A few days ago, Ellen of Love That Max wrote a post on double standards in the parenting of special needs children. As an example, she said that she repeats the same phrases over and over again if Max asks her to, but tells Max’s sister to stop nagging about the same topic. Max clearly showed that he was learning the skill Ellen tried to teach his sister but not yet him, ie. the knwoledge that the world does not revolve around him. Nonetheless, some commenters got to talking to Ellen like she was indulging on Max and in fact, Nisha, herself a disabled blogger, said Ellen needs to start treating Max like a neurotypcal child.
Nisha has a good point when she says that the world will not indulge on Max when he’s big. Max, too, needs to learn the knowledge that the world does not revolve around him. However, as Ellen said in the original post, she did unconsciously teach him this by repeating his preferred phrase with some “stop talkign about that” mixed in and in an irritated tone of voice. Maybe the repeating of the phrase was one of the things which taught Max to pay attention to what was being said, ie. that he needed to stop talking about this.
What annoyed me in Nisha’s comment, was the idea that disabled people need to be treated like they aren’t disabled. As I said, I totally agree that they need to learn basic lessons of social behavior, but I do not see why this needs to be done the same way that you would teach a neurotypical child. If repeating a phrase helps a neurodiverse child learn, what’s wrong with using that phrase in parenting? Ellen might in fact learn to use the phrase in different intonations and variations to teach Max skills like awareness of others.
My point is, when you use different rules for different children (whether they have disabilities or not), you are not necessarily indulging on them. You are just getting on their level and teaching them to move up from there. Expecting a neurodiverse child to behave like a neurotypical, is not realistic. It will not make their neurodiversity go away. In my own case, it just set me up for constant failure.
Of course, you need to have a positive attitude about any child’s or adult’s abilities. They need to become the best they they can be. That, however, is not the most neurotypical, but the most able. Let’s make a comparison: when I still had some sight, one could’ve said that I needed to be treated like a sighted person and expected to use my vision as much as possible. That is not encouraging me to be the best me I could be. Rather teaching me brailel and cane travel are. Similarly, autistic or otherwise neurodiverse people need to learn some basic skills, but they can be taught these skills in an alternative way. Look at the bigger picture of the knowledge that the world does not revolve around you, rather than at the tiny piece about the use of repetitive phrases.