Friday, May 27, 2011

Abby Normal

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Ah! Very good. Would you mind telling me whose brain I DID put in? Igor: Then you won't be angry? Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: I will NOT be angry. Igor: Abby someone.  Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [pause, then] Abby someone.  Abby who?  Igor: Abby... Normal.
From the movie Young Frankenstein

Recently, there's been a trend of asking this question as it applies to individuals with autism… "What is "normal"" anyway?  Some people don’t want to say “normal”.  It’s the new dirty word. 

As if it's bad for us to acknowledge the differences in our children with autism.  As if having autism is like having one blue eye and one green eye, or eleven fingers, or a mole that looks like the Virgin Mary. You know, something that doesn’t affect every single aspect of your (and your family’s) life.  (Autism impacts every part of the person’s life, it’s why it’s called “pervasive”.  Check this out: Groundhog Day )

I’m sure you can tell already that today I'm a little bitter about this.  My third and final therapist has quit, and now we have no therapists until the new one starts in three weeks.  The one who’s supposed to replace the first one who quit.  We haven’t even replaced the second therapist and now I’ve got to find a third.

Well, I'm here to tell you.  "Normal" does not need three behavioral therapists who then quit.

We all know what normal means.  Like U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography, I know it when I see it.  But in case you’re really confused, here’s the definition from a medical dictionary.  I even made like a good English major and footnoted it, APA style. (If it’s wrong, blame the Internet.)

My favorite is #3c but the most ironic is #2 given the whole vaccine/autism brouhaha.

1 nor·mal definition
Pronunciation:  /ˈnȯr-məl/
Function: adj
1 a :  according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle
b :  conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern
2 :  occurring naturally and not because of disease, inoculation, or any experimental treatment < normal  immunity>
3 a :  of, relating to, or characterized by average intelligence or development
b :  free from mental disorder : SANE
c :  characterized by balanced well-integrated functioning of the organism as a whole
4 a of a solution :  having a concentration of one gram equivalent of solute per liter
b :  containing neither basic hydrogen nor acid hydrogen < normal  phosphate of silver>
c :  not associated < normal  molecules>
d :  having a straight-chain structure < normal  pentane>
nor·mal·ly Pronunciation:  /ˈnȯr-mə-lē/
Function: adv

2 normal definition
Function: n
:  a subject who is normal

normal. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary. Retrieved May 27, 2011, from website:

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