In her post Everyday People, abfh has the following to say about her “abnormal” behavior as a child:
When I was a child, I often wandered away, climbed tall trees, played in traffic, and didn’t pay much attention to adults who told me that I was not behaving properly. That didn’t mean I had some sort of tragic and mysterious mental defect that made me incapable of social interaction, understanding danger, etc., and what’s more, I certainly wasn’t suffering or trying to escape from life. Quite the contrary—being alive seemed like a wonderful adventure, too precious and fascinating to be wasted sitting obediently in dull classrooms. I got kicked out of several primary schools for wandering away when the teacher wasn’t looking, but I never thought that made me abnormal, either; I just thought schools were inhabited by narrow-minded conformists. I wanted to explore the world, going on brave quests like the kids in my favorite adventure stories. No doubt my view of life was absurdly melodramatic, but I’ll tell you what: Those who would describe my existence as a devastating tragedy are being far more absurd.
I can’t help but think of the “unreasonable man” quote from Shaw that I wrote about a while back. It also brings to mind a commercial for I don’t know what product that shows kids “aspiring” to mediocrity (“I want to get stuck in middle management”). It makes we wonder about what we are teaching our children – autistic or not – about living this great adventure, both in our schools and as parents.
Everyone can be a ‘winner’ (following on a theme in comments to Mike Stanton on a previous post), but not everyone can be a ‘winner’ in the same thing. Everyone can experience the great adventure of life, but none of us have the same great adventure. The problem seems to be that we as a society are trending towards an homogeneous world in which we are all expected to ‘compete’ in the same things, that we are all expected to have the same Great Adventure.
Which is unfortunate, but is it inevitable?