I’m always getting people asking me why Miss Z is the way she is. As soon as I mention she has a genetic syndrome, people generally link ‘genetic’ with hereditary, and they’ll ask if it runs in my family or QB’s. The answer is neither – there is no evidence that it is something that she inherited from either one of us, or from a combination of our genes.
There is often an implication that I must have done something wrong during pregnancy – ate brie, lifted heavy objects, exposed myself to too much stress, inhaled too many car fumes, ate genetically modified foods. Again, none of those factors had anything to do with Miss Z’s condition.
Others like to suggest that perhaps it was caused because Miss Z was conceived by IVF. They can piss off.
Perhaps it was caused by vaccinations? The people who suggest that can piss off even faster and farther than those who suggest it was caused by IVF.
At the end of the day, what caused Miss Z’s condition was that when she was a tiny cluster of cells, something didn’t form quite as it should. Since she doesn’t have a diagnosis, we don’t know exactly what, but something was deleted or duplicated or just formed a bit dodgy.
This isn’t a particularly rare occurrance – lots of people have little genetic flukes, but most don’t know about it and it doesn’t affect their daily lives. Unfortuntately for Miss Z, hers has a major impact on her abilities and her daily life.
One of Miss Z’s doctors once told me about a study that was done in Australia shortly after the MRI came into use. Soldiers were invited to take part in a study where they would have an MRI brain scan. The results surprised researchers because a lot of the healthy, active, intelligent soldiers had anomolies with their brains. In other words, a lot of us have little ‘abnormalities’ that we may never know anything about unless we have our brains scanned or our our genomes sequenced.
One of the things I hate about Miss Z’s disabilities is how it seems to separate her from the rest of society. Her “special needs” make her different – abnormal, unusual, “special”. It makes people stare at her when she goes out. It makes people uncomfortable around her. It even apparently gives Donald Trump the right to imitate and mock her (although that doesn’t seem to be reserved for people with special needs).
Which is why I love a term I’ve recently run across: neurodiversity. Since I’ve only just come across the concept and am far from being an expert on the term neurodiversity, I will quote another blog, Neurocosmopolitanism, on what neurodiversity is:
The neurodiversity paradigm is a specific perspective on neurodiversity – a perspective or approach that boils down to these fundamental principles:
1.) Neurodiversity is a natural and valuable form of human diversity.
2.) The idea that there is one “normal” or “healthy” type of brain or mind, or one “right” style of neurocognitive functioning, is a culturally constructed fiction, no more valid (and no more conducive to a healthy society or to the overall well-being of humanity) than the idea that there is one “normal” or “right” ethnicity, gender, or culture.
3.) The social dynamics that manifest in regard to neurodiversity are similar to the social dynamics that manifest in regard to other forms of human diversity (e.g., diversity of ethnicity, gender, or culture). These dynamics include the dynamics of social power inequalities, and also the dynamics by which diversity, when embraced, acts as a source of creative potential.
from the post: Neurodiversity: Some Basic Terms & Definitions
In other words, we all have different brains and minds. Miss Z isn’t ‘special’ or ‘different’, she is just part of the wonderfully diverse range of how we all think and function. She is just part of the beautiful mix of life.
In closing, I will share a little video on neurdiversity that will make you smile (apologies if it is repeated a couple times below, Miss Z is getting grumpy, so no time to figure out how to correct it!):