Homechanging viewpointsThe X-Files Shows Why We Should Change the View of Invisible Disability

In high school, one of my all time favorite TV shows was The X-Files. I’ve always had a fascination with paranormal events, UFOs and the hidden workings of governmental organizations. The fact there will be an X-Files comeback coming up had me curious about how the neurodiverse world played into the show.

My dyslexia is part of why I was able to
design and make these little guys from
scratch. It’s also probably part of why
the hub I wrote about them won Hub of the
Day.

I could recall one episode involving a woman with some sort of learning disability who worked as some sort of custodian in a hospital in which the staff and patients slowly began disappearing. It turns out that she had amazing creative talents, and had built a miniature replica of the hospital. Somehow, the power of her imaginative mind had created a tiny parallel universe into which the people in the hospital would vanish.

That episode had me wondering if someone involved in the making of the series had some sort of LD. I imagine there was, but before I could look further into it, I stumbled across this excellent article from NCWD (National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability).

It opens with a line from Mulder about how he wished he had a disability, so he had an excuse to be lazy, and then goes on to explain how it reflects on the pervasive harmful societal attitudes towards just about any disability.

The one point that I personally seem to revisit on a regular basis is the denial of existence that people with invisible disabilities face on a fairly regular basis. I have personal experience with that in relation to my dyslexia, but I know those on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum deal with it, as do people with dyscalculia, ADHD and, well, any other neurodiversity classified as a disability.

When you don’t look different from everyone else, but can’t quite keep up with everyone else as you “should”, people start treating you as if you’re lazy, not as good as they are in some undefinable way, or just plain stupid.

Sometimes, it’s subtle, like some of the teachers I’ve suffered under, who always acted downright surprised when I managed to do something impressive despite the fact they’d obviously given up on me. Other times, it’s obvious, like the co-worker who decided I needed to be spoken to like a child after she discovered I was dyslexic, despite having known me for years.

It’s often damaging, though, and always frustrating.

Unfortunately, it falls on us to change the perception of who we are and what we can do. Some people will never change, whether it’s because they can’t accept new things or are more comfortable with willful ignorance, but there are always those who are open minded enough to learn how to see the light.

That’s why it’s so important to celebrate those who succeed in spite of the pressures put on them by culture, bring our talents to the forefront and portray ourselves as the capable human beings we are.

I’m happy not to be alone in that ambition. Together, hopefully we can make the world a better place for current and future generations.

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