Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

On Being Normal

Just a few observations about normal development...

It is normal to grow a beard if you are male.

It is normal to develop breasts if you are female.

It is normal to have dark straight hair if you are of Asian descent.

It is normal to have dark curly hair if you are of African descent.

It is normal to have red hair and freckles if your ancestors came from certain Northern European tribes.

It is normal to have six fingers on your hand (or six toes on your foot) if you belong to a group called the Druze, who are found in Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East.

It is normal to have a loving relationship with a person of the same gender if you are gay.

It is normal to communicate in sign language if you are Deaf.

And it is normal to process speech and social interaction in autistic ways if you are autistic.

So... can we all please quit talking about "normal development" as if there were only one kind?



  • Thank god I don't have to do math based on a system of 12 digits. On the other hand, I guess it would be six of one half dozen of the other to person who can count his or her differences on one hand.

    [/offhand comments]

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:22 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E., at 7:26 PM  

  • "So... can we all please quit talking about 'normal development' as if there were only one kind?"

    There's ways in which 'most folk' develop, and I'd call that typical (since most folk do it that way); but the only valid 'normal' that I can possibly accept as a psychologist is the 'normal' that typifies one's own way of doing things: when one veers from that, that's when it shows that something is probably not going well.

    By Blogger David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E., at 7:26 PM  

  • Yep, yep and yep. Great post!

    By Blogger Attila the Mom, at 12:02 AM  

  • I suppose it comes down to semantics. I note that Frank Klein used the word twice on the AutAdvo home page. I do agree that it's valid to think in terms of traits which are normal for a certain population of people, but not typical of humanity as a whole. The question arises, what denotes a population? What about a group of people who are lumped together based solely on an atypical trait who have nothing else, (except their humanity and perhaps a shared culture which arose out of that trait), in common? Is it normal for blind people not to be able to see?

    By Blogger Chasmatazz, at 4:38 PM  

  • When it all boils down, normal is relative. But, considering that most Aspies/Autistics look like the rest of the general population and is completely misunderstood by them, it's easy to make generalizations.

    For people like us and for people who "get it", then it's okay. But, considering that most people's knowledge of autism begins and ends with watching Rain Man, the stigma is fairly obvious.

    I make a point of avoiding telling people about my "condition" because people just don't get it, and it usually takes a stupidly long time to explain. But, the last person I told my condition didn't really "see" it as a problem.

    By Blogger Vince, at 2:33 PM  

  • Grace and Peace,

    Good evening dodecahedron & gang,

    Precision with words is helpful.

    "Normal" is the way things are in a common or statistical sense. It has no moral value one way or the other, i.e., it is "normal" for a quarter of all infants in the Congo to die within a year of their birth, but extremely "abnormal" to be a genius or a saint.

    "Natural", in its Scholastic philosophical sense, is more like how things "ought" to be -- in contrast with the "normal" as how things generally really are.

    But who knows how things "ought" to be?

    About thirty years ago, there was a great Canadian movie called "Fortune in Men's Eyes" in which one character, a middle-school boy, was teased about his emerging homosexuality and comes home in tears to his dad.

    "They say I'm not normal", sobs the boy.

    Dad says, "That is true, you are not =normal= -- you're SPECIAL !" and hugs his son.

    Y'all be special too, OK ?

    Be well,
    Michael B. Music, I.M.D.
    01(415) 431-1905

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:10 AM  

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