We’ve all seen the click-bait articles floating around out there. You know, the “10 Things ONLY Dyslexics Will Understand” or “10 Things ONLY Autism Parents Will Understand” or whatever label of the day the author felt like writing about articles.
But aren’t they accurate?
Sometimes they’re pretty spot on, but often, they’re not exclusive to the label they’re addressing. I think people sometimes forget their biggest goal is to make money off of ad revenue. Although they can be entertaining, they’re not helpful.
As I spend more and more time in the neurodiverse community, I realize many of the symptoms we experience overlap between labels.
Dyslexia may be well known for the left/right confusion, but that’s also common with the other “dys-” labels. SPD is so firmly linked with the autism label that the mainstream population don’t realize that people who aren’t on the spectrum can be just as effected by it.
There are unique experiences within each label, sure. Dyslexics do have unique language based experiences, just as people with ASD have unique social experiences, but those lists rarely address things that are truly unique to each experience.
What harm do they do?
While they operate on the knee jerk reaction of, “This is exactly what happens to me!”, they also reinforce the alienation of people who don’t fit the label but still experience the listed events regularly. It’s also important to remember that not all people who carry a specific label are impacted the same way.
A huge part of why there are so many divides in the disability/neurodiverse community at large is because we automatically focus so exclusively on our differences instead of our commonalities. What works for one person may not work for another, but it’s surprising how many accommodations that work for people in one group also work for people in another.
In the grand scale of things, those click bate pieces aren’t harmful on their own. The problem comes in when they perpetuate preexisting stereotypes and divisions we already deal with on a nearly daily basis. As harmful as those things can be from a social point of view, there’s also the educational point of view to consider.
In a Perfect World…
Education should be individualized, but that idea is impractical in the system we have in place now. The thing is, there are possible solutions out there that can help both neurodiverse and neurotypical students.
One of those possibilities is incorporating multi sensory or practical options into the default rote, memorization based education. Many kids do alright with the mainstream methods out there now, but wouldn’t it make sense to make the educational environment to those who learn differently, too?
Isn’t the point of school to prepare kids for adulthood? Shouldn’t it foster within them skills beyond basic English, Math and Science, like critical thinking, problem solving and working with a diverse cross section of people?
While there’s only so much people who aren’t directly involved with policy creation and teaching methods, there are still things we can do outside of school. One of those things is to broaden our perspectives whenever possible, and working on our own internalized biases.
As irritating as I find click bate, I do realize those lists can offer a certain degree of camaraderie. Those lists are not the worst thing in the world, but that doesn’t change the fact they can spread misinformation and divisiveness.