Not a poem needed a bit of a rant. So here it is.
Now that was a new one. My first proper Twitter tiff … after 10 years or so not bad I would say. The person had asked why I didn’t like that us rainbow-brains (ASD, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia etc) are called learning disabilities. So silly me did not check their profile before answering–otherwise I would not have. They make a business (speaker and writer) out of their ‘learning disabilities’, which is fair enough in principle. Being a champion, promoting strategies and support, and being able to use this to support your living is wonderful.
It turns sour though, the moment this champion-hood becomes a tokenistic self-proliferation. And the person was so eager to pick a fight so show to the world how much they defend their corner, that they never even bothered to click on my Twitter profile, which clearly has the #ADHD hashtag on it. And immediately shouted in typing–you know the way internet trolls do this, telling me off for not having a learning-disability. (I agree I have ADHD and clearly this has not stopped me from learning). And then went immediately into some sort of abuse aimed at one of the people they so prolifically claim to defend and support–and sell their books to.
One of the things I thought was interesting was that their first reaction was to state that there is no shame in that medical diagnosis. Hm. Strange. I have not mentioned shame or anything. I think learning disability is an outdated term, that implies a deficit discourse, and is not a helpful framing of the amazing world of rainbow brains. Anyway, shame was not on my mind, but on theirs. Now I can only see two reasons:
first is that this is a go to phrase for their business brand as the defender of neurodiversity or
second, that they actually do feel shame and hence the emotional overreaction to the points I made.
If the latter that would make me feel sad but also once again makes my point that the terminology is not helpful.
The other aspect I wondered about if the label of disability is good for their business as it helps them to continue the discourse of victimisation, and hence justifies them as a defender of the weak, the meek, and needy, instead of empowerment. And the deficit model this is based on works much better as a marketing tool (I need to add in their specific case, because of their business, not as a generalisation)? Am I being too cynical? The only reason to keep the disability label would be for legal protection and right to support in the workplace. But I so loathe the label. Why are we so keen to put people into shiny tiny boxes? Why don’t we celebrate diversity and make sure to create a society that is more accessible?