Friday, January 31, 2014

Reaching Out

Hey guys I need a hand.

I’m struggling my way through finding a new way to see FASD.  To appreciate its gifts as well as see its challenges.  For me words are the way I shape my thoughts.  So I've been trying to be more careful with my words.  There is one thing I keep stumbling over – and I’d like you to help me shape it define it – name it.   I’ve noticed that among the community of folks with FASD they use the term “Neruo Typical”  (or NT for short) to describe what neuro-typical’s like to label “NORMAL”.  I really like this – I've adopted that as my new term.  It doesn't carry the same baggage for me as “normal”. 

What I am struggling with now though is what is the opposite term?  What is the right term for “Not Neruo Typical?”  I mean is it just that – not neruo typical?  I’m searching for a word that indicates a difference without heaping a judgment of good or bad on the difference and I’m coming up blank.  I think we need this for making a paradigm shift.  I KNOW I need it.  So I figured I ‘d ask for help.  And I am ashamed to admit the first place I was going to as was other parents of kids with FASD.   That’s right other NTs.  And I realized I still have a lot of work to do on myself in terms of being ready for this future I imagine, one where people with neuro cognitive differences are recognized as equally valid, different but not less than neruo typical. 

I know all this angst over the distinction in words may seem picky or even silly to some people.  But I’d ask you to think about the difference between calling someone an “Indian” verses a  “Native American” verses a  Sioux.  One was a wrong (Columbus never made in anywhere close to India) label ( and I'd argue applied with clear derogatory intent), one was intended to be neutral but still externally applied, and the last is the name a people gave themselves.

So I’m asking people affected- how do you define this –what words do you use? What words should we all be using?   I see affected people connecting – forming your own communities in person and on line.  You should have a voice that is heard and respected.  Hello, my name is Tina.  I’m neuro typical.  And you are?


  1. Well, it won't help you to know that my husband and I say "whacked" or "dain bramaged" (the latter a term borrowed from Bill Cosby). So, you are right, the question is best asked of people who have FASD. The adults who live their lives under this umbrella. I wonder what Liz would say?

  2. Linda - sometimes I do use the term brain damage to describe the impact alcohol has had on my son. I don't like to, but if it helps teachers or others who interact with him to understand he has real physical reasons for what is going on then I figure the understanding is worth it. I've also used neuro compromised for the same reason. It's just that lately I have been "pie in the sky" dreaming about an end state - a vision - of what it would look like if our society really respected and valued neuro cognitive diversity. Those terms feel wrong for that imaginary place. So if we are going to strive to achieve that vision - don't we need words for it - to describe it - to build it? This whole conversation is so VERY theoretical (and thus so UN-FASD friendly). Thinking about this has really made me realize how huge the difference between my brain and my son and brother Bill's is. It's like we are actually members of difference cultures speaking different languages that only share enough similarity to confuse us into thinking we understand each other.