of a son who I adopted as an older child. He came with his share of challenges & diagnostic labels. I am the son of a mother who had multiple sclerosis, diagnosed when I was 7. As a child I spent a lot of time around people with physical disabilities. I am the son of a father who had severe ADHD. I have been in this field for 20 years, working with kids & young adults diagnosed with ADHD, Asperger’s, higher-verbal autism and intellectual disabilities. My entire life has been spent around people with various challenges.
Over the past 10 years, my professional passion has been teaching kids (and their parents) how to connect with their peers and form social relationships. I did not teach my son, and do not teach the kids I work with that someone is defined by their challenges. I don't believe in teaching identity politics. I don't use terms like "neurotypical", "neurodiverse" or "masking" because I believe they encourage separation between people, rather that promote connection.
The photos in this post were taken from social media posts from a homogenous group of speech-language pathologists and individuals who self-identify as having ADHD or autism. (In the mental health field right now, I believe there is over-diagnosing & misdiagnosing of autism in younger, Caucasian females which is why I question the validity of some of these self-reported diagnoses.)
These individuals perpetuate an 𝘜𝘴 𝘝𝘴. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘮 narrative on social media in which the "neurodivergent" must push back against the "neurotypicals". Their identity politics are based in seeing themselves as the "protectors of the neurodivergent", whereas people such as myself are the "ableist villain", because I want my son (and your kids) to be able to function in a world that will never accommodate them.
These 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘯𝘦𝘶𝘳𝘰𝘥𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘵 do not view my son as a young man who must work hard to navigate through the world, which is often a stressful process for him. They perceive him as a (6 foot 1) infant, forced to conform to a neurotypical world in which ableists such as myself have expectations of him, and push him outside of his comfort zone so he can grow. Their job is to protect this fragile, neurodivergent infant, at the expense of becoming a capable young man.
The self-identified individuals whose photos I've used here believe that my professional and personal experience is meaningless and invalid. Anyone who is "neurodivergent" is right and a "neurotypical", such as myself is wrong, 𝘜𝘴 𝘝𝘴. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘮. The speech-language pathologists whose photos I've used appear to be obsequious to their 𝘜𝘴 𝘝𝘴. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘮 identity politics.
If these 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘯𝘦𝘶𝘳𝘰𝘥𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘵 informed my parenting choices I would have destroyed my son's ability to function in the world. He would never be able to handle his very demanding customer service job where he was promoted last week. He would not go out to dinner or the movies with the guys he works with because he would perceive the world as 𝘜𝘴 𝘝𝘴. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘮.
The people who created these posts would call me an "ableist". If being an ableist means that my son can function in the world without me it's an insult I will proudly accept.