If you have been following me on social media for a while, you probably think I see my multiple forms of neurodivergence as a positive thing. That would be correct, but that doesn’t mean I still experience challenges living in this neurotypical world. Although I don’t view myself as deficient, I do consider myself disabled. You may be confused about how a person can view themselves as disabled but not needing a cure or life saving treatment. Let me explain.
If you are not familiar with disability theory, there are two main models of disability: the medical model and the social model. Below is a (very) brief description of the two.
- The person is not normal, and their differences are defined as deficits.
- The person needs fixing or a cure using medical interventions.
- The person is disabled by the environment and society’s physical and social barriers.
- Society needs to accommodate people’s individual needs.
You may be more familiar with the medical model, which offers a more traditional view of disability. I saw myself as fundamentally flawed before I understood the full extent of neurodivergence, but not in the way the medical model describes disabled people; I couldn’t identify with it. It was only when I became more familiar with the social model that I viewed myself as disabled.
Accommodations I’ve had over the years from being disabled has made an enormous difference over the years. Without reasonable adjustments, I wouldn’t have passed my GCSE’s, let alone have a master’s degree today. I also would unlikely get through any job interview without reasonable adjustments too. With the way our society is set up, I can be successful if I have adjustments. If the social model of disability didn’t exist, then what would be my place in society? Or would I even have one at all?
My only alternative would be the medical model, but I wouldn’t want a magic pill to “cure me” with the challenges I face from existing in a neurotypical world. I get a lot of joy from being neurodivergent, from the depth of my interests to my neurodivergent friendships. I cannot separate who I am as a person from my neurodivergence. I would be sacrificing any form of my authentic self if I was cured. The medical model’s need to “cure” me would take much more than I would gain.
However, if my needs are met as a human in this world, then there isn’t a problem. The more I’ve engaged with the disability discourse, the more I’ve realised that being disabled isn’t a bad thing; it’s neutral for me. The real problem is society’s attitudes towards disability and how little disabled people are valued in this world.
So yes, I am disabled by my neurodivergence because our society rarely accommodates our needs (or it’s a battle to get the met), and this causes real barriers for my ability to participate in an NT world.
I am also proud to be disabled, mainly for surviving the shit this world has thrown my way due to my disabilities.
If you enjoy this post or my writing in general, I would be forever grateful if you could buy me a coffee (or tea in my case).