There was a bit of a kerfuffle in the LD community on tumblr last week.
Long story short, someone made a post about dyscalculia, someone with dyslexia made a reply in commiseration and someone with Asperger’s replied to the dyslexic with an unprovoked, nasty comment along the lines of “learn how to spell”.
Naturally, this set off a thread of hurt responses. The dyslexic individual had the fact of their neurological makeup prominently listed under the description visible when one hovered the cursor over their name, as did the individual with Asperger’s.
As I read through all of that, I noticed two things:
1. There’s still a huge misunderstanding that all dyslexics develop at the same rate and manifest the same symptoms. The reason the person who made the nasty comment gave was that because her mother was dyslexic and spelled well, the second commenter should be able to spell well, too.
2. There’s also a pervasive attitude of “Oh, she has Aspergers. She didn’t realize what she said was mean” amongst a good part of the population. At least one of the people who commented brought that up, and the general consensus seemed to follow the idea.
Those are both rather dehumanizing attitudes. I’ve talked about the first one before, because it seems to be far more pervasive than the other, but the second one is also harmful. It implies that people who happen to fall within the spectrum of ‘disabled’ (in this case, autistic) are responsible for none of their actions, which then leads to the idea of their being incapable of living their lives under their own terms.
That’s completely wrong. True, there is a learning curve when it comes to everything, but everyone, regardless of how they function, are individuals. We each have our own path to follow, and we must each learn how to handle ourselves in the real world. That also means that we each make our own choices of how to respond, be it positive or negative.
That aforementioned incident is pretty minor, but that young woman still chose to make an unnecessary comment unrelated to the actual content of the post. She chose to single out one respondent and comment on an obvious weakness – poor spelling. There was absolutely no reason to do that, other than to knock that person down a few notches in order to bolster herself.
While her wiring may have prevented her from seeing just how much harm that simple comment could do, it doesn’t excuse her from making the choice to behave the way she did. Should she be treated with cruelty, though? No. Unless she received some nasty messages that weren’t published later on, I don’t think she was, either.
Will she do that sort of thing again? I don’t know. Maybe. A couple people pointed out her mistake, but there’s no way of knowing if this particular individual will take it to heart. She didn’t seem to care, but that’s not something easily determined through text. Unpredictability is one of the tricky parts about human nature, after all.
As for the dyslexic person? I don’t know if they deleted their blog completely, or just switched user names, but when I checked, they were gone. I hope they weren’t forced into leaving at the hands of faceless bullies.
The point is, people classified as “special needs” are just as capable of being cruel, manipulative and ignorant as those classified as “normal”. No one should be placed on a pedestal, and when mistakes are made, as many factors as possible should be taken into account when dealing with the fallout.