Operating Room

OUR LANGUAGE

​​WHAT DOES THE WORD "NORMAL" MEAN?

 

It is easy to get trapped into the idea that my spouse is not "normal" or at least my marriage is not "normal".  But what is normal anyway?

 

The illusory nature of normal is captured in the following quote:

 

“I wonder if we recognize the irony of telling people to act normal, because to "act" is to perform a role that isn’t real.
 

And I wonder if we truly understand what it does to a human being to tell them to pretend to be someone, or something, they are not, and how this demand requires people to repress, efface, and cover up who they really are.”

― Jonathan Mooney, Normal Sucks: How to Live, Learn, and Thrive, Outside the Lines

 

FROM "NORMAL" TO ACCEPTANCE

 

With the help of neurodiverse-sensitive therapy, most couples come to the realization that that "abnormality" is not the problem; rather, the difficulty is rooted in trying to fit into their own concept of what a "normal" couple should look like. This shift away from "normal" can free a couple the shame that comes from the message that one or both of them is the problem. If we can reorient the ways in which we view diversity, abilities, and disabilities, each partner can begin to feel accepted for who they are; and, paradoxically, this acceptance makes room for real change.

 

WORDS MATTER...  OUR TERMINOLOGY

Since 1994, the psychology profession has used the term "Asperger's Syndrome" (AS) to describe a certain group of people with neurological differences that impact social interactions, how the world is experienced, and verbal and nonverbal communication.

 

In 2013, the diagnostic criteria changed and AS became part of a high-functioning autism (Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD). 

 

Our team of therapists and coaches generally use identity-first language rather than person-first language. To illustrate:

 

  • identity-first language:

    • refers to our neurodiverse clients as Aspies, AS partner, or autistic partner. 
       

    • PRO: suggests that autism is a core part of a person's identity (like being a Canadian) with all the strengths and weaknesses that come with that identity. Implies that you are OK with having autism as the core of who you are. For many, this is a clearer path to a more positive and realistic identity.
       

    • CON: some people don't like to be define this way.
       

    • Quote:

      • Autism isn't something a person has, or a shell that a person is trapped inside. There's no normal child hidden behind the autism. Autism is a way of being. It is pervasive; it colors every experience, every sensation, perception, thought, emotion and encounter - every aspect of existence. It is not possible to separate the autism from the person – and if it were possible, the person you'd have left would not be the same person you started with. 

Jim Sinclair​

  • person-first language:

    • refers to clients as the partner with Asperger's or the spouse on the spectrum.
       

    • PRO: you are not only your Asperger's symptoms. Autism is a modifier, not what defines you.
       

    • CON: the assumption usually is that one's autism is a burden that gets tacked onto a person (like a person who is saddled with a disease). This ignores the many strengths of being on the spectrum.

Although our team usually uses identity-first language, we understand the different reasons for both approaches and will accommodate whichever you are most comfortable with.

​​
Normal Sucks book about Autism
God Created Autism Because Normal was Too Boring
Hugging Couple in Nature

“Showing kindness towards those who are different and embracing our imperfections as proof of our humanness is the remedy for fear.”  

 

 

Emma Zurcher-Long of Emma’s Hope Book