Disorder or difference?

Autism, ADHD, sensory processing, PDA. All of these are labelled as being disorders. I know many of these people who state that they feel these are not disorders, rather they are differences. And different isn’t wrong.

I have to agree with them, just because something isn’t the way you are used to doesn’t mean it’s any less or that it’s wrong or bad. After all, whenever a person of one culture goes abroad to another and experiences their culture and food and language, they are perceived as different. They are not perceived as wrong or bad. If they were then we wouldn’t be so quick to add the words queue, husband, jungle, sofa, tea and vanilla to our vocabulary? Would we eat pasta and pizza and sushi on a regular basis? Would we adopt their fashion styles, their mannerisms, their values and traditions, even their ways of thinking? Sure there are many things in foreign cultures that we disagree with, but there are more than we agree with and even adopt as our own. Are those differences bad?

We would not class other cultures as disordered simply because they do not align with what we are used to.

Different not disordered.

Disorder as a medical term, as stated by several dictionaries, is that disorder is where something affects the function of the mind or body. A medical condition that is not normal or healthy. A lack of order. Typically this means that something, maybe an illness or a disease or a degenerative condition, comes along and alters a person’s brain and/or body as that they no longer function as they once did. It’s a bit like coming along with a magnet and sticking it on a computer; the computer won’t work properly because the magnetic attraction has altered the components of the electronic device.

So what happens then with Autism and other ‘conditions’? It’s believed that people are born autistic or ADHD or PDA. There was no magnet. It’s like having a playstation instead of a computer, they’re different. So does that mean they are disordered?

Personally I would say no. We are not disordered. We are different. My mind is actually quite ordered, there’s no disorder to it. Sure the world doesn’t make sense sometimes, that doesn’t mean my brain doesn’t work, it just means I’m trying to fit the cables to a playstation into a computer socket, of course it’s not going to fit. If I were to get an adapter though, maybe it would fit better. Life is like trying to find the right fit. We, as a society, have created such a unique world that we’ve accidentally made it harder for certain people, who don’t fit the mold, to fit in. Ironic no? We’ve tried so hard to make the world a better place that we’ve made it harder for certain people. That doesn’t make us disordered though, that makes us different.

My brain works in set ways. I’d say that’s anything but disordered. It’s like learning maths. The whole thing seems like one big mess that you’ll never understand, but eventually, with lots of help and practice, it starts to make sense. After a while it becomes second nature. Maths is different to English, that doesn’t mean that maths is disordered, it’s just different.

I am maths. I am different. I am autistic.

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