Embrace Neurodiversity

You wake up like every day, remembering to get up with your left foot. The day is almost ruined at breakfast though. Your parents flinch when you take the mug with your right hand, but you smile as if you were joking, and take it with the left, as you know you should. Mugs are easy to pick up with either hand, after all.

Walking to the bus stop you see the bus preparing to move, so you run and in the stress to reach it, you raise your right arm to ask the driver to stop. Once, twice, until you realize and you drop it and raise the left. He opens the door and sneers at you: “For a moment there, I thought you were a rightie.” You swallow. Hard. Righties are not allowed on the regular bus. “No sir, I am not.” The driver closes the door and starts the journey towards school.

Your parents were able to get you into regular school, and not the one with the special kids. They hired someone that made you write with your left hand from early age, even if it was hard and your handwriting never really improved. A piece of candy for each page written with the left hand, none if you picked up the pencil with the right. Well, not nothing… a look of disapproval - that hurt the most.

Your art grades were always bad, since it was impossible to draw or paint with your left hand; you did learn how to hold the brush properly at least. In sports… you just made a fool of yourself, trying to kick the ball with your left foot was always a pity show. The same happened when you tried to bat with your left, or throw… anything but running was laughable, and the kids were quick to make it known.

“You will never get into University with those grades,” said your parents often. Too often. “But if I could do those things with my right hand I would be better!” Dad and Mom would shake their heads, their faces getting red. “Normal people do it with the left. Aren’t you normal? Or do you want to be a rightie?”

At school sometimes you would see a kid struggling writing or playing sports, and you wonder if they are righties. You always want to ask, but they would have to deny it, since in this school righties aren’t allowed. Normal people only was their unwritten motto.

“They are aggressive, you know? Righties,” said their Science teacher. “My cousin is a rightie and he is not aggressive” said a girl, her voice almost a whisper. “Well,” replied the teacher smiling at her “there are always exceptions. But they are more aggressive than normal people. That’s why we can’t have them here in our school.”

“Remember Tom?” asked your Mom when you told her about it. “He threw the scissors at the teacher in first grade.” You know about Tom and a lot about scissors. “But he couldn’t use them properly because he is not left-handed. That’s why he got mad. Why couldn’t they just give him right-handed scissors?” Your Mom puts the cookie tray down, and looks you in the eye. “Because then we would have to make pencils for righties, mugs for righties, cars for righties… they have to accommodate to our world, not the other way around.”

One day you go on a date, your first date, and you are so nervous you’ll mess up. Not only with her, since she is your schoolmate, but with your hands. You focus on picking up the glass with your left hand, on using the cutlery correctly, on not letting her see you are a rightie, focusing so much you have difficulty following the conversation. 

“Do you think there is a world out there where most people use their right hands, and the lefties are the abnormal people?” she asks, playing with her hair using her right hand. You notice that, but you are too afraid to ask.

“I don’t know, but I like to imagine a world where it doesn’t matter which hand you use.”

 

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I see the struggle of the autistic people every day. Society forces them to mask their selves, schools to learn in an environment hostile to them. 

It would be so much easier if we would just embrace neurodiversity, accepting different ways of thinking and feeling and living. Receiving the gifts that diversity grants us, and playing all together in the same team: humanity.

I imagine a world where it doesn't matter if you are neurotypical or neurodiverse... you would be accepted and embraced either way.