Monday, March 17, 2008

Learning Difference

There are so many ways that people think, learn, and express themselves, it is not practical or even possible to place value judgments on every action, reaction, and expression. To attempt to do this only seems to objectify people and what they do in a way that would ultimately make us into nothing more than products or commodities to buy sell and trade instead of being recognized as people. Looking at people in this way robs us of our humanity.

While I can't say what percentage of autistic people are seen as having valuable skills by others within their community, autistics are likely to have a combination of diverse skills. This can (and often does) lead autistics to have a better understanding of how those in our environment (and those in society at large) evaluate performance.

No one such as an employer, teacher, diagnostician, or intelligence quotient tester, has ever described my skills as anything other than substandard. I feel that knowing their evaluation of me was inappropriate has led me to find more creative ways to evaluate what I see in myself and in others.

Also while it may seem that having skills that are marketable may make some people immune from societies performance evaluations that are unrealistic and that promote exclusivity, that does not seem to be the case at all with autistic people. If there are autistic people that feel as though as though they don't need to promote a healthier view of autism within society because it seems as though somehow the negative evaluations don't effect them, they may want to consider more futuristic planning. Furthermore, ANYONE who feels as though they are immune to the attitudes that so much of our society has that are exclusive may want to be careful about such thinking. It is important to remember that when the few and the elite set exclusive and subjective standards, those standards will eventually change to exclude everyone.

I think that advocates for the acceptance of diverse experiences, behaviors, and skills need to focus more on the unity and empowerment of each other. We don't empower ourselves or anyone else when the standards that we have set for ourselves are no different than the unrealistic and exclusive standards that our society has mislead us to believe are valid.

These beliefs DO affect how we see ourselves and how we see others. Also these collective views DO ultimately influence societal standards.

Conformists have always threatened diversity by the unrealistic expectations of how they define inclusion. In this way inclusion becomes nothing more than a newer more deceptive method of exclusion.

Someone with the agenda of exclusion may use the value judgments they attach to labels to exclude people in physical and/or emotional ways and one will ultimately lead to the other.

What I think it is important to remember is that someone with aspirations of valadating inappropriate labels can do so by finding better ways of viewing more diverse ways of thinking and acting so that every individual is able to support each other.

When our value is instead limited to how we are presently seen to serve the conformists view of our society, more adults and more children will be warehoused, numbered, as nonhuman objects. This limits our most valuable resource in ways that no society can afford.


At 12:06 PM , Blogger Suzanne said...

We don't empower ourselves or anyone else when the standards that we have set for ourselves are no different than the unrealistic and exclusive standards that our society has mislead us to believe are valid.
Right on Ed.
This post reminds me of when I was teaching, and there was talk of rewarding($) exceptional teachers. Great, I thought. But how is that excellence judged? Why, students' academic achievement on standardized tests, of course. groan. It was no secret I was against teaching to the test. So, if they knew I was subversive like that... no $$ for you! I don't know what ever happened with that. I quit teaching after only 6 years.

At 12:09 PM , Blogger abfh said...

Having marketable skills certainly doesn't make a person safe from prejudice in today's society. Until the economy improves greatly (and that won't happen for many years), there will always be another person (or several) with similar skills competing for almost any job, which makes it very easy for managers to treat people as commmodities.

At 6:21 AM , Blogger Ed said...

Good point Suz,

It seems like in that job, to not be a subversive would make it difficult to teach kids that these tests you were taught to prepare them for would do anything but determine their value as people to the school and to all other evaluaters after they left school.... So what would they become but teachers who teach others to teach etc. Teachers then become beaurocratic welfare recipients who teach people who are willing and capable of becoming beaurocratic welfare recipients.

I've also found that people who collect "real" welfare, work as hard as those who collect it from the beaurocracy. They just get treated worse.

It's not much of a road to independence if it leaves you back where you started.

Of course collecting corporate welfare is the way to become a true overcomer. :)

At 6:32 AM , Blogger Ed said...

Also a good point ABFH,

What good does it do to have an employee treated as a commodity if by doing that they become a damaged commodity?

Treating people like that has never done anything thing but damage people but it hasn't seemed to change the attitudes of employers. This can't bring about any kind of long term and lasting economic recovery.

At 1:20 PM , Blogger Mental Health Blog Research Group said...

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