HomeautismEmbrace Life’s Complications

It’s human nature to want to simplify complicated situations. We’re only truly

Many situations are like optical illusions – the first
impression is rarely correct.
by Wes Peck, [CC BY-ND 2.0], via flickr

comfortable when there’s a side that’s clearly correct or in the wrong, according to our personal points of views.

Over time, I’ve realized that’s seldom the case. When it comes to things like bullying, the act itself is reprehensible, and the bully is always in the wrong, but how did they reach that point? What lessons did they learn from their elders and peers to rationalize their actions? What experiences prompted such acts of violence and abuse?

It’s tempting to reduce that person into an embodiment of evil, but what good does it do? Sure, that one person may be punished, but does it really remedy the situation? Will the bullied party get any sort of long term reprieve, or will the bully’s allies use the punishment as an excuse to increase abuse levels? Yes, action must be taken to show the offending parties what they did wrong, but those in charge still need to look deeper into the situation to see where the breakdown is occurring.

I see this a lot in addressing LD, developmental disabilities and behavioral problems.

People with dyslexia, for example, share a broad range of indicators. There are reading, writing and procedural difficulties which are nearly universal, but individuals demonstrate those symptoms differently.

Some accommodations may help most people with dyslexia, but others help some, though not others.

The same sort of thing could be said for folks with autism, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and all of the other neurological differences out there. While our experiences might all be similar, they’re never exactly the same.

Still, there’s the stubborn urge to classify people who fall into these categories as strict caricatures of traits.

If I were to conform to the stereotypical dyslexic model, I should hate reading with every fiber of my being and be rendered unable to write. I should be highly artistic, but generally unsuccessful at going for the life I want to live. Going by the standard of misunderstanding, dyslexics should be relegated to either the starving artist lifestyle or be caught in the poverty cycle.

In reality, I love reading, even if it is challenging at times. I also enjoy writing, though I still face difficulties. I’m far from wealthy, but I’m still employable, and am fully capable of living comfortably within my means. Sure, dyslexia impacts my life, but it’s not nearly as harmful as our culture wants to make it out to be.

That complexity is important to keep in mind, especially when tackling issues relating to education, social structures and medical treatments. Some things may work the way they should most of the time, but almost nothing works all of the time.

There are plenty of folks who see this as a non-issue, when it’s actually the root of a lot of problems holding us back. Without taking variables into account, how can effective solutions come to light?

Even in our personal lives, it’s important to keep that principle in mind. On the surface, our struggling child may appear lazy, but deeper down, there may be a disconnect between how their young brain is working and the way their school is being run. That screaming child in the store may look like they’re pitching a fit over not getting a treat to the passer by, when they may in fact be having a sensory meltdown.

When something is happening that directly impacts us or our family, it’s always best to look deeper for possible solutions before taking any sort of long-term action. Kneejerk reactions rarely have the best consequences, after all.

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