Recently I received a “Disability and Me” article from Zacharay Lassiter, a young man diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. His recent article A Struggle to be Normal really had me thinking about what normal is.
According to Dictionary.com, normal means: conforming to the standard or common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.
The following is a paragraph from Zacharay’s article…
Many of us with disabilities wish so hard that we were normal, that we could walk like a normal person, see like a normal person, hear like a normal person, or think like a normal person. Many of us start to get angry when we struggle to be normal and fail. We don’t feel worth our friends’ time, and feel like we’re the drain in relationships when in fact we can be just as loving or caring as anyone else.
Have you ever wondered if you were normal?
Human behavior is complex, determined by interactions between a variety of internal and external influences. Do you evaluate your behavior on your perception of what normal is?
Often when we decide what is normal, it is in the sense of determining whether the way we think and act is the same as… or similar to… the majority of people. Social standards can have a strong influence on our idea of “normal.” You can even purchase books or take a quiz to find out if you are normal!
Zacharay writes that many people with disabilities wish they could walk like a normal person, see like a normal person, hear like a normal person or think like a normal person.
Throughout my life I have heard the following statements, have you?
- Would you eat like a normal person
- You need to drive like a normal person
- Can’t you walk like a normal person
- Act like a normal person
- Look what you are wearing, can’t you dress like a normal person
When someone says “can’t you walk like a normal person?” What does it mean to walk? Some people take big steps, others take small ones. Some people skip or sashay when they walk. Some point their toes inward and others drag their feet.
I never asked, even though I really didn’t know, what doing something like a normal person really meant.
Who in society should we observe and model our behavior after, so we are able to act normal? Our teachers, parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, the lady down the street…who?
It seems like we are always trying to figure out what normal is.
But in all honesty, things change overtime, for instance, mythsabout people with Asperger’s syndrome. Increased knowledge and awareness about what it is have changed over the years.
I tend to agree with Zacharay when he asks, “What is normal and how do you define it?” I would love to hear from you.