Wednesday, February 19, 2014

On Being Human

Like many commuters, I listen to the radio a lot. Something hit me about the way they introduce new songs. The disc jockeys talk about the fact that a new song is coming up, and if we know the artist, they'll mention another song by this artist to jog our memories. If it's an artist they think we may never have heard of, they might say something by way of introduction, something to locate the new music somewhere in our minds, prepare us in a positive way.

Most of the songs on the radio are in heavy rotation, and they phase them in and out like this, with an occasional familiar oldie. These people know what they are doing. Why would they bother doing all this?

And I thought of this thing that happened right around the time in the middle of the eighties when I was getting myself kicked in and out of high school. It was an enormously big deal, and folks my age will remember, and I'll tell you what happened in case you are younger.

Coca-Cola tried to change its flavor to become "new and improved" and this was treated like a National Disaster. I am serious, people were really flipping out about this, and it was all over the news, for some time. It was a major topic of conversation. There was high emotion. Even Bill Cosby was somehow involved, but I don't remember his exact role, just that it was A Thing, because of his standing in the community.

At this time in my life, I believed I was not a human being, not the same thing as a person. But I was just now having this reverie about how everyone else reacts to change...

And here is another thing: people often see the sensory accommodations in my office and ask if I can help them brainstorm getting the whole workplace to be more like my office.  

People often read my writing on things like rushing and social and emotional confusion or distress and say they can really relate to it even though they are not autistic.

People often hear ideas of what can help kids like me handle executive functioning difficulties in the classroom, and declare, "I am going to try that for myself!"

Instead of not being human, what if I am very human, so outrageously human that it sometimes rises to the level of impairment? What if it is really that the things I cannot function without are things that would make everyone function better? My sine qua non might be every one else's sine qua shouldn't have to.



  1. That thought has occurred to me as well.

  2. I LOVE this post. Imagine how the world would be different if all kinds of ways of being and doing were honored. And if people who pay attention to their bodies and surroundings were acknowledged for their insights and put in charge of environments. My favorite sentence: "what if I am very human, so outrageously human that it sometimes rises to the level of impairment?" Genius.

  3. Excellent post. As the mother of a young son with ASD I often think he has many of the same personalities traits as I do but he seems to have the sensitivity turned up to Maximum. So things which bother me will be the things which really upset him.
    It does help us work out why he is melting down by thinking "what would upset me in this scenario?" and now multiply that by one hundred and I have some idea of why he's so upset.

  4. Jo, I love that approach! And Corbett, yes! I would volunteer for that...we could call it Canary In The Coal Mine Environmental Engineers?